Thursday, April 28, 2011


Wow! That was an incredibly long week and a half! I tried to convince myself, over the course of the last few days, a laptop is not necessary for entertainment and survival. I was incorrect! My laptop was in for repair, and my two backups were down. I tried to reason with myself, people in the world have actual needs, and a laptop is not a need. After several days of this mental dialog, I was going stir crazy. So bad was my need to get on the laptop, I figured out how to connect to the internet on the Wii. Desparation? Maybe. I think I could have described this experience as catastrophic over Easter. I so wanted to post the adorable photos of the kids. I think it finally broke me, I realized the crisis was going to end and cracked out cleaning another kitchen cupboard.

So, what's up? I registered Sidney in the summer 3 year old preschool summer program. My largest concern? Her ability to physically get on the toilet. Her teacher said they can give her a boost. Potty training is hit and miss at home. Little Miss uses the potty like a perfect angel during "playtime" (drop off daycare). 

This four week program gives her the opportunity to give preschool a test run. She will go to Eli's school. It is a small private school. This pleases me for multiple reasons. Our largest reason is they will do or not do exactly what we want. We do not want Sidney's educational experience to revolve around special plans. Instead, I took the opportunity to write a letter to the school. After giving a brief explanation of her medical condition, I wrote the following:

So what does this mean to all of you as her educators? She is a healthy girl in every way, except she has a couple of unique anomalies. We ask that you treat Sidney as every other student in *****, meaning she is expected to do any and all of the same activities as the other kids in the school. We expect her to be held to the same educational and behavioral standards. We are aware there are a variety of special plans for children with her issues; however we do not want her classified as disabled. If there are areas she struggles or might hurt herself, we expect ***** to use a common sense approach. Together, if necessary, we can make an appropriate decision.  Last, we do not want anyone to pity Sidney for her condition. She is an outgoing and happy little girl.  Right now she doesn’t know there is a difference, however we know school will probably be a defining moment in this respect.

We understand other children are going to be justifiably curious. Her anomalies might go unnoticed for a while, but it is guaranteed to come up. Prepare yourself now. If a teacher explains to a child that God made her this way, and she can do anything anyone else can do, it is not a big deal. We understand there are kids who repetitively feel the need to grab her hands and examine them. We know you will put a stop to this.  Ultimately, we are saying, use your best judgment in these situations. Please feel free to talk openly about it if it comes up in class.  Many of these children will be in her class for many years to come, as we plan on keeping Sidney in ********* until she graduates from 8th grade. We want them to forget this is a part of her makeup and know her very big personality.

I thought this pretty much summed things up. OK, back to catching up on blogs.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Trials and Turkey Sandwiches

As boredom set in last weekend, Eli got out our Chinese character book. He began copying the Mandarin characters and talking to Sidney about China. I don't remember if she was receptive, but many times, she simply replies "China, no, no." Her reaction is one we have witnessed on a continuous basis. This was a reminder of some things we are experiencing with Sidney. I never want the joy and love of raising Sidney overshadowed by the tough emotional stuff, so I have held off on mentioning it until now. I decided, the tough stuff is part of adoption and it needs sharing, because it might help another family.

Other adoptive parent's will understand exactly what I am talking about in this next sentence. What we are experiencing is different than typical 3 year old behavior. And, in a sense, this is reassuring. It tells me my gut instincts about Sidney are right. This is good. It makes me feel better to read x,y, and z behaviors are normal behaviors for a child with a history of traumatic stress. Luckily, I read every book I could get my hands on prior to travel. So, I will continue to read and decide how to best work with Sidney.

Again, this is nothing new. It is the same stuff we have experienced on and off over the last almost 2 year period. Difficulty eating. Food is not a priority. If a person is hungry, and has not eaten for several hours, how can a person say they are so hungry, only to refuse to eat for another 2 hours? Why does a sullen and glazed look fall over Sidney's face each time she hears Mandarin? Why can't I leave the room to get a glass of water without her dissolving into a hysterical crying fit? All of this was answered when I did a simple search on attachment. I also find comfort in knowing a majority of children in Sidney's situation experience this type of behavior to a greater or lesser degree. As with all parenting, we will look for the resources needed to work with Sidney and pray.
On to something a big more lighthearted. I am in the midst of determining how much sliced ham, sliced turkey, peanut butter, bread, fruit, cookies, and on and on and on, it takes to feed 80 kids on four consecutive nights. Our VBS feeds the kids a light dinner. We started doing so, because we have our activities over the dinner hour. I am fortunate to be a stay-at-home mom. I can give my kids a bite to eat before we leave. If I were working, this would be nearly impossible. I have never seen kids wolf down so much food. It's like we can't feed them enough. If you have ever worked in sandwich production on a large scale, give me a shout out. I am trying to figure out how much we actually need.

OK, I'm being called to see "Legonese" soldiers.

Friday, April 15, 2011

147 Million

During all this illness, I had the opportunity to watch a story on Dateline. I should preface this by saying, I don't typically watch adoption stories on mainstream news shows. They tend to glorify the negative in international adoption. This particular story was about a boy sent through various phases of custodial care in Russia. Ultimately, he came to the U.S., telling his story as a young adult. Enduring this kind of abuse is further evidence of the existence of evil in the world but proof someone mightier is looking out for the 147 million orphans of the world.

Of course, it caused my mind to go to Sidney's orphanage environment. Special needs separated from non special needs. This act alone speaks volumes. Sidney's crib was next to a sweet little girl with obvious developmental delays. At least, this is what I can interpret from the roll of film we shipped prior to travel. Watching this story was a reminder, Sidney was not in optimum conditions, but it could have been so much worse.

Talking about the orphanage reminds me, we are sending photos back to Sidney's orphanage. We plan on doing so at least every other birthday. According to my Chenzhou yahoo group, the orphanage takes great pride. Parents have visited on heritage tours 10 years after the adoption to find all photos carefully accounted for. Ultimately, I know there was a nanny that cared. I hear infrequently from people working in her orphanage on missions trips. They find us on our yahoo board. They always ask if we want pictures. I always ask if they could PLEASE find a photo of her nanny. There is great turnover in these situations, however there area also people who stay for decades. I want this person to know how very much Sidney is loved and continues to thrive.

OK, back to Jonah and the Whale and VBS. Did you know it is estimated the whale was around 20.5 ft?

Monday, April 11, 2011


It was awesome to get away over the weekend, minus distractions with Tom's parents to an indoor waterpark about an hour away. Typically, Tom's cell or his dads is ringing or we head in this direction for doctor's visits. Tom's parents are always up for fun, and I think I caught a bit of the fever. While Grandma had fun playing with Sidney, mom took a few minutes to follow Eli and Dad up six flights to the top of the waterslide.

Let me preface this experience by saying, it was not the same waterslide I rode as a kid. As my body traveled through twists and turns with the flow of the water, my stomach was somewhere at the top of the slide. It was all worth it to see Eli's face when he saw mom getting in line to go down. Something which was very unlike mom and her unspontaneous nature.

Sidney had fun time with Grandma and Grandpa. She is quite taken with Tom's stepmom and his sister Jill. It was a noisy atmosphere, and it was great to see her slowly build trust in her new enviornment. She loves the pool, so this obviously helped.

Back to whatever I was doing before I needed a break!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Let the Birthday Celebrations Continue!

Though this was a random shot from Sidney's family birthday celebration, it is one of my favorites. Her whole face is lit up! The cradle was given to her by my parents. My grandma played with it, so it is a special toy.

Sidney was still in top gift wrap ripping form, but she found this bow a challenge.

Where's Sarah? Somehow I don't have my sister-in-law included in the shot with my brother Jason and newphew Finn. It was awewsome to have them make the drive Sunday to celebrate. Sidney and Finn are getting old enough to play together, and it is so cool.

I was waiting for Sidney to take a swipe out of the cake before I could quickly take the picutre.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Real Face of Special Needs Friday (sorry it is Saturday)

I missed the real face of special needs I am posting on Saturday (again)! Sidney has fibular hemimelia. This means she is missing the fibula bone in her left leg. Turns out this smaller bone on the back side of your leg (below the knee) isn't so important in functioning. Sidney jumps, runs, climbs, and most importantly walks like any toddler. If you look at Sidney you might notice she has a limb difference. This is quite normal with fibular hemimelia. Sidney has four toes on the shorter of the two legs. She wears a lift to compensate for length difference.

A common part of Sidney's condition is missing fingers. Sidney has three fingers on each hand, including a thumb on both sides. We had reconstructive surgery on each hand last year. One side had syndactyly (webbing) separated and the procedure corrected the shape of the growth plate in her hand. Both were complex procedures, according to her surgeon, as her anomolies are unique. I am happy to report, both procedures were a success, and Sidney's fine motor skills are developmentally ahead of her peers.

In another adoption I would seek out most any orthopedic issue. Outside of the surgeries (yes they suck, but it is one day of our lives, and what is so important we can't take a day to heal her hands?),  this need has a limited impact on our daily lives.

My big 3 year old

Sidney turned 3 Thursday, and Wednesday was two years since receiving her referral. On Wednesday, I was thinking back on the special day, and on my FaceBook page wrote, "the rollercoaster left the gate, and we were in for the ride of our lives!" We are honored each day God chose us to be her parents.

I am done with the sappy stuff. My livingroom is a mass of balloons. I love taking the kids to the florist for balloons on their birthday. OK, I will admit it. I like foil balloons just as much as my kids. We ran into a woman from our congregation. Our church is just large enough, we don't recognize everyone, but everyone recognizes our family. After choosing Hello Kitty, the woman in back began filling an additional balloon "to keep the arrangement she has something to bat around."

I laugh at people's perceptions of Sidney. They see Sidney as this adorable, sweet little girl. And I don't deny, she is adorable and sweet, however they don't know the spunkiness of this little chili pepper. She is downright tough. Tom and I have zero worries about her being bullied.

Sidney has definitely softened over the last almost two years. This might sound like a terrible thing to say, but if you read my blog, you know I am completely honest and open. The first day we met Sidney, I was totally taken aback at her tough appearance. She looked like she wasn't to be messed with. It is not the stoic stare we all know. It is a worldliness and a weariness which should never be on the face of a child. What a joy and inspiration to watch this change.

 OK off to finish preparing for continued birthday festivities tomorrow. One Hello Kitty cake totalling three hours work is prepared. Yes, I make my own. Each year, as I am elbow deep in food coloring and frosting, I vow it is the last, muttering under my breath the next year we are buying a cake. The next year roles around but I continue. I am too stubborn to stop attepting to inprove my technique. Of course technique is a word one might use if they had a skill. The frosting is masking a multitude of errors.