Sunday, November 1, 2015

The responsibility will never cease

This morning, I was catching up on all of the Facebook Halloween posts. I always love seeing all of the kids and adults in their costumes! I love seeing all of the kids running up to the door to get a special treat. Liberty wanted to be Rainbow Dash this year and she was so stinking cute!!
I admit Halloween isn't one of my favorite holidays. I don't know if it is the fact that I don't like to be unsure of frightened. But I think that has a lot to do with it. I can remember being about 6 years old and my parents took us to a Haunted House. I DID NOT want to go. I reluctantly entered the house in my father's arms holding tight to his neck. There came a point in the Haunted House that we had to crawl through an opening. I refused to let go of my father and in turn, knocked his glasses off his face. The Haunted House stopped. All the lights were turned on to find my fathers glasses. When all the lights were on, I could see that things that I was afraid of were not scary at all. The workers were very kind to me and made me feel a little calmer. Needless to say, my dad and I didn't finish the tour.  But this story reminds me of where Liberty is... and where she has been. Although it has been 2.5 years since we have become a family, there are still trials and tribulations that we face every day. Some old....some new.

One of these trials is Liberty's fear. She has always been afraid of "new",  "different", and "unfamiliar". But we have noticed that sometimes, she is still afraid of things that aren't new but a daily ritual. An example of this and the one that breaks my heart every morning is this. When I drop her off at school, every morning, before her hug and after her kiss, she asked, "Mommy, you are coming to get me, right?" It is heart-wrenching to think that after 2.5 years, the thought of abandonment still haunts her.... Like a bad dream, being left without parents. It kills me. My answer every morning is "Of course I am. I would never leave you!"
Another small glimpse of her past shown through earlier this week when a field trip date was changed and I was unable to go. She told me that she didn't want to visit the pumpkin patch with her class. When I asked her why, she said that since I was not going, there wouldn't be anyone to make sure she was safe.  This broke my heart .... and melted it as well. Although we understand that she has the fear of NOT being safe, It did make me feel wonderful that I was a sense of safety in her whole. Thank God for Ms. Amy, her teacher, who sat with her and me and promised to keep her safe during the trip.
We continue to reassure her that she is most definitely safe with us and that our family will do all we can to keep it that way!
School has been another change for her. We decided she might need a little more attention that the Public School was giving her. We have had her at Kankakee Valley Montessori School for first grade and have been so happy. It is a different way of learning and it is a perfect fit for Liberty! Her teacher Ms. Amy is a blessing to our family!!!  She is exactly what Liberty needed! She continues to grow and learn more and more every day! He social skills are improving immensely! We have discovered that, like her brother Sam, likes being the class clown!!  Oh boy!!!  Hope I can make it through this...

We had a super special treat last month!! We were able to meet up with two other families who had adopted children from the same orphanage and classroom as Liberty! I have pics of her with these two boys when they were babies and NOW!! :) I am not sure if they "remembered" one another but they were like old friends who hadn't seen each other in awhile.  It was cool to hear how all htree of the kids were struggling with some of the same issues. The families have vowed to keep up the visits and relationships!!  It was so exciting for us to show Liberty that her life before becoming a "Myers" is very important.
It was very inspiring to hear that both of the families were in the process of adopting again. Even thought adopting again is not in our future, the responsibility to share our story to help even one family decide to adopt will never end for us.  It is our God- given responsibility to share all we know and all we have learned. If our adoption story helps even one child, it makes telling this story over and over worth it!  So I will continue to share our journey with Liberty for as long as people are listening.....
Thank You, God for giving us this gift and responsibility! We are ever grateful even when it's tough!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

God says "I got this!"

Well, alot has changed since the last post in May but one thing holds strong. The lesson God is trying to teach me. He has shown me and told me over and over... "I got this!" Our whole adoption journey has had many bumps but God kept saying "Kathi, I got this!" Even now, He screams this at my deaf, worrying ears! I try so hard to remember this when things are tough.  I am getting better at it but still sometimes forget. So God started using Liberty to show me... God's got this!
Liberty has started school and she is just a miracle child, I swear!
Her dad and I were very nervous about her starting school, about who her teacher was going to be & if she could handle it, both socially and emotionally. There were so many fears we all were facing.  We decided to meet with the school staff to explain our fears, Liberty's challenges and to see if there was anything we could do to prepare Liberty, us and the staff for this journey.
The school was wonderful and took all of our concerns to heart, gave us some ideas to prepare her and get her started with extra help she might need and really helped us to understand they were on our side to help Liberty reach success.
The day had come and we had prayed long and hard that God would give Liberty the teachers and friends that she needed to flourish. The Lord answered our prayers!! She has a wonderful group of teachers that just love our little girl as much as we do. They all look out for her and give her the loving she needs while she is with them during the day. Mr. Ron on the morning bus, Mrs. Richardson (her teacher), Mrs. Palicki (her PE teacher), Mrs. Saindon (her speech teacher), Mrs. Wenzel (her math teacher), Mr. Emerson (her principal who she adores!), and Mr. Bob on the afternoon bus are all exactly what she needed! She just had her first report card and is doing so great!!  None of her teachers believe me when I say she has only been here 18 months.  Of course, she has a few issues with some things but hey! When we think of where she was 18 months ago.... We can only smile. :)
As always, I had been worrying about everything for no reason!  As we were driving over to school the first day, I could see it on Liberty's face. She was saying "I got this!" and she surely does!

She has been enjoying music class with Ms. LeighAnn at King Music. They had a Halloween recital where the kids has to make up their own song. She made hers about her family. It was so sweet and touched our hearts! The kids got to wear their halloween costumes. Liberty was "The Statue of Liberty"! I figured it was the only year she would think that was cool!

She had her check-up with the cardiologist and all is well with her heart! Yay!! Its so funny because she is such a go-getter we sometimes forget she has a heart condition. When the time comes to have her check-up, we start getting nervous. But once again, God says "I got this!"

This month is National Adoption Month. I think about all of the 153 million orphans who are still waiting for their families and my heart breaks for them. My prayer has always been if our adoption story helps even one family to choose to adopt, We will keep sharing it!

Prayers to all of the little ones waiting to be adopted.
Prayers to all of the mothers and fathers who have chosen adoption for their little ones.
Prayers for all the families that have adopted even though it's tough, trying, tiring, heart-breaking, and WONDERFUL all at once.
Prayers for all of the adopted because the process is most definitely more difficult for them than it is for us.

Thank you, Lord for choosing us to parent Liberty Jane-YiRun.... The most important little girl in our lives!
And Lord, I know... YOU GOT THIS! :)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

They told us she's smart! I think we knew that! :)

 Liberty has been growing like a weed!!!!  Physically and socially! Recently, we had her at her kindergarten physical where we learned that she had grown 5 inches and gained 10 lbs!! She has gone from 24 month shorts last spring to 3-4T! She wore a size 6 shoe when she first came home and now she is a size 9. It's crazy!!
When we were at the doctor, we decided to have her visit a pediatric urologist and have a sensory screening since she still struggles with potty training. We want to make sure there isn't anything physically wrong.
We had that visit last week. The urologist wants to be very thorough since we have no family history. Something these little ones have to deal with their entire lives. :( So we had blood work, X-rays, ultrasounds and are waiting for the results. If these tests come back normal, the next step is a over-active bladder medication along with the strict potty schedule we have her on now. We not only are dealing with having to potty train her but also trying to break 4 1/2 years of habits she has of her own. Its a struggle but we are dealing with it.
She had her sensory screening and the OT was truly impressed with her abilities. When she heard that Liberty was adopted from China just one year ago, she was shocked to find this little girl who is very well adjusted, speaking wonderful English and who is super intelligent. :) The OT said that Liberty blew every test out of the water and we should have no worries that she has any sensory issues! YAY! We are happy about that!!
She is doing very well writing her name, coloring in the lines, cutting out shapes and following direction. We think once we have met her kindergarten teacher, we are going to ask that Liberty be able to go into the classroom before school starts to become familiar with her surroundings. She can get overwhelmed with a new atmosphere. This will help her on Day One of school.
We had our 1 year follow-up with her cardiologist and she passed with flying colors!!  Thank God for that! We are so happy that her heart continues to grow stronger and stronger without any issues! We don't have to go back for another 6 months!!   Thank God for that! It gives us time to save the $ to pay for it!! Haha!
She has recently had a few incidents with other kids making comments about her scar. One little girl said ,"EWW! You have a worm on you!!" Liberty responded as she lifted her shirt, "Oh No that is just my scar!" We hope her positive attitude continues. We explain to her that her scar is part of who she is and a part of her story.
As we continue our journey with Little Miss Liberty, we are filled with humility and gratefulness that people continue to read her story. We feel as though God is telling us He is not done with us. We feel He wants us to continue sharing her story... our story because you just never know who you are going to lead to adopt a child who desperately needs a family. If our story helps, then I will keep sharing.
We are getting a presentation ready to share in November for National Adoption Month. It will be a great opportunity to share Little Miss Liberty's story from the start.
As always, Thank you Lord for giving us this little ray of sunshine to love and raise! Love her to pieces.... now and forever!!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Almost a year....

It's been awhile since my last post....And so much has changed. :)
We have had almost a year with our Little Miss Liberty! A year of firsts, a year of exploring, a year of growing, a year of change.... for all of us.
It has been such a crazy year for us! There have been so many awesome and cool experiences for Liberty and for our family! 
First, Liberty's health is excellent! She has had a few check-ups with the cardiologist and all is going perfectly with her heart! Praise God! She does have a slight arrhythmia but it is very slight and needs no treatment at this time. A special shout-out to Grandma Clark (my mom) for helping us with Liberty right after her surgery. She watched Liberty when I had to return to work but wasn't quite ready to send her to daycare. Love you for it, Mom!
This summer we decided NOT to send her to school in the fall. We were really stressing about what was best for her but then we both realized that she had been through so much already this year that we chose to wait a year before sending her. She does go to pre-school and has been learning so much thanks to all of the wonderful teachers at Stepping Stones in Manteno. :) She LOVES going to school and playing with all of her friends. and she adores Ms. Kristen and Ms. Kirsten. :)
Our next challenge is POTTY TRAINING!!  She has done so great but is still in a diaper at night and nap time. But realistically, we are trying to break habits that she has had for 4.5 years! Like Dr. Batish says, "Give her a bit of a break, Kathi. She's been through quite a bit this year." This is very true and in the grand scheme of things... WHO CARES! :) She will get it!
Liberty's language has come a long way! She speaks 98% English. She has a bit of trouble with "S", "ST" and "CH". but we have had her evaluated and were told she will catch on and not to worry about it. We are sure she will catch up quick. She is doing much better lately.
We were super excited to get into a Mandarin/ Chinese Culture class which met at Olivet. We were with about 7 other families with children adopted from China. I really loved that Liberty was learning that being an Asian child with Caucasian parents was no big deal. :) She loved getting together with the kids. She even would answer questions in class when the teacher asked in Chinese. We were thrilled! We really want to do all we can to keep a lot of her culture and language in her life. We were sad to learn that after 8 weeks, the teacher has to take a hiatus for a bit. We are hoping to pick back up in the Spring.
Liberty took a dance class and was a bit confused and really didn't seem to understand why she had to kick her leg up.. haha
So we started Music class at King Music with Ms. LeighAnn and she LOVES it! She really enjoys music of all kinds. Loves playing the instruments and dancing to her own beat. :) 
We also have her in gymnastics which our doctor said would be good for her heart and for stretching her torso out. I guess a lot of babies who grew up in orphanages have stiff torsos. Not to mention her core has been opened 4 times. So we are at Golden's with Ms. Donna and we love it!
Halloween we laid low and just handed out candy. She was Minnie Mouse and loved seeing all of the kids come to her house to visit. Thanksgiving was so fun. Her eyes were popping out of her head at all of the goodies she was going to get to try! And being able to play with all of her cousins, ALL DAY was a special treat too!
Christmas was so fun even though she doesn't really get the whole Santa thing. We have a Santa statue in our foyer. I would say, "Santa is watching you... You need to behave." then she would go over to the Santa and say, "Are you watching me??" I think it kinda creeped her out. haha!
We talked more about Jesus' birthday and she seems to maybe understand that a bit better than a fat, white-bearded man sneaking into the house at night. 
Not having Damon home for Christmas was sad but Sammy and Liberty are keeping up traditions. :)
My Brother-in-Law did an awesome sermon this Christmas season about adoption and how we all are adopted by God. He used Liberty's story to introduce the adoption concept in a way people understand it. The love we felt from the sermon and from the people of the church was so overwhelming! Liberty has been her just under a year and so many people were talking about following this blog during the process and how touched they were. She has touched so many with her story. We just hope it will help to bring many other families together.
Liberty has been Sam's little cheerleader this year during wrestling season. She's like a little parrot yelling everything her dad and I yell out.. "C'mon, Sammy! You can do it!"  It is so cute and a bit entertaining for the crowd. :) She sure loves her brothers...even tho they butt heads a bit. I think it is because Sam and Liberty are both a bit bossy. haha
We just celebrated Chinese New Year by reading about the Year of the Horse, making Chinese lanterns, swept the "evil spirits" out of the house , received red envelopes, and shared Chinese gold coins and Chinese sweets with her friends at school. We also dressed up in our best Chinese Dress we bought while in Shanghai! She loved it! 
One more thing to share! She can verbalize things much better now and is realizing that she didn't have parents in China and now...she does! She said one day "Mama, in China I didn't have a Mama and Baba but now I do.  I love my family so much! They keep me safe!" Talk about needing a tissue!!  
Thank you God for the blessing of this little light!!  We couldn't be more blessed!!
Now onward to another year of adventure with Little Miss Liberty!!!  Let's see what she can do this year!! :)

Monday, June 3, 2013

She's our little fighter! :)

On Thursday May 23rd, Little Miss Liberty went in for her corrective heart surgery.  She was born with a CHD called Tetrology of Fallot. We knew that she had this and would need to have surgery but didn't know that she would have to have it so soon. After her heart catheterization, The doctor recommended that we have it corrected asap. Her oxygen levels were running at about 80% when normal is 100%. One would never know it by looking at her. We figured that she was so used to being short of breath, she just overcame it. She has overcome a lot in her 4 short years. I think that is what makes her so strong.
We had her surgery at Advocate Children's Hospital in Oak Lawn, IL. We have nothing but wonderful and outstanding comments about this hospital and its staff! Dr. Ilbawi, Dr. Javois, the nurses,(Sarah, Megan, Molly, Krista, Sue), workers in the cafeteria and housekeeping, the registration girls, I mean seriously, everyone we came in contact with was so nice and helpful. We were so comfortable while we were there.
Liberty had some versed going into surgery so she was happy as could be as she was wheeled away. Sarah, (our nurse) came out and updated us every 1 1/2 hours which was so nice.  We did find out during the surgery that the doctor was not able to open up Liberty's pulmonary artery so they had to use a conduit from her Right Ventricle to her Pulmonary artery. This means she will have to have another surgery to replace this as she grows.  After 7 hours of surgery, we were moved to a waiting room and told that we'd be able to see her in about 15 minutes.
An HOUR later, Sarah came out and told us that everything was fine but Liberty had pulled out her arterial line so they had to put in a new one. They kept her sedated pretty much the rest of the night. She was on pain meds, a medication to help her heart rhythm, Lasix and a antibiotic. They told us to help her to sit up and that she had to stay in bed. Yeah, that wasn't going to be easy.
The next morning, she was lying in bed, opened her eyes and sat straight up. She was ready to go! :)
She was never really whiney or crabby. Every once in a while she would say her chest hurt but that was it. Everyone was saying she was the toughest little thing they had ever seen. The P-SHU had a doctor on the floor 24/7 which was so reassuring. But one night, the doctor that was working came in and said "Well, we have a problem. I am supposed to be working but I just keep getting distracted by all of the cute things Liberty is saying so I had to come in here and see her!" She really captured everyone's heart.
On Sunday, May 26th, we were released from the hospital. She has been doing great since we have been home. She is only on the Lasix until we go back to the doctor. She has pain meds but as of yesterday only takes them at night.  She is running and jumping around like a wild little monkey. :) We do our best to keep her as quiet as possible....BUT that's quite IM-possible! haha We are so happy that she is energetic and not lethargic. I would be so worried if that were the case.
The doctor's told us since she was on the Heart-Lung Bypass machine for 7 hours, her immune system will be compromised for about a month. So if you come to our house, don't be offended by the sign that says, "If you are coming in, you have to wash your hands first!" Also, Don't laugh if you see me with my disinfectant wipes. Getting sick is the last thing we need.
I will finish this entry with again, my thankfulness for God's blessings to our family. From the talented doctors and nurses to everyone who has helped us out during this time, we thank you all!
I also pray that as God heals Liberty's heart that He continues to heal the heart of Liberty's biological parents who I know truly loved this little girl or they wouldn't have given her family heirlooms or left her in a medical clinic. God hold them tight to You and somehow help them to know that Liberty is doing well, cared for, happy and loved.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Blessing sprinkled with a little pain...

Things have been going so good for Little Miss Liberty! She has been exploring the wonderful, beautiful and BIG world! So many "FIRSTS" for her! Every day is a new experience for her. Whenever we are out, I think, "I bet this is the first time she's been to a place like this!" We were at a grocery store and she was so excited to see so many watermelons! It was so adorable.  Her english is coming right along. She's about 50/50 when she speaks. 50% English and 50% Chinese. So we are having a much easier time communicating. We have a friend who teaches ESL who is going to work with her this summer. We are super excited and appreciative for this!
Many times people ask me how she is adjusting and we honestly have to say that it has been a pretty good experience. It is difficult when she does something she shouldn't and we are not to be able to explain why she shouldn't do it. Like why she has to hold my hand in the parking lot or why she can't play with a knife. We tell her why but she doesn't understand why. Then we feel bad because we just have to force her to do it or not do it. I know it will come with time. But it is hard.
She eats well. She sleeps well. She plays well. AND she repeats well!!  Going back to the "why" issue, sometimes we say to her "sshhh" like when she is interrupting adults or talking way to loud in a quite place. So now if she is talking and someone else talks, she tells them "sshh!" It is so hard not to laugh because it is so comical! Or she will tell me, "time out?" Kind of like when I ask her if she wants a time out when she is misbehaving.  From the mouths of babes!
Moving on to her health. She has been as healthy as can be since she got here. Her physician told us she had more vaccinations than an US born child. So thank China for being on top of that! We also found out that there is nothing wrong with her leg. (She has a funny walk sometimes) but she is just flat footed. We can deal with that.  But we did have an appointment with her cardiologist and he performed a Cardiac Cath on her. We were informed that she needed to have surgery sooner...not later. Most babies with the condition she has go through the corrective surgery at 6 months old. She's almost 5!
When we went in for the Cath, she was so enthralled by all of the attention we thought she'd be fine when separated from Mama so I told then to skip the oral Versed. Boy, did I make a mistake! When they took her from me, she was crying and screaming, "MAMA!!!MAMA!!" I thought I would die! And the "Worst Mom of the Year" goes to....ME!!! I told my mom that she will always get the versed before hand!   When she woke up, she would not even look at me for almost 2 hours. She was ticked at me for leaving her. After a bit, she forgave me and was such a good girl during recovery. She is such a busy little girl, I thought it was going to be very hard to make her understand some how that she needed to lay flat for 6 hours! I know from experience, some adults can't do that after a Heart Cath!
The Cardiac Catheterization didn't really show anything they weren't expecting except her right coronary artery comes off her left coronary artery instead of coming off her aorta. This causes a slight problem because her pulmonary stenosis sits directly behind this area and the right coronary artery rides across the aorta. :( He said he hasn't ever seen this before.
This week we went to see the cardio-vascular surgeon that will be performing her corrective surgery. He is such a nice guy and comes very highly recommended! We have the upmost confidence in the team at Advocate Children's Hospital in Oak Lawn.  He explained everything to us and told us that once he gets in there, he will determine if they are able to fix the pulmonary stenosis (blockage in the artery going to the lung) or if he will need to put in a conduit from her right ventricle to her pulmonary artery. If the latter happens, she will have to undergo another surgery later in life because the conduit will not grown with her. :( We are praying they don't have to put in a conduit! That will be the 5th time she will have to be opened! :(
We are so blessed that she is having her surgery here in the US. First, because we love these doctors and they know exactly what they are doing. Second, the staff at Advocate Children's Hospital are remarkable! I am not exaggerating when I say from the minute I walked in until the minute I walked out, every single person I came in contact with was super nice and professional! I was so impressed! And third, I know Liberty, although in pain, will have her family who loves her by her side comforting her and caring for her every step of the way!
Prayers on May 23rd and for the recovery weeks that will follow are much appreciated!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A hard-boiled egg and some happiness

Hello! It's been awhile since I wrote. We've been a bit busy so I thought I'd catch everyone up.
Liberty is fitting into our family as snug as a bug in a rug! She's sweet and sassy. She's funny and adorable. And she's a bit bossy. But so is everyone else in this family! :)
She is learning so much! We took her to a pre-school screening to see if they could give us any ideas if she was behind at all. It's difficult because she knows her numbers, colors & shapes in Chinese but not English. But as far as they all could tell after modifying the tests, she's doing great. She got an A+ for social skills. We thought that was funny because since we have had her, she has been a little social butterfly. She says, "Ni Hao" to everyone she sees and wants to be friends with anyone.
     She has learned how to ask for help instead of grunting. She has also mastered saying Thank you. I must say, it is so cute!  She can count to 10 and knows the ABC song...not perfectly but she's getting there. Potty training is coming along. She is just too busy to take the time to go but she will let me know she needs a dry diaper. She has a book with common pictures in it like an apple, an elephant, a flower. She can name them all in English but a X is for xylophone. Really?? They couldn't  have used x-ray?? or I is for ink. How about ice cream??  Maybe I should write a kids book. haha. :)
     My mom, Paulette mom-in-law Carolyn, my Aunt Mary, Sisters Lori and Donna and my life long friend Debbie had a shower for me. It was so nice. Liberty got a lot of learning tools, LOTS of clothes and a few special gifts like a blanket with pics from our China trip on it. (Thanks Holley).  It was especially nice to see all of the love for Liberty. She was in heaven from all of the attention. It really touched my heart.
     Since we have been home we took her to the pediatrician. She got caught up on her immunizations. (Not a happy girl). We also took her to the pediatric cardiologist and he performed a cardiac Catheterization on her to get a road map for her upcoming surgery. She was a trooper!  They didn't find any huge surprises which is a blessing. But they are going to have to modify a part of the surgery because she has one deformity they haven't seen before. That's OK. We knew she was special. Maybe she'll be in the text books. :) We are planning the surgery within a few weeks. Send up some extra prayers for her. :)
    The day before her heart catheterization, I was copying and re-reading all of her medicals reports from China. I came across her routine from the orphanage. As I was reading her schedule, I noticed for breakfast, it said she ate oatmeal and boiled eggs. I had not given her a hard-boiled egg before so I thought I would feed her dinner and then make her one. I told her I had a treat for her if she ate all of her supper. I am sure she was thinking it was ice cream (her favorite) but when I placed the egg in front of her, she picked it up and was kissing it and saying "Oh my goodness!!!" She started dancing in her chair. It was the cutest thing ever! Here is this little girl who probably LOVES these eggs and hasn't had one for 2 months. She was probably thinking," What kind of place is this? They don't even have boiled eggs??" I could not get over how excited she was about a hard-boiled egg.  It melted my heart and reminded me once again how one small act of kindness can mean so much!
Thank you again, God for allowing us to raise Little Miss Liberty! We love her so much!