Monday, October 13, 2008

Oh Love That Will Not Let Me Go..

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O light that foll’west all my way,
I yield my flick’ring torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

Tomorrow morning at 7:30 am EST, is Asher's surgery.
Please be in prayer for him and the doctors..that God would guide their hands and allow this surgery to help in his proper development.

We're expecting the surgery to last about 2-3 hours, then recovery and even a possible same-day discharge depending on how well he does. Asher is such a strong little guy.. I know he will do well. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if he does better than his own mother and older sister.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Surgery

I should probably warn you that if a close-up photo of a repaired cleft palate will make your stomach queasy, you might want to skip this post..

Asher had his third appointment with the Cleft Team on August 19th. He has a new nice, wonderful doctor who will be performing the surgery on October 14th.
While we would have much rather prepared having his surgery done during this past summer, such a time as this and it will take place in just over a month and three days.
It's going to be a pretty intense surgery, with a myriad of different things going on inside of his mouth.
  • First off, the expander you see in his mouth (on the left) will be removed. He's had the expander in for about 6 months now and every night we use the key to help the device expand his palate. Hopefully it's done its job and his mouth will be the right size!
  • Next, they will be re-aligning his palate. I'm pretty sure this means re-opening the palate, re-aligning and then closing it back up again.
  • Then will come the tough part- the bone graft. Although you can't see in these pictures clearly, there's a split in his gum line due to his clefts. The doctors will graft a piece of bone from his hip into that cleft to help with the future growth of his mouth. That's intense.

  • And last but not least, they'll remove those HUGE tonsils he was blessed with! I think we'll all enjoy having those removed since he's the loudest snorer in the family!

What does Asher think of all of this? Well, I think he understands what will be happening since he's been through this before and we've been talking about it a lot lately. I'm sure he's a little nervous, scared and anxious-who wouldn't be? He's not very emotional (at all) and still has a bit of a wall built up around him, so he won't let us see that side of him. I don't know what his surgeries were like before, or if he has any memory of them. (They were done at age 1 and 4.) Unlike his other surgeries, we will be there for him through it all and I hope that will make a difference to his nerves. He won't be alone through this one.

So for now, we wait and prepare ourselves and Asher for this big event.

Friday, July 04, 2008

A Splendid Reunion

About two weeks ago we were finally able to come together and celebrate the long awaited reunion of Xiao Dua and WaWa. Or, more commonly known as Asher and Sophie. The two of them were able to enjoy and experience each other's company for the first time in over a year.

We packed up part (two stayed home) of our crew and headed out to Cape Canaveral and the condo where Sophie and her family were staying. Excitement and anticipation were overwhelming all of us as we made our way up the steps, through the door.. and finally to Sophie. I'll never forget the way Sophie greeted Asher;

"Xiao Du! I'm Sophie, but you already know my name!"

They eagerly exchanged the gifts they had picked out for each other and happily showed them off to everyone. Asher had been collecting all of his menu's and coloring pages from our Disney cruise that previous week, in order to save for Sophie. He also got the autographs of several famous Disney characters in his autograph book and gave that to her as well. Sophie handed Asher a Spiderman toy (which is currently making a home in his bed), Spiderman pj's (he wore that night) and Frog windchimes from Sophie's Mimi.

It was so precious to watch the two of them reconnect. The first signs of shyness quickly dissipated as hugs and kisses were soon exchanged.

The hungry bellies of six young children quickly sent us to a nearby McDonalds, where we ended up spending the majority of the day. (We had fully prepared for a day at the beach.. but the stormy skies had other ideas!) But it didn't matter where we were.. the kids were all happy, especially those two.

I've never seen Asher so happy before and already in the short time he has been home, he has seen so much. Hunting camps, visits to Disney World and a Disney Cruise, jet ski rides and karate promotions. Nope, nothing could compare to the joy on his face when he was with Sophie.

The kids all got along great. Between the two families we have five Chinese children with Sophie,
Esther, Emma and Maddie all within a few months of each other. The four girls got along great.. and I think Maddie even had a little thing for Ian. =) He seems to have that affect on all the girls..

It was a wonderful day and we are so glad that it was just the beginning of many more reunions to come. Fortunately, Sophie doesn't live too far away and although nothing is for sure yet.. a visit for a certain someone's 6th birthday would sure be super fun!

Esther, Maddie and Sophie
The kiddo's:
Back: Ian, Esther, Sophie and Asher
Front: Maddie and Emma
Maddie sure loved Ian =)

The night we got home was tough for Asher. I did have to go in and comfort him because he had just lost it. I didn't really expect him to get upset because he is not one to show off his emotions, but it didn't surprise me either. Last time he said goodbye he didn't know if he would ever see Sophie again, but at least this time he knows he WILL see her again.
The next day he showed everyone in church the photo's from their special day. Asher still talks about Sophie and their reunion every day.

As soon as we came home from our trip, Asher ran outside to the backyard and hung up the windchimes he had received from Sophie's grandmother. Thank you so much Mimi! =)

****I took a ton of pictures and video and put it all together in a movie.. however my iMovie program is unexpectedly quitting on me each time I try to open it. Once I figure that out, I'll have the video up.. but I wanted to get the pictures up for all of you to see!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Reunion..

Since they say a picture says a thousand words,
I though I would leave you with this..

Asher's Speech

Asher recently reached the 10 month mark since joining our family. In that time he has gone from speaking barely any words in English to completing full sentences. This has been the hardest struggle of anything for him, but he is finally starting to conquer his speech! We have been overjoyed to watch Asher's speech continue to progress and progress. Granted, he still has a long way to go but his upcoming surgery on August 1st will tremendously help.

The first part of this video was shot just a few weeks after coming home. You can notice in the video the high nasal sound of his voice, and also how shy he was! The last part was shot today and if you listen carefully you can probably make out all he is saying. He is still a bit nasally, but you can see a big difference and notice how he is much more confident! Both of these video's are about Sophie, btw. =)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Oh The Excitement...

It's been just over thirteen months since Asher last saw his best friend, Sophie, or "Wawa" as he called her. Sophie was adopted in May, just a few short months before we brought Asher home. Ever since the day we met him, not a day has gone by that the name Wawa or Sophie has not been mentioned. He talks all the time about her.. what she likes, that she was his favorite friend, how he wants to grow up and fly an airplane so he can go see her.. and he wants to marry her! ;)
Sophie is the only part of his memories of China that he has been able to verbalize. Just recently he has started opening up a lot about his life in China, especially since his speech is getting much better and he feels more comfortable talking. I think he was scared about this new transition in his life so rather than cry or get upset, he threw all of his old life behind him and refused to think about it. Now that he realizes this setting is permanent he is starting to feel more comfortable and is much more apt to talk about it. Though it all, Sophie has been the only constant in his life and thank goodness for Sophie's mom Jennifer and her blog! Just today I was watching a video that we received from friends of ours in Washington who visited his orphanage in December 2005 while adopting their daughter. In the video, there's a short snippet of Asher, delicately embracing Sophie and you can just see the love he has for her in his face. It is so sweet to watch and I am just so glad that this was apart of God's plan for their lives. To live with together all of their lives and then be adopted just a few months apart by families who had already known each other through the cyber adoption community and only live one state away.. that isn't just a coincidence. =)
Tomorrow, we are heading out for this long awaited reunion of two special friends..
Asher is just beside himself with anticipation. I don't think the word EXCITED even begins to describe the emotions he is feeling. He just can't wait. We returned yesterday morning from our Disney cruise and all he could talk about the entire time was how we were going to see Sophie after we came home. I can't wait to see his face.. I bet he will barely be able to sleep tonight!
Stay tuned! =)

Sophie, this is for you....

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cleft Update, Part 2

Asher was re-evaluated by the Cleft Team on Thursday.. but we know about as much as we did before he even went in. To make a long story short, he has another appointment on Friday (I think) and we might even be switching doctors. The only problem is that there aren't many who specialize in this field and we want Asher to have the best care possible. So.. we're going to wait and see, yet at the same time call around for second opinions.....

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cleft Update

As most of you know, Asher was born with a cleft lip and palate. His lip was a unilateral cleft, which means it was open on one side. You may notice in some of his photo's that his nose is a bit caved in on the left side from the cleft. His lip was repaired when he was about two years old, and it looks great. He will probably have a lip revision done in the future to help make the skin and lip appear more even.
Asher was also born with a cleft palate, which is a hole in the roof of the mouth. The hole was repaired in China in 2004, but the surgery was unsuccessful. Although the surgeons closed the hole, they did not repair the defect in his mouth. I don't know the specifics of the palate but from what I've been told, the nerves (?) in the roof of his mouth are misaligned which is contributing to his poor speech. (I don't know if it's the nerves specifically, but something is not lining up correctly.. and that's the problem.)
Asher was seen by the cleft palate team in November and they concluded that he would need to have further surgery on his palate, even going as far as re-opening it to align everything back up correctly. He is also sporting the largest tonsils that the surgeons have ever seen and obviously those need to come out too. Together with the large tonsils and misaligned palate, it is affecting his speech even with all of the speech therapy he is getting.
We knew when we adopted Asher that surgery was a possibility, and obviously it will be necessary in his case. As you can see from the picture, he has a palate expander installed in his mouth. We use a key to "turn" the expander each day with the goal that it will expand his small mouth. Asher is such a tough little guy and never complains. Even when we ask him if his mouth hurts (and I know it does) he always says no. He's such a strong little boy and I know he will do well through all of the surgeries he will face in the future.
Tomorrow, he visits the cleft team again to discuss his third surgery which could be happening this summer..

I'll update tomorrow when I know..