Saturday, April 13, 2013

Asher's story

All of us have a story.  The who, what, where and why we came to be.

Most of us are blessed to know these details. We take for granted that we know our true birthday, that our mom has hundreds of photos from our childhood lovingly placed in photo albums for us to look through when ever the mood arises.  We can look in the mirror and know that our off centered nose is from dad, and the overly fuzzy eyebrows are from mom.

Most of us are blessed to never have to process questions like why didn't my mom keep me?  Where is this burn scar from? What happened to my hands, toes and chest?

A few of my kids are blessed this way.  A few are not.

A few of the stories I feel like I need to share, and few I feel are not mine to share.

But given the battle around abortion... some believe that a woman's right to choose to end the life of her child effects no one but her. Some say the child inside is a living human, and ending its life has many repercussions physically, socially and morally.... I wanted to share Asher's story

Asher's story is one that we thought we knew, but once home and seen by specialists, we learned the truth.

Asher was born in a very small, rural town in south China.  He was found wrapped in a blanket outside of the gates of the local orphanage sometime in late September of 2008. His birthday is a best guess, and his name was given to him by the orphanage staff and registered for permanent record.  His Chinese name is not the typical name, it reflects the fact that he is an orphan and without a family. His name would always show that he does not know his heritage or place of belonging.

He was born with a cleft lip, cleft palate, missing toes, malformed fingers and a few other physical defects.

Due to his physical deformities, he lived for nearly 4 years inside of a children's welfare institution. He was malnourished due to his cleft palate and inability to feed himself well  because he couldn't hold a spoon or cup.  He was not allowed to attend an outside school, or to go out and about in the general public.

Knowing just these few facts, we were amazed at the survivor he is.  Despite his hard beginning...he is loving, kind and a full of energy.

Fast forward to our visit with a genetics specialist at a leading children's hospital.  Asher's blood work showed no genetic anomalies, so most of his physical issues were caused by a very uncommon congenital fetal abnormality... Amniotic Banding Syndrome. 

Thick bands from the inner lining of the amniotic sac can extend and entrap the developing limbs and other body parts of the baby. When this happens, the blood flow to the body part is cut off and growth is stopped.

True banding is very rare and usually results in very severe conditions. Loss of entire body parts.

So the thought came to mind, if this is so rare and usually does very severe damage... is this what he really had? Or was he just really lucky?

I asked the doctor, and she took a moment to answer.  This is when we learned what a serious survivor Asher is.  His battles to survive started way before birth.

The type of banding Asher has, and millions of other children in many countries, was the result of thousands of microscopic fibers floating around in the womb and becoming wrapped around smaller body parts like fingers and toes.

These microscopic fibers floating are a result of blunt trauma to the placenta of the pregnant woman. Trauma seen from the scraping of the uteri lining to induce an abortion.

My heart broke. It broke for the fact that some of his birth defects did not have to be, and it broke for his birth mom. I can't imagine the circumstances that lead her make the decision to end her child's life, then to make the decision to abandon him because of his physical deformities.  I wonder if she even understood the connection between the two?

But I do know that past circumstances do not have to dictate our future. If we let Him, God will heal and restore.  Asher has only been home 9 months, but he has made huge strides. He is sweet, funny, loving,  hyper and hard headed. 

 I can't believe that God has entrusted us with him, and that we get the privilege of seeing how the rest of his story unfolds

His beginnings were really tough, but with Christ.. all things are made new, and in Him all things are possible. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Starting to settle in

Wow, is it really October?

I think we might be settling in..finally.  No, not with Asher, he is pretty easy. But with our to older kiddos we brought home In 2011.

Asher is doing great, he is pretty strong willed..but having just turned 4 and being child #8, he is easy to handle.

When he first came home, we thought he was going to be pretty delayed. But he is catching up by leaps and bounds. He has already had his palate fixed and his fingers released.  They look awesome! And he has taken to having 9 functioning fingers all too well. He is into everything!

But God is soooooo good. Despite this new ball of sweetness and never ending energy, the dude sleeps ALL night long!  It took us 7 children ( bios included) to finally get a sleeper!

As for being a bit more settled, I am just trying to keep things real. We adopted 2 older children, out of birth order, in May of 2011... and rocked the boat big time @ here.

I think we are seeing some fruits of our labor, blood, sweat and tears.  Both kiddos have started trauma therapy and seem to have found their place in the family.  We still have days where we feel like wardens in our home. But the tight boundaries and unusual world of RAD parenting seem to bringing some peace back in the home.

Not all days are tough, some are really good. And those days give us a glimpse of what will be.  And it is going to be soooo good.

Thankfully, our other kiddos are all doing really well.  It is pretty much a semi-controlled chaos @ here, but it is all good!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Summer is winding down...

I can not believe that summer is winding down.

It went by so fast.  It was full of highs and lows, but God is good. He saw us through them all.

As much as I wish the start of school meant things were going to slow down..I'd be delusional!

Thankfully, since we live in Florida, I get to pretend it is still summer all the way through October.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I have no idea how time got away from us those last days in China.  All of the sudden it was Wednesday and we were headed to Hong Kong to start our trip home.

I think the heat, on going jet lag and missing my family caught up with me those last days. 

But all in all, it was a great trip.  All of the paper work went off without a hitch, and Asher is one awesome little man.  He is so sweet, trusting and really pretty funny.

He is so brave.  He willingly came with us, leaving everything he knew behind.  As each day passes, we see a little more and more of his sweet personality. And each day he makes small gains in closing that gap of institutional delays.

His appetite is awesome, and he has embraced feeding himself with gusto.  He is also finding his voice. We heard nothing from him while in China, but a few giggles here and there. In just the last few days, he is saying some words in Chinese, and is laughing out loud.

In a few weeks we will start the medical journey towards healing his little body. He will need surgery to correct his conjoined fingers and to repair his cleft palate.  We will also see what needs to be done about the burns he acquired on his wrist and ankle.  We never got an answer about what happened. I didn't really expect one, but a part of me hoped for some honesty from someone. Not the usual cloak and dagger, save face answers.  But it did not happen...So, we will just have to make peace with things, and focus on the fact that he is now home...where he is loved, cherished and will be protected with all of our might.

Even after 6 adoptions, I am always amazed at how this process mirrors Christ's love for us.  God opens His heart to us, longing for us to go with Him.  To trust Him with our hearts and lives. To help us over come those areas in which we are delayed.  To listen to us, giving us a voice. He will also heal our broken hearts, and will tell us how loved and cherished we are..... over and over and over until we believe it deep inside.

And as His child, He will protect us with all of His might and give us peace in knowing that we  have a forever home with Him.

I am forever grateful for the gift of all of my children, and eternally grateful for all God has done for me.  I am really looking forward to the future, watching the kids learn to love, grow and heal.  Probably the same things that God is  looking forward to with me.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday's adventures

Well, another great day is wrapping up.

We have been blessed with smiles and giggles and no poop in the pants!

We slept in a bit, then headed to the Shamian Island Christian Church for a bilingual service.  It was awesome.  So wild to hear the gospel preached in a former communist country.  The place was packed, standing room only.

After church we headed to lunch, yes eating again. Then a bit more gift shopping.  It was so stinkin hot, we headed for cover back at the hotel room.

After a nice restful afternoon, we are headed out to cruise the Pearl River!!  I have been wanting to do this for a few trips now, and figured since this is our last...I need to do it now or never.

Asher is opening up more and more every day.  He smiles, giggles and loves to mess with everything in the hotel room.  The toilet is his favorite for now.  He also like to empty and then re-load the mini fridge.  He is busy, but in a good way.  He isn't hard headed and listens pretty far  (:

He is pretty cool.

Tomorrow is another free day, then we head to the American Consulate on Tuesday for his citizenship swearing in ceremony!  We head to Hong Kong on Wednesday evening then fly home on Thursday.

This has been a great trip, but I am ready to get home. Miss the family a lot!

Hope all is well.


Friday, July 13, 2012

A lazy Friday in China (:

Today was a down day, much needed after yesterdays early and busy day.

Yesterday we went to the clinic for Asher's required medical exam.  His fever was very low so we were able to get the things done we needed to.Thank you for the prayers, and thank God for Motrin!

He is a whopping 28 pounds!  That is fully dressed, after breakfast and without going poop for 3 days! After his check up, we headed out to the Guangzhou Animal Safari for the day.  We rode the train through the wild life area, fed some giraffes, saw some pandas and a bunch of other wild life.

Asher seemed to enjoy it, he is still pretty shut down and not showing much emotion or talking yet, but it will come. He is so sweet and trusting.

After the park, we came home and showered and went out to find some dinner.  Thankfully there is always Lucy's, or I think we would be really hungry.
 We talked to two exchange students from South Eastern University in Tampa, singing gospel music-- pretty cool!

We hit the hay @ 10pm and no one got up before 9am. Pretty sweet.

We had a late breakfast and went to a electronics market downtown.  Given the heat, and the fact that we are all on sensory overload, we decided to head back to the hotel and lay low.   After a few days of the city life here, my brain can't process much. The constant noise, people,traffic and not being able to understand anything catches up with me. But it is always a great reminder of how the kids will feel once in the states.

Asher took a good, long nap. And as he woke up, we snuggled for a long time afterward.  I loved it, he seemed good with it..a win win!

In a bit we will headed out and hunt for some dinner.  Yes, it seems like our day revolves around finding food.  It sometimes does, not gonna lie.

Tomorrow we will go back to the medical clinic to check his arm where the TB screen/shot was given. So far it looks great, no reaction.
Looking forward to being able to go back to the pool after given the all clear.  Seems the chlorine can effect the fever and the skin at the shot?  Not sure, but stayed out of the pool just to be safe about the TB site.

Do have to laugh at the differences between the cultures when it comes to medical issues. The advice our guide gave to bring Asher's fever down was pretty funny.  Pretty much opposite of what we do at home.  Given the medical exam was at stake, I chose my way.

We are hoping to go to a bi-lingual church service on Sunday, really looking forward to that.  Seems the laws about religious freedoms are loosening up a bit, at least here.   Have seen some changes in other things this trip too. Seems to be a growing divide between the ways of the older generations and the younger adults going on.  It will be interesting to see how things are in the next 20 years or so here.

Always great to visit, but looking forward to heading home next week.  We are so blessed in the states in sooooo many ways. We are not a perfect place, but no place else like it.

Ok, off to change little man's pants and go and forage for food!

Love you all!


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Another great day in Guangzhou

Well, today was another really good one.

Little man is so sweet.  Still no words, but a smile and a giggle!  Seems he likes to fly down the hall with Michael as his plane.

He is slowly coming out of his shell.  Robin swears he understands English and is just holding out on us.  Sometimes that look in his eyes makes me wonder too.

We had a late day of appointments, so we spent a little bit of time at the hotel pool in the morning.  Asher let us take him in and hold him, but really had no use for the swimming thing.  He did enjoy sitting under the umbrella having some water and M&M's though  (:

He also worked on his self feeding skills today, thankfully the restaurant had children's forks. He could have done some damage to his beautiful face with a real one.  He spent a LONG time stabbing his food and moving it from plate to plate. But he did manage to get a few things into his mouth.

He isn't eating as well as yesterday because he is running a fever.  So prayers would be appreciated.  If his fever is too high, we will have to reschedule his medical exam, and that could back things up down the line. So please pray that he is better tomorrow so we can get the exam done and not hit any delays.

The rest of the day was spent on the Island picking up our laundry, doing some souvenir shopping and having some dinner.  Robin, Asher and I took a cab back to our hotel with all of our stuff, and Michael and Cassidy walked.  Yep, they beat us back.  Our cab driver must have seen sucker written on mine and Robin's forehead, and took us back via the long way. Then dropped he us off a few blocks from the hotel to boot!

Now, before you get all judgmental, try taking a cab in a foreign city of 12 million people... yep, you'd get taken too!

So, that is the news from here.  Tomorrow is an early day so I am off to bed.

Love you!