• Providing care does not mean you care

    Date: 2014.04.21 | Category: Codey, Hope, Thoughts to ponder | Response: 0

    What Kind of Doctor Do You Want To Be?

    September 16, 2011

    In all our experiences over the years, we have seen two types of doctors, doctors who provide care and doctors who truly care.  You might think they are one and the same, but you’d be mistaken.  As a doctor, you might become very knowledgeable about your particular specialty.  You may be able to look at a laundry list of conditions and tell exactly what my son has.  You might be able to quote figures and percentages and tell me what the odds are that my son will ever walk or talk.  I will tell you though that my son is not hydrocephalus.  My son is not cerebral palsy.  My son is not the numerous other labels that have been placed on him.  If when you look at him, that is all you can see, you might be able to provide care but you won’t care.

    Codey - 2 pounds 7 ounces

    Codey – 2 pounds 7 ounces

    Edward Albert once said the simple act of caring is heroic.  You might not think that it is heroic to care, but I tell you it is.  Picture this:

    A mother, standing at the bedside, wearing scrubs because she hasn’t had time to take a shower let alone drive home to get clothes.  Her son is hospitalized, again, she’s tired, worried, worn out and afraid.  The neurosurgeon walks into the room and looks at her son.

    “How is he upstairs?” He asks.

    The mother, who is rightly confused asks, “What?”

    “You know,” he says, “how is he mentally?”

    “What difference does that make?” she asks.

    “Well, it just does.”

    Nurses, who have been watching the whole thing unfold, are horrified by what they hear.  The nurses take the shaking, visibly upset mother out of the room.  Since this doctor is the neurosurgeon on call, she has to entrust her sons care him.  She doesn’t have a choice.  Her son needs surgery and he needs it now.  She cries and worries that maybe the doctor won’t care.  Maybe he won’t try as hard.  Maybe he’ll just let her son go after she has fought so hard to keep him alive.

    When her son comes out of surgery, this neurosurgeon comes into the empty waiting room.  At the same time he sees the parents, he hears the t.v., which is blaring the Olympics.  He turns away from the parents and watches what is happening on the t.v.  When they ask how their son is doing, he holds up his hand to shush them until he sees the race finish.  He treats them as if they don’t matter.

    He was such a sweet, sweet baby!

    He was such a sweet, sweet baby!

    Compare this to the neurologist who knows how much she cares for her son because he’s spent time at her bedside.  He’s taken the time to come visit with them when her son wasn’t in pain.   He’s visited when her son wasn’t so sick he couldn’t even stay awake.  He has seen him watch Price is Right. He has seen him laugh out loud.  He has seen the love they share.  This is the neurologist who holds her hand while she makes the calls, once again to her family.   This is the doctor who offers to make the calls himself.  This is the man she will remember fondly for the rest of her life because he took the time to care about her son.

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    To her this doctor is a hero, as are the other physicians and nurses who took the time to care about her child.  I could sit and list all the things that were done wrong.  The list, which is unfortunately long, would include the care that caused my son’s severe brain damage. I could talk about the care that wasn’t given in a timely manner.  I could talk about all the times I cried because the doctor wouldn’t listen. But today I’m going to talk about the positives, the people that showed how much they care.

    There was a doctor who made the resident cross out all the times this resident listed mental retardation in my son’s chart because Codey wasn’t old enough for that diagnosis and our doctor didn’t want Codey labeled with something we weren’t sure about yet.  Did it matter in the long run? No.  Did he show he cared?  Yes.

    I can talk about the pediatrician that took the time to sit on the floor during my son’s first routine visit and just play with him.  She tried to overcome Codey’s severe anxiety over anyone in a white coat who came near him.  She spent precious time just playing with him on the floor.  Would you say she cared?

    Snuggling with Cassie!

    Snuggling with Cassie!

    I can talk about the nurse who rode with my son to Iowa City to get his trach because they wouldn’t allow family in the ambulance.  This same nurse sends birthday cards 24 years later.  This nurse has attended my other children’s graduation parties.  I realize this level of care isn’t always possible but it has been a blessing to our family.

    I can talk about the nurses who bought my son a regular crib with their own money and decorated it with Christmas lights because he had been in the NICU for 8 months.   The same nurses treated us like family.

    I can talk about the doctor who was honest enough to admit that if he tried to trach Codey, he might kill him.  This doctor recommended we go to Iowa City where they had more experience.  You might think that is wrong to admit that you can’t or don’t know something.  I tell you, it is honorable.  It is the right thing to do.  It will earn you that parent’s trust because you proved you care more about the patient’s life than your ego.

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    The reality is you may be very, very bright and be a wonderful technician, but if you don’t look like you care, the parent’s won’t trust you.  All it takes is a hand held, a moment to show that you care.  It can be something as simple as remembering the patient’s name and taking the time to directly speak to them.

    Our daughter, Hope, has a complicated heart defect called, hypoplastic left heart syndrome.  Hope had a cardiologist that we have known for years.  Every time we came into the appointment, we felt like we were catching him up.  It was frustrating because we never felt like he put any thought into her care.  We always felt like he was seeing just one frame in the whole movie.  He provided competent care, but did he truly care?

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    Compare that to Hope’s new cardiologist.  Before we even had our first appointment, he took her chart to present at a cardiology conference.  Hope had a pulmonary stent that had cracked and he was unsure what the best course of action would be.  He presented her case and got advice from 100’s of doctors before she was even truly his patient.

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    Both cardiologists were bright.  Both knew what they were talking about.  Who do you think we trusted more?  Who showed that they cared?

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    If you want to make a difference you need to care and not just provide care.  You need to take the time to get to know your patients.  That textbook won’t tell you who that patient is or who their family is.  You will never know that patient better than their parents do.  Don’t talk down to the parent that spends 24 hours a day with this child.  The patient is not their condition.  My son is not the shunt case in bed 3.  He has a name and many, many people who love him.

    I know that your days are packed with people to care for.  I know that sometimes the cases are sad and overwhelming.  I know that sometimes it just doesn’t seem worth it to go that extra mile.   I know that the hours are long and the overnight care get tedious, but with all that being said, you really need to consider if you want to be the person families remember with fondness or the person they wish they could forget?

    Be a hero. This isn’t something you can fake.  You either care or you don’t.  If you don’t care, maybe you shouldn’t be in medicine.   On the other hand, if you take the time to know the patient and support the parents and truly give of yourself – your time, your support, your caring – well, then you might just be someone’s hero.

     

  • Sacrifice

    Date: 2014.04.18 | Category: Thoughts to ponder | Response: 0

    Easter weekend is upon us again.  What comes to mind when you think of Easter?  Do you think of church and family and getting together?  Do Easter egg hunts, fancy dresses, and little boys in cute ties bring a smile to your face?

    Easter should bring thoughts of gratitude for the grace that was bestowed upon us.  Easter should bring to mind what Christ endured for us.  He gave the greatest sacrifice so that we could live. Christ died and rose again so that we could be adopted into His family.  Without this sacrifice, none of us could hope to have eternal life with Him.

    I don’t know how many of you truly take this in, but for me there were many years where I got lost in the fun of Easter.  I sang the beautiful songs.  I enjoyed dressing up on Sunday morning and getting together with family.  I loved watching the little children run through the grass picking up colorful eggs.  I was grateful but I never got what Christ dying so that I could live truly meant.

    The Passion of the Christ made it all the more real for me.  I am a very visual person.  I have read the passages but somehow watching it in full color drove it all home.  I take too much for granted.  I was living my life with very little thought to what happened to make this life possible.

    I wish I could say that I have it all figured out now.  I still struggle every day but I do have one thing down.  I am obedient to His call and I know what His call sounds like.  I have had it happen enough times that I obey even when it makes no sense to me. I drag my feet and overthink everything.  I say, “No, I couldn’t possibly but I know in the end He is right and I comply.

    I can tell you that the last year has been so very hard.  I miss my mom.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wish I could call her and tell her something the kids have done.  It has been hard to find a new normal with all our new kids.  The next six months are going to be very complicated and I, myself, don’t feel up to the task, but I know if God is calling me to it He will provide for it.

    Not long ago, I asked God what I could do for Him and what He has asked has taken me way out of my comfort zone.  He has taken us into the “only with God” zone.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I can’t but He can.  It is only through Him that I made it through this year.  It is only through Him that I am proceeding into the next six months.  I.CAN.NOT. but HE MOSTLY CERTAINLY CAN!

    I want everyone to understand that through all that you will read in the coming months, this is not because I believe I am superwoman.  It is because I am being obedient to His call.   I am fearful of what the world shows me but I am confident in what the Lord calls me to.

    I read another blog from one of the mamas I have come to know through the heart community.  Her most recent blog talks about sacrifices to God.  How many of us live our lives as a sacrifice?  How many of us live our lives in awe of all that God has done wanting to do nothing more than follow His call?  I know for years I was just existing.  I was going through the motions of living a worldly life.  It was all about me and my family.  But I get it now.  It is not about me.  It was never about me.

    In this blog, Lori says, “My desire was to one day stand before Him and be completely empty – with nothing left to give!  I spoke of my life as my offering and I intended to live it as a sacrificial gift to the God I love.”  Please take a moment and read her blog.  I believe you will be as moved as I was by her heartfelt testimony.  (BLOG)

    That is where I am at.  I don’t want to get to the end of my life and know that I could have done more.  I want to live my life to the fullest.  I want to do extreme things for the Lord.  I have asked Him “what more can I do” and God has answered.

    Who are you living your life for?  Is He calling you to do something and you are still refusing?  Why?  What are you afraid of?  There is so much joy in being obedient.  God doesn’t call you to the hard to overwhelm you.  He calls you to the hard to bless you.

    “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” – John 13:17

     

  • Joseph

    Date: 2014.04.17 | Category: Adoption | Response: 0

    JOSEPH

    I have always loved that name.

    Joseph has big dreams.

    He would like to be adopted.

    Joseph

    He would like to go to America.

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    He would like to be a doctor.

    Could you be the family he is looking for?

    Could you be the person who supports him as he strives for his dream?

    He has waited a long time.

    Every year that passes makes his dreams seem less likely…

    but he hasn’t given up hope.

    Don’t let his dreams die.

    Let’s find this sweet boy a family and send him on his way to being all that he can be!

    You can see more pictures and read more about him at Agape – Joseph

     

     

  • Every Child Deserves A Family

    Date: 2014.04.13 | Category: Adoption | Response: 0

    I always questioned if I was ready to adopt and then I realized no child is ready to be an orphan. – unknown

    Our family has been blessed over and over again by adoption.  I realize that not everyone is cut out to have a large family and to many our family looks a little crazy.  But if only you could see what I see when I look into the sunroom and see the littles playing so sweetly together.  If you could look in the backyard and see Hope riding her scooter, Gracie on her bike, and Jasmine on her powered wheelchair doing laps on the path in our backyard.  I hear the laughter and my heart is filled with joy.  I see the quiet play and I am content.  I am overwhelmed at this family that has been brought together by God and bonded by love.  It is truly a beautiful thing.  It can be hard and heartbreaking and the lack of sleep can be overwhelming but none of that comes close to what I feel in my heart every day knowing just how blessed I am.

    I realize that not everyone is called to adopt, but everyone can do something. You can pray, sponsor, advocate, and help spread the word.

    Today my something is to advocate.  Both of the little girls we are adopting were found by us on sites where someone else was advocating.  I saw Kelly’s picture and my heart was gone.  Many, many, many people have been advocating for her.  Hundreds of people have commented on my post about getting our PA (preapproval).  They have commented over and over again about praying for her.

    Today I want to do something for Kelly.  I can’t be there with her right now to hold her hand or comfort her as she waits so I want to advocate for her two friends at Agape Family Life House.  They have both been written about many times.  I have permission to share from another blog, Every Orphan Deserves A Family.

    There are many things that have been brought up in the news about international adoption and the issues with it.  While many things need to be fixed that doesn’t deter from the fact that many, many children will spend their lives in institutions wanting nothing more than to have a family.

    Candy would love to have a family.  What a beautiful girl.  Could she be your daughter?

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    You can see a video and read more about Candy here.  BLOG ABOUT CANDY

    Or maybe God is calling you to a son.  Could it be Geno?  He ages out very soon and would love to have a family to call his own.  He has been praying for his family.  Could you be his family?

    Geno

    You can see a video and read more about Geno here.  BLOG ABOUT GENO

    Prayerfully consider all that the Lord asks of you.

    “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”  John 13:17

  • Fifteen….Inconceivable!

    Date: 2014.04.10 | Category: Hope | Response: 0

    I can remember when I first learned of her as if it was yesterday.

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    She was a beautiful baby with a round little face.

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    She stole my heart from the very first moment.

    She was truly a gift.

    She has grown into quite the beauty.

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    She loves video games….

    and making movies….

    and special effects makeup….

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    and watching FaceOff.

    She got to be an extra in a zombie movie.

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    She has a very best friend who just happens to be a boy.

    They have been best friends for five years now.

    She ate her very first turkey leg this year.

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    Dyed her hair red to be Merida for Halloween.

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    She definitely has her own style.

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    She loves photography and takes the very best pictures of the littles.

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    Her favorite movies are Princess Bride, How to Train Your Dragon, Sorcerer’s Apprentice, The Mummy, and Frozen.

    Her favorite type of music is pop.

    Her favorite songs include too many by Taylor Swift and Avril Lavigne.

    She loves to draw and is writing a book called “Alice in Horrorland”.

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    She knows what she likes and sticks to her guns.

    She isn’t easily swayed and has strong opinions on what is right and wrong.

    She likes being homeschooled and chose not to get her driver’s permit because she didn’t feel responsible enough yet.

    She isn’t fond of math, but likes writing and art.

    She is growing into quite the young woman and I am blessed to be her mom.

  • Faith of a Child

    Date: 2014.04.10 | Category: Faith | Response: 0

    “The point of your life is to point to Him. Whatever you are doing, God wants to be glorified, because this whole thing is His.” – Francis Chan

    Yesterday we learned of a bump in the road.  It made me a smidge bit nervous. I truly believe that God had lead us to this place and I am going to trust that it would all work out.  I said I was “expectantly waiting”, but still my heart continued to beat a little faster than it should have on a couple of occasions throughout the day.  I turned it over and over and over again to God.  I had been in this position once before and it turned out all right.  I kept reminding myself of that fact during my moments of doubt.

    During one of my moments of doubt, I asked the children to pray with me.  Jasmine reminded me again that “God’s got this!”.  She had said that fact multiple times throughout the day.  She told me she wasn’t worried because she knew it was all going to work out.  My favorite Jasmine moment though was when I asked why this had to happen.   To which Jasmine replied, “If this is an “only with God” thing then maybe God wanted everyone to be sure.”  I told her I was pretty sure that the story would give all the glory to God and people would see we were just being obedient to where He was leading and she said, “See!”, like it all made perfect sense.

    The faith of a child.  They are so sure that God will come through.  Maybe it’s because they haven’t been let down, maybe it’s because they aren’t jaded by all the evil in the world, or maybe it’s just because they know something that we adults have forgotten, either way I need to get me some.

     

     

     

  • Happy Birthday Mei Mei!

    Date: 2014.04.09 | Category: Maisey, Photos | Response: 0

    Two years have passed so quickly.

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    My little girl turns four today!

    Maisey is the quietest of the littles.

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    She is the one most likely to be off somewhere playing quietly.

    Or inventing a new game.

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    She loves playing pretend and dressing up.

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    She loves books.

    She loves playing with her dolls and being a princess.

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    She is the best big sister.

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    She likes to help by feeding Evie and Evie just goes along with it.

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    She likes to sweep the floor and she does it in style.

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    She is Lainey’s biggest cheerleader.

    This year she got her BAHA and new glasses.

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    She sings all day long ….. “Let it go!  Let it go!”…. in the fun new dress Cassie found her.

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    She dances and tumbles and runs and rides her trike.

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    She is a girly girl and LOVES makeup.

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    She is such a daddy’s girl.

    Daddy and Maisey like to make fun fruit art together.

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    She gets along so well with the other littles.

    They are such good friends.

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    She is the girl of a million different faces.

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    And her wink…

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    And her favorite face to do when she pretends she can’t understand what we are asking her.

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    We learned last night that she likes to get flowers courtesy of big sister Grace.

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    Maisey has been the perfect addition to our family.

    She is full of grace and joyful fun.

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    She has changed so much from that very first day we met.

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    But she is just as sweet as ever!

    Happy birthday little one!

  • Once again….

    Date: 2014.04.08 | Category: Faith | Response: 0

    Dan and I find ourselves in another “only if God” situation.  I really do not like cryptic messages and I wish I could give you more information but I can not right now.  I do promise to give you information the minute it becomes okay to do so.

    I can let you know that all of our children are doing wonderfully.  We celebrate two birthdays this week so pictures will be posted tomorrow and Friday.

    I can let you know that God is amazing.  He is wonderful and when He brings something to your heart it is an absolutely overwhelming thing.  Sometimes the signs and the things leading up to an event are so amazing that it can only be from God.  It is in those moments that you feel confident and assured that His hand is all over the situation.

    I have had the absolute pleasure of having God bring something to my heart that others said is impossible and watching it unfold as only He can.  I am writing this asking you to cover us with prayers.  This is a good and joyously wonderful thing so asking for it to be is a good thing…..I promise.  (I’m sure you can pretty much guess!)

    I can’t wait to share the information with you.  I am excitedly and enthusiastically waiting to watch it all unfold.

    I wait for the Lord, I expectantly wait, and in His word do I hope.   Psalm 130:5

  • Best Buddies

    Date: 2014.04.04 | Category: Codey, Lainey Rae, Photos | Response: 0

    Sometimes things happen in life that you could never, ever imagine happening.

    Lainey & Codey

    To most people, this picture will just look like two siblings snuggled up together, but I’m telling you it is so much more.

    Lainey is a little girl mostly non-verbal, with severe limitations, who most the time doesn’t really pay attention to what is going on around her.   She is in her own little world a lot of the day.

    Codey likes to stay pretty much to himself too.  He doesn’t like to share his room with the littles, although they love his noise-making toys, so they are always trying to sneak into his room.  Codey has a couple phrases that he can say but he is pretty non-verbal too.

    Yet, for whatever reason Lainey loves Codey.  Codey scoots around on the floor and she loves to run up behind him and lay her head on his back.  She likes to help him along and has even been known to sit on his lap while he is trying to scoot.  They are just so cute together.

    She runs into his room, throwing the door open announcing herself, and climbs on his bed.  He just pretty much lets her be.  She snuggles up on his bed with a bottle and he watches t.v. from his comfy chair.

    I can guarantee you when I imagined us adopting again, I never pictured this.  I worried about how much it would stress Codey out.  I wondered about how he would react to them.  I wondered how they would respond to a 26 year old boy who scoots around on the floor and growls when he is upset.  It’s not the normal for sure.

    But this…..this is….so much more than I could have ever hoped for.   This is the biggest blessing.

    So much so, that when I saw this picture, I cried.

    Feeling very blessed indeed!

     

  • Blessed Beyond Belief

    Date: 2014.04.01 | Category: Adoption, Benjamin, Elijah, Evangeline Faith, Family Life, Grace, Hope, Jasmine (Shuang Shuang), Lainey Rae, Maisey, Photos | Response: 0

    I stood outside in the corner of our walking path and cried tears today.

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    Maybe it’s because the talk I gave this weekend brought so many memories to mind.  Maybe it’s because I wish my mama could have been there and I miss her so much.  Maybe it’s because we are waiting to hear from sweet Kelly.  Maybe it’s because I keep seeing picture after picture on Facebook of children just wanting a family.  Maybe it’s because the world is so unfair to so many children and I can do so little.

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    For whatever reason, the tears came but they didn’t diminish the wonderfulness of what my eyes saw.  Happy children playing outside in our big backyard.  I remember a couple of years ago when Dan and I were regretting buying the acreage, with all the upkeep and mowing.  Regretting the remodeling we did on the house and having spent money that we would have never spent knowing what we know today.  My brother, my son, and I (but mostly my brother) put in a 600 foot walking path in our middle acre.  It wasn’t getting much use.  We hadn’t done the tree and flower planting that we should have.  We wondered if God was asking us to sell the house. But selling just didn’t seem right so we stayed and now we know why.

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    Now the yard is a giant play place where  I get to see the little girl who ten short months ago sat on a floor in China raging, pulling out her hair, so unhappy, with us wondering if she could ever be happy and feel loved, run across the open ground with a look of pure joy on her face as the wind whips her hair.

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    I get to see the little girl who weighed six pounds at six months, thrive!  The little girl presented to us as deaf and unworthy, blossom and grow and blow out of the sky any of the limitations I thought she might have.  She is so much more than any of the descriptions on paper.  She is a fighter and loves with all her heart.  She is a beautiful spirit in a tiny, strong, little body.  She is smart and pretty and helpful and such a little mama.

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    And how can I look at Jasmine and not think of where she would be?  I watch her speed around the path, hair flowing in the wind, a huge smile on her face, enjoying every moment of freedom that her hot pink powered chair brings her.  I want to say slow down and then I remember all the limitations others have placed on her, all the pain, the wounds and scars, and I cheer her on instead.

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    I look at little Miss Evie.  The girl they told us only had a few months left.  I’ve had ten months with this beautiful soul.  Ten months of love and laughter.  There have been tears, fear, and restless nights, but to watch her run and play, to be allowed to be a part of all that is the miracle of her…..I am completely and utterly blown away and so undeserving.

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    Which is why the tears flowed.  Why am I so blessed?  Why should I be allowed to call these children mine?

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    I get to spend time flying kites, getting hugs, and listening to their sweet laughter roll across the wind.

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    Jasmine is free and happy.  Secure in the love of her family.

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    My older children are happy.  We’ve had much to celebrate.

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    Photo courtesy of Wunderkind Gallery

    Benjamin!  Where do I even start with Benjamin?  Before his surgery he couldn’t run around our sectional without being winded and now he is doing 5, 6, 7, or more laps around the path.  You can hear his laughter and his little bell ringing around every corner.  Every time he goes past me he yells, “This is so fun mama!”  His little legs pedal faster and faster as he zips around the path trying to catch Jasmine and Gracie.

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    The joy on their faces is unmistakable.  Maisey and Ben’s bond grows deeper and stronger with every day that passes.

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    Then there is the little guy.  He is this tiny bundle of rambunctiousness that is just so much FUN!  I don’t know what we will find out in May but he is so worth it all.  I can’t even explain what it is to watch him run and play.  He is the perfect little bundle of boy and my heart overflows with love for him.

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    Little Lainey secure enough to fall asleep in the sun.

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    Little Evie running to my arms.

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    Blessed to have spent over 30 years with the love of my life who shares my dreams.

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    Standing in awe of the little bundle that started this whole adoption journey.  A baby.  A gift straight out of no where.  Who gets gifts such as these?

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    Others ask us how can you do this?  Aren’t you tired?  What were you thinking?  What am I thinking?

    I.AM.BLESSED!!!!!

    That is what I am thinking as I stand there with the tears flowing down my cheeks.  Blessed at this family that God has made.  Completely and utterly humbled by the God who would allow me such a blessing just because I was obedient to His call.  What a gift to be given.  How do I do this?  How could I not?