Sunday, February 10, 2013

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Home 4 Years

Today is the 4 year anniversary of when our precious girl came home, saw snow for the first time, and met Nana and the Hooligans.  Honorary pictures here.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Home Three Years

Time flies! Look how big she's gotten!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Home Two Years

Two years ago, Ari met a carseat for the first time, saw snow for the first time (if she noticed), and met her brothers for the first time.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ariana's Beautiful Name

There is a lady, whom I only know as Nji13, on an adoption forum I read. She is Chinese (from Shanghai, I believe) and has been called the "Cultural Attache" on the forum. It is always interesting to learn from her when she explains how things would be seen from a perspective in China. She was recently (and generously) translating names for those who requested, and here's what she had to say about Ari's Chinese name and my attempted translation of "Serenity." The Chinese characters have (usually) a direct translation to English words, but they can't adequately contain the connotation of what that word means in Chinese culture, nor how the meanings of the two characters interact with one another to make a unique meaning. So this information is truly a gift.

means to "think", or "consider", best expressed actually as "contemplate."

means "still", "quiet", or "calm". The meaning in Chinese is deeper though because the quality of meaning is about a meditative type of reflective quiet or calm (ie: a quiet mystery). So yes, serenity in a spiritual sense fits.

Together they mean "contemplate the stillness". In the context of a child's name, it confers a belief that the child will come to know that which most are unable to know, the ability to quietly reflect upon the mystery of life in a spiritual way.

Be still and know that I am God.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Home One Year-And She Still Has A Cold

As with all the other children, I can't believe it's been a year already, and I can't believe it's only been a year.

People ask what's it like? What's it like to have a girl after all those boys? Are you going crazy buying pink stuff? (No.) What's it like to have a child through adoption versus the children born to us? What's it like to have gone through all the paperwork and expense of adoption? Wasn't it scary to travel so far to meet her? Are we going to tell her she was adopted? (Seriously, someone asked me that!!! ) Many questions, but this list summarizes most of them (except, "What' on her ear?")

So . . . How much did it cost? It cost my whole heart (just like her brothers). What's it like? It's totally, completely normal. It is wonderful, miraculous, and ordinary, like parenthood. Like family.

What's Ari like? Well, best foot forward on the blog. It's true, Travis, she doesn't smile all the time. In fact, she is a champion cryer. She has crying, whining, fussing, and tantrumming down to a science and cries more than any of our other children did (excepting Cameron in infancy). She also still does not sleep well. I'm still going to say that she's pretty wonderful. She is beautiful, intelligent, creative, energetic, affectionate. She firmly believes that she is in charge of this house, and that her mom is hers and hers alone. She loves daycare, loves to go places, gets bored at home. She shows all the signs of an adrenaline junkie in training - the scarier, the better. Her favorite activity is eating. She likes vegetables, cheeses, yogurts, and cereal, and she doesn't really eat breads or meats. She likes spicy food - curries, salsas, and chili oil - and sweets. She loves to sing and dance. She likes to name the people in her family and declare that they are "home." She is entitled, spoiled, willful, and delightful. She is ours.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Picture Summary

In one year, we saw Ariana grow
from a stunned and stressed beautiful baby

to a joyful, gleeful gorgeous girl.
So very quickly.

It's Been A Whole Year

It's been a whole year since that blur of a day when we met Ariana. I've been working at this post for a long time now, and I cannot find adequate words. We have been so blessed. In lieu of my ineloquence, a review and some new pictures of that first day.

More memories are stored in the archives of January, 2008.
Here's our girl now.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

One Year Since Referral

It was one year ago today that I received that wonderful, unexpected call from Melissa.

I have been revisiting that whirlwind of emotions this morning and looking at her referral picture on the wall. What a miracle this whole year has been.

I was at work, and (thank God) nearby my desk when my cell phone rang. It was Melissa, our home study social worker from Small World Adoptions. She said they had a file they'd like us to review. (Lora's breathing stops.) It was a little girl, 11 months old, with "left auricle atresia and dysaudia ." (Dis owdia, Melissa said.) I had no idea what dysaudia was until I saw it in writing and it made sense; it's not a word used commonly in the US. I did understand atresia, though, and it was nothing I was afraid of. I was Ari's mom already . . .

My friends Angie and Julianne were there when I got the call. After making sure that I was OK, of course, Angie said, "I'm so glad everything's OK, because now I can say, that was a really fun call to watch." Apparently, she and Julianne had been watching and debating, It's good news. It's bad news. No, it's good news. . . as they watched the expressions on my face. I remember I was biting on my knuckle.

I hung up the phone with Melissa, started sending e-mails and voice mails to Michael, and my friends and I hung around waiting for the e-mail with Ari's information and pictures. Of course, I did precisely what all the online advice says not to do when the referral comes -- scrolled down the pictures first! Then, I called all of my co-workers within ear shot, "Look at her! Look at her!" with many tears.

Well! Look at her now!

Monday, September 8, 2008

An Anniversary

It was 2 years ago today I made the first hesitant call to Kathy to find out how to go about becoming a "Small World Family." What a blessing it has been!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

All Of The Coincidences

    I've been wanting to work on this post for a while, but I never seem to get around to it. I wanted to list all of the things, some of them laughably trivial, some of them definitely the hand of God, that have been strangely coincidental or have gone amazingly well on our journey to Ariana.

    • I thought I would wait another year before looking into adoption. (Obviously, I didn't know how The Wait to adopt from China was growing.) I was concerned about getting two children too close together in age. LOL. For reasons I didn't know then, something kept nagging at me that I should call Kathy at Small World for my birthday. I didn't quite get to it by my birthday, but soon after. Our application to Small World Adoptions was approved on 10/8/06 . . . exactly one week before our daughter was born. God knew that she was about to be born and needed us to get ready.
    • We worked on putting our dossier together and sending it to China. Again, we were led by Providence in the timing. We got everything done and logged in just before the infamous "May 1st" (2007) regulation changes in China, after which we became ineligible.
    • After our login, we began watching with dismay the reports of the exponentially increasing wait times. (As of today, China has referred for families logged in through January 31, 2006. They are referring less than a week each month, so our referral, unless something really big changes, would be a minimum of 57 months from today, and we have already been on this course for nearly two years.) In the summer of 2007, we decided, for many reasons posted elsewhere, to consider a child who had special needs. We felt we had a good family situation and background. We hoped we might get a referral in the summer of 2008 (right about now, in fact). For many families making this decision, it involves more paperwork, a home study addendum, etc. Our agency had our paperwork ready from the beginning, including a statement in our home study that we were approved to adopt a child with special needs "just in case" we wanted to. More thanks to God; our agency is passionate about the Waiting Child program, and we were already ready to go. Ari was about 9 months old.
    • On September 27, 2007, a Thursday, we had a guest speaker at our weekly staff meeting. Jon Hasbrouk, PhD, came to address issues concerning central auditory processing disorders. As he described one test that they do that related to localization abilities, I suddenly wondered how these same issues affected children with unilateral hearing loss, so much to my coworkers' dismay, I'm sure, I asked a couple of questions . . . Five hours later, our social worker, Melissa, called to ask if we would review a file of a little girl who had "left-sided atresia and dysaudia (hearing disorder - not a term used in the US)." I received Ariana's electronic file at 2:27 pm 9/27/07.

    • In the midst of the . . . overwhelming rollercoaster of emotions . . . I don't even know how to describe the impact of receiving a referral . . . cutting through the euphoria and hysteria, the anxiety and jubilance, was this little girl's name. It told me everything was right. Si Jing, meaning "think" and "tranquil," -- Be still and know that I am God. Deep breath.
    • We needed to write a care plan describing how we were equipped to handle Ariana's “special need.”I have a masters degree in "Speech and Hearing Sciences." I sure hoped that sounded good to the Chinese people who would review our care plan. Even better than SLP. When I had imagined the potential scenarios of the child that would be referred to us, atresia/hearing impairment had never, ever crossed my mind. But we were referred a child who might need extra help with communication. (Since we’ve been home, we’ve found that her hearing is FAR better than the reports from China indicated, but at that time, we didn’t know.) BTW, Ari’s file was reviewed by another family before ours. For reasons I cannot understand, but know that the real reason is that it was God’s will, they decided that she was not meant to be their daughter.
    • I was shopping for chopsticks when I got the call on my cell phone that we had travel approval from China and could go bring Ari home. LOL
    • On January 22, 2008, while we were on a plane to go meet Ariana, the American Speech/Language Hearing Association published an article on unilateral hearing loss. It was waiting for me in the pile of mail when we got back home.
    • While we were in China, I was stunned by word from my employer that my FMLA leave had been denied by HR. I am scheduled for the proper number of hours each week, but sick time, holidays, and vacation do not count toward the 1250 hours that I needed to work to be eligible. As I was not eligible for leave, I also would not be eligible for COBRA benefits. (I carry all the kids on my insurance.) In fact, since I had left work, I was AWOL, and my supervisor was advised to fire me. Instead, she reclassed my position from "part time with benefits" to "prn." That would let me keep my job, but not fix the insurance problem. Due to several corporate factors, including both human error and migration to a new HR computer system, my change in status was neglected by HR, and I did not lose my insurance. Shhhhhh.
    • After we came home, I starting learning about the options for microtia/atresia management, and I learned that the insurance that I was able to keep is one of the best two to have for no-hassle coverage of the BAHA (Ari’s hearing aid).
    • THEN, I found out that for FDA paperwork reasons (not for problems with the product), there was a significant shortage of BAHAs in the US. People were just unable to get them. Plus, Ari needed a left-sided aid, which is far less common. I found this out at about the same time that I found out that . . . our company was closing our clinic.* I was potentially about to lose coverage for my BAHA (again). With perfect timing, the Cochlear company, which makes the BAHA, scheduled a local training. I registered, giving me both continuing ed credits and a chance to speak to someone directly about Ari. The Cochlear people are wonderful, and I had an appointment to get Ari’s BAHA within a week. The insurance covered 80%. (*Our manager is buying the clinic, and we will continue as a local business.)