Sunday, November 23, 2014


I am not going to lie.  This is the second time we have had the joy of celebrating Olivia's birthday at home.  It hasn't gotten any easier.  Finally, earlier this month it hit me.  I wasn't there on her birthday. I didn't carry her for nine months. I didn't feel the pain of labor or the joy when she was placed on my chest for the first time.  In fact, I don't even know when her actual birthday is.  That unknown date has been one of the hardest things for me to overcome during this whole process.  How do I not know the date my daughter entered this world?

Olivia's Gotcha Day holds the same sentiments for me that my biological children's birthdays do.  That was the day I first laid eyes on my beautiful daughter, finally felt the weight of her in my arms and was able to lay with her on my chest while she rested that first night.

I think of Olivia's birth mother all the time.  I think of her when Olivia does something extra cute.  I wish she could see her in that moment. Or when she is sad, I want her birth mother to know I am comforting her.  When she learns a new skill I wish she were there to share my excitement.  But, the birthday, that's the hardest.  Her birth mother knows what it was like to carry her daughter for nine months, to feel the pains of labor and the weight of her newborn on her chest.  

It does not seem fair that I am the one to celebrate these birthday milestones.

"A child born to another woman calls me mom.  The depth of the tragedy and the magnitude of the privilege are not lost on me"- Jody Landers.

The hard place I hold in my heart for Olivia's birthday is selfish.  Because like any other child, Olivia thinks her birthday is the BEST. DAY. EVER, I put on my happy face and delight in the joy that my daughter finds surrounding her special day.  
We started our celebrations two days early.  

Friday morning she awoke to her new Frozen bike which is what she has asked for day after day for the last two months.

As you can see, she didn't like it at all.

Later that morning we enjoyed a play date with some of our adoption community friends.  These girls and their mommies are such a blessing in our lives.

After all of the blue frosting someone wouldn't take a nap but she was ready for play date number two with all of her buddies from our street.

Her big day finally came and we celebrated low key at home with early morning presents, making birthday Olaf treats for her class party, fulfilling a shrimp cocktail request and a special Friendsgiving dinner complete with home made chocolate ice cream cake for the birthday girl.


**Our traditional birthday balloon release to her birth mother had to be delayed due to freezing cold rain.  We will send a balloon while we are with her cousins in Kansas this week.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Glorious Day

Every so often I get the itch to get out of town.  This day was just what I needed.

At this point I went and hid in the woods so I didn't have to watch. 

Someone slept her way through the hike

Never had lunch in a more beautiful spot

Sign of a successful day

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Earlier this month we celebrated our little man turning 5.  I still can't quite wrap my head around it.  I am certain I will always think of him as my baby boy.  But, sadly time can't stand still so we decided to embrace 5 and celebrate big.

Brooks woke up bright and early on his big day and we excited to see the birthday fairy arrived and decorated the house in balloons and streamers.

Sweet boy is very into nature and science right now.  All he asked for was a bug vacuum.  Big sis came through and he was mighty excited.  Other birthday hits were legos, a gem mining kit and an ant farm.

Poor guy came down with a high fever in the afternoon but, he mustered enough energy to blow out the candle on his requested cookie sandwich and give Nana and Poppie a huge greeting as they arrived that afternoon.  

Brooks requested a Pirate party and a bounce house for his birthday.  I had to search high and low for a Pirate bounce house.  This thing didn't disappoint.  It provided hours of fun, even Poppie joined in.

When Nana decided to retire this year she promised Brooks they would come for his birthday.  It was so fun having Nana and Poppie here to celebrate.  Brooks loved it and I sure loved all of the help!

The guests had to walk the plank before coming to the party.

Little pirate daddy attack

The sign of a happy Pirate.  Worn out at the end of his special day.

Brooks, we are so proud of you our big five year old.  You are kind, loving, smart and such an eager learner.  We love your imagination and how curious you are about nature.  Sometimes we say you live in "Brooks world" because your imagination runs 24 hrs a day.  I love this about you.  You have a great sense of humor and make people laugh all of the time.  You are sensitive and sometimes think that people are laughing at you rather than laughing because you are funny.  This makes me sad and I hope one day you will realize what a talent you have.  You are a great friend and meet new people easily.
You are a very competitive little boy and are very hard on yourself.  Sometimes you don't try things because you know they are hard and you don't want to make mistakes.  But, more often than not when you try you succeed and I love watching how proud you are when you take risks.  This year you played soccer with some of your best buddies and your daddy as a coach.  You were very scared at first and even cried during some games.  But, you persevered and guess what?  You were a star and we were so very proud.  It's been a joy to watch you build self confidence through basketball and now soccer. 
At your well visit we learned that you are above the 50th% for height and the 25th% for weight.  This doesn't surprise me because you don't like to eat much.  Well, except cheetos and all things junk as you would say.  You were very brave and didn't cry at all when you got a shot at your visit.  You felt so proud.

Brooks, we love you so much.  I hope you always stay my little snuggler.  I hope you always want to play "helicopter" as I throw you onto the bed and that you will never forget how we spend the majority of our days wrestling and having tickle fights since that is your favorite thing to do at age five.  I hope most of all that you always know you were created perfectly by God and that he loves you, your mommy and daddy love you and your sissies love you JUST THE WAY YOU ARE.  Never be afraid to be YOU!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Little Trip

I'm a bit behind in posting this but, didn't want it to go unmentioned.

** I have purposefully not mentioned a lot about Olivia's microtia on the blog.  I aim to protect all of my children's privacy.  However, I recently assisted the No Hands But Ours  
team with a website revamp in hopes of assisting prospective adoptive parents with navigating the world of special needs.  I am quite certain that Olivia would be okay with me sharing her story if it helped to bring even one child home from China.


In mid September we had the opportunity to take Olivia to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.  Olivia is in an early Intervention program here in South Carolina which offers amazing services to families who have children with special needs.  She is followed by various specialists who see her at little to no cost to our family.

Our Early Interventionist mentioned that she felt we should take advantage of the craniofacial team at MUSC as we haven't felt that Olivia has received consistent care locally.  Olivia's diagnosis of microtia and atresia is fairly uncommon.  Locally, we have seen various specialists including, audiology, two ENTs, craniofacial surgeons, orthodontists and a speech therapist.  Each person seems to have their own idea of what type of care is best to deal with Olivia's unilateral hearing loss and corresponding needs. 

Over the past few months we have felt unsettled and wanted to make sure we were doing all we should be for Olivia.  So, when Sonita, our Early Interventionist mentioned a trip to MUSC we jumped on it.

Thankfully, due to Nana's new retirement status she was able to stay with the bigs and we took a little trip with Olivia.

Sweet girl was pretty happy in her car seat knowing she was having mommy and daddy time.  But, when we arrived at the hotel it was a different story.  Poor baby kept saying "Don't leave me".  The last time we were alone together in a hotel was in China.  Broke.My.Heart.

A dinner out and a special dollar to buy ice cream from the restaurant owner made our girl relax and cheer up.

She couldn't get enough of her daddy's crab soup.  Mommy wasn't sharing.

The next morning we woke up bright and early and headed to a full day of appointments.  Sweet thing was such a trooper as she went from 8:00 am to 2:00 with no break for lunch or nap. 

We had many questions answered.  First, audiology does not recommend a hearing device at this time.  Although she has profound conductive loss in her right ear her left ear is working perfectly.  In addition to this, she is scoring above age level, at the 3.5 year range on language and articulation (thank you Miss Christie).  We were told that a BAHA would only possibly help with her sound localization and gravitational insecurity.  As the therapist said, it's too expensive of a risk to take as the chance of it helping is minimal.
After the speech and audiology appointments, we headed to see an ENT who specializes in microtia and atresia.  He listened to Olivia talk and we expressed some concerns we have with her nasality.  He immediately sent her to his VPI clinic where she had another speech evaluation.  This time the airflow from her nose vs. mouth was measured and she had a test done where a tube was placed down her nose and throat.   The child was a dream.  The physicians were certain she was too young to participate in the study but, wanted to try because we had made such a long trip.  Olivia cooperated perfectly and never shed a tear.  I assure you I would have screamed if someone stuck a camera that far up my nose!!!!

 It was discovered that just as we imagined, Olivia has vasopharyngeal insufficiency.  This is related to her low tone on her microtia side.  Her palate is not contracting as it should.  We will begin intense specialized therapy in hopes of strengthening her palate.  In 9 months we will return to MUSC and determine if surgical correction is necessary.

We are so thankful for the team of experts at MUSC who helped us learn just a little bit more about how our daughter was "fearfully and wonderfully made".