July 30, 2008

One year ago...Josie's story

On July 31, 2007, we found our Josie on a waiting child list with a different agency than the one we were currently involved with. We had been logged in with our agency and the CCAA for over a year and I was tired of waiting for my daughter. After years of fertility issues and the disappointment of not being matched with waiting children with our current agency, I was ready to go elsewhere. Without Chris even knowing, I contacted this new agency and asked to see Josie’s medical files. The social worker agreed that they would work with us, but there was a family currently interested in this child. We were second in line. If the family decided against her, we would have the opportunity to put our letter of intention in motion. I said a few prayers and started researching her heart condition.

Just look at her referral picture. I knew she was our daughter the moment I laid eyes on her.

I just needed to convince my husband that this little girl was worth the risk. If we pursued her, we’d be starting over. That meant, pulling our files with our current agency, resubmitting them with our new agency, getting a new login date, paying new fees (in essence starting completely over). It was risky and I had knots in my stomach worrying about the whole thing falling apart, but I was ready to take the risk.

It didn’t take Chris long to agree that she was worth it. We contacted our local Children’s Hospital to have her medical files reviewed. Her condition was treatable, but she definitely needed heart surgery. We then contacted Chris’s medical insurance to make sure her treatment would be covered. She would be. Now, we just needed the green-light from this new agency that she was really available. It was longest five days of my life.

Five days later, we were told that the other family was not going to pursue her. She was our daughter, if we were interested. Are you kidding? YES! Close her file to anyone else!!! From that point on, we had our work cut out for us. We needed to write a letter to our current agency asking them to release our dossier from the CCAA so that it could be resubmitted with our new agency. We also needed to update our dossier with all kinds of paperwork that would soon be expiring. Chris spent the last month of his summer break running errands, meeting with our new social worker to update our homestudy and driving to our capital office across the state to get the new paperwork sealed. I won’t bore you with the timeline, but it took seven months from start to finish to have Josie in our arms. There's a special family (you know who you are) that we are deeply connected with because of Josie. Thank you. God works in mysterious ways.

I’ll leave you with the video introduction we shot last September of Emma introducing her little sister to the rest of the world.

July 27, 2008

Happy 3 Months since Surgery

It’s been three months since Josie’s open-heart surgery for Tetralogy of Fallot. The change is amazing. No more blue toes, blue fingers and blue lips. No more squatting to relieve the pressure on her heart. No more flushed cheeks or heavy sweating. No more excessive breathing or panting during physical activity.

Watching her go through surgery only three weeks after we were home from China was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. She was a frightened little girl who didn’t understand what was going on and there was very little anyone could do to reassure her. Our family can’t thank the expertise of the Mott Children’s Hospital enough. We now have a happy healthy two year old that is catching up on all the physical limitations she experienced the first twenty months of her life.

Happy three months, Josie!

July 25, 2008

Fun Photo Friday

Chris took the girls to the Children's Museum today while I worked. They got to spend some extra special time with Dad before he leaves for a few days. Thanks for being such a hands-on dad, Chris. I also have to give a shout-out to my sister who made the special tie-dye shirts for the girls. We love them, Aunt Michelle.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

July 24, 2008


My blogging friends know that I've often confided in you about our ongoing sleep issues since our adoption. We go two steps forward, and then two steps backwards on a regular basis at our house with Josie's sleeping patterns. Since I've gone back to work, my husband has become the expert at putting Josie down for her afternoon naps or at bedtime. He can be and out of her bedroom in 20 minutes (she still requires us to lay with her until she falls asleep) whereas it takes me 60 minutes or longer to get her to sleep. It's still not uncommon to have night terrors 2-3 times a week where she's up for hours crying during the night. Despite my complaints, she's no longer in our room at night...she's in her own room (with Emma) on a mattress on the floor.

Believe me...I've never enjoyed coffee in the morning as much as I enjoy it after our return home from China. It's the only thing that gets me up and going after a wicked night's sleep.

My husband is going out of town soon for several days. It will be the first time I've been alone overnight with the girls' since the adoption. I'm asking my friends and family to say a few extra prayers while he is away.

July 22, 2008

Josie's first babysitter

I'm happy to report that Josie did very well with her first babysitting experience (Daddy had to drive Mommy to a medical procedure). There were no tears. Just a kiss and a wave goodbye. It helped that big sister stayed behind to assist in the babsitting duties with our official babysitter. Josie even took a nap in our absence! Perhaps her daycare transition in August will actually go much smoother than I expected. Perhaps the Mommy and Daddy can now go out to eat dinner at one of our favorite tapas restaurant again and enjoy an adult dinner.

I spent the afternoon sleeping off my happy drugs and the girls washed cars with Daddy.

I've found the answer to keeping Josie from messing around with her knee scabs. Fancy band-aids! We haven't had to worry about fancy band-aids in a very long time (they aren't cool on a 10 year old anymore). Josie was so thrilled with her "hello kitty" band-aid, that she had to show it off to our cat, Penny.

July 21, 2008

Traveling School

Over the weekend, we traveled around the state to attend a family reunion and then visit my sister and her family at their rental cottage. For the most part, Josie is a horrible traveler. She fusses in her carseat if the ride is any longer than fifteen minutes and she refuses to nap. Emma decided to take this opportunity to work with Josie on her animal sounds and body parts while we traveled to one of our many adventures.

I knew that the age difference (8 years) would have it's advantages and disadvantages. Right now, we're enjoying how much Emma is exploring her role as teacher.

Enjoy the short video that Emma shot:

July 18, 2008

Fun Photo & Video Clip Friday

Josie and Emma have totally been enjoying this hot muggy weather. We have a little above-ground pool that has seen lots of action lately. We have learned that Josie has no fear of the water. She's also obsessed with climbing the ladder and jumping into one of our arms. I've included a very short video clip below:

My parents visited the other night and the girls enjoyed some quality time.

In further updates, Josie's language acquisition is growing by leaps and bounds. She’s now putting two word sentences together!! Our favorite word in her vocabulary is more. More food. More hugs. More throws in the pool. The word "more" can cover a lot of territory. Thanks for being such a good teacher, Emma.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

July 15, 2008

Happy 4 Months & Other Highlights

Over the past few days, we have lots of company and Josie has been in heaven playing with all her new friends and cousins. (Thank you Walch family for our lovely dinner the other night and I wish I would have brought my camera to dinner).

On a work note, we finally have a solution to our daycare dilemma. I’ll be returning to my full time schedule the first week of August and Chris will be returning to his work schedule the last week of August. Josie’s daycare center is near Chris’s school and he will be doing the drop-off and pick-up so that I can continue to take Emma to school in the morning. I’m feeling a HUGE sense of relief with August looming in just a few weeks.

July 16 marks our 4 month Josie Day anniversary. I’m still in awe at everything we have been through and how well she has recovered from open-heart surgery. She certainly has blossomed into a loving happy little girl.

Happy Anniversary, Josie!!

July 13, 2008

Lesson Learned

We've learned an important lesson regarding Josie. NEVER EVER reposition her on her bed after she's been sleeping. We should have known better based on our history together after we first came home from China and the three months since then. Let me set the stage. Chris and I stayed up late watching SNL (which we never do anymore) and then right before we went to bed, checked on the girls. Emma was peacefully asleep on her bed, and Josie was sideways and without covers. We thought Josie needed to be repositioned on her mattress and covered back up. BIG MISTAKE. Between 1am and 3:30am she was wide awake. I took the first shift (1am - 2:15am) and then Chris took over, where she finally gave in and slept again. Lesson learned.

Today's pictures were taken before mass. The girls got their matching ladybug dresses in China. Emma will be retiring this dress after today. She's grown quite a bit since March and informed me several times how "tight" the dress felt. The mom appreciates the effort of wearing the dress. Thanks, Emma.

July 11, 2008

Fun Photo Friday

My husband is so good at taking the girls on excursions while I’m working. He especially loves taking them to Frederick Meijer Gardens because it gives him an opportunity to explore landscaping ideas while the girls play. I’ve included a few pictures from their outing, as well as a great video of Josie laughing during our dinner of spinach ravioli.

July 8, 2008

Equal Time

Going through an adoption is extremely exhausting and emotionally consuming. We spent over two years preparing for Josie’s arrival and then once we got home from China, we were dealing with all kinds of heart specialists and her open-heart surgery/recovery. For the last three months, it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions in our house. As much as I’ve tried to provide equal time for both girls, it just isn’t perfect. God bless my friends who have multiple children and can find a way to make every child feel special.

Today was an Emma and Mommy day. Josie stayed home with Chris and the two of us attended the new American Girl movie and then did a bit of shopping at the mall. Seeing the smile on Emma’s face and hearing her thank me for the alone time, reminds me that I need to do this more often. I especially need to remember this once I return to full-time work and the pace gets even more insane.

July 7, 2008

Loving the part-time schedule

To help ease the transition for Josie, I'm working 20 hours during the month of June and July. I can't say it enough...I LOVE this reduced schedule. Chris has always had his summer's off from the school system and he's always been willing to take Emma on all kinds of day trips while I worked. Today we took advantage of my day off and took a quick trip to the zoo before the rain hit.

Our local zoo has really grown and our favorite exhibits are the ones in which you can interact with the animals. Today we got to feed the birds as well as the stingrays. Emma wasn't too sure about touching the stingrays and Josie wasn't too keen on the birds, but the Mom totally enjoyed everything.

July 6, 2008

Independence Day Highlights

Josie enjoyed her first 4th of July holiday with her West Michigan cousins. It was a low-key day with a family BBQ and dip in our chilly pool. In the evening, we took Josie to our local fireworks where we promptly killed our van battery (we were watching a DVD in our van while waiting for the fireworks to start). Oops. Thank goodness AAA wasn't too busy to jump our van on a busy holiday evening (hee hee). I've included a few of our favorite pictures from yesterday. Enjoy.

July 4, 2008

Happy 4th

Happy Fourth of July friends and family.

July 2, 2008

It finally happened...

Josie can now say Emma's name!! It brings tears to my eyes listening to her say her sister's name. Emma worked all day with Josie practicing her name over and over again. For the last three months, Josie has called Emma "Mommy". When I came home from work today, the girls had something special to show me. I quickly grabbed the digital camera to record the moment to share with my friends and family. Thanks for all your hard work Emma. You are such a great sister.