Wednesday, March 26, 2014

kemeri's day

I am behind, but it's been a tough week.  I had fully intended to do a special birthday post for Kemeri's 4th birthday (which also signifies that she has now been with our family longer than she was without) & to give a brief update about how's she's been post-surgery, but I was caught off guard.  My grandma passed away unexpectedly just 2 months after my grandpa.  I think we are all still in a bit of shock...Grandma, like Grandpa, was actively involved in our lives, & there's just a big void with both of them being gone now.  I am deeply thankful to have been blessed with such wonderful grandparents & that my children have known great-grandparents.
Kemeri's birthday was a reminder to celebrate life & family just a day after losing Grandma.  We didn't get many pictures, but we enjoyed having my parents, my aunt & uncle, & Joe's mom here.  It was good to be together in the midst of hard.
The ginormous purple cast is still here.  It was actually supposed to be removed today, but Kemeri's appointment has been rescheduled for Monday due to the doctor being ill.  She has truly been a rockstar with that thing!  We are all ready for it to be gone, though, so we don't have to be on guard for fear of catching an inadvertent whack.  We also want to see how she has healed up!  I will post an update early next week...promise.
Finally, I wanted to share some of my favorite pictures of Kemeri with my grandma taken this past summer.  I never want to forget her ready smile & the true delight she had in her family.

Heartfelt thanks to those that have been checking in on our family, whether you knew what was going on or not (funny how people notice blogging absence). 

Monday, March 10, 2014

my grownup birthday list

If you've seen the movie Despicable Me, my favorite scene is when the littlest girl says, "It's sooo fluffy!!!" If you haven't seen it, take a peek:

So cute, right??  The fluffy stuff makes me smile.  But here's the thing:  It can't all be feel-good, fluffy stuff, & I'm giving fair warning that the fluff stops here on this post.
I've been reading a lot of opinions to the tune of, "We need to take care of our own" with regard to helping those outside the borders of the United States.  I even had a neighbor once say to me, "Oh, my husband would never adopt a child from another country.  He thinks we should take care of our own".  This line of thinking makes me want to vomit.  And if you're thinking of checking out at this point because you think this is a pro-adoption, everybody-should-do-it gig, hang's not.
Let me backtrack for a moment.  Joe attended K'Tyo's school conference last week.  His teacher immediately shared a story from the week before.  Their current unit of study discusses wants vs. needs.  As a class, they had a discussion about the difference between the two.  A few days later, they revisited the topic as a refresher, but K'Tyo was adamant that food, water, & shelter were wants.  His teacher confessed that she was becoming a bit frustrated with him since they had just discussed this a couple days before, so she said, "K'Tyo, why are you saying that when we just went over this?"  His response:
"Because in Ethiopia, everyone wants those things, but not everyone has them."
My son was born in Ethiopia.  I was born in the United States of America.  My son knows poverty, illness, hunger, & unclean water.  I know abundance, available health care, three meals a day plus snacks, & the water in my toilet is cleaner than what he had access to.  I have no idea why I was born here & why he was born there, but God brought our worlds together into one.  Our adopting him was not an act of charity, but an act of love.  And when people meet him, they can't help but love him, too.  Even the ones that are of the opinion that we should take care of our own love him because now it can be justified that he is one of us, right?  Well, yes he is one of us.  But I am now also one of them.  My son has brought this simple truth into reality:  We are ALL brothers & sisters, neighbors, family.
The King will reply, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
I am not a biblical scholar, but I have yet to find scripture that says, "Okay, folks, here's the deal:  I have divided the world up & you are each to take care of your own."  Am I missing it?  I don't think so.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan (New International Version)

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”  29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”  Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

People, I see a period at the end of that sentence.  I do not see a continuation that says, "...if they are your own, if they look like you, if they think like you, if..."

Are there people in this country that need help? You'd better believe it, & I am not for one minute saying to forget that!  However, are you telling me that people are more or less worthy of our love & mercy just because we may or may not have been born in the same part of the world?


I've heard the argument, "I just don't think I could do what you do."  Ok, then don't!  But for goodness' sake, DO something.  Work at a soup kitchen? Awesome.  Sponsor a child?  Fantastic.  Support an organization that drills wells for clean water?  Super.  Anonymously donate blessings for backpacks to help children avoid hunger on the weekends?  Beautiful.  Spend time with the lonely? You bet. Teach underprivileged children here or in another country? Cool.  Open an orphanage for kiddos with HIV? Amazing!  Organize brigades to other countries to give help? Absolutely!  Be a support to others through prayer & finances to be the hands & feet of Jesus? Yes, Yes, Yes!!  Obviously, this is not even close to being a comprehensive list, but the point is there is a position for EVERYONE on this team of humanity.  There is no one first or last to be picked because every person matters with what they can do to make a difference in this world, & every person in this world is worthy of love & caring.  Yes, there are evil people in this world, both here & "there", but we cannot judge whole populations on them.  The bottom line is there are people sick, lonely, hungry, & dying, which is just not okay.  And honestly, there are times that even the "bad guys" become world changers for good just because someone took the time & had the courage to love & guide them.
Have you heard Amy Grant's "Grownup Christmas List"?  Well, today is my birthday, & I have a grownup birthday list:  No more division, no more hunger, no more unclean water, no more disease/cancer, no more children without families, no more people living in the streets, no more bullying, no more lots of things.  The needs in this world can be overwhelming to the point that we feel paralyzed.  I realize that I can't do everything or help everyone, but I can do something, one something at a time.  In different seasons of my life & yours, we will be passionate & able to do different somethings in different places, but it all matters because all people matter.  The biggest wish on my grownup birthday list would be that we would all begin being good neighbors,  putting our somethings together to make the world a better place.
"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." ~Gandhi

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Friday, February 28, 2014

the fog has lifted

I am happy to report that the anesthesia fog has lifted as of 5:30 a.m.  Little Miss was up bright & early ready to rule the world.  Since the world was still sleeping, she took to bossing Mommy.
First order of business was a trip to the potty (not an easy thing when you've GOT to go & the nurse's assistant isn't coming fast enough to unhook the worries, Mommy took matters into her own hands just in time), then some chocolate milk & fish crackers, & most important, hair brushed & into a ponytail.  She also ordered the cast off; while I'm not afraid of unhooking some wires & pushing a pole around while getting Little Miss to the potty on my own, my super powers end at cast removal.
Remarkably, she has not had any pain meds since last night.  One of her doctors stopped by first thing this morning & is happy with how she's coming along. We're hoping to be on our way home soon!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

surgery update

The surgery is over & we are settled into our room.  Kemeri's doctors came to speak with me while I was still in the waiting room & showed me pictures on the camera (I am totally wishing now I had snapped some pics of those pics with my cell phone, but my mind doesn't work that way).  It took longer than anticipated because Kemeri's anatomy was a little "tricky" (their words).  Kemeri had a very teeny, tiny nubbin as a forefinger. They found that it was not going to have any function, so they actually used it as the graft for Kemeri's thumb.  Because of this, they were able to initiate blood flow to the area, so her thumb should grow right along with her. Is that not amazing!?  They found that she has some reaction in the tendons going to the pinky side of her hand, so hopefully they will strengthen, which will open up some other possibilities down the road.  Kemeri will have quite a fancy zigzag scar on the inside of her arm where they released her amniotic band (which should help those tendons!).  They also increased the indent between her thumb & left finger area to hopefully enable her to pinch her thumb against in order to grasp objects.  I think that's everything in very simplistic terms, but you get the idea.
She picked purple for her cast (that thing is a whopper, & judging from her annoyance with it in recovery, I will not be surprised if I catch it in the face before the night's over), & she has already said to "Get it off!!"  She also said in recovery, "Mom, I scared of doctor."  My heart.  Thankfully, the pain meds have kicked in & she's resting comfortably.  We appreciate the thoughts & prayers!

surgery day

Kemeri's surgery has begun. I am continually amazed at her courage. I had to wake her up at 4:15 a.m., & she happily got dressed to head out on our adventure. Her trust in us is humbling.
Even being bummed that she couldn't have something to drink, she was still smiling.
When her doctor came in to make a mark on her hand for surgery, she asked Kemeri if she'd like a smiley face or a flower. Kemeri confidently chose both, which the doctor got a kick out of.
I am anxious to learn what they discover & which route they chose to go today regarding the bone graft.  I'm even more anxious to hold my girl & tell her how much I love her & how brave she is.

Friday, February 21, 2014

upcoming surgery

I mentioned in my last post that Kemeri has a surgery coming up.  I am thankful we got to spend most of this past week in Myrtle Beach while Joe was speaking at a conference.  Even though it was not super warm (it snowed over 6 inches back home right after we left, so no complaints!) & we did some sightseeing at Beach Urgent Care (Mommy & 3 kiddos have the bronchial crud), it was a nice break for just being together.
Anyway, we are back home & since I'm sitting still trying to get rid of this coughing yuck, I thought I'd take a minute to share about Kemeri's surgery.  When Kemeri first came home, we had lots of pressing things to address, first & foremost being her tethered spinal cord.  She had that surgery 2 months after coming home.  As part of her initial consultations, we were also referred to the orthopedic hand doctor since Kemeri has amniotic banding & is missing the fingers on her left hand.  To be honest, when we first looked at her medical file, we were very aware of this "special need" but accepted it as how our little peanut is fearfully & wonderfully made.  We didn't investigate it any further because we were focused on getting medical advice about the spina bifida.
Much to our surprise, the ortho doctor has teamed up with the pediatric plastic surgeon & have a whole plan in place to make Kemeri's left hand the best helper hand it can be.  At first, I was apprehensive because nobody wants to see their child go through surgery and also because I love her just the way she is.  However, we also realize that it's our job as parents to look at the big picture & do everything we can to best equip her for life.  As she has gotten bigger, we have begun to see how it is difficult for her to do certain things being unable to have a hand to grip objects with, which is the eventual goal of this & probably future surgeries.  So, this coming Thursday she is scheduled for a 5-hour surgery to do the following (I'm sharing this because we would love specific prayers for these procedures, & I also know I have readers that may be considering adoption of a child with things similar to Kemeri):
"Reconstruction of the left thumb with bone graft (from hip or left wrist) with temporary pin fixation, possible tendon transfers (improve thumb opposiotion), exploration of the left hand/wrist for future tendon transfers to the fingers with possible release of nerve and tendons from scar tissue.  Release and local tissue rearrangement (deepening) of the 1st web space & release of hte distal forearm band on the volar surface."
That's the technical stuff.  The good stuff is that we had some fun in the sun . . .
A special trip to Build-a-Bear for a lovie to take to the hospital . . .
and prayers on the beach for a successful surgery for Kemeri Abigail!