Friday, November 26, 2010

Honoring First Families

When Cadence came into our lives I developed a new hobby. Blogs. Occasionally it has been a slight addiction - particularly on a slow night shift at 3am. I've said "If you have been to China or are planning to go to China soon, I know a lot about you!" due to my frequent blog-stalking! While I love following people's journey, what I crave the most from these blogs is knowledge. I'm always looking for insight into the process. Initially I wanted to know, what will China be like? How do children react on Gotcha Day and the first few days and weeks afterwards? What helps them to feel more comfortable? Where is the best place to get squeaky shoes?!

As time goes on, the answers that I am seeking evolve. What will help Cadence adapt to her new life? How can I help her feel secure in her place in our family? Will there be things that she is thinking about or feeling that I may not even realize? What do I need to think about as she gets older and processes her adoption on a more mature level?

So, I continue to blog-stalk! I have found some wonderful stories and insight in the process. I am so thankful for these people who have chosen to allow strangers to read about their triumphs and heartache, their victories and their struggles, and the highs and lows of their daily life. I hope that reading these stories will help make me a better parent and person. Below is a link to a blog about adoptive families honoring their child's first family. I have thought about this a lot when people ask me if/how we will tell Cadence that she was abandoned. When people ask how someone could do that to their child. While I could never imagine abandoning my child, I don't think that Cadence's mother is a terrible person. I don't know why she did it or how she felt, but I do know that she gave us a beautiful, happy, headstrong, silly little girl. And for this I will always be grateful.

National Adoption Month: Honoring First Families

Sunday, November 21, 2010

No rest for the weary!

We are almost 3 weeks out from Cadence's surgery and she is doing fabulous! Back to eating and sleeping normally and generally she's the happy, silly, playful little girl we love so much! She will have her lip repaired at the end of December or beginning of January. Although we are bummed that she has to go through another recovery we do love that smile! A friend made sweet comment the other day that she hopes to see Cadence before her next surgery because "...the smiles of cleft kids really light up the room!"
Last weekend we celebrated Laurel's 6th birthday! It's so cliche but so true... where has the time gone?! Laurel had a Spa Party and the 7 friends that joined her all had a ball! We painted nails, relaxing facial masks with foot massages, made body glitter and bath salts, and topped it off with a Princess cake. The best part was playing "Put the lipstick on Daddy"! I think it was one of my favorite birthday parties we have had!

Cadence was baptized today! It was a beautiful service and our pastor did a wonderful job of involving Sierra and Laurel in the baptism too. No tears from Cadence although I think she wanted to hop in the water to play. We had family and friends over to celebrate her day with us. It was a very special day!

We have a contract on our house now with a closing date of December 7th. Yikes! I haven't packed a single box yet! I must be in denial or truly hate packing (probably a combination of the two!). We plan to move into a rental until our new home is built. I am sad to be leaving this house. When we first saw the model in the Parade of Homes it felt like a dream home for us. We built it and got everything we wanted in a house. And then we moved in and made it our home. Sierra was only a year old. We have brought two children into our family here. We've rocked our babies to sleep here, we've watched our kids celebrate many "firsts", we've celebrated many holidays and birthdays and had many good meals with good friends and family. I know that we will always have these memories, but I am sad to be leaving the walls that hold them. Much love has grown under this roof. But now we will look forward to the future. To a new "dream home" as well as a a barn and farm animals too! We will build new memories there and our love will continue to grow wherever we are. We are blessed!

Great documentary~

I'm sure a lot of adoptive families have already seen this, but if you haven't it is a very good documentary. It aired while we were in China so I have just gotten around to seeing it (and it's only online til Nov. 30th, so hurry and watch it!). I will never know what went through Cadence's head and how she felt those first few days and weeks that she was with us. It's very insightful to watch an 8 year old girl who is being adopted from China transform from a scared, frustrated, confused little girl into the happiness at the end. This documentary was both heart-breaking and heart-warming... one that I don't think I will ever forget.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Home from the hospital

We got home from the hospital yesterday and Cadence is doing well. She hates her "armies" (I don't call them no-no's with her because I don't want her to associate them with doing something wrong) but usually tolerates me putting them on when we need to. She never seems to be in "pain", just seems "off" a lot of the time - not her usual silly, happy self. Eating has become a struggle but it's hard to tell if it's because she's hurting or a small power struggle. I've found that if I distract her (give her some toys on her tray) while trying to feed her it goes more smoothly. I'm breaking two big meal rules : no toys at the table and no eating when you're distracted (ie. eating in front of the TV). But I'm breaking lots of rules right now, just to get us through the day - and night for that matter! Cadence is not doing well being unable to suck on her thumb/blanket to soothe herself to sleep. She was awake every 30-45 minutes last night until I finally brought her into bed with me where she slept for 5 hours. Since I am such a light sleeper I've never been able to have any of the kids in our bed at night! We may have some "re-training" to do after this is all said and done, but we do what we have to do for now.
Pics include the going home fashion, right after surgery, and Cadence after she got versed!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Surgery day

Today was the big day! We headed out bright and early - ok, not so bright at 5:30am - to the hospital. Cadence was pretty suspicious of, oh, everyone until she got some happy juice (versed) while waiting to go to the OR. She then became her typical silly and engaging self as she took Brad's OR hat off and on! Brad carried her back to the room and she was under fairly quickly. A nurse in the OR called us every hour or more to update us (it's nice to have connections!). Dental filled her cavity and took x-rays, then she had her ear tubes placed and a hearing test done. All of that went well with good results. Her palate repair took about 2 hours and by then her lip was too swollen to fix. We'll come back in a couple of months to do that.

I had already been up to the Peds ICU and knew that my good friend, Julia, would be Cadence's nurse. She texted me after she got report from the OR and let us know when to come back. The first nurse that saw us said "She's feisty!". Oh, yes!! I predicted that she would wake with a vengance. They had given her same pain meds before we got back that knocked her out for a few hours. By 4pm, though, she was awake and not too happy. My parents and the girls came to say hello and Cadence was a little overstimulated. Laurel drew a sweet picture of Cadence in the hospital bed and me standing next to it crying. (She's not far off!) She slept in my arms off and on for the next 4 hours. Brad headed home since he has to work tomorrow. My friend, Michelle, is her night shift nurse and we just got Cadence settled for now.

It's been a challenging afternoon but nothing unexpected. I hope she feels up to eating tomorrow... the sooner she does that the sooner we can get home! While it feels quite strange to be on the other side of the bed as a parent rather than the caregiver, I am happy to be in a place where I know that everyone is looking out for her!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Lots of firsts!

We celebrated our first holiday as a family - Halloween! I had an adorable ladybug costume for Cadence, but then realized that it was for a 9-12 month old child, aka one who isn't walking. It would have fit but Cadence would not have been happy with bulky padded feet when she couldn't walk! Last minute I found the perfect costume. The superhero that she is, Cadence wore a "Super Cutie" costume, complete with a cape! She rocked it!
Laurel fit into Sierra's old glittery red shoes and decided to be Dorothy which was perfect since we still had the costume that Sierra wore. The outfit was completed when we petsat Tupelo and were able to take their picture together. I real, live Toto (she's a Yorkie, but close enough!
Sierra has wanted to be Harry Potter since she started reading the series this summer. Due to the chaos of the year I was a little behind ordering her outfit and worried that it wouldn't get here in time, but it did!

We carved pumpkins. Laurel drew the faces on hers and Cadence's and insisted that Cadence's pumpkin have a cleft lip. I love that she thinks that Cadence's cleft is so special that it's carve-worthy! We all attended a couple of Halloween parties and trick-or-treated on the 31st. The McDaniel's joined us for the 7th year in a row, which I loved! It's amazing to see the big kids running house to house and remembering that we used to pull them in a wagon and carry them up to the houses! We had 2 other families join us... it was quite the crew! The kids kept some of their candy but left some out for the Great Pumpkin (aka - me!) for which they received a small toy. They also decided to send some of it to the military overseas.
Now we prepare for Cadence's first surgery. She is first case in the OR tomorrow for dental work, skin tag removal, ear tubes, and then her cleft palate and lip surgery. The plastic surgeon estimated she may be in the OR for 5 or 6 hours. The last thing to be done is her lip and if she is too swollen he isn't going to repair it right now. She would have to go back in a couple of months to repair her lip. I've been so focused on the recovery period that I really haven't thought too much about the actual surgery... until now! Brad is planning to walk back to the OR with her and then we'll wait. Wish us all luck! I know everything will be fine, but I'm a momma... it will be a rough day for all of us!