Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Navigating through Deep Waters: Our New Normal

Dear Family and Friends,
  We were so humbled by the outpouring of love that you showed us as we arrived home from China with our new son. The meals that you provided were wonderfully delicious and they certainly helped us focus on transitioning as a family of 5. We are so grateful for your generosity and for treating us so kindly during those first few weeks. 

  We have been home with Rex for 2.5 months. Rex's transition into our family has been fairly smooth. The first two weeks were the toughest part, but he has consistently shown improvement each new day. He has learned how to share toys without hitting or getting angry.   He loves his sisters and they adore him. He is sleeping in his own bed and napping well during the day. He has a real sense of security and recognizes who his family is. He enjoys the pool and playing with cars and puzzles. He is learning new words every day and as of this past week, started putting two and three words together. It blows my mind how quickly he has learned english. He has conquered his fear of grass and now will approach small puppies with caution but still reaches up to be held if they make any type of movement. His favorite things to eat are noodles and rice. He has developed a love for milk but gets really excited when we  heat up his hot tea that I purchase at the local chinese grocery store.  Although his transition into a family has been fairly smooth, our family still has been through some pretty hard times and that is what we would now like to address to you all. It has taken weeks for us to get even a clear picture of what we are dealing with and we do feel like it now time to fill you all in on our "new normal." 

Some of you may remember that Rex was  sick when we picked him up in China  (high fevers with no other symptoms). In country we noticed that Rex was tiny everywhere except his large tummy.  Once home we  started the normal "adoptee" blood work and expressed our concerns of his large tummy to our pediatrician. The doctor discovered that he had an enlarged spleen and immediately sent us out for an ultrasound. That ultrasound confirmed that Rex has an enormous spleen. The blood work came back quickly and presented multiple "red flags" in which we were then sent to a hematologist. We were told that Rex's platelets were very low and that his clotting factors were off. This led to an MRI and a MRA so that we could properly see what was going on inside Rex's abdomen. The results showed that Rex's spleen was severely large and that Rex had a very clogged portal vein.  We were then rushed to see a GI specialist who would help us navigate through this most recent information. 

Rex has been diagnosed with Portal Vein Thrombosis ; portal hypertension,splenomegaly, and a blood clotting abnormality. PVT is a relatively rare disease . 

One of the symptoms of PVT is the bleeding of varicies (veins that are swollen/engorged with blood since his portal vein is blocked). Recently Rex had several bloody diapers and that is what landed us in our most recent hospital visit. We contacted our GI doctor and were admitted to St. Joe's Children's Hospital.  Last Tuesday morning, he had an endoscopy  which determined the location and  severity of the vericies. The doctor told us that Rex has several  vericies in his lower bottom esophagus and that it was the most she had ever seen in a patient this young and that even the endo nurses were shocked at the number. Our GI was only able to band two because of the risks involved in the surgery. We were kept overnight for observation. 

As of now , Rex has another surgery scheduled for Monday, July 8th to undergo another banding. We have been in contact with Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh which is one of the best children's hospitals in the country. There is a procedure (ironically named the Rex Shunt) that is relatively new and only performed by a handful of doctors in the country (some of which are at Pittsburgh). If Rex is a candidate for this procedure, we may be traveling to Pittsburgh at some point (not sure when) to have this done. Hopefully, we will know over the next few weeks if this is an option for Rex. 

We also want to make something very clear, because I know that it has to be in the back of some people's minds.  We do not feel misled by our adoption agency. Our agency has been fantastic in helping us get even more information than we already had from our son's previous home. They call or email regularly to check on Rex. His orphanage , although very sweet and kind, is in a very rural part of China. They don't have access to MRI machines or a blood lab. 

Adoption is a risk. But God put adoption in our hearts many many years ago and we are trusting HIM to lead us and to watch over us as we sort all of this out. Please keep my precious girls in your prayers as they learn to deal with the demands that a very sick child brings to the family unit. So far they have handled it great, but it is about to get really tough. Pray for our marriage.....pray that we don't give satan the least tiny  bit of a way into our home. Pray that we speak kindly to one another and to encourage one another and to work as a team. Pray that we continue to fight this battle with the power of prayer and to always act in a way that is pleasing to Christ. Pray for us when we are in the hospital. Pray that we get to share Christ through all of this. Pray for the doctor's as they look at Rex's case and help us figure out the best treatment possible. And please pray that Rex can get that surgery soon. It really is his best chance. 

We are so GRATEFUl and blessed that we have two sets of in laws who have helped us with our girls while we have had to take Rex to countless doctor's appointments. 
Thank you to all my friends who have sent me emails, texts, words of encouragement, notes, etc....yall keep me going when I feel like the walls are crashing down . 

Please feel free to forward this email to anyone. This is not a secret, but we haven't really said much so far because we weren't really sure of what we were dealing with until recently (and I'm sure there will be more surprises along the way). 

Thank you so much for your prayer, support, and friendship. 

Paige and Jordanpost signature

Monday, April 1, 2013

His Forever Changed

Well, it is our last night in China. What an incredible 17 days this has been. Jordan and I have had such a wonderful time here. Our travel group was absolutley amazing and filled with such kind,
loving people. We were able to see 9 families welcome children into their lives and we have witnessed just what a willing heart and love can do to a child.

Adoption ---- the word just brings tears to my eyes. I wish everyone could experience what I have in these last two weeks. I realize that not everyone is called to adopt but if The Lord is planting a seed in your heart ....keep praying, bc there are so many children who need loving homes. Jordan and I would be more than willing to sit down with you and talk about it.

I want to thank The Lord for instilling me that small whisper when I was just a young girl about adopting. Thank you Jesus for allowing me to follow my heart to China. To Jordan, who has worked so hard and for the many sacrifices it took to get us here. You are an incredible husband, and I have loved watching you with your son these past few days. Your days of being a great father just keep getting that much sweeter to witness. To our parents,....Karen , Brian, Glen and Susan....y'all are incredible. Thank you for loving on our girls and for doing such a great job with them. It was so nice not to worry about them and to know that they were having the time of their life with their grandparents!!! It was a real blessing to never hear our girls miss us . Our guides and our fabulous agency are top notch so if you are looking into Chinese adoption,I highly reccomend them. (CCAI ), I also want to thank my faithful friends who emailed and left messages and comments on Facebook. It was so comforting to hear from y'all. We certainly felt the prayers.

Rex has been fever free for a solid 48 hours and he is so fun. He is lively, joyful, and is starting to understand a lot of what we are saying. He can sign " more" and " please" . He can point to pictures and mimick the voice inflection when saying Khaki and Finley . He still refers to Jordan as baba ( Chinese word for daddy). The Chinese language has four tones and when Rex says our names, it is darrrrrlling.!!!! I hope he keeps it up. Jordan and I have loved being in our son's home country. The people here are kind and warm. They are extremley friendly to adoptive families. I hope that we will be able to come back again when Rex is older to show him his beautiful heritage and culture. But there is NO place like the USA and we are so happy to be coming home. We can't wait to see everyone and we can't wait to introduce our son to you all.

We will be hibernating and sticking pretty close to home for the first few weeks. Rex needs to adjust to his new home and he needs to bond/ play with his two big sisters. And I have to figure out how to bathe three kids now....ha!

We arrive in Tampa at 11:26 pm Saturday night. It's going to be a long day and I am just praying that the flights aren't delayed and that Rex sleeps. :). It's about a 27 hour travel day and about 17 hours total flying time. We can't wait to see our sweet girls , family members, and a few night owl friends :-)

We really can't say it enough that we are so grateful for those of you who covered our journey in prayer. Thank you so much.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Consulate Appoitnment

This morning we all loaded up on the bus to go to our consulate appointment. Rex was all decked Out in his red, white, and blue. Here we took an oath that all information on every single piece of paper was true and accurate to our knowledge. They looked over more papers and issued him his visa ! We are so happy that the minute Rex's feet hit American soil , he becomes a citizen. NO MORE paperwok for this mama ( whoo hoo ) We will have Rex's visa in hand by tomorrow afternoon..which means we can finally begin our journey home.

Rex hasn't been all that happy today. He is very sleepy and i am sure it has to do with the fact that he has been so sick. It's been rainy here so it is good snuggling weather and we are more than happy to oblige. Thos evening we all gathered in the lobby of our hotel for family and group pictures. All the kids wore their traditional outfits and they were so adorable. Tomorrow we are venturing out with all our friends to Shamian Island to do last minute shopping and to eat lunch at the famous Lucy's.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

There was no corner

Yesterday Rex had his visa photo taken and a medical exam. We left the hotel about 9:30 and arrived 3o minutes later at the back of the American consulate building. We were ushered into a special section for adoptive families only and were so excited to see that we were the only ones ( All 9 CCAI families ) there. Each child under has to go through 3 medical stations : ENT, Nurse section and General Screening. Rex was terrified of the doctors. It didn't help that they were in full medical garb complete with face masks. We were finished in about ten minutes. Some of you know that when we received Rex's file it stated that he had a minor hearing loss. Our great ENT in Tampa will examine him when we return but we aren't anticipating any major problems, BUT yesterday, the ENT ONLY squeaked several balls at Rex and because Rex tracked the sound, he declared his hearing was fine. Jordan and I were laughing at this doctor's exam. I mean really...squeaky balls to determine if a kid can hear. ? Needless to say, we appreciate Dr.Hotchkiss :-) Rex was exhausted - mainly bc he was getting sicker by the minute and was exhausting from crying so he fell asleep afterwards and we continued to wait for the other children to go through. Once back to the hotel, Rex 's fever continued to climb again to 102.8 and he literally slept all over afternoon. He woke up drenched and I was so hoping that it meant is fever broke but we would later found out that this was not the case. We met the rest of the group later in the day for the Pearl River Cruise and that was soooooo beautiful. Guangzhou has 17 million people and the buildings here are humongous. At night time the buildings have special lights on them. I had to laugh because Tampa has ONE that changes colors and will change the lights according to season or to support our local sports team. BUT not China......every one of their buildings is beautifully lit. Rex loved the boat ride and was very intrigued, but again was terrified when we went under all the bridges.

Rex slept very well last night and woke up fever free. We ate a quick breakfast and them went shopping with Ann, our personal shopping guide that I hired, . She is amazing and is a legend among adoptive families. She is also the same woman who helped me send a care package to Rex while he was on the orphanage so it was wonderful to thank her person. Anyways we had a blast and we got lots of goodies to bring home for our family and friends. I highly reccomend her. Rex did great in the carrier and he survived his first shopping trip with mama and daddy.

However, we got back to the hotel and Rex's fever had returned ( 100.2)".i can't tell you how frustrating it is , bc we are pumping medicine into him around the clock and this blasted fever is just not going away. It's being quite persnickety. He ended up taking a very long nap and woke up happy and pleasant. It was raining and therefore couldn't go outside, so we've been playing ball in the room. He is very smart. Jordan will hide the ball under his arm and Rex will find it, grab it, and then hide the ball in the same place on him that Jordan had. This goes on for a long time and it is fun to see that the has strong cognitive skills. His fine motor skills are great. He can feed himself very well and can twist caps on and off. His gross motor skills are terrible. We will need to hold two a days when we get home. He is very wobbly and can't keep his balance for anything therefore falling A LOT and when he falls...he cries. When not plagued with a high fever, he is very easy going and cheerful. He has a smile that can shine for days and I love that his little eyes get lost in his joyful expression. He is super cute !!!!!! We have had many Chinese people stop us and tell us how handsome he is. One shop owner today said to Ann " I want to know how this American couple got so lucky to adopt this handsome Chinese boy?" I replied, " oh, it's his hair !" ( which is a symbol of Chinese luck ) . Speaking of his hair, Jordan says that he will be cutting it before we get on the plane.....hmmmm, not sure how that is going to work since our guide told us that we better not do it while someone is looking. Ha!!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Is that a Corner I see?

We actually had a very good day....the morning was rough, but after Rex took a three hour morning nap, things got progressively better. Rex has been fever free since about 2 this afternoon. I am praying that this continues through the night, we saw our happy smiling boy reappear and it sure made this mama 's heart to see the numbers on the thermometer within normal range again. Jordan and I walked the neighborhood and found so e pretty interesting sights. We saw two men sitting on a rickshaw , barefooted, one one each side of the wagon part balancing themselves while playing checkers. We saw a group of old men playing cards as well. When we returned from our walk, I had to go downstairs with other members of our group to prepare for our visa medical appointment that is tomorrow morning. After that we all headed to a group dinner at a local restaurant. The food was amazing and so delicious. We had pork, curry chicken, shredded potato And ham, fried rice, fried noodles, steamed bread rolls and fried rolls and the best tasting broccoli I have ever had. On our way home, we stopped at McDonald's and got an Oreo Mcflurry and Rex enjoyed a few small bites before letting us know that he didn't want anymore.

Some people have asked what size Rex is....Rex is tiny. Don't let his chubby cheeks fool you. Most everything I brought is way to big and so it looks like he will be in smaller clothes for a while. He has the smallest toosh I have ever seen and skinny legs. His stomach doesn't protrude and he doesn't look malnourished, but he is so tiny. He has no meat on his bones. :) his target brand 12 month jeans fit him fine, but most of the things I brought for him or 24 months or 2 t and clearly swallow him. Raquel loaned me a cute pair of shoes that I thought were going to be way to small but they are too big. So I am guessing that he wears a size 5 in shoes.

I am hoping we have turned a corner and that Rex will be able to sleep peacefully tonight. Please pray that his fever does not return.

Night y'all from China

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Rex's first few days as a Code

Shortly after we received Rex, he came down with a high fever and it hasnt gotten much better. The fever has stayed steady at 101 and spiking at night to 102.8 . The days have consisted of lots of tears, several temper tantrums, and more tears. Taking care of a child that is so sick and that you barely know is tough. At at times, I have cried right along with him. Jordan and I are working well together and when I can't take the cries any longer, Jordan always offers to take the lead in the consoling. And vice verse. We are TIRED! We are up around the clock consoling and medicating. We are so blessed to have fabulous friends on this trip who just happen to be pediatricians and yesterday we decided to go ahead and put him on antibiotics, Praise The Lord, I am hoping to see a change in his fever by the end of today. Please pray specifically for the fever to lessen so that he can start to feeling better. I will say that because he has been so sick, it has offered MANY chances and opportunities to bond, this includes holding him all during a grieving episode, snuggling him until his body relaxes, and cuddling him ALL NIGHT LONG. I hope you understand the lack of posts, now that I have tired to explain what we have been dealing with. We are really thankful for the emails and Facebook messages....it sure does give me encouragement and we are so grateful for our friends who are continuing to follow our journey.

Yesterday was a travel day......and it was pretty eventful. We said our goodbyes to Rita and Yisha in Zhengzhou after they checked us all in and helped us go through security. When we got to the gate we discovered Our flight was delayed ( Lovely) , then once we boarded we sat on the runway for about an hour, then our 2 hr flight to Guangzhou turned out to be almost 3 becaue they would not let us land bc of the poor weather. Jordan and I were pretty terrified that Rex would be miserable on the flight because he is so ill, but he actually slept almost the entire time and only cried three times. It was as good as it could be. We were , of course, greeted by another set of CCAI guides ( Jason and Kathy ) and they helped get us all situated in our new hotel. We are staying at the beatiful China Hotel. It's gorgeous and It has all the comforts of home....even a delightful Starbucks ! Guangzhou reminds me so much of Tampa : hot and muggy. It's a great place to get Rex used to wearing shorts! For dinner we even got to enjoy leftover Papa Johns pizza ( it took so long to take care of Rex that by the time we ordered, they had stopped delivery service,. So Blake and Jess gave us theirs .... So kind ) Rex had a better night of sleeping and Jordan and I were able to get some consistent sleep. We have opted out of the tour today and will remain in our room with little Rex.

I'd like to leave you with a photo of Rex, this was taken just a few minute ago. He is so tired form the lack of sleep that he fell asleep on the floor. Now that we are settled, I am hoping the blog posts will be more frequent and Jordan keeps promising to post his thoughts soon so I am sure y'all are on the edge of your seats waiting for that post!!!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Day 6 Recap ; It's Official & Orphanage Visit

The next day after we got Rex, we headed back to the civil affairs office to obtain official documents saying that we are now Rex's parents. We were given our adoption certificate, took a picture for keepsake and then headed to the notary office to notarize the paper that we all just received. Once back to the hotel, we had a quick bite to eat and then met our personal guide and driver who would take us to the city of Jiyuan. This is Rex's hometown and it is about a two hour drive from Zhengzhou. Rex chilled in the back with Jordan and stared out the window at all the cool sights . We saw tons of wheat crops, farmers,a goat herder, a flock of sheep, two trucks full of pigs and caves. Our guide told us that the caves are still lived in by many old Chinese people...because they are much cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. It seriously looked like something out of a movie. The orphanage director met our car at the exit ramp and led us to the police station. Rex was so delighted to see a familiar face and she was so happy to not only see him, but us too. She led us into the police station and once they saw Rex, ALL the officers came over and gathered around him, swooped him up and passed him around all giving him tons of kisses and laughing. Apparently,this little guy made quite an impression here when he was brought a few weeks back to get his passport taken. The head officer asked Rex where his mama and baba were, and he turned around and pointed to us. The head officer signed our papers, and then we were done... A 2 hour van ride just for the police officer to sign a paper.. But of course, well worth it and plus it is mandatory. At gotcha day, we had asked the director if we had time after our police station visit about the possibility of visiting the orphange and she was more than happy to have us. This was such an important thing for Jordan and I to see. It was hidden down a narrow street and there was a security gate for protection. The building was white and large and was in great condition. This orphange is new and Rex is only the second child to be adopted out of this particular one. The courtyard had two little tykes play sets. The minute we drove in, the van was surrounded by ladies who were so excited to see Rex one more time. We were greeted with smiles and excitement. they escorted us into the building and up to the 3 rd floor where Rex'S room was, The room was large, had 2 dozen or so pink cribs , a large flat screen tv on the back wall, and lots and lots of colorful pictures on the wall. We saw Rex's crib , met some of his friends, and talked with the nannies for a very long time. they were very curious about how he would live once back home and what his life would look like. they asked us how old we were and how long we had been married. They practice saying his new enlglish name and that brought tons and tons of laughs from the whole crowd. They took tons of pictures of us...and of Rex. All this time, he was just being doted over and loved on by all these women. We obliged and kept close, made sure Rex saw us , but it was evident that these women were so happy for him. There are several things that we really enjoyed about our visit. The main one is that every time a nanny was holding him, they were asking him " where is your mama, where is your baba...?" They made sure that he was FULLY aware of who we were ; always directing his attention toward us during their snuggles. The other thing that was of course invaluable was the fact that we had a Translator. Jordan and I were able to fully communicate and that was sure a blessing. We did take the time to give a short speech about how grateful we were for their care and how we were excited to have him in our family. Our guide even cried during that part. They showed us the reading room.. it was full of books and even had a yamaha piano set up for music. Rex and one of his friends drew while we visited with the orphanage director. They showed us the older kids room, but they were away at school so we didn't get to meet them. Overall, it was pretty amazing experience. Rex was certainly in one of the better orphanages and we are so grateful to these women who loved on our son for his first two years. The orphanage had 28 kids and 8 nannies and 2 women who did laundry that also helped out. Very good ratio. As we said our goodbyes, I held Rex in my arms and allowed him to give each nanny a kiss goodbye. They waved at us until we couldn't see them anymore. It was very moving. We left feeling very glad we made the trip and even more humbled by the fact that our son was in this specific orphanage.