In today’s post, I’d like to share with you a very special day that we spent with our youngest daughter, Gracie.
In today’s post, I’d like to share with you a very special day that we spent with our youngest daughter, Gracie.
In today’s post, I’d like to share with you a very special day that we spent with our youngest daughter, Gracie.
This year, the anniversary of a very important date in our family’s life quietly snuck up on us.
|The first photo we ever saw of Kai, which captured our hearts.|
Early in June, our son Kai underwent his fifth surgery for his hip. You may remember me blogging about it earlier.
For those of you who may be newer readers of my blog, Kai was born with a dislocated hip and 2 club feet. His birth parents abandoned him when he was 2 weeks old in China. We adopted him when he was 2 1/2 years old.
You would think that after 4 hip surgeries, that we would be prepared for the difficulties ahead. But, this last surgery was the hardest on us and Kai. I think as he grows older, the reality of his condition is settling in.
He even helped his dad dig a hole for my newest plant – a Coral Fountain (Russellia equisetiformis).
I must confess that I am not particularly inspired to write a garden blog post.
The reason for this is that my son, Kai, has been recovering from surgery.
It is hard to believe that it has now been 7 years since Gracie walked into our lives. I cannot imagine life without her.
Now for the most part, this is a blog about my adventures living and gardening in the desert southwest, but I occasionally share about my family. I have been sharing Gracie’s story and have been so appreciative of your wonderful responses. You can read the previous entries by following this link.
Okay, back to the story where we left it. We were waiting patiently (impatiently) to get through immigration at the airport. I kept thinking of all the family that had gathered just outside waiting to meet Gracie for the first time. I was also dying to see my two oldest daughters….I had missed them terribly. Finally, the immigration officer stamped Gracie’s paperwork and she was now officially an American citizen. And so, we started to make our way out to the arrivals corridor to meet our family.
*The following photos are not the best quality, but I think they capture the emotions we experienced that special day….
Here we are posing with some of the nannies, the director and the co-director.
One of the nannies is holding our new son, Kai.
At the orphanage, we were treated as honored guests and given a tour. They were thrilled to see Gracie and see how her club foot had been repaired. Gracie was happy to be there and let the orphanage director carry her all over…something she did not normally let strangers do. So, maybe she still had some faint memories of where she came from. One of the nannies picked up our newly adopted son, Kai and carried him around as well.
As nice as all the staff was, I cannot say the same of the orphanage itself. The orphanage was a dark, rather dismal place. We were not allowed to take pictures inside, but I do remember seeing the room she grew up in with its dark walls, lack of toys, and rows of cribs filled with babies. Each crib contained two babies…probably so that they could warm each other during the cold winter. Although it was obvious that the nannies cared for the kids, It was also painfully obvious that there were not near enough nannies to take care of all the emotional needs of the kids. It broke my heart to think of Gracie growing up in this place for the first 20 months of her life.
The director wanted to take us out to lunch and asked us if we preferred Chinese food or KFC. I am not an adventurous eater and I was not sure what kind of food an authentic Chinese restaurant in a rural area would offer, so we played it safe and went to KFC.
Gracie with her favorite nanny.
Gracie’s favorite nanny was not at the orphanage that day since it was her day off. But, she did meet us at KFC and promptly took over taking care of Gracie. It was so sweet to see….she took her on the little playground at the restaurant and helped her with her food. She said a tearful goodbye to Gracie when we left.
That day was so special to all of us because we were able to meet the people who raised Gracie when she was a baby. But, I was so thankful that she was ours now.
Gracie when she was 4 years old.
Many people tell us how lucky Gracie is because we adopted her and that we have made such a difference in her life. But, I don’t see it that way. Gracie has blessed us immeasurably and enriched our lives. I am sometimes surprised when I see us together in a mirror because we look so different from each other. The reason I feel surprise is that Gracie is my daughter and I am as much her mother as I am to my two biological daughters who do look like me. There is no difference in the love I feel for her in my heart.
I can’t imagine life without her….
That was the subject line in the email that we sent to family and friends after we received our daughter, Gracie. I wrote about our adoption journey up the point of seeing Gracie for the first time in person and you can read Part One if you like.
Well, I believe I left the story at the point of the elevator opening and seeing the orphanage officials walking out with Gracie in their arms. Although I recognized her instantly, there was something different in her appearance….she had no hair. Well to be honest, she had very little hair…..it was obvious that her head had recently been shaved. It really didn’t matter, I was just so happy to see her finally in person.
The nanny from the orphanage walked over and handed Gracie to me….
The United States Consulate was located on the island at the time and this portion of the trip was focused on completing our immigration paperwork and securing a visa for Gracie so that we could travel to the States.
Our hotel was a 5-star hotel and the primary place that adoptive parents stayed while waiting for their child’s visa. It was beautiful inside….
I remember walking into our hotel room and telling my husband that we had better enjoy this stay because we were highly unlikely to ever stay in another place as nice. *The foreign exchange rate at the time made it very affordable to stay there ($1 = 8 yuan).
In our new hotel, Gracie played for hours with the plastic spoon and cover of my airplane lunch – she was absolutely fascinated. We were coming to see what her delays where. She would spend time in front of the mirror and would tap it with her fingers. It was obvious that she had never seen herself in a mirror before. She also liked to eat Cheerios, but she could not pick them up with her thumb and forefinger. **A few years later a visit to her orphanage showed us how deprived she had been of sensory input. I will write more about that at a later time.
We enjoyed our time on Shamian Island with walks, shopping and hanging out with the wonderful people in our group.
One afternoon when we returned to our room in the hotel, we saw that Gracie had received a surprise gift….
Yes, that is a Barbie doll. Notice she has a Chinese baby she is adopting. All adoptive families receive a complimentary “Going Home Barbie” and each year there is a new version.
Our hotel had new hallways for Gracie to explore with her dad.
And to be chased again….
All to soon, our time in China was coming to an end. Our group gathered in the lobby to take a picture of all of our adopted girls.
Gracie is on the left.
Two of the girls had been adopted a few years before.
It is amazing how strongly you bond with other families when you share an experience like this. Most of us are still in contact with each other 7 years later.
I was so excited to be going home to my other daughters and couldn’t wait to introduce the entire family to Gracie. The flight was a long one and Gracie did well for the most part. We landed in Los Angeles and went through immigration in the airport. Once we handed them her visa – she was an American citizen.
Just outside of immigration was a bunch of people just waiting to see Gracie for the first time and welcome her to our family.
All of a sudden this little girl who had been abandoned as a baby, not only had a mom and dad, but two sets of grandparents, aunts and uncles waiting outside the gates to welcome her to the family.
If you would like to read more of what happened after we adopted Gracie, you can read Part 3 if you like. This post is already so long and although many of you mentioned that you didn’t mind the length of my previous post, you probably would like a little break from reading 🙂
I would like to thank you all for your kind comments. Gracie has enjoyed having me read your comments to her. She has been such a miracle in our lives and I enjoy sharing her story whenever I can.
For many of you, the term “Gotcha Day” may be unfamiliar. It was to me a few years ago. But now, that term means a lot to me and reminds me of the joy that entered into my life on that day. For those of you who have read my blog for awhile, I mostly write about gardening subjects but occasionally I do share a bit about my personal life, especially when it concerns my kids.
I would like to share with you a special story of an event that happened in my life 7 years ago. I promise that I will include pictures of beautiful landscapes and gardens as they have a part in the story.
My husband and I along with our weary travel group, ready to board the bus.
Now, our journey was not over yet….we still had to travel 3 hours by bus to the city of Hangzhou. I really didn’t mind the upcoming ride because I was extremely curious about China and wanted to see more of the countryside and cities.
Our guide told us many interesting things about China along the way but she also had additional information about our children and when we would get them. All of us were supposed to get our children the following day, but there had been a change in plans….two of the families were to receive their new daughters that evening – after traveling for over 24 hours! As excited as I was to get Gracie, I was relieved that I would be able to get a good night’s sleep first.
The city of Hangzhou
We arrived in Hangzhou late in the afternoon. As we drove through the city streets, I had so much fun seeing the things that were the same as back home….
“Fire Fighter Bicycles”
Dangerous position for a workman leaning up against wires in the middle of an intersection….OSHA would be literally speechless.
There were many stores that I was anxious to explore later….
Our hotel was located by a beautiful lake (West Lake) which was quite famous in China and a tourist destination.
Well, we got to our hotel and checked in. As we opened the door to our room, the reality that we would have a new daughter in less than 24 hours really hit me….there was a crib already set up for us. I spent some time unpacking and as I put away the little dresses, diapers and socks, I could hardly wait to meet Gracie the next day. After unpacking, we went to take pictures of the two families as they greeted their daughters for the first time. I was so excited for them and I had a hard time taking pictures because I kept crying. Their daughters were 3 & 4 years old and just darling.
The next morning we had a wonderful breakfast in the hotel with the other families and were eager to see the new little girls who were somewhat shy and withdrawn, which was normal. Since the rest of us were not to receive our children until 4:00 in the afternoon, we decided to walk to the local grocery store and stock up on some baby supplies and snacks.
Okay, at this point I have an admission to make….I thought I would have no problem with the summer heat – I mean I live in the Arizona desert, right? Wrong! I am absolutely a wimp when it comes to humidity and you know what? It makes the heat so much hotter and uncomfortable. As our group walked to the grocery store (we all got lost for a while so it took longer), it was in the 90’s, which when it is dry, is not that hot. But when you couple that with humidity of at least 80%…..well, I thought I would die. I have never felt so hot in my life….my husband and I got very light-headed and had to stop inside a jewelry store that had air-conditioning for a few minutes. I think the salesclerks were hoping that we would buy something since I kept looking at the jewelry so they wouldn’t think we were only taking advantage of their air-conditioning 😉 The other families in our group were from Ohio and Texas and did so much better with the heat & humidity then we did. It was kind of embarrassing 😉
*I must say that this about warm, humid climates….they are absolutely beautiful with all of the greenery. If I must be honest with myself, I would probably acclimate to the humidity if I lived in that type of climate and love it as much as I do living in the desert 🙂
Okay, back to my story…..as 4:00 got closer, I began to get nervous butterflies in my stomach. The clock seemed to move so slowly. Finally at about 3:45, we went to a meeting area at the hotel by the elevators with the other families and waited for the orphanage officials to bring us our children.
Just when I thought I would die of impatience (it was only 3:55), our guide received a call from the orphanage officials bringing Gracie to us stating that they would be late due to traffic. I was disappointed, but it meant that we could help take pictures of the two other families who were receiving their children at 4:00 (their children were from different orphanages).
It is such a privilege to be present at the birth of a child and it is the same when you are there when a family meets their new adopted child. I was so honored to be present when the other families in our group met their new children. I was busy taking pictures for the other families when I saw the elevator open and then I saw Gracie…..
I realize that this is an extremely long post and I will write the conclusion in my next post. *I do appreciate you taking the time to read about our adoption adventure. I will never get tired of sharing it with others 🙂
I would like to thank you all for your kind words, prayers and support. Even though I may not have answered you personally, I have read your comments and they meant so much to me. Especially as I would read them from the hospital.
We are now home and the surgery went well. For those of you who would like to know how things went and how we are doing, I thought I would let you read the emails that I sent out each day during the surgery. I promise that I will soon be back to posting about gardening 🙂
Well, we are now in the waiting room and Kai has just been taken into surgery. He did very well this morning, although we could tell he was nervous. As soon as he walked into pre-op, they let him choose a stuffed animal to keep. He chose a little dog that looks like our dog, Tobey.
They gave Kai some medication, Versed, to make him less nervous, but warned us that it may make him sleepy or act like he is drunk. Well, Kai certainly acted drunk. It was really kind of hilarious. I have had Versed before, a few times, but do not remember what I did, which is probably a good thing 🙂
We finally had to take turns sitting next to Kai on his bed and holding him in our arms so that he would not fall out. The hospital chaplain came to visit and led us in prayer before surgery. I know that Kai won’t remember that.
As I was holding Kai in my arms, he looked at his dad and the doctor and said that they each had two heads. Then he looked up at me and tried to touch my nose.
Kai has had the same anesthesiologist before and he remembered Kai, which was nice. The doctor talked to us and went into more detail about what they were going to do. They will remove the old plate and screws from his hip and replace them due to metal fatigue. Then the will enlarge the hip socket and perform another bone graft.
We have been through this before, which makes it easier in some ways and I was doing pretty good today until Kai was being wheeled into surgery. As we were walking down the hall away from Kai after kissing him goodbye. As I turned back, Kai was watching and I waved goodbye and he returned my wave….then he held out his arms for me to hold him as they wheeled him through the door. I started to lose it then, but thankfully Kai did not notice.
Surgery should take 2 – 3 hours. Thank you all so much for your prayers and support.
I will update more later 🙂
Friday – Post Surgery:
Kai’s surgery lasted 2 1/2 hours. They ended up doing more than we had expected. They removed the metal plate and screws that have been holding Kai’s hip in it’s socket due to ‘metal fatigue’ and replaced them. They also had to cut his femur as part of the procedure as well as perform a bone graft. After the surgery, we went back to post-op and sat with Kai. He was in pain, but as soon as they gave him morphine, he drifted off and slept soundly. He snores after surgery, just like he does when he normally sleeps.
We were taken to Kai’s room very quickly and settled in. Kai’s legs are being held in a foam structure to keep them from moving in order to keep his hip still.
The doctor said that the surgery went well but we had to be very careful not to move his hip since there are only a few screws holding it together…..his words, not mine. That is what makes me so nervous when we take him home and we have to lift him to go to bed and to the bathroom.
Kai’s pain is quite intense and he gets morphine every 2 hours. But he did have a little appetite for dinner (he was sick to his stomach earlier). When they asked him what foods he liked, he said “everything”. They then asked if there was anything he didn’t like and he said “salad”. I didn’t know that….we have salad a few times a week and he never complains.
We were so encouraged today by a visit by my brother, our pastor, my in-laws who brought us pizza and our friend who is a nurse and the house supervisor at the hospital and a good friend from our small group at church. She has made our stay at the hospital as nice as can be. As I mentioned before, she was there with us in pre-op and then in recovery and then made sure that we were assigned a nice, quite hospital room by ourselves. She even came by later before she left for the day and gave Kai a gift. Tonight, my cousin is stopping by to visit.
Kai’s dad is spending tonight with Kai and the doctor will come by tomorrow morning to check on Kai and see if he will be able to come home tomorrow. While I am excited to get Kai at home, it brings a whole host of different stresses since we do need to move him from time to time and it really hurts him.
I could write more, but I only got 5 hours of sleep last night and am a little tired 🙂
I just want to thank you all so much for your support and prayers today.
This morning, we found out some disappointing news. Kai will have to spend another night in the hospital. He is having too much pain for him to be able to come home. They now have him on both morphine and valium.
This is the first time after six surgeries that he will have to spend a second night, which disappointing, but I would rather have him in the hospital where they can better handle his pain then here at home. So, I will spend tonight with him so that his dad can get a good night’s sleep at home.
Kai is upset that he cannot go home too and he misses his sisters. So, I am bringing them today to help cheer him up.
Thank you again for your prayers….they are much appreciated.
Right now, it is very peaceful in Kai’s hospital room, except for his snoring. It is actually a very sweet sound because it means his pain is being managed enough for him to sleep.
Every two hours, he does experience significant pain and receives more pain medication. But, he is handling it very well. Kai is very sensitive to his bed being bumped or anyone even leaning on it because it hurts him. He asked me very politely “Momma, could you please not bump the bed.” If it were me, I probably wouldn’t be quite as polite.
We have been so blessed by family and friends. The only time that Kai smiles is when someone comes to visit him. His sisters all came today and his brother-in-law along with grandparents, cousins and friends. Kai is happy they are here, but he is usually preoccupied by his discomfort.
Later this evening, he started to cry because he was homesick. Hopefully, he can go home tomorrow….we are optimistic about that. We did discover movie channels a little while ago that play kid movies, which made Kai very happy. He also ate a fairly good dinner, which is always a good sign.
Kai’s dad has gone home to get a good night’s sleep and I am getting ready to watch a DVD on my laptop before I try to sleep in 2 hour increments (between pain medications).
Thank you again for your support and prayers.
Well, we made it home! As nice as everyone was at the hospital, I am so happy to be home.
Yesterday, Kai’s dad left after dinner to go home and sleep….he really needed it. Kai and I were doing pretty well and he was still receiving morphine to help manage his pain. As long as he was on morphine, he had to stay in the hospital. Kai went to sleep at 9:00 last night and I was getting ready to when we found out that they would be moving a new patient into the adjoining bed. And so, once the new little boy and his dad were settled in, I fell asleep around 1:00 a.m.**I almost hate to mention this, but both the little boy and his dad snored and it was really hard to sleep.
Even though I didn’t get to sleep until late, the night was not without it’s victories. Kai slept for 5 hours straight and only woke up because his IV machine was beeping. Before, Kai would regularly require pain medication every 2 hours. The other great part was that since he was doing so well, we decided not to add the morphine to his other medications to see how he would do. He did great.
After sleeping a total of 4 hours in 2 hour spurts, I waited for the doctor to arrive at 6 a.m. He was happy with Kai’s progress and said that he could go home later once we met with the Physical Therapist and practice how to lift and move Kai. We have done this for him after his previous surgeries, but it is always helpful to have a refresher course.
I wish that I could say that Kai had a nice time this morning in the hospital, but he didn’t. Between being moved, which is scary and does hurt, he also had to have the dressing on his surgery incisions changed. This meant that Kai had to be almost on his side which was scary for him, but he was really so brave.
He does not like being moved and starts to tell us exactly how to move him (he gets a bit bossy), but he does it so politely, it is almost funny. For example “Dad, don’t lift my legs until you lift the rest of me….please?”
Once we got him into his wheelchair, we took him around the hospital to see the sights. We even ventured outdoors….there is just something so rejuvenating about enjoying the outdoors after being stuck inside for a couple of days.
We went by the cafeteria and the vending machines and let him pick whatever he wanted to eat and drink. Kai chose a bag of Cheetos and bottle of Orange Fanta soda – definitely NOT things that we let him eat usually. Then on the way home, we stopped by the McDonald’s drive-thru for lunch. I did mention that once we get home, we will be back to eating our ‘normal’ foods and he will need to eat what I cook for dinner. Actually, Kai eats pretty much anything and actually likes my cooking and never complains about food 😉
I was so tired after we got home that Kai’s dad took care of everything so that I could “check-out” for a few hours for a nap. I feel so much better now.
We would appreciate your prayers for Kai’s continued healing and that the pain will lessen. He is still in pain, but it is manageable. Also for endurance as we take care of his every need. I put the gifts he received in the hospital in a gift bag next to him so he can easily pick what he wants to play with – although he isn’t playing with anything today…maybe tomorrow.
Thank you for your support and prayers.
I hope you aren’t getting tired of these updates…if you are, I honestly don’t mind if you delete it. But for me, in addition to updating our family friends, they are also a good way to document our journey with Kai.
Kai is doing better in general. He is definitely happy to be at home. He slept fairly well last night in his own bed and his dad spent the night on the floor in his room. Kai has to take medication every 2 hours.
He is definitely more involved in the happenings of our daily life. Like previous surgical recovery episodes, Kai’s day revolves around being in one of 3 places….in a bed we made for him on the floor in the family room, in the bed in his room and in his wheelchair.
Up till now, his dad has been the one carrying him from place to place, but I started carrying him today as well. He has definitely grown in the two years since I have had to carry him….he is heavier. After the first time I carried him, he said, Dad does it different then you…..I don’t touch his chest when he carries me.” I told him that my chest is a little different from his dad’s 😉
Kai’s appetite is gradually coming back which always makes me happy. He is still in pain, but it is less then the day before. We gave him a sponge bath tonight, which made him feel more human. He asked me to push his wheelchair to where his sisters were playing Wii. He doesn’t feel comfortable using his left hand where he had his IV, so he just encourages them as they play their game and gives advice.
Kai’s sense of humor is returning too. His grandparents bought him a giant cookie cake and I cut it up into slices for everyone. Kai wanted the one with his name on it and as soon as I cut it, I said, “Here is your cookie”. And Kai replied, “I can’t quite reach it,” all the way from the family room.
For my husband and I, our lives are slowly getting back to normal. We are mentally and physically tired and are having to fulfill all of Kai’s needs….. getting him water & food, repositioning his legs and body a couple of time each hour, bringing him his toys, helping him go to the bathroom, etc. Even making dinner tonight was a chore because I had to keep pausing to help him. We did try to do some normal things today like going to the gym as well as making a homemade dinner. That seems to help us settle back into our old and now modified routine.
The girls are being so nice and understanding and we are working on spending time with each of them. When Kai is in pain, he likes having his left foot massaged and the girls have also learned how to do it. Kai says when his foot is massaged that it helps the pain in his hip.
Today, Kai will go on his first outing….our weekly Tuesday night dinner at my mom’s. Kai will be happy to see his aunt, uncle and cousins.
Thank you all again for your prayers.
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend.
Today is Kai’s eight birthday, and tomorrow he will be in surgery. But for today, we celebrate…
I know that Kai will meet this challenge as well and continue to display the resilience that continues to amaze me. Before we know it, he will be back to wrestling, running, riding his bike and scooter.
I would appreciate your prayers and thank you for letting me share about my son. I promise I will soon be back rambling about my desert garden as well as other gardens I encounter 🙂