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In today’s post, I’d like to share with you a very special day that we spent with our youngest daughter, Gracie.


For those of you who have followed me for a while, you will have read about Gracie’s story and how we adopted her from China back in 2003.


She was one and a half years old when she was adopted and had a sweet smile and a club foot.


Gracie brought instant joy into our lives and despite having a clunky cast on her foot and leg as her foot was being straightened, she always had a smile ready for us.  She rejoiced at belonging to a family for the very first time her short little life.


Three months after flying home from China, Gracie underwent surgery to repair her club foot.  

While her foot healed quickly, we soon came to realize that Gracie was suffering some delays in her development.  At first, we thought it was from her time spent in an orphanage.  However, later we learned that she had autism, or more specifically, Asperger’s, which is a high-functioning form of autism.

Gracie is now 14 years old and as you can imagine, life hasn’t always been easy for Gracie (or us), but on most days, she brings us joy and a smile.

This past weekend, we were able to take part in a special event in Gracie’s life.

She was set to participate in a Special Olympics event representing her school.


The day was set to be a hot one with record-breaking temperatures, but it was still lovely outside while sitting in the stands waiting for the events to begin.  


Only in Arizona are you equally as likely to bring an umbrella for a hot, sunny day as you are for a wet and rainy one ๐Ÿ˜‰


The kids were all gathered off to the side of the field, enjoying the shade of the trees while awaiting their turn.  Gracie’s teachers were there along with other classmates who were to participate in the event.

There were also ‘typical’ kids who were there representing their teams as well and we waited while they competed until it was time for the Special Olympics portion of the event to take place.


Of course, waiting can also make you more nervous and Gracie wasn’t sure if she could do it.  Her events were scheduled to be the 100-meter dash and the long jump.  The problem was, she didn’t want to do the long jump.

Those of you who are parents of teenagers know that it can be hard to reason with your teen, but when they have autism, it is even harder as the regular arguments and persuasions don’t work. 

I wish that her dad and I could take credit for figuring out a way to inspire her to do the long jump but Gracie figured out a way for us to motivate her – promise to buy her a box of ‘Cookie Crisp’ cereal afterward.

At this point, I should mention that we rarely give our kids what we call ‘sugar cereals’, which are filled with empty calories and don’t fill you up.  But, I happily promised to drive to the store and buy her a box right after the race if she was brave enough to do the long jump – her school team was depending on her.

She also wanted a medal very badly.  So, I said that if she didn’t get a medal, I would make her one, to which Gracie said, “But you’ll have to buy spray paint, a circle-piece of wood and ribbon.”  At this point, I told her that I would be happy to make her the coolest medal I was capable of for her to wear.


Our son, Kai, also came to cheer Gracie on.  I love this photo that I was able to get of them – they rarely stand this close to teach other – ha, ha.

If you’ve ever spent time with people with autism, you may have noticed the blunt and honest ways they phrase things.  One of Gracie’s classmates noticed Kai standing next to Gracie and exclaimed excitedly, “Gracie, your brother, Kai, is here.”  To which Gracie replied, “Uh, I know…. he’s standing right next to me.”

The first event that Gracie was to participate in wasn’t the 100-meter dash as previously scheduled.  That event was cancelled and her team needed her to fill in the space of a missing team member for the 400-meter relay race.  Since that would entail Gracie running 100-meters, that would work.


She was nervous about dropping the baton, but she grabbed it and began running.


So far, so good. 


Go, Gracie!


Almost ready for the hand-off!


The hand-off went off without a hitch except that Gracie got a stomachache from all the excitement and running as she walked with her math teacher and coach to toward the rest of her team. 

After the race was over, the teams were asked to gather around the medal podium.


Guess who got a medal for helping her team come in second place?


Yeah!  That’s my girl!

All the kids who participated in the Special Olympics relay race received medals, but Gracie’s team did get second place, which made her feel extra special.


I guess I won’t have to make her a wooden medal now.

Next, it was off to the long jump, and hopefully, a box of ‘Cookie Crisp’ cereal afterward.


Gracie waited patiently for her turn and then pumped her arms very fast (for extra energy, she said) before taking off running.


And she takes off…


This is Gracie’s favorite photo since it looks like she is flying.


Nice landing!


As you can see, this was a very memorable day for both Gracie and us.  Being a teenager is hard enough without having autism.  When you pair that with the challenges that they face everyday trying to fit into a world whose rules and social norms don’t make sense, then you get an idea of what a momentous occasion this was for her.
Gracie wore her medal to church yesterday and it warmed my heart to see members of our congregation come up to hug and congratulate her.

**Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your day to read Gracie’s story.  It is an honor being her mom and sharing her story with you!

If you would like to see Gracie’s long jump video, I’ve posted it below.  You can read Gracie’s adoption story, here.


This year, the anniversary of a very important date in our family’s life quietly snuck up on us.


Exactly 11 years ago in a hotel lobby in China, my life was changed when our son Kai, was first placed in my arms.

He was 2 1/2 years old and wasn’t sure what to think about me at first.  But, by the next morning he was calling me “mama” and was following me around our hotel room.

The first photo we ever saw of Kai, which captured our hearts.

Kai wasn’t our first child adopted from China, he was the second.  However, he was and still is our only son.



Our two oldest daughters came with us on this journey to China as well as Gracie who was excited to have someone her own size to play with.


We spent 2 weeks in China completing the adoption paperwork, which was filled with touring the sights as well as enjoying our newest family member.


My husband was fast learning that little boys take wrestling more seriously than little girls do.


Kai spent the first year of his life in an orphanage and then the next 18 months in a foster home.


It was obvious to us that he had been well cared for.


Our Chinese guide saw us through the maze of paperwork as well as showed us around some beautiful places in China.  We traveled in January and it was cold!


We took some time to visit the orphanage where Kai grew up and say “thank you” to the nannies who helped raise him.


As we neared the end of our trip, we paused to take this family photo before we left to fly home.  Little did we know that we would be back to adopt again 2 1/2 years later.


After a long flight home, we stepped off the plane and into the arms of family who were anxious to welcome the newest member of our family.

Our first day home was spent with Gracie showing Kai some of her favorite things to play with – a yard stick and a wooden spoon ๐Ÿ˜‰

The age difference between these two is only 6 months (Gracie is the oldest) and it’s funny to see how much taller that she used to be.  Now, Kai towers over her.  

Kai had some severe special needs involving his feet, hip and hands.  He has been through countless surgeries and doctor office visits.  But through it all, he has shown us how resilient he is and the joy that he finds wherever he goes.

I can hardly imagine life without him.


Kai and Gracie still get along (most of the time) and he knows what she loves most for Christmas – ‘sugar’ cereal and chocolate.

So, “Happy Gotcha Day” to my wonderful son! We will enjoy your favorite dinner and dessert tonight ๐Ÿ™‚

**If you would like to learn more about Kai’s incredible journey along with the other challenges that he has faced, you can click here.  

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.



On our way to the hospital.  Kai’s best friend left a ‘good luck’ poster on our truck.


This part is definitely NOT fun.

Kai was in the hospital for 4 days.


He was then confined to a wheelchair for the entire summer.

He held up pretty well overall with visits from his uncle and cousins helping to take his mind off of his limited mobility.


It is not always fun to be stuck in a wheelchair and unable to swim.  But, that didn’t stop his getting wet, just the same.


Who says you have to be able to run in order to race your younger cousins?  A wheelchair pushed by you big cousin works just fine.


A wheelchair doesn’t hold you back from fishing.


And, a wheelchair makes it easy to hold your niece on your lap.

When school started earlier this year, Kai was still in a wheelchair.  He didn’t want to go to school until he was able to walk because he was embarrassed.

But, he did go and it all worked out just fine.  His friends still treated him the same and because Kai is such a people person – he was happier.

I am thrilled to say that Kai is no longer in his wheelchair.  He graduated to a walker for 4 weeks, which was a relief for him and for my back – carrying an 11-year old boy is not easy ๐Ÿ˜‰

Last weekend, Kai was invited on an outing by his uncle.  My husband stopped by to see how Kai was doing and took the following photo…


I was so happy to see my son climbing a rock wall, just 3 1/2 months after his surgery.


Kai is also able to throw the football with his dad again, which is a nightly tradition, just before dinner.



He even helped his dad dig a hole for my newest plant – a Coral Fountain (Russellia equisetiformis).



Kai is doing quite well, but is till going in for PT to help with his limp.


Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your day to let me tell you about Kai ๐Ÿ™‚

If you would like to read more about Kai and his journey, you can start here.

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.


Kai was born with a condition known as arthrogryposis, which affects some of his joints.  He was born with a dislocated left hip, which the doctors have been working on throughout the past 8 years.  

Every few years, he needs to have additional surgery on his hip, which leaves him wheelchair bound for 6 – 8 weeks.

After 4 days at the hospital, we are now home.  He needs a lot of care at this point, so I will try my best to find some time to write.

Kai is a remarkable boy and I am so glad that he is my son.  He was abandoned by his birth parents in China when he was 2 weeks old and spent his first 2 1/2 years of life under the care of an orphanage.

You can read more about his story in a post I wrote about him called,

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….

My family, who resided in the Los Angeles area were all there along with my in-laws who had made the trip to LA from Phoenix.  It was so wonderful to see everyone so excited to meet Gracie.




I couldn’t wait to hug my daughters and Gracie was definitely interested in her new sisters.


 It was so great to see my mom (now Pastor Farmer of Double S Farms) and introduce her to Gracie.


 She brought red, white & blue balloons to welcome Gracie to the United States.

We spent some time with family at my parent’s house, but we were soon ready to go to a hotel and sleep.  Gracie spent some time at the hotel getting acquainted with her new sisters.
 

  
The next day we returned to my parent’s home to enjoy a baby shower for Gracie.  I come from a close knit extended family and so family from all over Southern California and Arizona made the drive to the party.  Great aunts & uncles, 1st & 2nd cousins, grandparents, her great-grandmother…it was a full house ๐Ÿ™‚  Everyone was so eager to welcome Gracie into the family.

I could hardly wait for people to arrive to the shower and meet Gracie…




Gracie found the ribbon and Cheerios much more interesting then the gifts she received.



Picking up Cheerios continued to be challenging for her.


It was such a wonderful day and Gracie was embraced by the entire family.  Later, she took a walk outside with her dad in her new dress and hat.

 

After a few days in Los Angeles, we loaded up our minivan and left for home.  Once we returned home, and got Gracie settled in, we took her to the pediatrician who pronounced her healthy.  

Gracie made herself at home…..



Watching ‘Barney’ for the first time….


 Learning how to feed herself.


Soon we met with her orthopedist who would correct her clubfoot.  

Normally, clubfeet are corrected right after birth, but since Gracie was almost 2 years old, her case was unusual.  For the next 10 weeks, Gracie had a new cast put on her foot/leg.  Each time the doctor would adjust the cast slightly in order to straighten her foot.  



Gracie adjusted to her cast very well and did not let it slow her down.  Meanwhile, she was experiencing the joys of belonging to a family.



 Supergirl


Soon, it was time for the 10th cast to come off and although her foot was now straight, she needed surgery on her achilles tendon to fully repair her club foot.  Unfortunately, her surgery was scheduled on her birthday.  So, we had a fun-filled birthday celebration a few days ahead of time.

 You can tell her hair is starting to grow out a little.

Her first birthday present….ever.

All to soon, came her surgery day….
 


The surgery went very well and we were so thankful.  The nurse came into the surgery waiting room to get us and kept looking for an Asian couple.  She finally called out our names and we could see that she was a little surprised to see that we weren’t Asian at all ๐Ÿ˜‰


Even though the surgery was a success, Gracie still had to wear a cast for another month.  

Now it was time to work on celebrating her first Christmas.  It had been years since I had taken my older daughters to Santa, but we had to start up our Santa tradition with Gracie.   Now, Gracie’s hair was starting to grow longer, but despite how often I dressed her in pink, some people would compliment me on my cute son.  

I did my best to ignore this, thinking that eventually she would have enough hair that people wouldn’t mistake her for a boy.  Well, this Santa photo was the breaking point for me….


Once the photo had been taken, Santa’s elf handed me the photo and said, “Here is the photo of your son.”  That was it….I was tired of people mistaking her for a boy so we walked to the earring store a few feet away and got her ears pierced.

As well as Gracie was fitting into our family, there were still signs of her earlier life spent in an orphanage.  She did have some delayed development, which is not unusual in children raised in orphanages in China and we had been prepared for that.  She was catching up and had periods of accelerated learning as she was catching up to where she should be for her age.

One thing that she did and still does each night, is rock herself side to side in bed as she falls asleep.  She would do this in the orphanage to comfort herself because there was probably a number of times that there was not an available person to rock her or provide comfort.  As a result, she would have a large tangled mass of hair when she would wake up, so we started putting her hair in ponytails before bed, which solved the problem.

 First Easter and tangled hair.


Gracie’s foot was doing very well, but for the months that followed, she had to wear special shoes fastened onto a bar at night.  We called them “Night, Night Shoes”.  At first, she hated them….I would have too.

 
The shoes helped to keep her repaired clubfoot pointed outwards.  Gracie adapted pretty quickly and later did not complain when we had to put them on her.

During the day, she would have to wear a plastic brace on her lower leg.

 Helping her dad in the garden.  You can see the brace on her right leg.

 Thankfully, she no longer has to wear a brace or special shoes any longer.

When Gracie was three years old, another major change occurred in our family…..





We went back to China in order to adopt a little boy, Kai.  You can read about Kai’s story here if you like.  Gracie accepted her brother right away and since they were only 6 months apart, they played together all the time.
While we were in China during this time, we arranged a visit to Gracie’s orphanage.  We wanted to see where she had spent almost two years of her life.  The trip took 2 1/2 hours by car and when we arrived, we were warmly greeted by the orphanage director and staff.  

 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….




Gracie was wearing the outfit that we had sent her a month ago.   She was obviously not sure what was going on.  She had spent over 3 hours in a car in order to get to the hotel we were staying at and it very well may have been the first time she had ever been in a car.  


We each spent a little time checking each other out.  Gracie had never seen anyone who wasn’t Asian before.  She did not try to get away from me and she did not cry.  She was just taking it all in.


Her dad and I were just so thrilled to finally have her in our arms.  But, Gracie probably thought I was the strangest person she had ever seen….blond hair, blue eyes, white skin and a big nose (more about that later in the story).

We spent some time there with the orphanage director and her nanny asking questions through a translator.  It was obvious that they were happy she was being adopted.  Her nanny was eager to show us how Gracie could walk a couple of steps, which she did, but she fell down after taking 3 steps….her club foot made it difficult for her to walk normally.  
I was eager to take Gracie back with us to our hotel room and as we said our goodbyes to the orphanage officials, her nanny shed a few tears.  Back in our room, I took off her clothes which were much too hot for the month of August.  She was in good condition and only had a little heat rash behind her neck.  Up until this point, I had been the one to hold her, but now it was her new dad’s turn.


As happy as we were, I could only imagine the turmoil of feelings that Gracie must have been experiencing.  She had just been dropped off by the only caretakers she had ever known and left in the care of complete strangers who looked so different from anyone she had ever seen.


As I held her that first night and fed her a bottle, Gracie reached up and grabbed my nose and held onto it for a few minutes.  I was surprised at first…I had never thought of my nose as abnormally big. But then when I thought about it, she had probably never seen a nose that sticks out – most Asian noses are somewhat flat.  Soon after she let go of my nose she went right to sleep.  


After waiting 15 months of waiting, we just wanted to keep holding her that night, but we finally put her in the crib.  Guess what?  She slept for 11 hours ๐Ÿ™‚

We had to spend a few days in Hangzhou, which is the provincial capital, in order to finalize the adoption in China and get her Chinese passport so that she could travel to the US.
The next morning, Gracie woke up a little disoriented, but was otherwise happy to get her bottle of rice cereal.  We were rather shocked to discover that at 20 months of age, she had only eaten milk and rice cereal. 

 We gave her a bath and I finally got to put on one of the dresses that I had bought for her.  We spent the morning filling out paperwork and finalizing her adoption.  Then a trip to get her passport photo as well as our first family photo was the extent of what we did this day.  It was important to spend a lot of one on one time with her to help with the bonding process.  At this stage, she was more likely to want to be with an Asian person because they looked more familiar and so our guide took care to stay in the background for all of us in the group.  She spent much of the day working on our paperwork.  

The next morning, something special happened.  The kids were on the floor playing while us mothers were talking as a group nearby.  Gracie’s almost bald head was popular with the other newly adopted kids in our group because they liked rubbing her head.


Well, Gracie stood up on her own and walked a few steps towards me and then crawled the rest of the way over and stretched out her arms to me so that I could hold her.  It was the first sign that she was beginning to bond with me…it made me want to cry with happiness.

Our remaining days in Hangzhou were spent applying for an expedited passport and then sight-seeing while waiting for the passport to be ready.




We were very fortunate to be staying in Hangzhou as the area is so beautiful.  We toured West Lake.


Yes, that is a golden water buffalo in the lake.



Guess what we found next to the lake….

Gracie sleeping in my arms at Starbucks.


Starbucks!

We were having a wonderful time touring around West Lake, but Gracie evidently wasn’t too interested as she promptly fell asleep…


Our adoption agency organized a tour of a local orphanage (not Gracie’s) that they ran.  I had been looking forward to visiting an orphanage since Gracie’s was too far away for us to visit.  This orphanage was the role model of what China wanted other orphanages to follow and so they often sent employees there to be trained.  My husband stayed back at the hotel with Gracie because we were afraid that she would be alarmed at finding herself in another orphanage.

Fun with dad playing on the computer in our hotel room.


This was a very special visit and I saw many precious children.  You can click on the photos below to enlarge if you like.



This little albino boy was adopted 2 years later.

The babies in cribs were lying on bamboo mats to help keep them cool.

Precious little girl.

  

 Have you ever seen so much hair?

 The orphanage doctor showing our guide a little girl who was failing to thrive.

 Playroom (we had to wear booties over our shoes to keep the floor clean.
**Unbeknown to me, my future son is in the yellow/green/red jumper. 

 I met a little friend…Chen Bo who wanted me to stop taking pictures so that he could crawl into my lap.

Saying goodbye….


I had a wonderful time visiting the orphanage and my heart ached for all of the children who had no parents.  But, I couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel and be with Gracie again.


Gracie quickly began to bond with us and became more extroverted.  She began walking more and was able to stay on her feet longer.  She loved it when her dad would ‘chase’ her down the hotel hallway.  *You can see that she walked on the ankle of her right foot.  It was amazing to me that she could walk at all.

We were enjoying our time in China very much.  We did seem to attract attention wherever we went because foreign tourists did not travel to this area often, so we encountered stares almost everywhere we went.  The Chinese people were not being rude….it is not considered rude to stare in China.  Also, the culture is more of a inter-dependent culture, where our western culture focuses more on individualism.  As a result, it was normal for Chinese women to come up and make sure that our children were dressed appropriately for the weather (they are affectionately known as the ‘clothing police’ in the adoptive community).  

 I had a great time shopping.
I tried to ignore the stares though.

The Chinese people we met were extremely curious about why we had Chinese children with us.  The fact that Europeans and Americans adopt from China was not well know inside of China.  They were courteous and wished us well when we explained that we were adopting Gracie.  Because of their inter-dependent culture, sometimes strangers would come up to Gracie and hold her club foot in their hands in order to figure out what was wrong with it.  Now, in America, I would have politely told them not to touch my daughter.  But, it is different in China where they were genuinely concerned and it was not considered rude to take matters into their own hands to find out what was wrong with her. 
 

One older woman scolded me when we were walking with a sleeping Gracie in her stroller.  You see, Gracie’s head had rolled forward and the stroller did not adjust back, so there was nothing that I could do.  Well, while this well-intentioned woman was scolding me, I just picked up Gracie’s head and put it back up and then it promptly rolled forward again and I just shrugged my shoulders and walked on ๐Ÿ˜‰


I must admit at this point, that I am not an adventurous eater.  But, I did find many foods that I enjoyed in China.   Not this one though….my husband is the adventurous eater in our family and enjoyed eating a little bit of everything.


Our group ate a wonderful dinner at restaurant and we were so excited to have Gracie try some of the different food (she had been limited to rice cereal up to this point).  She seemed to love the peas and kept eating them.  We were so happy to see her eating other foods.  Later that night as my husband was leaning over to put her into the crib, a pea dropped out of her mouth.  Further exploration found over 17 peas stuck inside of her cheeks.  

Because Gracie had spent her life in an orphanage to this point, she was delayed in many areas which we had expected.  One of the problems we discovered was that she did not know how to swallow solid foods.  

Our travel group ready to leave from the Hangzhou airport.

Our time in Hangzhou was coming to a close and the next part of our trip was upcoming.  I was a little nervous about how Gracie would do on an airplane, but she did very well.  We said goodbye to our guide and flew with the rest of our group to Guangzhou (formerly known as Canton) in Southern China.

Some of you may remember me mentioning that I am a wimp about hot weather when it is coupled with high humidity.  Well, when we landed in Guangzhou, it was even more hot and humid then where we had come from.  But, it was so beautiful!  * It smelled like the ride “Pirates of the Caribbean” at Disneyland.


We stayed on a small island in Guangzhou known as Shamian Island.  Filled with European Colonial architecture and beautiful, formal gardens, I couldn’t wait to explore more.



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 ๐Ÿ™‚


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.


On a Friday morning, just over 7 years ago – my husband and I had just woken up and were looking forward to leaving for our trip to Ireland and the United Kingdom that evening.   But, there was another reason that we woke up filled with anticipation….we were due to receive a phone call that would change our lives.  

We were waiting for a call from our adoption agency telling us about our new daughter.  Fifteen months earlier, we had made the decision, along with our two biological daughters, to adopt a little girl from China.  And so we dove into the paperwork and necessary preparations in order to adopt a little girl.  This phone call would put a face on the child that we had envisioned in our hearts for over a year.

I knew that she would have almond shaped eyes, light brown skin and dark hair, but I could hardly wait to hear about the little girl that China had matched us with.  That morning, found us in our pajamas, nervously waiting for the phone to ring.  It seemed like it would never ring, but then it did!  It turns out it was a salesman….talk about a let down ๐Ÿ˜‰  Thankfully, it soon rang again and we were hearing the wonderful details about our new daughter.

Her name, Chen Xia, meant ‘rosy clouds’.   She was 18 months old and lived in an orphanage in Dongyang, China.  She was abandoned in front of a government building when she was just 3 days old, with a bottle, a spare diaper and a note indicating when she had been born.  My heart ached to hear the details of her abandonment, but the majority of children in orphanages in China have been abandoned by their birth parents.

Each additional tidbit of information we received helped to make her seem more real to us.  The adoption agency then told us that they were going to email us her photo.  My husband and I hovered over the computer, waiting for our inbox to tell us that we had a new email.  A couple of minutes later, “we got mail” and we clicked on the photo and waited impatiently as her photo slowly downloaded (7 years ago, we had dial-up internet connection so photos downloaded slowly).


Our first view of Gracie

I can hardly describe the feeling when you first see your child for the first time, but it felt the same as when the nurse placed my newly born babies in my arms.  It is a life-changing experience.  This felt exactly the same way.  You know how you love your kids no matter whether they are handsome or pretty, but you are still hopeful that they will be?  That is what we felt and were happy to see that she was pretty.  Her name was going to be Grace ChenXia Johnson (Grace is both my mother and sister’s name). 

After seeing her photo, I wanted to jump on a plane to China that day instead of traveling to Europe.  But, there was paperwork to be completed – mostly us agreeing to accept her as our child and then China issuing travel documents….a process that would take a few weeks.  We emailed our friends and family with her picture and information and then finished packing our suitcases, printed out pictures of our new daughter to take with us and left for the airport to board a plane to Europe.  I must admit that I hardly slept on the plane and kept looking at her photo ๐Ÿ™‚

Once we returned home, we set to work on getting everything ready for her.  We painted her room, started packing and of course, went shopping for little girl clothes.



The photo we had of Gracie was taken when she was 16 months old and we were pleasantly surprised to receive an updated photo of her, a few weeks before we were due to leave for China.  She was obviously wearing a dress that was too large for her, but we found out later that they saved this dress to put on the different girls whenever they had their picture taken.


 You may notice that one of her feet is turned in.  Gracie was born with a club foot.  We knew about this and had indicated to China that we were open to adopt a child with certain special needs, including a club foot.  *You can see that she is leaning against the wall because she could not stand up on her own without falling down.

After months of waiting to travel to China….actually it was only a few weeks, but it seemed like it took forever, we were ready to go.  My husband and I flew from Phoenix to Los Angeles and spent the night with my parents who lived there at the time.  The next day my dad drove us to the airport and we boarded a plane to San Francisco.  There, we met up with 4 other families who we would be traveling with who were also adopting from the same area in China.  

We went through a marathon series of flights.  I used to think the 11 hours it took to fly to Europe was long, but not anymore.  We flew from San Francisco to Seoul, Korea where we had a 4 hour layover.

Dawn in Seoul Korea as viewed from inside the airport.

We landed in Shanghai and met our Chinese guide who would guide us through the adoption process.  We were all so happy to have finally landed and I was thrilled to see that our luggage made it too.  We got ready to board the private bus waiting for us and I immediately noticed how humid and warm it was outside.  It felt very ‘tropical’ for this desert dweller.

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.



 

The countryside was very green and small farms and tall homes dotted the roadside.  The homes were usually 3 stories tall as up to three generations of a single family would occupy one home.





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….



 


 Pizza Hut
 Seriously, KFC is hugely popular in China.

Along with those that were a little different….

“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.





Part of the lake was covered in lotus.





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 ๐Ÿ˜‰  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 ๐Ÿ˜‰



*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 ๐Ÿ™‚


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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

 Kai getting ready for his first outing….to the mailbox.

Friday:

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

Noelle

Friday – Post Surgery:

Hello Again,

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

I just want to thank you all so much for your support and prayers today.

-Noelle

Saturday:

Hello Everyone,

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.

Noelle

Saturday Night:

Hello,

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.

Noelle

Sunday:

Hello,

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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.

Noelle

Monday:

Hello,

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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.

Noelle

 
I love Angelita Daisies (Tetraneuris acaulis), and how their bright and sunny faces brighten my day.  But today’s post is not about gardening, but about a little boy who brings sunshine to my life every day.

I would like to share with you a story about this special little boy who has gone through so much adversity in his short life but who has blessed me so much….my son, Kai.
This was the first photo that I saw of my son, Kai.  He was abandoned by a river when he was just two weeks old.  He spent much of his early life in a Chinese orphanage and then in foster care.


We had adopted our third daughter, Gracie from China a year and a half earlier and had decided to adopt again.  As soon as I saw this picture, I just fell in love with Kai’s little face.


If you look closely, you may notice his feet turn inwards, a lot.


Kai had two club feet and club hands.  We thought that we could handle that, – our daughter Gracie had been born with a club foot and we went through surgery and rehabilitation just fine.  


But the medical paperwork from the orphanage also said that Kai had a dislocated hip…he was born that way.   


The news we heard from the doctor was not good.  The doctor suspected that Kai had a condition known as arthrogryposis, which can be caused when the birth mother’s womb is too small for the developing baby.  Hence, the club feet and hands and dislocated hip.  


The doctor told us that Kai would need multiple surgeries with lengthy hospital stays.  We were torn up by this news.  We were set to receive the papers from the adoption agency the next day to sign to formally agree to adopt him.  After a lot of prayer and talking to our daughters about what Kai would have to go through and what we would all have to do to help him, our entire family decided to go forward.  
 

While we were waiting to travel to China, we found out that Kai was from an orphanage that I had visited while in China adopting our daughter, Gracie a year and a half earlier.  So, I took out the photos of my orphanage visit and there he was….
Kai is in the back wearing the multi-colored jumper.  You can see his club feet.


Our whole family traveled to China in January 2005 to go and get Kai.  We were so excited to meet him.  But, he was not sure about us…we definitely did not look Chinese and he was missing his foster mother.
Kai was  2 1/2 years old.  He is holding the little red train we gave him.  He had a bag of candy given to him by the orphanage director in the other hand.

It only took about one day for Kai to fit into our family and he was absolutely inseparable from his new dad.

 
Pushing two strollers in Guangzhou, China.
Aren’t the flowers beautiful?
 
First day home after our trip to China.
Kai fit into our family so well and I quickly learned how different boys were from girls.  Because of Kai’s club feet, he walked on his ankles.  It was amazing how fast he could walk.  He couldn’t wear shoes, only slippers.  

We were referred to a specialist for Kai and decided on the first course of treatment, which would be to work on his club feet.

Recovering from his first surgery.
 
At the doctor getting ready to get his casts off.
Kai wearing shoes for the first time.
A few months later, recovering from his second major surgery.  His hip was moved to the correct place and pinned.  The lower leg bones were cut so that his feet could be turned outwards.  Kai was in this cast for 6 weeks.  As you can see, he did not let it slow him down.
 
Back at the doctor, ready to have this cast removed.
 
Cast off and now wearing a brace.  Now he was able to wrestle with his dad again.
Notice the left leg?  One day after getting his brace off, Kai accidentally pulled his sister, Gracie, on him and his leg broke.
Cast is off and now to learning how to walk again.  Kai ditched the walker two days later.
For awhile, Kai was able to run, jump and wrestle like most boys his age.  But, a check-up revealed that his hip wasn’t healing as well as expected, so another surgery had to be scheduled 1 1 /2 years later.
 
On the way to the hospital, yet again…May 2008.
 
Summer vacation, stuck in a wheelchair, but Kai made the most of it.  He caught 3 fish in one day.
 
Getting ready to race his cousins.  Kai’s favorite superhero “Super-Duper” made a surprise visit and pushed Kai in his wheelchair.  Kai won.  “Super-Duper’s” secret identity, is Kai’s uncle Brett.

 Kai recovered from that surgery quite well but will have to wear AFO’s (braces on his feet and lower legs), for the rest of his life.  He walks and runs with a limp.  Kai cannot run as fast as his classmates and is beginning to notice that.  He always wears long pants now, because he doesn’t like it when people stare at his braces.


Over Christmas, I was reading a book to him about a little lamb that had a limp, but was very special, just like him.  Kai was surprised that he had a limp….he didn’t know that.  I thought that he did.  But, it didn’t seem to bother him after he found out. 


A couple of months ago, we received the news that Kai needs another hip surgery.  We were dismayed at the news, although we knew that Kai would probably require additional surgeries during his life.  But, he is just such a normal little boy that it is so easy to forget that he even has special needs.




He will be confined to a wheelchair again for 6 – 8 weeks.  Since Kai cannot put any weight on his hip we have to take care of most of his basic needs during that time and do a lot of lifting and carrying.


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 ๐Ÿ™‚