My Three Sons

Chance text messaged me a bit ago with this word from our attorney:

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The concerned social worker spoke to Chance and our attorney when they arrived at court, but apparently they calmed her fears, as she did not bring up a single concern during court. In fact, Chance mentioned that the session only lasted a total of 16 minutes!

Now, we wait for a 21-day appeal period to pass. Then, in about six weeks, Chance and E will travel back to [EEC] to pick up final documentation before everything is completely finalized!

But as of this morning, I have three sons!

Infant Loss and Failed Adoptions

Yesterday (and all this week) are designated times when mothers who have miscarried, delivered stillborns, or experienced the death of an infant, pause to remember those children.

Many women lit candles last night in honor of their babies who have passed. We don’t light candles in our home for obvious reasons (one of those reasons rhymes with “Rasco”), but I often remember the three unnamed babies we lost to miscarriages in 2010.

Another loss that isn’t shared by a large number of people, is the loss we experienced through failed adoption. We regularly talk about “Baby I”, the sweet little man we were set to adopt in April of 2011. Almost weekly, we drive past his house.

Yesterday, as I was taking Nasko to a therapy appointment, we turned onto the street where Baby I’s family still lives. As we rounded the corner, Nasko said, “Baby I’s house. Pray. Dear God. Baby I. Love Jesus. Amen.”

A sob caught in my throat as I realized what had just taken place. Nasko, my adopted son, was praying for the child I would never get to parent; a child he would never meet. In Nasko’s limited vocabulary and understanding, he was echoing the prayer I always pray as we drive past Baby I’s house — a prayer that Baby I might come to have a relationship with The Lord.

You see, despite the heartache and the tears on that rainy day in April of 2011, I handed Baby I over to God when I handed him to his birth mother for the last time.

I knew that she was wavering in her decision to have us parent him. I knew she was being pulled by her family to sever the adoption plan. And despite the fact that it wouldn’t be my job to kiss Baby I’s bruises, or to change his diapers, or to rock him to sleep, I promised God that I would continue to fulfill the most important role as his parent, despite what any legal documents said about my status — I would pray for his salvation. I specifically asked God to place Baby I in the home where he would have the best opportunity for a relationship with Christ.

Of course, I had hoped that home would be mine; we are raising our boys to know and love God, but that does not mean they will have a relationship with Him. A child can receive the best biblical instruction, and still not KNOW their savior.

When the decision was made that Baby I’s birth mother would parent him, I trusted that God had His hand in the decision, and I believe that He will faithfully draw I to Himself. And I have not stopped praying.

Obviously, my children are now echoing this prayer. They are praying for their brother, not a sibling, but a future brother in Christ. I maintain faith that these boys will some day be united in heaven as brothers who share a father — our Heavenly Father.

This week, please remember all of those affected by infant loss. Those of us who have experienced the loss remember each of our children; it is healing to talk about them. Also, please pray for those children who have been affected by failed adoptions. And please pray for Baby I to come to a relationship with his Heavenly Father.

When I say I’m ready to adopt again…

When I say I’m ready to adopt again, remind me of this day:

I woke up early this morning because there is one final document that must be filled out before our adoption of E can be finalized. Chance leaves for [Eastern European Country] on Saturday, and this paperwork must be filed before he leaves. This morning, I planned to sit at my computer without interruption, and complete the paperwork.

When I began reading the instructions on how to complete the form, I discovered that the preview for the document shows it as being SEVENTY-FOUR PAGES LONG.

Needless to say, I tried to hurry and open the actual document so I could get as much done as possible before my children blessed me with their sweet presence.

At that point I learned that in order to access this necessary form, you must have some top-secret identification number assigned to you by the National Visa Center.

I did not have such a number, of course.

In fact, without contacting them directly, I might not be assigned this number for at least ten more days.

So, I composed a few emails to try to gain access to this number. Wondering if I needed to speed up the process, I also tried calling the National Visa Center’s phone number.

Remarkably, it was busy. I didn’t know anyone in the world still lived without call-waiting (except for my parents). I especially cannot figure out why a government agency wouldn’t at least have a voicemail service!

So, my morning plans were spoiled.

I sent emails to a few more accounts that might be able to help, and I zipped one to our adoption agency as well.

Later, while I was entertaining the two littles during a session of Nasko’s trauma therapy (because the effects of the orphanage don’t stop when your paperwork is final, can I get an “AMEN”?), I received a phone call. It was our adoption worker. I began by apologizing that I wasn’t successful in filling out the paperwork this morning, but she interrupted me; she had more pressing information.

Our attorney in [EEC] had run into the social worker who was assigned E’s adoption case. This social worker had many complaints. She had been reading our monthly reports and seeing the pictures we sent of E, and she could not believe our negligence. Not one photo contained E wearing his back brace or his glasses that were sent home with us. She mentioned to our attorney that this fact would be brought up in court when Chance was there this weekend. She did not think we understood the harm we were causing E by not having him wear his adaptive equipment.

So, our adoption agency now believes it should be our mission to provide as much proof as possible demonstrating that the doctors we have met with have said that his glasses and brace are no longer necessary. (His eye sight was tested as being slightly far-sighted, but not enough for glasses and he does not actually have astigmatism. The back brace was said to not actually be doing anything, but surgery would be scheduled in the future because of his two hemi-vertebrae. Also, the brace was potentially causing his muscles to develop incorrectly.)

So, the rest of my morning was spent making phone calls to all the doctors we’ve been seeing.

If/when I ever say I’m ready to adopt again, please remind me of this day.

It is very scary to be told by a social worker that she is planning to present a case stating medical negligence for a child that we have been trying SO hard to treat and assist through a medical condition that is much more involved than anything with which he was diagnosed in his home country.

Join us in praying that all our paperwork is completed in time. Please pray for our family and our upcoming court date, as I know that all parties have E’s best interests in mind, but [EEC]‘s medical care is around 50 years behind ours. Please pray that the documentation from our doctors is enough for the court to see how much we love E and how much of a priority his medical care has been in these three months he has been in our care. (Maybe I should show them the stack of medical bills we’ve been paying…) Pray for truth to be proclaimed, heard, and accepted within the walls of the courtroom in [EEC].

And when I say I’m ready to adopt again, remind me of this day. A day when I know we are providing the absolute best medical care to a child who has only survived this long because of the miraculous hand of God. Remind me of a three year old who signs “Thank you!” to us when we give him his daily life-sustaining medication.

Remind me of a little life changed and a physical body experiencing healing. Remind me of a wounded spirit being renewed and restored through Christ.

Remind me that it is all worth it.

When I say I’m ready to adopt again, remind me of this day.

Under The Hood

When you are driving your car, and there’s a clanking sound coming from the engine, panic strikes. You think through all the worst and most expensive possibilities. You fear the time that it will take to repair your car, and whether or not it will even be fixable.

When you finally force yourself to face your fears, you take the car to your favorite mechanic and hold your breath as you wait for diagnostics to come back.

This is just like waiting for a medical diagnosis for your child. Tests are run, professionals are consulted, and when a decision is reached, your next breath remains caught in your throat while you wait for the label.

I’ve now experienced this process twice in the three years that I’ve been a parent.

With Nasko, we were searching for a label. We had taken him to “mechanic” after “mechanic” to learn what might be causing his tics. The label of Tourette’s Syndrome was not surprising to us, as we had done much of our own research. We felt like someone was just telling us that we’d need to change our spark plugs twice as often as any other car owner – a fact we had wondered about and assumed to be true. This diagnosis appeared to have minimal impact and the car’s life expectancy didn’t change at all.

As I mentioned in the last blog post, we have now received a diagnosis for E and all his complications as well.

The diagnosis was given during our time at the International Adoption Clinic at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. I wasn’t expecting a diagnosis at all. We had just come to believe that E has some mixed up insides that were a result of random birth defects. I hardly had time for my breath to be caught in my throat, as the doctor nonchalantly mentioned having arrived at a conclusion for a medical label.

E’s Diagnosis: VACTERL Association.

The doctor then went on to describe how they came to this conclusion, but I wasn’t listening very well. Questions about the future maintenance of the car whirled through my head. Would he just require extra tune-ups? Does the engine need rebuilt? How long will the car last?

Since our appointment, I’ve had time to read more about VACTERL Association. I agree with the diagnosis, as E has most of the symptoms of this association. I’ve also spent time reading stories of people who have lived full and wonderful lives with this condition.

Here’s a little of what I’ve learned about VACTERL Association (see Wikipedia for more info):

An association (rather than a syndrome) is a number of symptoms that are commonly seen together, but are not always ALL present. In this association, VACTERL is an acronym for multiple symptoms commonly seen in these children.

V – Vertebrae defects

A – Anal defects

C – Cardiac defects

TE – Tracheo-Esophageal Fistula defects

R – Renal/Kidney defects

L – Limb defects

To be diagnosed with this syndrome, a child has to possess at least three of the defects.

Here’s how those shake out in E’s life:

V – Vertebrae defects (E has two hemi-vertebrae which have caused severe scoliosis.)

A – Anal defects (Information withheld to protect his privacy.)

C – Cardiac defects (E was found to have his main artery traveling down the wrong side of his body. He also has a heart murmur.)

TE – Tracheo-Esophageal Fistula defects (Nothing yet! Praise Jesus!)

R – Renal/Kidney defects (A sonogram recently showed that E has one large kidney shaped like a horseshoe instead of two separate kidneys.)

L – Limb defects (E had hip displasia at birth. His left leg is shorter and smaller than his right leg. His left foot has some parts that aren’t completely formed – like one toe, etc.)

I have also learned that kids with VACTERL Association are typically small and have difficulty gaining weight. (Uh, hello my kid! He eats like a horse and hasn’t gained a pound since coming home!) These kids are known to have normal development and typical cognitive skills though.

Now that we have a diagnosis and have learned more about what is under the hood, we know there’s a lot of maintenance to be done. The life expectancies of kids with VACTERL Association vary, depending on the severity of each child’s defects. The key to long lives for these kids, is monitoring their issues and having good specialists to determine when surgeries are necessary. We’re thankful to have a proactive team of doctors in St. Louis.

Most children who don’t survive this condition pass away at birth because certain conditions go unnoticed. By the grace of God, the major, life-altering issues were discovered when E was born. The minor, non life-threatening complications may have gone unnoticed until now, but God’s provision kept him alive.

While the clunks under the hood are concerning and a cause for alarm, it’s reassuring to remember that we know that Master Mechanic, the Ultimate Healer, and the Great Physician.

More Medical Tests/Results

We spent a couple days at Saint Louis Children’s Hospital this week. I thought I’d report what we know (and don’t know) at this point.

On Tuesday, we had a sedated MRI scheduled. We were hoping to get a better picture of what’s going on with E’s spine and pelvis. Once E was asleep, we knew that there’d be lots of sitting and waiting – something that Nasko and Louis aren’t so good at doing!

So, we divided our efforts and Chance dropped E and I off at the hospital while he took Nasko and Louis to the hotel room we had booked for the night.

E and I used FaceTime on my phone to tell everyone “night-night” before E’s sedation.

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E, naturally, did not love having the IV placed in his arm, but he did love all the attention he received from the nurses. In fact, a couple nurses came in, “just because they’d heard how cute this patient was.” So other than the needles, most things from our morning made E smile.

He even enjoyed being wheeled down the hallway on his hospital bed.

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The MRI went well. The nurses said it might be a little long if his spine was especially curved (we’ve got that) and if there were any complications keeping his airways opened (we’ve got that too because of his huge tonsils!). They ended up using a clip to keep his tongue from covering his throat, but otherwise everything was fine.

IMG_6299When E was coming off of the sedation, I’d describe him as “floppy”. He could not sit up at all. The nurse kept telling me to set him upright, and he’d scrunch back over instantly.

He was also full of attitude.

(Ok, this is actually true even when he hasn’t been sedated.)

The nurse really wanted him to eat and drink before she released him, but he absolutely refused. The sedation ended at 2:00 PM, and he hadn’t eaten since 8:00 the night before, but that did not seem to matter. No food and no drink were entering his mouth. Period.

The nurse finally discharged him because she could “tell by his attitude that he felt just fine.” From there, we hurried off to Orthopedics and Prosthetics.

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I put floppy E and all our things into one of the hospital’s wagons.

Within two minutes of our journey across the hospital skywalk, E was eating some pretzels from a biohazard bag.

Of course he was.

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While in the orthopedics office, E received his new leg brace! He is to wear it all the time on his left leg to keep his heel on the ground (rather than allowing him to continue walking on his toe). He also received a .5 inch lift that goes into the heel of his shoe. This helps to make his legs function at a more even level.

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Following this appointment (and paying for the most expensive plastic ankle bracelet EVER), E and I took a taxi to meet up with Chance and the boys. My mother-in-law joined us after she got off of work, as we asked her to come spend the next day with Nasko.

That night, we swam in the hotel pool, ate dinner at Drury Inn’s supper buffet (Hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, and chicken nuggets – my boys were in heaven.), and went to the Galleria in order to hold the new Apple iPhones and find shoes that E could wear with his brace.

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E is in love with his new shoes and brace. He thinks he HAS to wear the brace in order to wear the new shoes. Some information is best kept to myself…

The next morning, Nasko and Grandma Missy stayed near the hotel (feeding the fish at Union Station was a highlight) while Chance and I took the littles back to the Children’s Hospital. We had an all-morning appointment with the International Adoption Clinic. During this appointment we met with Infectious Disease, Psychology, and Occupational Therapy. We were also supposed to have an audiology exam (hearing test), but opted not to since E’s hearing should change after he receives tubes.

Since we’d already seen Infectious Disease, we spent that hour getting caught up on test results and checking in on progress made. The most irritating news was that we have to re-do our stool samples because the local lab did not send them on to Mayo Clinic for further testing.

The most informative thing was that we have actually received a diagnosis for E and all his issues (more on that in a different post). Since getting his diagnosis, I’ve spent quite a bit of time reading and learning!

E, of course, shone like a star through the morning-long appointment. He wowed the OT with his block-stacking abilities (12 without assistance!) and he imitated the drawing of a flower when all she wanted was to see if he could draw a straight line. His cognitive and fine motor abilities are just fine!

Because the Infectious Disease doctors believe in torturing children and their parents, we ended the day with a blood draw to check E’s levels.

Chance picked up Nasko, some Five Guys, and gathered E and I before we all headed home. Both littles took great naps in the car, and the entire family was in bed by 8:30 that night.

Grandma Kincaid

My husband, the Reverend, officiated my grandmother’s funeral this past Saturday. He did a wonderful job honoring her life, her family, and her faith. I wanted to share what he said:

We are here today for three reasons: to remember the life of Margaret “Peg” Graham Kincaid, to comfort those who remain, and to celebrate the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Peg was born on October 14, 1922, the only child of John William and Leta Rebecca (Primm) Graham. Peg lived a long and full life, passing away at her home at Indian Point on September 29, 2014.

Her husband, J. Kennedy Kincaid Jr., preceded her in death in 1996. Peg is survived by two daughters: Merry Ann and Nancy. Merry Ann Malcolm and her husband Roger reside in Kewanee; Nancy Martin and her husband Randy reside in Clinton; Peg also has four grandchildren Brian, Ginger, Christopher, and Lauren. Brian Malcolm and his wife Heidi live in Aurora; Ginger Newingham and her husband Chance live in Athens; Christopher Martin and his wife Madison live in Fort Myers, FL; and Lauren Martin lives in Clinton; finally, she has four great-grandchildren: Nasko, Archer, E, and Louis.

Peg was born in Springfield to a farmer and a homemaker, but grew up in the Fancy Prairie area. As a child, her family attended the Presbyterian Church in town regularly, where she was baptized as an infant. When she was old enough to begin her education, she was enrolled at Murray grade school in her neighborhood. During her younger years, seeing that she grew up in the Depression Era, Peg learned frugality. She would sometimes cut out paper dolls from magazines and play with them. She was also taught to never throw things away. Ever. And this was a practice she kept her entire life. She graduated from Petersburg Harris High School in 1940. Then, four years later, she obtained a Bachelor’s of Music Education from Illinois Wesleyan University.

She met her husband, whom she would later be married to for over 50 years, in the summer of 1937. Who knew that a lifelong covenant could be struck up amongst pigs at the Menard County Fair in Petersburg? Peg and Kennedy dated through high school and college. Kennedy would accompany her to sorority dances, and she would attend Ag College dances with him. At one of the “Plow Boy Proms”, Kennedy gave Peg his Acacia pin–that meant they were engaged to be engaged.

On the fourteenth day of June in 1945, wearing her mother’s wedding dress, a vow was made, a promise was given, and two became one.

From that day forward, the word “busy” would accurately represent her life. She taught music in Green Valley between college graduation and her wedding, then served many years as church organist here at Indian Point. She accompanied many local students at music contests. She was also active in Presbyterian Women and served on the Presbyterial board. She even served on the boards of the Illinois Presbyterian Home and Kemmerer Village. She was a member of this congregation for nearly 7 decades, and she was also an elder.

In addition to her church activities, she was involved with Beta Sigma Phi, Delta Omicron, and the American Association of University Women. She and Kennedy even started a program in our area to host international college students. In spite of all those interests, she showed the most passion for the heritage societies to which she belonged. She was a member of Pierre Menard Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Colonial Dames of America, the Daughters of the American Colonists, the Colonial Daughters of the Seventeenth Century, and the Daughters of the War of 1812. She held local, state, and national offices in these organizations. I told you she was busy. When Ginger and I moved to the area five years ago, we would frequently stop by Peg’s house to visit and keep her company. She was never home! Her social calendar was busier than ours!

Even when she started spending winters in Florida, she found ways to occupy her time. She was actively involved in service groups, Bible studies, a craft group, and the First Congregational Church of Naples.

While she may have been very active socially, her family remembers her in other ways. To them, she was simply a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and a homemaker. She loved music, reading, and knitting for charity. More than that though, she treasured her family; each member knew they were valued and important.

As I sat with the family this past week, we tried to think of specific words that would accurately represent Peg. One of the first ones we came up with was faithful. Never once, in 69 years, did she ever take off her wedding ring. It was to be an unending reminder of the vow she took with Kennedy, so it remained on her finger.

Another word we thought accurately portrayed her was lady. Peg was dignified, poised and proper; she was a lady. Her grandchildren recounted instances of her applying lipstick before leaving the car. Peg had to apply the color, check herself in mirror and use a tissue to blot the lipstick. And you won’t be surprised to find out that she used the same tissue over and over and over. She was a child of the Depression Era, after all!

Additionally, we all believe that the word generous describes Peg. Not only was she giving when it came to material things, but she was also giving when it came to her faith. The fact that her grandchildren gathered around her bed and prayed for her the night before she passed is a testimony to her commitment to her heavenly father; Peg raised her daughters to know the Lord, and her daughters raised their children to know the Lord.

Finally, one other important word was independent. After Kennedy passed, she took her car to have the oil changed; she started the conversation with these words, “I know that I am an older woman, but I will not be persuaded to do anything other than have my oil changed. Thank you.”

Peg was very fond of Eleanor H. Porter’s classic story “Pollyanna” The main character is know as an extraordinary girl who saw the good in everyone and made everyone feel good about themselves; the same can be said of Peg. She will be remembered as one who, like Christ, loved and served others.

At a time like this, we need hope. And to find hope, lasting hope, the only place we can go is God’s Word.

I Thessalonians 4:13-18
And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.

We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.

Paul is not condemning the process of grieving here. Paul would argue that it is natural. Here, he is saying that the way believers grieve for a loved one who was a follower of Christ should be different than the way the rest of the world grieves for a loved one; grief with hope is fundamentally different from grief without hope.

The late Evangelist Dwight L. Moody once made this statement, “One day you will hear that I am dead, but don’t you believe a word of it. For on that day I will be more alive than I ever have been.” This was true for him, and this is true for Peg.

Here, we also learn that since Jesus had the power to overcome the grave, those who have accepted Him as the Lord, Master, and Ruler of their life, have the power to do the same. In the world’s eyes, death is final, but in a Christian’s eyes, death is not final; in many ways, it’s victory. Peg has won. She’s fought the fight and finished the race. She will, one day, overcome the grave.

This passage also promises that a day is coming when Christ will return to take His followers home. That day will be glorious, it will be magnificent, and that day will be soon, so we must be ready.

These words are encouraging. They are meaningful to us as we mourn, and they are also meaningful to those who are seeking to live for Christ today.

This day, all of us can look forward to the reunion that Paul wrote about thousands of years ago, but the only way that we can participate in that reunion is if we are in Christ. God created our first parents, Adam and Eve, in His image, but they rebelled and sinned and that sin separated them and the rest of humankind from God. For that relationship to be restored and for justice to be had, punishment had to be paid. Rather than us bear that penalty, God sent His Son to show us how to live and take our place on the cross. Jesus died for us and rose from the grave, showing His power over Satan, sin and death, and He then ascended into heaven. His Words teaches that any person who acknowledges their sin, accepts Christ’s death on the cross, repents and walks in new life, will be taken to heaven to be with their Father.

We know that Peg will spend eternity with God because of her faithfulness to Jesus and His call on her life. May we be people who take hold of the Gospel, like she did, and share it with future generations.

Prayer
Father, may we be unified as one at this difficult time. May we lean on you, first and foremost, but also on each other. God, we come to you today in a state of pain. From this pain, we call on you, the giver of life. You know our hearts, Father; you see our grief. Only You can give us peace and comfort; only you can dry our tears; only you can soothe our pain. We ask that you would do these things. In Jesus’ name, the source of eternal life, we ask these things. Amen.

Memories

My Grandma Kincaid (my mom’s mom) passed away in the early morning hours this past Monday. This week has been already been filled with family, friends, and arrangements as we prepare to celebrate the life she lived and the eternity she now enjoys. (Info about service times here.)

This week has also been filled with memories.

Yesterday afternoon as I prepared a turkey to cook and serve to my immediate family and some of my extended family, I remembered the first Thanksgiving dinner I prepared and served. It was five years ago, when Chance and I first moved to Athens. I was cooking for my in-laws, but realized I had never made a turkey before. I discussed my lack of know-how with my mother, and she suggested I ask my grandmother to help. My grandma lived here, just outside of town.

The day before she was to come help me cook, Grandma sent me am email. Now, you might be impressed that my (at that time) 87-year-old grandmother used email, but you probably shouldn’t be, as she typed the entire message in the subject line.

The gist of the long-subjected email was, “I’ll be over tomorrow to help with the turkey, but I wanted to be sure you had enough Oleo before I came. Love you, Grandma.”

I had already done all of my grocery shopping, so I began to panic. “Oleo?” For the turkey? What on earth is that? Can I get that in Athens at Village Market? I really don’t want to make another 30-minute trip to town. Was there something that could be substituted for this “Oleo”?!

So I did what any first-time-Thanksgiving host would do; I called my mom. Again.

My mom explained to me that Oleo was an older name for margarine. I believe she had helped me make my grocery list, and she was able to reassure me that I had enough.

Grandma came over and helped me prepare my turkey the next day. I remember watching with disgust as she pulled the neck out from the inside cavity. I also remember watching her rub Oleo all over the bird before placing it into the oven. Before she left, she kissed me goodbye and wished me a happy Thanksgiving.

These days, I make some darn good turkey. I prepare it with an entirely different marinade (since we now know all about how bad for you that Oleo stuff is for you!). I cook the bird in a completely different method, but I absolutely still cringe with disgust every time I remove a neck from a turkey’s chest cavity.

In the past few years, each time I made turkey, I would bring a serving to share with my grandmother as her health declined and cooking became more difficult. I’ll probably never be able to prepare a turkey again without thinking of my grandma. In fact, I hope I never prepare a turkey again without thinking of my grandma.

This weekend we will gather to lay my grandmother’s earthly body to rest, but we will share and cherish the memories of her that will live on forever. We’ll also celebrate her new life and body which has been restored. We’ll thank God for her faithful influence during her time here on earth, and we’ll share memories that will allow her legacy to be passed down to future generations.

We’ll eat leftover turkey, and I’ll remember how she first taught me to cook a turkey on Thanksgiving five years ago. We’ll cherish the memories of my Grandma Kincaid.

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Two Months with E!

Two months ago today, we stepped off an airplane with a tiny three-year-old boy. This boy was legally in our care, but he really wasn’t ours yet. These days, we can’t imagine life without him (except when he throws fits, but I assume all parents – adoptive and biological – can agree with that).

E’s Two Month Report

Overall

We’ve really gotten to see more of E’s personality in the past month.

Some of my favorite things

- He kisses Louis goodnight without being prompted

- He is not a morning person. When you say “Good morning!”, he shakes his head, glares at you, and says, “No.”

- He loves to imitate Nasko. I now have two little boys who like to pretend to be puppies.

- He LOVES to be outside, and is incredibly offended when someone goes outside without him.

- He giggles a lot these days – especially when being tickled or being bounced on the trampoline.

- He is very smart and opinionated. He likes to choose which shoes he wants to wear, and what accessories to wear each day (sunglasses, hat, etc.).

- He flirts with anyone new, letting them in on the fact that he is adorable and he knows it.

Physical/ Medical

This was the month when we seemed to get all our appointments scheduled.

Here’s a brief report of all the doctors we’ve seen -

Infectious Disease: They did blood work and tested his levels. Everything came back in the appropriate ranges, so we aren’t concerned about anything with that. His daily medications have received minor dosage adjustments.

Dietician: We met with a dietician in St. Louis (that I didn’t love) but then met with another one here locally (and I do like her!). E is technically labeled as “failure to thrive” because of his small size and lack of weight gain, so we are working on ways to get more protein and fat into his diet. (Not necessarily an easy task with a toddler!)

Occupational Therapy: E will start receiving services twice monthly. We have not gotten his full evaluation back yet, but I know they are working on some issues of balance and self-awareness. They are also focusing on his left leg, and its range of motion (or lack there of).

Speech Therapy: E has very weak oral motor muscles. He will receive speech therapy twice a month to increase his oral abilities and his vocabulary.

Pediatrician: E’s first pediatrician visit went well. She documented his weight and height in order to track his growth properly. She also made multiple referrals for more doctors!

Orthopedic Surgeon: Because of the surgery done in [EEC], E’s hip is in the correct place. He is missing a portion of his hip that causes his leg to grow though. He may eventually need a surgery to help lengthen his left leg. Also, he will probably need hip-replacement surgery in ten years, or so.

Casting and Braces: E has been fitted for a leg brace that will extend from under his left knee down to his heel. He will also have a shoe insert that will lift his left leg .5 inches to make up for the leg-length difference.

Spine Specialist (Nurse Practitioner): E has two extra half vertebrae in his spine which are causing the scoliosis. Surgery may need to be done in the near future to remove these vertebrae. An MRI has been scheduled to get a better picture of what is attached to his spine.

Gastrointestinal Doctor: A sonogram was done to check E’s belly and kidneys. These results will be reviewed at an appointment in early October.

Cardiologist: The heart murmur that was detected in [EEC] was confirmed. It was also discovered that his main artery travels down the wrong side of his body. More tests are being ordered to determine what affects (if any) this might be having on his trachea and esophagus.

Ears, Nose, and Throat: E has swollen tonsils and adenoids. He also has an atypical amount of fluid in his ears. We will soon be seeking Orphan Court approval in order to have his tonsils and adenoids removed and drainage tubes placed in his ears. Because of his many other medical conditions, this surgery will probably require and overnight hospital stay. The doctor thinks that E may be suffering from sleep apnea because of his swollen tonsils and adenoids, so we’re hopeful that the surgery will eventually help his issues with waking through the night!

Optometrist: E actually does not have astigmatism! This was misdiagnosed and his vision was reported as being great! He does not need glasses and does not need to return to the eye doctor unless we notice any changes. (Hurray for one good report!)

Attachement

In case you wonder what we’ve been doing to fill our time – please refer to the “physical/medical section of this report!

I feel like I’ve made great strides in attaching with E this past month though. He has buddied up with Chance from the beginning, but he’s now starting to respond very positively to me, my demands, and my discipline. E is going to be my artist, so I’ve really tried to make an effort to spend time “creating” with him one-on-one since that’s an activity that Nasko doesn’t care for, and Louis is too young to do.

Developmental

Like I said, E loves to create. He’s very interested in coloring, cutting, and using stickers. For this reason, I am starting a little bit of homeschooling with him.

Many days, he is the first child to wake from nap, so I work with him one-on-one for a few minutes. We have started a workbook that focuses on coloring and fine motor control.

E’s speech is the domain that has progressed the most this month. It’s not always easy to know how much English he understands, but he is certainly picking up on it quickly.

Just this week, he was trying to communicate to me that he needed his diaper changed. He came to the kitchen and said, “Mama?” When I responded with, “Yes?” he said, “Come on!” He motioned that I should follow him, so I did. When we arrived at his final destination (the changing table) he said, “Good job!” Those are apparently a few phrases he’s heard before!

I have tried to encourage him to say single words, but he seems like he’d rather gain the English language in full sentences (next month – paragraphs!). We’ve heard him say things like “Up there,” “Thank you,” and “Where’d it go?”

He’s been playing around with turn-taking in conversations too, as he will seek my attention (“Mama? Mama? Mama!!!”) and once I respond, he will spew a whole string of sounds that are not his native language, nor his new language, and then he’ll FREAK OUT until I affirm or deny his request. Heaven forbid I don’t answer him, as he’ll start all over with a much louder and more urgent tone! I have this fear that I have actually agreed to multiple things that are against my religion! I’m just hoping he doesn’t start quoting me once his speech is more understandable!

Questions

For part of Nasko’s schooling, I thought it would be good to start practicing the art of conversation – specifically answering questions. We’ll start with simple questions that have memorizable answers, and then move on to the more complex questions (like, what is your favorite _____…)

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We started yesterday and without prompting, here’s how Nasko answered his first set of questions:

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What is TATY’S name?
Taty

What is MAMA’S name?
Mama

Do you go to SCHOOL?
Yes. Ride the bus. Miss Linda’s bus. Go to school.
[I was going for "School at home with Mama," not what he did two years ago!]

Do you have SISTERS?
No.

How OLD are you?
All done seven?
[I was going for eight!]

What is your NAME?
Nasko

Do you have BROTHERS?
Yes. E. Louis.

How ARE you today?
Eight.
[Much to work on with this one.]

Do you have a PET?
Yes. Allen.

When is your birthday?
I don’t know.

Where do you live?
Nasko’s house.
[Umm. True, I guess!]

Well, we have our work cut out for us, but he did better than I had expected!

Bragging

Today, I’d like to brag on my kids for a moment.

I’ll start by sharing two videos that demonstrate what smart little dudes I have living under my roof.

 

In the first one, Nasko practices his flashcards. He has almost (!!!) mastered 20 of the 26 capital letters. He also knows a visual signing cue for each of the letters (If you watch for them, he does E’s and D’s). These will help us as he moves on to letter sounds soon.

He is ROCKING this!

 

The next video is of Louis and me. Louis LOVES to read. His new favorite book just happens to be one of my all-time favorite children’s books (funny how that works). In this video, I am reading “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus”. Louis is ornery though, and repeatedly allows the pigeon to drive the bus…

(Don’t mind my overly dramatic nature. I spend my days with children…)

 

Since I can’t post a video of his cuteness yet, I wanted to brag on E too – he has learned to verbalize and sign “thank you.” He is seriously the most polite child I know. “Thank you” can be a rather abstract concept, but he always uses it appropriately. In fact, he gets frustrated that it’s not a skill that Louis has mastered, so E typically says and signs it for him!