Saturday, March 31, 2012


Mollie's dentist appointment went pretty well this week. He was only able to get two teeth done, so we'll have to go back, but it didn't seem too traumatic. We'll go again after Easter, and I'm hopeful that she won't have any scary memories which cause the next appointment to be worse!
We also had another OT appointment the week. It was fun and encouraging again, and I got several ideas of things to work on at home. She suggested that we make an obstacle course to help Mollie improve her strength and coordination on her right side. So we've been going up,


down, under,




and in!

We also scored some great developmental toys at an adoption yard sale this morning!


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Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Adopting a child is incredibly difficult and exhausting, at least for me and my family. There have been many nights when I've cried, and prayed, until I fell asleep. I knew it would be hard, but I think I really underestimated the energy and commitment that would be required Every day, with no relief. Not every day is hard; some are joyous and fun, and most days at least have moments of joy. But the past couple of days have seemed harder than usual. Mollie is demanding of my time and attention, and tries to control me. She's jealous of time I spend with S&A, and she yells when I try to have a conversation with anyone. My big girls aren't much better, really, so they're all constantly competing for my attention and complaining when someone interrupts a conversation or homework time. I give and give and try to make everyone happy, but it's overwhelming, and I feel inadequate at times. I totally remember these feelings from when S&A were little. And I know I'm doing a great job, I'm a good mom, Mollie will continue to make progress, and It Will Get Easier. I get all that. But some days I wallow in the difficulties, the loneliness, the frustration.
Around midnight last night I almost sent an email to my social worker, begging for help, but I decided to wait to see how I felt this morning. And the truth is I wasn't any better at 6am. I felt sad. Perry is out of town. None of us slept well last night. The house is a wreck. I feel like I can't get anything done. And Mollie has been especially moody for a couple of days. I just wanted to get the girls off to school then crawl back into bed. But instead I forced myself to go to Crossfit. And halfway through the workout, it hit me. I am so blessed by my Crossfit community. They have supported our family the way you might expect an extraordinary church family to respond, but far beyond anything you would ever expect from a gym. They have showered us with gift cards and meals and toys, taking care of our physical needs, but more than that, so much more, they have loved us and taken care of us emotionally and spiritually. I know some people think Crossfit is a cult, and I admit we get a little crazy about our workouts sometimes, but we also care about each other and take care of each other. Today I needed a hug. I got three. I needed encouragement. I was overwhelmed by it. And I needed acknowledgment, that this is hard, but we're doing it, and it's a blessing to Mollie and our family and countless others- and I was given the love and support of friends who see her progress and love her so much.
I wanted to write this post to thank my friends at Ignite for loving us and supporting us. But I also wanted to write it to make sure everyone understands how important it is to live in community with others. You can find your community in many places- at work, in your neighborhood, in your church (although you probably need a church small group rather than just a church membership). Of course it doesn't matter where you find your community; just FIND it! And be an active part of it. The blessings flow from community. If you have a community, nurture it. Look for ways to bless those within your community. And meet often, because communities need connection to thrive.

"Don't just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other." - Romans 12:9-10

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. - Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. - Ephesians 4:29 ESV

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Last week we went away for 3 nights. Thursday night we stayed with Perry's mom in Citronelle. Mollie was pretty good in the car, if you don't mind hearing "mommy" repeated every 5 seconds for 4 hours. It was hard work keeping her calm, but really it could have been much worse. At Middle Earth, Perry's mom's "farm" (really the word farm isn't accurate, because it's so much more than that, but that's another post), we hung out with Grandmother and Grandfather, fed the birds, deer, and other creatures, and just spent time together. It was a good visit, but Mollie did not like the birds, not even the baby ducks!

Friday we went to my parents' house in Mobile. She and Mimi bonded in the kitchen, when Mimi let her help make twice-baked potatoes.

Friday night Mollie experienced Pop's "famous" ribs for the first time, and she Loved them!

Saturday we visited Perry's sister's family, and their new baby. Sarah loved holding the baby, and Mollie loved petting her!

It was a fun visit, and we even did Mollie's favorite thing: eat ice cream!

We left early Sunday morning to get back in time to celebrate my sister's birthday at Milo's. Again Mollie was bored but pretty good in the car. She slept about average while we were gone, and she didn't seem troubled by leaving home or surprised when we got back. I think she's figuring it out!

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012


We met with an OT at the CP clinic this week. She was awesome with Mollie and I think she's going to be such a blessing to us. As I've said before, Mollie's CP is very mild. Of course that is wonderful news. But the downside to that, in my opinion, is that people, professionals, don't seem concerned about her limitations. I see how much she is capable of, and want to help her reach her full potential. Our new OT, Heather, is definitely on the same page.
We discovered that Mollie doesn't know how to crawl. She scoots, both arms and then both legs, together, not alternating. This is simply a brain signal thing, not an inability due to physical limitations. We can fix that! She doesn't use her right hand often, because her brain doesn't tell her to. But Heather liked the fact that she does use it at times, and feels that we can help her use it more by giving her more activities that require its use. The idea is to think of ways to incorporate her therapy into her daily play, rather than thinking of a separate "therapy time." Someday in the distant future we might do constraint therapy, where we limit the use of her left hand and force the use of the right, but obviously we won't do that until she can fully understand.
One of the ways Mollie is getting stronger is by exercising in our home gym. She goes to Crossfit with us every day and has obviously been paying attention, because she has created her own WODs (workout of the day) in our gym. I'm not kidding- she does the exercises and makes marks on the chalkboard like she's keeping up with her rounds! She does push presses, sit-ups, russian twists, jumps, and hanging from a bar!

Her social skills continue to improve, and she is becoming better- adjusted every day. She understands who her family is, and who is important in our lives, and she is accepting those people into her life. Tonight she even stayed home with S&A and my sister Debbie while Perry and I went out for a quick dinner. THAT is progress!
Sleep has finally come! She wakes a few times during the night still, but it's quick. The long awakenings, bad dreams, night terrors, etc have faded away, and only return occasionally. Her anger has also subsided tremendously. She doesn't fight me at nap time anymore, and her tantrums are rare. She is adjusting so well. Such a blessing.
We will be attempting a roadtrip with her later this week. Should be interesting...hope it doesn't set us back.

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Saturday, March 17, 2012


This has been a good week. It's funny; I've felt bonded with Mollie since very early on, but honestly I feel our bond strengthen each week. I don't really know how that's possible, since I haven't felt like our bond was lacking. When I feel us getting closer and connecting more, I'm amazed. Adoption really is such an incredible gift. How is it possible to love a child this much, when we've only known her seven weeks? Only through the grace of God.
This week, Mollie accepted my sister Debbie as family. She held her hand during the blessing at dinner, gave her a hug, and even gave her a good-bye kiss. Last week she wouldn't even acknowledge Debbie!
At the gym, Mollie started looking our friends in the eye, giving high-fives, and even accepting help from someone other than me or Perry!
We've played at a little playground a couple of times this week, and Mollie is using her right hand to hold onto a rope to climb, and hold onto the swing. She loves to play outside, and this is easy therapy. When she forgets to use her right hand, it just takes a little reminder. She is also loving the swimming pool at the Y, and she holds onto the kickboard and kicks with both legs. I see swimming lessons in our near future.

At my cousin's house, Mollie played with Lanie and went to play in her room without me.
At nap time, Mollie hasn't put up her typical big fight this week. At times she has protested a little, but it's been mild and easy to handle. This is a stark contrast to her major kicking and hitting in prior weeks.
And most miraculously of all, for the past two nights, Mollie has slept peacefully in her own bed (next to mine), with only a couple of brief wakings. I almost hate to post that, because I'm writing this at bedtime and I don't want to jinx myself. But it has been so incredible to get two decent nights sleep, and it makes me feel like we are making tremendous progress.
Tonight S&A invited their friends across the street over to play and spend the night. Fun girls - all 5 of them!!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. - 2 Corinthians 12:9

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Things Aren't Always As They Appear

Today we took Mollie to the dentist. If you're looking for an awesome pediatric dentist, go see Dr. Thomas! He was incredible with Mollie - he actually SANG to her while he was looking at her teeth! She stayed calm and cooperative, and even made eye contact with him. We were all amazed at how well she did; he was even able to get x-rays! That's the good news. The bad news? Well, we thought she had fillings, but it turns out those black-filled molars are actually huge cavities. Bummer. She has two big and two small cavities on each side. The good news is that they don't seem to be causing her pain, and they don't need to be pulled. We'll go back in a couple of weeks for fillings with sedatives, and hope that she'll be able to stay calm enough for him to get it all done in one visit. Sweet girl - bless her heart.

Sleep is still lacking around here, but I have seen improvements. We've stopped giving her melatonin; we tried it for about a week, and it helped her fall asleep, but didn't do anything to help her sleep through the night. I decided to try putting her to bed without it, and it took her longer to fall asleep, but her nights seem to be less violent and angry without it. She's still having bad dreams, and waking up constantly, but it seems like I'm able to calm her more quickly without the melatonin. I know it works miracles for some adopted children, but I think we're doing better without it.

Mollie is doing better every day in terms of socialization. She went to our neighbor's birthday party yesterday, played with the other kids, and allowed me to talk to friends without her clinging to me.

I see her looking people in the eyes, saying hello and bye-bye, smiling, etc. Today the dentist and his assistant asked for hugs, and there was NO WAY she was going to hug them, but she did smile and give high-fives. That is huge progress.
Her language is improving, also. We're working on combining words - she says "banana please, night-night baby, pillows off," and several other combos.
She's started showing an interest in puzzles, and today we did a sticker book that required her to match pictures and colors, and she did great! She still doesn't like to color or read a book with me.
She continues to be a constant eater. The IAC social worker suggested that we make a bin of food for her and keep it in the refrigerator. It's her bin, it's full of healthy food, and she can have anything in it whenever she wants. I started this today, and she loved it. I thought it would be empty by the end of the day, but I actually think she ate less than usual today (that's the whole idea, but I was a skeptic.)
Three of my friends are coming home from China with their daughters this week, and two more are headed over soon. I'm really looking forward to playmates with all the Red Thread coffee group girls!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

International Adoption Clinic, Part 2

Today we had our follow-up appointment at the IAC. First we met with their social worker, who is really awesome. She asks all the right questions, has great advice, and is so encouraging! She thinks Mollie is doing amazingly well, with bonding, adjusting, learning, understanding, everything! She said she's really impressed, because 4 years of age is the hardest age for adoption! What? No one told us that! I get it, though, although I would imagine a tween would be harder. But Mollie is delayed because of her CP, and because of her many years in orphanage care. Her speech is slow to progress because no one has spent much time talking to her for four years. She doesn't color, or sit for a book, or watch TV. She has so much to learn, and she also has to figure out love, and family. It must be overwhelming for her!
We spent time with an OT who brought some toys for Mollie to play with so she could observe her. I haven't seen her report yet, but she said that Mollie is on par with one-year-olds in some areas, such as coloring, but more like a 3-year-old (much higher than she would have expected for a CP kid from an orphanage) in other areas, such as gross motor skills. We have a lot of work to do, and I'm looking for developmental toys to use, but I was encouraged by her observations.
The doctor said that her labs look great, and she is up-to-date on most of her shots. However, the ultrasound revealed a mild enlargement of one of her kidneys, so we'll need to have some follow-up tests done. I'm not overly concerned but do ask that you keep that in your prayers. I'll let you know when we have more information about the tests that we need to do.
Last night was a terrible sleep night. She had a bad dream and then was awake pretty much from 2am on, with just a few catnaps. But today she was great. She's doing better sharing me with S&A, waiting her turn, accepting "no" without having a meltdown, etc. While it's definitely not a straight-line progression, and we've certainly had some bad days in the mix, I feel like we're making good progress!

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Are you following the journeys of my friends who are in China now? I have to admit that I'm reading about their Gotcha Days, and remembering how incredibly miraculous those days were, and wondering if we'll be able to adopt another child someday. Maybe!
We had a fun weekend. Mollie was invited to her cousin Lanie's 4th birthday party at Build-a-Bear. I wasn't sure what she would think about the process, but she loved it! She didn't like the blowing air at the bath station, but she loved everything else and did a great job waiting her turn.

We were able to meet up with some friends from Mobile while we were at the Galleria. Sarah and Abby were thrilled to see their friend Lucy, and we are so excited about seeing them at the beach this summer!

Sunday we got ice cream. I think Mollie is a little lactose intolerant, but fortunately she can handle a little dairy, just not several servings in one day. So ice cream isn't a problem!

Monday night, Mollie and I took the girls to dance class. Mollie really wanted to go into the studio with S&A and was not happy about just watching from the observation room. Tuesday I found some of S&A's old dance clothes, and Mollie was thrilled.

Today we had our follow-up appointment at the International Adoption Clinic. I'll post more about that later.

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Friday, March 2, 2012

3 Weeks Home

It still amazes me to think about how many "firsts" she has every day! This week, we had a play date with a friend who was in China with us, and another one with our cousin Lanie. Both went better than I expected them to, and Mollie is learning to share and take turns. She still has a long way to go, but these are entirely new concepts for her so I'm just happy to see progress.
We went swimming at the Y yesterday, and she had a blast! She floated in a little ring and kicked around the pool, and even tried putting her face in the water! I want to sign her up for lessons so she'll be comfortable by summer. Today I had to take her to the shoe store for Crocs, because she wasn't happy to be wearing tennis shoes to the pool when everyone else had on flip flops or Crocs!

Yesterday we had our appointment at the CP clinic, and the doctor was very encouraging. He wants us to do a little OT, PT, and speech with her, just so we'll learn some things to work on at home. But he thinks she looks really good and he doesn't have any concerns about her health. Next week we'll have her follow-up at the International Adoption Clinic, and she has a dentist appointment.
Today Sarah and Abby dressed up for Dr. Seuss day, and Mollie was very interested in their hairdos. I can't wait for hers to grow out so we can play with it!

This morning we had our first post-placement interview. She just asked a lot of questions and observed Mollie with us. It wasn't stressful or intrusive. It's a Chinese requirement, which I think is great.
I've taken Mollie to the gym twice this week, and she has done great. She eats snacks and watches us he whole time. She laughs when I'm swinging on the pull up bars.
After school was dismissed early due to the threat of severe weather, our neighbors came over to play. Mollie latched onto Sara and played with her for hours! It was so sweet to see her playing with a friend, and I was so thankful that Sara didn't mind being bossed around! Mollie can definitely let you know what she wants, even without words!

Language: she understands so much, it's amazing. She is repeating more and more. She says: Mama, Papa, Sarah, Abbia, BA (Bailey), meow (Ellie), pleasha (please), teeteeya (teetee), hiya (it means all done- now she says hiya all done), thank you, 1-2-3-4-5, amen, hello, bye bye, DahEEya(?), salsa, down and sit (to the dog). She still uses Abbia and Sarah interchangeably, and I don't think it's because she gets the girls confused, but rather because she thinks those words mean "sister."
Sleep: Getting better, I think. She still cries out or kicks/thrashes every couple of hours, but it usually only takes a gentle hand on her, or a few shh-shh-shhs to quiet her down. She usually falls asleep in my arms and then I put her in the bed - while this doesn't seem like the "right" way to this Mama who worked so hard to make her older girls learn to sleep on their own, it feels perfect for the bonding of this new relationship. I'm so glad she will let me hold her and that she can feel safe in my arms.

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