Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

Book Review: {Shield}



This e book is written by an adoption advocate that lives in my city. She has seven children, some bio, some by the foster to adopt program and some through international adoption.

I believe this book is a MUST READ for anyone entering into adoption for the first time. Sharla gives much practical advice to prepare for the changes ahead. It is also a great book to read if you are entering adoption for a second, third, fourth time! It has some great pointers to preparing your home and mind for a new child. It talks a lot about self-care, which seems to keep coming up in my life lately. And as selfish as putting yourself first can seem, you really cannot take care of a child, or children, or even your spouse, if you don't take care of yourself first.

You can buy the book here.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The love of a Surgeon

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This is my favourite photo from Tim's trip to China.

Faith and knowledge lean largely upon each other in the practice of medicine. ~Peter Mere Latham

Tim isn't in this photo, but I love the compassion and care that is shown here by the surgeon and the nurse to this severely burnt baby.

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Never did I think that I would marry a surgeon. It hasn't always been easy and it has been a long road to get to this point in our lives... but I am thankful everyday that I am married to such a skilled man.

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We all have purpose in life and I knew very early in our marriage that Tim would go far. I knew that someday he would serve in this way. I knew in Medical School that he would end up doing Plastic Surgery. I knew in residency that he would end up doing burns. I knew that he would do mission work.

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You can see that this team has a lot of fun together. Playing with the silly Chinese OR hats.

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Surgeons must be very careful
When they take the knife!
Underneath their fine incisions
Stirs the Culprit - Life!
~Emily Dickinson


Even though they see such horrific things on these trips, the people are simply grateful... and I think that makes it all worth while.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Enjoying the Snow

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Today, we came out of the deep freeze and enjoyed temperatures of +5C.

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Zoe begs to go outside everyday and I have to explain that it is too cold. Today, was the perfect day for her to play in the snow.

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Her joy in EVERYTHING continues to amaze me.

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The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.— Henry Ward Beecher

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Monday, November 21, 2011

The Stone Forest

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While in China, Tim had ONE day off. They used this day to go to The Stone Forest.

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O LORD, how manifold are your works! in wisdom have you made them all: the earth is full of your riches.-- Psalm 104:24

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Tim and Patrick. Patrick and his wife traveled with us last November to China to adopt Su Yee. I had mentioned to his wife, what a blessing it is for these men to go and serve in the country of our daughter's birth.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Forty




Today, Tim turns forty. I think it is the longest 40th birthday ever... it was his birthday yesterday when he left China and is still his birthday today, as he enters Canada!





We have changed a little bit in the 23 years that we have been together... but that is okay, because we change together!



Happy Birthday Tim! See you soon!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Medical Mission



This post is an excerpt from my Father in Laws emails... it gives you a bit of a glimpse of what they are doing in China.

At the Rehab Hospital in another part of the city, doctors, PT, OT, nursing and others have gathered to assess the approximately 100 potential surgical candidates. Decisions are based on a number of factors. Is it possible to do? Is it the right timing (for some surgeries on children age and development are taken into account)? Will surgery make a functional difference for the person? and so forth. Many of them are unbelievably disfigured. Huge tumors, a pinky finger that is turned 180 degrees and attached to the wrist, gnarled hands due to burns, cleft lips and palates, a black mole covering the whole face. This is a mere sample of what is needed.
Shortly after lunch a phone call informs us that surgeries will begin about 2pm. That means we need to prepare medications to be given just prior to surgery. The people start to arrive. They sit on beds in the hall, waiting. As it turns out it was not until 3pm that the first cases went for surgery. Just before they are moved upstairs they are given a dose of an antibiotic and Tylenol. One after another the call comes from the OR to pre-medicate patients and have them brought up for surgery. One by one they return. The ward doctor then decides on what medications they require to prevent infection and control pain. If strong pain killers are used they also need something to lessen nausea and constipation. Once we receive those orders we move into action providing individualized doses for 4 daily dose times. On this day the surgeons decide to add a couple of patients to the list and they carry on until 7-7:30. Normally they are supposed to be out of the OR by 6pm. Oops! With jet lag and all we are all tired but complete the day. Those of us who stayed to the end had missed the team meal. As we are walking back to the hotel we found that most places to eat were already closed. While the group is deciding what to do Tim and I return to the hotel and locate a KFC (24 hours) we had heard was near by. After we dragged ourselves back to the hotel we fell into bed ready to begin all over again at 6am the next morning.

I find it quite interesting that my response to being here this year is quite different than last year. Last year everything was new. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the people, the transportation, the stores and so forth. So far I have not taken a single picture.
But the purpose remains the same. There are people here that are experiencing life changing surgeries. The child that had a second left thumb removed. People who are able to use their hands again. Some who are able to walk with ease now. A child who was severely burned who had a “contracture release” of the eyelids and can now close his eyes. The same thing with his mouth so he can again eat properly. One can not begin to fathom the change these surgeries will have in the years to come. A not so little boy who has been coming for a number of years to repair the damage caused by burns.
The days have been grueling. Each day begins at 5:30-6am and often ends at 9-10pm. Fortunately there are some important members of the team who take care of us. They run errands to take things to other sites where we are working. Some times we need them to go shopping to purchase supplies or medicine. Most importantly when we can not take time to go out to eat they purchase food at nearby restaurants and bring the food to us. There never seems to be a lack of snacks either.
We now have patients at 3 different hospitals. One of our pharmacists returned home today so our human resources have been severely stretched. I was fortunate to set up pharmacy for just one day where the operations occurred today. The challenge in being spread out over different facilities is finding out that a medication we need, or a bottle or something related to packaging has not made the journey with us. This happened a couple of times today. Fortunately we were a short walk away from the other hospital and could easily retrieve what we needed with relative ease.
Today as I walked between locations I was amazed at how efficiently a seemingly dysfunctional traffic system operates. The road is shared by cars, truck, buses, bicycles, scooters, motorcycles, and even the occasional cart pulled by a person. There is a lot of horn honking. Yet in the midst of what seems like chaos, the traffic moves. Lane markings on the pavement serve as suggestions. If there are 2 lanes that are often three rows of traffic. Often vehicles straddle the line as if to indicate that they wish the opportunity to move either right or left depending on which lane they think might be faster. At other times, especially at intersections of major roads, traffic passes one another in what I might liken to the RCMP musical ride. They cross paths and one would think that a collision is imminent. But as they weave their way across the intersection everyone comes out on the other side without incident.
Crossing the street as a pedestrian is also an adventure, but one I feel quite comfortable about. The trick is not to freeze in the headlights, so to speak. When it is busy you can only make it one “lane” at a time. First you have to watch for bicycle and electric scooters along the curb. They sneak up quietly. Sometimes from the opposite direction than they should be going. Then there are 2-3 lanes coming at your from the left. Once you make it to the centre line you may now have to wait for a stream of traffic approaching from the right. And don’t forget about the scooter/bicycle traffic. At night the challenge is doubled because headlights appear to be optional, especially on bicycles and scooters.

On our way back from lunch at a nearby eatery one of the team purchased a pomelo. At the moment there are street vendors with cart loads of them every where. Apparently they are in season. There are also bananas by the bunches on carts waiting to be sold. Since we were in the hurry up and wait mode, the pomelo peel ended up on my head to the delight of some of the staff and squeals from the children. That lead to a number of pictures with groups of kids. It is so fun to interact with them. After this event the doctor who works at the hospital asked how many grandchildren I have. I guess he thought that my goofiness indicated that there might be grandchildren.
Orders began to arrive fairly soon once the doctors came, but with 25-30 patients still at Rehab hospital it took a long time for all of them to be seen. For many today was the first day that bandages were removed after surgery. This is a long process so order changes trickled in over the next hour or so. The pharmacy team worked hard to complete the orders because tonight was a team dinner. We managed to complete things by about 5pm and head out for the bus ride back to the hotel.

Tim and his dad are on their way home -- 24 hours of travelling and he will be home!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Missing Tim



The orphan Sunday post is a bit annoying as the video I posted automatically plays, so you will have to pause it first!

These first nine days with Tim to China have gone by quickly, but we are at that point where it is time for him to come home. The kids are losing it and I am tired.

Tim was sick with a stomach bug yesterday on their one day off, so I hope he is better when he wakes up so he can get back to work.

They are all working very hard, and yet he wishes they could work even harder! They have had to turn some patients away due to OR shortages. They have seen things that you would never see here in North America. But they all feel so blessed to be able to help these people who have gone through such tragedy.

Tim feels blessed that he was able to travel with his dad this time (his dad is a pharmacist) and also with Patrick, who we traveled with to China last November to get our girls. He also loves reconnecting with the team and maintaining the friendships that they have.

By the way... I don't really have to sleep alone... the minute Daddy is gone, Micah sleeps with me!

It is hard to connect with Tim with the crazy time difference, he is 15 hours ahead of us... but I know he reads my blog and so this song makes me think of him.

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Comments and Questions

Some of the comments and questions I get on a daily basis...

Are they twins?

Are they sisters?

Are you married to a Chinese man?

How old are they?

Oh, she is very tiny!

Are they from China?

You can't save them all.

I would love to adopt, but it costs way too much.

I would love to adopt... but...

We have always thought about adopting.

You should have her face looked at by a doctor.

What is wrong with her face?

How long did it take to get them?

They are so cute!

Are you adopting another one?

I think two kids is enough, one for each parent.

Are you putting them in violin?

It is so sad about girls in China.

What a wonderful thing you are doing.

They are so lucky.

How many kids do you have? Six! No wonder you are so skinny!

How many kids do you have? Six! How do you stay so skinny?!

You are crazy.

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Most of the comments are positive, but there are always a few that hit hard. I hate the standard "adoption comebacks" because for the most part I think that people are just curious and somewhat ignorant on how adoption works. I am fine with educating them. I hate the standard answers like "oh, we are the lucky ones!" because I think it goes both ways -- they are lucky, millions of orphans are still waiting for families. Or, "no they aren't biologically related, but now they are sisters." Really, does it matter?

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I was being asked questions at the girls preschool yesterday and the teacher laughed (she is in the adoption process and had pulled me aside last week to talk to me about China) and said maybe I should just give a talk.

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Sometimes, I wish I could give the first answers that come to my mind, but they can sometimes be harsh. Such as, the woman yesterday, who told me they had looked into adoption, but it was too expensive. I wanted to say "yet you drive a brand new van, wear the brand name clothes and just built a new house" but I held my tongue.

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To the ones who think we are crazy, I think they are crazy for having only two. How boring! My house is loud and crazy and messy and I work non-stop to keep up with it all... but it is so amazing! I often look around our table at dinner and think WOW... how did I get here? How amazing is my life?!

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Besides the comments and questions, there are the stares. You should see peoples faces when our entire family walks onto an airplane! Or anywhere for that matter! I love it! But sometimes we also get rude stares and whispers, especially concerning Lilah...

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And then we get the hugs and the hand squeezes and the smiles from complete strangers and we realize once again that some people are on our side.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

One year with Zoe

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Today marks one year with Zoe. This year has gone by so quickly! She has brought so much joy and laughter to our home.

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She became very comfortable with us, very quickly. I think she instantly knew that her life was going to be better and she wasn't interested in going back.

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This girl has a BIG personality. She is very dramatic and her antics make us laugh. She makes it difficult to get angry at her. She is affectionate. She is smart. She is everything that a child who spent the first 3 1/2 years in an orphanage should not be.

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She is an example of an "easy" adoption. Her paperwork was fast. She adjusted so well. She fits right in. She hasn't upset the dynamics of our family. She accepts discipline and guidance.

We are so glad we can call her ours.

I didn't give you the gift of life,
But in my heart I know.
The love I feel is deep and real,
As if it had been so.

For us to have each other
Is like a dream come true!
No, I didn't give you
The gift of life,
Life gave me the gift of you.
--- Unknown

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Orphan Sunday

Today is orphan Sunday.

Think about this, it is estimated there are between 143 million and 210 million orphans worldwide (recent UNICEF report.)

Only 4 % of boys over the age of 4 years will find a family.

Every day 5,760 more children become orphans.

Approximately 250,000 children are adopted annually, but…

Each year 14, 505, 000 children grow up as orphans and age out of the system by age sixteen.

Each day 38,493 orphans age out.

Every 2.2 seconds another orphan ages out with no family to belong to and no place to call home.

In Russia and the Ukraine, studies have shown that 10% – 15% of these children commit suicide before they reach age eighteen.

Studies also show that 60% of the girls become prostitutes and 70% of the boys become hardened criminals

Another Russian study reported that of the 15,000 orphans aging out of state-run institutions every year, 10% committed suicide, 5,000 were unemployed, 6,000 were homeless and 3,000 were in prison within three years…

It frustrates me to hear these statistics. It frustrates me that I CONSTANTLY get comments about how people would love to adopt, but then they come up with excuses. I know not everyone is meant to adopt, but I know that more people are called to adopt, then do. When you obey God's calling... he will bless abundantly.

Job 36:11
“If they obey and serve him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment.”

Romans 8:28
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Friday, November 4, 2011

I heart faces: {hugs and kisses}

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I'm only one. But still, I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still, I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
-- Edward Everett Hale


Check out more Hugs and Kisses at I Heart Faces.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011