Sunday, November 27, 2011

Catching Up

Happy Advent!    It's hard to believe Christmas is less than a month away.   The past year has been intense, and it's been emotional to reflect on everything that has taken place since last year at this time.   Our referral, meeting Karolina, my dad's cancer diagnosis, a surprise pregnancy, the adoption of our beautiful daughter, and birth of our new son.   I still have not caught my breath just yet but,  through my newborn-induced-sleepless-haze  I am still well aware that we have much to be thankful for.   We may not be rich in monetary things, but we are rich in all that matters.   Love, family, and a God that is good.

Since my last post, many things have happened and we continue to grow as a family and adjust to the changes.  I thought I would post some pictures and do a quick little photo recap.  First, our son Augustine Lawrence was born.  I gave birth to our fourth boy on October 27.

 Karolina is a big sister!   Our family has expanded for the second time in one year.  God is good.

Karolina enjoyed her first Halloween!  She was Blessed Mother Teresa and her brother Grant was St. Francis of Assisi
 She also celebrated her first Thanksgiving!   She LOVED the sweet potatoes. :)

We have also been very busy with various medical appointments,   to get a feel for where Karolina is developmentally.   She has made huge strides since we picked her up from the orphanage in May, but there  is still a lot to figure out and assess.    This was a learning experience for me.   During the adoption process  I focused a lot on the actual adoption, bonding, and possible behavioral issues that might arise.   However,  I didn't realize  how much we would be in and out of doctors offices when we returned.   

So far it has been a positive experience, and I am very grateful to have access to good medical care nearby.  When we received Karolina's medical records,  it stated she had "absence of septum pellucidum" in her brain.    This is a rare neurological condition that can cause seizures, various disabilities, optical issues and pituitary problems.   We heard that Poland sometimes exaggerates information on the medical reports so  no parents are "surprised" and caught off guard by something that wasn't listed.  Yet, you have to be prepared that everything on the medicals is accurate until proven otherwise.
After arriving home and having her looked at, our doctors did not believe she had this condition, but a few weeks ago she had an MRI just double check.   In an answer to prayer, her scan came back perfect...she has a beautiful brain!  No problems there whatsoever.
The hearing test however, did not turn out as well.  She failed two hearing tests and will undergo a "BAERS" test in a few weeks and see if it's a brain/processing issue, or something else.     

We took her to the doctor in July and she recently went back for her 3-month follow up.  The physical therapist said in terms of her delay that she's "not closing the gap, but she IS holding her own."    Karolina will be 17 months  on November 30, and is mostly at a 9-12 month level according to the assessment charts.   She still is not walking, speaking, or doing any gestures yet but we will get there!  We have an appointment to begin work with a physical therapist next week, and the local early intervention has also been to the house and will continue as she gets on a program.  

With this new territory, I am learning new things all the time.   Her physical therapist told us that Karolina is a "W" sitter ...I had never heard of that before.   When she sits, she bends her legs behind her to get more stability, but it's actually bad for her hips. Evidently, sitting like this can cause a child to be pigeon-toed when walking, and pose orthopedic problems. Here she is in her "W" pose:
  When she does it, I've been diligently changing her position to this instead: 
 And here is one,  just for fun.  :)  Karolina being her charming, smiley self!:)   

As I mentioned in my last post, this has been such a big learning experience for all of us, but one that I embrace.  Karolina is a beautiful child and I am so proud to call her my daughter.   She has seemed to adjust to the new baby without skipping a beat.  It's been hard for me because I am a picker-upper kind of mom, and was used to carrying her EVERYWHERE with me on my hip.  I suppose it's better for her to be  more independent, working on her cruising skills, etc. but having a newborn and a toddler has been challenging.   I have learned that is a great benefit of a large family, everyone steps in and there are more people to help.  Many hands make light work!   Well...there is still a lot of work, but I'm sure glad for the team-effort of the family. ;)
It's brought us closer, even if some days are a little chaotic!   We will hit our stride in time.

I can't end this post without  mentioning fellow families still waiting or "on hold" on their journey.  Not a day goes by that we don't pray for those who are yet to be united to their children.    We pray for the children to be matched, couples to be moved to adopt, and those in positions of influence to discern the best match.  We pray for the judges, officials, Magda, and the agencies to have prudence and efficiency to be able to get families HOME to be able to start their lives together.  

It's such an agonizing feeling to live in silence.  I hope this Christmas season brings good news of great joy for the families still waiting.  


  1. You are a beautiful woman inside and out! I love your outlook and your enthusiasm! I miss you :( I look forward to a time when we can all meet again :)
    Paula Luther

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us. You have a beautiful family. God bless.

  3. When we adopted my daughter (5) she was a W sitter. Unfortunately, no one corrected her sitting and now it's EXTREMELY difficult to get her to walk with her feet straight. We've been through pediatricians, orthopedic doctors, physical therapy, chiropractors, MRI, you name it! Physiologically she is CAPABLE of walking with her feet straight, but her brain is simply not wired to remember to do it. Keep on "harrassing" you daughter not to sit in a W shape, you have no idea how much this has a tremendous impact later on in life. My daughter cannot run without tripping over herself. She cannot go on a scooter because her foot keeps tripping the scooter. She cannot walk long distances without complaining of hip pains and leg pains.

    Do whatever you can now to prevent it from becoming worse. Believe me, of all the issues we've had with adopting our children - this one is the one that will be the most costly for her in the long run. And I'm talking Healthy wise, not just financially.

    As for the not walking, speaking, etc - just keep doing what you're doing and remember "be careful what you wish for!" Our son was 3 when we adopted, non verbal. He didn't start talking until he was FIVE years old! Now, a year since he began talking, I actually have to tell him "give it a break!" The teachers tell me he won't stop talking. Sure, he still has an accent and it's difficult to understand what he says, and he has a bit of a stutter (retrieving a word out of his brain requires a 20 second process) - but he is most definitely showing improvement and is catching up.

    Your daughter is only going to benefit from such a large loving family. In my own humble opinion, that alone tells me she'll be just fine!

  4. I am glad to hear that all 7 of you are doing well! Congratulations on the birth of your son!

  5. Brooke, I don't think I have ever responded to one of your posts, but I wanted to say you have a very beautiful family and your daughter is precious. I pray that everything with her medical needs will work out for the best. My wife and I are currenlty in the "waiting" stage and have been for sometime now. I really appreciate your last paragraph and the prayers you are saying for people like us.

    Thank you,

  6. Adoptive Parents of Three-Thank you SO MUCH for your comment. I can't express to you how grateful I am that you shared your experience with your daughter and the consequences of W sitting. I feel so bad that she has struggled so much with the after effects. It sounds like a long road ahead, but I hope that as she continues to grow and learn, that her amazing brain will "correct" her feet. Your comment really hit home the importance of staying on top of this issue and I truly appreciate your feedback. Thank you again! God bless your family.

    Brad-Thank you for your comment! God bless you on your journey, it is an amazing adventure..emotional, heartbreaking, beautiful...and totally worth it! I wish you the very best.

    Wyn-How are you? I check your blog periodically for updates and have kept your family in prayer. Any news? I hope you are doing well.

    Momtobe-Thank you for your kind words! I added your blog, I just realized I didn't have it on my list. I look forward to following your journey and hope things go smooth!