Thursday, August 30, 2012

Home Again

It's been a rough week and a half.  There are fourteen messages on the answering machine, tons of emails to respond to, and the mess from the spaghetti sauce I made ten days ago to clean up.



Emily got sick on the 21st.  She started throwing up around noon and by 8:00 p.m. she was throwing up every ten-fifteen minutes or so.  Our trip to the ER ended with her being admitted.  The local hospital transferred her to WVU on Monday and we're home today.  

Lots of tears, vomit, poop, and blessings later, we are home.  It looks like Em will be fine long term but it was an emotionally exhausting ten days.  More later.

In the meantime, if you're waiting for a response from us to something we'll probably need a few days to regroup. 

Thank you for the prayer and caring.  We have been blown away by the love we have been shown.    


Saturday, August 18, 2012


That's Emily's special need.  It came with some unknowns.  Only time will tell if damage has been done and because it was in the frontal lobe of her brain the doctor was concerned that as she hit puberty she might have less control of her emotions.

We felt at peace to move forward.  Not that we had all the answers but that God was in it.  And, yes, I still worried about all the what if's.

When Emily was so sick in China I was aware that her symptoms were consistent with pressure building in that little brain.  The doctor in Guangzhou had the same concern so they ordered a CT scan.          The CT scan came back normal.  She just had some type of cold/flu.

This week I had Emily to the doctor.  He asked the radiologists at the hospital to look at her CT scan.

According to them, hydrocephalus was a misdiagnosis.  She NEVER had it.

It looks like Emily's special need was needing a family.

Friday, August 17, 2012


 Thanks to Kevin Maust I have PICTURES.  (Janelle, you can now stop wanting to punch my computer.  :P)

Emily MeiPan

Being the center of attention is always good, right?

Tianshui SWI staff and us.
The Director is behind Kenton, to Emily's right is the Assistant Director, accountant, and Emily's nanny. 

Emily and her nanny.  
Parting was hard on both of them.

See!  I'm already feeling better!


 Inspite of her crabby expression, Emily is loving the older kids.  

Thanks, Kevin (and CINDY!) for all your help.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Baby Steps

Disclaimer:  This is half blog/ half family journal.  Many times it's just an easier way for me to keep track of what's going on with our family.  Also, my computer seems to have eaten my camera program.  It may be a few days.

We've not seen Emily walk independently. She would toddle along holding your finger for a few paces, stand alone wobbly and nervous for a second or two, but not walk alone.  Granted she's been pretty sick much of the time we've known her, so that could play in.

Yesterday she took some steps alone.  Not many.  But steps.  Megan was helping her play her current favorite game:  hold hands and walk to the kitchen and back to the living room.    She would take a few wobbly steps alone and launch herself into the nearest waiting arms for hugs and praise with big smiles lighting her face.

She was excited about trying this morning.  Until Kaitlyn gave her a big hug, got knocked off balance,  and the two rolled back until Emily's head hit concrete.  End of game.  No walking for now.

We took a trip to the doctor.  Emily is 30 inches tall and weighs 21 lbs.  Weight and height she's off the charts but her pumpkin head puts her on.  :-)

Emily likes to throw things.  This morning it was cucumbers.  She'd give the naughtiest, most charming smile and down would drop the cucumber.  I took them away but tried again later.  She took one bite and before I could grab it, with a naughty smile down it went.  We had the same experience with dry cereal.  Something to work on.  

The other kids are all adjusting pretty well to Emily.  It's obvious that E. considers Kaitlyn a threat.  She's not wild about sharing my lap and will push, hit, or scratch attempting to drive Kaitlyn away.  Kaitlyn has been overall pretty good about being gentle and loving with her...much more gentle and loving than I would be in her shoes.  Davis likes to get right in her face and smile.  It's not E's favorite form of affection.   Jamison and Megan get smiles just by walking into the room.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Finding Home

This morning Emily was enraged.  She was mad.  Instead of those soft little sobs of ma-ma I heard screams of total rage.  She was furious.

I'm glad.  Getting mad is part of grieving the losses she has experienced.

Jamison didn't understand.  He couldn't understand why she isn't happy to be adopted.  Why she isn't glad to be here like he is?  Why isn't she happy to have a family?

I tried to explain that she will be.  She needs time to adjust to all the changes in her little life.  Think about if mom and dad died and you went to live with an Amish family.  How would you like not understanding the language, wearing different clothes, not having electricity, riding in a buggy instead of a car and all kinds of changes?

He got it.

So Emily velcroed herself to my shoulder (which is great!) and screamed her little head off.  Eventually  her rage turned to grief and she cried a little.  Then the storm was over (for now), the sun came out, and she played with her dolly and cow and smiled.

Now she's eating all the puffs in the canister in between bites of Kaitlyn's green beans (yes, at 6:30 in the morning), yelling to keep the attention of her siblings, and toddling her way around the coffee table.

I'll enjoy some sunshine for now.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Beauty from Ashes

I'm exhausted.  A cold and jet lag are doing me in.

I'm also teary.  I am so blessed.  Emily is shouting, smiling, and making eye contact with me from the other room.  ( Of course, I had to go in and snuggle her and give her kisses.  She started to cry.)

Adoption is not easy.  It's hard.  We've spent a lot of hours over the last two weeks with her velcroed to my shoulder, crying softly or not so softly.  Sometimes she'll cry, "ma-ma" over and over.  I don't think she's talking to me.  At one point in the hospital she was sobbing inconsolably and one of the nurses swept in to rescue her.  She was passed ( and loved) from one nurse to another as each one tried to console her and distract her.  It didn't work.  she didn't want them either.  She just wanted to grieve.

Sometimes it's easy to see the beauty of adoption.  Sometimes it's not.  People often say of Kaitlyn, "she's so lucky."  That's difficult to hear.  First of all,WE'RE the lucky ones.  Second, adoption is born out of pain.  Nobody gets adopted unless they've experienced loss.

Lynsay at had this to say about it.

I am a huge supporter, promoter, believer, advocate and whatever else there is, of adoption. 

I see adoption as beautiful.  I see how amazing it is that God can turn something so broken into something so beautiful and amazing.  And I love that. 

In the past few months I have read articles, blogs, and posts from adoptive families talking about the brokenness of adoption. 

When I read them I agree with what is being said most of the time, but I just don't feel that same sense of brokenness and sadness.  I still see the beauty. . .

That is not to take away from the brokenness that is adoption.  The brokenness that must be in order for an adoption to happen.  There is and always will be brokenness.

Death.  Abandonment.  Rejection.  Pain.  Disease.  These are part of adoption.  This is the brokenness and the complete heartache that leads to adoption, by children, by birthfamilies, by adoptive parents. 

I get it, I really do, lets not sugarcoat the fact that horrible circumstances have led to adoption. 

Perhaps that is why I see the beauty, because only God can turn circumstances so terrible and make them beautiful.  From Ashes to Beauty.

So here we are, looking at God to bring beauty from ashes in Emily's life.  Looking at Him to fulfill the prophecy of her name, "Beautiful Hope".


I'm sorry, I still don't have any pictures because I'm having computer trouble.

We're home and we made it without any puking or diarrhea.  Hurray!

 We made it home Saturday morning at 12:30.  We had Loretta's meatballs and mashed potatoes.  They were delicious.

Most of the kids headed to bed around 11:30 a.m. Ugh!  We now have several different sleep patterns going on.  At midnight, Jamison, Kaitlyn, Emily, and I are up and raring  surviving.  Kenton, Davis, and  Megan just went to bed.  Meals are kind of hit and miss.   Ugh!  Jetlag is a pain.  I'm looking forward to having us all on the same schedule.

Emily is doing well.  When I think back to the terror of how sick she was one week ago, it seems almost laughable.  She's home, LOVES green beans (I guess because she hasn't been offered pizza), and is all smiles when Jamison and Megan are around.  At this point she has four devoted slaves.  She is also sleeping well.

Thank you so very much for your prayers.  We feel so blessed by all of you.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Heading to Hong Kong

Today is our last day in Guangzhou.  Emily is still doing well.  She is still not drinking a whole lot but we're finally seeing some poop (TMI, I know!) and no more diarhea or puke.  She likes to eat.  We got some great pictures of her excitement when the pizza box was opened. 
Kenton and Jamison toured the Canton Tower today so they are all excited.  The other kids and I hung out, packed some, and went to the pool.  Tonight we're going out for pizza with Jason and Katie Brabson and LingLing.  Emily should be in heaven.  :D
Tomorrow morning we head for Hong Kong to fly home.  We're hoping for an uneventful trip. 
Overall everyone is happy to be heading home.  We can't wait to share Emily with you and gratefully hug a few necks. 
More and PICTURES when we are finally home. 
Thank you all for your prayers.  We are eternally grateful.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Wow!  I can't thank you enough for the advice and love expressed!  You've given me the gift of caring and love and I couldn't be more grateful!
We went against conventional Chinese wisdom and it's working...well, for now at least.  :D
After I tried and miserably failed to get Emily to down ANYTHING yesterday, Kenton persuaded her to eat some rice cereal and take a little water.  About an hour later she threw it ALL up.  (Sidenote: How come she only throws up on my watch? He watched it go down and I caught it coming back up.  Our theme song would have to be "What goes down, must come up." )
About 45 minutes after she threw that all up, Kenton and the kids brought me some leftover pizza.  Guess who demanded pizza?  Emily LOVES pizza.  I can't imagine downing pizza an hour after vomiting but she did and KEPT IT DOWN.  We found some VERY interesting popcicles at 7-11.  I think it had green tea and beans in it.   She downed most of one and KEPT IT DOWN. 
So we are letting Emily MeiPan set the pace.  We're trying to find healthy foods or give her pizza soaked in pear juice or whatever to get some liquid but she hasn't thrown up in almost 24 hours.  Hurray!
I just came down to the business center and instead of a drowsy, motionless, emotionless baby lying in the crib, SHE WAS SINGING!  It was BEAUTIFUL!   Finally we are seeing some life again. 
We've also discovered that PIZZA is a surefire way to bring a smile to Emily's face. 
Go figure! 
God's richest blessings to each of you.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Still Not Eating

Emily has been out of the hospital for a day now.  She is refusing to eat.  She had some rice cereal this morning.  Maybe one cup total.  Nothing else.  No liquid.  We thought maybe taking her out a little would get her a little interested in life and she'd try but absolutely no way. 
Yesterday we had some tears, today no tears, one wet diaper. 
I'm desperate here.  WHAT should I try?   Here's what hasn't worked: pedialyte, water (without cheerios - but now I'm out of those), Sprite, tea, fruit, apple juice.  All she'll occasionally try is congee and rice cereal.  She would LOVE to have some French fries or meat but she can't have those.  Any suggestions?  
I can't access blogger here in China, so if you have some suggestions PLEASE email us at

Monday, August 6, 2012

No News is Not Good News

Emily has been in the hospital since we arrived in Guangzhou on Friday.  She was dehydrated.  We tried the Can-Am clinic here in the hotel but even with an IV she did not get any better.  We spent Saturday morning in the ER.  They wanted to admit her but we had to wait until 2:30 p.m. for a bed to become available. 
One huge concern was that her symptoms were consistent with something going wrong with the hydrocephalus.  Good news on that front!   A CT scan showed that the brain is NORMAL!   Of course, only time will show if/what damage has been done long term. 
Emily was admitted Saturday afternoon and finally released late Monday afternoon.  It's been exhausting for everyone.  Kenton and I have needed to trade off with Emily and the other kids.  We've depended on the kindness of total strangers to watch our kids during transition times.  Sunday morning all I could do was cry.  Kenton came to be with Emily and another adoptive family took our kids sightseeing and for lunch so I could get a shower and some sleep.  I am humbled by the kindness of many strangers. 
Emily is here in the hotel but still throwing up.  We are concerned that she may get dehydrated again.  She seems to be doing much better but she is still far from well.  The goal of all the adults involved is just to get her home safely on Friday.  Only congee and rice cereal for our meat-loving empress.  This is going to be rough for everyone. 
It's tempting to give you a catalogue list of how difficult it's been...but I recognize that we have been SO BLESSED!   Our guide has bent over backwards to make our lives easier, the nurses loved on our baby, the couple across the room kept watch over Emily and I, the Brabson family watched our FOUR kids in a foreign country and another family offered as well, several total strangers told us that they were praying for us, Emily is eating a little and throwing up A LITTLE instead of hurling everything everywhere or refusing to eat anything and dry heaving, our kids have access to a pool and many more things.    See?  God has blessed us in the midst of this difficulty. 
One funny thing...I bought two big boxes of granola bars for this trip not realizing they were the nasty, dry crunchy kind that no one really likes.  So instead of scarfing all those granola bars immediately, most of them were available when we needed them at the hospital.  I'll admit I don't care if I NEVER eat another granola bar and room temperature water...but we survived. 
We could really use your prayers for wisdom as we try to get Emily safely and healthily home.  After arriving in Guangzhou in a cloud of fragrant eau de Puke, my least favorite scent, I'm dreading the flights home. 


Thursday, August 2, 2012


The unofficial cheer for the last three days has been:
Regurgitate, regurgitate, throw up all the food you ate. 
V-O-M-I-T, Yay, PUKE!
Emily has been sick. Tuesday we went to breakfast and all was good.  By noon she and I had taken several more looks at that particular breakfast.  Since my wardrobe choices are severely limited it was alarming how fast I was going through clothing.  Emily, too. 
It went rapidly from bad to worse.  She has diarhea and is vomiting.   Yesterday afternoon I think she was starting to feel better but began to keen and wail.  She was grieving and absolutely refused to take anything.  She'd put her little teeth together and let liquid dribble out the sides of her mouth.  No more diarhea but no wet diapers and no tears. 
Naturally my personality of:
"If in trouble or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout" kept me nice and calm - NOT.  Kenton and I were tag teaming with the older four and Emily.  Kenton went with the guide and kids to the Yellow River.  I got to go with the big kids and guide to Five Springs Park.  Frankly, this type of tourism holds little charm for the kids and less for their distracted parents.  Kenton is so sad/frustrated/somewhat angry that we have not been able to leave the city of Lanzhou.  His only request for this trip wasto get outside of the city and see some farming.  It was not to be. 
This morning our lethargic, sick, still refusing to swallow baby went to the hospital.  It was teeming with people, enormous, efficient, and even had escalators.  (Sorry, that seemed odd in a hospital.)  They listened to our guide, listened to  Emily's heart (and whatever else they check with a stethoscope), looked down her throat (It only took four of us to pry her mouth open), drew blood (OH, was Emily ever MAD!!!) and gave us medicine for when/if she has diarhea again, and two more medicines for the vomit. 
They did not tell us how to get her to take it. 
So we came back to the hotel, got five sips of water down Emily's throat, and put her to bed per the guide's instructions.  You notice the guide did NOT stick around long enough to tell us HOW to get her to take that medicine. 
Emily's still throwing up but no recent diarhea.  We're scheduled to fly to Guangzhou tomorrow at noon.  Getting everyone and everything to the next city is going to be a real trip. 
The hotel staff is mad at us and not very gracious about all the puked on towels and bedding.  The other night after THREE request for more towels, we finally got them. If they hadn't we had decided to bring Emily down to the lobby for a physical demonstration of her prowess in Olympic projectile vomiting. 
No offense to what is probably a lovely place, but aside from dreading a plane ride with a vomiting child, we are ready to blow this place and hit the road (to quote my Uncle Bob). 
We would be so grateful for your continued prayers.