I wanted to update it and put new pictures up, etc... before I updated about the twins.. however, I have decided that I just need to post and then update the actual backgrounds when or if I can find the time.
It is when we are transparent before each other and God that others are able to be helped, ministered to and blessed by our lives the most. THAT is the complete purpose of why I am alive... TO glorify God and live for him. If my life, our life, my little families obedience and struggles and victories can minister to someone else... then I need to share those EXACT moments with people. I guess my real hesitation with sharing is that we've had LOTS of medical issues with the twins since coming home... and lots of things/behaviors/problems that are completely a result of being in an institution or maybe they aren't... some things we still don't know that answer.
I just know that one day I want Faith and Grace to be able (if they would like) to read all this blog... and not think.. "Gosh, Mama... why did you tell the world that about us.. that's embarrassing!"
However, after much prayer and consideration... I feel I need to be open and honest.. and hopefully something I share or write will resonate with someone who is reading it and bless them.... in turn our family/life = glorify HIM in all things! I think if we as Christians as a whole would be more transparent with each other, it would be amazing the encouragement that we'd find and have... and in turn our relationships with Christ would grow and flourish!
That however, is Lanetta's two cents! ha!
LOTS has happened and there is LOTS to tell!
The last 4 months have been VERY busy... we tried SO hard to simplify and not be on the go.... but, there were so many Dr's apts and things to do it was amazing.
There were so many firsts that there is NO way I can list them all...
The first night home we quickly realized that the bunk beds were NOT going to work... :( Grace jumped from the top bunk (I caught her).. but, we quickly realized that they did not even have the muscle tone to climb the ladder and NO idea how to get up or down. The bunk beds were QUICKLY deemed NOT safe for their room. SO... their first full day home consisted of a complete room OVERHAUL... lol! Nothing like throwing them into one of my projects right off the bat... LOL! Anyone who knows me KNOWS that this is SO me! :) Get used to it girls... this is your Mama! ;)
|Here the twins are helping Papa and Uncle Keith assemble their NEW toddler beds! They loved helping and thought they were doing something BIG! :)|
|Here's the NEW room... :) It works out SO much better... gives them LOTS more floor space. They will be able to sleep in these beds for a LONG time! They have plenty of room!|
|Goodness... Bay and Brook sure were happy on the morning of March 16th! :) Phil, Bay and Brook quickly broke out the Christmas presents for F and G that we saved for them! It was DEFINITELY a Christmas in March morning at our house!|
|Finished... aren't they precious?! |
If you look back through pictures of them... you will see that their teeth were in BAD shape. Their bottom front teeth were DARK brown and appeared to be decaying. I visited with our dentist at great length about their teeth when we were home in February and we already had appointments scheduled for the first week home. Call me superficial... but, I really REALLY hated to hear that most likely there was little they could do for them. Our dentist said that most likely they were decayed and we'd have to make decisions about what to do... but, it didn't sound very promising! We went to our first apt. to have them just look at their teeth, etc.. and the dentist was fairly certain that all the discoloration was EXCESSIVE plaque and with some special tool and high pressure she 'thought' she could remove most of it. We went back in 3 days and it was UNBELIEVABLE! The plaque came off in HUGE hunks and their teeth were completely cavity free! I am still in shock about this... :) The girls did fairly well and tolerated the procedures! They now have beautiful white and gorgeous teeth! :)
I have to tell you that my mom and my brother have both been such a blessing to us these first few months home. One of them went with me to appointments in the beginning. Phil wasn't able to take off more time from work... so it was a wonderful blessing for either my brother or mom to be able to go with me. We love you Nana and Uncle Keith! :)
We also had every test you can imagine completed at the pediatricians office. All blood work came back normal... however, Faith had a very aggressive and YUCKY parasite. We took meds for that for one week... and then got an all clear. Grace and none of the rest of us had the parasite, but all had the FUN testing! :)
I expressed concern with Grace's vision.. and our pediatrician referred us to a pediatric ophthalmologist. He diagnosed Grace with Septo-Optic Dysplasia - Mild/Mod Optic Nerve Hypoplasia. This means that her optic nerves are VERY small. He asked why he wasn't seeing Faith for an appointment and requested that we work her in that day as well. He diagnosed Faith with the same. Grace also has stigmatisms and is very badly near sighted, thus needs glasses. The Optic nerve diagnosis are not correctable and basically means they have slowed/delayed processing of their vision. This made PERFECT sense to me... I told Phil from Nov. that we had some sensory integration issues with Grace... and some with Faith. This was NOT surprising.
He then went on to say that it's a miracle that Grace especially wasn't born blind. He said that with this severe of a dysplasia (small optic nerve) there is a HUGE percentage of chance (HIGH 90's) that the optic nerve was NOT the only portion of their brains affected. He was VERY kind when explaining all this to me.. and honestly, he painted a GRIM picture. I don't think he realized the degree that I understood what he was saying... but, he basically said they could both very easily be VERY handicapped mentally. I knew EXACTLY what he was saying... I don't really know how to explain how I felt in that office that day. Honestly the girls were AWFUL. My mom was with me and we were both basket cases trying to keep them calmed down and controlled. They were VERY overstimulated and LOUD and well... it was chaos.. that's the BEST way to describe it. My mom wasn't in the room with me when I received all the news... she was in the waiting room. We had thought maybe separating them, etc would make them calmer. HA!
As we walked out of that office... one with a kid in tow - I couldn't help but laugh! Remember my post from March 9th - airplane ride from Pavlodar to Almaty?! When I'm overstimulated I laugh and cry both... well, that's what I started doing...
I then start telling my mom about the diagnoses... and how that even in the midst of hearing him caution me of the road we 'might' have ahead of us... I KNEW that it was all ok!
It's giving me chills now as I type this out... God prepared me. I already knew in the deepest recesses of my heart that we would receive a BAD report from medical doctors regarding the twins. I don't know how I knew it... did God speak to me audibly? No... did I dream it.. NO! It's in those still small voices that he often speaks the most to me.. it was there and I just knew. THIS very thing... these medical issues... ALL OF IT... are for HIS glory! I knew and know that at some point one day.. Faith and Grace will share their story.. their journey... their life.. and they will have an even GREATER story to tell and share! Not only did God rescue (yes... I used that word!) them from a life without knowing HIM... but, he also healed their bodies and minds and they will be WALKING proof in more than 200 ways that God is alive and well today!
Whew.... give me chills!!!!!
I have a whole entire other post about 'resuce'... I will write it one day... I promise! :)
...and more about all the medial stuff later too!
At about 2 weeks home.. we took pictures to make an INVITE for our celebration/ welcome home party! This is the picture we used:
I will share more in a few minutes about Bay and Brook... but, just know that at this point.. when the twins had been home 2 weeks... Bay and Brook were BEGGING to not go to school! They wanted to stay home with us and carry them and play and baby them every single second. They were absolutely SO SO SO proud of them and both attempted to Mother them! :)
ok... back on track... so Grace got some ADORABLE glasses:
|Aren't Grace's glasses cute? :) Here they are still in their pj's... under a HUGE tent we built in our living room! :) They were SO excited and LOVED it! |
|Another pic in tent! They had been home about 3 weeks here... notice their WHITE sparkling teeth! :) |
Both were incredible events... we were showered with love and gave God all the glory for Faith and Grace coming home.
I had to share one of the gifts in this post for my fellow adoptive parents... aren't these the CUTEST shirts?! A gift from another adoptive mom that I work with! These were my fav. gift! :) The text under the 2 hearts says, "... because that's where I was!" AWE.... isn't that precious!? :)
I know I should post pics from the showers and parties.. but, I won't today!
That pretty much brings us up to date through them being home for 5 weeks.
Their English was coming along @ 5 weeks home... I was at this point surprised that it wasn't progressing faster than it seemed to be... They pretty much spoke Russian to each other until about the one month home mark... I think that's really interesting too...
This is a summary of the first 5 weeks home:
- Family: EVERYONE is THRILLED... :) Bay and Brook are incredible... they LOVE them and seem to love every second with them. The girls LOVE my mom - Nana and are also bonding well with my nephew - Cody, brother and sister-in-law.
- Medical: Optic Nerve Dysplasia - we have upcoming dr's apt's with Endocrinologist and Neurologist
- Communication: A combination of English/Russian and gestures! :) There were honestly only 3 times that they tried to communicate that I never knew what they were saying... it really wasn't hard to communicate with them. We figured out a way! :)
- Sleep - a HUGE problem... they don't sleep through the night... wake up a lot.. and there are LOTS of issues. :( We rocked them from the time we got home until around 4-5 weeks home... then we attempted to transition to patting their backs in their beds. There were so many times that it was overwhelming that there are 2 of them. I have to admit that it was TOUGH! There were nights that I sat in their room attempting to shuffle between them rock and pat... and I just cried. Phil traveled and was gone a lot the first few weeks home... since he had missed so much work. My mom helped me SO much... I have NO idea how I would have survived those first few weeks without her.
- Toileting: Attempted panties - however, went back to pull-ups full-time due to excessive numbers of accidents. Faith is doing better than Grace. At one month home both were completely in pull-ups.
- Bonding and Attachment: At 4 weeks home we were making progress, but still had a long ways to go... however, they were doing good. I felt that it would have been going better, but with 2.. it was so hard to rock, cuddle, give eye to eye contact, etc.... without leaving one out... :)
(on a side note... just writing all this out is making me really realize the amount of progress they have really made! wow... it really is incredible where they are today (at 4 months home verses 1 month, etc..)..
During that first 5 weeks home there were so many firsts it's UNREAL..
here are a few of the ones I really remember and some of my favorite memories:
- They were in awe of our outside cat... only at about 3 months home has the excitement worn off. They would scream and jump and yell EVERY SINGLE morning! :)
- The first time they put their feet in the grass barefoot.... :( They didn't know what to do.
- They couldn't climb up the ladder for the slide... they had NO idea about how to put one foot up then your hand and pull, etc...
- They LOVE to swing!
- They LOVE their big sisters... their FAVORITE time of the day is watching for the bus to come down the road! :)
- They LOVE to run out in the yard and meet Bay and Brook when they get off the bus!
- At about 3 weeks home: I will never forget when Uncle Keith kept them in the van while Brook had some dental work done... (had to have a tooth pulled)... I get a text from him saying... EMERGENCY... come outside! :) They wouldn't stop spitting at him and in the van! HEE HEE HEE! ;)
- The first time Grace called me "Mom" instead of "Mama"... and she shortened "Papa" to "Pop"
- Grace's face when she realized how much she could see with her new glasses...
- I will never forget the FIT Faith threw cause she wanted glasses!!!
- Their begging for ear rings... they looked at everyone's and asked about them... :)
- The first time I held them in church and sang - "Amazing Grace - My chains are Gone" and "How Great is our God!"
- When I realized that Grace (at 2 weeks home) could sing Jesus Loves me! I had been singing it to them as we cuddled and rocked. She knew EVERY word!
- The first time I took them anywhere ALONE... :) It was to the dentist... had to stop 4 times during 30 minute drive home! whew.... :)
Goodness.. the emotions of this are overwhelming.... :)
I think I will call it quits for this post! My goal is to post an update a night until I get caught up! :)
Please just know that YOUR continued prayers and the wonderful GRACE and MERCY of our Jesus have continued to carry us these past few months.
It is still incredible to us when we really think of the miraclous things God has done... these girls are miracles! It doesn't take long to think about it... and remember that God has a plan and be so thankful for his awesome provisions and blessings!
More soon... check back tomorrow! :)
Have a wonderfully blessed night!