Friday, December 31, 2010

Help Emi Faith come home

Last night, my friend Cori beat me to a compelling post about a little girl named Emi Faith and her family's unexpected, last minute need for financial help bringing her home. Cori and I both know the family and have been waiting with them on their year-long journey to their fifth child, an older special-needs child born in Korea. Their need is legitimate and we (their adoption support circle) are asking for help only after exhausing other avenues of potential funding.

You can go directly to the family's blog, or get there via Cori's post (linked above) for a great story and a fun extra incentive to consider helping meet this need. I am excited to see God's plan for meeting the needs of this family and their new daughter unfold!

"Keeping the Promise"

--Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, October 2010 linked here

From the Executive Summary (p. 4):

“Over the last two decades, our nation has seen steep increases in the number of adoptions from foster care in the United States and from orphanages abroad – which, combined, make up the vast majority of non-stepparent adoptions; i.e., we have made considerable progress in finding enduring families for girls and boys who have suffered from abuse, neglect, multiple placements, institutionalization and other pre-adoption experiences that can cause them physical, psychological, emotional and developmental harm. Now the paradigm has to shift, and our priority must be not only to achieve permanency, but also to assure that adoptive parents receive the supports they need to raise their children to healthy adulthood.

This research-based report by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute represents the most
extensive compilation of knowledge in the area of post-adoption services to date, and it’s goal is
unambiguously ambitious: It is to broaden the understanding of this critical issue by the public,
professionals and policymakers – and to promote a commensurate realignment of state and national priorities and resources – so that effective, accessible supports for sustaining and strengthening adoptive families become a routine, ongoing reality. The bottom line is that best practices should entail not only helping to form families, but also enabling them to succeed.”

The report builds a case that post-adoption support is critical for the successful adjustment of adoptive families, and therefore should be normative and universally available. In the process it summarizes the current research on factors influencing the adjustment of adopted children, which even adopting parents early in the process will find interesting. (Don’t miss Appendix III.) The Table of Contents on pages 2-3 will help you navigate this very helpful 99 page report.

Thanks, Dorothy, for starting off a holiday weekend with a link to great reading!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Surgery Date

We heard good news this week. On March 8, 2011 at 7:30 AM Joy has a date with two surgeons at Gillette Childrens' Hospital for an operation on her hips. It is called a bilateral derotational femoral osteotomy. The spacticity in her adductor muscles in her groin is pulling both hips out of their sockets. So she can continue learning to walk and avoid arthritis later in life, Joy's surgeons will surgically break both of her upper leg bones and rotate them into her hip sockets, securing the broken ends with plates and screws. (The link above, a document from another childrens' hospital, has illustrations and x-rays if you are curious.)

At the same time, Joy's surgeons will surgically lengthen her overly-tight groin muscles to slow the rate at which they put undue stress on her leg bones. So Joy will come home her 5-6 day hospital stay in a body cast stretching from mid-chest down to her toes, which she will wear for four to six weeks. The cast will keep her groin muscles stretched to their optimal length while they heal.

Why is a surgery date good news? First, the surgery will help Joy be more independent. Second, we have waited months for a surgery date and finally I am able to begin planning for everything from school, to extra PCA help for 45 days, to rehab therapy and my husband's travel schedule for work. March is also a good month because where we live, we're usually snowbound off and on all month with snowstorms. So it is a great time to be housebound in a cast. When Joy comes out, it may be spring!

First Steps, Part 2

I just found these, taken December 22, 2010, the day Joy took her first steps. The look on her face says it all!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Joy's First Steps

Today, Joy is 3 years, 8 months old. It was a morning only God could arrange. Joy's PCA, who usually takes her to her Wednesday AM physical therapy appointment, called in sick so I got to be there when a year's worth of work finally came together. Isn't it a lovely Christmas present?!

About the yellow contraption. It is a Pony Gait Trainer. Joy has quadriplegic cerebral palsy with mixed tone. Her torso is not strong enough to hold up the weight of her body as she walks. This has the same effect as a typical person trying to walk while carrying sand bags. The gait trainer, which she leans on, bears some of the weight of her upper body, taking enough of the load off her legs to allow her to take steps.

I shot this video at our clinic. Now that Joy can propel her gait trainer herself, we will bring it home and do walking practice a few times a day every day. Eventually, Joy will get strong enough to walk around the main level of our house in her gait trainer. Then we'll advance to a walker, and eventually to forearm crutches. It is so much fun to see her upright and moving!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Snow Day

No. It isn't Feb. 1 yet. But I've had enough editing sentences like that into, "It was not yet 1 February 2010," that I declared a snow day on my manuscript. With Joy napping, I tucked my pants inside my socks (the girls were very impressed that I knew to do this), donned snowpants (yes, I have a pair; no, they don't match my coat), zipped on my boots, and went outside to find out what all this snow is about.

I would have lasted longer than 20 minutes (excuse me: twenty minutes) if I hadn't taken off my gloves to operate the camera.

Here, Daisy was licking their faces.

The snow on the ground is boot-sucking deep. In undrifted areas, the snow is up to Mercy's knees, 12 inches. Those are the low places.

Yesterday's storm (which dropped a mere 5 inches), ended with freezing drizzle, creating an icy crust. In the first photo, Faith samples a piece of crust. In the next one, the girls fell backward into the snow, trying to make a chain of snow angels. But the crust was too thick.

Sledding was next. Or so we hoped.

But there is too much snow. The wonderful icy sled tracks the neighborhood kids created after the November storm are burried beneath a foot or more of snow. The air temperature has been so cold (below zero F) since the blizzard, that the girls have not been out to pack down the new fallen snow. Sledding wasn't much fun so we reverted to playing in the snow.

The very best thing about writing a blog post: no citations or bibliography required. You'll have to take that on my authority.

P.S. My co-editor, a literature professor, is on her way to England for Christmas, so she won't notice. But I managed to use parentheticals even in places where I am inclined to use an em-dash. She tells me my prose is good, but I'm not Emily Dickinson.

Popcorn, Part II

I had no intention of creating a "popcorn" tag, but may have to. Last night, Joy innovated on her popcorn eating technique. Enjoy.

When I came back downstairs from tucking Joy into bed I discovered Daisy had taken care of the leftovers.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Mercy: "Mom, when can you go out with us and play in the snow?"

Me: "How about February first."

Mercy: "But that's six weeks away!" [The child is a walking chronograph.]

Me: "Umhm."

Mercy: "You mean you're not done writing that book yet?"

Me: "Umhm."

Mercy: "But haven't you written it --like seventeen times already?!"

Me: "At least."

Two days' worth of fact-checking, waiting to be reshelved.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Well, I could have skipped the lesson about which plants need to keep their foliage to survive our Minnesota winters. (This is what I posted exactly one month ago.) This year, snow is insulating the gardens, deep snow that will stay until April. The gardens will be beautiful the spring because the plants will not need to recover from exposure to the deep winter cold, which arrives tomorrow.

This is a view of the garden today, in the middle of a blizzard. We have had over a foot of snow since 9:00PM last night and it is still snowing. The storm total here will be about 18 inches, for a grand total of 32  inches of snow so far. That means half the snow that usually falls over the entire winter will have fallen in just one month. The girls are ecstatic.

This is the first winter we've had a dog. At 8 inches Daisy is only half as tall as the snow on the ground. But Daisy has a daddy who loves her. He goes out into the blizzard to shovel the grass and piles up the snow into a windbreak.

Daisy is a smart puppy. She understands that in a blizzard, a dog goes out (and comes back in) very fast.

The photos of the girls make me smile. It is so true: Mercy can play in a snow storm and come in looking as if she's been neatly dusted with powdered sugar, while Hope looks like she dove head-first into the snow for a whole-body immersion experience. She probably did.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


A warm bowl of popcorn and a good book. Can a bedtime snack get any better than this?!