Monday, June 15, 2015

Hit the Ground Running!

   Well, I'm not sure if you're adding this all up, but we signed on with Gladney in Dec. and they have a 3 month deadline to have our large amount of paperwork turned in... It's now February and we have 1 month to get our Official application and paperwork turned in to Gladney, (or we have to reapply and resubmit our application fee- no thank you! :)  )
    So, we got busy.
   Lets just say it's a LOT of paperwork, and I began to realize that this was a different kind of "pregnancy" than I had experienced before. 

   Besides a lot of paperwork, there is also a lot of training that is required during the adoption process.  Part of our required training was to go to Ft. Worth, TX for a two day training, called Pathways, put on by Gladney Center for Adoption. I (Brandee) was super excited about this, as I had been wanting to bring Ben and the kids to my home town area (Big Sandy, TX - about 2 hrs away from Ft. Worth) and this was the perfect opportunity.  Not to mention, our friends, the Richie's, had recently moved from Dayton, OH to Combine, TX which isn't too far from Ft. Worth.  So, we began making arrangements for the end of Feb. to go to the training, have the Richie's watch our kids for the 2 day training and visit with them before going to Big Sandy for a couple days to see extended family and show Ben and the kids where I grew up.
Who's ready for a 15+ hr drive...

Looks like it should be in Ohio, not Texas! 
Jay, Kayla, Eli, Gideon, and Gabe Richie!!
Plans quickly came together and before we knew it, the time to go south had come. We drove down in 2 days and stayed the night with the Richie's. The next morning, Ben and I left our kids there and drove an hour's drive to Ft. Worth where our training was.  The training was amazing and we actually met another couple who lives in Cincinnati who are adopting from China too.  They also have 2 biological boys and a girl. The training was on attachment and gave advice on how to care for and work through issues that many children who have gone through an adoption have experienced. That night Ben and I had stayed at a hotel and had a date night at the Stockyards downtown. 
Night in the Stockyards with my Love.
The second day of training actually got cut short due to the ice storm that hit Dallas/Ft Worth.  The city literally shut down and what should have taken us only an hour to get back to our kids, ended up taking five hours!  Thankfully we made it back together safely, and thankfully we still got credit for the 2-day training. We had a great night catching up with The Richie's.  The kids loved hanging with them (and helping gather eggs from their chickens!!)  The next morning we hung out again and said our goodbye's before heading to Big Sandy (1 1/2 hrs away).

Mike, Brenda, Zachary, and photo bombed by Brandon and Evan :)

  We stayed both nights in Big Sandy with my Uncle Mike and Aunt Brenda. They live on a little farm with fun animals that the kids thoroughly enjoyed.  My Cousin, Celina, set up a get together for everyone to come hang out at her mom's church the first evening we were in B.S.  It was great to see family and friends that I hadn't seen in over 8 years.  The weather was surprisingly cold for this time of year, but the people and places made up for that! 
Mike, Celina, Mikey, Brandon, Evan, and Alex!!
     We ended up getting all of the paperwork necessary for the Gladney application in on time, and quickly shifted to working on the paperwork that would eventually make it's way to CHINA, aka, The Dossier.  (Which is pronounced... Doss- ee- ay, rather than a Doe-sher, which is what I had been reading it as all along. ;)
   Each step is one step closer to our little girl...


A Bump in the Road

    The timeline that Gladney gave us to expect for the adoption process was- six months of paperwork, six months to get a "match" or referral for a child, and then six months till we travel to pick up our child - for a total of 18 months (give or take a little).
     About two weeks after we submitted our initial application (not the official application that was much lengthier and due in 3 months), we began to notice that our oldest son, Noah- 6 years old, had some spots on his legs, back and face that weren't going away.  We initially thought they were chicken pox, but after they didn't get worse or better, we took him in to get checked out at the Dr. They thought it was MRSA. Which led to them putting him on 2 rounds of heavy antibiotics. Neither of them cleared up these mystery spots.  In fact, one of the spots now was the size of a quarter on the back of his leg.
     After about two weeks, the pediatrician referred us to a dermatologist to have them look at the spots.  They were just as baffled and took a biopsy, hoping for some sort of answer. On January 22nd, they called us with the results as being either a spider bite or a rare disease called Lymphomatoid Papulosis (LyP). We could pretty much rule out the spider bite and began researching this LyP disease online.  Our pediatrician and dermatologist were not familiar with it, so they referred us down to Cincinnati Children's Hospital.  The online research that we could find, was minimal, but basically said 1 in a million people have this disease and 10 % of those people end up having the more serious type of Lymphoma.  This was not what we were expecting at all!  Up until this point Noah had been a very healthy boy. With all the uncertainty, we decided to hold off on any of the adoption process until we knew more on the prognosis of Noah.  We clung tight to the promises of our Savior and leaned on our church family, immediate family, and friends to help us through this uncertain time.  There are so many beautiful stories of how God reminded us that He was with us, carrying us through the mysteries that were in front of us. We'd love to share them, just message us for more information.  :)
    On Feb. 3, 2015, we drove down to Cincy to meet with a Dr. who has had experience with this disease before and wanted to check out Noah.  She was very informative and told us that the prognosis of this disease is very different if the person is a child when it is diagnosed, than if it comes on as an adult.  In an adult, the person will have these bumps show up periodically and then self heal as new ones show up and this cycle will continue for the rest of their lives, possibly developing into Lymphoma.  However, in children the kids tend to get spots off and on for anywhere between a few months to a couple years, but generally will not develop spots past childhood.  They will always have LyP, and possibly will be at a greater risk of developing Lymphoma later in life, than a child without LyP, but overall, Noah's prognosis looks pretty good.  She gave us the OK to move forward with the adoption process.  Each morning and night, we apply a cream to the spots to help them heal quicker and that is it.  We have been back for a followup checkup since the initial visit, and will go back again in June for another checkup.  They will continue to monitor his spots until he is free of them for at least a year.  Wow, Praise the Lord!  Not only for carrying us through this roller-coaster of a month, but also for allowing us to continue on in pursuing our child who will come from across the ocean.  All Glory to Him!
Ben & Noah in Dr. Office

Brandee & Noah outside Children's Hospital in Cincinnati