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Kara turned 9 years old on November 8.  My baby is certainly growing up–not much of a baby anymore!  She has gotten so tall this year.  When we first adopted Kara, she stayed 30 pounds for a long, long time.  I just figured that she’d always be a little petite girl, but that has not proven to be true.  Oh, she is very lean, but she is so LONG!  I guess I may as well resign myself to the idea that I will probably end up being the shortest one in my family…..  🙂

Kara is such a funny girl!  She made out a list of gifts that she would like, and I couldn’t believe what was on there!  It was all crazy stuff like giant gummy bears, sparkle this-or-that, etc.  I did my behind the scenes research (i.e. interrogating the siblings) to find out what was at the top of her list, and they all agreed that she really, really wanted Illusion Putty.  At first I thought, “surely not! Why would she want that???”  But then I figured it out.  Kara loves molding things with her hands. She literally will carry around a little blob of poster putty in her pocket for weeks so she can make little figures out of it.  So, even though it did seem rather odd, I decided that Illusion Putty would make a good gift for my silly girl.  It did not disappoint!  Kara LOVES that putty!  Now she carries it around all of the time! Fortunately, it came in a round metal container that fits perfectly into a little purse that Kara has, so she usually has that purse slung over her shoulder with her putty close at hand.  She did make one mistake with that putty, though. She loved it so much that she took a little blob to bed with her the night of her birthday–NOT a good idea!  It smeared all over her pajamas and sheets, and although I was able to wash the sticky out, the color is a permanent stain.  So, yes, the putty is wonderful, but it is not a sleepy-time toy!

I know that every year when I post about Kara’s birthday I write about what a joy she is, but that is just the perfect description of her.  In fact, it gets more so as the years go by.  The road to Kara was so rocky, but God had it all worked out.  (For those of you who may not know about her adoption, that story can be found summarized in the “My Story” posts of this blog.  It was certainly not a “normal” adoption process!)  I remember so well when the days in China looked so bleak, and my dear sister-in-law told me that when the right child came, that child would be nothing but pure joy to our family.  So, that is how we named Kara.  Her name is Kara Joy which means Pure Joy, and even though we gave her that name before we ever met, it fits her perfectly.  I have learned so much from this sweet girl! She is so loving and happy, and, boy, does she love Jesus! It is amazing to listen to her pray–her prayers are so simple and yet profound. Ever since she has learned to communicate in English, she has talked to Jesus just like she talks to me, and that is so refreshing to see–simple, unashamed faith. When she knows of someone in need, she puts them on her prayer list, and she prays for them by name over and over every night.

I have had people tell me what a “lucky” girl Kara is to have a family, and I know their intentions are good.  But, the truth is that we are the “lucky”–blessed–ones to have her with us.  Yes, God’s plan is always perfect, and I am so thankful that she is a part of His plan for me.  Recently Brock said it best: “What would our family be like without Kara? She is always so happy and kind even when the rest of us are grumpy!” Indeed, she is a bright sunshine girl in this dark world, and I praise God for her precious life!

Happy Birthday, baby doll–I love you!

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So, the answer to the question in my last entry is this:  no, that is not Kara on TV, but it sure is a close resemblance!  And there is a story…..

Five years ago, we were getting ready to go to China to adopt a little girl.  We had planned and dreamed about this for quite awhile, and the time was getting very close.  Brock was in A Beka Academy 2nd grade at that time, and this cute little Asian girl was in his video class.  I couldn’t help but to think that someday, I would have a beautiful little girl like that.  Well, in late September, I did bring home our precious Asian princess, a cute three-year-old. I still noticed the girl on the video, though, thinking that someday Kara would be big like her.

Two years later, Kara was, of course, growing up a little, and Cosette was in A Beka Academy 2nd Grade.  This was the same video series that Brock had used, so this little girl was again in the class.  By this time, Kara’s hair had grown out a little, and I noticed that she looked a little like this girl in the class–same eyes, same smile, etc.  It made me smile inside thinking about how much that little girl had encouraged me while we were waiting to bring Kara home.

Another year passed, and Luke was in 2nd grade.  By this time, the resemblance was unmistakable!  I commented several times throughout that year that it would be interesting to see how Kara compared to this girl when she reached second grade.

Now, Kara is in 2nd grade, and this same little girl is in her own class.  Kara commented the very first day of school, “There is a girl in my class that looks just like me!”  Sure enough, she was talking about this same girl.  So, I told her that I would take a picture of her standing by the TV with this girl if she could catch her in a close-up.  It took until this week, but I think the picture came out very good, and I think the resemblance is striking!

Kara is definitely a dream-come-true for our family.  She is all I ever hoped for, and more.  God definitely has blessed us beyond all expectation, and we are so, so thankful!

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This afternoon I took Cosette and Kara to the Golden Dragon Acrobats program.  I thought that it would be neat for Kara to see these talented performers from China, and needless to say, she was delighted!  🙂

It sure made me miss China.  I brought home a very special treasure from China, but I still left a part of my heart there too.  Someday, I pray that God will give me the privilege of going back there–maybe for an extended stay!

We couldn’t take pictures at the performance, but here is a video of the group that we saw:

 

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As I wrote in my last entry, while Kara was in surgery last week, I stayed in her hospital room to wait.  While there, I noticed the little bear that our church gave to Kara sitting on her bed with her glasses.  The message on the bear’s tummy said “Miracles Happen.”  I sat there and thought about that, and was reminded what a miracle Kara is.  God truly has done miraculous things in that girl’s life to bring her home and heal her body and spirit.  I thought about how far she has come and was moved with thanksgiving to the Great Physician for His healing power.  Today I put together this brief slideshow as a reminder of what a Great Savior we have.  I just can’t wait to see all that God has in store for my dear daughter!

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Boy, have things been crazy around here for the last several weeks!  We have been running so much, that my regular to-do list around home has been getting longer and longer and LONGER.  I decided several days ago to start getting up between 5:00 and 5:30 just to whittle away at my list, and I am beginning to make some progress on getting caught up.  Today’s list item was to work on my blog–I have at least 5 entries waiting to be put together, so hopefully I can get some of these finished today.

Kara had her dental surgery last Wednesday.  It was longer and more complicated than anticipated, but it was successful, so we are thankful!  Kara and I are both rejoicing that this is her last known surgery (for the foreseeable future).  As we sat there in the hospital again, I think we both realized that we have been through a lot lately, and that God knows when we have reached our limits.  With each procedure, Kara has gotten more and more apprehensive about the anesthesia, and it’s just time to be done with this for now.

Anyway, because I knew that this was getting to be hard for Kara, I had promised her that I would talk with the anesthesiologist about what could be done to make it easier, and he worked well with us.  He gave her some medicine that pretty much made her asleep before they ever came and got her for surgery.  Even with that, the dentist told me later that she still teared up when they put the mask on her face, but she didn’t fight the mask and doesn’t remember it, so that is good.  After the surgery, Kara told me, “Mommy, last night I woke up worrying about the mask, so I prayed and asked Jesus to help me.  And He did!  I don’t even remember the mask!”  Good for her–she is learning to lean on her precious Savior!

I was glad that they went over Kara’s paperwork with me in detail prior to the surgery because for some reason, there were some mistakes on it that could have affected the anesthesia process.  I don’t know where the mistakes came from exactly, but we did get them corrected.  First of all, they had her listed as 4 feet, 8 inches tall instead of 48 inches tall, which is what she measured at her pre-surgical physical.  Secondly, they had planned a special airway for surgery because they had her listed as having a cleft palate?!  I have no idea where that came from!  Odd…..

The dentist thought the procedure would take about 1 1/2 hours to complete, and said he’d send the nurse out to let me know how things were going.  Well, after that time frame, the nurse did come to update me that he was only about 1/2 way finished.  So, it took about 3 hours to finish.  After he completed the surgery, the dentist told me that it was much more complicated than he had originally planned.  Her mouth and the involved teeth were just so small that it took awhile to get things done. He said that he was so glad that we had decided to do this in the hospital under general anesthesia because it would’ve been difficult, if not impossible, to have ever done it in the office anyway. He said that if he had started it in the office and encountered what he encountered, he would’ve stopped and finished it in the hospital. So, God led that decision!

Kara was slow coming out of anesthesia as well.  Even after she was awake, she was still very “floppy” for a couple of hours.  Looking back on it, I think this may have been more due to the sleepy medicine they gave prior to anesthesia than from the actual anesthesia because she hasn’t had this before.  She usually just pops right out of it.  I felt kind-of hurried by the hospital staff to take Kara home.  In fact, they wanted me to get her dressed to go home before she could even sit up!  I told them I wanted to wait until she could at least sit on the bed before we left, so we hung around for a couple more hours.  Even then she was still woozy and stumbled from dizziness in the bathroom right before we came home.  It really took her most of the day for everything to wear off.

Yesterday, Luke and Cosette had their regular appointments at the dentist’s office.  While we were there, the dentist wanted to take a quick look at Kara’s mouth to see how it was doing.  He said it’s looking pretty good, but that the gum tissue in the area where he had such difficulties is still red and swollen.  In fact, he said that it might be that way for awhile.  She is eating normally, but she does complain that it is sore on that side of her face if she accidentally bumps it back there.  Lord willing, though, this should take care of her mouth issues for several years.  The dentist said that eventually she’ll need more work done when her mouth/teeth reach adult size.

One thing I don’t want to forget.  Before Kara went into surgery, our pastor stopped by to pray with her and give her a little gift to help encourage her.  It was a little bear holding a cross with “Miracles Happen” embroidered on it’s tummy.  She immediately latched onto that thing, and it has become a favorite ever since.  While she was in surgery, I waited in her hospital room where that bear was sitting on her bed with her glasses.  It made me stop to think how true that bear’s message is for my sweet girl.  Her whole life is such a miracle. What a story she has–I can’t wait to see how God continues to use her!

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Today was Kara’s annual checkup with Dr. G. for her clubbed foot.  Overall, things are looking pretty good.  She does turn her foot in, and that is not improving at all.  Dr. G. said that there are two things that are contributing to that, and that really it’s something that she has to live with.  The first cause his still her hip issue.  That whole leg (and even her “normal” leg) turn in from the hips.  Last year Dr. G. thought she might outgrow that, but now she doesn’t think that she will.  Another contributing factor is from all of her surgeries.  Her remaining muscles, tendons, etc.  are just not strong enough to keep the foot straight.  But, this doesn’t effect her mobility at all, so it’s really not much to worry about.

Kara will, however, have a minor surgery next week in Denver.  Believe it or not, it is to remove a troublesome staple that is still in her foot from China!  That silly staple has been a problem ever since we adopted her.  In fact, the week that we brought her home, that area of her foot became seriously infected, and we just about ended up with an emergency trip to Denver then.  After several rounds of antibiotics, she did eventually recover, and you could feel that staple right under the skin.  When Dr. G. operated on her foot in 2007, she decided not to remove the staple.  I am not completely 100% sure, but I seem to remember that she decided to leave it alone because it would have required an additional incision to remove, and Kara already had such large areas to heal that Dr. G. thought it wasn’t worth the trouble.  She also didn’t think it would cause any problems.  Well, fast forward to this year.  There has been a lump developing over that stupid staple.  Sometimes Kara complains that it hurts, and it has made wearing dress shoes nearly impossible.  Dr. G. agreed that it is time to take care of that, so next week we will take Kara back to Denver Children’s where she’ll have it surgically removed once and for all.

Other than that staple, Dr. G. thinks Kara is looking great and says that unless we have problems arise, we’ll go back in another year to check on it at that time.  God is good–all of the time!

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