Friday, January 27, 2017

Then This Happened

Not only are custom wheelchairs expensive (this bad boy was $8,000+), but they take months to come in. Joey's cool custom wheelchair that was designed to address his unique needs came in beginning of January.  He was so proud of his chair and we were thankful to be out of limbo in that department. Or so we thought.

Then This Happened.

Our sweet boy just can't catch a break (haha). While playing on the trampoline 10 days ago, he broke his leg, both bones at the ankle. I knew immediately it was broken, he was shaking head-to-toe just like he was when he broke his arm.  We quickly realized we had to call 911, as we had no way to keep it stabilized in our van to get him to the hospital.  He was in so much pain, it was awful. It was traumatic for all of us. He was in pain, the other kids were scared and I lost any semblance of "calm and cool" mom. 

They put him in a full-leg, non-weight-bearing splint and sent him home. He can't bear any weight on that leg and he had to have support for his leg... which meant his brand, spanking new custom chair didn't work because it didn't have leg-extensions. They sent him home with NOTHING, so I spent the next day figuring out how to get  rental chair that met his new needs. 

We were too afraid to send him to school in the splint, he was in so much pain and completely immobile. So he stayed home with me as we waited for the cast.  His sweet classmates helped pass the time by sending home some adorable Get Well cards.

Watching and waiting for his siblings to come home.

This coincided with some really beautiful weather outside.
This is an outside boy, but he is limited in what he can do since he can't get out of his chair... bubbles did the trick for a little while.

When he saw his sisters playing in the mud, he wasn't to be left out.

Getting him in the van is really difficult with his leg fully extended, so he didn't leave the house for 6 days. When it came time to go the hospital for casting, it was tricky figuring out how to lift him in with my limited upper body strength and figuring out how to support his leg. This set-up with the pillows was his idea! It was painful for him (and me!) to get him settled in this spot, but we did it.

Casting was super stressful for this guy.  Thankfully, after much discussion, they agreed to put the cast on below the knee instead of above the knee as they typically do.  If it was above the knee, then we'd continue to struggle to get him in the van and he also couldn't ride the school bus in the rental wheelchair, so we were going to be in a transportation bind.  I'm so thankful that it's below the knee= we can use his custom chair for the bus and he can get his leg in the van easier. We just have to be very careful that he doesn't bear any weight on that leg at all, which means he relies on us for his every move.

Ready to get back to school.

 A cool lap desk from a friend...
just in time to help him do another first... homework!

The ortho doc wants to keep close tabs on the breaks to make sure they're healing properly, so we go back in a few days for new x-rays to see how it's doing.  We're very hopeful that they won't have to "manipulate" the bones to help them heal properly as they indicated could be a possibility. This poor kid has been through so much medical trauma, we need his healing to go as smoothly as possible.

He is weary. We are weary. When his arm was broken, we had to feed him and be his arms. Now that his leg is broken, he is completely wheelchair bound. We have to lift him on/off the toilet, into the bath, onto the couch, etc. Because his upper body has limited functioning even on the best of days, he cannot help us much at all. He's like lifting dead weight! We have to rotate his positions to make sure he doesn't get sore... it's exhausting. But we're so thankful he's HOME and getting care from his family rather than recovering in the orphanage.

Since this happened, he's been flooding us with memories of his injuries in China. He's been adamantly telling us of how he broke his other arm in China, how both legs were in casts and how he "broke" his 2 front teeth when he fell.  I don't know how much of it is true, but I believe he's probably had a lot of injuries in his life, he's such a fall risk and just so fragile.

This also has us discussing what we should and shouldn't let him do. The trampoline has been a topic of discussion since he came home... we really hate the thought of limiting him and keeping him out of activities the other kids are doing.  Plus his arm was broken when he tripped on his own feet... He so desperately wants to keep up with everyone else. Yet at the same time, seeing him go through this pain and suffering is awful. 

We've had so many unexpected complications in the 4.5 months since we've been home. It's so hard on him and on the rest of us. But this kid is so resilient and so BRAVE to just keep on keeping on every day- he's teaching us so much about perseverance and about living joyfully.  We'd appreciate prayers for healing and a longer stretch of no drama!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Big Realizations

It's been 4 months since we met our sweet guy!  That seems so long ago that we were in that very far away city, walking into that room and laying eyes on him for the first time.  So, so much has happened since then. 

I mentioned in a previous post that the language barrier is hard, and it really is.  But it won't be forever.  People comment every day how well his English is progressing, it's truly amazing. Just this week, he has started to talk about his life in China. Quite a lot actually.  He's talked about his "China Momma" (his term) and what she cooks and how she cooks it.  She makes dumplings with sausage and egg and he even acted out the process of cooking them.  She makes yellow rice with carrots (big slices, not little he says) and potatoes. My white or brown rice is not cutting it!  He told us sometimes he got in trouble with her, but mostly he was a good boy. :)   She took care of him for 5 years and we don't even know her name or what she looks many missing pieces for him.

He told us how he was pushed in a wheelchair to "school" (a little preschool-like class at the orphanage), but some of his foster siblings left to go to public school. He has told us that he wasn't allowed to play in the snow.  Lots of little tidbits of information starting to come out, and we love it. We missed over 8 years of his life so we hang onto every little bit we can get.

We've had a translator at quite a few of our appointments lately (for some reason now they're doing a great job of providing translators, whereas at first they were few and far between).  We find out so much more when we're with a translator. I truly wish we had someone who could come to our house regularly to help us talk to him!  Through the translator, we discovered just how much he's missing China. He's very homesick.  He misses his foster parents and the food and his foster siblings. He's thinking of them, wants to know what they're doing and when he'll see them again.  During this conversation, I realized just how confused he still is about everything that has gone on.

Via the translator, he asked when he's going back to China.

Yep. He thought he was going back.

He told her he thought he would eventually go back. He even asked how many more days until he goes back. When I had her explain that he's staying with us forever, that he's not going back, he asked "why?". The look on his face was true confusion.

We've told him this many times before of course, both in Chinese and English. But he still just doesn't understand the concept of forever family.  It's a brand new idea for him, which is heartbreaking.

So once again I had her tell him that we love him very much, that he'll love with us forever and we'll always take care of him. He spoke to her in Chinese for a moment and she looked at me and said, "He says OK, he'll stay."

I don't know if he truly understands this time or not, but we won't stop reminding him that he's ours forever.  The only way he'll really get it is for time to go by and for us to continue to be as consistent as possible.  In the adoption world, some families celebrate their "Tipping Point" day, which is the day that they've been with you longer than they were in the orphanage. For Allie & Maggie, their Tipping Point day was shortly after they turned 2. For Joey, he'll be 16.5 years old before we reach that point. That is just a huge a-ha for me to realize that getting him to the point of feeling truly acclimated and at home will take a very long time.

Since that conversation when he realized he wasn't going back, he keeps checking in. He'll say things like, "Joey love Momma. Momma love Joey."  Yes, buddy. Always.  He also talks a lot about our house, naming all the people who live here, including himself.  He also frequently asks, "All done China?" and I feel awful saying it, but I tell him, yes, he's all done with China. Once day we'll be able to explain that being Chinese will always be a part of who he is, of his past, of his heritage and maybe of his future if he chooses. But right now he needs to come to the realization that he's "all done China" and that this is now his home.
These conversations are a reminder of how fragile he still is. These are just tidbits that we happen to get from him. I don't know what else he's confused about or worrying about or wondering about... in many ways he's still so isolated from us. It must be a very lonely place to be, despite us being right here with him.

So we do what we can to help him feel comfortable and at home. He enjoyed his first Christmas, it was so special to have him here. This time last year we were barely started on the paperwork to bring him home!

Last week my parents and I took him to a Chinese buffet for lunch.  He was in heaven!  He's already plotting to go again and bring everyone this time. :)

He's also starting to go to school a couple hours longer. It's still a shorter day but he now eats lunch at school and gets to have specials and recess with his class. I think it's helping him make friends and feel more a part of his class. He's so proud of himself that he eats at school!

We just love our little guy. It's a long road we're on, but truly we are the blessed ones to walk it with him.

                                                           Our Chinese sweeties

                                                        Ever-popular Grandpa

Donut time!

                                                        First concert for this percussionist!

                                                                 His biggest fan!

                                        He LOVES working with wood and building things.
                    Jeremy helped him drill holes in wood to make his name. He's so proud!

                                                                       Art show!

                                              Candy store at Christmas time was magical,
                             especially when a band popped in to play us a Christmas song!

                                                                       Daddy's boy

                                                                    Cast is off!

                                                        He has a hard time holding still &
                                                        getting comfortable out in public.
                                                          He oftens ends up on the floor.

                                            This very old, old guy still gets into trouble.
                                           Here he is eating the doll head off a baby doll.

                                      Horse-drawn carriage ride around our sweet little town.
                                                Best part was it was warm and balmy out!

                                                           A lucky moment alone.

                                                  Joey's very first present, maybe ever.
                                                                 He was so proud.

                                                   This guy is a major back-seat driver.

                                                   Decorating gingerbread houses!

                                   Everyone got to help me make their own batch of cookies.

                                                              First time at the dentist!

                                                         She's an old pro at the dentist.
                                                      They love her and she loves them.

Someone is very excited about her cousin's birthday cake.

                                        Bailey is in the middle of every. single. thing. we do.

                                                     Christmas at the Coleman's!

                                                                  Christmas Day!

After getting new toys, the boys went out and built something with scrap wood and nails.

                                                  Roller Skating with these guys.

                                              First snow for Joey! It was just a dusting,
                                     but he and Ben still managed to build a tiny snowman.

                                                        A rare lunch out as a family.

                                              Special late-night time with our first babies.

Joey's first visit to Grandma Toodie's house!

                       We are looking ragged and tired, but we got to go to a movie alone!!

                                     This beauty has been begging to take dance class again.
                                             She's SO serious and passionate about it!

                                                           Passing time on winter break
                                               Building with marshmallows and toothpicks

                                                                Beauty parlor time.

                                                                  A real snow!!

                                            Poor babe, every Friday I drag her to the grocery.

                                                       Lunch at a Chinese buffet!

                            This gorgeous girl now stays after school and walk to tumbling once a week.
                                                                    She loves it!

                                                                           Oh look.
                                                           Bailey is in the middle again.