Adopting a child won't change the world, but for that child their world will change.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

One month as a Sanders

Tomorrow marks one month since Mason's gotcha day.  Where has the time gone?  

It is so hard to believe that it has only been one month as it seems like he has always been here, but on the other hand time has flown so fast that it has already been a month since we were in China meeting him for the first time.  Does that statement makes any sense!?!

What a blessing Mason has been.  He is so full of life and ENERGY!  To look at him you would never guess that he has a complex heart defect.  Especially when he is jumping off of the coffee table or hanging by one arm on the monkey bars or sliding down the stairs head first.  This boy is ALL boy.  The boy with million dollar smile :)

Jayden has become his best friend and they hate to be apart.  Today was only the second time they have been apart since Mason became a part of our family and several times Mason kept asking for Jayden.  He also had to get stickers from the nurse to take home to Jayden.    

Today we went to see the Cardiology doctor at Children's Mercy Hospital.  We had to wait until today because about the time we got home Dr. Kaine went on vacation and he is supposed to be the best so we wanted to see him.  He also is the doctor that we have consulted with since October of last year when we first learned about Mason.  We first met with the nurse who did weight, height, blood pressure and checked the oxygen levels in his blood.  I was very curious about this last one and his O2 levels in his blood was 81%.  It should be between 96-98%.  This is why his lips turn slightly blue when he has been playing alot and he has some shortness of breath

He also had an EKG done and an echocardiogram.  He was such a trooper for the echocardiogram.  He had to lay still for almost 30 minutes while they took an ultrasound of his heart from three different the bottom of his sternum, over his heart and then at the base of his neck.  Just as soon as she was done he wanted the yucky gel wiped off and when she missed a spot he let her know by pointing it out. 

All of that took about an hour and half.  We then waited for the doctor to look everything over and then meet with us to formulate a plan.  This is what he told us...if I can get it all right.  

Normal hearts have four chambers...Mason's has two.  We already knew this.  He said many kids with this defect have the problem of too much blood to the lungs and not enough to the rest of the body causing damage to other organs in the body.  He has pulmonary stenosis, a narrowing of the vessel in the lungs which has restricted the amount of blood flow to the lungs and forced the blood to the other areas of his body.  Blessing number one!  

The doctor also said that many times kids with this defect have problems with their heart valves being weaker and allowing blood to back flow causing pressure problems.  Mason's valves are very strong and working properly.  Blessing number two!  

Dr. Kaine then told us that the Glenn shunt that was done in China looked great and was functioning very well.  Blessing number three!
He does have a small heart murmur and the oxygenated blood is still mixing with the non-oxygenated blood which is why his O2 levels are running lower then they should.  The final repair that Mason needs to have will correct this last problem.

Dr. Kaine said that because Mason's heart looks so good considering how complex his defect is 
that we do not have to have his final open heart surgery until next April.  Wow!  Blessing number four!!  

When we got Mason's file back in October of 2012, his file said his heart was unrepaired.  I think this scared away many potential families.  Even our China coordinator asked us if we were sure we wanted to move forward with him and that was after we had discovered on our own that he had had the first part of the repair done.

The photo that a wonderful family was able to get for us last fall
before we committed to adopting Mason.  If you look closely
you can see the scar on his chest confirming to us that he had
had open heart surgery done in China.
We are so thankful that we listened to God and moved out in faith to adopt this beautiful, energetic, smart little boy. 

We are currently waiting for a call to schedule a heart catheterization some time this next month.  This will give the doctors a detailed look at Mason's heart anatomy.  The cardiac team will then discuss his case and unless they find something unexpected we are planning surgery for April or May of next year.  This is such great news for us as we will now have more time to continue to bond with Mason.  We are also getting ready to go into a very busy time for our family.  Seth has already started soccer practice four times a week and Samantha will be starting volleyball practice on Monday four times a week.  Jayden will be going to kindergarten and we have decided to put Mason into preschool.  He learned so much from the Sunshine Academy in China that we do not want him to lose the English that he has already acquired.  He can write his numbers to 20 and most of his ABC's.   

A big thank you to everyone who has prayed for Mason and our family.  God has truly answered them.  We have been so blessed by these two little guys. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Last day in China July 9, 2013

Our last full day in China started with breakfast in our hotel.  We thought it was going to be the last one as we were leaving the next morning at 6:00 a.m., but we decided to have the driver pick us up at 6:30 a.m. so we could get a good breakfast before the long trip.  

Seth trying to get away from the camera.

The following were taken in the garden at our hotel.  The kids loved feeding the fish.

After breakfast and our last trip to feed the fish, we met our guide and the rest of the families to go to the Pearl Market.  The boys were not impressed, but many of the mamas sure were ;)

Our guide Elvin who said because he was short and there were so many people
 he needed a flag so we would not lose him.

Elvin took many opportunities to speak with Seth.
Elvin told us later that we had a great boy with a good heart.

Seth trying to nonchalantly hide from the camera.

Snack anyone?  There is squid there somewhere.  

The market where the pearl store was located.  Most of the stores were jewelry.

Stringing pearls for a necklace.

The very smart store employees gave all of the kids snacks so they
 would be patient while their mamas shopped more.

Riley liked this car :)

After the pearl market some of the families chose to be dropped off at Shamian Island to do more shopping. We had already been there twice and it was really, really hot and humid.  Probably one of the worst days since we had been in China so we chose to go back to the hotel to start packing and eat some lunch.

We also met our guide Elvin in the lobby of the hotel at 3:30 to get the long awaited U.S. visa so we could bring Mason home with us.  One of the families we had spent our entire time with left for Hong Kong shortly after that.  The other family and us had decided to stay one more night and leave early in the morning.  We made one last trip to the Trust Mart to get a few snacks and a few more packages of Seth's beloved chicken feet.  

We then met Brooke and Mason's best buddy Bao Sha Hao for our last dinner at Subway. It was a bit difficult to watch them hug each other for the last time...a least for a while.  They have been like brothers for a long time, but they live in Wisconsin and we are in Missouri and we have already talked about getting the boys together hopefully some time next year.

The night time view from our hotel room.

We were ready to come home, but it was bittersweet. We now have three kids from China and one from Taiwan.  We obviously love the Asian culture, but we missed our family back home.  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

One week home

We have been home almost a week.  The first morning Mason was very subdued and was taking everything in.  He snuggled with papa for a while and was not interested in eating.  He really had not eaten much since we left China so I was starting to get a little concerned, but he sure has made up for that.  He is eating all of the time.  The first day we found out he is TERRIFIED of the cats and the dog.  We have three inside cats and one dog that is inside at night and outside during the day.  The first couple of days we were constantly juggling the animals because every time he would one he would literally shriek, run behind the nearest person and continue screaming.   We are now to the point where he takes a very wide berth around the cats and he makes sure I lock them in the basement at night time before bed.  The first couple of nights one of the cats wandered in the boys room when we first laid them down and he was hysterical and had to sleep in our room.  Last night he finally slept most of the night only waking up once.  Jayden and Mason's room has two twin beds and a toddler bed that Jayden used when he first came home last year.  We thought we would give Mason a choice of which bed he wanted and he chose the toddler bed because it was most like what he had in China.  Because there is an extra bed in their room, Sami or I have taken turns sleeping in there.   Mason has told Seth in Chinese that he is scared so by doing this he has felt more secure and is transitioning from China time to U.S. time very quickly.  Jayden struggled for a much longer time even though he had the toddler bed in our room for several months.  

In China Mason told Seth he did not like sisters, but as you can see he is loving Samantha and he and Maylin love to color together so sisters must not be too bad.  

This was the look he had on his face most of the time, but
when asked if he wanted to get out he would say "NO".

Mason, Jayden and my niece Katelynn all eating noodles for lunch.

Mason is playing well with all of his siblings, sleeping well and eating well.  He is starting to let us cuddle him more and is starting to return kisses and a few I love you's.  Jayden had lived with a foster family so he knew about the mechanics of a family.  Mason lived in the orphanage.  Most of the time we were in China, he would go to Seth because he could talk to him.  Mason learned very quickly that mom and dad could not speak Chinese so it was much easier to get what he wanted from big brother.  Mason still loves to talk Seth's ear off, but now he will go to mama when he wants something.  He uses a lot of sign language type communication and he is picking up many words already.  I attribute most of it to his wonderful English teachers at the Sunshine Academy where he went to school.  He can count to 20 in English and imagine our surprise when he started singing the clean up song while picking up toys.  He is a very bright little boy and once we get this surgery behind us nothing can stop him.  We have been so very blessed :)

Our trip home...

This week I am going to work on getting the blog caught up.  I just did not have the energy to work on it between the dizziness and the lack of sleep. 

Wednesday, July 10th we left our hotel in Guangzhou at 6:30 a.m. via a rented van for the Hong Kong Airport.  The last time we were in Guangzhou we chose this route and it worked great.  We were going to leave at 6:00 a.m., but we found out the breakfast buffet in our hotel opened at 6:00 and we had already paid for it so we decided to stay and eat.  We were on the road by 6:25 a.m.  I am not sure how much Mason understood, but he knew that his time was coming to get on the airplane.  Seth of course had told him, but he was very excited about this prospect.  Over the last week he had been with us any time he saw a picture of a plane he would get so excited and show me.  Pretty soon he was even saying "airplane". 

On the drive to the Hong Kong we pass by the exit to go to Mason' orphanage which we chose not to visit due to the expense.

I borrowed this photo from my friend Brooke who adopted Mason's best friend. Our camera got packed in
the back of the car with the rest of the luggage.

 Once we got almost to the Hong Kong border we pulled over and our driver made a phone call.  Pretty soon we were having to switch cars.  The first driver was licensed to drive in China, the second driver in Hong Kong.  Then we were taken to the Hong Kong immigration where we had to get out of the car and go get in line with everyone else trying to get to Hong Kong.  Richard was starting to stress a bit because we did not have to do this last time.  People kept trying to  go past us in line which is fairly common in China anyways, but he was not putting up with it this time.  He made sure that all of us were blocking the ladies that kept trying to go on past us.  We got through immigration in about 15 minutes and got back in the van.  Then we still had to stop at the border and have our passports checked again.  Last time the only thing we had to do was have our passports checked at the border so all of this was taking up time we did not feel we had.  

We got to the Hong Kong Airport at 9:30 a.m. and our flight was leaving at 11:30 a.m.  That gave us two hours to get our boarding passes and take the train to our gate.  Let me just say the HK airport is huge and there were so many people.  By the time we got our boarding passes, checked our luggage, went through security and at least 2-3 other checkpoints where we had to show our passports and boarding passes, we made it with no time to spare.  We walked up to our gate and right onto the plane.  We were boarding group three and they were already boarding group four.  We cut it a little close this time.  We found our seats which were at the back of the plane.  We had row 57 which was three seats from the window to the aisle and row 56 directly in front of row 57.  We were seat swapping the whole 12 hours.  I think the only one who stayed in his seat the whole time was Seth.  

Bored already and we had not even taken off ;)

Seth hates to get his picture taken so dad had to snap this one quick!

Mason loved the headphones.  I think he had them on for
at least half of  the  12+ hour trip.

Jayden would lean his head back to keep the headphones on his  skinny little head.



Above are views from the plane of Hong Kong.  So beautiful...

The flight was pretty uneventful except for Mason locking himself in the bathroom.  We asked Riley to take him and explained that Mason could do it by himself, he just needed to stand by the door.  We should have explained leaving the door cracked.  Mason shut the door and locked it, but then could not get it unlocked so he started freaking out and screaming.  The flight attendant who was not fast at all had to come and unlock the door for him.  He calmed down very quickly and went back to doing his sticker book.  Mason loved flying and would sit and look out the window being very quiet and still.  Both of the little boys slept some...about 4-5 hours out of the 12+.  The big boys just a few hours.  Richard and I less than two I believe.  There is just no comfortable position when you are sitting up.  I just wanted to add here that when we landed we were on the runway next to where the Asiana flight had crashed and we could see the burned up plane.  It was quite a somber experience.  Our plane had many students that were traveling to the U.S. for some reason or another.  I would imaging it was very difficult for their parents to put them on a plane going to the same airport where a plane had crashed just days before full of Chinese students.  

We got to San Francisco at 9:15 a.m.  We immediately headed for immigration.  Once Mason's paperwork was processed, he was automatically a U.S. citizen.  They processed all of the rest of our passports and then informed us we would have to go to a different line to process Mason's.  This was different then the last two adoptions as they just did it all in the same line.  We had already stood in a long line once and now they were asking us to go stand in another long line which really was not too big of a problem since we had a ten hour layover!  When we booked our flights we did not have many options so we took the itinerary with the least amount of stops.  I neglected to read that we had a ten hour layover.  Our travel agent said she could not change it for us and that we should check with United once we got to San Francisco.  We missed the early flight by 30 minutes.  So we found a quiet corner and settled in.  We had about $30 to our name so we left the big boys to watch our stuff and took the little boys with us to find food options for the day.  All of the restaurants inside of security were very expensive...$10 for a small sandwich.  So about lunch time, Richard left the secured area and went to Subway.  He then had to go back through security, but it was worth it because he got footlong sandwiches for only $1 more than what we usually have to pay.  Jayden, Riley and Richard all got pretty good naps while we waited.  Seth slept maybe an hour and Mason 20 minutes.  Everytime he would see an airplane take off he would get so excited so he was having a terrible time settling down. About an hour before we should have been boarding our plane, our flight status changed...instead of our flight leaving at 7:45 p.m. it changed to leaving at 11:35 p.m.  Needless to say none of us were happy about that prospect.  Richard went to figure out what was going on.  He was told that because the one runway was still shutdown due to the plane crash that every day about that time the flights got way behind.  I think it also had something to do with many of the families were allowed to go and visit the crash site that day so that had to have slowed things down.  I contacted my friend Michelle as well as our daughter Samantha and told them what was going on and to please pray.  We were so exhausted and had already been traveling for 27.5 hours.  We needed to be home in our beds.  We then watched a flight bound for Vancouver load and then sit at the gate and wait and wait.  Pretty soon there were four men standing by one of the engines doing something.  They worked on it for a while. About this time Richard gets up to check the board again because they kept changing our gate location so we were preparing to move to the new gate.  He comes back all excited that our flight is now leaving at 8:12 p.m. only 30 minutes past the original time.  Seth and I had been watching videos on his computer about flash flooding in China that had recently happened.  He laid his head on my shoulder in relief because he being the most patient one was even at his limit.  So as we began to prepare to board our plane the Vancouver flight was unloading all of their passengers because obviously there was something not right with their plane.  
The flight from San Francisco to Kansas City was a little over three hours and the boys slept almost the entire time.  We landed at 2:00 a.m. and Samantha and our daughter-in-law Milana were waiting for us.  Richard did not get any pictures.  We were not thinking very clearly at that point after 30+ hours of traveling and only a few hours of sleep.  Let me just say the reunion between Samantha and Jayden was sweet.  Sami has a very special bond with her little brothers.  The whole time we were gone Jayden wanted to call "Antha" and could not understand how we were awake and she was asleep.  We got home about 3:30 a.m. and threw several comforters on the floor in our room for the boys to sleep on.  Jayden begged Sami to sleep with him.  We were all asleep by 4 and slept until 1:00 p.m.  

I have never been so tired in my entire life, but God is good.  He gave us the endurance to get home and not be grumpy with each other.  Thank you for all of the prayers.