Saturday, September 19, 2015

I Can Do All Things

"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."
Philippians 4:13

As you all know, Hannah was born with a cleft lip and palate.  Many of you may not be aware of the long road of speech therapy our girl has ahead of her.  We are talking years of therapy, folks.  This is not a developmental delay that can be overcome in 6 months of twice a month sessions.  No.  This is going to require intense, focused intervention over a long period of time.

In the start of September we finally (hallelujah!!!!) secured Hannah's spot for speech therapy at our local University Hospital.  We had been waiting for a long, long time.  Finally, as I was about to despair, God provided yet again--the perfect time slot and a great day of the week for us. 

During our initial meeting, it really hit me.  Hard.  I knew this speech road was going to be long.  I knew it in my heart and my head, but something about that first session and watching the therapist try to coax Hannah to make various sounds and hearing them all come out of her mouth sounding all the just rattled me a bit.  The road ahead is long.  Really long.  With no end really looming or remotely visible.  But I know several things that keep me grounded.  First, I know my God and I know He's totally into doing big and insurmountable, seemingly impossible things, especially in this little dynamo named Hannah.  He loves her and has so many great things planned for her.  He most certainly won't abandon her as she struggles to find her words.  Second, I know my daughter.  She is a force to be reckoned with and fights with a level of ferocity that can only be borne in a life of struggle.  She has overcome so much, yet still, she finds joy.  She can overcome this.  Last, I know God has equipped me especially to be her mama, to work on finding those sounds at home between sessions, and to advocate for her needs during her sessions. Christ who will give her strength.

Ready to roll!  Let's do this speech thing!
Now comes the part where you get to be involved in this.  Would you join us in praying for Hannah to find her words and the sounds necessary to say them?  Hannah has lived two and a half years without a palate.  Suddenly she now has one and has no clue how to use it.  Would you join us in praying she would leave us in awe in how quickly she realizes that palate is there to be used to make these sounds?  She's got all the equipment necessary to make a chorus of gorgeous English language sounds.  She just didn't get an instruction manual to go along with it, so now we have to teach her how to use it.  Pray for Hannah to have a good connection with her therapist and for their sessions to prove fruitful!  There are also some details I know God is aware of with regard to our current speech therapist that really need fervent prayers.  Would you please pray in earnest that we would know specifically how to navigate this situation?  Pray that I would have the ability to strongly, yet compassionately, advocate for Hannah's specific needs and that we'd stop seeing regression from Hannah as the result of these sessions.  I want so desperately for us to have a healthy and thriving working relationship and be 100% certain my goals are the same as the goals of the therapist.

Phew!  Speech is hard work, folks!
Hannah talks and communicates so much and while I can understand her, I am ever so eager to start hearing words flowing from her mouth that can also be understood by others!  I know the day will come that the words will tumble forth and I know I will rejoice yet again over the work God has done.  Getting there will be hard, but not without the fingerprints of God throughout.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Sweet {Seven Months Home}

Hannah has been a part of our family for seven months.  Seven months!  Remember how I talked about finding the sweet spot at six months?  That everyone told us six months would be a big turning point and things would fall into place?  I said that they were right.  And they were.  Month seven has been by far, the sweetest month we've experienced with Hannah.  Yes, we had major surgery during the seventh month, but you know what?  That didn't seem to hinder us much at all.  She took that surgery by the horns and just conquered it.  She amazed me by her strength and ability to overcome.

I've found month seven to be more joy filled than "hard" filled.  We've had more fun and good than challenge and difficult.  Does that mean things are easy?  We've had less hard, but truth be told, some of the hard we've had has been really, really hard.  Short lived though it may be, still it is hard.  There are things I long to "fix" in her ex-orphan's heart.  She still has deeply rooted fears of abandonment and worries about food.  She's been home seven months and still every night when I tuck her in, she has to ask me when she will get to eat and drink again.  Every....single....night.  And every single night I have to tell her, "Yes!  Hannah will get to eat and drink again at breakfast right when you wake up!"  She asks me this at least three times each night when I tuck her in.  Emotionally, she struggles to regulate her reactions to things and generally overreacts to anything that might be interpreted as slightly negative.  But the good.....oh the good.  I have laughed and giggled more at her antics than I have previously and just found more joy in the personality she adds to our family.  She has laughed and giggled more than she has to date.  She is letting the walls come down.  She is releasing herself from the bondage of fear.  She is figuring out we are really here to stay.  She's not just accepting that she's a Burris now.  She's letting it define her and shape her.  She's letting herself fill the role with gusto and her own spice and flare of personality.  She is not just a temporary addition.  She is a Burris.  And will be for life. 

Seven months.  Seven of the sweetest things:

1.) Conqueror of Fear: Hannah overcame major surgery this month!  She didn't just cope.  She conquered!

2.) Big Girl Bed: Shhhhhh!!!!!  Nobody tell Hannah that she is successfully sleeping all night long in her big girl bed and has been doing so for about the last 10 days!  This is huge and seriously totally unexpected this close to her surgery!  She hasn't been able to successfully do this since her lip repair occurred in April!

3.) Silly Sister: Sibling relationships are starting to bloom!  Including those we once though would never happen.  Everyone is finding joy (and frustration, like normal siblings) in their relationship with Hannah these days!

4.) Dearest Daughter to Daddy: This girl?  The one who wouldn't go near Baba?  The one who screamed and could barely take a goldfish cracker from her Daddy's hands?  Yeah....that girl.  We don't know who she is anymore.  Our girl?  She cried when Daddy went to work the other day and asks multiple time to "go with you" when Daddy leaves the house these days.  Her favorite pastime?  Riding like a maniac atop Daddy's shoulders.

5.) Fluent with a Frenzy:  This girlie is 100% fluent in English.  She gets it.  All of it.  And she speaks it.  The trick is to understand it.  Speech therapy is finally underway!!  She talks and tells many a tale!

6.) Passionate with a Purpose: She....does...not...back....down if she thinks she is right.  This girl has spunk and passion.  This month we are really working on harnessing the passion and displaying it appropriately.

7.) Smart as a Whip: She is smart.  Super smart.  Unbelievably smart when you take into consideration her history, that English is her third language, and that she's experienced some major amounts of trauma in her short life.  Tomorrow, we will also celebrate Hannah's half birthday.  She'll be two and a half and so advanced for her age--well beyond what we had prepared ourselves for and the delays common to the majority of ex-orphans.

Seven has been so sweet.  I cannot wait for eight!  On deck for  the eighth month?  Big girl panties  and starting to separate a little from mom and dad to stay with other caregivers!  It is going to be a big month!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

One Year Since....

My memories of this day are so vivid.  So incredibly vivid.  It was a three day whirlwind.  It has been one year since this:
...the first time we laid eyes on her.  And in that instant, in my mother's heart, she became this:
....beloved daughter, sister, granddaughter, and niece.

I am so thankful for that September day that "the call" came and her life began the journey of knitting into ours.  Two days later we submitted our LOI (Letter of Intent) to adopt Lin Chen Zhen of the People's Republic of China.  She became orphan no more and began her transformation.

Hannah, on that day you became One Less orphan in the world.  To us, you became One More precious child to love, cherish, and raise.  Praise God for His perfect plans through adoption.

I will never forget the day that "the call" came and I celebrate His perfect plans and timing in it all.  It is hard to believe it has already been a whole year since we first laid eyes upon your precious face.