Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ten Years Ago

Ten years ago, when our sweet baby Samantha was almost one year old, I had a moment I will always remember. It was the moment that David and I looked at each other, without words, and wondered simultaneously…why didn’t Samantha hear that? It was a very long moment. I can still feel that moment.

Ten years ago we scheduled an appointment to have her hearing checked - just to put our minds at ease. They had performed the normal hearing test at the hospital shortly after Samantha was born. I just wanted them to tell me one more time that everything was fine. I wanted them to tell me that we were unnecessarily concerned. I wanted them to look at me like I was wasting their time. I wanted them to think, “She’s a new mother.”

Ten years ago I was sat down in a little office and was told that my baby girl was profoundly deaf. I was told that she would never hear and might never learn to speak. When I asked what we could do – there had to be something - they looked at me with their sad, serious faces and shook their heads.  I remember it was hard to breathe.

Ten years ago we realized that Samantha hadn’t heard anything - ever. Her world was completely silent. She hadn’t heard Raffi sing about the zoo. She hadn’t heard Goodnight Moon even though it had been read to her more than 100 times. She didn’t know the sounds of birds, or doorbells, or laughter.

Ten years ago we started praying (begging really) for God to guide us – to please help us. We prayed morning, noon, and night – and middle of the night.

Ten years ago we bought our first sign language dictionary, started taking sign language classes, and began working with a teacher for the deaf. David would work all day, go to graduate school at night, and do sign language lessons at night. We learned to sing the Itsy Bitsy Spider and all of the other childhood classics in sign language. We started reading books on the floor facing each other, with the book on the floor as we told the story with our hands. Every little thing we did was a lesson – for all of us.

Ten years ago we began our travels to the University of Iowa to meet with Dr. Bruce Gantz and his staff, where Samantha received her first cochlear implant. It was 10 years ago TODAY that Samantha heard sound for the very first time. It was one of the most stressful and intense days of my life. Would it work? Had we made the right choice? Was it the choice that she would want us to make? When she was older, would she understand how difficult it was to make this kind of a decision?

Ten years seems like forever ago. If I could have only seen a little glimpse of what this precious child would be like today – a cheerful, resilient, tender-hearted, inspiring young lady – I wouldn’t have wasted a minute on worry. I wouldn’t have shed a tear. My heart would have been full with joy.

Ten years ago, who would have known that right now she’d be standing on the sidewalk, chatting with the neighborhood kids, talking about how she loves Justin Bieber’s new song! Thank you Jesus!

Thanks to all of the great people that have been a part of
 our past 10 years:
Our wonderful families & our awesome friends
The remarkable team at the Northern Trails AEA
Dr. Bruce Gantz and his staff at the University of Iowa
The Moog Center for Deaf Education

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Special Delivery

Thanks to the Joyner family of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, we will be sending another little care package to our sweet little boy while he waits for his family to arrive. This time we've included a little coloring book and markers, some Tic-Tacs, a new toothbrush, a spiky blue ball that glows when it is bounced, some punch balls to share with friends, and a ridiculous wind-up gorilla that does back-flips. In the monthly update we received at the end of August, we learned that our boy loves to play soccer - no surprise - and we thought he might really enjoy a new t-shirt with a smokin' soccer ball on the front.

Thanks Kyle and Jeanine!! We will be praying for your family and look forward to following your story.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Rain Delay

As often is the case in the adoption process, we are in another stage of waiting. Only this time we are waiting on the rainy season, a season in Addis Ababa (the capital city of Ethiopia) during which the roads become so muddy and impassable that the government closes it's offices for six weeks. Can you imagine? Our next step is to travel to Ethiopia for our court appointment. Since the closures went into effect August 6 and they will not re-open until September 27, we will simply wait until the sun starts shining again and we receive notice of our court date.

Yesterday, we had a very sunny moment in our wait. We received an e-mail and pictures from the Rogers family of Wyoming who delivered our care package. I am so very grateful to this family. Andrea Rogers was thoughtful enough to describe some of the details from the time they spent with our little boy. She described him as quiet and shy, but with a sweet smile and very excited to be getting a package. She explained how he looked at the pictures we sent in a little album over and over and really studied each one. She commented on which pictures he enjoyed the most and how the picture of our dog, Gracie, made him laugh. She explained how he lined up the little rubber frogs on the couch and counted them, and shared his gummy bears with a friend. They helped him put his St. Louis Cardinal's t-shirt on and said that he looked proud. In addition, they took pictures of him enjoying his little gifts, which I sadly cannot share until after we pass court.

When all you have is a referral photo and a brief medical history, these small details are precious. I look forward to being able to pass this favor on to other waiting families when we are finally ready to travel.

It was 10:30 p.m. when we received the e-mail from Andrea and we were already in bed. When I heard the alert on my phone that I was receiving an incoming message, I just had to check it (because I am an addict). I read the message to Dave and we both smiled and let out a happy sigh. Then I asked, "Do you want me to read it again?" to which he responded, "Yeah, I do." I lay in bed that night thinking how funny it felt to be falling asleep with such a big smile on my face.