Thursday, December 26, 2013

Naya's First Christmas

Christmas was awesome.  Look at this beautiful kid-- I am so fortunate to be the person she calls mama.

Christmas Eve was the regular craziness with about 40 family members, lots of food and wine, singing Christmas songs and opening presents. As we sang she danced around in the middle of our circle with a toy microphone and some jingle bells.  She's so clearly at home and in love with my family.

Our family has grown by 2 this year!
The Insanity
And with a kid in the house there's no more sleeping in until 10 on Christmas morning.  She came downstairs to stuffed stockings general christmas spirit.  It was so sweet to see how excited she was to give each of us the presents she'd made, and so fun to watch her open hers! An awesome new experience for me.  
Christmas morning
My 2 girlies
It's very interesting to see how a 5 year old can start grasping these abstract ideas about Christmas and Jesus and God.  Mostly though she was obviously just having a blast with all her family and cousins, presents and Christmas cookies.


In other news-- Naya's Fontan heart surgery is scheduled for February 19th, and I'd love your prayers for a smooth surgery and recovery.  She will be in the ICU at Rady's Children's Hospital for 2-4 weeks.  So any ideas on keeping a bed-bound child entertained would be much appreciated! 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Garden Gnomes & Doctor Visits

I wondered what Naya would think of seeing people walking the streets in costume. It's funny when you realize how hard it is to explain American events to someone who has no idea about them. It makes us sound a little insane. "Yes, I'm going to dress you up in a costume, and you'll walk around on the streets asking for candy. And then next month we're going to bring a tree into our house and put shiny things all over it, and stick socks that are too big for anyone to the wall." In any case she really had fun going to a church harvest festival, and going to get candy from a couple people in the neighborhood. And I had to dress up as a peacock too....I usually start planning my costume a year in advance, I just love dressing up. I can't stop.

Doctor Stuff.
After another echocardiogram and cardiac catheterization, I met with Naya's cardiac surgeon at Rady's last month. We discussed the conclusions their team has come to, and all the risks and benefits of several possibilities for me to consider. Her diagnosis is mitral atresia with double outlet right ventricle, moderately hypoplastic left ventricle, with multiple ventricular septal defects.  A mouthful of words that I've slowly figured out the meaning of. 

The doctors have decided that she will have one surgery, a Fontan, versus breaking it into two separate surgeries with the same outcome.  The question is when.  At the moment Naya's heart is pumping twice as hard as a healthy heart, because one ventricle (versus 2) is pumping to both the lungs and the body.  So while she doesn't have any other symptoms, and seems generally healthy, the work load will take a toll on her heart over time.  If we wait, it may wear her heart out.  

The downside of performing the surgery now is that as it is not a long term 'fix' for her condition, it brings along eventual side effects, needs for medication, and other potential serious problems.  It sucks to start the clock on those things, when she's living as such a healthy child right now.

What it comes down to is no obvious right answer, but it seems that the best choice is for her to have her surgery in the near future, and take the work load off of her heart.  We're going to talk again after the holidays, but are tentatively planning for her open heart surgery in February of 2014.

So please keep Naya, her doctors, and myself in your prayers for wisdom and direction.  It can be hard to think about the difficulties she may have ahead of her, but God has truly given me a peace, and a belief that she is going to be okay. For a long, long time. 

I'm claiming this one for Naya,
"Because you love me, I will rescue you.
    I will protect you because you know my name.
When you call to me, I will answer you.
    I will be with you when you are in trouble.
    I will save you and honor you.
I will satisfy you with a long life.
    I will show you how I will save you."
Psalm 91:14-16

And now, a moment of silence for my high heels of Halloween costumes past. This was my first year for felt like somewhat of a betrayal to who I am.  But to be honest it is probably time, I abused my feet for the last 15 years, and they deserve a retirement.

Monday, September 9, 2013

5 Years Old!

Naya's first birthday with her family went amazingly.  She had so much fun... she'd been anticipating it for a while now so I'm thankful that it seemed to live up to her expectations!  She knew her friends would be coming to sing to her and play (and bring her presents!).  It was pretty amazing to see the joy all over her face as almost 40 people sang Happy Birthday to her.  I don't think we'll be having this big of a bash every year, for my sanity's sake, but for her first celebrated birthday I wanted her to see the huge love that surrounds her, and make it memorable.

A year ago today I ate some cake for Naya's fourth birthday, and knew that it would be her last one alone.  (  It's pretty amazing to see how life has changed in the last year for both of us.

Thanks to all of you who helped make this day special for her.
(Photos by Auntie Rose)

Dinner at Red Robin today!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

6 Months Home!

Naya and I have been together 6 months today! Half a year. She’s two inches taller, and is quickly approaching her 5th birthday in September, which she brings up quite regularly.

My family and I have found ourselves wondering how pre-Naya life was ever a reality. She’s captured all of our hearts with her kisses, and her attempts to open her mouth wide enough to pretend she’s eating our faces or arms. I’m so thankful with how seamlessly she has transitioned. There have been some hard adjustments here and there, but I know it could be SO MUCH harder. In my adoption books, classes and community I have heard stories of the severe daily trials that some adoptive children and families face, and I did my best to prepare for that. But Naya has shown amazing resilience, a joyful disposition, and an overall emotional health that I am so thankful for.

She had dance moves that I was entirely unaware of until my cousin JR & Becca's wedding in Florida last month, which you can enjoy here:

In the next couple months Naya’s heart will be re-evaluated by the doctors here in San Diego and we will make plans for her future surgery. I have been able to personally consult with the top pediatric cardiac surgeons around the country, and feel much better prepared to decide on a plan with the doctors here at Rady Children’s Hospital. My friends who have been in my shoes before me have been such a help to me; figuring out how to get second opinions, how to search out the best surgeons and hospitals, and how to handle it all in my head & heart. The emotional and prayer support of my closest friends and family, as well as many people I have never met, has meant the WORLD to me and given me the strength and confidence to face our future trials head on and have faith that there are good things ahead.

My cousin Jenna is an amazing photographer ( and she took some awesome pictures of Naya and I, I have a hard time picking my favorites!

On a Jesus-stuff note, my sister Rose posted this song on her blog, and I will steal it and share, because it’s words have been resonating in my heart whenever I hear it.

“Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger”

'Deeper than my feet could ever wander’ feels very familiar.  My feet would not have wandered into motherhood, single motherhood, or mothering a child with a potentially terminal medical condition. But I'm here! And I have joy and growing faith, and I know it’s because God changed my heart and brought me here, so I’ll pray he continues to lead me to the places I wouldn't have taken myself.

So I will call upon Your Name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine”

The line ‘keep my eyes above the waves’ is such a great visual for me, to me to stay strong and take heart when the waters get rough. There’s been a lot of calling on Jesus’ name and asking for help in the last 6 months. And I'm so thankful that I can rest in his embrace. But I do have to keep reminding myself of that awesome option!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mother's Day, and the Move

My first mother's day was great. I got to spend it with my mom AND my daughter, and the rest of the family too.

In other news, Naya and I are moving our mini-family to wine country! Also known as my parent's house in Temecula... :) 

My mom and dad had generously offered this to us in the past, and while I appreciated the offer, it was certainly not a part of my Wonder-Woman-Single-Mother plan. However, after some time back at work and long days of daycare for Naya, it became clear that I should quickly grab this opportunity that I have been offered to make the quality of our daily lives better.

Soooo yes, I am now a 36 year old single mother living at my parent's house. But one thing I'm learning as a parent is that what matters is not what society sees or expects of you, but what you find God directs you to and gives you peace about. And when I started the process of adoption, I fully believed that whatever changes or challenges were to come my way, it would be entirely worth it to bring a child to a life where she is loved and taken care of.

As it turns out it does 'take a village', and I'm SO THANKFUL to each of you who are part of Naya's village. I have been regularly overwhelmed by the love and tangible support that has been given to us by my church family, my friends, my family, and now in a way more than I would have asked for, my parents.

God continues to step in where I am lacking and where things are hard for me. He takes my burdens on his shoulders, and shows me a better way. I'm excited to see what's next.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Hi-ho, hi-ho

It's back to work I go. And to pre-school for Naya.  It's hard to imagine it's actually been three months that we've spent together already.  Though with the roller coaster of emotions and experiences we've already been through,  it also kind of feels like I've always known her.

Here's a little video of clips that I've been meaning to put together since we got home from China:

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Some extra time to wait and see

I had a nice long talk with one of the cardiac surgeons at Rady's yesterday, about their current plans for Naya.  After more study of the cardiac catheterization results, they've decided the best plan is to wait 6 months and then re-evaluate.  It turns out the blood pressure in her lungs IS a little higher than they would like to operate.  The doctor's hope is that in  6 months or a year Naya will grow, tightening the band on her pulmonary artery, and creating a better environment in there to do the surgery they want to do.  Thanks to God her lungs do not appear to have damage.
I'm really glad to have more time to get second opinions from some other amazing hospitals, and to give Naya some more time to adjust to her new life before having to deal with open heart surgery.
I was also encouraged by the surgeons outlook on the surgery that Naya would be getting here at Rady's.  He thinks that the Fontan surgery could maintain for quite a bit longer than 10 or 15 years.  And as my cardiologist said, there are things in research now that could be ready in 15-20 years to help people that would be in her position at that point.  So that was good to hear.

So the next 6 months we should be able to mostly steer clear of the cardiology department, and then she'll have another cardiac cath to see how things are going. So pray for her to get bigger and her pulmonary blood pressure to go down.  And I'm adding on a perfectly functioning heart to my prayer list as well. :)  I'm also praying for wisdom for the doctors we get second opinions from, and for me to know the best way to proceed once I find out what those opinions are.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Cardiac Catheterization

Today is over, and we ended up not having to sleep over at the hospital, so all of us are happy about that!

The good news gathered from today's procedure is that the blood pressure in her lungs is not too high to move forward with surgeries.  If she'd had Pulmonary Hypertension, that would have presented a lot more barriers that could keep us from getting to a good place for her to be able to handle surgery.  So I'm thanking God for that answered prayer.

The doctors still don't think that it will be possible to make her left ventricle usable.  So that means they'll probably want to move forward with their initial plan of doing a Bi-directional Glen and Fontan surgery(ies).  The diagnosis they're giving to her condition for now is Double Outlet Right Ventricle with Mitral Atresia, which from what I understand could also be called Hypo Plastic Left Heart Syndrome.

Ideally I would love to find a hospital that believes she's a candidate for a bi-ventricle repair, because staying single ventricle would not make for a long lifespan for her heart.  The doctors at Rady's don't think that could be done.  But I'm hoping for the best with second opinions, which I'll be moving forward to gather asap, as the doctors at Rady's would like to operate in the next couple weeks or months.

Keep the prayers coming, today included a large victory.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Naya's Heart

photo by Stacy DeVries Bostrom

Naya and I have been home a little over a month now. It's been a heck of a month.

I'm thankful for so many things.  My mother, father and sister for giving of a LOT of their time to be with Naya and I, helping me as I learn how to be a mother.  My friends and family for their encouragement and honesty regarding how unnerving and difficult it really is to make that transition from a life about caring for ME to a life about caring for US.  My close friends that are making that effort to meet me where I'm at and even travel to be able to spend time with me/now us.  My employer for being so supportive and flexible for family and bonding time.  My puppy Lailu, for seeming to understand that I want to give her more attention but still need a little time to figure out how to balance everything.  Naya, for her love, patience, great temperament and amazing ability to adapt.  And to God for pulling me up out of each low point I've encountered. 

Last week had some hard news.  When I first had Naya's medical file from China reviewed last year, it appeared that she would need some serious heart surgeries, but that her heart was repairable and she should be pretty good to go after the issues were taken care of in surgery.
Last Monday at her cardiology appointment I learned that is not the case.  The details are still a little blurry to my scientifically-illiterate mind, but basically there is not a way to fix her heart long term.  This doctor has a plan for two surgeries that will get her heart to the place where it should be able to function well for 10-15 years. At that point he hopes there will be medical advances made that will create more options for her than a heart transplant.  Otherwise he said that people in her condition that get the surgeries he's suggesting would typically live into their 20's and 30's.

So of course that is scary and heartbreaking.  One moment you see this child and her unlimited future, the next you're wondering how many years you have left with her.  

That was a week ago today.  My heart and mind have been so encouraged by the words of friends and family that have a feeling of certainty that she is going to pull through this.  The immediate response of prayers has meant the most to me.  I do believe that they change things.  So I'm asking each of you who pray to please commit to praying for Naya's heart.

"And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up" James 5:15

I know God has a plan for Naya's future.  And I pray that includes health and long, long time here on the earth, and that her very life will be an example of God's faithfulness.  Her story this far has been a miracle to me, and I believe it will continue to be. 

We'll be overnight in the hospital next Monday for a cardiac catheterization.  That will determine whether she is in a position to move forward with the first surgery the doctor suggests.  At that point I will be looking to get second opinions from some of the top pediatric cardiologists in the country, and we will see if other options present themselves.

Here's a couple of my favorite pictures from this month, as Naya and I have grown to know and love each other more.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Home Sweet Home

~Goodbye China~
We're back in the USA. Very happily.  Due to snow in China and Korea, the return trip ended up taking about 40 hours. But it almost became an extra 24 hours plus a side trip to Japan, so I'm thankful to have been home for 24 hours instead!! Naya & I are chilling at the parents' for a day or two, then my mom is going to spend the rest of the week helping us settling in to my place, which will be great.

Welcomed at LAX
So far Naya is doing awesome.  She's been through so much in the last 2 weeks and it's amazing how resilient and adaptable she is.  She did seem to be terrified of baths, car seats and Lailu, but the latter 2 are quickly getting resolved thank God.


I'm hoping to slowly introduce her to my friends and family as we get to know each other over the next couple months.  So many of you are a part of her story and I can't wait for her to meet you all!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My Daughter

She is so darn cute. She is shy and pensive sometimes, spunky and a jokester at others. She has this look on her face when she's starting to smile but trying not to that is hilariously adorable.  She's insistent and careful, joyful and reserved. 

Today I officially became Naya's mother.

I'm a mom & she's a daughter!
So thankful for Ruth & Melissa & Rose to have here to share this moment with us.

Yesterday was the day we met and I took her into my life.  She's been in my heart for a while now but it's so amazing to have her here laying beside me as she sleeps and know she is mine.  

Our first moments together she was super shy
I'm so blessed with this beauty.
A little smile spread across her face when she saw her face in my locket.

The morning went amazingly.  The afternoon was hard.  She is mourning and misses her nanny.  She's old enough to realize that this is going to mean leaving all she knows behind.  Even when what you know may not be that great, change is hard.  I look forward to the point that she can smile and laugh all day long, content in her new life. 

Supposed to be napping with Auntie Rose
Snowy, cold & beautiful

Playing hard to get with Aunt Emmy and the water cup
I have no doubt we are going to have a million adventures together.  I love you child!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Almost Home...


I've been dying of impatience the last week.  If you know me, you know I like to have things in order and progressing quickly!  And I've had to just sit here on my hands and wait.  I'll know in the next couple days if I get the Consulate Appointment I requested, and if I do I am leaving for China the 18th and going to get my little girl on January 21st!!

Meanwhile, I guess I haven't exactly been sitting on my hands. I've re-vamped my condo to be child friendly.  Naya's 'room' is ready.  I'm going with pink and colors and elephants.

I had two beautiful showers given to me in Seattle (Thank you Ryan, Kristy, Nicole, Dede, Sarah & Lisa too!!) and San Diego (Thank you Mom, Sianne, Rose, Melissa, Christi, Jenna, & Jessica!!). It's such an overwhelming experience, having everyone there for you, bring gifts to you, loving YOU. It was really remarkable to be given that.

So the clothes are washed and hung, and the toys and books are on the shelves.  All that's missing is this cute face, which I'm about to bring home!