Thursday, October 29, 2015

Walking by Faith

Before I begin, I want to say that Derek and I do not normally share our children's "special needs" with everyone, because we feel each child deserves dignity and privacy. However, we are sharing Daniel's story, because we believe God will be glorified in each and every detail. Here is the story God is writing over Daniel:

December 2014

With an estimated 153,000,000 orphans in the world, our hearts were burdened to make another orphan a son or daughter—eventually.

We had been thinking through the finances. It had been a little over a year since we had last adopted from China, so we still had to save additional money for another adoption. Plus, we didn’t have a vehicle to hold a fourth child.

However, our hearts were continually driven to the Internet to look at the orphans available for adoption and to pray for them.

Shortly before Christmas Derek found a little orphan boy on our agency's website, and Derek’s heart was touched. Really touched.

We contacted our adoption agency to see if the boy’s file was available to view. It was. We received the file and went to our pediatrician, Dr. Lazoff, to have him review the file and talk with us about his conclusions. Little guy was diagnosed with “brain damage, malnourishment, and possible heart disease”.

After hearing about the video we had received and viewing all the boy’s documents—including the paper copies of the CT Scans of Daniel’s brain, the doctor said little guy had had severe trauma to his brain from what looked like a neonatal stroke. The diagnosis of "brain damage" was confirmed by the brain scans. The doctor told us with consistent, long-term physical and occupational therapy, little guy would be able to gain full usage of his arms and hands over time, and he would be able to possibly walk by the age of 8 or 9.

We began praying about what God wanted us to do. We felt our hearts telling us to adopt the little boy, but we felt we were not ready financially.

However, last year when Derek was on a short-term trip to China with Show Hope, one of the guys kept saying: “What God orders, He pays for.” Derek knew if it was God’s plan for us to adopt the little boy, the finances would come together.

So, he began thinking of new ways we could cut expenses. He mentioned that if we went forward with the adoption, we would have to let piano and dance lessons go for a while to pay for little guy’s medical needs. At the same time, he was concerned that if we adopted the little boy, the children might over time end up resenting adoption—since they would “lose out” on what they enjoyed.

We went out-of-state that week for Christmas, driving for two days to get to our destination. We kept praying and praying for clear direction.

We ate most of our meals in the car (sandwiches that I made while Derek drove) in order to save money for our next adoption. However, we decided to pull over at a “random” Chick-fil-A on the second day of travel to get lunch. Derek went up to the counter to order and pay for the meals, while the children and I went to find a table. As Derek was pulling out his wallet to pay, a woman popped around to his side and handed the cashier a credit card. She insisted she was going to pay for the meals. In return she invited us to her church for a Christmas Eve service. Derek told her we were just passing through the state on our way to visit family, and we wouldn’t be able to attend the service. She still insisted she was paying for our meals. (A few people from the church were there paying for meals for a short period of time and inviting people to their church.)

Out of all the states we traveled through, out of all the restaurants we passed on our two-day journey, out of all the times we could have stopped for a meal, we “happened” to arrive when a few people were at this particular restaurant paying for meals and inviting people to a worship service!

We sat at the table wondering if this was God showing us in a very simple way that He would indeed provide for us if we chose to adopt the little boy.

We arrived at our destination Saturday night and got up the next morning to attend worship services with my brother. During the music, Derek and I wept—especially when the congregation sang, “Jesus Loves Me”! All we could think about were the orphans left lonely in orphanages and how much Jesus loved/loves them.

After the service, the congregation broke up into small groups to discuss the sermon. The discussion was on “Emmanuel: God with us”. My brother asked: “What would life look like if we really believed in ‘Emmanuel: God with us’? How would we live differently if we truly believed that ‘Emmanuel: God with us’ was true every day of the year, not just at Christmas time?”

The only answer Derek and I could think of was: we would live a life walking in complete obedience to the leading of the Savior without calculating the costs. For us, it meant saying “yes” to adopting an orphan—no matter how sick the child was and no matter how the finances looked.

The next day, Derek told me that God kept impressing on him through the night that we were to adopt the little boy as our own; we were only to trust the LORD to take care of all the details. So, we immediately wrote our agency and told them that we would like to make Qiu Lin our son.

Our hearts were overflowing with joy at the fact that we were going to be able to call precious Qiu Lin (Daniel) our son and walk forward leaving the details to our Savior. We could hardly breathe we were so excited!

When we returned home from Christmas vacation, things began to happen—things only God could orchestrate.

On the day of Cherish’s first piano lesson for January, Cherish’s piano teacher refused our check for the month’s lessons. She told us that God had told her to give Cherish lessons for free. She was giving Cherish a full scholarship!

Then, people began initiating help to bring Daniel home!

Families gave beautiful donations for our yard sale, gave of their time to help price, and helped the day of the sale!

Others came up with additional fund-raising ideas—like an online auction and an online Jamberry party—completely initiating and independently running their sales! Many people donated items, purchased the gifts, and then helped with shipping the items!

Also, a little boy—whom we had never met but who had heard that we were adopting—told his parents that he wanted to give his money to bring home an orphan! He gave all of his $15.00! It might as well have been $15,000.00 for a child!

In addition, a great-grandmother—who didn’t know us but heard of our adoption—also gave funds to put toward the purchase a van! Likewise, many others gave so graciously and so generously toward a van!

And, a family offered to cover the cost of Cherish and Hope’s dance classes for the upcoming year! We had told no one about our past concern. We were amazed!

People who knew us and people who didn’t know us began to offer time, energy, donations, and gifts to help an orphan become a son—all without knowing the story behind the adoption! We felt confirmed, surrounded by love, and uplifted with encouragement.

With the help of a huge community, we were able to have enough funds to begin looking for a van.

On an evening when Derek was out looking at vans—just a week before travel approval—his boss called his cell phone to talk with him. She told Derek that his job would be abolished within a week.

Derek was speechless.

Although he knew he was guaranteed a position at the company, to lose the position that he held for so long would result in a pay-cut and would jeopardize the adoption. (At best, it would delay the process of adopting Daniel.)

Again, we prayed and sought wisdom from the LORD. Derek chose to speak with the Assistant Vice-President over his department and to explain to him the importance of his job. He explained that to lose his position now would cause an orphan to remain an orphan longer.

The boss told Derek he would think it over.

Derek was later granted the time he needed to complete the adoption. He was told that the first day he came back to work after returning from China, his position would be abolished at the end of his day, and then he would need to find a new position.

We were so grateful for the additional time to work and to have the opportunity to adopt Daniel!

We purchased a van and prepared to leave for China.

While chatting with a lady about our upcoming trip, she asked specific questions about our travel plans. We explained our plans to take the children—depending on the final costs, because we wanted the children to have a world-view of the desperate need of orphans and to have their hearts touched by the importance of caring for others before themselves.

We purchased our airline tickets and began to pack. Prior to leaving the States, that same lady sent us a surprise check in the mail to cover the entire cost of our adoption travel expenses. We about passed out from shock upon opening the envelope!

We boarded the plane and headed for China. When we arrived in Daniel’s province to pick him up, we were informed that he had earlier been hospitalized with severe jaundice and a brain hemorrhage. We left all the details to the LORD.

We received Daniel, finalized his adoption, and visited his orphanage. While we were at the orphanage, we were able to retrieve the actual CT Scans of his brain to bring home to the States.

Little guy was amazing! Not only was he able to use his arms and hands, he was able to stand! In addition, he could walk with assistance!!!! We were blown away!

We brought Daniel home to the States, and he was assigned to a doctor whose name is Dr. Emanuel! How ironic! Daniel’s story—which begins with “Emmanuel: God with us”—continues with a doctor who will constantly remind us of God’s leading, guidance, and provision.

We gave Dr. Emanuel Daniel’s brain scans, and he noted the severe trauma that had occurred to Daniel’s brain. However, as he looked at Daniel move his hands and legs, he mentioned that it appeared Daniel’s brain may be “healing itself—as baby brains are plastic”.

But, Derek and I know a God Who heals and is willing to heal if He chooses.

If God has chosen to heal Daniel’s brain completely—to Him be the glory! If God has chosen to heal Daniel’s brain partially—to Him be the glory!

Regardless, we love Daniel, and he was meant to be our son! The condition of his health does not make him more or less desirable.

We desire him!
We love him!
He is our beloved son!

We share Daniel’s story because it begins with “Emmanuel: God with us”, is threaded with the hand of God, and continues with “Emmanuel: God is DEFINITELY with us!”

God led us down a path that required complete dependence on Him, and as we walked in obedience to His leading, He repeatedly revealed more and more of His beautiful plan for Daniel and our family. We have been in awe, been filled with happy tears, and been in shock as we have watched His hand at work.

If we had walked away from His tender leading, we would have missed out on such AMAZING blessings, and we would have missed out on such a precious, loving boy.

To Him be the glory!

Pictures we received from the orphanage after we adopted Daniel:

Found after abandonment

At a special orphanage to gain health after his severe illnesses:

Getting well:

"Look! I can use my hands!"

"I can make eye-contact and show emotion!"

"I am full of life!"

"I can stand!"

"I'm learning to walk while pushing a bucket!"

We, as Believers, can always trust that our Savior is:
Emmanuel: God with us!

He is living and active!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Hope's "Gotcha Day" Anniversary

Two years ago today, we were blessed with a little princess: Hope Gracelyn Bollinger. heart emoticon


You are welcome to watch her video HERE.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Recovery and refreshment

So, after my last update, we decided to get out of town to get some time of recovery and refreshment. We drove to my sister's house and checked into her "hospital". (At least that's how it felt!) She and her family took such good care of us!

While we were there, I had my birthday, and this sweet guy below made my day extra special:

(Ain't he HANDSOME?!!!)
He took us out to eat for dinner:
Along with my sister and her hubby:
And their three children:

How wonderful it was celebrating my birthday with family!!!!!

Then, off we went to visit with Derek's dad. He was celebrating his 75th birthday! (How awesome!)

"Pappy" with his posse:
Pappy and Nanny:
The family spent time together in a large cabin in the mountains.
It was great reconnecting with everyone!
75 candles!!!!!!!!

Then, since we were only a short distance away,
we went to visit Derek's Great-Aunt in assisted living:

Then, shortly thereafter, Daniel got to meet another uncle:

What a refreshing time it was being with family and being rejuvenated!

In addition, when we got home, a precious reader of this blog, Becky W., thought we could use diapers, and she gave us a gift of diapers--just the right size! What.a.blessing!!!!! (Dearest Becky, you were right thinking little guy was flying through his diapers! Thank you for the gift of diapers!!! Thank you so much for thinking of Daniel and our family!!!!!!!)

AND, our neighbor, Cheryle, could tell things were not so well with Daniel, so she babysat the other three for a while until I was able to get Daniel's belly feeling better again! What a gift!

We went away feeling like we needed to check ourselves into a hospital--for someone to take care of us, and it turned out, we received that exact treatment! We were cared for so well!

In response to being well cared for, we were able to give Daniel extra attention, and in turn, he truly blossomed! He is now giving Derek and me kisses continually and wanting snuggles throughout the day! We feel like his bonding time has blown all timelines--because others took care of us, and we in turn were able to focus in him! What a blessing! THANK YOU, everyone!!

As a way of an update: Daniel had his GI appointment, and his specialist is having me collect Daniel's stools. I have about 3 more days to collect before we'll have any answers. The doctor said that the tests will lead us down one of two paths; either to more blood work or to a colonoscopy and upper endoscopy.

For now, we rejoice in all the beautiful ways little guy is blossoming! He is an absolute JOY!!!!

Thank you, everyone, for praying for us and taking such good care of us!!!!!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Daniel update

Poor guy! It was a rough day! I honestly didn't know the diarrhea could get any worse. It was a day of soaking through diapers, clothes (his and mine), and onto anything he sat on. "It" came so fast throughout the day, that the diapers couldn't absorb it fast enough.

Daniel cried most of the day. I could tell he was in pain, and nothing I did or could do for him comforted him.

Thus began about 6 calls between the doctor's office and me, and additional calls between the nurse/doctor and the GI specialist at Nemours.

The great concern: dehydration.

I am doing everything I can to tempt the boy with liquids.

The doctor told me to take him off the Children's Pepto Bismol Tablet (I only gave him one a day), and to just hold on. There's nothing more that any of us can do to comfort him or make him well.

So, I ended up joining little guy in tears. Then the children and I left the house (yikes!) to restock on diapers, diaper cream, wipes, sanitizing wipes, and bananas, as well as onesies and pants from a thrift shop to catch the mess.

And tonight, after going back to strictly the B.R.A.T. diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and gluten, egg, soy, and dairy-free toast) and some chicken and chicken broth for protein, he finally had only a wet diaper right before bed. And, he was comforted. He went to bed snuggling and without tears.

I know we will repeat this day for many more days to come, so if you think of us, please pray for Daniel. His GI appointment is set for Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 20th.

His second parasite test came back negative as well. I'm not sure how I feel about it. I'm glad not to have to deal with parasites--though I've been handling the clean-up as if it is parasites--yet, it may be good to have parasites, because then the pests can be rid of with proper medication.

The doctors are clueless. And so am I.

So, I will leave the updates here for now...with the One Who knows. He's got Daniel.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Morning update

This morning Daniel woke up at 6:30 a.m., and I changed his wet diaper and put him back to bed. At 6:50 a.m. he woke me up with his usual. I was able to clean him up and get his stool sample ready for Quest. Thirty minutes later, all was clean and ready for the morning routine.

I emptied the dish washer (we let the dishes air-dry overnight), made breakfast, served everyone, cleaned up the pot and dishes, did some general cleaning, put the children in front of their science video and put Daniel in the playpen for safety. Then, I took a super fast shower.

I was feeling quite confident with the day, and so I decided to "dress up"--i.e. after all, I was going to Quest today ;). While I was dressing, Daniel started to cry. I went to the living room to find him in a horrible mess. His diarrhea had not stayed contained, it had run down his legs, on his feet, on the sheet in the playpen, soaked through the sheet, was on his hands, and on the sides on the playpen where he was standing, holding on, and crying.

I thought it was throw-up everywhere, until I smelled it.

I lifted Daniel out of the playpen, and went to clean him up. After he was cleaned up, I went to change into my "every-day-cleaning-clothes". Then, I went to work on washing Daniel's clothes and the sheet in the sink before putting them in the washer. (Trust me, it's needed. 'nough said.) Then, I got out the bleach and cleaned the sink. Afterwards, I cleaned and sanitized the entire playpen.

And, I "rewarded" Daniel with Children's Chewable Pepto Bismol and dry toast.

My heart goes out to all the single parents out there. You are heros!

Back to schooling the kiddos....

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Evening update

So, we had a crazy busy day. Thus, we only got to Nemours and not to Quest.

The allergy testing showed no allergies to soy, egg, dairy, wheat, gluten...!!!! I know he had blood work up in China, and we received the results of his allergy testing. But, for some reason, he is showing no signs of allergies! Crazy sweet news!!!!

Thus, the allergist said we can slowly reintroduce the foods (minus dairy) until we see the GI doctor. She said he still needs to be checked for Celiac disease, but that he must have an intestinal infection--not related to food. His GI appointment isn't for a couple of weeks, and the diarrhea is persistent.

For now, we are flying high on the news that he is not allergic to the foods we were told he was allergic to. (At the same time, we were warned he could be "intolerant" instead of "allergic". One day at a time.) For now, he is fever-free and can eat standard foods again!

Thus, tomorrow we will finish off the stool samples and blood work at Quest.

With homeschooling and other sicknesses in the family, we are struggling during this transition time.

But, I'm going to focus on the awesome news and call it a "night" with a smile on my face! J

Good night, everyone!

Morning update

Thank you for praying! Daniel's fever is gone and instead of so much crying, I've seen LOTS of smiles already this morning!!!!!!!!!!

He woke up at 6:15 a.m., I changed his wet diaper, and put him back to bed. I woke him up at 7:45 a.m., with diarrhea that was all through his clothes and his sheet. I changed him and cleaned him up. Since then, he's had another diarrhea bout--and it's only 8:10 in the morning.

At least he's constantly drinking!

He will be going to Quest Diagnostic and to Nemours today. Needles. We hate the pain. Poor guy!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Daniel update

We have had Daniel for 38 days, and he's been sick 36 of those days.

After 26 days of diarrhea, we took Daniel off gluten. He was already soy, egg, and dairy-free due to his previously known allergies, so taking him off gluten seemed overwhelming.

We had no idea what we were doing, but with the help of two precious ladies, we were able to get the information and food we needed to begin his new diet immediately.

After 72-hours of being soy, egg, dairy, and gluten-free, Daniel was well for two days--finding relief from his diarrhea.

Then, the diarrhea started again, but just once a day. I thought perhaps it was due to stress--as one of those days he joined his siblings at the dentist for his first visit--or perhaps due to finding and eating crumbs of food around the house (though I made it my ambition to keep all food at the table and to vacuum and sweep continually).

Then Friday afternoon, things got worse. His diarrhea became more frequent, and he seemed sick. He had a horrible weekend, and then Monday morning spiked a fever.

Off we went to the doctor again, and though his first round of testing for parasites came out negative, the doctor decided to retest him. In addition, he will be tested for Celiac disease.

Daniel was transferred to a GI specialist and an allergist. He will be going through a lot more testing beginning tomorrow.

There has been a lot of crying. We know little guy is not well. We hope to find relief for him soon. 

If you think of him, please pray for the doctors to have wisdom, and that the tests go smoothly with accurate results. THANKS!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Bath time

We've come across a new way to bathe babes:

It keeps little guy's toys near him, it keeps the water level at a safe height, and it helps Daniel catch himself when he slips and/or falls. He uses the handles continuously!

I love this idea, because in addition, it saves money on water--since I don't need to fill the entire tub each time Daniel takes a bath.

(As a side note, empty shampoo bottles make great water pumping toys for kiddos!)