Monday, December 31, 2012

Love is meant to be shared

"By adopting a child and helping them reach their potential, they help us reach ours. An adopted child is not an unwanted child; to the contrary. They are a child who was searched for, prayed for, cried for, begged for; received by arms that ached, making empty hearts full. Love is meant to be shared." Author unknown
Wishing everyone a very Happy and Healthy 2013
From our family to yours,
Scott, Winn & Charlotte Lee

34 LESS orphans in the world this year!

 "I did not give you the gift of life, But in my heart I know, The love I feel is deep and real, As if it had been so. For us to have each other, Is like a dream come true! No, I did not give you the gift of life, life gave me the gift of you."Unknown

I had to share this wonderful sight 34 children have been matched to their forever families in 2012! And if you look # 22 is our sweet baby girl Charlotte Lee Wei.

Our agency has been wonderful throughout the process and we would recommend them time and time again!  Thank you Children's Hope International for changing our lives and the lives of these precious children.

Click here to see the beautiful faces: THANK YOU CHI

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

My Darling

My Darling
by Deserts Chang (Zhang Xuan)

My baby baby

I’ll give you a bit of sweets to let you have a good night sleep tonight

My silly kid my silly kid

I’ll make you laugh to let you like this world

Wa la la la la la la la la la my baby

When you are tired there will be someone there for you

Ai yay a yay a ya y a my baby

I want you to know you are the most beautiful

Charlotte Lee Wei you are no longer alone as your Mama and Baba are so close to coming to China.  We have waited patiently for so long!  We love you with all our hearts and we want you to know you are the most precious gift this Christmas and you are the most beautiful.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A "Lottie" surprise


Words cannot begin to explain our excitement on Friday December 7th we received an email from an adoptive family who we had been emailing as they prepared to travel to China to meet their son, who is also from the same orphanage as Lottie.  The "W" family from Georgia were recently in China meeting their son and during this life altering time they thought of us and our sweet baby girl.  The "W" family brought a photo of our sweet baby girl and asked the nanny's if they knew this baby.  Instantly the Nanny's knew who she was and brought the "W" family face to face with our Charlotte Lee. They found her in one of the playrooms.  The "W" family videotaped Charlotte and took the time to speak with her Nanny.
Scott and Winn,
    Hope you are well. We visited the Children's Welfare Institute on Tuesday. It was nice and clean. The children really seemed to interact well with their caregivers. We showed one of the directors the picture of Charlotte from you Blog and she knew who she was right away. She said her name is Wei.  She is absolutely adorable! She is in the same room as our son Yujiro and the Mangels son.I have attached a video and will send the second in another email.
Warm Regards
We look forward to our orphanage tour in February and cannot wait to pay it forward to some other families who are waiting to travel, especially our dear sweet friend Lynn Marie who is waiting for her baby Abby Rose.  The "W" family gave us the greatest gift of all!  We were able to see our sweet baby Charlotte moving and smiling and being loved on by her Nanny.  The video captured her Nanny saying her Chinese name and her nickname. We heard them say smile for your Mama and Baba. They know we are coming soon!  And during the footage the "W" family tell her Nanny's her American name Charlotte. It was the greatest gift we could ever ask for and something we will treasure and share with Charlotte as she grows older.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Lottie is LOVED

Momma with Godmother Kim & Godmother Janine

Well it goes without saying how LOVED Lottie already is, and besides her parents, grandparents (who by the way are beyond EXCITED), 2 uncles Dan & Todd, and 3 aunties Kelley, Anne, & Kelly, Lottie has 3 more VERY special people who LOVE her to the Moon and back. We feel beyond BLESSED to have them be a part of her life!  We followed the Sherwood tradition that each child has three Godparents depending on the gender, so Lottie has two Godmothers and one Godfather. 

Meet the Godparents!  Kim, one of our dearest friends in TX, she has literally been there since day one!  Janine, who is Winn's cousin and also "Godsister".  Her parents were chosen as my godparents, as mine were hers.  She is so ready to spoil Lottie Lee!  Keith, the Godfather who has been Scott's best bud for many years!

Daddy with Godfather Keith

Friday, December 14, 2012

Our I-800 has arrived!

Our approval for our I-800 was on 12/17/12 and the letter officially arrived on 12/22/12...So whats next?!

We are now awaiting our National Visa Letter and then everything heads back to China!

Her is some information about our next step!

You can use the following contact information to check on the status of your cable and to ask for the NVC letter by email once you have been cabled.
  • Email:
  • Phone: 1-603-334-0700
  • Hours: Monday through Friday from 7:30 AM to 12:00 AM (Eastern Time)
  • NOTE: Email is the NVC's preferred method of communication as stated on their website. It can take up to an hour to get through to the NVC by phone. Plus, a lot of the operators who answer the phone at NVC are not familiar with adoption cases and will give you incorrect information!

The NVC will email you a .pdf of your cable approval letter. There is somewhat of a science to this. Follow these instructions very carefully for the best results:
Here is the email I sent to NVC to check on our case. You can copy it if you like. I recommend that you try sending the email in the evening right before you go to bed so that they see it first thing in the morning.
Also, what you put in the subject line of the email is important. Something like this:
SMITH ADOPTION - DOB 04/15/1969 - Receipt Number SIM0983034989 (take it off your I800 approval)
In the body of your email, say something like this:
To Whom It May Concern:
I would like to know if my visa petition has been forwarded to the appropriate Embassy yet. If so, please send a copy of the approval letter to my email address as soon as possible: (or whatever your email is)
    Receipt Number: SIM080934398
  • Beneficiary's Name: An, ZhangHuan
  • Beneficiary's DOB:10/20/2006
  • Petitioner's Name: Mary Smith
  • Petitioner's DOB: 11/4/1969

  • NOTE: NVC may email you back and say that you are NOT cabled yet or in their system. If you receive this email, repeat this process again in a few days.
    • Once you receive an email back from NVC that you are in their system and will be cabled shortly, it is important that you send ANOTHER email to NVC a day or two later replacing the receipt number in your email with your new GUZ# that NVC sent you. This is VERY helpful in obtaining your .pdf.

    Monday, December 10, 2012

    I-800 our next step

    Form I-800 is your Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative. It's your approval from USCIS to adopt the child you were matched with specifically.

    Approximately one week after sending your USCIS Form I-800 and all supporting documents to the address listed above, you will receive a Notice of Receipt from the lockbox in Texas. This letter will simply state that your application was received! It will list the date it arrived at the lockbox as well as your case number.
    After that, your application will be forwarded to the National Benefits Center (NBC) where all I-800 applications are reviewed and approved!! Remember, you will not need to be fingerprinted for this application.
    Keep a copy of all your USCIS correspondence for your records. You will need both originals and copies of these important documents when you travel to China. Never throw out, lose, or otherwise misplace any correspondence from USCIS.
    What Is A Lockbox?
    The lockbox is the location where USCIS reviews your Form I-800 application quickly to make sure there aren't any missing pages, unsigned sections of your application, etc.. They want to make sure everything is in order before they send the application to the National Benefits Center for approval.
    Approval Timeframes
    The current average approval timeframe is around 3 weeks.
    Checking Your Status
    NBC(National Benefits Center), Hague Unit (Missouri)
    • Phone: 877-424-8374
    • Email:

    To check on the status of your case, contact the National Benefits Center (NBC) using the phone number or email address listed above. Ask to speak to the officer who is assigned to your case (usually the same officer who handled your I-800A application). Most USCIS officers are very willing to help and answer questions.

    When You Get Your USCIS Approval
    Check your approval notice carefully when you receive it. Make sure all your names are spelled correctly, birth dates are accurate, and that there are no mistakes on your form. If you find an error, contact your USCIS officer immediately.

    Monday, December 3, 2012

    LOA-Santa Claus came early this year!

    December 3rd at 2:30pm we received the call China sent our Letter of Acceptance to adopt our sweet Charlotte Lee


    I have the most amazing daughter, she is beautiful and strong.  She has faced more in her short 14 months than I've faced in my 30 years. According to her Nanny's at the orphanage she is funny, loves bananas, & has a "ready smile". Today China sent us a letter that stated YES she is indeed your daughter.  Only a few more months until we are together forever, Charlotte Lee Wei, your Mama & Babba (Chinese for Dad) are on their way!

    Now we begin the process of US immigration, Visas, and seeking Travel Approval.  We do not know the dates for travel and won't know exact dates but hoping in a couple months!  More details to come! 

    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    All we want for Christmas is YOU

    Come on LOA we are more than ready!  Day 98 since Log in Date and Day 63 since Pre-Approval.  We are patiently waiting, but decided all we want for Christmas this year is our LOA.  So Santa Claus if your too busy to deliver it on December 25th, we will gladly take it a few weeks early!


    Sunday, November 25, 2012

    Lottie's First Smile

    So our agency mentioned updated photos of our sweet Charlotte Lee and we have been constantly checking our e-mail and on Wednesday, November 14, there she was smiling back at us! She looks so happy and just gotta love that smile! We are even more in love and cannot wait to receive the very important letter from China-LOA 
    So please we ask cross your fingers and cross your toes, pray for Lottie, wish on a falling star, kiss the clock at 11:11, or  wish over a four leaf clover. Whatever your way please think of Lottie Lee tonight!
     Let's bring this sweet baby home!  We love you Lottie Lee!

    Joy in all Things

    Wanted to share how amazing story of faith and love.  We stumbled on to this sweet family's blog about a year ago  and have followed their journey to China to bring home their beautiful daughter, Ivy Joy.  Their story will touch you, make you believe in miracles, and that life is just what you make of it, please take the time and read their story about faith and finding corrective heart surgery for their precious daughter Ivy Joy.

    "There are so many pieces to the puzzle that makes up Ivy Joy's life. The daddy who said, what are we waiting for, she needs to get home. The mommy that fought the fight of her life from the second we said yes, and right until this very day and forever. The sisters and brother who gave things up, sacrificed, prayed, and loved this little girl more than life every single second. The grandma and Aunty who are different people now, more thankful, more aware, and ultimately, changed because of the head over heels love they were overcome with when they met this little girl. The friends of my own kids friends, who have been touched, changed, overwhelmed, by the life and value of this once very sick baby girl.  The friend who I never met, praying with me at the wee hours of the night on the phone before we ever left for China. The friends, old and new who stepped in, offering anything they could come up with to make our decision to head to Boston, that much easier. The prayer warriors all around the world dedicating prayer after prayer after prayer to Ivy Joy while hearing God speak in thier own lives and finding new hope and stronger faith, all because God, and His works and this little girl. New families created because when we said yes, they found the faith to say yes too."

    Lottie Lee supported Joy in all Things

    Stork Photo Shoot


    Special Thank you to Melissa Glynn for some of these amazing photos we will cherish them always

    Tips for Stimulating Your Baby's Early Speech Sounds

    By Adriane L. Baylis, PhD, CCC-SLP and Anna K. Thurmes, MA, CCC-SLP

    Before your child's palate repair it will be difficult for them to learn to say sounds that require air (pressure) to build up in their mouth, like "p", "b" and "d".  The main goal before the palate repair is to help your baby learn to speak by using their lips and tongue to create sounds.  We want to encourage the baby to use sounds that they can be most successful at, such as those that do not require their palate to work yet, such as "m", "n", "w", "y" and "h".  Most babies with cleft palate do not say sounds like "p" or "b" before their palate surgery, but we still want them to hear those sounds frequently too, as they are still learning about those sounds and will eventually begin them after their palate surgery.

    We do not want to encourage the baby to only learn to use their throat to make sounds (such as grunts or similar sound called "glottal stops").  We hope to avoid having the baby use too many rough sounds like grunts, truck noises, or gruff animal noises.  It's perfectly normal for all babies to use some throat sounds and noises, especially at early ages;however, some children with cleft palate may get into a habit of using these sounds too much as they get older, and this can make it harder for them to learn new sounds.  If you hear your child making a lot of these grunts or throat sounds, we recommend that you just ignore it and instead, say the correct pronunciation or a different sound back at your child.  For example, if your child says "uh" for "truck", you can say "yes truck" "beep beep".  Or, if your child says "aeh-ee" for "daddy", you should just say "yes daddy" back at them, instead of mimicking the incorrect production.  Whenever your child speaks, you should praise them for using their words, or even more specifically, their lips or tongue to continue to encourage normal speech development.

    At the bottom of this post. there are a few examples of some words you can emphasize and practice with your baby.  When you say these, feel free to exaggerate how you use your lips or tongue to start the word.  Keep in mind:

    • Notice that the target sounds are all at the beginning of the words.  That's because it's common for infants and toddlers to make mistakes ot even leave of the later sounds of words when they are first learning to talk.  In addition, by working on the first sounds of words, research suggests that this might help your child avoid continued use of those throaty sounds (the glottal stops) that they might have used in the past.
    • Try to encourage these words during your child's daily routine (For example, you can practice "bubble" during bath time, or "yummy" during meals).
    • It's perfectly normal for a bay to not imitate your words and sounds every time, but most babies will repeat sounds back at east occasionally, and more often as they approach 12-15 months of age.
    • After the palate repair surgery, you should shift to increased practice of the "p", "b", "d" and "t" words on this list and give your child more specific praises (e.g. for "p" you can say "good job using your lips").
    Practice Words:
    M: More, Mama,/Mom, Me, Mine, Moo, Meow
    N: No-No, Nana, Num-Num, Nose, Night-Night, Neigh
    H: Hi, Hop, Hot, Happy, Hug, Here, Het, Hat, Head
    W: Whoa, Wow, Whee, Want, Wawa/water, Whoops, Wash
    Y: Yeah, Yea, Yes, Yipee, Yummy/YumYum, You
    B: Bye, Ball, Boo, Bowl, Boo-Boo, Bottle, Bib, Bite, Beep, Bubble, Book, Baa-Baa, Bath
    P: Pop, Pooh, Papa, Peek-a-Boo, Puppy
    D: dadda, Done, Down, Diaper, Duck
    T: Two, Toy, Teeth

    Here are some ideas for how to work these words into your child's daily routine.

    • Bubbles: When playing with bubbles you can emphasize the "p" and "b" in the words "bubble" and "pop".  Have your child request more by saying "mmmm" or "more"
    • Reading books: When reading books, pick ones with just a few pictures on the page and point out the pictures with "p", "b", "m" and "n" and model the sounds and words for your baby.
    • Snack time: Give one piece or part of the snack at a time to create opportunities for your child to request "more".  during snack time, try to make situations your child has to gesture or point, sign or attempt to say the word "more" or "please".  Then you say "yummy" when they take a bite too:  Remember to model the words for your child and reward even the simplest attempts that make towards the goal.
    • Blocks: This is a great activity to practice "p" and "b".  remember to not give out all the blocks at one time, and instead have your child request them one at a time by attempting to gesture/point, sign or say "more" or "please".  You can model words such as "blocks, blue, build, pile, please, put down, up and boom" and so forth during playtime.  hold the block by your mouth when you model the words so your child looks at your face when you make the sounds.
    • Farm animals: modeling animal sounds like "baa, moo, meow, neigh, and woof" while playing with the animals is a great way to keep your child interested in the activity and to encourage imitation.
    • Bath and bed time:  This is a good time to emphasize words like "bed, bath, brush, nap, sleep, pillow, blanket, papa, mama, bubble".

    What is a Cleft?

    A cleft is an abnormal opening or a fissure in an anatomical structure that is normally closed. A cleft lip is the result or failure of the parts of the lip to come together early in the life of the fetus.  Cleft palate occurs when the parts of the roof of the mouth do not fuse normally during fetal development, leaving a large opening between the oral cavity and the nasal cavity.  Clefts can vary in length and in width, depending on the degree of fusion of the individual parts.  It is important to not that when there is a cleft lip and/or palate, the structures are all present but have not fused together normally.  In addition, the structures may be hypoplastic or underdeveloped, in their formation.

    A cleft of the lip and/or palate is a congenital malformation that occurs in utero during the first trimester of pregnancy.  Because a cleft is due to a disruption in embryological development, clefts typically follow the normal fusion lines.  The interference in embryological development of the mid face and oral cavity is often associated with malformations of the nose, eyes, and other facial structures as well.  When other congenital anomalies occur along with the cleft lip and palate, they usually have a genetic etiology and are part of a multiple malformation syndrome.

    A cleft lip presents with more serious cosmetic concerns than cleft palate, but a cleft palate presents with more serious functional problems, particularly problems with speech.  Individuals born with both cleft lip and cleft palate are at risk for problems with aesthetics, feeding, speech, resonance, and hearing.  Although there are many commonalities in the appearance of the basic clefting conditions, clefts also give rise to unique anatomical and functional deviations.  These deviations are due to variations in etiology, but are also due to various forms of treatment ti which the patient has been subjected.  Therefore, the severity in aesthetics and function ranges from barely noticeable to severely affected and malformed.

    Information cited : Kummer, A. 2008, Cleft Palate and Craniofacial anomolies:Effects on speech and resonance, Delmar: Clifton Park, New York.

    Cleft Palate Foundation Publications

    Reprinted with  Permission from the Cleft Palate Foundation-available at
    Fact Sheets:
    • For Parents of newborn Babies with Cleft Lip/Palate
    • Answers to Common Questions about Scars
    • Bonegrafting the Cleft Maxilla
    • Choosing a Cleft Palate or Craniofacial Team
    • Crouzon Syndrome
    • Dealing with Your Insurance Company/ HMO
    • Dental Care for a Child with Cleft Lip and Palate
    • Financial Assistance
    • Letter to Teacher
    • Letter to the Parent of a Chil with Cleft
    • Moebius Syndrome
    • Pierre Robin Syndrome
    • Preparing your child for Social Situations
    • Positional Plagiocephaly
    • Replacing  a missing tooth
    • Selected bibiography for Parents
    • Speech Development
    • Submucous Clefts
    • Treacher Collins
    • Treatment for Adults
    Booklet Summaries:
    • Cleft Lip and Palate: The First Four Years
    • Cleft Lip and Palate: The School Age years
    • As you Get Older: Information for Teens Born with Cleft Lip and Palate
    • Cleft Lip and Palate: The adult Patient
    • Feeding an Infant with a Cleft
    • Cleft Palate and Hearing Loss
    • The Genetics of Cleft Lip and Palate:Information for families
    • Hemangiomas and Vascular Malformations
    • Managing Speech Problems: Physical Treatment of Velopharyngeal Dysfunction
    • Audiovisual and Supplemental Resource Catalog
    • Parameters for Evaluation and Treatment of Patients with Cleft Lip/Palate or Other Craniofacial Anomolies: Summary of Recommendations, American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association, May 1993 Rev. 2000

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

    Resources for Cleft Lip/Palate Information/ Support

    Resources for information regarding cleft lip and palate and craniofacial anomalies are available from a variety of sources.  The following is a list of some of the national organizations that can be helpful in providing information and resources.  This list is not inclusive by any means.  In fact, there are many local and state organizations that can provide information and support.  Information on the other organizations and resources can be found on may of the web sites listed.

    AboutFace is an organization of individuals and families who have experienced the challenges of facial differences.  This organization provides emotional support, information services, and educational programs about living with  facial differences.  About Face focuses on syndromes and conditions, psychosocial issues, public awareness, and integration issues.  It provides a variety of resources, including newsletters, videotapes, and publications.  There is a national chapter network for local access and networking.

    For further information:
    Phone(800) 665-FACE (800)-665-3223 or (416)-597-2229
    Fax: (416)597-8494
    Address: 123 Edward Street, Suite 1003
    Toronto, ON, Canada, M5G 1E2

    The American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association (ACPA) is a professional organization, founded in 1943, which includes all disciplines involved in the care and treatment of the cleft palate and craniofacial anomalies.  members are from the United States and from over 40 countries all over the world.  Membership is open to individuals who are qualified to treat or conduct research ion the areas of cleft lip, cleft palate, and other craniofacial anomalies.  ACPA is dedicated to the study and treatment of all aspects of craniofacial anomalies, including cleft lip, and palate.  The organization has worked toward establishing standards of care for patients with craniofacial anomaliesClinical and research information is shared through its quarterly Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal.  Annual professional meetings are held at various locations around the country for the purpose of sharing and exchanging clinical information and the latest research findings. 

    For further information
    Phone: (919)933-9044
    E-mail: info
    Address: 1504 East Franklin Street, Suite 102
    Chapel Hill, NC 27514-2820

    The Cleft Palate Foundation (CPF) is a group that is associated with the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association.  The CPF has the mission of serving as a resource to families and professionals around the country.  Services include a 24 hour toll free phone number (CLEFT-LINE) that is available to both families and professionals who are seeking information about the evaluation or treatment of individuals with cleft lip. cleft palate, or other craniofacial birth defects.  In addition, the CPF provides consumers with booklets on all aspects of the cleft lip and palate (available in English and Spanish), craniofacial anomalies, and related syndromes.  They provide a bibliography from parents of children with cleft lip/palate and a catalog of informational videocassettes.  they can refer families to local and national support groups.  Finally, the CPF provides consumers with a list of guidelines for choosing a medical team for cleft palate and craniofacial anomaly teams in the patent's area.

    For further information:
    Phone (919) 933-9044
    Fax: (919) 933-9604
    Address: 1504 East Franklin Street, Suite 102
    Chapel Hill, NC 27514-2820

    Children's Craniofacial Association (CCA) offers assistance with doctor referrals and non medical assistance.  There are annual family retreats and educational programs.  The organization has publications about various craniofacial syndromes.

    For further information:
    Phone: (800) 535-3643 or (214)570-9099
    Fax: (214) 570-8811
    E-mail contact
    Website: 13140Coit Road, Suite 307
    Dallas, TX 75240

    FACES: The National Craniofacial Association: is a nonprofit organization that serves children and adults with craniofacial disorders by acting as a clearinghouse of information on specific disorders and available resources, providing networking, opportunities with other families, publishing a quarterly newsletter, and providing financial assistance to families who cannot afford to travel away from home to a specialized craniofacial medical center.

    For further information:
    Phone (800) 3FACES3 (800)-332-2373
    Address P.O. Box 11082
    Chattanooga, TN 37401

    Let's Face It: is an information and support network for people with facial differences, their families, and professionals.  Once a year, this organization publishes an extensive manual of organizations and resources for individuals with facial differences/  To be places on their mailing list, just send an e-mail address.

    For Further information:
    University of Michigan
    School of Dentistry/Dentistry Library
    1011 N. University
    Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1078

    Parents Helping Parents (PHP) is a parent-directed family resource center serving children with special needs, their families, and the professionals who serve them.. This organization provides parent and professional training on how to begin and maintain a parent support network.  Publications are available for training and information. 

    For further information:
    Phone: (408) 727-5775
    Fax: (408) 727- 0182
    Address: 2041 Olcott Street
    Santa Clara, CA 95054

    Smile Train has a free online library and links for articles form around the world on the cause and treatment of clefts.  They also have informational booklets for families. 

    For further information:
    Phone: (877) KID-SMILE or (212)689-9199
    Website: htpp://
    Address: 245 Fifth Avenue Suite 2201
    New York, NY 10016

    Wide Smiles is a nonprofit organization that is supported through contributions.  Is purpose is to provide resources for individuals and family members with a history of cleft lip and plate.

    For further information:
    Phone: (209) 942-2812
    Address: P.O. Box 5153
    Stockton, CA 95205-0153

    Information cited : Kummer, A. 2008, Cleft Palate and Craniofacial anomolies:Effects on speech and resonance, Delmar: Clifton Park, New York.

    Sunday, November 18, 2012

    The effects of Cleft Lip/Palate on Communication

    A history of Cleft lip or palate can affect the child's ability to develop verbal communication skills.  The following aspects of vernal communication may be defective.

    Articulation(Speech)-the physical production of sounds to form spoken words

    Language-the message conveyed back and forth in talking.  This includes the ability to understand the speech of others (receptive language) and the ability to express thoughts through words and sentences (expressive language).

    Voice-the sound that results from the vibration of the vocal cords (phonation).

    Resonance-the vibration of voiced sound in the oral cavity (mouth, and nasal cavity (nose).

    Dental Abnormalities

    If the cleft extended into the gum ridge, dental development may be affected, causing the following:
    -Missing teeth in the area of the cleft
    -Extra teeth
    -Malocclusion(poor closure of the top and bottom jaws)

    Dental abnormalities may cause speech errors as follows:
    -A lisp type of distortion on sibilant sounds (/s/, /z/, /sh/, /ch/, /j/)
    -Difficulty producing teeth to lip sounds (/p/, /b/, /m/)
    -Difficulty producing teeth to lip sounds (/f/, /v/)
    -Difficulty producing tongue-tip sounds (/t/, /d/, /n/, /l/)

    These distortions can usually be corrected with a combination of dental and orthodontic treatment, and speech therapy.

    Hearing Loss

    The Eustachian tube connects the middle ear and the back of the throat.  It opens with swallowing.  This allows fluids to drain out of the middle ear and equalizes air pressure in the ear with the environment.  Children with a history of cleft palate often have chronic ear infections (Otitis media) because that muscle in the soft palate that is responsible for opening the Eustachian tube does not function well.  As a result, negative pressure and fluid build up in the middle ear, causing ear infections ans a conduction hearing loss.  A conductive hearing loss can affect the child's ability to develop language and even speech skills.
    To avoid middle ear problems, pressure equalizing (PE) tubes are often inserted in the eardrum at an early age.  This helps to prevent fluids from building up in the ear that cause infection and hearing loss.

    Velopharyngeal Dysfunction (VPD)

    Also known as Velopharyngeal Insufficiency or Incompetence-VPI)
    In order to close off the nose from the mouth during speech, several structures come together to achieve "velopharyngeal closure" These includes the following:
    -Velum-soft palate
    -Lateral pharyngeal walla-side walls of the throat
    -Posterior pharyngeal walls-the back wall of the throat.

    When the velopharyngeal valve closes, the speaker is able to build up air pressure and sound in the mouth to produce carious consonant sounds and vowel sounds.  Velopharyngeal closure also occurs during other activities, such as swallowing, gagging, vomiting, sucking, blowing, and whistling.
    After a cleft palate repair, the velum (soft palate) may still be too short or may not move well enough to reach the posterior pharyngeal wall (back of throat).  This results in velopharyngeal dysfunction (VPD) which causes problems with speech.

    Effects of Velopharyngeal Dysfunction on Speech

    Velopharyngeak dysfunction can cause the following speech characteristics"
    -Hypernasality (too much sound in the nose during speech)
    -Nasal air emission during consonant production
    -Weak or omitted consonants due to inadequate air pressure in the mouth
    -Compensatory articulation productions (speech sounds produced in a different way)

    Treatment of Velopharyngeal Dysfunction (VPD)

    Treatment of VPD usually includes surgical intervention and speech therapy.  Prosthetic devices can also be used on a temporary or permanent basis in some cases.

    Information cited : Kummer, A. 2008, Cleft Palate and Craniofacial anomolies:Effects on speech and resonance,  Delmar: Clifton Park, New York.

    Sunday, November 4, 2012

    Referral Video

    We have been patiently working on finishing our video from the moments we saw Lottie Lee's face for the very first time. And today being Orphan Sunday seemed like the very best day to share it!

    We were so fortunate to have cameras and video ready for our first glimpse of our sweet baby girl. This video captured our emotions on the day that forever changed our lives.  Thank you to my cousin Janine and her girlfriends who helped take these priceless photos and video. We chose a song by Dave Matthews our most beloved artist and felt the words were absolutely perfect!  Click here to read more about September 20, 2012: Referral Baby Girl in Northern China

    Thursday, November 1, 2012

    November is Adoption Awareness Month

    November 1st marks the beginning of November, which is also Adoption Awareness Month.  For those who know us best, know adoption has been in hearts for a very long time. We knew we would adopt by our 3rd date.  This journey has changed our lives and we can confidently say we will continue to add to our family by means of adoption. Recently at a adoption support/parenting group, we met a woman who adopted her 2 daughters from China, now 8 & 10 years old.  She held back tears when she spoke of how she responded to people who were curious about her daughters' Chinese heritage and why they were adopted...her words were so matter how a child joins a family, whether it be biological, surrogacy,  foster to adopt, or international adoption, EVERY child is a miracle and deserves to be LOVED....
    We know adoption isn't for every family, but there are always ways to play an important role in an orphan's life: Did you know you can sponsor a sweet baby in China through Love Without Boundaries? Sponsor a child in China Did you know in Austin, TX area there are more than 5 foster home programs where you can donate goods, and more importantly your time? Austin Foster Home 

    After sending our dossier to China we joined a Facebook support group (more to come on this topic) it has been beyond a blessing and one of the Mommas wrote the best quote and I had to steal it (with her permission of course). 
    "And since November is Adoption Awareness Month, I can only hope and pray that our story is somehow encouraging you to care for the orphan. The call is clear that we do something. Adopt. Foster. Domestic. International. Pray. Support. Fundraise. Babysit. Bring a meal. Advocate. Love. This month is a hopeful call to action. Join us!!" Megan Carr: Momma touched by adoption

    Simply stated and clear, there are so many ways adoption can touch your hearts! And if you need any additional information about an area close to home, feel free to comment below and I would love to help you!  With each adoption...One less orphan, One complete family, and so much love....

    100 Wishes Quilt~Bai Jai Bei

    A gift for Lottie Lee

    As cherished friend or member of our family, you know that our house is growing by two tiny feet, with the referal of our daugher Charlotte Lee from  Northern China! We've learned that China has a wonderful and simple custom, called the "Bai Jai Bei" (or 100 Good Wishes Quilt), that we would like to invite you to participate in.

    What is 100 Wishes quilt?

    In China, when a woman is pregnant, people from all over send her small pieces of fabric and good wishes to welcome and celebrate a new life.  The Chinese tradition in the northern part of China to make a Bai Jia Bei, or 100 Good Wishes Quilt. It is a custom to invite friends and family to contribute a patch of cloth with a wish for the baby. Part of the patch of cloth goes into the quilt for the baby, and the other part of the cloth can go into a creative memory notebook with the wish for Lottie. The quilt contains the luck, energy, and good wishes from all the families and friends who contributed a piece of fabric. The quilt is then passed down from generation to generation.

    How can you help?

    If you're willing to contribute, we ask you for a small piece of fabric (8" to 1/4 yard) of any color, design, or pattern you like, along with a note with your wish to Lottie. This wish may be a personal letter, or a brief quote, whatever you'd like(please be sure to attach a small piece of fabric on the wish). Then we will turn the fabric into a quilt to present to Lottie when we meeet in China.  If you do not have our address, please e-mail :winncastagno@yahoo and we will be happy to share our address with you.

    September 20, 2012

    We promised an in depth description of our special amazing day that changed our lives forever...the day we laid eyes on the most beautiful baby girl for the very first time.  Click here: A Glimpse of all the Joy for some of the picures.

    We officially logged into China's system in late August and after speaking with our social worker in early September, we were told the wait for a referral could be longer than expected.  The shared list (China's monthly list of all special needs children) was becoming smaller and smaller and more families were looking for special needs similar to our desired need: Cleft Lip/Palate. It was a "waiting game" and nobody could predict the outcome.  We were so disappointed and heart broken and most definitely needed some time to digest the information (Not sure if you remember this post Cheer on a Saturday), but we were so distraught over the wait, a sweet friend sent flowers to help us get through a sad weekend.

    Four days later, we decided it was time to move on... enough self pity we have waiting this long, we would be able to wait longer. My cousin was visiting from Maryland and it was the perfect opportunity to relax and spend sometime hanging out with the girls.  So I took the afternoon off, got a manicure/pedicure, all dressed up and ready for a night on the town with Janine and her girlfriends.  Scott was returning from a business trip so we wouldn't even see each other; I called to tell him I loved him and I'd be home later and headed toward downtown Austin.

    Stuck in normal rush hour, I sang to my radio and followed my GPS to the hotel.  About 3 exits shy from my destination I noticed a missed call on my phone.  It was 4:13pm, I recognized that number... I knew who it was and since it was so late in the afternoon wondered why our social worker would be calling me.  Then a voicemail appeared....Weaving in and out of traffic (I should have pulled off the highway) I listened to the voicemail, at the time, I didn't think anything more than how strange it is to get a call and voicemail at this time, but within the first 4 seconds of the message, my world changed..."Hi Winn, this is Mary from Children's Hope International, I might have some very good news for you"...WHAT immediately I began crying and shaking.  I called her back immediately, she answered her greeting " Today is your lucky day I have a baby for you" I was shocked, hysterical, and now sobbing.  She read through our baby's file and half listening, half stunned and still driving.  She told me she would e-mail the file with 3 photos.  We would need to lock the file by tomorrow afternoon and give her our Letter of Intent.  At this point I have pulled off of the highway and I am hysterically crying at a gas station.  This moment will forever be a part of me, I had never felt such pure joy and happiness as I did in that moment.  I hung up with our social worker and immediately called Scott, he answered and as I was hysterical, he thought something terrible had happened.  I couldn't even formulate words, and finally I squealed out that we have our baby.  Scott whose demeanor is calm, was shocked, and after moments of trying to convince him that the news is real,  he said he'd meet me at the hotel with Janine.  I hung up still in disbelief, I then called my Mom, her reaction was priceless! She sobbed, and screamed, and demanded, "I have to tell someone!", then she hung up and ran to tell her neighbors the news. I quickly ran into the gas station and bought the finest champagne they sold--4 bottles!  Then I called my cousin, mind you I told her I would be there by 4:00, and it was now 4:40pm...still crying I told her I had a good excuse for being so late..she knew..and started to cry. 

    We pulled into the hotel moments from each other, it felt like forever before we got the computer hooked up and the internet going.  My cousin and her friends joined us as we  opened the email, there it was, just like Mary said, an e-mail with our baby's file and photos.  We took a deep breath and we clicked on it, no other way to describe it other than it was magical and  priceless, and we were immediately in love.  We had spent the past 18 months imagining how she would look and how we would react; nothing could have prepared us for this moment, it was pure bliss. She looked so healthy and did we  mention how beautiful she is?...In awe of her beauty, her eyes, her cheeks, her lips.  She was perfection and we were the luckiest people on the planet!  Simply stated, September 20th was the best day of our lives.

    Wednesday, October 31, 2012

    Happy Halloween Sweet Lottie

    We celebrated Halloween a little differently this year.  Crazy work schedules and graduate class presentations left little time to carve pumpkins and hand out candy to the neighborhood kids.  We arrived home late, ~9:00 pm, and there was little time for our family traditions...except one...we always dress up!  Every year Halloween is one of our favorite holidays and we love to dress up and I especially love to coordinate a themed costume! The past few years we included the dogs. 

    This year trying to be careful with how we spend our money we decided we would not go overboard with costumes and decorations...for a while we thought we would be ghosts--simple enough just needed white sheets, then I saw four pirate kits at the dollar store--score! and then in the clearance rack at pet smart I found gnome costumes that could easily be transformed into pirates. We recycled an old red tee shirt to make belts and headbands.  At the last minute we thought instead of just holding Lottie, we decided to make her our treasure.  It was the perfect finishing touch to our Halloween photo shoot! 

    We cannot wait to celebrate Lottie’s first Halloween next year and already have ideas for our family themed costumes!