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 http://cleftline.org
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
E-mail info@aboutfaceinternational.org
Website: http://www.aboutfaceinternational.org
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 @acpa-cpf.org
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
E-mail info@cleftline.org
Website: http://www.cleftline.org
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 CCA@ccakids.com
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
E-mail: faces@faces-cranio.org
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
E-mail: info@php.com
Website: http://www.php.com
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
E-mailL info@smiletrain.org
Website: htpp://www.smiletrain.org
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
E-mail josmiles@yahoo.com
Website: http://www.widesmiles.org
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




video


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 simple...no 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.