Friday, May 31, 2013

Red Thread Sessions

We were so blessed to be connected to the non profit organization The Red Thread Sessions- read more here:   Red Thread Sessions was started in 2011 by two custom photographers in Texas and Maryland, both whom added to their families through adoption. Feeling the need in their communities to celebrate the beauty of adoption through photography, Red Thread Sessions was born. Soon after, many other photographers throughout the U.S. felt moved to donate their time as well. Red Thread sessions not only captures family portraits of new families, it also capture the precious, happy, confusing, exciting, exhausting, traumatic, life-changing time that is so often brief and fleeting in the life of an adoptive family.
"The Ancient Chinese Proverb is a commonly-used saying within the adoption community. It symbolizes the bond that all adoptive children have with their adoptive parents, even before they meet. An invisible “red thread” connects them to the people they are destined to meet. Although this Proverb truly relates to all people, it has a particularly strong connection to adoptive families and seemed like the perfect name for this organization."
In January we connected with Sarah from Sincerely, Sarah Photography We met in person and spent hours chatting about adoption while sharing stories over coffee.  At the time we were anxiously awaiting Travel Approval so it was nice to relax for a few, while longing for my sweet baby.  Fast forward four months later here we are!  Due our crazy illnesses we rescheduled our Red Thread session a few times!  Thankfully Sarah was so understanding!  We finally captured our family of three this May.  The photos are truly beautiful and we will cherish them always!
Thanks to Sarah & the Red Thread Session!


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

NAM Device

So we have some exciting news, Dr. Hobar and the Craniofacial Team decided to design and make a NAM Nasoalveolar Molding for Lottie to help prepare her nose and lip ready for surgery. This is not a typical practice for older children, so we are very pleased that Dr. Hobar thinks outside the box and is willing to work extra hard to create this device for Lottie and work with our insurance to prove the medical necessity.  We cannot believe how everything has fallen into place, we are so blessed to have this opportunity to work with such a talented, God driven, and loving team of doctors. Yesterday we were molded for Lottie's NAM, we will be fitted with this device next week.  Read an excerpt from a journal article about the NAM device, we encourage CL/CP parents to research this option for their children and please feel free to contact us with any questions!
"Presurgical infant orthopedics has been employed since the 1950s as an adjunctive neonatal therapy for the correction of cleft lip and palate. Nasoalveolar molding represents a paradigm shift from the traditional methods of presurgical infant orthopedics. One of the problems that the traditional approach failed to address was the deformity of the nasal cartilages in unilateral, as well as bilateral, clefts of the lip and palate and the deficiency of columella tissue in infants with bilateral clefts.
The Nasoalveolar Molding (NAM) technique utilizes wire and acrylic nasal stents attached to an intraoral denture. This appliance is used to mold the nasal cartilages, premaxilla, and alveolar ridges into normal form and position during the neonatal period. In effect, this presurgical management of the cleft infant is intended to reduce severity of the oronasal deformity prior to surgery.
This technique takes advantage of the malleability of immature nasal cartilage and its ability to maintain a permanent correction of its form. In addition, we demonstrate the ability to nonsurgically elongate the columella in bilateral cleft lip and palate through the application of tissue expansion principles. This is performed by gradual elongation of the nasal stents and the application of forces that are applied to the lip and nose. Utilization of the NAM technique has eliminated surgical scars associated with traditional columella reconstruction, has reduced the number and cost of revision surgical procedures, and has become the standard of care in this Cleft Palate Center." Grayson, B.H., & Maull, D., 2005, Nasoalveolar Molding for Infants Born with Clefts of the Lip, Alveolus, and Palate:Semin Plast Surg. Cleft Lip Repair: Trends and Techniques, November; 19(4): 294–301. doi:  10.1055/s-2005-925902

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

LEAP Foundation

Meet Dr. Hobar he is an amazing man and we are lucky to call him our Doctor. We searched and research for the best of the best craniofacial surgeons in the US and amazed to find him in our very backyard, Dallas, TX.  We wanted to tell you about his Non-profit organization LEAP, Life Enhancement Association for People.

LEAP is comprised of volunteer plastic surgeons, urologists, eye surgeons, anesthesiologists, orthodontists, nurses and support staff. Dedicating time, expertise and often their own resources, these volunteers endeavor to bring free surgical care to children and adults born with deformities.

LEAP is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to enhancing and enriching the lives of people around the world by providing free specialized medical services in the love of Christ.

Dedicated to the Impossible:Some cases are much too complicated to be done in developing countries. LEAP, known as the ‘medical team of last resort,’ has a special fund to bring patients back to the United States to undergo procedures in a safe and controlled setting. Learn more about the Landmark Fund.
LEAP has a special fund that allows some children with extremely complicated medical deformities to be brought to the U.S. where LEAP doctors and nurses perform the complex reconstructive procedures.
Dedicated to Christ:LEAP is a faith-based Christian organization. The mission for LEAP is to show others the love of Christ through our work, and, hopefully, open the door for others to see Christ. When we go to remote parts of the world and change a life for a person who may have no hope, it is an example of the gospel — grace intervening in an otherwise hopeless situation. When asked why we do this, we tell them “because Christ saved us from a hopeless situation, and His love is available to everyone.”
LEAP provides its services to all patients in need, regardless of religious or political affiliation. LEAP also welcomes volunteers that are not Christian. The only requirement is that the Christian principles that define LEAP are respected and followed in serving others. One of the great joys of LEAP is seeing lives changed both in our patients and their communities, and even in some of our own team members.
Operating Principles
  1. LEAP is called to serve others in the love of Christ through the talents of team members.
  2. LEAP is dedicated to providing specialized medical services free of charge to the patients and families.
  3. LEAP partners with local hospitals and communities to provide care and surgeries to untouched regions of the world.
  4. LEAP is dedicated to long-term commitments and relationships established in those countries we serve, partnering with local organizations to assure the greatest continual care for the patients.
  5. LEAP is committed to bringing the most gifted and talented medical professionals to ensure the best care possible in the countries we serve.
  6. LEAP is determined on training the nations we serve with the latest health care teachings and procedures.
We started LEAP with the idea of going on a single mission trip. God had planted a little seed in my heart and I took a little step forward in faith.  That was it. God did everything else.  That step began in 1991, and 20 years later, totally not as our intention or plan, LEAP is now a global organization that has worked in 17 countries and has touched the lives of over 6,000 patients.  We are blessed to continue to grow and serve others with the love of Christ.
I wanted to find a way to use my skills as a surgeon to help people who didn’t have access to reconstructive surgical care.  So many kids have to grow up with the embarrassment of a facial deformity because they live in a country with little or no surgeons who can perform this type of surgery. We wanted to provide for the people out there who are counting on us.
-Dr. P. Craig Hobar
Founder and Medical Director, LEAP Foundation
Director of International Craniofacial Development,
Medical City Children’s Hospital

Friday, May 24, 2013


"Family a little word created by LOVE"

Photography by Melissa Glynn

Our little Empress

Our Lottie is quite the Empress, the female version of Emperors the mighty & strong men who ruled of China thousands of years ago. Charlotte Lee is strong & tough while at the same time she is sweet & dainty (quite the combination).  She can be quite demanding at times but we love to see this feisty Empress emerge.  Lottie knows what she wants and she will fight her hardest to get the point across.  We saw bits & pieces while in China but now after being home for a few months her Empress status has been defined.  

I can only imagine what this amazing sweetheart will be able to do as she grows, she will  move mountains.  I can tell you she is one strong willed girl, who won't take no for an answer, yet loves deeply, & will melt your heart within moments of meeting her.  Here are a few photos from our welcome home shoot by Melissa Glynn Photography  Lottie is wearing her traditional Chinese silks, in true Empress fashion.

Photography by Melissa Glynn

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Month Two

Wow how has it already been two months home yet feels like we have had our sweet baby forever, strange how time can be so conflicting.  Lottie continues to amaze us, we are still in awe of her everyday.  She is learning & growing right before our very eyes, it is a joy to watch.

Lottie has begun to use sign language to communicative with us, her open palate enables her from being able to produce words.  Lottie picked up on signs immediately & was so proud to show off her skills.  We began introducing signs during mealtime, therefore she learned "more", "eat", "bottle", "all done".  She also learned to sign "Mama" & "Dada"-be still my heart it was the sweetest moment ever!  Now her sign repertoire has over 20 different signs including "bear", "bath", "book" ,"& night night" She uses these signs spontaneously & with great accuracy during the day to express her wants & needs.  It was apparent that she truly understood the signs one day after some blood work my sad & crying baby looked up at me pointed to the door and signed "all done" yes baby we all done!  

Lottie is more toddler everyday!  Its sad to say goodbye to the baby phase, but we were so happy that we got a glimpse of this phase since she was 18 months when we adopted her.  We were so thankful for those precious weeks of pure baby bliss, something I as a  Mama spent sleepless nights worrying that it may be too late to witness.  Oh  but Thank God he answered my prayers & I was able to share in these sweet baby moments.  But now seeing her growth & toddler phase emerge it is so exciting!  Lottie started to take some steps independently, she is very cautious but oh so proud of her accomplishments.  She is "talking" & babbling all the time! In true toddler form, Lottie is into everything!  She loves remote controllers, potted plants, iPhone,  DVD players, glasses & mugs full of liquids and climbing the stairs when we aren't looking.

Lottie loves her toys & playroom!  We notice she is less likely to entertain herself with touch, playing with magazines,or by just lying on the floor.  Many of these were institutionalized behaviors and have definitely begun to subside if not completely disappear. Lottie loves all her toys but she loves her "Peek a Boo" bear, and actually signs bear when she wants him.  She squeals in excitement when she lays eyes on him,she  just adores this bear.

Personality wise  Lottie continues to shine, she is a social butterfly & loves to be surrounded by people.  Lottie loves to be out in public, & continues to light up a room, or Doctor's office, or even the checkout line at Target.  After moments of meeting her people truly are in awe of her sweet loving personality.  She melts hearts daily, & I just  love her sweet disposition.  Lottie has a feisty side, she is one tough cookie & when she is mad-let me tell you she is mad!  It makes sense, she is a survivor & a fighter.  This girl is strong!  

Lottie continues to rock the sleeping thing-averaging 11-12 hours a night!  Makes for really happy mornings for both Baby & Mama & Dada!  She LOVES her room & her crib.  We established a night time routine early on, and this girl gets it! She climbs the stairs and goes straight to the tub.  She loves bath time!  After lotion & PJ's its off to her Book Nook to read some bedtime stories.  She toddles over signing "book book book".  Meanwhile Mama or Dada turn on her music & light up turtle, and cozy up her blankets.  After story time, she smiles ear to ear to see as we say "the stars came out for you tonight" (talking about the stars on her ceiling from he right up turtle) oh she giggles in excitement  signs "night night" by putting her tiny hand to the side of her head, & practically dives into her crib.  We won't hear a peep from her until we open the door in the morning, even if she is awake she just loves to lay with her stuffed animals.  She is truly the sweetest thing! We love her more every single day!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Somewhere out there...

Somewhere out there she is thinking of you, how couldn't she, she gave you life....

This Mother's day we decided to start the tradition to celebrate Lottie's Birthmother. We decided each year she will pick some flowers and decide on a special place where she would like to leave them... This will be hard the first few years as Lottie doesn't understand, but I feel it will be important for her to see, that even before she could understand, I did.  This year we have two bouquets on our kitchen table, two beautiful arrangements that resemble the two woman that together weave her story.

I want my daughter to know how much I think of her Birthmother.  It is daily!  Everyday I think of her, and thank her for choosing life and giving me my precious daughter.  The woman Lottie resembles.  Her beautiful eyes, lips, oh and that smile.  The woman who carried her for 9 months.  The woman who kissed her first, cradled her and loved her.  She loved her so much she gave her more.  This woman who I will never know. but who I will forever be grateful for giving me such a precious gift.  

This year, I am not really able to fully comprehend it all, yet alone begin to express my thoughts, but I will spend my life in gratitude for the opportunity to be Lottie's mother and forever will think of her biological mother whom gave her life.  Today we will celebrate her.

And today we celebrate all Mother's...

"To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you
To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you
To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you
To those who experienced loss this year through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you
To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.
To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you
To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you
To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you
To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you
To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience
To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst
To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you
And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you
This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you." -Amy Young

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

General Feeding Tips for Parents-Cleft Lip/Palate

General Feeding Tips for Parents

By Claire K. Miller, PH.D.

Most parents report feeling anxious about learning how to feed a baby with a cleft, but find the problems to be fewer than expected and easy to overcome when using the right type nipple, bottle, and technique.

A particular method of feeding is usually recommended shortly after birth by a nurse, speech pathologist, or occupational therapist.  Try to use the adapted nipples, bottles, and feeding methods that are recommended, and be sure not to hesitate to call the nurse or speech pathologist if any questions arise about how to use them.

Feeding a baby with a cleft palate in an upright position as opposed to the traditional cradle or reclined position will reduce the amount of liquid that can escape up from the nose during feeding.  Try to use a pillow or small foam wedge to support the baby against you in an upright position.

The baby may seem to be refusing to breast feed or bottle feed.  Try to problem solve what might be happening by considering the length of time between feedings.  If the feedings are too close together, the baby may not be hungry enough to be motivated to feed.

Consider the size of the nipple hole (is the baby working too hard to extract the fluid?).  This is a common problem.  Explore using a nipple that either has a faster flow rate or that is flexible enough for assistive squeezing.

If breast feeding, the baby may be overwhelmed with the initial milk let-down during feeding and demonstrate avoidance.  Experiment with hand expressing some milk before trying to breastfeed.

Experiment with the temperature of the formula if bottle feeding.  Although not proven by research, many infants seem to prefer warm formula as opposed to room temperature.

Try to be consistent with the method being used for feeding.  Train others who may be feeding the baby to use the same feeding equipment, and the same type of strategies you use when feeding your baby.  For example, demonstrate how to use assistive squeezing and how often you give the baby breaks for resting or burping during a feeding.

Babies with clefts will tend to swallow some extra air while feeding.  After intake of every ounce or so, giving the baby a pause from feeding and chance to burp may help to alleviate discomfort associated with excessive air intake.

Most feeding problems can be easily resolved.  If your baby continues to have trouble feeding and you are concerned, consult your pediatrician for a referral to a speech pathologist or occupational therapist experienced with the special feeding issues associated with cleft lip/palate or other craniofacial anomalies.

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

Monday, May 6, 2013

When you say yes....

"When you say YES to adoption, you are saying YES to enter the suffering of the orphan, and that suffering includes WAITING for you to get them.  I promise you, their suffering is worse than yours. We say YES to the tears, YES to the longing, YES to the maddening process, YES to the money, YES to the hope, YES to the screaming frustration of it all, YES to going the distance  through every unforeseen discouragement and delay."
 -Jen Hatmaker

BUT YES we can promise you IT IS WORTH EVERY MOMENT!  IF you are thinking about adoption in any way, feel free to reach out to us!  We would love to share our knowledge and support!