Catching Up: More Summer Adventures

The rest of this summer has absolutely flown by.  While I am thankful for September and God’s great mercy in switching on the outdoor AC, I do wonder how time keeps getting away from me like this!

Early August saw these two young ladies off to their first ever overnight camp experience with Hopewell Camps at Tel Hai.  I think I was far more nervous than they were.  They both took all the new experiences in their stride, even my book-loving introvert Romilly!


This little man had to get in on the photo op action while we were saying our goodbyes:


On the heels of their week at camp we had a long-overdue weekend visit from Megan, of whom I regretfully took not one picture while she was here.  (You know you’re family when I don’t even get the camera out anymore!) I did take pictures of this amazing ever-growing family of dolls she has made for our kids over the years.


Lewis’s doll was a new addition this trip (a belated birthday present), and each of the old dolls is receiving a new outfit themed around the flag of their birth country.  I cannot even tell you how much joy these little dolls have given the kids (okay, and me!) over the years.  Aren’t they wonderful?  (Please pardon Niko doll’s lack of pants.  They always turn up eventually, just not in time for the photo shoot this time.)


Thank you, Megan, for your friendship, for spoiling us, and for another wonderful-but-way-too-short visit.

We celebrated our summer and fall birthday girls in late August with a grand party at pop-pop’s house.  (And do you know, my beautiful firstborn is 12 today?!  Happy, birthday, Pippa!)

image image image

(Loch Ness monster and galaxy cupcakes by Pippa, even though it was her birthday party.)

And then, just like that, we found ourselves starting school again!


With a baby coming in October and a couple of other adventures on the horizon that I will share about in future posts, we thought it would be good to get an early start.  So far, things have been going remarkably smoothly, as long as we manage to stay at home enough.


We’ve had a busy season of appointments, which has finally started to settle down, but one permanent feature of our Fall semester at least will be speech therapy for Lewis and Delia and OT for Delia at Theraplay.  It has been over two years since we have tried traditional therapies with Delia, and we finally feel like she is ready to try again.  Lewis, I believe, will take to speech therapy like duck to water, since he wants to speak so badly and is very motivated to work at it.  He just struggles with articulation in a way that I don’t feel I have the tools to help with yet.  I was thrilled to find that both speech therapists who met with them know ASL and are very happy to use that as a stepping stone for spoken language, since both Lewis and Delia currently use more sign than speech.  Watch this space!

In the meatime, we are still chugging along with Delia’s NeuroDevelopmental Program at home, and seeing some encouraging progress.  She contiues to be more willing to attempt to copy speech (when she’s in the mood!) and has even recently added “water” to her list of words she will use meaningfully.  This is one of our daily flash card exercises.  (If the video works?)


We are coming down the home stretch to baby time (less than six weeks to my due date!). I *think* we finally have our girl name nailed down.  And that’s probably all we’re going to need, right?  Right?!  (Any boy name suggestions are welcome.  He’s really not going to have a name if he’s a he!)

As always, thanks for hanging in there with my sporadic posting.  We are still here.  We are doing well.  We are just busy in all the best possible ways!



We now have eleven days of Delia’s “Neuro” program under our belts.  There are a few positive things we think we are seeing, as well as a few negative things that we definitely are.  I am comforted by remembering there were negative behaviors that emerged after she came off of the medications she was on in Bulgaria, too, and that that was a natural side affect of her brain awakening and beginning to reorganize itself.  Here’s to lots more of that!

So, although we have seen some regressions (some wild behavior, periods of tearfulness and a couple of uncharacteristic potty accidents), we are encouraged that good things are happening, too.  I believe Delia is using her eyes better already.  We see this in an increase in eye contact, a greater ability to look at books, and even a bit more adventurousness on the playground.  She climbed a curved ladder on a play area yesterday that I don’t believe I’d ever seen her attempt before, and she was very pleased with herself.

Delia has never had what I considered to be major food issues, but she did have an aversion to drier foods like bread and crackers.  One of her sensory exercises uses an electric toothbrush to brush her gums and teeth and tongue.  Already she is cooperating better with her normal toothbrushing, and she ate four crackers at lunch today (!)  This exercise is hopefully also giving her a better sensory awareness of the parts of her mouth to open things up for more talking.

And we have seen an increase in attempts at talking!  The words aren’t perfect, and they are still usually mimicked, but there are more of them.  She attempts to repeat some of the words I say in her flash card exercises, and she also repeats some of the words I say while doing other exercises, such as “pat, pat, pat” and “medium”.  Again, this isn’t qualitatively new for her.  She has always been able to mimic words on her own terms, but these exercises seem to be drawing more of them out of her.

Her program is time-consuming, so I am very thankful that she is still very up for it and rarely fights me on anything. I am also thankful for seven other kids who have been super helpful and unusually low maintenance while we’ve been getting up to full speed with Delia’s program.  We have designated next week as a school catch-up week, but I think, in theory, it will all fit in on a week-to-week basis once everyone knows the drill.


Our other news is that our I800 immigration application was finally approved early this week.  This means that we should very shortly be able to submit the final, online step of the immigration process, the DS260.  We’re still on track to have Lewis home for Christmas as long as everything else goes smoothly.  And that’s a very good thing, because I am beginning to feel very ready to finally meet this little guy!

photo 5.28.14  (3)

A New Adventure


Tuesday was this sweet, hilarious little monkey’s 4th birthday.  She had a fun day at co-op, hanging out with grandmom, and then being sung to around a lovely cake (made by her biggest sister) at small group.  Happy birthday, sweet Coraline!


We had already celebrated her birthday big-style on Sunday, along with a few sisters whose birthdays were never given proper fanfare over the summer due to our slightly crazy camping regime!

IMG_9404 IMG_9407 IMG_9430 IMG_9431

It’s been a busy few days of happy celebrations, but in the midst of all that, something else quietly began this week.  On Tuesday, Delia and I left co-op early with Trevor to go for a long-awaited appointment with a neurodevelopmental practitioner to begin a new therapy program that we are all very excited about.

Over a year ago, a good friend began sharing the success her daughter was having using a therapy called neurological reorganization.  This method uses a series of exercises, which mimic those that encourage infant brain development, to create new neural pathways for improved processing in the brain. I was immediately interested in looking into it for Delia, but at that time, she was still so hopelessly uncooperative.  We had already been advised by her physical therapist to give therapy a break for a little while.  “Life is therapy for her,” she told us.  “Go to the playground. Just get her out doing normal kid stuff with her siblings.” And we took her at her word to the tune of taking a full year’s break from therapy of any kind.

To be honest, we hadn’t really meant to take such a long break, but each time we met with a new therapist, they seemed so puzzled by Delia, and so uncertain of what to try with her.  We really did feel she was benefiting more just from being at home in our family and getting comfortable.  She just needed to feel safe first.

In that year we have seen her relax.  We have seen so many of her negative behaviors just slip away.  We have seen her begin to blossom and show her personality.  I have seen her really begin to trust me (and maybe even like me a little bit!), but we really haven’t seen much new progress in her communication or other developmental areas.

Meanwhile, a second good friend began using a therapy very similar to neurological reorganization, called the NeuroDeveopmental (ND) Approach (click the link to read more about this approach) with her daughter.  Again the results were quick and impressive.  It was as though her daughter’s mind just began to wake up.  We once again immediately thought how perfect this approach sounded for Delia.  And this time, we felt ready to jump in with both feet.

At her evaluation on Tuesday, I was expressing to Linda Kane, the ND practitioner, what a great relief it was to finally talk with someone who had met other children like Delia and had been able to help them make great strides.  I told her how frustrated I had been when, despite Delia’s willingness to sign and attempt words, her speech therapist had wanted to focus solely on teaching her the PECS (picture exchange communication system) method of communicating.  Linda replied confidently and without hesitation, “Oh, no! I think she’s going to talk!”  I wanted to lean right over the table and kiss her.  She is the first professional ever to say that about our amazing girl, and I believe her!

We have now had two days of finding our feet with Delia’s new program, a rigorous collection primarily of sensory input exercises that will probably take us over a hour to complete each day. So far she has been extremely cooperative and even asking for more! Time will tell how far she will go with this, but I wanted to be sure to chronicle our journey here right from the start, wherever it takes us.  The kids are convinced she is different already.

Here she is doing neuro to her baby doll this afternoon (which is pretend play, folks.  Pretend play!)


Big Girl


This girl of ours never ceases to surprise me.

A few months ago, she gave us the invaluable gift of deciding to go #2 on the potty.  Once she had made up her mind, apart from a few little relapses, she never looked back.  This development, of course, provided a huge improvement in our quality of life and hers, but at the time she showed absolutely no signs of wanting to take the plunge and ditch the diapers altogether.

I had long been procrastinating forcing the issue by saying we’d begin potty-training in earnest when the weather warmed up, but even when that happened, life still seemed too busy.  End of school year stuff, adoption stuff, mommy-just-doesn’t-like-cleaning-up-potty-accidents stuff… it all kept getting in the way.

Until one day about 2 or 3 weeks ago, Delia asked me to put a pair of panties on her.  At first I merely obliged her by putting it on over her diaper so she could be like the big girls, but after a few days of her repeated insistence on wearing them, I began to wonder if she was trying to tell me something more.

So, once Daddy’s work break rolled around, we decided to give it a try.  Panties.  No more diapers at home.  Cold turkey.  Just like we’ve done with all our other little potty-trainers.  I began laying the groundwork immediately for an escape route.  “We’ll give it a week,” I told Trevor.  “If she’s not showing any interest in going on the potty by then, I can’t keep cleaning up accidents forever.”

“We can’t send her mixed signals,” he told me.  “We need to just stick with it.”

But we needn’t have had our little preemptive parenting debate.

Day 1 she went through four changes of clothes, but there were successes, too.  Day 2, about half the number of accidents, with a fair bit of prompting and reminding.  By the end of a week, she was consistently telling us (using the sign for “potty” and her word for it, “pah-pah”) when she needed to go and staying dry at home.

On Friday of last week, kind of by accident, we took our show on the road.  She stayed dry through a trip to the library and a doctor’s appointment, successfully using the potty at both places!

We have put a diaper on a her a few times since then for places where there was no quickly accessible bathroom or situations like Sunday school when there wasn’t really someone who could take her there, but I am feeling tantalizingly close to calling our girl potty-trained.  I never imagined in my wildest dreams that she would do it so easily, and so determinedly.  This girl of ours has real spirit!

*         *          *          *         *

I am hopeful that my next post will be about the submission of our dossier.  The documents have been rolling in, and we are only waiting for three more, two of which are almost definitely going to be in our hands by Wednesday.  The I800A clearance is always the wild card, but we are expecting it any day, too.  Stay tuned!

New Eyes


When we sat Delia down in the optician’s chair and handed her her new glasses, she tossed them on the floor.  We tried letting Pippa put them on her: no joy.  Mommy?: nope.  The optician sighed and pondered the situation with her glasses in hand.  Then Delia stood up, took a step toward him and leaned in ever so slightly as if to say, “Well, okay, maybe just for a second…”  She hesitated for a minute with her new specs in place… then tossed them on the floor again.  I paid for them, thanked the optician, and put them in my purse.  “Give us a week,” I said.  “I think she’ll be fine.”

We came home, had a snack, and tried again.  I put Delia’s glasses on and gently removed her hands from them once or twice with the reminder, “No touch.”  I had Pippa set the timer for 5 minutes.  Baby steps, I thought.

But then, something amazing happened.  She left them alone!  I caught the timer just before it went off and bumped it up to 15 minutes.  By the time the 15 minutes were almost up I turned the timer off.  Delia was just plain old wearing her glasses – day one – and no turning back.

She took them off deliberately maybe once or twice in the first couple of days, but now, almost a week later, she is more likely to seek out help to put them back on if they come off accidentally.

Delia loves wearing glasses!  She is looking at things for the first time: paying attention to pictures in books, focusing on faces, crossing her eyes less.  We wonder if it’s our imagination, but she even seems happier and more settled.

We are so thankful for this little piece of the puzzle falling into place, another key to unlocking her mysterious little world.  And we are praising the Lord that the battle we had braced ourselves for to get her to wear her glasses lasted no longer than the five minutes we spent in the shop!  (And doesn’t she look adorable?!)


Today, I had the privilege of attending a memorial service for a very special young man.


If you are reading my blog because you have an interest in special needs adoption, you likely already know the Musser family, but many of you probably do not.

Trevor and I began reading Susanna’s blog The Blessing of Verity while we were adopting Niko.  At that time, the Mussers were adopting their daughter Katie from the same country Niko came to us from, and we followed their journey with interest.

A little over a year ago, while we were working to adopt Delia, the Mussers also brought home a beloved son, Tommy, from the same orphanage they had adopted Katie from.

It has been a joy over the past year or so to get to know Susanna personally through a little support group she organizes for moms of children adopted out of institutionalization.  She has been an incredible blessing and encouragement in my life.

Just over two weeks ago, on July 31st, Tommy passed away in an accidental drowning.  I found out that night by stumbling across a mention of the news online.  I spent the rest of the evening crying and vainly attempting to put something helpful into an email to my dear friend.  It hurt to even think about what she must be going through.  What their whole precious family must be going through.  What they will continue to walk through for years to come.

But today was a celebration.  A celebration of Tommy’s much-too-short life.  Of adoption.  Of love.  Of the difference a family can make.  Of the immense value of one human being and the impact he can have on the lives of those around him.

Because of Katie’s and Tommy’s stories, many families have been emboldened to see precious orphans for the treasures they are and go and adopt themselves.  Many more have given to help those still left behind.

In Tommy’s honor, I would love it if you would go to Susanna’s blog and read a bit of their amazing story.  The links at the side for the beginnings of Verity’s, Katie’s and Tommy’s stories are a good place to start.  If you feel moved to do more, please consider making a donation to The Pleven Project, which Susanna and others have set up to revolutionize the care of those left behind in Tommy and Katie’s former home.

Would you also join me in lifting this dear hurting family up in prayer?  Susanna has described the love and prayers of others as a “wall of protection” as they have walked through these difficult early days.  Let’s help keep that wall strong for them.


Two New Girls Update

A few new things about this happy girl:


  • She is potty-training!!!  I had consciously put this issue on the back burner when Delia first came home, knowing how contentious it can be even with well-adjusted, well-bonded little ones.  The thought of adding bodily functions to an already long list of things Delia and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on seemed unwise, so we waited.  It turns out, she doesn’t like being in poopy diapers (indeed, who would?) any more than we like changing them!  Now that she knows there’s a chocolate chip or two in it for her, she has been coming to me and signing “potty” with reasonable consistency for the past month or so.  There are still accidents, but most of them involve me not being able to help her quickly enough because I’m nursing the baby or similar.  There have been plenty of days when I have not had to change poopy diapers at all, and you cannot even begin to imagine what a lovely change that makes to my days.  We haven’t had as much success with going “number one” yet, but I think once we may be venturing into training panties soon and ditching the diapers.  Watch this space!
  • Delia had her speech therapy evaluation and is now on a waiting list for speech services.  I was pleasantly surprised by her evaluation report.  Having been labeled “non-verbal” in all of her reports from her home country, we have been thrilled with her attempts to communicate, especially using sign, and the evaluation reflected all her hard work.  It placed her at an age equivalent of 1 year 8 months for expressive communication, but at 2 years for auditory comprehension.  We are excited to see how therapy (and even some of the activities we have to do with her while we wait for therapy to start) will help her to blossom even more.


  • Delia is getting glasses!  As part of her initial International Adoption Clinic evaluation, it was suggested that we should have a proper eye exam performed.  Our pediatrician also agreed this would be worth doing at some point, but there was never any rush, as it seemed her unusual use of her eyes was primarily a behavioral/neurological issue.  Well, we were wrong!  Delia does in fact have astigmatism in both eyes; glasses should significantly improve her vision.  The ophthalmologist believes this will really help her to be able to focus on books and other activities that she has so far shown very little interest in.  Another exciting prospect.  Here’s hoping we can actually get her to wear them!

Our other newbie continues to be sparkly and sweet and bring joy to all of our hearts:


  • As little Annis approached her 4 month check-up, I had a nagging concern that she might be following in Coraline’s footsteps and veering off the growth chart toward the scrawny side (Don’t laugh!  That was really a thing for a while!).  I was relieved to find that, although she is on the petite side at 12 lbs 1 oz, she has a firm grip on the weight chart at the 17th percentile.  I may or may not have nursed her in the waiting room right before weighing her even though she had just been fed at home.


  • We still have no idea what color her eyes are going to be! Our initial guess was that they were darkening and heading for brown, and this is still our pediatrician’s guess, but they are definitely lighter than our other brown-eyed girls’ eyes were at this age.  They are a dark gray around the outside with hazelish flecks in the middle.  I don’t think they’ll be blue, for sure.  Whatever they are, they are lovely to gaze into, and this continues to be one of my favorite passtimes for the hour or so after the other kids are in bed each night.

We are so very blessed to have both of these precious girls in our lives!

Q & A: Randomness and Delia

First of all, thank you to everyone who takes the time to visit here and check in on our family.  It makes us feel incredibly special to think that people we have never met (and those we know well, too!) care about our family and want to know what’s going on with us.  But I want to extra thank those who take the time to leave a comment.  I can’t tell you how many times your caring thoughts and words have brought a smile to my face and even tears to my eyes.

With that in mind, I want to answer a few of your questions from the past few months.  I always intend to write back to each person who leaves a comment, but that has been happening less and less frequently as life has gotten fuller, so here we go:

Q:  I am in awe of whatever super powers you have to get eight children to not only look at the camera but smile so perfectly! Please share your secret… I have a hard enough time with just one!

A: Do you really want to know?  Okay.

No super-powers, unfortunately.  At least three of my children at any given time suffer from a condition called Camera Smile.  As soon as the camera appears, they contort their faces into the strangest, most unflattering expressions you have ever seen.  This ailment is only aggravated by any use of the words, “Smile” or “Say Cheese!”  The only cure for this unfortunate sickness is to actually make them smile real smiles.


To this end, my usual method for photo shoots is to stand on the coffee table and act ridiculous.  Tell jokes, use funny voices, sing a song about how they’re not smiling or who’s not looking at the camera, opera-style usually.  It’s a delicate balance, because the silliness has to be turned up high enough to rattle out the fake smiles, but if it gets too high then you start to get the head thrown back, falling on each other giggling pictures.  I have many, many outtakes in both directions, but usually somewhere in there we get a gem.  And you only need the one.


Q: I love how sweet your kids are always dressed by the way. Do you let them choose their clothes in the morning, or do you lay out their outfits?

A: Thank you!

For photo shoot days I totally and shamelessly pick out their clothes and coordinate them.  I also like them matchy when we go somewhere busy and public, so I can find them all easily.  For everyday, some of them have opinions and others don’t care that much, so I often still do the majority of the choosing.

June is the fashionista, and has been known to burst into tears at some of the awful suggestions I have put to her.  She sometimes helps me pick out outfits for all the girls.  Niko and I had our first major fight over a sweater vest I wanted him to wear to church when he was first home, so he usually gets a choice of a couple tops but still needs some boundaries.  The two big girls wear the same sizes, so I usually pick out a couple options and they can decide between them who wears what.  Special requests are welcome and usually granted, but all the girls’ clothes are kept upstairs, so it seems easier to just grab clothes for everyone than to have them all going up and digging through drawers at the same time.

Q: Oh my goodness! I barely recognized Delia! … I was wondering how she was doing so far. How has she done in learning English and/or her ability to communicate?

A: Your comment made my heart smile, thank you!  Delia is doing so well in so many ways, and we are thankful for every baby step she takes toward cracking the language thing.

She is such a puzzle.  When she wants to say a word, she says it so clearly and repeatedly that we are convinced she could just start talking if she wanted to.  She has so far mastered: Delia, Pippa, baby, all done, no, okay, hot, oww, knock, uh-oh and probably a few others I can’t think of right now.  She says them in appropriate situations, but somehow she isn’t quite using them in the way we use words.  It is more like she is mimicking than actually speaking.

She also continues to love to sign and learn new signs.  The way she uses sign seems to be a closer to true communication for her.  She will sign “no” after she does something she knows she shouldn’t (!), sign “nice” when we remind her to use gentle hands, and sign “dog” over and over again when she sees one.  She uses “more” and “water” regularly to ask for food and drink.  We even had her first “sentence” right after Annis was born when she clearly signed “more” followed by “baby” after holding Annis for a short time and wanting more.  At a guess I think she is at around the 20 sign mark, but they are not all clear, and sometimes she just gestures randomly, hoping to eventually hit on something that looks like a sign to us and gets her something good.


We are encouraged, though.  Her frustration level has gone down significantly as she has learned to express her wants and needs.  She will hopefully be starting speech therapy over the summer, and it will be interesting to see how that goes.  She was hit or miss with behaving well enough at occupational therapy for it to be of any value.  Similarly, she was too distracted and sometimes difficult at PT and we have decided to leave it for the summer and try again in the fall.  Speech therapy will be so dependent on her willingness to make an effort, and control is still such a huge, dominating factor for her.  We have every confidence that she has the ability to speak, but it will have to come on her terms.  There is absolutely no persuading her to do something she doesn’t want to.

*  *  *  *  *

Thanks again for your comments and questions.  If there’s anything else you’d like to know, fire away.  I’ve been doing a terrible job of coming up with topics of my own lately, so you may see me start posting more if you keep them coming!



Another Week, Another Update


Gym class at a friend’s house, and a much needed afternoon out of the house!

Sunday was rough.  I’d had a particularly long and harrowing night with Delia, and when Trevor got home (still the night shifts, remember?) I more or less collapsed on him.  Church was a huge blessing and just what my heart needed for refreshment, but sometimes when I’m in that collapse-y frame of mind, blessings can make me a little weepy.  I think I burst into tears on at least four different women after the service (not to mention the hymn and the sermon point that got the waterworks going before that), each time after thinking I’d pulled myself back together.  There’s something about that knowing “How are you?”  from a sister in the Lord that makes it very difficult to just say, “Great!  Things are going really well,” when frankly, things are just feeling hard.

On Sunday afternoon my mom called to let me know my great uncle had passed away, and the floodgates opened again.  Pippa commented, with the candor that only a child knows how to deliver, “Well, I’m just glad you’re crying about something that’s actually sad this time!”  I continue to be amazed by how perfectly fine and normal our life can feel to the kids when my world feels so very rocked at times, but when I chat with Pippa and Romilly in the evenings after the others are in bed, they faithfully encourage me that “Everything is fine, Mom.”  And it really and truly is.

I know we have been so prayed for this week.  God has heard and answered. It has been a very good week.  And as icing on the cake, Trevor found out last night that he does not have to work this Saturday night as originally planned, so we have a three-night week and a four-night weekend.  Having him home makes such a difference, and four days sounds almost too good to be true.


Sweet Coraline is wearing her sister down. No matter how many times Delia has pushed little toddler hands and feet away, Coraline has maintained, “Dee-la wuv me!” with complete conviction. Looks like she’s right after all.


Monday was the perfect day for a nature walk with Daddy.


On Monday afternoon, we had the blessing of a visit from an old friend of the family, Libby,  whose 12-year-old daughter also has autism.  What an incredible encouragement and resource they were!  We gleaned many practical tips on using sign language effectively and managing difficult behavior.  Libby’s particular area of expertise is diet and nutritional treatment for autism, and while I’m not quite ready to change our whole diet yet, we are eliminating a couple of easy-to-eliminate foods (bananas and raisins, who knew?) from Delia’s diet to see if it helps.  When Libby asked me, “Is she waking between 3 and 5 AM and laughing maniacally?” I knew I would do just about anything she told me to do next!

Tuesday saw Delia’s second significant snowfall since arriving home.  We had a very treacherous drive home from my midwife appointment that morning (who knew that much snow could accumulate in one hour!), but all is well with the baby.  At 32 weeks it seems that baby has decided to get in the right position, which was a relief since none of my other babies had stayed head-up as long as this one did – I was getting a bit nervous!

Yesterday the kids played in the snow, and again today.  Delia was ambivalent at best on her first snow experience, but today she was delighted!  I think she would have kept sledding all day if I had had the stamina to keep putting her in the sled for longer.


Pippa helped Delia get a good start at the top of our little hill.


Best thing ever!


Snow ice cream for a treat.

Yesterday, a lovely lady from church brought us two chicken pot pies, an enormous salad and a gallon of ice cream.  (Mental note: crying in church is embarrassing, but totally worth it!)  I haven’t cooked dinner in two days! 

We are having a lot of success with teaching Delia sign, and she loves watching baby sign videos on youtube as a family in the evenings.  All the kids do – they’re not used to so much TV time! She now repeats and/or uses signs for: more, eat, all done, nice, please, thank you, dog and maybe a few more I’m forgetting.  Understanding how visual children with autism are, I am trying to use a sign each time I ask her to do (or stop doing) something, and I believe this is helping us see some improvement in her behavior.  Sleep continues to be hit or miss, but last night was a very good night, so I’ll take it!


This morning we’d hardly begun our day (as you can see!) when all the kids became completely absorbed in this little craft project Pippa and Ro concocted…


Now all seven of the Young children have iDevices of some sort, a few of them multiple devices. Kids and their gadgets these days!

Thank you all for staying with this meandering post, and for praying for our family.  We feel so truly blessed by the love and support God has surrounded us with in all of you.

All About Delia (One Month Home!)

It’s been so hard to know, these past couple weeks, where to begin to share an update.  We have had some really rough days (and nights!) with Delia, and I haven’t wanted to share only the hard parts. We’ve also had some truly encouraging progress in some areas, but I haven’t wanted to gloss over the hard and share only the good either.  It’s taken me a little while, but I’m now feeling confident that the good is indeed winning.  Things will undoubtedly get worse in some ways before they get better, but they are getting better, and we are praising God.

  • Diagnosis.  First thing’s first.  It is time to finally type out the word that has stricken fear into my heart since we first began considering adopting Delia.  Autism.  I confessed one of my more ludicrous objections to adopting Delia in this post, but I didn’t tell you that one of my very real concerns was her tentative diagnosis.  I was so very at ease with adopting a child with obvious physical special needs (especially one who has, in practice, ended up hardly seeming “special needs” at all), but a child who looks completely typical but is in fact extremely delayed and possibly autistic?  Scary.  Perhaps you’ve heard the reluctant missionary’s song “Please don’t send me to Africa”?  Well, I was singing “Please don’t send me to autism.”  And here I am.

Delia has had her first appointment with a psychiatrist at the Children’s Hospital now, and he is fairly confident to let that diagnosis stand.  We are, too, now that we have lived with her for over a month.  Now that things are feeling more official on that front, we are beginning to learn the ropes and discover a wonderful community of parents ready to support us and offer their collective wisdom.  But it’s a pretty steep learning curve!

Delia is fully weaned off her medication now, and although she is still generally happy, she is very full-on, and her behavior has been intense.  I think I had been mentally preparing for the developmental delays and focusing my research on helping her learn to communicate, which will certainly be useful and has been already.  I was a bit less mentally braced for the behavioral side of things, which has definitely taken the front seat for the time being.

This verse has come to my mind often, and I’m clinging to it!

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18 (ESV)


  • Sleep.  At her first meeting with her psychiatrist, we brought up sleep as one of our primary issues (for now).  He recommended melatonin, which we had been thinking of trying anyway, and it has definitely helped.  Although Delia is still an extremely light sleeper, causing us to live in fear of a middle of the night potty trip or coughing spell (it is very tricky to sleep quietly at seven months pregnant!), she is now able to get back to sleep most of the time if woken up.  This has been huge both for our sanity and for her ability to function during the day.   We are still not at the point where she is sleeping well enough to share a room with our littlest three girls, but we are praying for continued improvement in this area in time for baby’s arrival in March.


  • Niko.  The number one question on everyone’s lips these past few weeks has been, “Do she and Niko remember each other?”  I love the idea of this as much as the next hopeless romantic, but we’re pretty sure…. not really.  She does seem to really remember Trevor, though, and she lights up for her daddy like no one else.


As an aside, we have been so struck since Delia’s homecoming by how very far our little man has come in just under two years.  You know how when you have a newborn, your toddler suddenly seems like an enormous genius?  Well, same effect when you adopt another child.  Suddenly his lingering difficult behaviors seem like completely typical 7-year-old boy stuff (and if he’s even still doing them, we’re hardly noticing!), and he’s speaking perfect Queen’s English.  Or near enough, anyway.  He has done so well with Delia’s transition into our family so far, and it seems to be doing him wonders to be one of the old, established members of the family.  Love that boy so very much.

  • Progress.  So much!  Delia signs “more” enthusiastically now both for food and for her beloved Miss Mary Mack-type clapping games with her sisters.  She also says her own name.  Loudly and often, and sometimes accompanied by a clap on her chest for extra emphasis!  And we always respond either by saying it back to her or by saying our own names.  She also attempts the word “hot” when being reminded about the stove in the kitchen, though she still prefers to get as close as she can before being shooed away.

She understands a huge amount of what we say to her, whether by true receptive language or just by learning our routines, it’s hard to know.  She responds to commands like, “Hands down (off the table, which she sometimes shakes in her enthusiasm for mealtimes),” “Use your spoon,” and “Let’s go brush your teeth” like she’s been speaking English her whole life.  She also now patiently waits until everyone has their food at mealtimes and happily holds hands while we pray.  A few short weeks ago she just looked at us like, “You guys just do your thing; I’m going to go ahead and eat!”  She definitely thrives on routines and structure, which may just force us to build more of those things into our lives.

We have also learned that her behavior is greatly improved by a structured time out of the house each day, which has given us a handy excuse to do some visiting this week.  It does us all good, and is definitely helping things to begin to feel “normal” again.

We have truly felt the prayers of friends and family since we’ve been home.  God is teaching me a whole new level of patience and dependence on Him, but He has given us peace and laughter in the midst of the crazy.  His grace is sufficient.