Friday, April 29, 2011

Happy 13th Birthday, Maeleigh!

Maeleigh celebrated her 13th birthday last week. We had a cake sent to her and we sent a package full of art supplies and art books, and a photo album with lots of pictures of all of us. I was thrilled to get these pictures this morning and to see her happy face as she blew out the candles and cut the cake. Our homestudy is now finished and we are waiting for a fingerprint appointment, to be able to send our dossier to China. We are getting there!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Shane update

I wanted to put in a little update on Shane, who is now home 18 months! Hard to believe the same little boy who was rolled up in a ball most of the time, crying for every need, not sleeping (wow, was that hard) and non-responsive, is the same little guy who you see here. This is his school picture, and we were so thrilled when we saw how they captured his little smile.

Shane is learning every day, and he has so much to learn. When we met him he had skills of about a 9 month old, could not hold anything in his hands, could not even attempt to feed himself,could not walk up stairs and had no communication. Now, he uses a fork or spoon, needs some help with scooping, walks up and down stairs with no help, climbs onto anything and everything, and while he does not say words, we know he can say some things, and he understands what we are saying, which is huge!

Shane keeps us busy all day, when he is not in school, and he can be annoying to the girls (as only little brothers can be!) but they love him so much and they teach him every day. Meghan has taught Shane to give hugs and kisses, and to see him wrap his arms around you and press his face into your cheek is like having every Christmas gift for your entire life wrapped into one. Shannon has taught him to tumble, and he can now tumble on command on the trampoline!  Shane and his dad have such a wonderful relationship, all centered around play and rough housing. He loves to climb up into Matt's arms, and then he scramble onto his head, and then laughs and flips around, as Matt swings him into the air.The laughing and happy screaching is one of the best sounds you could ever hear!

In addition to his many skills, Shane is learning to use a cane to walk, and will walk for longer periods of time with the cane, with some assistance. He loves to tap the floor with the cane, and when he hits an obstacle, he reaches out to feel what it is. He has an amazing spatial sense, and will walk towards the steps, for instance, nd before his hand finds the rail, he will lift his foot to the exact place where the the step is. Something like this cannot be taught, but can be experienced and then learned.

Music continues to be the way Shane learns, and his song repertoire continues to expand.The other day he was singing "Tora-Lora-Lora" ! Nothing like a little Irish lullaby for my little Chinese man!

We are so excited to see him learn and grow and develop, in  a relatively short amount of time. He is in the process of an evaluation for his school-age program, and we should be having an IEP soon. Hopefully, he will be going to the school for the Blind next year. As much as we love where he is now, he is ready to move on.

As we wait for our homestudy to be finished, we will be one step closer to getting Maeleigh! Will try to keep updates coming along.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sophie's Kimmel Center Debut

"Peace, peace, peace, never ending. Joy, joy, joy, overflowing.
Love, love, love, everlasting, and true...this is my gift for you."

"Hello, my God , it's me, again,
there's nothing much I want to say just hello my God.
Hello, my God, it's me again. 
It's good to take the time to say hello to you. (Hello, to you)
I've got a lot to tell you, that it makes me glad to know, 
that you're always there, to hear me say 'hello' to you.
"Hello, my child, (Hello, my God)
Are you listening my love? (I am listening my God).
Listen well, there's something special I want you to know.
Hello, my child. (Hello, my God)
Believe me my love. (I believe you my God)
You make me glad when you give me the chance to tell you I love you.
Hello my God, ( Hello, my child)
It's me again, (believe me my love)
You make me glad when you give me the chance to tell you I love you,
(I love you my child)


Well, she was a long way from Zhengzhou, China, a few weeks ago when along with her school, Archbishop Ryan Academy for the Deaf and St. Lucy's Day School for the Blind, Sophie performed at the magnificent Philadelphia Kimmel Center. Above, you will see two videos, the first is the performance itself, the second one is the rehearsal. It was an experience that I will never forget.I was awestruck by the kids, some of them blind, three of the deaf kids from Sophie's school, and then the older kids who are developmentally delayed (from a different school).

I have been working with special needs kids for as long as I can remember. I know so much about the education, developmental levels, etc. for kids starting at birth. I know about reaching goals, developing strategies, and counseling parents. But what I learned that night was the true impact these special kids have on people, and the irony that they are just being themselves, and have no idea just how 'special' they are.

 The Kimmel Center was packed, completely full to the rafters, and during the kids' performance  I watched the people in the audience. At first they were stunned as the kids began to sing, and all of the were doing sign language, including the blind children. And then the tears began to flow.One after another, including and especially the dads and grandfathers, were visibly brushing tears from their eyes. When the first notes of "Hello, My God" played, anyone who was not crying began to cry. By the time the last note finished, the audience rose as one with a thunderous applause reserved only for the most accomplished of artists.  No matter the talent that has filled the stage through the years, I'm sure it was never so full of guardian angels who must have been beaming at the beauty and simplicity of their special charges.

The first time I heard "Hello, My God"  was at the St. Lucy Day Mass at Sophie's school in December 2010, just about a month after we came home with Shane. When I heard the first notes of the song, watching the blind children sing it, and holding the hand of my own child who is blind, the tears flowed freely. I felt the song like a warm hug, a blessing, as I struggled to deal with Shane's many needs and many delays. It is a song that takes your breath away at its simplicity, and makes you take a step back, listening to the words of a small child talking to God, knowing that not only is God listening, but He is so happy to hear His child speaking to him. It make us realize that we are God's little children, and He loves us so dearly, and wants us to just talk to Him, just tell Him we love him. As the parent of two 'special needs' children, (soon to be three!) there is so  much more to them that is 'special' than that which is 'needy'. Often we are the ones who are more needy, and we miss the 'special' things in life that our children are here to teach us.

I am so blessed to be in the presence of angels, every day.

I am listening, my God....