Monday, February 10, 2014

This adoption journey, not what I expected part 2

Much, Much earlier in our adoption journey-in fact almost exactly 2 years ago, I wrote a post entitled “This adoption journey, not what I expected” Today, I want to write a part 2 to that post.  I am hesitant to write these words, only because I desperately don’t want to be misunderstood. I don’t want anyone to think for an instant I regret our decision to adopt Joy. I love our spunky little girl with all my heart, but I want to be honest with you, this journey has been more difficult than I ever expected.
When our family first said “yes” to adoption, we knew in our hearts God was asking us to adopt a waiting child-a child who was older or who had a medical need.  We prayed much about what kinds of special needs we thought we could mesh into our family and filled out numerous forms with various questions about special needs.  When Joy’s file became available, we scrutinized it, prayed over it, sent it to medical doctors and prayed some more. We knew she had a malformation in her brain. We knew she had a seizure disorder and would likely be on medication to control her seizures for the rest of her life. We also knew she was struggling academically and had learning delays-especially in speech and language. While some of these things were daunting, we trusted God and took a step of faith and said “yes” to Joy.  The file also indicated from a psychologist’s report that her delays were likely just that: delays and she would eventually catch up with her peers. It seemed like a diagnosis we could handle. I figured between a little extra one on one time tutoring and working with the school system, we could help Joy overcome those delays. I am so glad God often does not give us all the details. I think He knows we would be likely to say “no” if we saw all the difficult days ahead and we would never walk fully in the plan He has for our lives.

The day we took Joy back to the hotel from the orphanage, I could tell that her delays were much, much bigger than we originally thought. She had not made any significant progress in the year we had been waiting to get her.  It was difficult at first to figure out if her lack of comprehension was from switching from mostly Tagalog to all English; or if it was from the trauma of all the changes in her life; or if it was her delays. For quite a while, I blamed her lack of progress on being in an orphanage with mostly babies. Also, I had read books where often kids reverted to a younger stage after they were adopted as a way to cope. I hoped as the weeks went by and as I worked with her, we would see improvement academically.  However, as the days and months went on, we saw Joy struggle daily in school. Some days she still doesn’t know the letters of the alphabet and she does not comprehend the sounds they make. She comes home from school exhausted and frustrated from trying, but her brain cannot wrap around the basic concepts of language or math.

While I knew adopting a child with special needs would be difficult, I did not expect to have to battle with the school system to get our daughter tested and the help she needs. The psychologist in the school system would not take the records from the Philippines and insisted her delays were from the language switch and lack of previous education-even though it was evident after some time there was definitely more to it. We have finally won the battle, but it took a letter from Joy’s neurologist with the list of scary terms like: “schizencephaly” and “mesial temporal sclerosis”.  We discovered through the MRI she has not just one small malformation in her brain, but rather several. We have also discovered that schizencenphaly is a rare malformation and there is little known about how it affects the brain. Joy will be tested over the next few weeks and hopefully we will be able find the best way to help her reach her full potential.

In this adoption journey, I did not expect my heart to break when my daughter busts into tears because is so frustrated trying to get us to understand what she wants to say.  I did not expect the worries, the wondering, and the unknowns of her medical diagnosis-at this point, we don’t know if she will ever learn to read or how to do basic math. She also had a small seizure the other day-the first we have ever noticed since she has been with us.  We don’t know if her seizures will get worse as she grows. There are a lot of unknowns. I thank God He is in control and He is faithful.

And so, this adoption journey has taken me down a road I didn’t expect-a road of heartache as my daughter struggles with school, communication and learning; and a road of joy as she learns to love and become a part of a family. Joy has a spunky nature and a joyful heart. She may not understand or comprehend everything, but she knows how to love. This adoption journey continues and we help our daughter reach her full potential. We trust in God that He put her in our family for a reason and no matter what she can or cannot do, we will love her.  We will nurture her. We will pray for her. We will be the family she never had-and in that, God will change us. He will mold me to be a better mother. He will give me deeper understanding and patience. He will help me reach out to others who have children with learning delays and disabilities. This is not the end of the journey, it is merely the start.

Please pray for me as I try to learn the best way to help Joy. If you are a parent of a child with schizencephaly, I would love to hear from you and connect with you. Please feel free to e-mail me at

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Trades of Hope Holiday Sale

I just wanted to let everyone know that Trades of hope is having a great holiday sale, today and tomorrow!!! : ) I just love Trades of Hope because I know I am helping women around the world with every purchase-and the products are just BEAUTIFUL!! :)  I am having an on-line holiday open house! Please share with others. With every purchase through this link, you will be entered to win a $20 gift certificate.  Thanks for your support and help, changing the lives of women in poverty!
 Don't forget to contact me if you have any questions or would like to join my team and become a Compassion Entrepreneur for Trades of Hope. It is a GREAT way to raise money for your adoption or help others raise money for their adoptions!
Be sure to like us on Facebook, too: Jenna Lewis-Trades of Hope
Thanks for you support and for helping to change lives!! :) Please feel free to SHARE!!

Joy Meets More Family!

Well, we survived the 12 1/2 hour trek to visit family in Iowa and Nebraska.  Joy got to meet a lot of the extended family for the first time, including cousins, aunts & uncles and Great Grandma and Grandpa! My grandma is 90 years old and my grandpa will turn 94 in January! It was such a blessing to see them and spend some time with them. We have such a great heritage of faith in our family! It is so good to be home, though. There really is no place like home!