Friday, April 23, 2010

Our Journey with Eli at 9 months home

We have now been home with Eli 9 months…and quickly approaching a year. The time has passed quickly as I knew it would. Shortly after coming home, as I walked around the neighborhood just starting to get to know this sweet, quiet, painfully shy little boy…I sensed that the Holy Spirit was telling me that Eli’s “transition” -- his “adjustment” would be slow, take a long time yet be uneventful. That is exactly how the last 9 months have panned out. He has made slow, very steady progress in all areas. He has had no notable attachment problems or sleep issues. Just slow and steady progress.

He is talking a lot at home, still not so much out in public and definitely not to strangers. He uses new phrases and words weekly. The past couple of days he’s been “concerned” about a blown light bulb in my bathroom. “The light is broken” he’d tell me several times a day. “Yes, Eli”, I’d say back, “And daddy will fix that when he gets back from his work trip.” Tonight he noticed the motion detector light go off outside. He quietly walked over and flipped the switch until the light came back on. He then ran into the kitchen and yelled, “Mommy! I fixed it! I fixed the light!”. Billy says boys just innately wanna fix things. He has picked up on all our little phrases and inside family jokes well…and uses them at appropriate times -- totally delighted to be “fitting in” around here!

He’s animated at home and LOVES when we are all together. He’s quite funny actually. Last night he sat through a 1 ½ hour long symphony concert. Nearing the end, during a very quiet transition he says in a LOUD EXASPERATED voice, “OH. MY. GOSH.“ throwing his head back as if he couldn’t stand one more song! When Billy laughed and leaned close to him to say, “Shhhhhhhhh” -- Eli leaned back and said, “Y O U SHHHHHHHH!”

He enjoys going places and doing things…especially as a family. He told his grandmother recently that he was “hiking with his family.” He does not, however, enjoy people outside our family talking to him still…he makes NO eye contact with strangers and turns his head when they attempt to communicate with him. I’ve grown tired of trying to “explain” his behavior…so I just don’t. J

I’ve only now begun to “leave” him places on a rare occasion…preparing both him and myself for Fall Preschool. This past week, I took him to the YMCA where I dropped him in his “class” for an hour. Upon picking him up, I asked, “Eli, did you do good?” He said, “No.” I said, “What did you do?” He said, “Cry.” He’ll get the hang of it -- so people tell me.

He still out eats his 10 year old brother…but hasn’t gained a pound. Seriously. He was 29.7 when we got here…and 30.1 pounds today! Instead he has grown 3+ inches in the last 9 months! He’s certainly doing better in the “potty training” arena -- although we still have a ways to go. He seems a little more relaxed and settled lately and therefore certainly open to discovering and enjoying all kinds of new things!

When we were in China, we were baffled that he didn’t seem interested in all the “new” things around. Surely, he’d never seen such before. Now we know that he didn’t have any sight there…so no…he hadn’t seen those things before. 9 months later…his “settled”ness and new found communication skills and ability to use his glasses have meant he is opening up to all kinds of things and interested in so much. It really is fun.

Having been institutionalized for soooooo long meant that little Eli truly came to us at the age of 2 ½ with NO family skills. He couldn’t communicate, eat with a fork, go to the potty, put on his shoes, smile, play, etc., etc, etc. At present, he has 9 months of “Family Skills” under his belt. And as we all know, “9 months” is a much more delightful stage than “newborn”…if you understand what I mean! He still seems so little and young to us.

I told a friend the other day that I see how “one year home” will be good -- but that “three years home” will be even better. She reminded me not to wish the time away…which is not how I really meant it anyhow. I do look forward to the day where Eli has been in my home for longer than he’s been in that orphanage…to a day when he’s had a mommy longer than a nanny. Whereas I am one to enjoy the here and now (when the here and now is enjoyable), I look forward to a day when we have even more memories of Eli being with us.

On another note, all the rest of us are doing well too. It’s been a roller coaster for me with happy moments, fears that we were under too much stress or that we’d never find a new normal, crazed moments where I just knew I have more kids than any one else on the planet and there is no way I can take care of them all, and deeply satisfied moments too. God has been faithful to our family and we are truly all learning and growing. Just like those that have BTDT have told me…we all DO INDEED seem to be finding a new normal. A blessed, satisfied new normal.

Eli's Most Recent Eye Exam....(warning: LONG)

Well, it’s been 9 months since we’ve brought Eli home. His recent eye surgery was telling. When we left to get Eli we expected him to have Cataracts in both eyes and childhood Glaucoma. In reality, Eli had HAD cataracts as an infant…most likely either from birth or from an infection shortly after birth. Chinese doctors had performed a surgery before his first birthday to remove the cloudy lens from each eye. This sounds severe, but our doctor assured me that this is the same surgery we would have performed on an infant with cataracts here in America. Apparently, by mistake, the lens was not completely removed in one eye. Therefore, when the cataract began to develop again in that eye, he underwent a second surgery to remove the piece of damaged lens. As you may be wondering, no, you can not see without your lens. What SHOULD have happened, was that Eli SHOULD have been put into glasses right away to correct his FOCUS. Eli went 2 years in the orphanage with no glasses. As a result his eyes became more and more OUT of FOCUS. Our American Doctor is sure that in China, he could see little more than light/dark. In the meantime, Eli was also developing higher and higher eye pressure in his right eye. Just like high blood pressure damages a heart…high eye pressure damages the optic nerve. Eli’s right eye pressure measured double what it should have been. During the surgery to correct that, the American Doctor discovered that Eli had a birth defect in his eye that could be corrected. However, “birth defect” meant that Eli had most likely had the high eye pressure since…well…BIRTH. He was now three years old.

His recent eye exam performed under anesthesia showed approx 99.9% damage to his right optic nerve. The .1% vision that was left was being impeded by the scarring from the previous surgeries. The scar could be removed, but the risk to his eye would out weigh the .1% vision he might recover. The Doctor recommends leaving it alone.

Upon leaving that visit, I pondered all I had just heard. Not best case scenario…but not worst case either. Oddly, I felt better reminding my self that Eli’s vision problems (which could have totally been taken care of in infancy) were not my fault. I wasn’t the one who had neglected him. I reminded myself that the amount of money I have or don’t have rather combined with the high cost of medical care…and the fact that I have more children than I know what to do with…these things are not the cause of Eli’s vision loss. I replayed the words of the Doctor -- that in fact -- Eli hadn’t “lost” any vision. From birth, Eli had simply never developed vision and for him there was no big difference here. He was simply seeing how he’d always saw.

In the meantime, the Doctor said, we’d work on strengthening the vision and focus of his left eye (he’ll still hopefully be a good candidate for an artificial lens put in in the future)…and work on saving the right eyeball. The Doctor mentioned that prosthetic eyes are very real looking and that no one would know that Eli’s eye wasn’t real unless they were very, very close to him. I of course attempt not to shudder when the Doctor talks of fake eyeballs, but in this case, Eli would probably appear more “normal” with a prosthetic eye. On the other hand, saving the eyeball means that future advanced procedures that may “re-grow” his optic nerve would be a possibility. The Doctor is not optimistic that his eye can be saved. It’s already very red and some what painful to Eli. That along with the very low pressure is an indication that the eye is getting ready to die for lack of better words.

We pray over him of course, and like good Charismatic Christians claim everything we know to claim over him. But the reality is that when my young son walks up to me and says, “Mommy, Eli eye hurt” - I feel the need to act and do something. If we do end up needing to remove Eli’s eye, I’m not disappointed. For all practical purposes, we are married too this once “Waiting Child”. When adopting him we were presented with the “risks” -- the best case AND worst cast scenarios. We still gladly, purposefully, joyfully, educated and with eyes wide open took on the task of making him a member of our family. There are 7 people who live in my household and I can’t fully or even mostly say where life will take any of us, after all. Only God knows where Eli is headed and to have both eyes completely restored -- isn’t the big miracle here anyway. The BIG miracle…what I have real, burning faith to believe God for is this…that Eli has a bright future now. He won’t be a beggar on the streets of China, who lost vision in both eyes without anyone to advocate for his health -- living in disrespect, cold at night and wondering where his next meal may come from. On the contrary, he’ll grow surrounded by a family…he’ll go to college…he’ll remember dozens of Christmas mornings and bday parties…he’ll watch family movies and fight with his big brother…he’ll have his favorite stories read to him over and over and get an IPOD all his own…he’ll have multiple pairs of shoes and good food that he can have at any moment. He’ll be able to find himself in HUNDREDS of Ramsdell Family Photos. He’ll be reminded over and over by his parents why God created him, who God created him do be and the purpose for which he lives…he’ll have parents who draw these things out of him and call him to be a disciple of Jesus…he’ll have the opportunity to become new…to have old things pass away…THAT is the BIG LIFE TRANSFORMING MIRACLE. Regardless of which way we go, in our home God is still God…and we’ve learned to say in all sorts of circumstances that He is good…as will Eli.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lizzie's lastest blog...

My Lizzie wrote a blog recently that I thought was's the link! Enjoy!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Trip to Breckenridge

This past weekend we headed to Breckenridge, Colorado for some much needed rest after what's been a very stressful month (or two...or three...I've lost count). My wonderful husband made arrangements for our trip to be moved up a couple of weeks and it turned out so great! Here's a view of Peak 7.

Here's a view of the same peak from the balcony of our hotel....

On the way there, we stopped to see the Buffalo...we eat these here in Colorado. They make for tasty burgers.

We drove through a tunnel that I imagine was in the movie 'I Robot'.

We ate a cupcake from $3 I've spent in a L O N G time.

B got to level 100 on the 1981 version of Galaga...I had a little trouble and ran out of men on level 5...if B could only do THIS for a living....

We got a free crepe....amazing....

We relaxed by the fire....

Watched people snowboard and ski...

We shopped and didn't ride this...

Here's B as he is in his mind...

Here's me pretty much doing this stuff everyday....

Bottom line...all parents deserve 24 hours with no one knocking on the door, asking what's for dinner, and hogging up all the hot least once a year! :)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Eli being Jon Egan

"You hold it all together. You hold it all forever. You hold it all, you started it all, you are my all in all."