Monday, March 23, 2015

New Boots!

On Tuesday Faith and I headed back over to Texas Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas for her second set of casts. The doctor was very impressed by how well her feet are doing in the casts and she gave us some great news! Because of how well her feet are responding, she will only need one more set before her surgery! This is amazing! We were told to expect 6 casts, then when her first set was put on, the doctor told us, probably less than 6 - now we are at 3 casts! Half the casts expected!! 

Last time I decorated Faith's casts with ballet slippers. This time she got Cowboy boots!! 

Now she is an official Texan! LOL!

Faith's surgery is scheduled for April 13th. Then she will wear her final set of casts for 4 weeks while she recovers from her surgery. Before we know it she will be walking, running and jumping!! Praise the Lord!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Dedicating Faith

A few months ago Byron and I noticed that Baby Dedication Sunday was coming up at our church. Byron asked me to sign us up - we felt it was important to have Faith dedicated. So I filled out the form on our church's website. A few minutes later, I received an email that our information had been received and that we should get an email with more information within 10 days. Well, 10 days came and went, so I emailed the contact person letting her know that we had signed up our newly adopted 3 year old, but not received any further information. She replied back, very graciously, that she had to check with our pastor because of Faith's age. A few days later, we were notified that we would be put on the list for dedications and that she would give me a call the week before the dedications. The next thing I knew, an email was sent out to the adoptive families in the church that the baby dedication was now being opened up to families who had recently adopted a child!! We started something! 

How beautiful is our little girl in her "dedication dress"?

So, on March 8th, we got to church early to take part in the dedication service! My parents and my sister along with her family were able to come up and attend the service - we needed a whole row for our crew!

There were quite a few families of Denton Bible Church who participated in the Baby Dedication that morning.

Our pastor, Tommy Nelson, spoke about what a baby dedication is and the blessing that children are to their parents. Then he presented each child being dedicated by reading the parent's name and the child's name. A funny thing happened when he got to us. Denton Bible Church is a BIG church. We have many dear friends and family in the congregation, but, though we have met Tommy a few times, we really don't know him personally. For most of the families Tommy would say something like, "I present to you John and Jane Doe and their son little Johnny." BUT when he got to us, for some reason he said, "A daughter is born to Byron and Michelle Serna, Faith RenLan Serna." It completely took me by surprise. Out of all of those families we were one of two that had adopted our child and yet he said, "A daughter is born to". 

But the more I thought about it, the more I really liked that we were the ones that he said that about. I did not carry Faith in my womb. She was not made from Byron's or my DNA. I did not give birth to her, but she was born to be ours. Psalm 139:16 says that all of Faith's days were written in God's book before one of them came to be. God knew that we were her parents before we knew that we were her parents. She was born to be a Serna. 

A daughter was born to Byron and Michelle Serna. Faith RenLan Serna.

This is a picture of the big screen - look how proud Gabe is of his little sister and how Selah can't take her eyes off of her. 

Faith waved at everyone when her name was called and as we walked to our seats after the dedication. She was now dedicated back to the Lord. He has given her to us for a little while to love, to take care of and to bring her up in the training and instruction of the Lord. 

And so in Faith's dedication, we promised as her parents to do just that. We promised publicly to model a godly life to her and her brothers and sister. We promised to teach her about Jesus and that He loved her so much he died for her. And we promised to show her how important it is to be in fellowship with His church. 

We Praise the Lord for the gifts He has given us when he gave us Gabe, Selah, Mig and Faith. They are truly blessings and our treasures! 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

New Shoes

Part of the fun of having casts is letting friends sign them, right? 

So far, Faith has adapted very well to the casts. She can crawl fast, climb stairs and even climb onto her bed. The first evening and the first full day with the casts were quite frustrating for her, but now, she is very used to them. Her brothers and sister thought it was pretty cool that they could decorate them for her and last weekend she wanted her triplet cousins, Aunt Rachel and GiGi and PopPop to add to the decorations, too! I'll be a little sad when this first set of casts come off - but it might be fun to decorate new casts every two weeks! 

Friday, March 13, 2015

What Makes Faith Special? - Special Needs Adoption

When we announced our intent to adopt internationally we also let it be known that we were going through China's Special Needs Program. However, once we were matched with Faith, I never really explained what her specific special needs are and a lot of people have been curious. Before we met her, I felt funny about sharing much of her needs since I didn't even know her myself yet. Also, sometimes, you are told a child has a need and then once you have that chid you realize that the need isn't there or is something different all together. I decided I would wait to describe her needs on the blog until after we had her in our arms. Since we have been home I have been so busy, that I haven't really had time to write it all out. But now, I feel like it is time.

Faith was born with club feet and malformed fingers. We now know that these are part of a full diagnosis of Distal-Arthrogryposis.

Arthrogryposis is a condition that causes joints to be stiff and crooked at birth. Many of the joints in her feet and fingers lack normal range of motion, these are called joint contractures. Club foot is a common deformity of the feet of babies born with arthrogryposis. Because of her club feet, Faith only recently started walking. When she walks, she walks on the side of her feet.

When Faith was about a year old, she was prepped to have surgery on her feet to correct them. When they were getting her ready, they discovered that she also had Hirschsprung's Disease. Hirschsprung's is a disorder of the abdomen where all or part of the nerves in the large intestine do not function. Before her foot surgery, they had to remove a large portion (possibly all) of her large intestine. Because of her shortened colon, Faith's body has trouble absorbing all of her nutrients. It is very easily maintained with a careful diet. Her colon issues have not been that big of a difficulty, Praise the Lord!

Here is Faith after her first foot and colon surgery.

On Thursday, March 5th, we braved the icy roads to go to Dallas' Scottish Rite Hospital for Children to have a consultation about Faith's hands and feet.

First, we saw the hand specialist. She had x-rays taken of her hands, and we saw the Occupational Therapist. Faith's fingers curve out toward the outside of her hands on both sides, but she has good strength and movement. Right now, all she needs for her hands are some stretches and exercises.

Working with the Occupational Therapist:

Next, we saw a nurse practitioner about Faith's feet. She was certain that Faith would need something more done about her feet. While we were waiting to see the doctor, we asked permission to have a picnic lunch in the exam room. All of the kids (and mommy and daddy, too) were starved!

Soon the doctor came in. She examined Faith's feet and told us our options. Option 1 was that Faith could have another major foot surgery. The other option she gave us was to do what is called the Ponseti Method. In this method of treatment, gentle manipulation and casting is performed on a bi-weekly basis. The casts would cover her legs from her foot to her hips and would hold the foot in the corrected position, allowing it to gradually re-shape. She went on to tell us that Faith would need 6 casts. After the 6th casting, Faith would then undergo a small surgery to lengthen her Achilles Tendon. After the surgery, she will remain in casts for 4 weeks to let the tendon heal. Then, once those casts come off she will only need a brace at night. 

We chose option 2. Because of the icy roads, most people had cancelled their appointments that day which meant, there was a spot for Faith to get the casts that day! So we went straight from her appointment to the casting room! 

They let Gabe assist in putting on Faith's casts:

She did very well while they were casting her legs.

Once they had the casts on, her doctor said she did so well and she was able to rotate her foot so much this first cast that she doesn't think it will take 6 casts to correct! YAY!!

Faith's club feet, hands and her intestinal issues are how she was classified as a "Special Needs Adoption" through China. But, they aren't what make her special. What makes her special is her tenacity, her spunk, the way her eyes sparkle when she is really happy, the way she doesn't let anything -not even full length casts on both legs - hold her back. What makes her special is the way she captivates everyone she meets. She is special because she is a survivor and because she has determination like only one person I have ever known,  her Papa Serna. But mostly she is special because she is a child of God and I know He has BIG plans for this special little girl!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Home 3 Months

 It is hard to believe that Faith has already been home for 3 months! She is changing, growing and learning so fast!! For the other kids I did portraits once a month for their first year of life. For Faith I am doing portraits once a month for her first year home. 

Here she is on Gotcha Day:

One month home:

Two months home:

And now 3 months home:

The above picture is so meaningful to us. If you haven't read this post about how the ladybug and the sunflower were a sign to us to say yes to her file, you will have to go read it. It is an amazing story of God's hand and faithfulness in our journey to adopting Faith. 

Faith's new thing this month is babbling. She can tell quite the story using hand motions and facial expressions, but no words that we can understand. It is adorable!!

She is up to 23 pounds now! This is great considering that she was not quite 19 pounds when she was placed in our arms!

Though she babbles to tell a story, she also has some English words. She can say please and thank you, Momma, Dada, Selah, Bubba, baby, drink, milk, eat, flower, and a few more. This month she is learning to count and how to identify her body parts. A new word this month is "Miggy". Usually it is used in her favorite phrase, "No, Miggy". Poor Mig. Ha!

She is adorable and such a blessing! She is fitting into our family perfectly!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Snow Days 2015

Like much of the country, we had snow last week. 

Faith liked it at first.

But when there was more snow a few days later, she wanted nothing to do with the freezing, wet stuff! 

Mig, on the other hand, would stay outside in the snow for hours on end if I let him.

It was/is still cold!

Selah loves snow angels. 

I love snowy scenes...

Especially the ones I can view from indoors!

Of course, snow days are the best days to have hot cocoa. 

We also set out a big metal bowl to "harvest" snow for snow ice cream. 

This year I mixed 1 cup of milk with 1/4 cup of sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla and a few drops of blue food coloring. I put the mixture in the refrigerator until we were ready to bring the snow inside. Then I measured 4 cups of snow into the mixture and stirred it. I let the kids add sprinkles. It was a big hit!

As fun as it can be, I am hoping for warm temps soon!!