Friday, June 24, 2011

A Day in the Life of the Lancasters

Wednesday night, we went to St Louis and Pricelined a hotel room because we had to be at St. Louis Children's hospital by 8:30 am Thursday.  With all these trips to St Louis, I've become quite a Priceline junkie.  We typically like to stay at hotels we are familiar with - so Priceline definately takes us out of our comfort zone and each trip is a little adventure.

Now, most kids who live near St. L grow up with grand childhood memories of visiting the zoo, Six Flags, the Magic House - with the addition of Lori - I think our kids are going to treasure memories of St L  Children's Hospital.  It's such a neat place and they have gone above and beyond to make it family friendly.    While Lori was evaluated by members of the Cochlear Implant team (looks like her surgery will be mid-August if all goes well) - the other kiddos played in the Rooftop Garden and the ever-popular Sibling Playroom.  They also marveled at the Saltwater aquariums (who wouldn't!) that dot the landscape.  Eye Candy is everywhere!  Even the Parking Garage contains hidden treasures.

After we left the hospital, we needed a little pick-me-up and decided to search for a Starbucks.  Thanks to our handy-dandy GPS app - we discovered one super close.  Problem is - it's not such a great idea to manuver a Suburban through the swanky little area near the  hospital.  So, we circled the same block at least 4-5 times to find a parking spot big enough.  Brought flashbacks of the classic European Vacation movie where Chevy Chase gets stuck in the London round a bout and repeatedly points out  - "There's Big Ben, Kids, and Parliament".  Finally Jay just pulled up and I jumped out to go in.  He circled yet again to pick me up.

Our adventure continued as we searched out the local Social Security Office.  Our insurance had insisted that we submit Lori's social security number by close of day on June 23.  Guess what - it's June 23 and her number was applied for on June 22.  Not our fault - by the way.  That's just the way it happened.  To get her SS number, she had to have a birth cert.  To get a birth cert - we had to process the adoption through the Missouri court system.  To do that - we had to have a court date.  To get a court date - we had to have  a lawyer draw up the papers.  Etc.  You get the picture - there were quite a few hoops to jump through and even after overnighting some necessary paperwork - here we were on the very last day.  

As we neared the SS office - the neighbor hood "changed".  One of those "lock the doors" moments.   However, Jay jumped out and got the number without any issues - although he did have to check his trusty pocket knife at the door.   As we were leaving, we spotted a Hair shop - you know the ones with bars on the windows and grafitti on the wall that sells hair extensions, fake nails, and cheap jewelry.  I wanted to stop in and see if they had any toupee tape.  Lori's hearing aids don't fit well - and we use toupee tape to stick them behind her ears.  Jay pulled in and I jumped out.  I walked in to find the store owners were Asian.  I explained what I needed and through broken English and hand gestures - they figured out that they did indeed have the tape.  I struck up a conversation with the lady checking me out and asked if they were by any chance from China.  Now, pay attention, this was some interesting info she gave me....

She said they were from Korea - and that most Koreans operate Hair stores, then she broke it down even further.  According to her - Koreans sell hair products, Vietnamese do nails, Chinese open restaurants, and immigrants from India have gas stations and Dunkin' Donuts. 

So, there you have it.  A day in the life of the Lancasters.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sleepy and Cranky at VBS

This week is VBS at our church...and Camille and I are both active in different stations...Camille in crafts and me outside doing recreation...tonight, Matt was gone for work, and right before the first group came to us, Maddie brought me Lori.  She was cranky and sleepy and mad, and Camille told Maddie to bring her to me...So she stayed by me, crying and screaming, while I talked with the first group...we muddled through it with the help of Miss Sherrie who took Lori to the kitchen for a snack.  While the kids from the first group were still playing, I caught up with Lori and Miss Sherrie in the kitchen and carried Lori outside, where we sat down to watch the kids play.  I held her close and rocked while sitting in the grass, as she threw a little fit.  After a few minutes of rocking, though, she got still and quiet...she was OUT!

We knew she was tired.  And I got her asleep...but now what???...we have another group of kids coming soon...I couldn't take her to some room in the church...if she woke up by herself in a strange room, she would freak I asked someone closeby to grab a crib mattress I saw in a spare sunday school classroom.

I was able to move her to the mattress,  as it laid in the grass close to our games...and she slept there outside with me all night until VBS was over.  One nice thing about having a child with hearing loss is that the kids can be playing loudly all around her, and she can sleep perfectly.

It was funny to watch the kids and adults walk outside for our recreation station to see a 2 year old asleep outside on the crib mattress sitting on the grass.  I guess its something you just don't see everyday!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

It's Official...again!

(from Jay)

This morning, we started off the day at the County Courthouse. We sat down before court began with the Judge, our attorney, the guardian ad-litem, and a couple court clerks. Camille and I and Lori all attended, and Camille and I went through a number of official questions that we had to answer under oath. It was interesting, almost surreal, going through the details of our adoption of Lori…Do you love this child? Do you plan to care for and educate this child? Will this child be an heir along with your biological children? Did you go to China an officially adopt this child of your own will? It was like we were reliving the process of the last year and a half. It was a great time. And before we were dismissed, Camille jumped on the opportunity to share our story regarding Lori to those in attendance…and honestly, I think they were completely listening and taking note of every detail of Camille’s story-telling. It was great.

But everything passed and our ‘adoption of a child from a foreign country’ was officially recognized by the county and the state of Missouri. This now allows us to get Lori a birth certificate from the State of Missouri, and the birth certificate will allow us to get her a Social Security number and card…and then…well…we’re done! She’s official! She’s a US Citizen. She’s a Missouri Resident. She will have a birth certificate and a social security card. She’s our daughter. She has the same rights as our other five (biological) children. She has had her name officially changed from Wu Hao Yu to Lori Faith Lancaster.


That’s worth a moment of silence.

But then, as we traveled home this morning, my mind drifted to think about a young Chinese couple…living somewhere in Hebei Province…that loved their daughter enough not to abort her…that loved her enough to study when and where to leave her, and left her with a note and with clean clothes, a warm blanket, and some personal items…a couple that lie down in bed at night and wonder what happened to their daughter that they left in that cardboard box at about six weeks old…maybe because she was their 2nd child…and if found, she could have been killed…

I wish that we could send them a letter or call them and let them know that she’s doing great! That their plan worked! That she is living in the land of the free with a family that loves her and cares for her! That she has brothers and sisters that she plays and fights with. That she could be getting cochlear implants soon, and that by Christmas, she may be able to hear us sing Christmas carols about the newborn king. Oh MAN how I wish I could reassure them and put them at ease. I pray that God will let them know for us in His own sovereign way.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Summer Reading List

So, I took a really cute picture of all my Summer Reading books laid out on our hammock - and, well, I can't seem to find any adaptors that fit my camera and this laptop.   Bummer!

But, I do have a great list of summer reading books that I wanted to share with you - so I did a little cut and paste as a back-up plan.  Here they are - hope you can find some time to enjoy a few good books this summer, too!  If you have other books to recommend - please leave your titles in the comments section.  Thanks

I'm really excited about this book for the kids.  I think we'll use it with our family devos at night (which btw have suffered dearly due to ball season!)  If you've read Training Hearts, Teaching Minds by Meade - you know how great she is at explaining the Scriptures in a hearty way for little minds.     Forty interactive readings introduce children ages 8–12 to God’s saving work and the priority of the gospel by creatively unpacking Paul’s teachings in Galatians.
Long before we reach adulthood, the gospel ought to be shaping our lives. Paul taught the core truths of the gospel in his letter to the Galatians, and this collection of interactive readings for preteens applies those truths in understandable ways.
Each reading begins with a key verse and then highlights one element of the gospel in everyday terms, followed by questions and activities that reinforce Paul’s teaching. Meade guides young readers to a full picture of God’s saving work, as well as a real understanding of other doctrinal concepts such as justification by faith alone, the priority of Scripture, the requirements for apostleship, and the relationship between the old and new covenants.
For parents and teachers who want to awaken young hearts to a lifelong commitment to the gospel, God’s Mighty Acts in Salvation is a great resource. This is a companion volume to God’s Mighty Acts in Creation.

Just like you, Ann Voskamp hungers to live her one life well. Forget the bucket lists that have us escaping our everyday lives for exotic experiences. 'How,' Ann wondered, 'do we find joy in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama, and daily duties? What does the Christ-life really look like when your days are gritty, long---and sometimes even dark? How is God even here?' In One Thousand Gifts, Ann invites you to embrace everyday blessings and embark on the transformative spiritual discipline of chronicling God's gifts. It's only in this expressing of gratitude for the life we already have, we discover the life we've always wanted ... a life we can take, give thanks for, and break for others. We come to feel and know the impossible right down in our bones: we are wildly loved --- by God. Let Ann's beautiful, heart-aching stories of the everyday give you a way of seeing that opens your eyes to ordinary amazing grace, a way of being present to God that makes you deeply happy, and a way of living that is finally fully alive. Come live the best dare of all!

This is an incredible story about an ordinary woman who saw incredible needs and decided to do something about it - not just talk about it, but actually put feet to her words. It's not ok with me either and I'm sure it won't be ok with you once you read the book. It challenges you to act on what you've just read in a powerful and moving way. So I challenge you to read it and then get out of your chair and do something!   This book came recommended by a dear friend at church.  Really looking forward to unpacking these pages!
"Noël Piper tells the stories of five women whose lives declare something we have almost forgotten-what it means to be a Christian. May the influence of this book cause that awareness to burn brightly again in our generation!"
Ray and Jani Ortlund, Christ Presbyterian Church, Nashville, Tenn.

Breakthrough author Francis Chan rips away paper and bows to get at the true source of the church’s power—the Holy Spirit. Chan contends that we’ve ignored the Spirit for far too long, and we are reaping the disastrous results. Thorough scriptural support and compelling narrative form Chan’s invitation to stop and remember the One we’ve forgotten, the Spirit of the living God.

"I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me."Matthew 25:42-43 ESV
In many Bibles, Christ's words are set apart with a red font. It should be obvious, but this distinction helps remind us that when God becomes Man and that Man speaks--it's probably something we cannot afford to miss.
So why doesn't the church take these " red letters" to heart? Why aren't we doing more to be Christ's hands and feet to the poor, the disenfranchised, the weary, the ill, the fatherless, the prisoners? It's all there--in red letters. Why has the Church shirked its responsibilities, leaving the work to be done by governments, rock stars, and celebrities?
The Gospel wasn't only meant to be read--it was meant to be lived. From the HIV crisis in Africa to a single abused and lonely child in Russia, the Church must seize the opportunity to serve with a radical, reckless abandon. Author Tom Davis offers both challenge and encouragement to get involved in an increasingly interconnected, desperate modern world.

Art critic John Ruskin enthusiastically proclaimed her potential as one of the best artists of the nineteenth century, but Lilias Trotter's devotion to Christ compelled her to surrender her life of art, privilege, and leisure. Leaving the home of her wealthy parents for a humble dwelling in Algeria, Lilias defied sterotypes and taboos that should have deterred any European woman from ministering in a Muslim country. Yet she stayed for nearly forty years, befriending Algerian Muslims with her appreciation for literature and art and winning them to Christ through her life of love.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Update on Lori

(from Jay)

For those new to our blog, we are blessed to have legally been the proud parents of Lori Faith for a little over three months now. And for a good portion of those three months, we have been working with doctors, nurses, audiologists, speech pathologists, radiologists, ENTs, and First Steps providers to determine the severity of Lori’s deafness, and to see if there is anything we can do about it.

Well, from a non-SLP perspective, we have learned that Lori is profoundly deaf, and that hearing aids do not help. We, then, started walking down the path of seeing if cochlear implants were an option that could help her. To determine eligibility, we have had to see about three doctors, several audiologists, a couple speech pathologists, get an EKG, get numerous hearing tests…but our most recent trip to St. Louis involved Lori getting an MRI of her head.

First and most important, let me say that when your child is about to be sedated and they tell you that you are not to let them eat ‘anything’…that they really mean it. And if you tell them that your child had one bite of bread because they were fussy and hungry, they will only make you sit there and wait an additional six hours until they feel comfortable proceeding. This past Wednesday, we experienced this exact event. Around 10:30, Lori was fussy, and Camille gave her a bite of a pastry we had from stopping in Perryville…at Hoeckle’s I might add…bad call on my part probably….but we thought nothing of a small bite of a pastry.

Turned out to be a big hairy deal, and they pushed our MRI from 12:30 back to 4:30 (6 hours from the 10:30 bread incident). So…we walked around a lot, and finally made a brief stop over at the Art Museum in Forest Park (which is across Kingshighway from Children’s Hospital). It was there that we learned that older, female, museum volunteers get very upset when an 8 year old starts touching very old, very expensive paintings. Apparently in the brief moment I wasn't watching Chloe, she decided to get a closer look at one of the paintings.  I thought they were gonna throw us out...

But we survived, and made it back to Children’s for the big MRI. Lori first had to get an IV inserted into her hand. She took it like a champ. I am often blown away by her lack of response to pain. I suppose that at an orphanage, there is no one right there to pick you up and make a big deal with you get hurt…combined with the fact that she doesn’t hear her own cries…she is amazingly tough, and doesn’t cry much when she gets hurt.

They wheeled her away, and we waited for them to page us on a restaurant style pager. She did great they said, but when we got to her she was out! She finally woke up, and we made our way home.

What we found out this past Friday, after all the smoke cleared, is that Lori IS a candidate for a cochlear implant, and they are hopeful that it would give her some level of hearing. (Stop and Clap or Shout or Praise God!)

There is one obstacle that remains…how to pay for it. Cochlear implants are very expensive, and for now, we are waiting to hear what our insurance will determine. If we get shot down, we won’t be done…we can then appeal to the insurance company and/or begin some fundraising efforts to pay for the implants.

For now, we ask that everyone join us in praying that insurance will approve the surgery. This will be life-changing for our little Lori.