Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Last week at church, we ran into our 'Family Deacon' Deacon Lee and his lovely wife, Alice. They are wonderful people who guided Jimmy and I through the RCIA process at St. Vincent Ferrer in 2006. Deacon Lee also baptized Madi and renewed our wedding vows, so we had our hearts set on him baptizing Daniel. Deacon Lee quickly pulled out his calendar and wanted to get Daniel baptized right away--like less than a week away! He made sure the church was cleared for us on Saturday, and we expedited his baptism. Given his medical issues and latest accident, we felt it was the best idea.

Among a small gathering of family and close friends, Deacon Lee baptized Daniel and it was such a special service. Deacon Lee used a 'special reserve' of Holy Water that he uses only for family and close friends. It was Holy Water from the Jordan River in Israel--the same body of water that Jesus himself was baptized in. It brought tears to my eyes that Daniel should be blessed in such an extra special way. Despite a couple of long nights at the hospital and an obvious fear of water, he handled the baptism beautifully, as if he knew what it was all about.

We chose Aunt Sheila and Uncle David as Daniel's Godparents. When cousin Murphy found out, he excitedly asked his Mom, "Does that make me the Godbrother???!!!". It is nice to know that Daniel has an entire Godfamily to guide him:)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Another night at the E.R.

Thursday night's trip to the E.R. was followed up by another visit on Friday night. Unfortunately, there was a scramble to get Daniel's medical records from the hospital to his pediatrician on Friday. By the time they received the records, it was too late to be referred to an Orthopedic doctor. The pediatrician did not want us to wait over the weekend without seeing someone, so he instructed us to drive down to Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital. Turns out they didn't have an Orthopedic doctor on staff, but they did take more x-rays and put a much better splint on his arm, so it wasn't a wasted trip. We were home by 10pm. Daniel, once again, proved to be a real little trooper.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hello E.R.

Last night we made our first visit to the E.R. with one of our kids. Daniel rolled off a bed. We were at Bubba and Grandpa's celebrating Bubba's birthday. Yes, with three adults present in the room, he rolled off the bed. It's amazing how these things can happen right under your nose. He didn't seem to be moving his arm too much and was really having a difficult time getting comfortable. At about 10pm, he woke up and his arm looked a little swollen, so we called our Pediatrician and decided to take him to the E.R.

Daniel was a little trooper despite the circumstances. We got home around midnight and as exhausted as he was, he was thrilled to be home as clearly shown in this precious picture.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

What a difference a week makes...

I'm not going to sugarcoat this one--it was a rough week. Poor little Daniel with his ear infection, he had a tough time settling into our time zone and his new surroundings, but what a difference a week makes. As I write this blog, Madi and Daniel are in our bed watching cartoons together, both eating Cheerios and drinking juice. You'd think he's been with our family forever.

The trip home from China was chaos. Daniel barely slept and cried almost the whole flight from Hong Kong to Newark. He just could not get comfortable. In hindsight, he may have had the ear infection already, but he was also just plain exhausted. We were fortunate to make our connection to West Palm. We had a two-hour window to hit customs, immigration, baggage claim, baggage recheck, security, and literally run to our gate. I had deja vu from our trip home with Madi. That time, we didn't make our connecting flight. This time, thank God, we did. The only person who seemed to console Daniel during our flights was Grandpa. Grandpa was a Godsend. He held Daniel the entire flight from Newark to West Palm, so he could get some sleep that he so desperately needed.

When we arrived at the airport, we were greeted by the most beautiful sight for sore eyes--our beautiful daughter (and Bubba too). It was like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We hit our knees to hug her and hold her. It seemed like we were away from her for a year, and she appeared to have grown so much. She was so excited to meet Daniel. She approached him cautiously, tenderly, knowing that he had been a little shy on Skype. She was instantly the perfect big sister.

Or first hurdle home was the carseat. It was not the night for a fight, at least that's how we felt about it. Daniel had been through enough, and he clearly wasn't in the mood to be introduced to an isolated seat with major restraints. Yes folks, we broke the law. Grandpa held him the whole ride home. We took our chances, but Daniel was comfortable and he surely deserved to be.

When we arrived home, we were surprised by a small gathering of close friends to welcome us home. The Debonis family was here with Aunt Lori & Uncle Blake. Lisa and Mike were here with the girls. We were afraid Daniel would be overwhelmed, but he handled the situation beautifully. He loved seeing children. The festivities were short-lived, as everyone respected that Daniel needed a chance to breath. He needed a chance to take in his new surroundings calmly and quietly.

The week brought other hurdles. Daniel was less than thrilled with his high chair. He was still terrified of a bath. I'm happy to report that he's adjusted to the car seat and to the high chair, but he still takes issue with a bath! Sleeping through the night is another story. The week was frustrating for us and for him. He cried in his sleep a lot, sometimes kicking and acting out to the point that we would have to wake him to snap out of it. We worked through it day by day, feeding him snacks in the middle of the night since his belly was on China time. It was reported that the orphanage would wake him at 10pm nightly to go potty. We tried this once, and it was a disaster. We are going to stick to the familiar adage, "Never wake a sleeping baby"! His schedule has progressively transitioned. Last night, he slept from 7pm to 6am. He's almost on track. He still wakes up crying, but hey--he's only been home for one week now. He's still inseparable from Daddy, who he still calls 'Mama' (both of us are Mama:) He longs to be held by him any chance he can get. In fact, both little monkeys do!

I can't believe I found the time to write this blog. It's been a big adjustment from one to two kids, but we are realizing that it gets a little easier everyday, especially as Daniel's comfort level grows and we settle into our new normal.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Siblings

Here's a couple pictures of the kids together. Madi adores her little brother! Can't say that there's been no sibling rivalry, but we're getting through it, and Madi's a huge help to Mommy & Daddy. Daniel is struggling a little with the adjustment of being home. Jet lag is definitely affecting him, along with a big ear infection that is now being treated. We know this is the toughest time for him given the separation from the life he knew. He doesn't quite know yet how good he has it!!! Oh, but he will...

The Cardiologist appointment

Sorry to keep you hanging on details of our first pediatric cardiologist appointment with Daniel. It was on Monday. The Cardiologist was pleased at Daniel's size. He was also pleased that the EKG and ultrasound results looked consistent with what was on paper from China. Daniel was not happy being hooked up for the EKG, but he was excellent for Dr. Pearson-Martinez to do the ultrasound.

Within a month or so, Daniel will go to University of Miami Children's Hospital for a catheter procedure that will confirm how the team should proceed surgically. Surgery should follow within a few months.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Stay tuned...

I have been severely hit by jet lag, not to mention a nasty sore throat. Our journey home was stressful beyond words, but the important thing is that we are home, and we are finally a family of four. I promise to post pictures and catch up once I catch my breath, so please stay tuned...

Friday, February 5, 2010

Turning in my keys...

I am now ready to give the keys to this blog back to its owner, as they are coming home with Daniel now. I cannot begin to explain how happy and honored that I was to be your humble narrator in this journey that my sister and her family had embarked. It was a point of immense pride that I was the first person to see these blog entries as they were sent from China. That I got to email with Lisa several times a day, not just on blog entries, but other, more trivial issues, kept me in touch with their adventure on a way that I enjoyed. It wasn't work...

I know that this blog will be kept to show Madi and Daniel their origins and the outpouring of love during these times. Blogs are the new photo album. Lisa, Jimmy, Madi and Daniel are now going to the next chapter in their life and we'll all be watching.

And now, a small note on disintermediation. Or how can a regional superpower and information blocker as big as China be completely thwarted by a mildly determined blogger and her somewhat wired brother. China's Great (Fire)Wall of China was put into place to disable the sharing of unwanted information. In that, it is a complete failure. Whether I was in New Hampshire, Burlington, Boston, Frankfurt or Helsinki, I would open my laptop periodically and approve comments or move a blog post from email to blogger. At one point, I approved a bunch of comments using my cell phone from an Indian restaurant in downtown Helsinki in a blizzard. Billions of yuan and hundreds of thousands of Chinese security people were sidestepped without a serious thought. That should be a lesson to those petty tyrants that would try to stifle the free-flow of information.

China's awesome power was completely steamrolled by a power that they still fail to comprehend: the love of a family that travels halfway around the world to find their son, the love of their family to help spread the word, the love of their friends that thirst for the slightest scrap of information. And -- above all -- the love of God to bless us for all of this to happen.

I will now sign off, knowing that this blog is back in the right hands. Godspeed.

Now send it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Home Stretch

Today we had our oath and swearing in ceremony at the U.S. Consulate. It was a really moving ceremony. The Consulate Officer announced all of the birthdays for the month, and Daniel Murphy was the first child mentioned! She noted how many special needs families were in the room. It was a record-breaking year for special needs adoptions. She also brought attention to a family who was back in China for their 9th adoption!

Daniel's visa will be ready tomorrow afternoon, and we depart on a 6PM train for Hong Kong. We will spend one night there and fly out Friday morning for home:)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Happy Birthday Daniel!

Daniel had a very special birthday today. His day started with a Skype birthday call from sister Madi. We can see that he's becoming more familiar with her since we've been Skyping. What a blessing modern technology is!

We spent our day going to the safari park (zoo). It was Daniel's first trip to the zoo, and you could see on his face that he was amazed by the animals. There was one point (shown in a photo) where Daddy took Daniel to feed the giraffes, and the poor little guy just freaked out. We got to see a live panda habitat and koala bears. Daniel fell asleep with Grandpa on the way back. Tonight we went to the Italian restaurant again with all the Holt families. We sang happy birthday to Daniel several times and he loved it. Apparently, the tune is the same in Chinese and it was clear that he recognized it.

Tomorrow is our oath-taking ceremony at the US Consulate. Only a few more days and we'll be home. It seems like we've been gone for months. We cannot wait to get home to be reunited with our gorgeous little girl. We miss her terribly.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Red Couch Photo

It is a tradition for adopted Chinese children to have their famous 'Red Couch photo' taken at the White Swan. All the kids (or whoever will comply) are dressed in traditional Chinese outfits and are situated on a red velvet couch for photos. We were a little late to the group photo today, and some of the children had already been pulled from the couch because they were so upset. Daniel is behind the couch, and he's actually sitting on Jimmy's shoulders!

He looked like a little Shogun warrior in his dragon outfit. We think he felt pretty cool in it too:)

The Medical Exam

Our group was at the medical clinic bright and early for the children's exams this morning. These exams are required by the US government in order for them to obtain visas. Daniel weighed in at 27 pounds! We weren't too happy to find out that he had no immunization records from the orphanage, so he needed 7 vaccines. It was a bummer, but three different doctors asked us questions about his current condition to make sure his heart could handle the stress and they reviewed his records thoroughly which was reassuring. Grandpa held him while we tried our best to console him. After it was through, I doled out some Juice Plus and he was content in no time. Shorty thereafter, he passed out on Daddy's shoulder. The worst part is finally over!