Nothing could have fully prepared us for the delightful, complex and unique individual that is our son. He is everything we hoped for, and much more. He fits seamlessly into our family, as if he’s always been here. Still, he’s brought with him a fair share of genuine surprises.

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For instance, birth marks.

Our son (and, from what I understand, most Chinese children) has a few Mongolian spots on his back and bottom. They are deep blue/purple and subcutaneous, they look just like bruises. I *may* have freaked out in China upon discovering them during his first bath and subjected our sweet in-country reps to a thorough inquisition. I was quickly assured that they were not injuries, but quite normal- and will even likely fade after puberty. Back home, I was sure to have our pediatrician document them to protect us from potential undue litigation from uninformed westerners who might encounter them.

Another surprise, that I’ve previously shared about, was how we struggled to get Little Man to drink anything the first few days in China together, until finally realizing that he was completely unaccustomed to chilled food and drink. Bottles of formula, even plain water, are served piping hot in Chinese orphanages.

While waiting for him to drink we also began to stress his lack of wet diapers. We had heard that in many Chinese orphanages children are trained to go potty on command, often at the cue of a whistle. We perched our sweet, scared little boy atop the hotel commode and I rivaled a shepherd as I attempted to find the right tone which might induce him to go. Much to our astonishment he did tinkle on the potty that day, but we have since reverted to traditional cloth diapering. Celebratory Sidenote: Yesterday our sweet boy did his other business on the potty for the very first time!

We have also experienced surprises with his cleft palate.

We correctly deduced, prior to meeting him, that our son’s palate had not been repaired along with his lip, in China. Many adoptive parents are surprised by this upon meeting their children. Medical documentation can be vague, at best, and leave parents scratching their heads whilst deciphering. We could only speculate as to how he would eat and drink with an open palate, we were surprised by his resilient adaptation of bottle chewing to compensate for lack of suction.

Almost two weeks ago, Little Man had his palate surgically closed, yet we were surprised- and discouraged- this weekend to discover a fistula (hole) along his surgical seam. It seems as though as soon as his stitches dissolved his palate began to stretch back open. This is apparently pretty common, albeit no less frustrating. Sometimes fistuals can re-close on their own, over time. This is what we are praying for.

Today we had a follow up visit with our local pediatrician, who confirmed that his hard palate has indeed reopened. His soft palate still looks great. The doctor seemed to think this shouldn’t hinder his ability to learn to drink from a straw, and we should still see marked improvement in his speech. She will be conferring with the surgical team in Portland, but thinks this is something that he can comfortably live with until his next surgery, where they will repair/restructure the cleft in his gumline. (They wait to complete this until baby teeth are lost and permanent teeth are in.) The good news is that he has only lost one pound– thanks almost entirely to his affinity for banana pudding.

Though surprised by this hurdle in his recovery, we feel Little Man’s surgery was not in vain and are hopeful for his continued healing.


3 responses to “Surprised”

  1. I’m just seeing these comments- thank you both so much! Becky, it does seem that the lip is customarily repaired first & foremost, as it is more critical to eating. Most of the kiddos I have met or heard of had that done right away with the palate following, like our son. Dave, that’s so encouraging to hear that we can still expect a good result despite the fistula. It looks now like the whole hard palate opened back up.

  2. Thanks for share those few tips that I wasn’t aware of, they will be so helpful when we eventually make our journey to unite with our child. I did notice that some profiles show both cl/cp repaired at the same time while other just state the lip portion done. Odd. But so good to know. The potty part is new as well. Sad that it’s on command, but hopeful that it’s easily correctable.

    As always I enjoy reading your blog and sharing the joys and fears along with you and your family. Blessings to you all!


  3. Mia,

    Been while since I commented. He is doing so well!

    Our daughter had her hard palate break open as well after surgery. She has 2 teeth in that area. It’s amazing to watch those teeth move and the fistula open/close. It’s been 1.5 years since surgery and she is doing great. She has learned to blow into a recorder and a harmonica as well as using a straw. Her speech is progressing and our team at shriners in Portland are waiting to the next surgery as well. Sounds like your little guy is doing great!


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