Tag Archives: hong kong adoption blog

Family Friday: A Special Trip

I’ve struggled with what and how much of the following to share with you, but to not share would be to not include part of our journey with Esther.  Esther was considered a special needs adoption but often times Michael Luke and I don’t consider her special needs at all.  We have even joked that God must have considered us special needs parents because she had such an easy transition into our family and because her actual special need seems so minor in our eyes.


In reality though she does have a special need.  Her caregivers in Hong Kong used to tell her that she had a “special eye”.  When I first heard Esther refer to it as that I immediately loved it and decided that is what we would also call it.  Little did I know how special this eye was.  After bringing her home back in February we took Esther to the International Adoption Clinic here in town where they accessed her and recommended different doctors for her.  One of them was a ocular plastic craniofacial plastic surgeon here in town, Dr. Ray at Children’s Hospital of Alabama.  We scheduled our appointment for early this fall and went on with our life because in reality we felt that the doctors would probably wait until she got older to do anything.  One day Dr. Ray’s office called to let us know there had been a cancellation of one of their appointments and they could see us that week if we wanted.  So we took the appointment and looked forward to meeting Dr. Ray.

I’ll spare you all the details of the appointment but during this time we fell in love with her doctor and his team.  Dr. Ray agreed that Esther’s eye was special.  It was so special that this may be the only case like her’s that he sees in his career!  I just looked at Esther and smiled.  It was at this visit that we were given a medical name to go with her special need, facial cleft of the eye.  The name didn’t change anything for us but it was nice to know what it actually was.

You want to know how amazing God is and how his plans are bigger than we could ever imagine? He brought a little girl from Hong Kong all the way to Birmingham, Alabama to a doctor that specializes in ASIAN EYE RECONSTRUCTION!!!  Who even knew there was such a thing but it completely makes sense when you think of the reconstruction of the eye as an art.  It’s like sculpting or molding.  And after staring at Esther’s beautiful face for hours there is a huge difference between asian eyes and caucasian eyes.  Dr. Ray trained under one of the other doctors in his practice who also specializes in asian eye reconstruction and he trained in Seattle where the asian population is larger.  I’m just blown away how God has provided such amazing doctors for Esther.  The doctor’s are pretty excited too because this is a pretty big opportunity for them since it may be the only one like it that they ever see.

At the appointment that day Dr. Ray began to lay out his plans for Esther’s eye and the steps he would like to take.  These steps involve a series of surgeries over the next two years or so.  The first of which was last week.


Last Thursday she had two tissue expanders placed under the skin on her face.  I think I struggled with this more than she did… I mean what mother wants their child to have to go through surgery.   I’m not going to go into details about the expanders but the goal is to use them to grow new skin so they can replace some scarred skin on her face.

Esther and I talked about everything that was going to happen in the weeks leading up to the surgery.  I showed her pictures of other children with tissue expanders and we gave them the nickname “bubbles”  I played it up by telling her that Dr. Ray wanted to “give” her bubbles and that she could “keep” them until around Christmas time.  We then talked about how sometimes when we don’t know what something is that we ask questions.  So some people may not know what her bubbles are but that’s ok because we can help them to learn.  She did want to make sure that her “bubbles” wouldn’t wash off in the bathtub!

Next, we began talking about going to the hospital.  We talked about how Dr. Ray wanted her to “camp out’ at the hospital.  She would get a big bed and Mommy and Daddy would sleep in a chair/sofa. There would be juice there and a nurse would bring it to her whenever she needed.  She would also get a television with Princess Sofia and Doc McStuffins that she could watch the whole time she was there.  That pretty much did it. She was sold on the idea of going to the hospital and spent the next few weeks looking forward to it.

As we got closer to the day we talked about how she would take a big nap and then when she woke up Mommy and Daddy would be there.  She may not feel very good but that’s ok because sometimes people don’t feel good after surgery.  Esther was prepped.  She may be only three but she’s a smart little three year old would much rather know what is going to happen than be surprised.  Her main concern was that Michael Luke and I would both be there after surgery.  I made sure that she knew we weren’t going to leave her.


(This was the beautiful view at the end of the day from her hotel hospital room.)

The day came and she couldn’t have been more excited.  There was a little nervousness but we talked about how that was ok.  Since this was such a special day for her I let her pick out any outfit that she wanted to wear.10606293_10101305124726646_5038380980225016524_n

Our little star chose this… because everyone gets dressed in their finest to go to the hospital for surgery.  (The above picture was actually taken the day after surgery.)  That day I applied a few extra applications of Tranquil to ease for her nervesoness.  We arrived at the hospital and she was calm. She vegged out watching television during the triage part.  Finally, they took her back and we had to kiss her good-bye.  I’ll admit I got a little teary-eyed but she did great.  The nurse said she never once cried… except for post surgery when some little boy started screaming his guts out next to her… but who wouldn’t cry then. Three hours after she went back we got to see her again.  Once we were settled in her room for the night one of the first things she said to me was, “Can I have some Tranquil?” I smiled and hugged her and then immediately went and got her essential oil blend, Tranquil.  The pain medicine made her sick that night so around midnight we switched from codeine to morphine and after that we only used Lavender applied to her face to ease discomfort, swelling, and maintain normal body temperature.  I was thankful to have something as simple and familiar as Lavender to use on her.


The next day she was still pretty void of energy and she pretty much milked the whole “everyone is waiting you” thing for what it was worth.  We let her for the most part because we were enjoying getting a little one on one time with her since Noah was at my parent’s house getting spoiled. We discharged around lunch last Friday and then went home and all napped that afternoon. That night we decided to make the most of our time alone with her took and her out to Mugshots at Uptown in Birmingham.  She loved it!


The tissue expanders will start expanding in a couple of weeks and will continue all the way up until they are removed in December.  I’ll let you know how it goes but in the meantime I more than likely won’t bring attention to them.

P.S. If you are interested in the adoption process from Hong Kong never hesitate to e-mail me or to send me a message on Facebook.

Also, if you would like more information on Young Living Essential Oils (why and how we use them) then click the Essential Oils tab at the top of the page.

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Officially Final!

It’s final!  It’s really final.  Esther’s adoption process from start to ending was around two and a half years and is officially final today!  I know that today you could really care less about words.  It’s time to meet the girl that has been hiding behind the camera for the past six months.

Meet Esther…. one of the U.S.’s newest citizens and the newest official member of our family!

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Isn’t she just beautiful?  We think so and I can’t help but tell her everyday.  In the picture above I think she has the beauty of a model. This is absolutely one of my most favorite pictures of her.  Pictures. Oh, yeah.  You are probably here to see lots of them… so here goes. Six months of Esther in one post.

But first let’s back up to the beginning of July 2013.  That’s when we received the picture below along with a few more precious photos and information about our daughter. This picture remained the screensaver on my phone until we went to Hong Kong.  Looking back now it is easy to see how much she has grown in a year’s time… even in six month’s time.

photo 1

To keep it simple all pictures are in chronological order.


This is one of our first pictures as a family of four in Hong Kong.  It was gotcha-day night.  I know this because I remember we went and bought her a pair of pink Stride-Rite shoes that day. Esther wasn’t exactly in love with us yet but thankfully we won her over in time.
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This was one of our first nights home and the girls were goofing off in bed with their new matching panda pajamas.  We were probably still pretty jet lagged at this point so this picture could have easily been taken close to midnight.  
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Esther immediately fell in love with her pink princess bicycle that I brought her home one day.  I can’t say she felt the same about learning to ride her bike but now that she has it down she really enjoys it.
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She was so excited about her bicycle helmet that she wore it on to the playground.  This is one of the beautiful dresses that was given to her by one of her caregivers that I mentioned in her earlier posts.  I’m amazed at the detail on it but most of all I love the smile on her face in this picture.
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Apparently someone in Hong Kong taught her how to make her “angry face” which she felt was appropriate for lots of pictures in the beginning.  We still get that face from time to time.
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This pretty much sums up how Esther felt about her kitchen and turning three.2014-03-09 16.23.02

And what princess doesn’t wear a crown on her head for her birthday.

2014-03-12 17.58.58Before having two girls I thought I wouldn’t enjoy dressing them just alike but it really doesn’t matter what I like because these two girls love dressing the same.

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This was only a few weeks after coming home and Esther was already beginning to make friends. Outside of Noah, June is her best friend.
2014-05-01 17.28.45I have this picture hanging up in our den. I absolutely love it.  Another dress-alike day and Esther’s determination to get down the road make this picture.  Although I’m pretty sure Noah fell off shortly after this picture was taken.

2014-04-20 12.15.12-1Ok. Can I just say that I love this picture.  That’s all.  Oh, and it’s not uncommon for people to say that Esther resembles Michael Luke.  It makes him smile every time he hears it.

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All dressed up to go to a Fancy Nancy book signing.  This is the day Esther fell in love with Fancy Nancy.  So much so that we check out a Fancy Nancy book almost every week at the library and she just might have a Fancy Nancy birthday party next year.  Yeah, she’s already planning it… weekly.2014-05-30 09.33.45And this is who Esther thinks she really is.  A princess.

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Hanging out at the library.  Don’t mind us.  We are just your typical American family.2014-06-07 12.02.23

What?  You wouldn’t let your kids ride a zebra if it promised not to move?2014-07-17 09.52.07

It’s the moments like this that make it all worthwhile. The moments when they love each other.wpid-20140806_103000.jpg

At the beginning of the summer this child cried because her swim suit got splashed by a wave. Now look at her.  She’s a little fish!wpid-20140803_150153.jpg

Just a girl and a donkey.  
wpid-20140807_160158.jpgBecause every girl needs to know what a Krispy Kreme Donut tastes like and because sometimes Momma is just plain craving some sweets.  It happens.  Needless to say Esther is a huge fan of donuts now.  Mission Accomplished.


… and our most recent family picture taken this past Sunday.

That ladies and gentlemen is Esther.  A girl that six months ago didn’t want us and now wants to know why we waited so long to come get her.  God has truly worked in her heart and ours.

Speaking of God working in hearts.  You may have noticed that something doesn’t look quite right about one of Esther’s eyes.  She has a facial eye cleft of the left eye.  These days I hardly notice it.  God has allowed me to see past her special need and to instead see the beautiful girl that he created in his image and that he loves.  He loves her!  He loves her and how could I not love his creation?

When we received that first picture of her over a year ago I knew almost immediately that she was meant to be our daughter but I also struggled with adopting a girl with such a visible special need.  Not because I worried what other’s would think but because I didn’t know if it was something that would keep me from seeing her true beauty.

So I began praying from the beginning that God would give me strength.  That he would allow me to see her as he sees her.  And now six months later I can say without a shadow of doubt that he has done that.  It’s not even a special need to me anymore.  I hardly even think about it because all I see is my beautiful daughter staring back at me.  I have enjoyed these past six months of hiding her face from you.  Not because I am ashamed of it but because you have had the chance to fall in love with her for who she is.  Star.  Esther.

Thank you!

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The Reward is Sweet

Yesterday marks four months from the day we met Esther.  The day I felt like 10,000 butterflies were attaching my tummy.  The day our world was forever changed.

Today marks four months from the day Noah and Esther met.  The day Noah realized that Esther was much more than some girl in a picture.  More than just a short video clip.  She began to learn that Esther was someone who she would have to share her Mommy with.  Her Daddy with.  Her room and her toys with.  Her life with.


So what’s that like?  It isn’t easy.  But really when is it ever easy for a toddler to gain a new sibling?  It’s been difficult but I wouldn’t change it and and definitely don’t regret it.  Noah loved Esther from day one.  Often times more than Esther wanted to be loved by her “new” sister.  But despite all her love, coming back home and sharing everything with Esther was hard.  Plus throw in some new molars, a few more toddler milestones, and learning how to make decisions on your on and it was almost overload for Noah in the beginning.

I’m not going to go into the details but during our first few weeks back it wasn’t uncommon for Noah to spend half the day in tears.  Despite the tears she really didn’t want to be comforted but instead just wallow in her unhappiness.  It happens to the best of us.

As the weeks turned to months things improved.  The girls have slowly learned what personal property is.  We have “named” certain toys as Esther’s or Noah’s and the majority are shared.  And the biggest helper of all has been the TIMER.  It has given me sanity on many chaotic moments.  Let me explain.

Let’s say Noah is playing with the doll.  Esther then decides that this is the toy she wants to play with.  No other toy will do.  It has to be this one right now.  RIGHT NOW!!!  Moms, you know what I’m talking about.  This is the point where I intervene and we talk about sharing and loving others.  I might ask Noah if she will let Esther play with the doll.  Fat chance that will happen though. I might ask Esther if she can find something else she wants to play with. Yeah right!  So then I intervene and say we are going to set a timer and in three minutes Esther can play with the doll.  They agree and the timer goes off three minutes later…

no complaints.  It’s amazing!  They don’t protest an inanimate third party. It’s genius I tell you.  They gladly swap and then ask for the timer to be set again.  I love it!!!  Thanks Lifeline Children’s Services.  (Lifeline is another reason for my sanity.  If I’m having a bad day I can just call their post adoptio

n social workers and they are there to listen and help me as needed.  I wish every mom had someone to call like them.)

Something amazing has happened in the past two weeks though.

My girls have really started playing together.  I don’t mean playing together for two minutes and then erupti

ng in an argument over a toy. I mean playing together like dragging every blanket, doll, and thirty books out of their room to play “school” on the stairs.  I mean, Esther chooses to play with Noah instead of moping in her bed while I get ready in the mornings.  I mean giggling and playing with each other using some sort of gibberish that Michael Luke and I don’t understand. I love hearing them giggle when they have these moments. During these times I feel as though God is saying, “The road was difficult but the reward is sweet.”  And I smile and agree.

P.S.  Through sharing these adoption posts I have met and had the privilege of talking with many other families that are considering adoption and adoption from Hong Kong. I love talking with each one of you.  If you are considering adoption please e-mail me Krystle@colortransformedfamily.com.  I would love to answer any questions that you may have and talk more in depth with you about the process.  Please be patient with my response time though.  I’m afraid I don’t respond as quickly as I would like to.

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