Friday, February 21, 2014

She's a Savage!

This blog post will be a review of Esther’s first year as a SAVAGE!  What a year this has been for her filled with many ups and downs. 
We brought Esther home a year ago today; she landed on US soil in Ft. Lauderdale on my birthday.  We were blessed to have made new friends from Iowa as we traveled home from Haiti who helped us maneuver the airport and customs.  We were greeted by a group of friends and family from Ft. Lauderdale and Esther got to meet her Mimi and D.D. for the first time.  By this time it was clear that Esther was totally deaf and I began teaching her signs.  She got to come home to meet her brothers and sisters and friends and family at the airport.  Once we got home, she was greeted by her two dogs that she was not at all a fan of (oh how that changed). 

We quickly got a diagnosis of profound bi-lateral hearing loss (she is totally deaf on both sides).  She was poked and prodded and tested for many days.  She was developmentally delayed but only due to her hearing loss and is quickly catching up! 

We stayed in for several weeks and then her first outing was to Target – she was not impressed with the vastness of this store, which later turns out to be one of her favorite places.  She got to try new foods – which she loved, go to school for the first time and ride a bus, celebrate holidays like Christmas,Easter and Birthdays and many other first that would take up an entire blog to post.  Esther is now implanted in both ears, attending a Regional School for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children, she is signing and learning to speak and has been remarkable in her ability to learn and grow.

As far as attachment goes……Esther is a very social, fun loving girl.  She has attached very well to our family but still has some issues with others that we continue to work through.  Occasionally we see “orphanage” behavior show back up but those times seem to get easier as people are more educated about adoption and attachment.   This year seems like it has flown by and I can’t imagine a day that Esther was not part of our family.  Happy Birthday to me and Happy 1 year home to our precious baby girl!  

Sunday, November 17, 2013


This time two-years ago we had just finalized Eden’s adoption and in the process of opening our home back to foster teens. Then we got the call that would forever change the course of our family.  Sometimes it feels like an eternity has passed and other days it seems like yesterday. I am SO glad God knows our life plan more than we do.  I can’t imagine second-guessing him and saying “no” to the call to be Esther’s forever family.  Although it seemed like a mystery then it so very clear to us know why we were chosen! 

Here are two excerpts from my very first blog:
“My personality very seldom allows me to let go and let God be in control but in order for this sweet baby girl to be ours that is what God is asking of me- along with the dreaded 8-letter word PATIENCE .”

“ If this is God's will for our family then Esther will soon be a Savage and we will, once again, have a child that is a living testimony to the power of prayer and faith and miracles!  We are trusting in His provision and praying for those that are being called to help us financially that they will be blessed beyond measure as they, too, obey God’s call to “defend the fatherless.”  Our entire family is on board so our journey of 1818 miles begins......”
That ugly 8-letter word is still an issue for me but I’m working on it and God showed up in a BIG way through people I never would have imagined and we were blessed beyond measure!  In no way were we prepared for the journey that was before us but God gave us glimpses of His plan only as we needed to see them.  He placed people in our paths that we never would have had the opportunity to meet, people have come closer to the Lord or found Him for the first time, we have been stretched and molded in ways we never anticipated and it was from a small three letter word YES! If you never say YES then you will never know what you are missing and we would have missed out the most precious gift. 

Over the past nine months we have laughed, cried, thanked God and questioned Him.  Esther has been through so much since she arrived and she is my hero.  I have never met a little soul as sweet and resilient as Esther.  Esther, her Biblical namesake, was an orphan and faced many challenges but did everything in her power to overcome them and make the world a better place.  Looking in the eyes of this sweet girl you know she already makes the world she lives in a better place.

To recap her nine months home:  Esther was diagnosed with bi-lateral profound sensorineural hearing loss. She has had many shots to catch up with her vaccines, tubes put in her ears, two cochlear implant surgeries, an MRI a CT Scan, started a new school, learned two new languages (sign language and English), heard sounds and voices for the first time, gained a family with 4 siblings and two dogs, had many first and many more still to come.  This is so much for a little two year old to take in but she has done it with grace.  She has another surgery coming up this week and will begin a new school in January.  She will celebrate Christmas for the first time and continue to learn to sign and speak. She will celebrate her third birthday “Savage style” and so much more!

We are blessed by so many people that have prayed us through this journey and supported our family every step of the way.  Thank you all for your love, compassion and generosity and for walking alongside us through what seemed like the impossible!  Our journey is by no means over so please stay the course with us! Adoption is hard and it takes ALL of you – we could not do this alone!  Thanks for being our VILLAGE!

But he said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”- Luke 18:27

Monday, October 7, 2013


For those of you that doubt miracles this blog is for you!

The back story:
Esther had her second Cochlear Implant placed in her ear three weeks ago.  During that long and complicated surgery the doctor was not confident that Esther would gain any hearing in her right ear.  He was able to implant only 8 out of 22 electrodes and was unclear as to if those 8 actually made it into a spot in the cochlea that would gain hearing for her. 

Fast forward to today:
LOTS of people have been praying for the miracle of hearing in this right ear for sweet Esther and this morning I received so many texts, emails and Facebook messages from all around the world that people were praying for her  this morning. 

Our day didn’t start out on a great foot and Esther had a typical two year old attitude this morning.  We went into this praying that she would not only hear sound but would cooperate with the audiologist and give us clear signs of anything she may hear.  Honestly, our expectations were pretty low. ( Which totally makes NO sense after all that we have seen God do through this process- we let the scientific reasoning take over instead of fully trusting in God’s power). As we began the preliminary testing to set the levels for the implant to be activated Esther began to respond to the sound.  WHAT? Respond to beeps already? Yep that was really happening!   

Esther is a smart little cookie – as soon as she began to hear sound she started asking to go to the potty (which she had just done before going into the room).  Her little brain told her that if we went to the potty the implant had to stay in the room and then just maybe I would forget and leave! Ha – well I fell for it the first time but then quickly caught onto her game!  Now it was time to activate the implant.  During this process we had the other side turned off so we could be 100% sure that she was hearing sound out of that ear.  She began immediately responding to certain sounds and verbalizing sounds herself (which she only does when she can hear).  I have attached a video for you to see how she responded to some instruments and kept pointing to her ear that she could hear! 

We had to take the processor off to switch out batteries at the end and she kept pointing to her ear to put it back on!  Now it was time to put both processors on and let her hear from both ears at the same time.  That step was a little overwhelming to her.  Her entire demeanor changed.  She got very still and little weepy and needed some hugs and reassurance.  Less than three minutes later she was up and ready to go and using words to communicate!  OH HAPPY DAY!

We are on the road to bi-lateral hearing.  The process will take several weeks to get the levels right.  Then she will have a CT Scan to see exactly where the other electrodes are placed and if there is potential (will take another miracle) to turn on more than 8 electrodes.  Thank you for your prayers and for continuing to pray for us through this journey!

“He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen ...” Deut 10:21


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Take Two

Yesterday day Esther went into surgery to receive her second Cochlear Implant on her right side. A little back history about the choice of sides and how we decided to start with the left and move to the right:
Here we go!

When Esther had her MRI our Dr. consulted with several other docs because the both of the sides seemed to equally complex and “ossified” and he was looking for some sort of marker to help make the decision of where to begin.  The doctor called me that afternoon and we worked through all the technicalities to try to make an informed decision as a team.  We decided to start with the left because a radiologist said there could be a very minute chance that the left looked a little better so we just went with that and moved forward knowing that neither side looked great and we were defying all the odds if either of them worked.
 “ It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.” Psalm 118:8

Just give me food!
Fast forward to yesterday as we proceeded with the implant on the right.  We had to be there at 9:00am but left our house at 7:00am because Esther wanted food and she couldn't eat so we ran errands while here brother and sister had breakfast.  The doctor was running WAY behind and it was close to lunch time before they called us back.  Needless to say I had an unhappy little girl. 

Got the "silly juice" 
After all the GREAT success she was having with the left side we all went into this with big expectations just assuming that since the left and right looked so similar on the MRI that the doctor would get it in and it would work and we would move forward.  Two hours into the surgery a nurse came out to tell us Esther was doing fine and the doctor was moving ahead and they would come back out in an hour.  In an hour they came out and told me she had gotten a little over heated and they were cooling her down but doctor was moving right along.  (Mind you the first surgery was over in two hours).  At this point Chris and Kylan had to both leave so I was there alone.  As soon as they walked out the door a nurse came to get me, wouldn’t make eye contact with me and said “I need to take you to a room and the doctor needs to come speak with you.”  OH MY WORD – I was a wreck waiting in this little consultation room not knowing if this had failed or if something bad had happened to Esther.  I knew it couldn’t be great news or she would have said everything is fine.  The doctor came in and told me that this side was MUCH worse than the other one and he was struggling to get this to work.  He said he had three options and wanted to talk through them with me and we came up with a plan to move forward.  We knew that no matter what we chose it was a gamble and her hearing wouldn’t be like the other ear. 

Two hours later they finally came to get me to meet with the doctor and go to recovery.  At first I was sad about the outcome but once I processed it I really felt at peace.  The doctor worked with the company and some other doctors on the phone to do THE best he possibly could (this doctor is a perfectionist so he was deflated by the outcome).  To get a little technical, there are 22 electrodes that get inserted into the Cochlea during an implant (which is what she has on the other side) and he was only able to insert 8 of those on this side.  He went on to tell me this will be a programming issue and it still might not work.  I was able to share with him my take on the process:

Headed home
There was NO “chance” that we chose to start with the left ear – God was guiding ALL of this just as he guided Esther into our family.  If we had chosen the other ear to start with we would have stopped right there and Esther would have NO hearing.  Now that he was able to get 8-10 electrodes into this ear she has the potential to have sound in this ear.  It might only be half of the other ear but it is sound and that is progress.  Some sound is more than no sound and God’s got all of this so we continue to pray and move forward with the work we are doing and know that Esther has BIG things ahead of her!

I think the doctor was surprised by my take on this and the fact that I could see something positive in the midst of what he saw as a failure!   October 7th at 10:00am we will have the implant turned on and know if it worked and how we move forward but if it works or doesn’t work it doesn’t we trust the God that already knew every hair on her head before she was even born and he knows the outcome of her life so we will let Him be in control!

“Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him”. Prov. 30:5
Removal of the bandage
My school sent cookies!

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Sometimes I can’t believe six months has already gone by and other days I feel like there was never a time without her!

Here’s is all that has happened in six months (or since the last blog).  Esther had her cochlear implant “turned-on” and now she is not only signing but also learning how to speak.  She is an implant prodigy!  Esther has mastered most of the “ling” sounds in the first week of working with her.  She can now say a few words (bye-bye, up, hop, da-da, poop and a few others).  She tries to make a sound for ALL words and every day we take time with our special box of toys to work on sounds.  Parker and Eden are very motivating for Esther – they join me on working with her box of toys and she wants to make the sounds to get the toys before they do!  Nothing like a little sibling competition to motivate you to talk!  

Esther goes to AVT therapy once a week and we continue to teach her sign at home.  She will be attending a Mother’s Day out in the fall and then in January (when she turns 3) she will go to the deaf/hard of hearing program with the Plano ISD.  She is so very bright.  She picks up on everything very quickly (good and bad) so we know she will flourish in school. 

She enjoyed getting to celebrate her brother’s birthday with all the kids at the Fire Station and was SO excited to finally get to swim and play in the water just in time for summer to come to an end.  This month she also got to help us move Madison to Arkansas and she is struggling a little bit with missing Madi because there is no one here to give her sympathy when she gets in trouble!

Moving Madi

Leaving Madi in Arkansas

WOOHOO for the pool! 
Parker's Party!

Esther’s follow up doctor appt. this week was followed by a meeting with the scheduler to plan her next implant!  We are waiting for insurance approval and then we will set the date.  It looks like it will be the end of September.  The doctor told us that it some Divine intervention for the first implant to go in and actually work so he was letting us know that this ear is no different and has a big chance of not working.  I told him that Divine intervention has been Esther’s entire story and we won’t stop in believing in it this time and that people will be praying for her just like last time!

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” Ps. 20:7

Thank you in advance for your continued prayers as we prepare for the next implant and press on learning speech!