A New Smile for TyTy

Four years ago, I wrote the following words in a blog post the night before Liam's cleft lip surgery:

I've wondered so many times why God decided to give you this special smile. Years before I had you and your brother, I always was drawn to the pictures of children from other countries who have cleft lips/palates. I think it was God's way of preparing my heart for your arrival. I know someday we will understand why, and I am excited to see where this journey leads us together as a family.... Your birth was a catalyst for something, possibly many things, and I cannot wait to find out what happens next.

How I look back at that night with such a smile on my face! I had no idea the plans God had for our family. As one of my dear friends said, I love that chapter of our family's story. I love how everything has come full circle. God has truly worked all things together for good. The Lord used Liam's smile to guide us to China, to Tucker, and ultimately to Tyson. Exactly four years later, I am once again sitting at my computer, writing about my son's surgery. God is in the details of our story. 

And now, tomorrow morning, we will rise from our beds before the sun comes up, get Tyson out of his crib, and drive downtown for his second major surgery. When he had his palate surgery, Tyson had only been in our arms for 7 1/2 weeks. Now we have almost 6 months under our belt, and we have worked hard to build a foundation of trust and security with him. I am hoping that Ty will feel even more comforted in our arms as he recovers from this procedure. After Ty's palate surgery, we had some issues with pain management, but today we received incredible news that was a HUGE answer to prayer. Tyson will be able to recover in a unit where nurses are very skilled at pain management. What a weight off our shoulders, as I'm hopeful that he will receive optimal care! We should only have to stay one night and come home Friday morning or early afternoon. 

After Liam's surgery, he was bruised and swollen, and to be honest, he looked so completely different to us. We are expecting the same to be true with Tyson. This procedure will repair his lip and nose, and we are hopeful that Dr. Tholpady is as skilled at lip and nose repairs as he is at palate repairs. Ty will also receive tubes in his ears - the first of our four kids. I've been sitting with Tyson in front of our living room mirror, running his finger across my lip and then doing the same to his. I use simple language like "open" on his lip and "closed" on mine in hopes of helping him gain some awareness. He is definitely curious about what I'm showing him. 

I think we've made it abundantly clear, but just in case, we truly love Tyson's smile just the way it is. I find him absolutely beautiful! At the same time, I know that in order to make progress with his speech and language, this surgery needs to take place. Do you know how many words have B, P, and M in them? Most people have been very kind Tyson's appearance, and only a few children have said anything hurtful. One day at the chiropractor, Noah came up to me, and his face was bright red. He said that a child called Tyson ugly, and Noah was super upset about it. It was a good teachable moment for all our boys. I talked with them about how God has gifted them to each other for many reasons, one of which is to protect each other. We did a role play in front of that boy and his brother and practiced using our big voices to tell people they need to be kind and asking them to apologize. We've seen those children many times since and have never had another issue. I love how much these boys love each other and hope that they only grow closer as time passes.

As I think about tomorrow, I keep having the same thought over and over again.

We could have missed this.

What a privilege it is to be Tyson's mommy, daddy, and brothers. What a privilege it is to show him that we will always be with him; we will always fight for him; and we will always love him. We will help him recover through as many surgeries as he needs. We will find the best speech therapists for him and celebrate all of his success with communicating. 

Tyson is one of the best gifts of my life. As much as I am happy to have him home, my heart breaks for his birth parents who cannot be part of his life right now. It is very likely that Tyson's cleft lip and palate are the reason that he was relinquished, as it's quite possible that they could not afford his medical care. So beyond sad. To be at a point in Tyson's life where his cleft lip and palate will be repaired is heartbreaking. Family preservation is such an important piece of orphan prevention, and I am so grateful for organizations like Love Without Boundaries and their Unity Initiative to help families afford medical treatment to decrease the likelihood of abandonment. Right now three precious girls, who were abandoned need cleft-related surgeries: Violet, Susan, and Katey. And in reality, there are thousands of children just like them in need of these cleft-related procedures and a family. 

If you are someone who loves children and wants to be a parent or would like to have more children, I really encourage you to step into the life of one of the millions of children waiting for a family. We could have missed this. These precious ones are so worth it.

Photo credit for all pictures: Lemongrass Photography

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