Bree Mei age 4yr

Bree Mei    age 4yr







Thursday, December 18, 2008


Finally, some recent pictures! The last few weeks have flown by in the Hoffman household. Bree has adapted very well to her long leg casts. We have no issues of pain except if her thigh gets pinched between the casts and a hard surface. Initially, the potty training was at a dead stop but now she is back to that as well. My mother and grandmother came for 8 days and helped us out immensely. We were able to get a "new" generation photo to include Bree which was awesome.
Bree's personality continues to grow. She really is a funny child. Loves to tease her daddy. Her newest word is "go" and she uses it frequently if Doug sits next to her-at the same time pointing in the direction he should head! But, if mommy is not around then Daddy hangs the moon. Currently we have Bree in speech weekly, but the therapist keeps stating this will be short term. We are mainly working on articulation as word volume is not a problem. Early intervention comes to the house monthly and evaluates her progress. We work mainly on her hand strength. Once she is cast free we will start a combination of OT and PT weekly.

Bree got her first taste of Santa last weekend at our annual Breakfast with Santa at our parish. She watched intently as child after child sat on his lap and kept telling me "no" when I asked if she wanted to do the same. But, then she saw the candy cane and I told her the only way to get it was to sit on his lap and that was all it took. She wouldn't, however, look at the camera for me as she was trying so hard to open the candy cane!
We are in the process of readopting Bree in the United States. What that essentially does is gives her an Ohio birth certificate, making it much easier for her and us in the future if she needs to produce a b.c. for any reason (ie. passport). Her chinese b.c. is only two lines.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


We trust all of our friends and family had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We certainly had much to be thankful with our many blessings! Bree was pretty much back to normal by the holiday weekend. This morning we went back to the hospital at 6 a.m. for her cast change under anesthesia. In reality, what they did was take off her splints and put fiberglass casts on - in hot pink! She tolerated the procedure very well and we were back home again by 9:45 a.m. I am now at work while, hopefully, she and daddy are napping. Her doctor was very pleased with how her feet looked and felt she was healing extremely well. These long leg casts will stay on for 6 weeks and then we go to short leg casts for another month. I will post pictures eventually!!

Monday, November 24, 2008


Boy is it nice to be home! We arrived here around 5:30 last p.m. Bree and I chilled on the couch, napping and watching TV. We officially retired for the evening at 10:30p.m. I set the alarm for every four hours to keep the meds on schedule. I actually had to wake Bree up to give them to her. I think we both slept so well being back in our own beds! I awoke at 9a.m and looked over and Bree was lying there awake and sucking her thumb. Doug and the girls had gone to church, so we lounged around. I cannot believe how well her pain control has been today. This evening my mom and my grandma (G.G.) arrived for the week. Bree has been a bit challenging with everyone around-we think she enjoyed all the one on one with mommy for the last few days.
"I am the Lord your God; I strengthen you and tell you, "Do not be afraid; I will help you.'"
Isaiah 41:13

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Yesterday afternoon went well. Brynn and Brooke came up after school with balloons which Bree loved. We took her for a wagon ride to the play room and library for quite a while. She slept better and we haven't used as much pain meds, but her right foot is still causing her much pain.
When the doctor rounded this morning he decided to take down her splint and make sure she wasn't having any complications. They gave Bree a little "forgetting" med and checked out her foot-she did awesome. Her foot looked so great in its new position! She has two pins in each foot that won't come out until about 6 weeks. She was very interested in looking at her own foot once the splint was taken off. They then resplinted the foot a bit less tight. The rest of the afternoon we spent in the wagon and then napping. Brynn and Brooke came back up to visit before going to a bday party. If all goes well and she doesn't require any morphine, we will go home this evening. On December 1st, we bring her back to the hospital and under anesthesia they will place her actual casts. The plan is a minimum of six weeks in long leg casts and then 2-4 weeks in short leg casts. We are so grateful for the wonderful care she has received and the many prayers and blessings cast upon her.


Well, we made it through the first night and as I told the surgeon, it could have been worse. We slept ofor 60-90 minutes at a time. The surgery was very successful. They felt that they were able to get her feet in the right position without compromising her vessels or muscles to much. She had a fever in the middle of the night-not unexpected per the surgeons. She is very well pain medicated most of the time. She can get IV morphine for breakthrough pain every one hour and we have managed to space that out to two hours. She gets valium and oxycodone orally every four hours. Clearly her right foot hurts more since it was the more severe of the two. They could not cast her post-op due to swelling, so she is in splints that cover two-thirds of her feet and legs. They came in this am and loosened the right one as she kept pointing to that leg and saying "ouchie". We have had periods of her being conversive with us and as the day goes by she is more comfortable. Hopefully, she will perk up once the girls come to visit after school today. We continue to lift Bree up in prayer and plead the blood over her "and this is the confidence which we have in Him: that if we ask anything according to His will, He listens to and hears us. And if we know that He listens to us in whatever we ask, we also know that we have the requests made of Him" 1 John 5:14-15.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


As I sit and write this update, Bree is in surgery. She was such a good girl this am. Never fussed once in pre-op. I was allowed to go back to the operating room with her and hold her until they put her to sleep with a mask. She barely fussed when we did that. I must say it was gut wrenching to walk out of that room and leave her behind. How blessed we are that I know everyone that is going to be with her for the next 4-5 hours. They came and spoke with us already to tell us that she passed her BAER (hearing test) that we did since she was under anesthesia. Thank you to all who have and are praying for Bree today. I will update later after she is out of surgery. God Bless.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


We are five days and counting until surgery day. Bree of course caught a germ and has had a 102 plus fever for the past three days. Her poor sleeping is preparing me for post-op! Through it all though she has been a trooper. A week ago she decided she would like to potty train. I have said all along that she is ready as she is dry for hours and then soaked. So, last week after one of those long dry spells, I put her on the toilet and the rest is history. With the upcoming surgery I wasn't sure if I should encourage it, but now she scoots toward a bathroom saying "mama pee pee potty" so a way we have went. We'll see what occurs after next week.
Bree had her first speech eval appt. last Wednesday. We saw a therapist that I use with my own patients. She did awesome and the S.T felt that her visits with Bree would be minimal. Her vocabulary is pushing 75 words, we are just working on putting words together and her articulation.
The other first for last week was her first hair cut. I guess I didn't realize how much her hair was growing until I look at old pictures. Once her bangs were over her eyes, I decided it needed to be done and a minor trim ensued. Now we just have to get the sides to grow over her ears so her hair stops winging out! She is not big on hair clips, but she will humor for short periods of time with them in.
We marvel daily at what a blessing Bree is to our family. She is just an awesome child and we are so ready and eager to get this surgery over and watch her world expand with the ability to walk! We will keep you posted. God Bless

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


We're not really sure just what exactly Bree thought of this whole idea of Halloween. She was more than eager to don on her bumblebee costume since she watched sissies putting on their costumes. The actual carving of the pumpkin intrigued her and she made it quite well known that she had no interest in touching the pumpkin insides! She most definitely is into candy and had that bag of hers open wide when trick or treating. We had to hide the "loot" after the first few days however, as she only wanted to point to the candy bowl and say "eat" when she was put into her highchair for any meal. So now, pumpkin, candy and eat are very regular words in her vocabulary.
We go tomorrow to have her casts changed again. This will be the last set prior to surgery. She definitely has not let these casts slow her down. She has learned to crawl up the stairs and goes down on her tummy. They are, however, lethal weapons if she is "acting two" and having a temper tantrum.

Friday, October 31, 2008


The time had come to return to the orthopedic doctor last night to restart Bree's casting process. This has to be done in order to stretch her skin in preparation for her surgery. I must say I have been dreading this day for a while as Bree has been making such wonderful progress in all other aspects of life. But, all in all, it went very well. She of course cried (more like screamed when he manipulated the casts) but when it was over she went back to her normal fun self. These casts do not go above the knees so that is a blessing. This enabled her to be much more comfortable with sleeping and actually slept through the night -Amen! We will return in a week to put on another set.
Bree's english is coming right along. She is about the level of an 18+ month old with 25+ words unsolicited and a couple two to three word sentences-her favorite: mama, sit down! (something I probably do not do enough of to begin with!) The girls read to her and now when she sits with a book she opens it and turns the pages and jabbers in jargon as she turns the pages-it is so awesome and adorable to watch. She u nderstands everything we say to her which still amazes us. She also mastered crawling up the stairs (with her big sisters help) and they are teaching her to come down the stairs on her tummy at lightening speed just as they did at that age.
One last note-as you can see my blog has a "new look" thanks again to my dear friend Rina who ought to go into blog designing business in her free time! Thank you my dear-I love it!!

Friday, October 10, 2008


Well, it has been back to the grind for the Hoffman household for the last three weeks now. Bree has really gone with the flow. Some days she wakes up to me, some days to Doug and every once in awhile to her Mema. We made the transition into her own bedroom, which has gone well. Originally, she was going to share with Brooke, but since we have the space and it was crowding Brooke, we decided to change the original plans. We gave both Brynn and Brooke the option of moving to the spare bedroom (which has its own full bath as opposed to the jack and jill bath they share) but both opted to stay in their current rooms. We have a feeling Brynn may regret this decision when she becomes a teenager! Since doing this Bree now sleeps 12-14 hours! which we are enjoying as we know this will come to a crashing halt post-surgery.

We marvel every day at Bree's awesome personality. She really is a smart little girl and is picking up on her English very well. She repeats just about everything you say and has about 25-30 words unsolicited. We are setting up OT for her hands, which she uses very well, but still holds them in a flexed position. PT won't begin until after surgery and casting.

I think what we love the most though is that it already seems like Bree has been a part of our family since her birth...and its a feeling we pray she has as well.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Last weekend was busy with two parties to celebrate Bree's arrival and her baptism. She surprised us all at her baptism. I had figured she would not be too happy with water being poured onto her head, however, since I had been washing her hair that way since she has been casted, she thought this was hysterical. She then proceeded to dip her own hands into the baptismal font and baptize her father and sisters! Father and all in attendance were cracking up laughing.

Last night we took Bree's second casts off and had her ortho appointment. Despite us thinking her feet looked so much better, in actuality, her rigidity was not that much improved. After consulting with his partner, her doctor decided that we should proceed to surgery sooner than later. While we are disappointed, we know this will only get her walking sooner. Originally, we had hoped she would only have to have the soft tissue surgery as opposed to the boney surgery (talectomy). Both doctors agreed that the talectomy would be the more beneficial surgery and with the soft tissue surgery, there are many recurrences that end up requiring the talectomy at some point in the future. We requested that both feet be done at the same time to get it over with. This will be possible, but the first time they can do this is November 20th! So, no casting for the next 5 weeks and then we will resume casts for three weeks prior to the surgery in order to stretch her tissues back out again. They assured us that the cast we had done already were not a waste as her right knee responded extremely well. Bree of course was loving life last night with no casts on-she was so excited. She actually slept all night without a peep in her crib! It is just going to pain us to have to resume them in 5 weeks! But, maybe by then she will understand and speak English better and we can communicate better with her.

Bree has also had a few playdates since being home. She truly enjoys being around other children. She is so good at sharing. It is so much fun to watch her play with "new" toys and discover what they do. She wasn't so sure about play doh, but eventually got comfortable with the feel of it.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Today we all woke up at the crack of dawn-girls got ready for school and Bree and I worked on cast removal. Boy did she enjoy soaking her legs in warm water after they were removed. On to school we went and then to see our favorite orthopod-Dr. Buerk. Amazingly, no PTSD from entering his office! Of course, this time we had valium and motrin on board ahead of time. Bree did so good-she only cried when he went to mold the new casts. Dr. Buerk was very happy with her left foot correction and right knee but said her right foot was going to be harder to manipulate with the casts. Bottom line: may end up doing the soft tissue surgery sooner as opposed to later if the casting isn't going to remold that foot. Regardless, she has to have at least 3-4 sets of casts to stretch her soft tissues, skin etc. He also said there would not be any need to do surgery on her knee. Bree's spirts following this casting have been incredibly better-she has played, napped and pretty much acted normal. We have casted out and refused any pain and accept only healing in the name of our Lord. Psalm 107:20
We have a busy weekend ahead of us. Saturday all of my awesome partners and staff (friends!!) at work are having a party to welcome Bree. Sunday is her baptism with another party being hosted by our Gesu friends (family!!). Doug and I cannot express the gratitude, blessings, love, care and concern we have for all of you out there who have supported us and prayed for and with us. God Bless
Tracy p.s. pictures when I can wifi with my laptop again!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Maybe it's the meds, maybe she is getting used to the casts or likely the Lord is just answering our prayers....but we are seeing Bree's wonderful personality once again. My pleas to Him even became selfish...Lord I just turned 40 and I need sleep and I don't need anymore grey hair! Her sleep is improving and she has woken up happy two days in a row. Yesterday, Bree and I made our first shopping outing. Couldn't get her into the cart the traditional way, but she sat sideways up in the front and did wonderful. She is learning so much from her sisters...we have no doubt she will know all the words to High School Musical soon enough-even using a flashlight as a microphone! Thank you to all for your encouraging words and Love. This thursday we get a new set of casts.....

Saturday, September 6, 2008


We are day three with casts and we are all learning to deal with them. After hours of crying on Friday I called the ortho office where the nurse exclaimed "I told him he should have given you Valium for her"! So off to the pharmacy we went and things are somewhat more bearable with Valium on board. Sleep came a bit more easier to us last night, but we were still up every 1.5-2 hours. Currently, we are at Panera so I can wifi and the girls are enjoying their muffin tops. Lying low for the rest of the day. Tomorrow is church and then we are going to watch our local Christian Band "Sanctus Real" play a benefit concert for Extreme Makeover Home Edition, which is in town this wknd for a local family. We are praying that every day Bree's pain improves and her vibrant personality returns.

Friday, September 5, 2008


The last 24 hrs have been challenging. We saw Dr. Buerk yesterday and received all in all good news regarding Bree's feet and right knee. Her xrays were great of her spine and hips and he really was encouraging about getting her to walk soon. We began a casting program (called the Ponsetti method) to help strengthen her tissues, muscles, etc. and which will slowly correct her positional deformity. Unfortunately for Bree her legs and feet are now in soft casts in a position they have never been in before and she is very uncomfortable. She slept very poorly and her spirit has been zapped. It is very heartwrenching. She cries all the time and its hard to know if it is due to pain or she is just mad and exhausted. We have her on pain meds-but don't really know if they are doing much. We will go for weekly cast changes for at least 4-6 wks. Then the decision will be made as to what kind of surgery she will need. Please pray for us during this difficult time. We know we have to do this to get her to walk-but it is very draining.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


OK- I know I am getting a bad rap for no pictures-but all you spoiled people out there with wifi have no idea how long it takes on dial-up to load them! Soon, soon-I promise. Things have been going great. Bree is sleeping 12 hrs straight. She is picking up on so much daily. Had her medical with the pediatrician-all labs look great thus far. She returns in two weeks for her first round of immunizations. Her appt. with the ped. ortho doc is today. We will find out what is in store for her and us with her feet. She has become much more tolerable of Daddy-I think she has watched him play with Brynn and Brooke and has come to realize "hey, this guy is kind of fun". She is doing very well with Mema which is a blessing since she will be watching her. Saige still spooks her, but she has stopped immediately screaming when she sees her now and instead says "mama, dada....puppy!" as if to warn us that Saige is nearing her. Pray for a positive outcome at our appt. today.

Monday, September 1, 2008


Today is Sunday and I think we are slowly assimilating back to a normal life. Our flights were uneventful, Bree managed to sleepa bit on the longer flight. We arrived in Detroit right on time and what a blessing it was to hear the immigration official state "I have just stamped your daughters passport and she is now an American citizen"!!!! Praise God in the Highest. We flew through customs and through automatic doors to see Brynn and Brooke (with A. Paulette and U. Scott) waiting patiently for us. It was very emotional for me and I tear up just thinking of the moment. Bree immediately went to her sisters and let them hold her. She was full of smiles and actually was screeching in Chinese most of the way home in the van! Since being home she and I definitely have our days and nights mixed up-praying this turns around soon. She is very attached to her sisters, especially Brynn. She calls her "mama" and now me "ma maaaaaaaaaaaa"! Both girls have been so incredibly helpful. We actually have to tell them not to pick her up so much. I am sure some of this will wear off. I fear Bree will be lost without them once they return to school and she is stuck with Doug and I again. She is a bit fearful of Saige, especially if Saige tries to touch her. She was an angel in church today. At the end of Mass while Father was readying to give announcements, she became a bit loud. Father stated that "Bree was excited to be here today" and welcomed us back from China with her. Well, all for now. I will post pictures soon. Thank you for all your wonderful comments

Thursday, August 28, 2008

OUR LAST DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Finally-our last night in China. We went to the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou to take our oath this afternoon. Cameras were not allowed. Pretty simple and anticlimatic experience actually considering all the other things we had to do on and before this trip.
We are packed and ready to go. Bags have to be out at 5a.m. and us at 5:20a.m. First flight to Tokyo (4hrs 55m) then rush to board the plane to Detroit (pray that we make the connection).
Had dinner with our friends the Dancy's and another wonderful family we just met.
The next time I post it will be from the U.S.A. Pray for a safe and uneventful flight for us. Can't wait to see you Brynn and Brooke at the airport. Hugs and kisses until then. We love you. Mommy and Daddy

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

DAY 10

ONE MORE DAY, ONE MORE DAY, ONE MORE DAY......That is our chant today! Our guides spent the morning at the U.S. Consulate obtaining all the official VISA and passport finalization papers. We had to stay in our rooms from 10a.m. until they called us in case of any questions. Thankfully, we got a call around 11a.m. saying all was a "go". Tomorrow we go and take our oath and we are signed, sealed and almost delivered (to the U.S.A.) I did a few more house calls at our hotel and the other one and then it was time for the infamous Red Couch Pictures. This is where everyone in your group gathers together for group pictures and mainly it's mayhem! Technically, our group had 13 families, but since 11 of them were gone for the first week, the Dancy's and us sort of considered our group to be just us. Bree was acting like a typical two year old from the minute she awoke from her nap, so we knew this would be challenging for us. We were lucky to get her into her dress without much trouble.

The pics above are of Bree and McKenna, The Dancy's and us, some of the babies and all 13 families. We also got a great picture of us and our phenomenal guide, Jocelyn

Jocelyn has taken such good care of us. On our gotcha day, the orphanage director told us we owed the orphanage $327 yuan for xrays we had requested. We had been told by our agency that they wouldn't do the xrays we had asked for, but since he had a copy of the xray report, we paid him. He told us our agency had a copy. Long story short, CCAI did not have the report, so Jocelyn took care of securing a copy of the xrays done (hip, spine, chest) and getting it to us, which we sent via fax to CCAI and they translated in English (all in <12hrs).>
Many thanks to all of you who have helped out on the homefront during our absence-words cannot express how thankful and peaceful it has been to know our girls have had such care and concern and prayers over the past two weeks. Mema-we love you for all you have and are doing to keep the girls lives as normal as possible and filling in for us.


Today (Tues) we ventured off the island without our guide with our friends the Dancy's. We went to what is called the Toy Market, a five story large building full of toys and such. Any flea market we have ever been too couldn't compare with this place. Got a few cute little things. It is amazing how far the U.S. dollar will go in China. While we have been here, the exchange rate has been $1=6.8yuan. We all four ate at a KFC for lunch today for $7.00 U.S. Sometimes I feel guilty trying to bargain with the vendors as anything you buy is so much less expensive then in the U.S. (except Evian water-only the best for Doug you know!) The last couple of days have been the hottest and muggiest weather we have had, basically since the typhoon.

Bree has had a lot of firsts this week. She had a strawberry sundae today that she just loved. I gave her the first bite and her eyes got real big and she began giving me kisses by the dozens. It was so cute. She is imitating everything we do. I am thinking she will do well on the plane as she absolutely loves to sit by herself in the taxi's and buses.

Tonight we went on a Pearl River Boat Cruise. They served a buffet dinner which was pretty good. We passed on a few things like the smelt and other unidentifiable items. I heard that there was steamed shrimp and got excited until I saw their beady little eyes looking up at me-just couldn't do it after that. We sure are spoiled Americans when it comes to our food preparations. The cruise really was beautiful though. Tonight was the first night I just didn't feel well-had a headache so I am eager to get to bed.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Bree sucking on a lemon!

Hard to believe that just one week ago today we held Bree in our arms for the first time. We often wonder what, if anything, she remembers from the orphanage. When she awakens from her naps and nights, if she expects to see us or her nanny?
Today one parent had to spend 2 hours doing VISA paperwork with our guide. Doug and Grandma and Bree went to the playroom for that time. In the afternoon we went to have her VISA picture taken and then to the dreaded medical exam. It was during this that we finally found someone that annoys her more than Doug (see above pic)-the doctors! Good thing we don't wear white coats at P. Peds. Of course since she was only one of two out of 13 babies that were special needs, our appointment took longer. I was just as spent as she was following her exam. Doug said that my body language was "unprofessional" during the exam-but really! when they asked me to have her walk on a metal grated bench I just about became unglued. I had our guide tell them "no her ankles are calloused enough" and they let it go.
We ate dinner at Doug's favorite restaurant La Dolce Vita (Italian) with our friends the Dancys (who have been the only other couple that has stayed with us in GZ the entire time). Doug has gotten the same 12 inch pizza 4 times now (see pic). I must say it is some of the best pizza we have tasted. The Dancy's are from NC and are a hoot, we have had so much fun with them. They don't like any kind of exotic food, even Chinese, so eating out with them has been a riot. Their daughter McKenna is 14 months old and has a VSD heart lesion-cute as a button. She has given her daddy a run for his money as well. The funny things is, both girls go to the other father without any problem! We moms just laugh and fortunately both dads have been good sports about this temporary rejection. Bree has been saying more phrases the last couple of days. We have heard her repeat "I want that", "I love you" and "your welcome". Other times she can be heard rambling in Cantonese and how we would love to know what she is saying. Well, it's lights out for Bree and time for me to sign off. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is is Heaven" Mathew 5:16

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Whew-we survived the weekend! No planned activities kind of scared us for these past two days-but we managed to whittel the days away. Attended the local Christian church again this a.m. amidst a downpour. The skies then opened up to sunshine. This Shamian Island really is beautiful. Many bride and grooms come to have their wedding photography done. On any given day we will see 5-10 couples having their photo shoots. We had another group dinner this evening at a Tai restaurant. We welcomed back all the couples from our agency who have been in other provinces for the past week. It has been nice to reunite with them and meet their new little ones-most of which are non-special needs and very young (many 8-10 month olds). I must say it has made me appreciate having a toddler who can feed herself and tell me what is wrong when she is upset. Didn't do any shopping today. There are probably 30+ stores on the island-most of which we have hit once if not twice. We did get our disposable camera film that we had sent to Bree's orphanage developed. They took 27 pictures of Bree-judging by her outfit being the same-all in the same day! But it still is nice to see more of what her surroundings have been for the past two years. As I write this, Doug is doing bath duty again-we have such a routine going for her that she is becomming a creature of habit. Four more days girls and we will be flying the friendly skies! Love you

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Today was the first day of rain we have had. We pretty much stayed inside for the morning. In the afternoon we had the wonderful opportunity to meet with a Chinese couple and their 4 year old daughter who are from Meizhou but live here in GZ now. They have been to Bree's orphanage many times and were last there three months ago. They clearly remembered Bree and Bree clearly remembered the mother. She went easily to her and let her hold her. We learned much about the orphanage and about how well they took care of Bree and the other children. They taught us many phrases in Bree's dialect and it is amazing how she responds to us now that we can ask her certain things in her language! After this we "snuck" into the White Swan hotel playroom for a bit then out to dinner at Lucy's (western fare). But since Doug saw a dog, quite larger than any others that we have seen, prior to going into the restaurant, he decided his hamburger didn't sit as well with him tonight-he he!
Word has gotten out that I am a pediatrician and people have been asking for "consults" which I am honored to do. Tonight while I was making a "house call", Bree stayed with Daddy for quite a while. When I returned, she actually allowed him to bathe her! Major strides are occurring - Doug keeps telling her that she loves him, she just doesn't know it yet :) Blessings to all.
Dear Family and Friends
We are so happy to share with you this wonderful journey we are taking to bring home our daughter

Those beautiful rosebud lips!