Turning 3

Jensen is turning 3 next week and he just continues to thrive and surprise us!
His latest LOVES:

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  •  running, playing pretend piano, singing “Oh Canada” and “Jesus loves me”
  •  riding his bike, even in the snow
  •  playing with his trains and trucks
  •  counting to 12
  •  helping shovel the snow
  •  feeding the cats and Bailey
  •  attending BSF with Mommie
  •  playing in the sandbox in the garage
  •  going for rides in Daddie’s truck
  •  playing at Indoor playgrounds with friends
  •  wearing his underwear (not quite fully trained ….. yet)DSC_0032
In October last year, he was released from the Early Childhood Development Program as there is no longer any developmental delay.   In fact, the results from the Diagnostics Inventory for Screening Children (DISC) indicated high percentile for Fine Motor and Gross Motor skills and his social skills high also in the 90th %.  At the time, receptive and expressive language were around the 50%.  Recently, he has started using sentences with 5 and 6 words which shows incredible growth and normal explosion in language for his age and above.   Obviously we are thrilled with his progress and are very grateful to God!
Took him for his 3 year Medical in January, while he was struggling to shrug off a bronchial infection.  Despite that, the Paediatrician was happy with his continued development and gave us the 42 month Checklist (3 and a half years old) and we are already ticking off tasks and activities that he is enjoying and achieving!  Praise God.    We are very blessed to have this little man in our lives as he brings joy to us daily.  🙂


Running up and down the hallway.

Celebrating Jensen’s second year.

Our baby boy is TWO years old and we have so much to be grateful for.  Here is some wonderful news:

  • 19th March, 2013 – Visited Cardiology at the Alberta Children’s hospital for his check-up.   Results from Echo and ECG show a heart that has totally healed.  PRAISE GOD !!
  • Jensen is now on half dose of Sildenafil.   And he will be completely off this drug in 14 days.  PRAISE GOD !!  (Doctors and nurses are Amazed with his progress and say he is a miracle boy!  (We already knew that).
  • 20 March, 2012 – Jensen started to walk a day before his birthday!  PRAISE GOD !!
  • 21 March, 2013 – Celebrated a fun-filled day with lots of love and laughter for his second birthday with family.
  • Made the best birthday cake ever and everyone enjoyed it.  It was a Toblerone and Baklava Icecream Cake made into an Australian Echidna – rich but yummy!
  • Jensen now walks confidently up and down the hallway with one of his walkers and shows off how fast he can climb up stairs.
  • He is continually learning new words  and his comprehension is very good for his age
  • He loves singing and his favourite song at the moment is “Jesus loves Me”, closely followed by “The Wheels on the Bus”.

photo 3Hooked up to the ECG – no tears, just smiles for the camera

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photo 4Happy 2nd Birthday!  A  family celebration 🙂

photo 2Out riding horsey in Fish Creek Park

A leather hat from Australia ….. thanks Grammie

photo copy 2photo 3On the week-end, we enjoyed a long awaited opportunity to catch up with Jillian, who we met in China on our trip.  Her Mum, Andrea travelled with us and we had so much to share and catch up on.  It was a real blessing  and a lot of fun for Jensen.

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The sad news is this is how I often feel as an older mum …… exhausted and like I’ve hit the wall and have birds flying round my head !!  Seriously, Jensen is joy and we adore him, but I think my body and brain and heart are all trying to catch up with the massive life transitions in the last 11 months,  in addition to the grief of Dad passing away.  I am continuing to learn a lot about myself, God, family and friendships in this time.

Three weeks ago while I was in Vancouver, a dear friend reminded me of just how dire Jensen’s heart condition was when we brought him back from China.  At one stage, the surgeons didn’t even know if he was operable or not.  My friend’s husband works closely with the group of surgeons who operated on Jensen and we have been  so blessed and privileged to have them walk beside us supporting us along the journey.  Megan shared how concerned they were for us back in August last year, as they really were able to grasp and understand the incredible risks associated with Jensen’s situation at the time.   In reflection, Jensen’s recovery is just amazing, as this time last year, all we had were a few photos of a baby boy with a critical heart condition (VSD and an ASD – two holes in his heart) and a very uncertain prognosis.  I have been moved with joyful tears at what the Lord has done.

Some more good news.   My Mum is coming to visit us here in Calgary later this spring/summer and we are getting excited for her arrival.  Jensen can’t wait to spend more time getting to know his Nanna.♥♥♥

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Mum and Dad (1962)

In remembering my Dad, God assures us of His presence.  As we draw closer to Him, we are able to draw from His strength, comfort and peace.

We have a lot to be grateful for.

Re-visiting the Orphanage as we look forward to Jensen’s 2nd Birthday

Today I did a couple of things I’ve wanted to do for a while – I cooked Blueberry and Banana muffins for our new british neighbours.  I remember how difficult it was when I first moved here, especially at this time of the year …… so it is just a nice little thing that I wanted to do.   On a more personal level, I finally dressed Jensen in his orphanage clothes.  The ones  we picked him up in on the 7th of May last year.


Very first photo we took of Jensen 


Jensen today inspecting his little bike made by a street artist in Beijing.   He is wearing the clothes from the Orphanage including 2 pairs of long pants, long sleeve t-shirt and a hoodie.  (it was 30 degrees when we picked him up – that’s how they dress babies in China!)

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Playing at his lego table

I tear up every-time I see the top photo.

Quick update on Jensen’s progress and how he is doing physically, with gross motor skills and cognitively.   He now;

  1. pulls himself up to standing position in his crib (not climbing out yet !)
  2. slowly crawling
  3. attending KinderMusik, where we enjoy lots of rolling, dancing, jigging, singing and heaps of other fun stuff
  4. has grown 6 cm and is in the top 75% for height of kids his age in Canada!  (incredible for a little chinese boy who had major heart surgery) … I guess he’s a real “Schirok”
  5. knows about 80 words including sign language.  We are waiting for the sentences to come yet.
  6. loves riding his horsey that his cousins Ella and Luke gave him.


Bailey (the dog) and I got to enjoy the S.L.OW.E.S.T. walk ever …… 

So it takes us quite a while to go round the block and Bailey is bored out of his brain but Jensen LOVES IT!  He thinks he is so good and he has been taking it through big snow drifts (much more than in the photo) as we have recently had a foot of snow!!

There are so many more milestones that I can’t think of right now.  We are looking forward to his birthday the week after next and continue to thank God for blessing us and our baby boy.

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Jensen lines up his ducks

Simplify Your Life « Empowered To Connect

Simplify Your Life « Empowered To Connect.

The above video describes what Paul and I have tried to implement for Jensen over the last 6 months.  It has been difficult for both of us to simplify, especially with our own business and busy schedules, but Karen Purvis explains so well, the reasons why it is so important to do so in the first few months, preferably 6 months.  We are now a lot more relaxed ….. phew ….. as Jensen has bonded remarkably well according to “the experts” and he does have a confidence that belies where he has come from.

So through this process of simplifying, we help him to feel safe and in a solid environment, that benefits him developmentally.  Now we are entering a new season, as our travel plans are looming, ….. (I know I should “sound” a lot more excited but it’s not as simple as travelling with your own child who you gave birth to).  Most Moms will say that travelling with a toddler is enough to send them overboard, and there are a hundred more considerations we need to make for Jensen, due to his adoption and open heart surgery.  We try to be positive and the way we see it, anything will be easier than the “flight from hell” coming back from China and his “time away” at the hospital.  The reality is:  there will be lots of visiting and visitors, and that’s obviously fun and wonderful for Paul and I, BUT it is no longer just about Paul and I.    We are wanting to keep things as simple as possible which we believe the right way to go, especially since this will be Jensen’s first Christmas with us.  The trip itself will be enough new sights/sounds/smells/tastes that come with being in a different country …..  For this reason, we hope to keep our itinerary as stationary as possible, if that makes any sense.  (Usually Paul and I go for mini escapades in Tassie, trying to capture as much as possible including Wine Glass Bay, East coast, Hobart and mid-lands etc within 3 or 4 days).  That is not ideal for Jensen!   Instead we will be staying at one address for the majority of our stay in Australia. 

Jensen with his cousins, Ella & Luke who he loves very much. 

A time when help was needed …..

Sometimes people come into your life who want to help …. who want to make a difference in your life and consequently affect your whole sphere, with positive effects that flow onto other family members and your future.  I’m sure you all know about my spiritual Mom and good friend Cheryl, who recently visited from Australia to help and support us during Jensen’s open heart surgery.  (There are so many others who I could mention right now too who have also invested so much of there time, love and support).  But this about Cheryl – a wonderful friend, teacher and someone who has really loved and wanted to invest in our lives with foundational truth with lasting effects.  Thank-you Cheryl for taking the time  for us and investing in us, when we really needed help.   We love you !! 

This is her take on the 4 weeks that she spend with us recently when Jensen went in for surgery in Edmonton.  (She wrote this for the Newsletter of the Glasshouse Country Christian College, where she is Head of Primary).

Jensen’s Story 

(for all those who have been asking)

‘It began with a phone call from Canada when Helen, my young friend (who is like another daughter) expressed her concerns about the surgery which Jensen, who had been adopted from China in May 2012 just a few months earlier, desperately needed to have as he had 2 significant holes in his heart.  Helen and Paul were aware of this as Jensen was a “special medical needs adoption”.

 It was a natural response to ask if they wanted me to come there to support them at this time and was actually possible as I had long service due this year.  To be honest, Term 3 was perfect timing for me to be away from the College, so the plans were made and flights booked.

Jensen Wei Schirok was born in Kunming City in China and was found abandoned near the hospital (where he would be easily discovered) as he had pneumonia.  We believe that his mother knew that he had 2 holes in his heart and needed extensive complicated surgery.  When Jensen was found, he was given medical care and placed in the orphanage which was well known for organising international adoptions.  It would probably have been impossible for Jensen’s mother to afford the surgery he needed as it wasn’t available in Yunnan province.

 For the first 9 months he spent most of his time in a cot and the staff referred to him as “little slow eater”.  This was because his body only had enough energy to breathe and digest his bottle – nothing else.  However, his fine motor coordination developed very well as I guess he spent many hours touching fingers and thumbs together to amuse himself.

 The flight from China to Canada was difficult as Helen and Paul had to keep oxygen near Jensen’s nose to provide for adequate oxygen absorption.  There was a serious risk that he may not have “made it” to North America without this.  But after 3 months Jensen still wasn’t putting on weight.  Bottles were very slow and he wouldn’t touch any solid food so the specialist decided the operation had to be moved forward to August.


What a blessing for them that they live in Alberta Canada where Jensen has access to the very best medical care and his surgeon was not just one of the best, but THE BEST open heart surgeon in the world!  So, on Wednesday 22 August, he finally went into theatre and 4 hours later Dr Rebekya gave us the report that it had all gone well.  He was so matter-of-fact and at that moment they wheeled Jensen’s little body into intensive care.  When you are the best open heart surgeon in the world, good bedside manner isn’t necessary.

Jensen was one of about 15 children in PICU (Paediatric Intensive Care Unit) – each with an individual nurse assigned to them 24 hours a day.  Machines monitored every aspect of their progress and alarms and bells were constantly going off and doctors and nurses were reading and adjusting data and medications.  Jensen was completely sedated and given morphine during these 10 days but, apart from having community acquired pneumonia, made great progress.  Towards the end of his time in PICU, various lines and tubes were removed – one by one – and gradually the morphine and sedation were reduced until he was awake.  Oxygen saturation was 100% where previously it had been about 70-80%.  Finally he was air lifted to Calgary by ambulance then jet and ambulance again.  He was almost at the end of his journey – only the NG tube for milk straight into the stomach remained.  Then his first bottle!  How good it was to see him drinking from a bottle.  This went without a hitch, so the NG tube was removed.  Jensen remained at 99-100% oxygen saturation – though he hated the monitor for this as he just couldn’t shake it off his big toe.

The final excitement came when we arrived the following morning armed with coffee “to go” and some breakfast for his dad Paul.  Jensen saw the “Breakfast Quiche” from Phil & Sebastian’s (Helen’s favourite coffee shop) and immediately wanted some.  So – forget the farex and the gradual introduction of texture and lumpy solid foods, Jensen went straight to –

  • Quiche
  • Spaghetti
  • Pizza
  • Mashed potato with cream & butter
  • Blended Thai chicken soup

and most important of all

  • VEGEMITE & CHEESE RUSKS – made by Grammie (that’s me)


As a little Canadian citizen, born in China with a Canadian father and Australian mother, and Canadian and Australian grandparents – Jensen needed to grow up with VEGEMITE!

 I shared most of this in our Year 3 – 6 assembly last week and was amazed how intently the students listened.  Many have made a point of talking to me since then and expressing genuine concern and compassion for this little man – once abandoned but now safe and well in Canada.  I know that so many families have been praying and keeping abreast of developments over the past few weeks.  I have been very touched by the expressions of care and concern since being back at GCCC and have been humbled by your kind wishes for Jensen’s complete recovery.

I arrived in Canada to meet a happy little boy who only had enough energy to breathe and take a bottle and a month later left a vibrant little “man” with a wonderful sense of humour who giggled and chuckled constantly and had a sparkle in his eyes and just a touch of mischief in his heart.”

Cheryl Bryers



Our Adoption Journey, so far

Following is a brief summary of our adoption journey so far which I put together for the Adoption and Foster Care Ministry Newsletter for our church.  It was not easy keeping it brief ….. 

Baby Denghong Wu

“After completing an International Adoption Course in 2007, Paul and I soon shelved the idea of adoption, thinking we were “too old” and the idea was “too expensive” for us.   A few years later however, after a series of coinciding events and meeting other adoptive parents, we knew we needed to continue with the vision to adopt internationally.  We no longer had any excuses!

In December 2010, we signed up for the Chinese Waiting Child Program with Christian Adoptions and Wendy Robinson was wonderful in explaining the program for babies and children with minor operable conditions.  Within 14 months we were matched with DengHong Wu – a beautiful baby boy through FOI (Family Outreach International).  One gliche – his medical situation was not minor !

This photo sent to us soon after referral from the Kunming Orphanage in Yunnan Province

Despite the fact that he slipped in under the radar with a complicated heart condition, (2 holes and pulmonary hypertension) – not a minor operable condition – and beyond our wildest dreams, we were soon on our way to China to pick up our 11 month old baby boy!

The first time we laid eyes on DengHong at the civil affairs office in Kunming, we just knew he was the baby hand-picked for us.  After lots of paperwork in Beijing, organizing name change, passport etc, and a harrowing experience with our flight, we were welcomed by family back in Calgary on the 21st of May with our new son, Jensen Wei Schirok.   God answered prayer and we were able to bond and attach with Jensen for three months, before going in for open heart surgery on the 22nd of August at the Stollery in Edmonton.  On all counts, his Cardiologist is pleased with his development so far, and as parents we are still in awe at how God can mould our hearts for His purpose and our good.   We often look back and can’t believe what he has been through in a few short months.

Jensen is an extraordinary little boy, very determined, fun-loving and courageous, who has brought much joy to our lives in the 5 months we have known him.   We are grateful to God, our life-group, family and friends for the pivotal role they have played in loving and supporting us through this process.”

Jensen today …. a happy, healthy toddler living in Canada !

Jensen continues to do well and from our last appointment with the Cardiologist a couple of weeks ago, he is doing well on all counts.  His growth chart shot right up weight gain area and he is now around the 9.5 kilo mark.  There was some conflicting advice coming from the Cardiologist and Pulmonary Hypertension Specialist regarding drug dosage, which has been concerning, but for now they are agreeing on the low dose.