Sunday, June 8, 2014

Visual Adjustment

Have you ever run into someone you've not seen in awhile and although you knew they looked familiar, it wasn't until they reintroduced themselves that your visual of them shifted and the old picture in your mind's eyes was replaced by the now version of how they really look?  I think that's how adoption is.  You go into it with ideas, visions, of how you think things are going to be, but at some point, you have to adjust those visions to reality.

Many parents think they are going to pick up there child and instantly be in love with that child, but in fact, although we love them with the love of God, sometimes the parents may not even like the child.  I know! <gasp> That's just awful, but let's face it, sitting up at 4 in the morning with little Johnnie or Susie can tax even the most patient of parents.  We get frustrated with the child, and frustrated with ourselves.  We think we're awful parents because how could someone not love this child, but in reality, it's normal.  Given time we can grow to love the child and them us.  We are prefect strangers usually. 

So parents don't berate yourselves when your precious little pumpkin seems more like a little stranger, a little stinker of a stranger at that.  Give yourself and your new youngin' some slack and realize that relationships take time to build.  Adjust your vision of how you thought things were to match how they are.  It may not be the reality you envisioned, but it may be better than you could ever have imagined!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Our Little Princess Part II

Today we got an amazing report on Leza's health the magnitude of which cannot be understood unless one knows the whole story.
When we committed to Leza we only knew that she 
had heart surgery and Down syndrome.  We didn't know how cute she was because the pictures we had did not show her face.  She is beautiful. We found out some of her diagnosis when we got to our first appointment at which time we were told that she had gastro surgery at some point, no one was quite sure about that, and that she's had open heart surgery. It wasn't until we met with her doctor at the orphanage that we got the rest of the story.
Prior to ones meeting with a child, the parents are told as much about the child's medical and social history as is known.  We learned our first day that she was born without her colon being completely developed and that right after she was born she had surgery to correct it.  Then when she was 2 she had another surgery, and a colostomy due to some complications.  The colostomy was repaired and she has been fine every since.  Her heart had two holes in it.  The upper one repaired itself over time, but the lower one required surgery.  The surgery was successful, but Leza was also diagnosed with congestive heart failure. 
Heart failure does not mean the heart has stopped working. Rather, it means that the heart's pumping power is weaker than normal. With heart failure, blood moves through the heart and body at a slower rate, and pressure in the heart increases. As a result, the heart cannot pump enough oxygen and nutrients to meet the body's needs. The chambers of the heart may respond by stretching to hold more blood to pump through the body or by becoming stiff and thickened. This helps to keep the blood moving, but the heart muscle walls may eventually weaken and become unable to pump as efficiently. As a result, the kidneys may respond by causing the body to retain fluid (water) and salt. If fluid builds up in the arms, legs, ankles, feet, lungs, or other organs, the body becomes congested, and congestive heart failure is the term used to describe the condition.  Because of this, Leza was on medication that for all intent and purposes, she would most likely have to take the rest of her life.  However, God
Today we were told that Leza could come off her medication!  She no longer has this diagnosis and her heart looks wonderful.  Do I believe it's a miracle? You're darn tootin'!  Could the original Dx have been wrong?  Maybe, but not likely knowing the doctors who attended her prior to her adoption.  We serve a BIG God for whom nothing is impossible.  All glory and honor go to Him!  Amen!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

God is in the Details

Have you ever heard the saying "The devil is in the details"?  I'm hear to tell you that just aint true.  We serve an amazing, detailed God.  If you don't think so, just think about the human eye.  The other day I had an eye exam, my first in six years, so the eye doc wanted to dilate my eyes.  Once done I was talking with the eye glasses person, in case I wanted a pair, and my eyes started hurting really bad.  She told me it was because I had them dilated and got me a pair of those stylish sun glasses.  Yes, that's sarcasm. 
So driving home I was thinking about the amazing eye and how the iris dilates or retracts (not sure if that's the correct term) in order to let in or keep out the appropriate amount of light.  I thanked God for such an amazing detail in this human body and when I did, He reminded me of something that happened while we were in Ukraine.  Something I've wanted to share with you, but for some reason not until now.  I guess it's one of those "Mary things" where she pondered them in her heart.  This was one of my ponderings because it was so personal, that it really was only a big deal to me even though it was a very minute detail.  Today as I was trying to take a nap I felt a nagging that I finally needed to share this.  Maybe you are the one who needs to read it just for today.
By Dec 21st of 2013 I had been in Ukraine adopting our three children for almost 6 weeks.  I was tired to say the least, had been sick, was feeling better, but still recuperating my strength.  When I don't feel well small things seem to matter more. Jode had been in another region, springing two of our babies from the orphanage and arrived the next morning, very early, in the region where I was.  Our precious Leza was celebrating her 4th birthday that day, Dec 22nd.  Since this was her first birthday celebrated in her family, I wanted it to be very special.  I had purchased her an adorable outfit and Katherine and Asa were coming to help us celebrate.  Katherine is a photographer and was going to capture this very special day for us so of course, I wanted it to be perfect.  Now if you know anything about us Southern Mommy's you know that our daughter's ensemble is not complete without a coordinating bow in her hair.  Not only did I not have a bow, I did not have a rubber band to get her hair out of her face.  Poor little pumpkin all dressed up in her pretty pink and purple and her hair was covering up her pretty little face.  Until . . .
I had gone to the kitchen to make a cup of tea.  I made tea for myself several times a day since it was very cold while we were their, and I happen to love tea.  It's comfort food for me.  There was a cute little wire tea cup holder in our apartment with about four tea cups hung from it, and I had used those cups so often.  So while I'm making my tea, fretting about Leza's hair and planning to make a trip to the open market, you can imagine my surprise when I turned around and saw it.  I know it had not been there previously.  I would have seen it after all, the wire tea cup holder only held one tea cup at present because the rest were either in use or needing washed.  So how could it have gotten there?  Who could have put it there.  I asked Jode but he had no clue.  So I wept, silent tears, but tears of immense thankfulness, for my God who knows my heart, even the smallest detail.  It was small, very small, perfect for a little girls thin hair.  A perfect white rubber band which made this Mommy's heart sing. 
God has a way of saying "I'm here, and I'm working on your behalf down to the smallest detail."  I'm so thankful that He is.  When I'm discouraged about the big picture, I remember that He cares enough about me to make sure I had a small white rubber band.  God is in the details, even those that matter to only me. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

We're Home and All's Well

Hi All,
I know it's been a long time since I posted, so I wanted to update you.  I'm sure you can understand that we've been just a bit busy. I'll start with the kids. 
All six of them are doing well.  We had a bit of regression in Ian upon our return but that was to be expected.  He was the baby and now there are three more who are "younger" than him developmentally if not chronologically.  He's doing better now that we've been home two months! 
Gavin is learning to be a little less animated around the new littles and that personal space is important.  His "regression" upon our return was shown in anxiety, but thanks to caffeine, yes we give him coffee to help calm him down, he's doing much better.  We tried using lavender essential oils in a lotion, but unfortunately it caused an asthma attack.  We also take him, as well as Ian and Flora, out by themselves so that we have some personal time with them. 
Flora is being little mommy which we knew she would.  We're having to teach her that although she wants to play with and mother all four of her smaller siblings, she cannot pick them up or tote them around.  I say smaller siblings because although Gavin is younger, he outweighs her by at least 10 pounds.  She does not try to tote him around!
Misha, who we call Mr Fussy Pants, is quite opinionated.  He will definitely let you know if he does, or does not want something or want to do something, like go to sleep.  When he first got home he would SCREAM at the top of his lungs, which were quite substantial considering his itty bitty self, and he would do it for extended periods of time when laid down for bed.  No amount of appeasement would suffice.  However, he has stopped doing that, finally, and usually goes right off to sleep with the rest of the boys.  He's a picky eater and does not like too many fruits or veggies so we are having to find inventive ways to get them into his diet.  He is smart.  Very smart, and has learned to stand without the use of his hands since they are the weakest part of his body due to his arthrogryposis.  However, with all the tenacity of a pit bull, he is learning to use them and strengthen them in order to feed himself, play with toys, and wrestle his sister's pacifier out of her mouth!  He's learning English quickly and adds new words to his vocabulary daily it seems. He amazes us and we couldn't be more proud of him. 
Nicolai is becoming more affectionate.  He will snuggle and cuddle now where in the beginning he really was not interested.  He's learning to actually play with toys rather than just throwing them, although he still thinks it is hilarious to throw whatever is closest to him so that we have to pick it up.  He's walking very well and being the size of an infant, he looks absolutely adorable toddling across the floor.  He's learned to be more patient when we're eating.  Initially if he smelled food, he thought he should be eating and would throw an absolute fit, trying to climb my leg, while I was cooking.  Now he's pretty good about waiting until we're all at the table and have said prayer.  He does not throw a fit when eating any more and he waits to chew what's in his mouth before getting another bite although we still have to only give him one bite at a time since his eating habits are that of Sesame Street's Cookie Monster.  He has learned to hold his own spoon, get the food to his mouth and hold and drink from his own cup.  He also is no longer throwing it on the floor in between drinks.  He's babbling new sounds in the past few days much like an infant would do which is great.  He has not done that previously.  Now I know you may be thinking, most kids do that, but trust me, these are huge milestones for him.
Leza is coming out of her institutional behaviors more and more.  We are seeing less stemming and more actual attending to her surroundings.  She's walking almost exclusively and not so much scooting.  She can also eat using a fork/spoon and drink independently from her own cup.  These are great strides for a little girl who would not even hold something in her hand two months ago.  She's playing with toys, the baby doll she sleeps with and she will actually look at a book.  Previously she would push anything away that was placed in her lap or hands.  She's learned a few words like Momma, Dada and Nite Nite and loves to sing (la la la la la).  I have started vocalizing with her and she will initiate it herself at times.  We gave her a binki to chew on in an effort to get her to stop grinding her teeth.  It's working pretty well.  She's maintaining eye contact more and more, and her eyes are becoming stronger.  We still feel she cannot see that well, in part from her strabismus, crossed eyes, but she may also be near sighted.  She has an eye appointment next week. 
Jode and I are doing well. Well, sort of well.  I've been sick off and on since early Dec while we were still in Ukraine.  I'm sure this past years' experiences have put a strain on my immune system in spite of my efforts to boost it.  I'm still battling something, but with six littles and two of them in school bringing home whatever is going around, it's sure to be a battle.  Jode too has been under the weather a little, but this too shall pass. 
Now I want to brag on Jode a bit.  Through all of this Jode has been working on his degree in Nuclear Engineering Technology.  Yes, Nuclear Engineering.  I know what you're thinking, he's that good lookin' and smart too?  Uh huh, that's what I thought when I first met him.  Too good to be true! ;-)  He'll be graduating in May with honors, 4.0 to be exact. He's already started applying for positions and has his first follow up appointment March 11th.  I couldn't be more proud. 
I think that's it for now.  If you've not seen any of our most recent pics, all of the kids are doing amazing, really.  We are very blessed to have each one in our lives and we are very excited to see what God has in store for each of them.
In closing, may I ask that you please remember to pray for Ukraine.  The country is on the brink of war and our hearts are breaking for the people there who we came to know and love.  Please, please keep them in your prayers. 
With love,
Jode and Kelley and family


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Matching Grant

We have been blessed by Grafted Branch with a matching grant of $500.  This grant is to help pay our travel costs. 

We are traveling very, very soon.
Please wont you help us adopt three precious children by donating and sharing this opportunity?
Every dollar you donate will be doubled and is tax deductible.
Jode, Kelley and babies

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Just knowing

Have you ever just known that you needed to write something and not sure what it is?  I've been like that for a couple days.  Several things keep coming to mind.  Of them are special need adoption, multiples adoption, homecoming prep and relishing the here and now knowing that when we come home, nothing will be the same.
Special needs adoption:
This isn't the first time.  Maybe a little more obvious but definitely not the first.  Every adoption, whether of a "typical" child or one with a diagnosis (Dx) is honestly special needs.  Often, once one has adopted that "healthy infant/child", one finds that there are special needs whether it be physical and/or emotional.  I've had that happen.  Cute little blonde haired, blue eyed doll who had "behavior problems" ended up having Asperger Syndrome which comes with a myriad of things with which to contend.  Beautiful big brown eyed baby had emotional scars which she held onto tightly even with everyone's best efforts to help her heal.  This time we know the actual Dx before hand, can prepare as much as possible, and deal with everything else as it comes along.
Adopting multiples:
This adoption, although adopting three at once, is not the first time we have had several little bundles placed in our arms all at once!  I remember May 12, 2010.  So back up two days prior when we were blessed with a precious little Mexican beauty from NICU at the local hospital.  She had symptoms much like that of a stroke due to abuse.  She was 9 months old, but about the size of a 3 month old.  Adorable little thing and so in need.  Two days later, May 12, we got a call from our local DSS asking if we could take a little girl we had previously discussed.  She was 10 mo and had disrupted her foster care placement.  Imagine that, 10 months old?  How in the world could that happen.  I'll explain that in a minute.  Then we got another call, because we have a big house, about taking a sibling group of three ages 8, 5 and 3.  So here we are with our Mexican princess, and in walks two separate groups of kids at the same time and I'm not kidding; both sets of social workers/kids arrived at the very same time.  Five kids in two days and most had behaviors which needed modification to say the least.  The 10 month old could SHREEK so loud that you could not be in the same room with her without having your eardrums pierced.  She was quite talented.  The 3 yr old loved to beat up on her 5 yr old brother and would win!  The 5 yr old would rob you blind of anything edible and eat the whole thing at once, then lie just as sweet as he could about it.  He was so cute, you really wanted to believe him. The 8 year old was a calm doll who was very helpful and come to find out, in their colorful little lives, actually knew the 10 mo!  It was a trip.  So I remind myself this is not our first picnic and possibly won't be our last.  Oh, and I didn't even mention the day all 6 Guatemalan's came to us!  Three will be challenging, but no more than the other precious little challenges we've contended with in the past five years.
Homecoming prep:
I've been trying to figure out how to arrange our bedroom to include three toddler beds, which we have, knowing full well that the other three will also want to join in on the Mommy/Daddy bedroom thing.  We have been advised to put the beds of our three new little punkins in our room so that they can see us if/when they wake in the night.  Gavin and Flora already love to come crawl in the bed with us, but I have been trying to deter it since I'm usually the one who does not get sleep.  Add three in our room and Flora and Gavin are going to be rather put out that they cannot join.  Of course, Ian would need to as well.  I'm thinking we just move all the chest of drawers into one room and all the beds into ours.  It's big enough.  Honestly, I'm still not sure how we're going to arrange this, but I'm sure it will come to me/us before we leave.  One thing for sure, I do not want to end up with all 6 kids in our bed.  We'd need to make it a double king!  How about they sleep with Daddy, who can sleep through anything, and I'll take the nursery!  =)
Relishing the here and now:
I find myself staring at the kids here at home more now.  I hold them as much as they will absolutely let me.  I look them in the eyes more so that I can capture as much as possible.  I know that once we are home with our new littles things are going to be different.  Not better or worse, but different.  I know it's going to be amazing, and I know that our new littles and our already littles are going to learn so much from one another.  I'm excited about it, and I have to admit a little forlorn about it.  Only so slightly.  I remember feeling this way about Scott when I was pregnant we Jeremiah.  I kept wondering if I could ever love Jeremiah as much as I loved Scott.  The great thing is, I could and in this case, I will. 
All of this, adopting special needs, adopting three children at once, preparing for their arrival and knowing that things will never be the same, has me often on my face before God.  I am overwhelmed and humbled once again at His hand in our lives.  I'm amazed at what He's taught us which has prepared us for this place in time.  My heart aches as I cry out to Him asking how we can do more.  Now that we know, now that we have been given what I'm sure is just a glimpse of the plight of the orphans, we can never go back.  We can never not know.  In just knowing we have become responsible to do.  That's scriptural, Church. James 4:17 says: If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them.  And James 1:27 says: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  So if you know that it is your responsibility to do James 1:27 and you do nothing, then according to James 4:17 is it sin.  I'm not saying that everyone is called to adopt, but I am saying we, as the Body of Christ, are called to care for the orphans.  If you cannot adopt, then donate to a particular childsomeone's adoption or an adoption ministry.  If you cannot donate, find a child and advocate for that child by posting their link and adorable face to your time line. One child at a time if that's all you can do.  And by all means be a prayer warrior and pray!  Prayer really does change things.  Two children for whom I have been praying have had families commit to adopt them in the past couple weeks.  Prayer makes a difference and you can make a difference too.  Just knowing now makes you responsible too.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fully Funded Indeed

I've debated whether or not to make this post. I've wrestled with whether God was through with this part of our adoption journey or was I just not trying hard enough. It's not how I had hoped it would be. Not how I had planned, but like they say, if you want to make God laugh . . .

 So as I was tallying the funds we have, how much we have spent, how much we still need, I realized that the total of our reserves will cover that which we need once we get travel dates. It's not pretty, and it's not like I wanted it to happen, but nevertheless, we have it and that's great!

 You see I had hoped it would come in big lump sums from wonderful ministries which offer grants to families who are adopting, but instead ours is coming from this family member (thank you very much) and that family member (thank you too!) and a few friends who have been precious, even in the midst of their own fund raising, to contribute to our family sponsorship page, and then there is this credit card with zero interest and that credit card with interest and this line of credit and this zero percent loan and a huge chunk, over 20k, came from selling a few things and just down right scrimping and saving as much as we could. So, although it's not how I originally thought it would happen, it's happened and we want to give God a huge THANK YOU and thank you to all our friends and family who have helped us as well. Of course, if you still want to contribute, we won't turn it down. It would mean less we put on our credit cards! =)

By the time we bring our babies home, we will have spent over 40k in adoption expenses. I know that sounds like a lot, but let me ask you this - what is the life of just one child worth? We will be bringing home three! I'd say that's priceless!


On another note, we are now number 7 in line for travel. We figure it will be around the second week of November. I'm not quite sure I'm ready for extreme cold but somehow I have a feeling it's just not going to matter!

 Many blessings.