My blessings

I was only 20 when I had our first child.  L. was born via emergency c-section after a placenta abruption.  It was a scary but blessed day. He has grown to be an independent, creative and strong willed 14 year old boy.  He is extremely helpful with his younger siblings and has a giving heart.  L. went on a mission trip to Mexico last summer where he spent a week helping with vacation bible school and playing with the local children.  We have tried a few different things regarding L.'s education and he is starting his freshman year of high school this fall.

When L. was just 18 months old, C. came into the world (again via c-section). She was an unexpected blessing bringing tons of joy to our little family.  C. is 13 now; full of spunk, creativity and cleverness.  She has attended public school the last two years and she is doing so great.  She is learning to play violin and is the class secretary.  She will be starting jr high this fall.

K. was a blessing four years after C.  She was going to be our "last one".  Again, I had a c-section and lots of complications with scar tissue during her delivery.  Because of this I chose to have a tubal ligation after K. was born.  She was the most beautiful baby.  Sweet, lovely and quiet.  She is 8 and is still a compassionate, gracious little girl.  K. was homeschooling but is starting second grade at public school.

We were done.  But God was not!  Several years down the road, I heard a Focus on the Family radio program about adoption during the month of November.  Something stirred in my heart.  I mentioned the program to J. and a few months later checked out some books from the library.  After reading about international adoption we decided it was just too expensive and complicated.  We had just moved, bought this house with land, and had a goal to build our dream house.  There was no way we could afford adoption!

Another few months passed and God placed some people in my path.  A few friends were doing research on adoption.  We decided to look into adoption through the foster care system.  I attended training classes to get started.  We met with our pastor.  We prayed.  Then I met some other friends, Bob and Sarah, who recently had adopted a special needs child from Haiti.  Sarah was willing to meet with me, explain the entire process in detail, including the costs.  I came home from our lunch date excited to share every detail with J.  We did some research online and finally made a decision to adopt from Haiti.   

We were matched with E. a few months later and waited nearly two years for him to come home.  It was a long process, but we were refined during the wait. We decided to get involved in a ministry Sarah was working on (now called MAT), helping children in other countries with needed medical care.  I was able to travel to TX for a week  to help with two special little girls from Haiti.  Helping care for them while they received life saving surgery really changed my life.  When they came back to our area for therapy and additional healing, our family was able to remain involved and became attached to these little angels.  That fall, they were to go home to Haiti to their families.  My friend Sarah and I escorted them to meet their parents and Lori from Real Hope for Haiti.  It was a bittersweet journey, seeing these girls we have grown to love go.  But we were also heading to COTP to visit and volunteer.  Sarah and I were both waiting for our boys to come home from the same orphanage.  We were able to stay in the guesthouse, love on the babies at the orphanage and spend a bit of time with our sons.

One of the precious girls passed away a few weeks after she returned home.  This was horribly sad for everyone who was blessed to know her.  MAT was growing and more people were starting to get involved.  We were getting more and more referrals for children.  We decided to host a little baby who needed neurosurgery. The timing worked out so perfectly that his passport and visa were ready right when J. and I were scheduled to visit E. again at the orphanage!  We picked up S. and brought him back to where we were staying until we left for home a few days later.  S. had surgeries donated by some wonderful people in CA, so I traveled and stayed with him several weeks during two different trips.  He was a wonderful, sweet baby. We were learning more and more about his condition.  He was born with a frontal encephalocele, hydrocephalus and Chiari malformation.  He was going to need several complicated surgeries in the future, as well as close monitoring of his VP shunt.  S.'s birth family decided it best for him to remain in the US and allow us to adopt him. While we were not planning on this, we already had the paperwork in order from E.'s adoption.  His adoption took quite a while too, but it was well worth the effort.

While S. went through his medical treatment, therapy and many appointments, we were finally nearing the end of the wait with E!  He came home in March 2009.  E. is now 5 and doing great.  He is challenging at times, with some mild attachment issues.  He is a little delayed in his development and is attending kindergarten soon with an IEP.  He has his good buddies Angelina and Isaac just down the road to play with.  Everyone who meets E. thinks he is just a sweetheart.

S. is now 3 and is doing wonderful.  The neurosurgeons are still in awe that he can even walk and talk!  He is really independent and into exploring everything.  He is very active, talkative and funny.  He is a miracle and we are so blessed to have him in our lives! S. attends developmental preschool four days a week.

We felt like our family just wasn't complete.  We heard about a little girl, M. who needed medical care and was available for adoption.  We started the process over a year ago which recently brought us to Uganda, Africa. The adoption process had taken us on quite a long, complicated journey. We used much of our financial resources and available family leave to try to complete the process and I was away from home a total of nine weeks.  Things did not go well, and we hit every roadblock imaginable.  After many weeks in prayer and a break to come home and to seek counsel from friends, pastors and family; we decided that adopting M. was not why God had brought us to Uganda.  We are praying for M. and her caregivers, and think of her every day.  We are heartbroken and sad that we had to walk away.

In the spring and summer of 2010, our family hosted K., age 16 from Haiti.  He is now part of our extended family, living with my cousin just a few hours away.

We became foster parents and had several placements that lasted longer than anticipated.  M. was a seven year old girl who had Rett's Syndrome.  She was immobile, tube fed, and non verbal.  She was a sweetheart, and went back home to her family after four months. The summer of 2012 brought another sweetheart into our home, this time an infant (8 months old).  M. stayed with us nearly two years.  In June 2014 she went to live with her mother again.  Thankfully, we developed a good relationship with her so we are in touch and the transition went as smooth as possible.  We were asked to become M.'s godparents next month!

What's next? Who knows what God has in store for us...