Thursday, April 9, 2015

rocks and tantrums

At church on Easter, the pastor gave us all a box.  Inside the box were several things, one of them being a rock.  He told us to take the rock out and feel the weight of it.  Then he asked us to text him (yes at church LOL) one burden that was weighing us down like the weight of the rock.  I went back in forth in my head, but decided on Lanie's upcoming heart surgery.  It was between that and being able to bring the boys home, but Lanie's surgery is a constant heavy weight on me.

I posted a mini tantrum on facebook, saying that i was hoping that Jared could travel before Lanie's surgery and how disappointed i was that it wasn't going to happen. I am nervous about being alone with Lanie quickly after her surgery, she doesn't have a great history after surgery.  In the days that followed, i've gotten no less than three offers from friends who want to come hold her and keep her upright at night, two out of town friends who are offering to drop everything and come stay with me if Jared needs to go and i'm nervous, we got chosen to be part of a multi-family grant opportunity, and another sweet friend is splitting all her proceeds between her family and ours, even though SHE herself is fundraising to bring home a very sick little boy, and another friend is doing an avon fundraiser for us.  Overwhelming to say the least.

And so the weight is being lifted.  Dear friend who WANT to take off work and sit with you while your baby is being cut open.  Friends who want to have sleepless nights holding YOUR child so you can feel ok about your husband leaving the country.  Friends who want to drive hundreds of miles to hold your hand.  Friends who want to give up money THEY rightly need for their own children.  One by one by one the offers poured in and lifted the weight off my shoulder, lifted the heavy burden off of my heart.  So i'm casting my cares away, and being lifted and held in return.

What burden are you holding friends?  Can you cast it away?    You might be surprised at what happens when you do <3

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Crazy Awesome NEW Fundraising opportunity for the boys

Nab Amazon bestselling YA Fantasy novel Thorn by Intisar Khanani for 99 cents April 1- 7 and help bring these two young brothers home. Described as "unflinching and exquisite," Thorn is a story of choice and betrayal, justice and compassion. Recommended for fans of Robin McKinley and Mercedes Lackey.
About Thorn

For Princess Alyrra, choice is a luxury she’s never had … until she’s betrayed. Princess Alyrra has never enjoyed the security or power of her rank. Between her family’s cruelty and the court’s contempt, she has spent her life in the shadows. Forced to marry a powerful foreign prince, Alyrra embarks on a journey to meet her betrothed with little hope for a better future. But powerful men have powerful enemies—and now, so does Alyrra. Betrayed during a magical attack, her identity is switched with another woman’s, giving Alyrra the first choice she’s ever had: to start a new life for herself or fight for a prince she’s never met. But Alyrra soon finds that Prince Kestrin is not at all what she expected. While walking away will cost Kestrin his life, returning to the court may cost Alyrra her own. As Alyrra is coming to realize, sometimes the hardest choice means learning to trust yourself.
About Evan & Raymond
brothers2                                                                                                                     This sale is also about Intisar's good friend, Jamie, and  the two little boys she and her husband are in the process of trying to adopt. Evan (age 7) and Raymond (age 9) are biological brothers, both born with Saethre-Chotzen Syndrome--a condition that results in brain damage if left untreated. They were each given up at birth, and were unable to receive treatment for their condition. These brothers have lived in an orphanage in Eastern Europe their whole lives. As boys who are older and struggle with developmental disabilities, it's almost impossible to find adoptive families for them. But Jamie has her heart set on bringing them home, and this sale is about helping that happen.

All of the proceeds from Thorn's 99 cent sale are going towards that adoption. Our goal is to raise $2,000 over the course of the week. International adoption is prohibitively expensive (often over $20,000), so every dollar makes a difference... You can find out more about the boys and Jamie, and link to their blog, here:
And today, your help can make this goal a reality. Please share, tweet, and/or re-blog this post, and buy and give "Thorn" as a gift to friends and family! You can also invite your friends to the "Thorn Flash Sale" event on Facebook. Help us bring Evan and Raymond home.
Thorn is currently on sale for only 99 cents at all of these e-retailers:

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

World Down Syndrome Day

March 21st is world Down Syndrome Day!!!     Down Syndrome occurs when a person has 3 copies of the 21st chromosome.  As you know, we have three adopted children with Down Syndrome that make our lives extra great!  This year the kids and i are doing a community outreach project where we take a treat and handmade card to local community organizations in honor of 3/21.  So if you are here following a link off our treats, welcome and feel free to look around!  Hoping to upload pics of the kids delivering the treats in the next couple of days!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Fly away, Fly away

Jared and i got back our USCIS approval in NINE days!!!!  Last adoption it took close to 60!!!!  We rushed and scrambled and our COMPLETED Dossier FLEW away yesterday.  Wow.  Complete.  We are so so ready to meet the boys and bring them home.

I think of them every single day, in the (rare) quiet moments during the day and all through the late evening hours when i stay up making crafts or working on fundraisers to help bring them home.  What will they be like.  Will they like us?  When will they be home?  How will our lives change?  I know there aren't any quick answers to those questions, but i am READY to find out.

We are ready for them to be here and to start learning what it means to be part of a family.  To have people that will fight for you (and with you ;) ).  To know that someone always has your back.  That's what i am waiting for.  To show them the wonder beyond those orphanage doors.  What the world has to offer them.  It's a crazy thing to watch a child discover the world.  I remember watching Eli play on a playground in his first months home and just weeping.  B/c he was free.  B/c he had waited so long to have a family who would delight in watching him go down a slide.

It's amazing when our babies explore and learn, even more amazing and achingly heartbreaking when you watch a child of 9 or 7 or 5 discover things our biological children take for granted.  Food always being available.  Someone to rock you whenever you want.  Someone to worry when you are sick or scared or upset.  Someone to sit with you when your world feels to big or scary.  Someone you can show your big scary feelings to and they will help you work through them.

 It's so much work. Truth right there. Bringing home children from institutions is hard WORK.  It can feel never ending some days.  Back breaking some days.  Tear worthy some days.  Some days i wonder what in the world we are doing, b/c on those hard days i am oh so certain that anyone else could do a better job with our kiddos from hard places.  Those hard days come and go though, but the bottom line is, they are worth it.  They are worth my tears and sleepless nights worrying over if i did the right thing, or enough, or worrying about medical issues or emotional issues.

We still need around 15,000 more to be fully funded to bring the boys home.  That is a very big, very scary number to me.  Being our third adoption in three years means we don't have a nest egg, or a retirement fund (used it on the last adoption), and i know we are annoying when we post fundraisers and ask for help.  It's truly humbling to have to ask for money and Jared and i are both the type who would rather just do things on our own.  So it's a good lesson for us, that we can't do things alone.  If we had 35k laying around that would be great but we don't.  So pray for us and the boys, for them to hold on b/c we are coming, and for funding to come in or new ideas to pop into my head for fundraising.  I am not afraid to work for them!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

One life project

I got an envelope from a super sweet friend today.  The front was labeled "for craft purchases and for your boys" and then when i turned the envelope over, this is what was written on the back.

I started ugly crying as soon as i turned it over.  My  friend had a sibling who made some unfortunate choices, that led to his untimely death.  She used this experience to bring joy to others, in the form of helping adoptive families bring their children home.  I can't explain what it means to have the support from friends (who ALSO happen to be adopting) in such a sweet manner.

One life gone, two lives saved.  Saved from early death, a life alone, a life without family, a life without guidance.  Our boys have waited 9 and almost 7 years for a family to call their own.  I love the idea of this.  What kind of difference could we make if we all became part of the one life project?  What can you do today to make a difference for someone, anyone who needs a hand.  Something to think about.  I know we will be contemplating this in the coming weeks.  How can we pass on this blessing to others?

We got uscis approval today.  Basically means we have preliminary approval to adopt the boys.  We will (hopefully) be submitting our completed dossier this coming week.  Jared will go on first trip and i will go on pick-up with a friend, same as last time.  This way we can keep some consistency for the children that are here.  I am simultaneously excited and scared to death.  I long for them to be home, i worry about the changes it will bring.  Same as every time i am pregnant or adopting actually.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of change.  But they are worth a little fear.  Worth some hard times.  Worth sleepless nights and angry days when they deal with their feelings

Please consider helping us bring them home. We have a tax deductible account here,

and hey, if you don't want to donate to us, make a difference in another child's life.  Some of my favorites below

Cliff is being adopted by a personal friend of mine.  He weighs only 11 pounds at 5 years  Poor kiddo needs to come home asap. 

Beth is another personal friend of mine, single mama who is adopting her third child (second adopted kiddo).  She is amazing and does it all on her own!

Got to meet this amazing family this summer!  They currently have one adopted kiddo and are going back for 2 more!!!

This family is made entirely up of adopted kiddos!  And they are going back for three more!!!

Love this family who is going back for the cutest, squishy baby boy i have seen in a LONG time!

Last but not least, another super sweet boy!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

One Year

One Year.

One year ago today I walked into a large orphanage and was unceremoniously handed Jo.  The worker carried her facing away from her body, like an object she was moving from one place to another.  She was handed to me and i felt....numb truthfully.  I dressed her and tried to snuggle her, she didn't smell all that nice but she seemed happy to be being held.    We made the long drive back and i fell asleep after making sure that Aunt Lindee would keep an eye on her.

The time in country went both slowly and quickly, but that numb feeling didn't really wear off.  I was sad to see her banging her head or rocking, but it was more a sadness for "any" kid that you would feel if you saw them having those behaviors.  The flights home were much easier than i thought, and my heart started to thaw when we were on the long flight.

Jo had a bad reaction to us trying to lay her down for a nap and put a seat belt on her.  She silent cried big fat tears and Lindee and i both cried along with her.  What in the world had been done to her?  What had she been through?  In the customs line a very nice woman asked if the girls were twins and then told me how cute they were.  Unfortunately for her, i then burst into tears and cried onto Deb's shoulder that i was SO glad to be HOME.  Poor lady.

The first weeks and even the months were such a blur. Learning to care for both girls at the same time left me feeling (and looking i'm sure) like a zombie.  Learning that i couldn't "fix" 3 and 7 years of neglect and worse in a month or two was hard.  Intellectually i KNEW that. But my mother's heart yearned to wipe the slate clean and fill in all those holes with my love.  Love isn't always enough to fix every wrong.  

I don't remember exactly when i went from feeling like i was babysitting or still kinda numb to complete and utter adoration for Jo.  She was so desperate for any attention and kind word.  She would have gone home with the mailman if he offered.  Anyone would have done.  Anyone who would hold or seemed nice was fine.  We cocooned and did lots of holding and playing as she would allow.

She is sneaky.  She just climbs into your heart and one day you realize that your morning is complete until she is awake and gives you her "wookie" greeting and a big hard squeeze.  When she is at school sometimes i am so busy that i don't think of her and then when she gets home my heart seems to sigh b/c all the sudden it is complete.

She is naughty.  She delights in throwing things on the floor that you are trying to use and then grins or even laughs outloud  when she does it.  She knows her name and responds when you call for her.  She knows i am mama and prefers me over all others.  She no longer goes to any random person and begs for affection.  She still likes to be affectionate with others but is very firm in her belief that i am mama and that is where she wants to end up.

I often say i have no idea how she survived in that place.  How her sweetness was not just crushed out.  She has so much love to give.  So much joy.  I know others look at her and see how delayed she is, and i guess she is.  But i look at her and see a survivor.  I see a child who never gave up on life.  Who never gave up hope.  Her middle name is hope b/c we knew she held onto hope waiting for a family for 7 long years before we found her.

Happy year anniversary sweet girl.  We are blessed to have you in the family.  Now until forever.

Oh yeah, that sad kid i brought home?  No longer exists.  Tonight she called for mama when I had been playing with her and then went to pick up Lanie.  Take that every single person who didn't see her worth.  Who left her alone and afraid for years.  She is amazing.  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

old friend

Hello old friend PTSD.  I was hoping you were gone for good, but alas, it was not to be.   I often forget that these horrible reactions were such a normal thing when the girls first came home, and it always SHOCKS me when they pop up out of no where.  

 One of my girls had a PTSD reaction to me trying to give her a new medicine today. I had put my hand on her mouth to try and get her to open and her eyes flashed fear and she started silent SOBBING and rocking, shaking. In that moment, all i could think was Curse words.  Curse words for every single person who hurt her and made her freak out b/c i touched her mouth and had a spoon in my hand. 

Sadly, when we first brought her home, these reactions were a normal thing.  It hasn't happened in months though, and i just forgot.  I forgot i shouldn't touch her mouth when i have utensils in one of my hands.  B/c she is afraid i will hurt her, or shove food in her mouth.  She just reacted.  She didn't see mama, that person who always holds her gently and never ever EVER forces her to eat or is rough with a spoon.  She saw a spoon coming towards her and felt a hand on her chin (gently) trying to get her to open and i'm guessing she was remembering a time when that happened and didn't end so nicely.  

She cried, i cried.  I know why she was crying, b/c she went through horrible things in her young life.  I cried, b/c she is my baby.  And i wasn't there to protect her.  I didn't do what parents are supposed to do, keep her safe.  It kills me that she went through everything she did.  It makes me feel physically ill to think about it.  And then i FORGOT, and i scared her.  I could not have felt worse.  We cried together and i promised her once again, as we often do, that no one would hurt her anymore.  No one would make her eat if she didn't want to.  No one would be rough with her.  No one would abandon her in a crib for years at a time.  I whispered in her ear that mama and daddy loved her, and we would protect her forever.  

I can't undo the damage that was done.  In that moment, i felt like i couldn't even help her move forward, all i could do was hold her while she cried.  A friend mentioned to me that sometimes we just need to love them in it when there is no through it, and it really hit home.  I don't now if she will ever move "through" that trauma, but i can sit and love her while she is in it. I can show her with words and actions that no one will ever be allowed to treat her like that again.  Maybe it is enough.  Sometimes i feel so inadequate to parent these children that have been so hurt by what life has thrown at them.  I worry that i'm not doing enough, or that i'm doing it wrong, or that someone else could do it so much better.  

When people accuse me of being a "child collector" or ask why i'm not "done" yet well this is why. B/c you know what? My life would be EASIER if i didn't have three disabled kids. Of course it would. We wouldn't have a zillion doc appointments or hauling non-mobile kids around or all day therapy and a million other things i do with them every day. But life wouldn't be easier for THEM and they are who matters. 

I can't undo the damage done. I don't even know if i can make it better. I can only weep with them. I can only promise that no one will ever hurt them again. I can only be there when they need me. I pray most days to just be enough for them.  All i can do is pray to be enough for them.  All of them.  These little lives i have been entrusted with.  The ones i promised to protect and love and help.  I hope it's enough.  I hope they grow up and know we did all we could, all we thought was right.

I hope when the boys get home, that i have learned through parenting my other hurt children, and that i can help them try and heal or just get down on the floor and wallow with them.  Either way really. As long as they know i'm there for them.  

Random fundraiser for the boys :)  We are selling these T-shirts!  World Down Syndrome Day is coming up in May, and both of these shirts would be great for it!  Or awesome for any random day of the week too!  Take a peek and help us bring the boys home!  (unisex shirts, women's shirts, t-shirts, and sweatshirts available at the links!)