• What Does It Mean to be Adopted by God?

    Date: 2014.11.08 | Category: Adoption | Response: 0

    I Blog for Show Hope

    For you are all sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ. Galatians 3:26 NIV

    We are children of God through faith.

    God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.  Ephesians 1:5 NLT

    God has adopted us into his family.

    For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…       Ephesians 2:8 NIV

    We joyously accept being called into God’s family simply by believing in Him.

                    And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”                                2 Corinthians 6:18 NIV

    We rely on the fact that we are sons and daughters of Christ.

    In fact, our future in eternity depends on it.

    We live our lives quoting scripture about God’s grace.

    We talk about God and refer to Him as our Father.

    We talk about our brothers and sisters in Christ.

    We know what adoption means.

    November is National Adoption Month.

    November 2nd was Orphan Sunday.

    The one day of the year that most churches talk about caring for the orphan.

    This month is meant to bring awareness to the need to adopt.

    But as Christians shouldn’t we already be aware?

    Do we really need a day in November to talk about orphan care?

    Does there really need to be a month to raise awareness about adoption?

    James 1:27 is pretty clear.

     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.

    To look after orphans…

    It isn’t a suggestion.

    God has COMMANDED us to care FOR the orphan, not just ABOUT the orphan.

    We should all be doing our part.

      We should support families so they stay intact.

    We should come along side those that are adopting.

    We should sponsor children.

    We should foster.

    We should do respite care.

    We should help pay for needed surgeries.

    We should provide medicine, food, and clean water.

    We should educate others and talk about it in our daily lives.

    It shouldn’t be one day or one month out of the year.

    We are called to help the needy and the poor.

    We are called to help the orphan and the widow.

    Adoption has been called the visible gospel.

    What better testimony is there?

    When we care for others, we are the hands and feet of Christ.

    “My friends, adoption is redemption.

    It’s costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous.

    Buying back lives costs so much.

    When God set out to redeem us, it killed Him.” – Derek Loux

    Christ paid the ultimate price for us.

    But we claim no time, no money, not being called.

    We close our eyes, but the truth is…

    We have no excuse.

    We know what adoption means.

    The need is great.

    What will you do?

    What will you say when you one day stand before Christ?

    How will you answer “What did you do FOR the least of these?”

     

     

     

  • We LOVE Pink!

    Date: 2014.10.30 | Category: Adoption, Congenital Heart Defect, Evangeline Faith | Response: 0

    We got the wonderful news Tuesday that we could head home.

    7 days post-op from open heart surgery and she was ready to go.

    Evie 17

    She was ready in two seconds flat with her cape, sparkly boots, phone, and purse with all her critters.

    Evie 15

    Dr. Marx came to say goodbye and to let us know how pleased he was with her recovery.

    Evie 10

    She could barely contain the giggles in the elevator.

    Evie 11

    Everyone thought she was very stylish!

    Evie 14

    We said our prayers before we took off.

    Evie 12

    She was so happy to be home with the other littles.

    Evie

    And the middles…

    Evie 5

    Evie 4

    And the bigs were happy too.  Although I did not take any pictures to prove this fact.

    It’s hard to tell which little is the happiest to have her home.

    Evie 8

    Evie 7

    Evie 3

    Evie 2

    Trying to get a picture with Lainey proved to be quite the challenge.

    Evie 1

    After 2 1/2 years of having little blue ones in the house, the surgeries are done and everyone is PINK!

    Evie 9

    WE LOVE THE COLOR PINK!  It looks pretty good on our Evie Faith!

    We have been so blessed through the past year with all your prayers.  It started with Evie’s heart cath in August of last year, we had four more heart catherizations and three more open heart surgeries.   Each one of the kids did unbelievably well.  With each of the last three surgeries, the kids were discharged on post op day 7.  Have I told you how much I love the number 7?  Here is the definition for the number 7 in the Bible.

    Seven is the number of completeness and perfection (both physical and spiritual).

    Seems pretty appropriate for these little ones who are healing emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

    Thank you again for every prayer said, every word of encouragement uttered, and for standing with us during this busy, busy year.  We can not possibly put into words how much it meant.

    Praise be to God!

    We are indeed seriously blessed!!!

  • Just when I thought I’d heard it all.

    Date: 2014.10.26 | Category: Adoption | Response: 0

    I have blogged a few times about what people have said to us on this adoption journey.   I wrote about the  Top 10 Questions.  Later, I wrote another post about the Questions we’ve been asked.   And most recently I wrote a blog about the Four Types of People we have met.

    I have heard “Boy, you have your hands full.” so many times when I’m out shopping, that I have considered, whenever I am out with the kids, wearing a t-shirt that says, “If you think my hands are full, you should see my heart.”

    Believe it or not…

    Yes, I know how it happens.

    Yes, I have time to play with everyone.

    Yes, they are happy.

    Yes, they like each other.

    Yes, they are loved.

    Yes, I am blessed.

    I know that I am not the only person who hears these things.  You-tube is full of funny videos about just this thing.   This Christmas video is one of my favorites.  Believe it or not we have been asked each and every one of these questions.  Although, I don’t think Cassie would approve of the very first answer.  :)

    There are many, many blogs talking about this very subject.  I know it doesn’t just happen to me.  I know most people don’t mean anything by it.  I answer politely and with grace as often as possible.  I can sometimes be blunt when I think it will make a better point to help someone remember not to judge in the future.  For example, when we were flying to Boston for her surgery, Evie asked if she could have a Coke.  I told her yes and when they were handing out drinks I asked the flight attendant for a Coke for Evie.  She asked me if I was really going to give Evie a Coke. Lots of times I just smile and let things go.  But this time she just stared at me with the most obnoxious look on her face and I thought I needed to say something.   I informed her that I was indeed going to give Evie a Coke.  I also told her that Evie was having open heart surgery on Monday and I wasn’t sure if she was going to live or not so today I was okay with her having a Coke.

    I honestly do try to answer politely.  I try to keep a smile on my face.  I know most people are just trying to be funny.  I know most people don’t mean anything by it.  I have even practiced responses to lots of the usual questions so I am better prepared to answer, but sometimes I get asked a question that just throws me for a loop.

    It happened on this trip.  She asked this question right after she had just asked about all of our children.  I thought she was truly interested.

    “Do you think you might have done something wrong in a previous life to deserve this?”

    How do you even answer that?   There aren’t any one or two sentence answers that are going to properly answer it.

    No, I never think that.  I honestly often wonder how I got to be so lucky?  Why am I so blessed?  Why do I get to parent these beautiful children?  It has never crossed my mind that God might be punishing me.

    It’s all about perspective I guess.

    All I know is Seriously Blessed is the name of my blog for a reason.

     

     

  • Evie Update

    Date: 2014.10.23 | Category: Congenital Heart Defect, Evangeline Faith | Response: 0

    Amazingly, two days after having open heart surgery, Evie was discharged to the cardiac floor.

    Evie 5

    Today, post-op day 3, she no longer needs extra oxygen.  She has started eating again and is acting more like her sweet, little self.

    Evie 7

    Yesterday and today have been healing days.

    We have blown bubbles to help us clear our lungs.

    Evie 8

    We’ve dressed up in our pretty jewelry that daddy bought so we can pretend to be a princess.

    Evie 6

    And we’ve taken lots of naps surrounded by our soft, cuddly friends.

    Evie 9

    As Dan and I sat there today looking at her sweet face, we were reminiscing about what she looked like when we first met her on that day in May of 2013.  She was a 26 month old, bald, very blue little girl with oxygen sats in the 50′s, weighing 13 pounds, unable to even sit up by herself,  and able to fit in a 6 month pair of pajamas.

    Even then, as sick as she was, you could see her big personality shining through.

    Evie 4

    Dan and I are feeling very blessed this evening.  What an amazing journey this has been.

  • Today is the Day

    Date: 2014.10.20 | Category: Congenital Heart Defect, Evangeline Faith | Response: 0

    Today is the day that the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it.  Today Evie has her Fontan surgery.  Today Evie gets a chance at a longer life.  Today is a beautiful day!

    For some reason getting ready for Evie’s surgery has been extra difficult.  Ben and Eli both had great results, better than normal results even, but this time there has been a small voice whispering “You’ve had too much good luck!”.

    Evie 1

    I know this isn’t the truth.  It’s not luck.  I have nothing to do with it. It’s not based on rewarding or punishing me.   Evie’s life has been forever known to God.  God did not set out to harm Evie. God did not leave Evie on the side of the road.  Man did that.  I won’t get into debates about whether God made Evie this way or why her parents had to leave her.   I can not even begin to fathom the whys of the world.

    If you know Evie, you know she oozes joy. She is a beautiful soul.  She is full of laughter and light.  She makes friends wherever she goes.  Evie’s plan is most assuredly John 9:1-3.  If you have never heard this verse, here it is…

    As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.  John 9:1-3

    I see that with Evie.  I see the works of God displayed in her.  How many of us can say that about our lives?

    Evie 2

    As I was flying to Boston I had lots of time to just look at my girl.  I watched as the flight attendants and people around us interacted with her.  When we landed, the gentlemen in our row told me that he flies all the time and has never, ever seen a child behave so well.   If you had seen us earlier when we arrived at the airport, you’d know what a miracle this was.  We arrived at the airport and Evie refused to get out of the car.  She cried and yelled, “I don’t want to go.”  She knew exactly where we were going.

    As we headed to security, I went over the plans.  We would fly to Boston.  We would have a good night and go to our doctor’s appointment.  The doctor’s appointment would have no big owies.  We would have two days just to hang out and have fun together.  I told her we had three days until surgery.  I told her if she was sad and worried leading up to surgery, she wouldn’t have fun the next three days.  I asked her if she trusted mommy and she said, “YES!”   From that moment on she has done really well.  Whenever we went to radiology, labs, echo, she was nervous, would cry a bit, and I would say,  “Do you trust me?” and she would yell, “YES!” and smile.  I can not even begin to explain what that did to my heart.

    Evie 3

    It was then that I understood why I was so nervous.  Evie was trusting us to do what was best for her.   We are trying to make the best decisions we can with the information we have.  Dr. delNido is skipping the second stage and going straight to the third stage.  This is wonderful because it will save her having another big open heart surgery but it makes it a little more complicated.  We are trusting the doctor’s decisions.  They know so much more than we do and are the best that there is in cardiology.  But the risks are still there…complications, strokes, and death are possible.  Every time you head in for open heart surgery you take a chance.  You are hoping to extend their lives, to give them a better quality of life and a longer life, but the truth is it doesn’t always work that way.

    I was feeling a little nervous and then I read this devotional.  I have mentioned many times how I love that God brings the words to me that I need to hear when I need to hear them.

    “The truth is that all things belong to God, including our time and our children. Every heartbeat is His gift. This perspective encourages us to make our offerings as true worship because we realize we have no claim on the things of this earth. It is only because of grace that we are able to have fellowship with Him and offer those gifts in the first place.”  – Parenting by Design

    Every heartbeat is a gift.  I truly believe that.  It is only by grace that I have been granted the opportunity to be Evie’s mama.  I am worshiping a God who has graciously granted us 525 days with Evie.  525 of the most beautiful days that you could ever hope to have.  Today I praise a God of possibilities.  I praise a God of second chances.  I praise a God that knows every hair on Evie’s head.   He has always known her and will hold her in His hand.  He loves my girl even more than I do.

    evie

    We arrived at the hospital at 6 a.m.  They took her to the O.R. at 7:30.  They are expecting it to take at least six hours and I will update how it goes in the comment section.

    Please continue to pray for Evie.  Pray for the doctors and for everyone who will come in contact with her.  May they see God’s love and hope in everything that we do.  May Evie’s life continue to be a beacon of light showing all of God’s good works.

     

  • Traveling with Evie

    Date: 2014.10.17 | Category: Adoption, Evangeline Faith, Faith | Response: 0

    There’s an amazing thing that happens when we are traveling and in the hospital.  We are presented time and time again with the opportunity to share our adoption story, this is especially true when you travel with Evie.  We like to joke that Evie may have half a heart but God gave her double the personality.  She is social.  She is a greeter.  She says “Hi!” to everyone she meets.  She is just a beautiful soul.   She notices everyone from the lady sitting by herself on the bench to the little girl in the hot pink wheelchair in the gift shop who everyone else just walked by.  Evie saw her.  Evie said hello to her and blew her a kiss.  The grandmother even mentioned how most little kids are afraid of this little girl, but not Evie.

    evie 2

    Today we had the pre-op appointment getting ready for her Fontan surgery bright and early Monday morning.  All day long she has been practicing saying “How are you?”.  It just cracks me up.  She told the x-ray tech that she was sorry she cried.  She even thanked the phlebotomist for her owie.

    The adoption talk starts when people say how cute she is, how social she is, and then they ask if she has any brothers or sisters.  When I say that she has 13 siblings, there are a variety of ways people respond.  You can usually tell within one or two questions which group they will fall into.

    The Skeptic” – these people believe we must have some ulterior motive – want money, glory, to get a book deal or to be on reality TV, etc.

    The Confused” – Why would you put yourself through this? Why China and not the U.S.?  Are you crazy?

    The Appreciative” – You are so kind, thank you, your kids are so lucky.

    The Curious” – I’ve always thought about adoption or I’d love a large family…

    The skeptics hurt my heart.  I wonder how they could think those things.   Adoption is hard.  How could anyone think you did it for any of those reason?  How many people really get a reality show?  I most certainly don’t want one.  Our house is too loud to be a t.v. show.  I often refer to our house as controlled chaos.  I love children running and laughing out loud.  I love loud, off key singing and dancing.  Plus, it is way too much work to try and be famous.

    Answering the questions of the confused are much harder because I am constantly on defense.  Trying to justify why one child deserves to be adopted is impossible.  The truth is trying to adopt when you are older is tricky.  There were many factors in why we chose to adopt from China.  After we traveled the first time, there were even more reasons why we went back.  None of this can be explained in just a couple of sentences nor will any of it make sense to someone who doesn’t understand what a child living in institutional care goes through.  (Jasmine’s Blog)

    Then there are those who go on and on about what we are doing.  They are the appreciative.  It’s embarrassing.  Honestly anyone who spends a moment with these guys would have to be blind and unfeeling to not understand why we do it.  They are beautiful souls full of life and love.  Their joy is contagious.   I am not special or extra kind or wonderful.  I am blessed, truly blessed to be their mama.

    My favorite moments are with the curious.  I love when people truly, honestly want to know why.  What would lead us to do this?  Why would we open our hearts to pain?  Why would we invest this much time in children that have health issues?   Why would we adopt nine?

    I love how often God puts those in our path that have been thinking about adopting.  It happens time and time again.  It is inspiring to talk with those that are in the process of adopting, have adopted, or have gone on mission trips and cared for special needs children.  It’s fun to share notes, encourage others, and learn about new organizations that are helping those in need.

    I enjoy being able to share how God lead us to each of the children.  God has amazingly opened up doors time and time again.  I love to share about the children’s stories because it is not about me or Dan or our family.  It’s all about God.  It is an honor to be able to share their stories, to talk about how far they have come, and what it means to step out in fear, but with trust that God’s plan is perfect!

    It’s hard to contain your joy when you have been allowed to be part of such amazing stories.  I mean really who wouldn’t want to be a part of this girl’s life?

    evie 3

    Just a reminder:

    If you are on Facebook, you can follow along at Seriously Blessed by Adoption.

    The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and He helps me.  My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him.  Psalm 28:7  NIV


     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • The Flower That Blooms

    Date: 2014.10.05 | Category: Adoption, Jasmine (Shuang Shuang) | Response: 0

    I just wanted to let everyone know that our daughter, Jasmine, has decided to start a blog too.   She wants to share what it was like to be in an orphanage for six years, almost age out, join a family, and come to America.  She hopes to help other older children who may be afraid by letting them know family is a wonderful thing.

    http://www.flowerthatblooms.com/

    Her first blog is entitled Adoption Day.

    She was such a brave girl. She knew very little English.  She couldn’t run away from us if she had wanted to because of her muscular dystrophy.  Yet, she put a smile on her face and chose to be brave and happy about all that her life could be.  It is truly a blessing to be her mother and I am honored to share her words with you.

     

     

     

  • We’re Home!!!!

    Date: 2014.09.27 | Category: Elijah | Response: 0

    This was on the elevator door in the children’s hospital.  I think it sums up our little guy pretty well.

    Eli 10

    For those of you who haven’t been following along, Eli had a 13 hour surgery on Wednesday, the 17th.  Spent 4 days in the ICU and 4 days on the general floor recuperating.  Everyone who walked into his room from the very first moment he came out of surgery, commented on how kids who have the unifocalization procedure usually have lots of lung issues and his lungs sounded perfectly clear.  Time and time again we heard, “You know this isn’t the norm, right?”   Yes, we know.  We were feeling unbelievably blessed.

    Elijah did amazingly well and was discharged from the hospital on Thursday.   We weren’t sure what time we would be discharged so we spent one more night at the Ronald McDonald House and headed out to the airport on Friday morning.

    We were so happy to finally get home at 6:30 Friday night.   The kids jumped up and down with joy when they saw him.  Evie was so happy to see her buddy.

    Eli 7

    We knew that Ben and Maisey understood much more this trip and their relief at having Eli home was very visible.   Within five minutes, they were all cuddled up together on the couch with their suckers.

    Eli 6

    They spent most of the night sitting together on the couch watching videos and laughing.  It was a wonderful evening and such a blessing!

    We are getting ourselves psyched up for round two on October 20th with Evie in Boston, but for the next couple of weeks we will be lying low and letting Little Guy heal.

    I thought I’d share a few memories of our trip to Stanford.

    Here are the sculpture outside the front of the hospital.  I would love to do these in our yard.

    eli 9

    We would Facetime daily so that Eli could see the kids.  For the first day or two after surgery he would just look at the kids.  He wouldn’t say a word, but the kids loved knowing he was okay.

    Eli 2

    We were lucky enough to get into the Ronald McDonald House this time.  They are expanding because their waiting list is often close to 50 families.  There was a shuttle and it was only a beautiful, tree-lined, 10 minute walk from the hospital.

    Eli 3

    The shuttle made us laugh every time we saw the catch phrase.  We never did find “Hope” there.  :)

    Eli 8

     

    If you ever get the chance to support your local Ronald McDonald House, please do so.

    Across from the Ronald McDonald House there is a mall with a wonderful fresh food market.  We walked and got watermelon and apples quite a few times.  There is also a McDonalds.   Ha!  Imagine that.  It was where Eli wanted to eat the two times we had time to eat out.  There were many cute shops and restaurants.  There was a P. F. Changs and a Flemings Steakhouse.  I tried my hardest to talk him into noodles but he wanted nothing to do with it so we were off to McDonalds again for a happy meal.

    When your daddy makes fun nugget animals all the time, where else would you want to eat?

    Eli 5

    The two words used to describe Eli on the trip were cute and charming.  He really is a pretty mellow guy most of the time.  On both of our long flights we had people comment about how he is the best little traveler they had ever seen.  The gentlemen in front of me went on and on about how he tries to encourage mothers who are doing a good job.  He commented on Eli being so good and I told him I could not take credit for Eli’s mellowness.  He is just an easy going guy.  The gentlemen who was very nice just keep gushing on.  I just couldn’t do it, mainly because to take credit for Eli being a good traveler meant I would have to take the blame for Evie when she travels and gets tired of the whole deal, which usually happens about hour two in the air.  Evie is a beautiful soul with a over the top personality.  She just gets a little cranky about hour two in the air.  :)

    One of the sweetest memories came after one of the most traumatic for Eli.  They were getting ready to take out his three chest tubes.  There were six nurses standing around his bed to be able to pull them at the same time.  They had to cut the strings first and get everything ready.  After you pull the chest tube, you pull the strings really tight and suture shut the openings.   He was afraid of everyone around his bed and was crying.  The nurses pulled the tubes, Eli looks up at them, and in the sweetest little voice Eli says, “Thank you!”

    He really is the sweetest little guy.  What a blessing it is to have more time with him.   Thank you prayer warriors for your prayers.  We appreciate them more than we could ever put into words.

     

     

     

  • Little Guy Updates

    Date: 2014.09.22 | Category: Congenital Heart Defect, Elijah | Response: 0

    Little guy was extubated on Friday.  He is doing remarkably well. Everyone says his lungs are the best they have ever seen after a unifocalization.

    Every single one of our heart children from China have required unbelievable amounts of sedation to keep them comfortable and knocked out while on the ventilator.  I don’t know why this is, but it’s hard to watch while the doctors try to find the perfect number to keep them under and comfortable.  Every time we go in we comment on this fact as the doctors keep going up on the narcotics.  At one point, the doctor stopped and said, “I can’t believe this.  I’m pretty sure this amount would keep three adults asleep.”  I don’t know if that is true or not, but it is still a large amount.

    Because it takes so much to keep them sedated and comfortable, it takes them even longer to fully wake up.  Eli was still pretty out of it all day Friday but Saturday morning when I walked in the room, he was with it enough to look right at me.  It was so good to see my boy and hear him whisper mama, but it broke my heart when he said, “mama up”.  There were still too many tubes to be able to hold him.

    Eli 5

    By the end of the day he was doing much better.  He even smiled a couple of times.

    Eli 6

    Isn’t it amazing what they can do? Here is a 3-D animation of the procedure.

    Unifocalization

    Dr. Hanley took Eli’s collaterals, spliced them open and then built him pulmonary arteries. Absolutely mind blowing and amazing!!!!!  He then put a conduit in Eli’s heart and added a valve.  And then to top things off he stood for three hours and tried to get rid of all the small little tiny vessels that Eli’s lungs were growing while they were trying to get some oxygen.  They had to get rid of those vessels and make sure they weren’t still bleeding.  It’s a time consuming job.

    How do you thank someone for that?  I look at Eli and can’t believe it.  In China he was deemed inoperable, terminal and here he has a second chance at life.

    He spent his weekend eating popsicles, watching Veggietales, and…

    Eli 4

    recuperating.

    Eli 3

    Saturday night the nurse tried to convince me to go get some sleep.  Unlike most of the other hospitals we have stayed in, there are no sleeping areas in the ICU rooms here.  I was okay sleeping when he was stable and completely out, but not when he could wake up and need me.  We worked really hard to earn Elijah’s trust during his first year home.  The last thing I wanted to do was have him wake up afraid and not be able to find me.

    She told me that she could comfort him all I had to do was tell her what makes him comfortable.  A stuffed animal?  A blanket?  A special song?  Nope…..

    Eli 7

    It would be just too hard to leave my hand there.  When Eli is afraid at night, which doesn’t happen very often anymore, all he does is cry out “mama” and reach for my hand.  All he needs to know is that I am there.  There is no way in the world that I wasn’t going to be there when he needed me the most.

    Sunday afternoon we were moved to a private room on the general floor.  He is down to one i.v., three chest tubes and a smidge of oxygen.  He is doing amazingly well.  We have been told this fact over and over again.  He is still a little sad and his stomach hurts but all in all he is doing well.

    Praising God for the chance that was given to our little guy.  Blessings beyond measure for sure!  Thank you again for all the prayers.

     

  • Eli Update

    Date: 2014.09.18 | Category: Elijah | Response: 0

    image

     

    For those of you who don’t have Facebook to follow our Seriously Blessed by Adoption group, I thought I should give a quick update. Elijah’s surgery took 13 1/2 hours. He did amazingly well. There were some bleeding issues at first, but those were controlled and they were able to close his chest and he is resting comfortably. He is so pink and it’s a beautiful sight. The team says for a unifocalization he looks better than most. Hopefully they will try to get him off the vent tomorrow. Thank you for all your prayers and support.