Archive for April, 2014
“The Flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.” – Mulan
I always said I would never adopt an older child. I always said it wouldn’t be a good fit with the family and that was the truth. It is harder to bring an older child into your home and have them accept the ways of your home. Our house can be loud. Our house can be kind of crazy sometimes. Our house is full of love and fun and singing, but life with Codey isn’t the usual. Not many 26 year olds scoot on the floor and growl when they are upset. It was just easier to have a child grow up around him. I worried an older child wouldn’t accept and love him.
I’ve read the stories posted to Facebook of frustrated parents. I read the blogs and other articles. Older children are more set in their ways. They have a belief system in place. They are hardened by all the hard knocks they’ve taken in their lives and it will take lots of work to reach them. They are angry and mad at the world. They have learned institutional behavior. They can steal, lie, and more. They have walls that they have built very high to protect themselves. I wasn’t sure I was up to any of that.
Plus, an older child can call you out on things. An older child can tell you that you are wrong. An older child can say they don’t like you and articulate all the reasons why. They might never accept you. They might resent you. They might never truly accept you as their mother. I knew my heart couldn’t handle that.
Then I saw her face.
And in an instant all those doubts didn’t matter. OUR daughter was half way around the world and we needed to go get her. We couldn’t let her age out in another country. She was no longer an orphan, she was a loved child of this family. In an instant everything changed.
God works that way sometimes. We can be adamant about not doing something and then He shows us how wrong we have been. Jasmine has been through many hard times. She should be a hardened, angry teenager, but she is not. She is a sweet, beautiful soul with a smile that lights up the room.
From the moment we first saw her, she has been smiling. You might not know it by looking at her sitting in her wheelchair, but Jasmine can do very little for herself. If you knock her over, there is nothing she can do about it. We have to move her from place to place. We have to sit her up. We have to dress her. And yet…..she smiled when we had to take her to the bathroom that very first time. She smiled when we had to strip her down and hold her in place on a footstool in the shower. She smiled when I changed her clothes and it didn’t go quite as smoothly as I had hoped. We were strangers and she just trusted me and gave me that very sweet smile.
Recently she admitted that she had been afraid, but in China they had told her she would go to a place where she would be hurt and not fed. She said, at that point, trusting her new mama and daddy didn’t seem like such a bad idea. Can you imagine? You can’t run away. You can’t call someone on the phone for help. You don’t have many, if any choices, so you are just going to trust these two Americans you have never met because it seems like a much better option than what will happen if you stay. What amazing bravery, hope and courage Jasmine had.
Jasmine can be very silly. She likes to take your phone and take silly selfies. You never know what you will find.
Jasmine also shared with me that she wasn’t silly in China. She said she was silly when she met me because I am silly. I will admit that I am pretty silly in life. I love to laugh. I like to make up songs about the most ridiculous things. I like to hear my children laugh. It’s the best sound in the world and I will be as silly as I have to be to get them to laugh. So when I was in China, carrying my new daughter under her arms while Cassie had her knees, trying to get through the smallest bathroom door you’ve ever seen and then strip her down and stand there so she doesn’t fall off….well, what else was there to do but sing a show tune? And Jasmine smiled and then the most beautiful thing happened….she laughed. That very first day she laughed.
But things can steal Jasmine’s smile away and that is really hard on this mama’s heart. When she wakes up shaking because she had a nightmare and starts to tell me the dream and I say, “It’s okay sweetheart. You’re awake now. It’s not real.” and she says, “Yes, it is mommy. It really happened.” and it’s beyond anything you can even imagine. Your heart hurts. It hurts for all the pain she’s had to endure. It hurts because there is nothing you can do about the past. It hurts because her sweet soul didn’t deserve any of it. It hurts because ITS.JUST.NOT.FAIR!!!! It hurts because she was alone for way too long.
I’m thankful that we can be there for her now. Yesterday was another one of those days when she just trusts. They had to put in an i.v. and sedate her for her MRI. Her body is just too contractured for her to lie still in the MRI machine. She tried really hard to do it when we last tried, but she just couldn’t lie still enough. She trusted me when I said it was going to be okay. She trusted me when they put the needle in her hand. She trusted me as they hooked her up to all the monitors. She trusted me as they put the mask on her face and she drifted off to sleep. She fell asleep to my murmured “I love yous” and she trusted that I would be there when she woke up.
For a child who has been abandoned, that is huge. She has told us how they dropped her off with just a picture of her mama. How she sat there waiting for someone to help her. She doesn’t say much more except to say she was very scared. She shares mostly with Gracie after they are tucked in at night. She shares with Gracie because it is Grace who climbs in bed with her when she is afraid. It is Gracie who holds her hand and tells her it is going to be okay before she comes to get us. It is Gracie who she calls best friend. Jasmine has a hard time sharing a lot of the bad things that happened to her. She will tell Gracie but she doesn’t want us to know.
But every once in a while, when we are alone in the car or like last night when everyone else had fallen asleep, she decides to share some things with me. Jasmine told me that it’s good that I’m going to be a mama to 14. I laughed and said, “It is? Why?” She then told me that I make her happy. She said, Mama you are good with kids and you love orphans and that is a very, very good thing. She told me how much she loves me and how happy I make her. She thanked me for saving her and for loving her and for saving and loving Kelly and Elyse before I even got to China. That was the best compliment I have ever received.
She told me how much she loves the other kids, especially Evie, and Gracie is her best friend. She told me she likes when they all tell her good night and they all say “I love you” in the morning. I asked her if she understood Hope’s story? I told her Hopey’s story in the simplest terms that I could. I told her sometimes things happen to us that have nothing to do with us. I asked her if she understood that and she said no. So I asked her if she thought Evie had done anything to be an orphan. She said, “Oh no mama, Evie is wonderful.” I then asked her about Eli, Ben, Maisey, Lainey and even Hope. Jasmine told me that she never understood it before but she does now. She loves America. She loves her big family. She loves her mama and she adores her daddy.
I love her daddy too because he understands that daughters want to be loved by their daddies. He is the kind of daddy who does things like this.
I almost missed out on one of the biggest blessings in my life. I am not overlooking how hard it can be and how much work there is and how horribly it is going to end. I’m not. Life can be and most often is messy. But the blessings of being Jasmine’s mama far outweigh any of those things.
There are many things wrong with international adoptions. There is fraud, the paperwork is neverending, it costs too much and takes too long. The lists you can use for excuses are long. You can spend days thinking of all the reasons why you shouldn’t adopt, but I’m telling you that the blessings you will receive are beyond compare. Don’t let a scary story stop you from following God’s lead. Sometimes jumping in when you are most afraid leads to the biggest blessings of all.
Sometimes the most beautiful flowers, which have bloomed in adversity, make your garden more beautiful than you could have ever imagined.
What Kind of Doctor Do You Want To Be?September 16, 2011
In all our experiences over the years, we have seen two types of doctors, doctors who provide care and doctors who truly care. You might think they are one and the same, but you’d be mistaken. As a doctor, you might become very knowledgeable about your particular specialty. You may be able to look at a laundry list of conditions and tell exactly what my son has. You might be able to quote figures and percentages and tell me what the odds are that my son will ever walk or talk. I will tell you though that my son is not hydrocephalus. My son is not cerebral palsy. My son is not the numerous other labels that have been placed on him. If when you look at him, that is all you can see, you might be able to provide care but you won’t care.
Edward Albert once said the simple act of caring is heroic. You might not think that it is heroic to care, but I tell you it is. Picture this:
A mother, standing at the bedside, wearing scrubs because she hasn’t had time to take a shower let alone drive home to get clothes. Her son is hospitalized, again, she’s tired, worried, worn out and afraid. The neurosurgeon walks into the room and looks at her son.
“How is he upstairs?” He asks.
The mother, who is rightly confused asks, “What?”
“You know,” he says, “how is he mentally?”
“What difference does that make?” she asks.
“Well, it just does.”
Nurses, who have been watching the whole thing unfold, are horrified by what they hear. The nurses take the shaking, visibly upset mother out of the room. Since this doctor is the neurosurgeon on call, she has to entrust her sons care him. She doesn’t have a choice. Her son needs surgery and he needs it now. She cries and worries that maybe the doctor won’t care. Maybe he won’t try as hard. Maybe he’ll just let her son go after she has fought so hard to keep him alive.
When her son comes out of surgery, this neurosurgeon comes into the empty waiting room. At the same time he sees the parents, he hears the t.v., which is blaring the Olympics. He turns away from the parents and watches what is happening on the t.v. When they ask how their son is doing, he holds up his hand to shush them until he sees the race finish. He treats them as if they don’t matter.
Compare this to the neurologist who knows how much she cares for her son because he’s spent time at her bedside. He’s taken the time to come visit with them when her son wasn’t in pain. He’s visited when her son wasn’t so sick he couldn’t even stay awake. He has seen him watch Price is Right. He has seen him laugh out loud. He has seen the love they share. This is the neurologist who holds her hand while she makes the calls, once again to her family. This is the doctor who offers to make the calls himself. This is the man she will remember fondly for the rest of her life because he took the time to care about her son.
To her this doctor is a hero, as are the other physicians and nurses who took the time to care about her child. I could sit and list all the things that were done wrong. The list, which is unfortunately long, would include the care that caused my son’s severe brain damage. I could talk about the care that wasn’t given in a timely manner. I could talk about all the times I cried because the doctor wouldn’t listen. But today I’m going to talk about the positives, the people that showed how much they care.
There was a doctor who made the resident cross out all the times this resident listed mental retardation in my son’s chart because Codey wasn’t old enough for that diagnosis and our doctor didn’t want Codey labeled with something we weren’t sure about yet. Did it matter in the long run? No. Did he show he cared? Yes.
I can talk about the pediatrician that took the time to sit on the floor during my son’s first routine visit and just play with him. She tried to overcome Codey’s severe anxiety over anyone in a white coat who came near him. She spent precious time just playing with him on the floor. Would you say she cared?
I can talk about the nurse who rode with my son to Iowa City to get his trach because they wouldn’t allow family in the ambulance. This same nurse sends birthday cards 24 years later. This nurse has attended my other children’s graduation parties. I realize this level of care isn’t always possible but it has been a blessing to our family.
I can talk about the nurses who bought my son a regular crib with their own money and decorated it with Christmas lights because he had been in the NICU for 8 months. The same nurses treated us like family.
I can talk about the doctor who was honest enough to admit that if he tried to trach Codey, he might kill him. This doctor recommended we go to Iowa City where they had more experience. You might think that is wrong to admit that you can’t or don’t know something. I tell you, it is honorable. It is the right thing to do. It will earn you that parent’s trust because you proved you care more about the patient’s life than your ego.
The reality is you may be very, very bright and be a wonderful technician, but if you don’t look like you care, the parent’s won’t trust you. All it takes is a hand held, a moment to show that you care. It can be something as simple as remembering the patient’s name and taking the time to directly speak to them.
Our daughter, Hope, has a complicated heart defect called, hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Hope had a cardiologist that we have known for years. Every time we came into the appointment, we felt like we were catching him up. It was frustrating because we never felt like he put any thought into her care. We always felt like he was seeing just one frame in the whole movie. He provided competent care, but did he truly care?
Compare that to Hope’s new cardiologist. Before we even had our first appointment, he took her chart to present at a cardiology conference. Hope had a pulmonary stent that had cracked and he was unsure what the best course of action would be. He presented her case and got advice from 100’s of doctors before she was even truly his patient.
Both cardiologists were bright. Both knew what they were talking about. Who do you think we trusted more? Who showed that they cared?
If you want to make a difference you need to care and not just provide care. You need to take the time to get to know your patients. That textbook won’t tell you who that patient is or who their family is. You will never know that patient better than their parents do. Don’t talk down to the parent that spends 24 hours a day with this child. The patient is not their condition. My son is not the shunt case in bed 3. He has a name and many, many people who love him.
I know that your days are packed with people to care for. I know that sometimes the cases are sad and overwhelming. I know that sometimes it just doesn’t seem worth it to go that extra mile. I know that the hours are long and the overnight care get tedious, but with all that being said, you really need to consider if you want to be the person families remember with fondness or the person they wish they could forget?
Be a hero. This isn’t something you can fake. You either care or you don’t. If you don’t care, maybe you shouldn’t be in medicine. On the other hand, if you take the time to know the patient and support the parents and truly give of yourself – your time, your support, your caring – well, then you might just be someone’s hero.
Easter weekend is upon us again. What comes to mind when you think of Easter? Do you think of church and family and getting together? Do Easter egg hunts, fancy dresses, and little boys in cute ties bring a smile to your face?
Easter should bring thoughts of gratitude for the grace that was bestowed upon us. Easter should bring to mind what Christ endured for us. He gave the greatest sacrifice so that we could live. Christ died and rose again so that we could be adopted into His family. Without this sacrifice, none of us could hope to have eternal life with Him.
I don’t know how many of you truly take this in, but for me there were many years where I got lost in the fun of Easter. I sang the beautiful songs. I enjoyed dressing up on Sunday morning and getting together with family. I loved watching the little children run through the grass picking up colorful eggs. I was grateful but I never got what Christ dying so that I could live truly meant.
The Passion of the Christ made it all the more real for me. I am a very visual person. I have read the passages but somehow watching it in full color drove it all home. I take too much for granted. I was living my life with very little thought to what happened to make this life possible.
I wish I could say that I have it all figured out now. I still struggle every day but I do have one thing down. I am obedient to His call and I know what His call sounds like. I have had it happen enough times that I obey even when it makes no sense to me. I drag my feet and overthink everything. I say, “No, I couldn’t possibly but I know in the end He is right and I comply.
I can tell you that the last year has been so very hard. I miss my mom. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wish I could call her and tell her something the kids have done. It has been hard to find a new normal with all our new kids. The next six months are going to be very complicated and I, myself, don’t feel up to the task, but I know if God is calling me to it He will provide for it.
Not long ago, I asked God what I could do for Him and what He has asked has taken me way out of my comfort zone. He has taken us into the “only with God” zone. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I can’t but He can. It is only through Him that I made it through this year. It is only through Him that I am proceeding into the next six months. I.CAN.NOT. but HE MOSTLY CERTAINLY CAN!
I want everyone to understand that through all that you will read in the coming months, this is not because I believe I am superwoman. It is because I am being obedient to His call. I am fearful of what the world shows me but I am confident in what the Lord calls me to.
I read another blog from one of the mamas I have come to know through the heart community. Her most recent blog talks about sacrifices to God. How many of us live our lives as a sacrifice? How many of us live our lives in awe of all that God has done wanting to do nothing more than follow His call? I know for years I was just existing. I was going through the motions of living a worldly life. It was all about me and my family. But I get it now. It is not about me. It was never about me.
In this blog, Lori says, “My desire was to one day stand before Him and be completely empty – with nothing left to give! I spoke of my life as my offering and I intended to live it as a sacrificial gift to the God I love.” Please take a moment and read her blog. I believe you will be as moved as I was by her heartfelt testimony. (BLOG)
That is where I am at. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and know that I could have done more. I want to live my life to the fullest. I want to do extreme things for the Lord. I have asked Him “what more can I do” and God has answered.
Who are you living your life for? Is He calling you to do something and you are still refusing? Why? What are you afraid of? There is so much joy in being obedient. God doesn’t call you to the hard to overwhelm you. He calls you to the hard to bless you.
“Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” – John 13:17
I have always loved that name.
Joseph has big dreams.
He would like to be adopted.
He would like to go to America.
He would like to be a doctor.
Could you be the family he is looking for?
Could you be the person who supports him as he strives for his dream?
He has waited a long time.
Every year that passes makes his dreams seem less likely…
but he hasn’t given up hope.
Don’t let his dreams die.
Let’s find this sweet boy a family and send him on his way to being all that he can be!
You can see more pictures and read more about him at Agape – Joseph
I always questioned if I was ready to adopt and then I realized no child is ready to be an orphan. – unknown
Our family has been blessed over and over again by adoption. I realize that not everyone is cut out to have a large family and to many our family looks a little crazy. But if only you could see what I see when I look into the sunroom and see the littles playing so sweetly together. If you could look in the backyard and see Hope riding her scooter, Gracie on her bike, and Jasmine on her powered wheelchair doing laps on the path in our backyard. I hear the laughter and my heart is filled with joy. I see the quiet play and I am content. I am overwhelmed at this family that has been brought together by God and bonded by love. It is truly a beautiful thing. It can be hard and heartbreaking and the lack of sleep can be overwhelming but none of that comes close to what I feel in my heart every day knowing just how blessed I am.
I realize that not everyone is called to adopt, but everyone can do something. You can pray, sponsor, advocate, and help spread the word.
Today my something is to advocate. Both of the little girls we are adopting were found by us on sites where someone else was advocating. I saw Kelly’s picture and my heart was gone. Many, many, many people have been advocating for her. Hundreds of people have commented on my post about getting our PA (preapproval). They have commented over and over again about praying for her.
Today I want to do something for Kelly. I can’t be there with her right now to hold her hand or comfort her as she waits so I want to advocate for her two friends at Agape Family Life House. They have both been written about many times. I have permission to share from another blog, Every Orphan Deserves A Family.
There are many things that have been brought up in the news about international adoption and the issues with it. While many things need to be fixed that doesn’t deter from the fact that many, many children will spend their lives in institutions wanting nothing more than to have a family.
Candy would love to have a family. What a beautiful girl. Could she be your daughter?
You can see a video and read more about Candy here. BLOG ABOUT CANDY
Or maybe God is calling you to a son. Could it be Geno? He ages out very soon and would love to have a family to call his own. He has been praying for his family. Could you be his family?
You can see a video and read more about Geno here. BLOG ABOUT GENO
Prayerfully consider all that the Lord asks of you.
“Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” John 13:17
I can remember when I first learned of her as if it was yesterday.
She was a beautiful baby with a round little face.
She stole my heart from the very first moment.
She was truly a gift.
She has grown into quite the beauty.
She loves video games….
and making movies….
and special effects makeup….
and watching FaceOff.
She got to be an extra in a zombie movie.
She has a very best friend who just happens to be a boy.
They have been best friends for five years now.
She ate her very first turkey leg this year.
Dyed her hair red to be Merida for Halloween.
She definitely has her own style.
She loves photography and takes the very best pictures of the littles.
Her favorite movies are Princess Bride, How to Train Your Dragon, Sorcerer’s Apprentice, The Mummy, and Frozen.
Her favorite type of music is pop.
Her favorite songs include too many by Taylor Swift and Avril Lavigne.
She loves to draw and is writing a book called “Alice in Horrorland”.
She knows what she likes and sticks to her guns.
She isn’t easily swayed and has strong opinions on what is right and wrong.
She likes being homeschooled and chose not to get her driver’s permit because she didn’t feel responsible enough yet.
She isn’t fond of math, but likes writing and art.
She is growing into quite the young woman and I am blessed to be her mom.
“The point of your life is to point to Him. Whatever you are doing, God wants to be glorified, because this whole thing is His.” – Francis Chan
Yesterday we learned of a bump in the road. It made me a smidge bit nervous. I truly believe that God had lead us to this place and I am going to trust that it would all work out. I said I was “expectantly waiting”, but still my heart continued to beat a little faster than it should have on a couple of occasions throughout the day. I turned it over and over and over again to God. I had been in this position once before and it turned out all right. I kept reminding myself of that fact during my moments of doubt.
During one of my moments of doubt, I asked the children to pray with me. Jasmine reminded me again that “God’s got this!”. She had said that fact multiple times throughout the day. She told me she wasn’t worried because she knew it was all going to work out. My favorite Jasmine moment though was when I asked why this had to happen. To which Jasmine replied, “If this is an “only with God” thing then maybe God wanted everyone to be sure.” I told her I was pretty sure that the story would give all the glory to God and people would see we were just being obedient to where He was leading and she said, “See!”, like it all made perfect sense.
The faith of a child. They are so sure that God will come through. Maybe it’s because they haven’t been let down, maybe it’s because they aren’t jaded by all the evil in the world, or maybe it’s just because they know something that we adults have forgotten, either way I need to get me some.
Two years have passed so quickly.
My little girl turns four today!
Maisey is the quietest of the littles.
She is the one most likely to be off somewhere playing quietly.
Or inventing a new game.
She loves playing pretend and dressing up.
She loves books.
She loves playing with her dolls and being a princess.
She is the best big sister.
She likes to help by feeding Evie and Evie just goes along with it.
She likes to sweep the floor and she does it in style.
She is Lainey’s biggest cheerleader.
This year she got her BAHA and new glasses.
She sings all day long ….. “Let it go! Let it go!”…. in the fun new dress Cassie found her.
She dances and tumbles and runs and rides her trike.
She is a girly girl and LOVES makeup.
She is such a daddy’s girl.
Daddy and Maisey like to make fun fruit art together.
She gets along so well with the other littles.
They are such good friends.
She is the girl of a million different faces.
And her wink…
And her favorite face to do when she pretends she can’t understand what we are asking her.
We learned last night that she likes to get flowers courtesy of big sister Grace.
Maisey has been the perfect addition to our family.
She is full of grace and joyful fun.
She has changed so much from that very first day we met.
But she is just as sweet as ever!
Happy birthday little one!
Dan and I find ourselves in another “only if God” situation. I really do not like cryptic messages and I wish I could give you more information but I can not right now. I do promise to give you information the minute it becomes okay to do so.
I can let you know that all of our children are doing wonderfully. We celebrate two birthdays this week so pictures will be posted tomorrow and Friday.
I can let you know that God is amazing. He is wonderful and when He brings something to your heart it is an absolutely overwhelming thing. Sometimes the signs and the things leading up to an event are so amazing that it can only be from God. It is in those moments that you feel confident and assured that His hand is all over the situation.
I have had the absolute pleasure of having God bring something to my heart that others said is impossible and watching it unfold as only He can. I am writing this asking you to cover us with prayers. This is a good and joyously wonderful thing so asking for it to be is a good thing…..I promise. (I’m sure you can pretty much guess!)
I can’t wait to share the information with you. I am excitedly and enthusiastically waiting to watch it all unfold.
I wait for the Lord, I expectantly wait, and in His word do I hope. Psalm 130:5
Sometimes things happen in life that you could never, ever imagine happening.
To most people, this picture will just look like two siblings snuggled up together, but I’m telling you it is so much more.
Lainey is a little girl mostly non-verbal, with severe limitations, who most the time doesn’t really pay attention to what is going on around her. She is in her own little world a lot of the day.
Codey likes to stay pretty much to himself too. He doesn’t like to share his room with the littles, although they love his noise-making toys, so they are always trying to sneak into his room. Codey has a couple phrases that he can say but he is pretty non-verbal too.
Yet, for whatever reason Lainey loves Codey. Codey scoots around on the floor and she loves to run up behind him and lay her head on his back. She likes to help him along and has even been known to sit on his lap while he is trying to scoot. They are just so cute together.
She runs into his room, throwing the door open announcing herself, and climbs on his bed. He just pretty much lets her be. She snuggles up on his bed with a bottle and he watches t.v. from his comfy chair.
I can guarantee you when I imagined us adopting again, I never pictured this. I worried about how much it would stress Codey out. I wondered about how he would react to them. I wondered how they would respond to a 26 year old boy who scoots around on the floor and growls when he is upset. It’s not the normal for sure.
But this…..this is….so much more than I could have ever hoped for. This is the biggest blessing.
So much so, that when I saw this picture, I cried.
Feeling very blessed indeed!
- Chinese Children Adoption International
- Hats for Gracie
- Love Without Boundaries
- New Hope Foundation China
- Show Hope
- China 2013
- China 2014
- China 2016
- Congenital Heart Defect
- Evangeline Faith
- Family Life
- Food for Thought Friday
- Jasmine (Shuang Shuang)
- Jasmine's Dream
- Lainey Rae
- Love Without Boundaries
- Making a difference
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Orphan Care
- Thoughts to ponder