Archive for May, 2014

  • Happy Birthday Boo!

    Date: 2014.05.29 | Category: Cassie

    There once was a little girl,

    that we all like to call Boo.

    (Well, we really named her Cassandra Lynne but Boo just sort of stuck.)


    She was the sweetest little girl and

    a mama’s dream come true.


    She has the biggest, most beautiful, blue eyes that you will ever see.


    They say that your eyes are the window to your soul.

    Well, if that is the case….

    boo 1

    this girl’s soul is beautiful…

    Boo 5

    the truth is she is as beautiful inside as she is outside….

    and her outside is pretty darn cute.

    Cassie 4-14 405

    She is the person we leave in charge when one of the other children have to be hospitalized.  We leave her with the littles and the middles because they love her so much.  She brings stability and comfort to her siblings.  She is love and routine and everything good.

    When we are traveling, people often ask us who is watching the other kids.  We tell them that our daughter, who is on summer vacation from college, is taking care of them.

    People would comment, “All of them?  She is able to care for all those kids at once?”

    Yes, she is able to. Amazing as that may sound.

    Grandma, Zachary, and Stephanie came to help support her and give her a break, but Cassie is able to handle it.  She is pretty amazing.  She steps up to the challenge because she loves her siblings and wants what is best for them.

    During the school year, she drives 45 minutes to school every morning and night so she can still be part of their lives.

    She even knows how to drive the bus.

    She’s not the usual 21 year old. (22 today!)  She is mature but still child-like at heart, which is why she will make a great elementary teacher.

    Children love her….especially our children.

    She makes life and learning fun.

    Boo 6

    She does crafts to take their minds off the hard things that are going on.

    Boo 7

    She has written about how much her siblings mean to her on her very own blog – Thankful for the Crazy!  (Blog)

    boo 10

    I know how very blessed I am to have her in my life.

    She was my first little girl and holds a very special place in my heart.

    boo & mom

    She is a wonderful daughter and a very special friend.

    And I am one blessed mama to get to say she’s mine.

    Love you Boo!  Happy Birthday!


  • Why?

    Date: 2014.05.25 | Category: Adoption, Elijah, Evangeline Faith, Faith

    It’s been an interesting month to say the least.  We headed off to Boston ready to complete Evie’s heart cath and surgery only to have her surgery canceled due to a cold that she caught while we were there.  We received wonderful news from the cath and we were okay with waiting if that was what we needed to do.  The next surgery for her requires very healthy lungs and even then you can end up with pleural effusions.  When Hope had her surgery she had a chest tube for months.  We will wait 4-6 weeks for Evie to be well and then try again.

    This past Wednesday, we headed off to Stanford for Eli’s heart cath and surgery only to have his surgery canceled due to concerns over how his back teeth looked.  We knew there were concerns about his teeth, but there was also concern about how well he would do under anethesia.  No one really knew because he hadn’t had a cath since he was 8 months old in China.  He has no main branch pulmonary arteries.  No one knew if he would decompensate under general anesthesia or be able to handle it fine.  This past year has been complicated. We didn’t do a heart cath in Iowa because we had been told that Dr. Hanley would require his own anyway so we waited.  We initially were to be seen in January, then we got bumped and bumped again until we ended up with a final date in the end of May.


    Eli did great during his heart cath and we were given the great news that he is a wonderful candidate for the unifocalization procedure.  He has four main areas of collaterals each branching off from a single source.  The single sources will be joined together in the unifocalization surgery.  What this means is Eli may be lucky blessed enough to need just one surgery instead of a two or three step surgery process.  Everyone was amazed that he is this old, with his CHD unrepaired, and was still doing relatively well.  His sats are mid to low 70’s.  He regulates himself but is able to play relatively hard unlike Ben who could barely run around the living room without having to sit down.   After the cath, the doctor informed us that a few of Eli’s arteries had grown with him.  She said this doesn’t always happen but that was the reason Eli had been doing so well.  Praises for arteries that grow with little boys.

    Which brings me to the title of this post.  Why?

    When we are in the hospital, we often have the question posed to us.  “Why did you adopt so many children with special needs?”

    We aren’t running around yelling “Do you want to hear about our children?  Did you hear what we did?” blah, blah, blah.  Dan and I both know this is a God thing and all the glory goes to Him.  We know this isn’t about us.  The truth is we didn’t set out to adopt this many children.  We didn’t even have adoption on our radar when the first adoption happened.  As the years have gone by, we have simply been obedient to the call of God.

    This is how they find out, it usually starts out like this.   “Are there any smokers in the house?”  “No.”   “Are there any pets in the house?”  “Yes, two dogs.”  “Are there any siblings in the house?” “Yes, do you need them named or would you like a number?”  “Number is fine.”  “We have twelve children.  Ten are still in the home.”  “YOU HAVE TWELVE CHILDREN!?!?!”  “Yes, we are very blessed.”  “Your house must be crazy and loud.”   “Yes, we have a very loud, loving home.”  “Really?  Twelve children?”  “Really!  “Wow! I could never do that.”

    Usually then what happens is they leave for a bit and come back later to say, “Can I ask you a personal question?”  We never mind answering those personal questions because people are usually just curious as to why.  Our answers vary but the first answer to why is always…

    We are being obedient to God’s calling.  We never set out to do this.  When we got married we didn’t say we are going to adopt this many children. We have just followed where He called us to go.  I can guarantee you when we left to adopt Ben and Maisey we weren’t talking about adopting again.  We were talking about how we had to do all the tours because we would never be in China again.  We wanted to see the culture and know first hand about where our children were born.   I had no clue that God would lead us to four.  I don’t believe anyone starts out thinking they will adopt six children in two years.

    When we started our homestudy a couple months after we got home, we talked about putting four on our homestudy.  I remember laughing because why would we put four?   China only allows two at a time.  There are no sibling groups to adopt, but we felt God was saying four.  So four is what we were allowed to put on that homestudy. We had the most amazing year watching God’s plans unfold.  Who gets the blessing of adopting four children, who aren’t related, all at once?  What a year of miracles it was.

    But this question doesn’t always answer it for people.   If you haven’t ever been obedient to the call of God or if you have never heard Him whisper to your heart and lead you, it is hard to wrap your head around this.

    We let people know what an amazing blessing it is to parent these children.  We don’t feel burdened.  We feel blessed.  We don’t walk around every day in our house thinking about all the special needs our children have.  They are, first and foremost, children.  That is what I see when they run around.  Many times I forget that they have special needs.  When I look at their little faces, I feel completely and utterly overwhelmed with the blessings that I have been allowed to have.

    We tell them a little about institutional life and how every child deserves a family.  We talk about the groups we support that encourage foster homes and group homes with a more family like atmosphere.   We talk about how we continue to learn more and our hearts continue to break for those children who are left behind.  I often mention the books that have helped me understand even more.  (The House of Hope, Wish You a Happy Forever, and Silent Tears)

    We talk about how many children are waiting.  How we wish we could do more.  How if they saw these children’s faces, they would be forever changed.   My life has been forever changed by the faces I have seen both in China and advocated for on other’s blogs and Facebook pages.  David Platt has the best quote about this.  “We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.

    Everything changed for us the day we saw Ben and Maisey’s faces and held them in our arms.

    As we were flying home with Eli, I thought about this some more.  I remembered that it was the one year anniversary of the last four arriving in the U.S.  I sat there with little Eli on my lap and contemplated how far he had come this year.

    When you adopt, there are many hard, trying and painful things that happen.  Your children come from a very hard place.  A place where food isn’t plentiful.  Many of our children were severely malnourished and have severe teeth decay because of the malnutrition and lack of oral hygiene.  They haven’t been taught the ins and outs of life.  How many times do you redirect your child as they grow?  How many times do you say “No” and redirect them?  How many times do you say “We don’t take toys from other people.”  “We don’t hit other people.” “We eat with our mouths closed.” “We say please.”  and “We say thank you.”  the list could go on and on.

    As our bio children are growing, we praise them so they know we support them.  We encourage our children.  We love them even when they are being naughty and they learn unconditional love.  We hold them.  We lift them up.  We feed them when they are hungry.  We comfort them when they are crying.  We bandage their booboos.   We hold their hands when they are afraid.

    If you are raised in an institution, you don’t have that input.  You don’t understand why.  Many times you are left in your crib or a chair.  You are fed when they say.  You are fed an amount that they dictate.  You don’t decide what you wear or where you go or what you eat.  You are told what to do and when to do it.  Many of these children have a very hard time deciding anything for themselves.

    Recently with Jasmine we had an issue where she didn’t ask to go the bathroom.  I asked her why she didn’t just ask someone.  She told me that she didn’t know.  Then she stated that she didn’t know she could ask someone.  Jasmine spent her life in an orphanage where she was in a wheelchair that she could not move.  She sat in a corner unless someone moved her.  She wasn’t allowed to go to school or eat with the other children because it was on a completely different floor and there is no elevator.  She had one shower a week.  She sometimes forgets she can move her power wheelchair.  What an institution does to a child is so much more than just not being fed.

    You may think you understand but until you see these children’s blank faces I don’t think you can truly grasp what they go through.  Until you see the way they hang their heads with that blank stare, you can’t grasp what institutional life really does to their little souls.  Until you watch them devour food for hours, fall asleep holding food, and cry if you move their food, you can’t grasp how hungry they are.  Until you see them unable to let you hold them and comfort them, can you grasp what their little hearts have been through and the walls they have built for protection.  Until you see them get hurt and not cry, can you grasp the magnitude of what it means to learn that no one cares or will come when you are hurt and cry out.  All of these things broke our hearts for the orphan.  All of these things made us wish we could do more.

    We wish we could do more because the past two years have been amazing. The past two years have shown us what can happen when children receive love, food, and medical care.  Our hearts were filled with love the first time they came to us so we could kiss their booboo.  The first time they finally allowed us to hold them while they fell asleep.  The trust that they have that we will protect them.  The first smile.  The first laugh.  The love they have for each other.

    Every time we have brought these children home they have become family….instantly.  Everyone was welcomed into the family.  Everyone was loved, no matter what your special need.  These are beautiful examples of God’s unconditional love for us.  How He adopts us into His family no matter who we are, what we’ve done, or where we came from.

    This is why we do it.  Because God called us.  Because by being obedient to his call, He has taken us on a journey that we never would have thought to start on, but one that has blessed us and changed us in ways that we could never put a price on.  I think if you could see what I have seen, if you could feel what my heart has felt, the question wouldn’t be why.  The question would be why not!








  • Time to Fly with the Little Guy

    Date: 2014.05.21 | Category: Elijah

    Today is the day.

    We are heading to Stanford to get this cute little guy all checked out.

    Eli 1

    Praise the Lord! Elijah has so far avoided getting the cold that Evie has.  These two are always together so it is a major blessing and a major miracle that he has avoided the cold.

    Evie & Eli 1

    We’ve known all along that we would one day see Dr. Hanley at the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.  Almost all the doctors who have heard Eli’s diagnosis have asked us, “Are you going to see Hanley?”  After the third or fourth cardiologist says that to you, you start to pay attention.  Dr. Hanley has had some amazing results in unifocalization.  I won’t even pretend that I understand all of the jargon.  I don’t.  What I do know, in very simple terms, is that Eli is missing the major branches of his pulmonary arteries.  He has lots of collaterals and other connections but the main branches aren’t there.  His actual diagnosis is pulmonary atresia and MAPCAS.

    We will fly today, have his pre-op appointment Thursday and his heart cath on Friday.  Because of the holiday weekend, his surgery isn’t scheduled until the 28th.  We are hoping and praying that the cath shows there is something that can be done.   We are very hopeful and feel blessed that we have this opportunity.


    We have been so lucky with our heart babies so far.  We’ve had wonderful news and blessings beyond measure.  Hoping and praying for the same with the little guy.



  • Elyse

    Date: 2014.05.17 | Category: Adoption, Elyse, Faith

    Please say hello to Elyse or Lysee (LeeCee) as everyone has started calling her.


    Isn’t she beautiful?  Can’t you just see the sweetness shining through that wonderful smile?

    Many of you have been waiting to hear her story.  I apologize that it has taken me so long to get this down in writing, but here is part of her story.

    In the midst of discussions between Dan and I about adopting Kelly*, I brought up adopting one more.  I was having a hard time conveying to Dan just why I felt we were being called to adopt two so I put all my thoughts about adopting two at a time in an e-mail to him and asked him not to respond and just let it “percolate” a bit.  He talked with me later that afternoon and asked “are you crazy” and told me “absolutely not”, but I know how God works with him.  If God was placing it on my heart, then God would work on Dan’s heart too.  I didn’t need to nag him.  I just let it be.

    A couple days later he told me that he had an image of what this little girl would look like – yellow wheelchair, pig tails, not a toddler or a teenager.   If God meant for it to be, we would find her.  I immediately typed in “little girl in yellow wheelchair, with pigtails, adoption”.   Alas, Google was not helpful, it was not going to be that easy.  I looked at all the pictures on Reece’s Rainbow and didn’t find her.  I asked my Facebook friend Annie how I would go about finding lists of little girls in wheelchairs.  I couldn’t ask Annie to advocate for her.  I just needed to know what my options were.

    There are many groups advocating for children from China both on Facebook and Yahoo groups.  I trusted that God would bring her to us.  I saw many pictures of girls in wheelchairs and then Annie posted about a little girl on one of those Facebook groups.  I watched her video and she was just so sweet.  I didn’t have an immediate reaction of “yes, this is her” but I did think she was beautiful, sweet, and had the very best smile.  So just for the heck of it (and yes, I admit I was being more than a little ornery), I sent the video to Dan.  I texted him saying, “How about a light blue wheelchair and yellow rubberbands with the pigtails. lol”


    I couldn’t believe it?!?! Spina bifida?  Kelly has spina bifida too.   When we decided that we would adopt two, I had said it would be nice if their special needs were similar so that when we were making appointments at the Children’s Hospital I could double up.  The hospital is 2 hours away and although it wasn’t a requirement it would make life a little easier.  Plus, before Dan told me his vision of what the little girl looked like, I had been looking at lots of aging out girls, other mothers had even sent me information about other girls they were advocating for, but Gracie, who is 9, had said on more than one occasion that it would be nice to adopt a little girl who was her age.  What I didn’t know was how hard Gracie was praying for a little girl close to her age.  I didn’t know this until after we started talking about Elyse.  Gracie later apologized for praying so hard for a little girl her age, but what a wonderful blessing it has turned out to be.  How can you be upset about a little girl’s answered prayers?

    And here was his response….


    I thought he was joking until I got home and saw his face.  He was serious.  This little girl was his daughter.  He looked at me and said, “We need to go get her.”   This was amazing and could only be from God.  Just so you get the whole picture I’m including his words from an e-mail he sent to his friend the next day.

    Just to fill in the story on her.  My dear Lisa had the audacity to ask me about adopting one more on this trip. I have never been more unreceptive to adopting more kids than I was at that moment. An image briefly flashed in my head, and I snapped at her and said – “OK, find me a little girl in a wheelchair, but not a toddler and not a teen. She should have pigtails. And a wheelchair with yellow on it. Otherwise forget it.”

    The next day she sent me a link to a video.

    I could not have been much more negative at that point if I tried. I started watching it, and just burst into tears. It was just like when I first saw Jasmine. Keep in mind, I’m not prone to bursting into tears, and this isn’t the first cute orphan I’ve seen. I was just wrecked. Then she sang MaMa Hao. I had written something to Lisa a few weeks ago about this song. I had read the lyrics, and posted a little tribute to her stating that this song captures how her children feel about their new mommy. And there she was singing it to us. It was like God slapped me upside my head. By the time the video was over I knew she was mine, and texted Lisa saying simply “She is my daughter”. There she was, exactly what I asked for in living color (the yellow was in her coat, not the wheelchair). 

    After I resuscitated Lisa, we talked to Lifeline, and they agreed to transfer her file to CCAI since we had already started with them for Kelly. We had a brief 24 hours of terror, as another family was reviewing her file. But the next day, she was transferred to CCAI, and the LOI was sent about ten minutes later (that was yesterday afternoon).

    As you have just read in his message, Elyse was singing the same song Dan had posted to my Facebook just weeks before.   Here is that post.


    But as only God can do, there was more.  Dan’s friend knew this little girl as she had once been in their foster care program. We had no idea that she had been cared for by them. She let Dan know that they had pictures of Elyse from when she was a baby.  I cried happy tears.  One of the things that has been the hardest for me with my adopted children is the lack of baby pictures.

    Not only that but we found out their organization had been advocating for years to get her paper ready and had all but given up hope that the orphanage would ever do so.  But the orphanage recently decided to get her paper ready.  God is good!  Have I mentioned that before?  Well, it is worth repeating, over and over again!

    Many times you never get to hear your adopted children’s stories.  Their years previous to joining your family are just lost, but I have been blessed over and over again.  Jasmine was with Love Without Boundaries so we have updates with pictures over many, many years.  Maisey and Lainey were with New Hope Foundation so we have pictures from their stays.  Eli was at Maria’s Big House of Hope.  Ben and Evie are the only two we don’t have information on.  And now with Kelly at Agape and Elyse having previously been in Love Without Boundaries foster care, I will have their information.  I am one blessed mama.


    We had a nerve wracking 24 hours waiting to see if the other family would proceed.  We were blessed in that Lifeline chose to transfer her file.  We know this doesn’t always happen and isn’t always possible.  We can’t thank them enough for helping advocate for our girls.  We are blessed that our agency has been fighting hard to beat Kelly’s August 17th deadline.  Not all agencies are willing to do this.  We have so much support.  It has been overwhelming.  I posted about having PA for Kelly and over 200 people have liked that post and so many have commented about how they have prayed for her and advocated for her. One day I will be able to show her that she has been loved and prayed for by so many.   I now have the same thing with Elyse.  People who have advocated for her and loved her and prayed for her have sent us messages.  What a gift to share with my girls.

    I am so excited to work as hard as we can to get the paperwork through. We have 92 days left.  92 days to get immigration clearance, get the dossier sent, LOA, Article 5, and a travel date is not a lot of time, but we have faith that it is being taken care of by God.  As was shown recently with the fingerprinting for our homestudy.

    We had Linda and Codey fingerprinted and sent through a courier. We went through a courier because there was a three day turnaround and we knew Codey prints were going to be rejected.   They were both rejected twice so we thought we could do it manually as we have done the previous two adoptions, but there is some new law that makes this no longer available.  The FBI said they could not use the rejection letters from the courier so we needed to start from square one.  They informed us there would be a 5-6 week wait for the prints to clear and considering our dossier needs to leave for China by the end of May, we just didn’t have that much time.  I talked to numerous people at the FBI customer service desk and was told the same thing over and over again, “There’s nothing we can do.  There is no way to expedite this.”

    We can’t finish the homestudy without the fingerprint clearance.  Without the homestudy we can’t get our 1-800a form.  Without our 1-800a form, we can not finish our dossier.  Without our dossier being finished and sent to China, China can’t proceed with LOA and on and on and on.  It is horrible.  I was in Boston and there was nothing I could do.  And then all of a sudden we got the news that someone had interceded on our behalf.  Codey and Linda’s prints cleared.  It was amazing.  What we were told over and over again couldn’t happen….happened!

    We see his hand all over the girl’s adoptions and we are expectantly waiting to watch it all unfold in His perfect timing!

    God is good and we are all feeling blessed!

    *Edited to add that Kelly ultimately decided to stay in China and we did not push for the adoption after we found out that she didn’t want to leave the group home that she lived in.  We wanted to honor her request to stay in the only home she had known with the people she loved.

  • Look Up!

    Date: 2014.05.16 | Category: Evangeline Faith, Faith, Thoughts to ponder

    All we wanted to do was just go home.  After Evie’s surgery was cancelled, that’s really all I wanted, to go home and hug my other kids.  I know there are worst things in the world than getting stuck in an airport for two days. (Ben’s Story) Please take a moment and look at this mama’s blog.  Although, it is true that the topic is very sad, her faith and Ben’s life are beautiful things.  Please pray for the family’s peace during this time, especially Ben’s twin, and all the other families going through the same thing without all the social media support. 


    A friend of mine even went so far as to say that maybe God needed us to talk to or touch someone else’s life.  I know that these things are true. I’ve seen it happen too many times to not believe it. Have you ever met someone who was exactly the person you needed to talk to at just the right moment?  Have you ever stopped to wonder when you meet that person, just what it took for that encounter to happen?  One extra stop light, one more delay, and you would have never met.  It always amazes me how orchestrated all those small moments are in our lives.  It just shows God’s hand in the smallest of details.

    As I walked around the Newark Airport, I thought about that. I thought about whose story I might just need to hear. I thought about Ben and Ben’s mom. I thought about how she would give just about anything to be holding Ben and spending hours just walking around an airport.  It is all about perspective.  I could have been angry that I had to spend hours walking in circles holding Evie, but what would that have changed?  So instead I watched people.  I watched people yell, scream, and berate people who had no control over whether or not the planes took off.  I watched many, many, many people text and play games on their devices.  I saw a few people sleep.  I saw a few people reading books.  There were very few people interacting with anyone other than who they traveled with.  If they were alone, they were on a device or sleeping.

    How many conversations do we miss because we refuse to look up?  How many new and wonderful people could we meet if we just said “Hi!”?  How can we ever expect to impact anyone else’s life if we never listen to their stories or share our own stories?   I will admit that I’m just as guilty as the next person.   In an elevator it is easier to stare at your screen than look someone in the eye.  It’s uncomfortable so we avert our eyes and we believe those tiny screens are the perfect excuse.

    I spent over 10 hours each day in the airport, I had lots of time to watch people.  I watched people almost knock Evie over because they wouldn’t look up from their phones.  They never even noticed that they almost hit Evie and then I started to pay attention to who did notice Evie.


    Almost everyone we met, who was in a wheelchair, noticed Evie.  They waved and Evie blew them kisses.  We met a  grandma who was going to San Diego to meet her son and then on to Norway and then taking a riverboat down the Danube.  How exciting.  She was almost 80 years old and still actively living her life.  She talked about our adopting.  She talked about teaching children English as a second language.  We discussed many things.  She watched Evie who proceeded to tell this grandma that she was a good girl for throwing away her garbage.  Evie smiled at her and charmed her with all her Evie ways.  Enough so that this 80 year old grandma said, “She could almost make you wish you had more and I was never one to really enjoy being around a lot of children.”

    Evie told workers they did a good job.  People who probably never get a thank you for picking up trash or serving fries.  Evie thanked them and told them good job.  Evie smiled and made faces at countless people. There were a few times Dan and I didn’t even notice that Evie was making silly faces at someone.  We would be eating our meal and look down to see Evie making the fishy face or some other goofy face.  Almost every single time it was an older lady sitting alone at a table.  Evie paid attention to them.  They were no longer invisible in an airport.   These women commented on her over the top personality.  They would stop by our table and say to us,  “Don’t you just smile all day long with her?”  Yes, it is true.  Evie is a beautiful soul.  We are blessed to have her in our lives.

    We rode the moving sidewalks over and over again.  She would giggle and giggle.  As I said, many people never even noticed her.  Many people almost hit her. But many people who were on their phones stopped what they were doing when Evie smiled at them.  They smiled back and they waved.  One young security officer walked past us while texting, he noticed Evie, stopped his texting and said hi.  He stopped about ten feet away and just watched Evie laugh as she rode along.  He looked at me and said, “It really is about the little things in life, isn’t it?”  He just stood there and watched Evie enjoy life.

    Evie 2

    Many people are in a rush.  Many people just look for someone to yell at. I’ve was surprised at the number of truly rude people.  I understand that sometimes you need to rush.  I’ve been the person sprinting through the airport trying to make a connection, but not everyone who was rushing truly needed to be, and there is rarely a time that you truly need to be rude.

    It’s the older people, the people with young ones who have to move just a little bit slower, who have noticed Evie.  I wonder how much we miss in our everyday lives because we are in such a rush or to busy to bring our eyes up from the phone.

    I’ve been bored and I’ve been on my phone, but there’s a difference between checking your phone and not being able to look up from your phone.  It’s like we are so afraid to say “Hi!” to each other.  We use our phones as an excuse to not make eye contact.  I like the people I meet.  I like saying hello.  Dan often teases me about what people will say to me.

    I met another adoptive mom on the bus ride from terminal C to terminal A.  I learned a lot about the frustration of her adoptions.  We talked about all sorts of things and encouraged each other.

    Two different sets of little Asian boys her size ran up to Evie and got right in her face.  In both cases, the parents barely noticed.  Little ones are so ready to make new friends.  It doesn’t matter what color they other person is, how they are dressed, or whether or not they think they have anything in common.  Little ones just want to meet and play.

    Emme & Evie 1 Emme & Evie

    We met a little girl named Emme on our trip.  Evie and Emme became fast friends.  Emme was one of those three year olds with a huge vocabulary.  She told us about her imaginary brothers and sisters.  She shared her stuff with Evie.  They read books, played with their toys, and just chased each other in the airport.  They were instant friends.  When do we lose that as children?  Why do we lose that?  The joy of just making new friends.  The joy of sharing our things and visiting?  There is such joy in those connections so why do we decide it is no longer important?

    I really don’t have any answers.  I just wanted to give you something to think about.  What could you be missing?  Maybe it’s time to slow down and just look up!


  • Good News – Bad News

    Date: 2014.05.12 | Category: Evangeline Faith

    Good news – For those of you who have Facebook you can now follow along on the group Seriously Blessed by Adoption.

    Bad news – If you don’t have Facebook, you are out of luck and have to wait for my posts which don’t include nearly as many cute pictures.

    evie 11

    Good news – I have actually had time to blog a couple of times in the past couple of days, including a Mother’s Day post.

    Bad news – I was in Boston and I missed my babies and my mama on Mother’s Day.

    Good news – Evie had a heart cath on Friday and the news was very encouraging.  Both of her pulmonary arteries grew.  The growth of her arteries was so good the surgeons have opted to skip the second surgery, the bidirectional Glenn, and go straight to the Fontan.

    Bad news – Evie was hospitalized the day before her cath for hydration and the night after her cath for a 12 hour heparin drip.  We weren’t expecting these stays at all and she wasn’t very happy about them.  (Except for the car rides.)

    Evie 7

    Good news – We got to meet a very nice mother sharing our room, who had a very sweet baby named Molly.

    Bad news – Not really bad news, but I just thought Molly’s mama could use some prayers.  She has a three year old and five month old triplets.  All of you mamas who just gasped, please say an extra prayer for Molly and her mama.  She had a hard Mother’s Day being away from her other little ones.

    Evie 10

    Bad news – Evie’s surgery was postponed today due to her getting a cold sometime between the heart cath on Friday and Sunday afternoon.  She never really got a fever but she has a runny nose and a wet sounding cough.

    Good news – Evie’s surgery can be rescheduled in 4-6 weeks, which means I can go with Eli for his surgery on the 28th.  It also allows us to get our fingerprints done for immigration.

    Evie 9

    Good news – We got our biometrics appointment letter very quickly.

    Bad news – It’s not scheduled until the last of the month which is way to late.  Please say an extra prayer for us as we try to all walk in for fingerprinting at the immigration office.  Sometimes they allow it, sometimes not.  Hopefully, they will take pity on us.

    Evie 8

    Bad news – We have to have all of our dossier paperwork ready to go by the end of the month.

    Good news – We have many agencies who are working very hard and trying to get this done.

    Bad news – Codey’s fingerprints have been rejected twice and we have to start all over again at square one.

    Good news – Apparently having a pretty, young, female police officer tell him that he is going to be friends with her and do his fingerprints right, actually works.  He even put his own thumbs on the papers.  Who knew?

    Bad news – Waiting six weeks puts us into July, add a couple weeks recovery, and it brings us exceedingly close to when we would have to travel for Kelly and Elyse.

    Good news – Evie seems to be extraordinarily pleased that she is not having surgery today and even told her daddy, “I’m so happy daddy.”  We’ve never heard her say that before.  Plus, she has continued to dance around the hotel room since we got back here.  🙂

    Evie 12

    Bad news – We waited in the waiting room for 5 1/2 hours today waiting for someone to confirm what Dan had already told the resident the night before – there was no way Evie could have surgery with her wet cough.  We waited just long enough to miss every flight leaving for the night or the flights were already full.

    Good news – I get to see my babies tomorrow.

    Bad news – I can’t get Elyse’s video to upload into my blog.

    Good news – As soon as I do, I am going to share my little girl’s story.

    Thanks for all your prayers for little Evie.  I know that God’s timing is perfect.  Maybe if we had had surgery we wouldn’t have been able to get the fingerprinting done and we wouldn’t be able to adopt Kelly.   I don’t know why Evie got this cold.  It’s really not horrible, no fever, she looks good.  It was just enough to cancel surgery so there must be a reason.   We shall continue to praise God for all He has done to heal our little girl.  Her heart cath on Friday was unbelievably encouraging.  The words the doctors used was “phenomenal”.  Considering we were told at the beginning they couldn’t even see her pulmonary arteries and weren’t sure she had any, this is beyond amazing.

    God continues to have us walk this road of trust, patience, and faith. Somedays, I admit, I do better than others.  I’m truly not upset about the cancellation just wondering about the logistics of it all, but our God knows what the future holds.   Worry will not change a thing so I will trust this was right, look forward to one more good night of sleep, and hurry on home to my babies.

    Matthew 6:27 – Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 








  • My Mother’s Day Wishes

    Date: 2014.05.11 | Category: Adoption, Faith

    I want to wish all the mamas I know a very Happy Mother’s Day!

    I want to wish peace to those who are waiting to become a mother for the first time or are in the process again.

    I want to wish comfort to those, like me, who are missing their mothers so much, not just today, but everyday.

    I pray for eyes to be open to all the children who are longing for a mother.

    I pray for hearts to hear the call of the Lord to care for these hurting souls.

    I pray for homes to be open to foster children in need.

    I pray for encouragement and help for mothers in our communities, near or far, who need a helping hand.

    I pray for the mamas whose children forget them today.

    I pray for the mamas who have had children die.

    I pray for my two sweeties who are not yet with us.

    photo(8) photo(7)

    Being a mama is the best job I could ever hope for.  I have been blessed over and over again with sweet, wonderful souls that have made my life a better, fuller, brighter, happier place.  They have strengthened my faith and helped me grow in ways I could have never imagined when I first became a mother.  When I was young I wanted to be a nurse, a teacher, and a mother to 12.  I have been all of those things and more during the past 27 years. Every day is Mother’s Day at our house and I am one very blessed mama.  Thank you for making me a mama -Codey, Kyle, Zachary, Cassandra, Hope, Jasmine, Grace, Benjamin, Maisey, Lainey, Evangeline and Elijah.

  • What about your other children?

    Date: 2014.05.09 | Category: Adoption, Faith

    In the midst of Evie and Eli’s upcoming surgeries, I have been doing a lot of praying and thinking. I have been asked the question, “What about your other children?” quite a few times.  I recently read a post in one of the heart groups I belong to where the parents said they thought they could handle anything, but they were unsure of whether to proceed with adopting a special needs child for fear it would hurt their other children.

    It’s a legitimate concern.   You have to consider everything.  The problem is you can’t guess everything nor can you truly know what the future is going to bring.   There is no way to know.  Plus, everyone automatically assumes that it is going to do harm to your other children.

    I can’t talk for everyone else’s children, only mine, but I can say that they will tell you it was worth it and have been on board to adopt again, each and every time.  That does not mean that there won’t be pain or times when their hearts hurt.

    The night before we left for Boston, we were talking about how we were all going to meet so we could walk around the lake together before we left for the airport.  Little Gracie, who is 9, came to me with tears in her eyes.  She said, “I know why we are walking around the lake mama.”

    I said, “You do?  I thought we were walking around the lake because it’s supposed to be a beautiful day and we want to be together.”

    Gracie said, “We are walking around the lake together so we have a really good memory of our last time together in case Evie doesn’t make it.”

    That’s a lot for a nine year old to handle.  Her baby sister might not come home.  When we leave to get on that plane, it may be the last time she sees her.

    So I asked her, “Would you do it again, Gracie?”

    Her reply was this, “I would do it again even if I only knew her for a week mommy.”

    All of this talk got me to thinking about writing a blog post about what my older children feel about the adoptions.  I told them to be honest because it might help other people.  I asked them three simple questions:  1.) Would you do it again?   2.) How has it changed your life?  and 3.) What has been the hardest part?

    Here are their answers:

    Zachary (25 years old)

    1.) Absolutely.

    2.) It has given me a sincere appreciation for the brevity of life, and has taught me to not sweat the small stuff and instead treasure every moment, good and bad. It has also taught me how to prioritize and recognize what is actually important in life, not just what’s appealing to that desire for instant gratification.

    3.) During the moments before the surgeries, not knowing how things are going to turn out. Everyone has those situations in their life; they just tend to happen a bit more often with a heart kid.

    Cassie (21 years old)

    1.) I would adopt them again in a heartbeat. Knowing that they probably have a shorter lifespan doesn’t contradict the fact that they are the most wonderful little people. Every kiss, every giggle, every “I love you” is worth the future pain. They deserved more than to die alone and forgotten.

    2.) They have changed my life in more ways than I can possibly imagine. Because of them, I try to be more compassionate to people, I’ve learned that many people are ignorant, but willing to be taught about adoption and disabilities, while others are just jerks. I’ve learned how to laugh more, not worry about the small things, and, ultimately, to rely on God. He has a plan for them; it may not be the same plan I want, but I know that He is in control, not me.

    3.) The hardest part has been knowing they have a shorter life expectancy. If you dwell on that, everyone will be miserable. I have to think about the fact that we all have a limited number of days, their life calendars are just a bit more visible than ours; we know they have shorter lives.   Seeing them in pain, surgery or residual from the institution is also hard. It’s easy to forget where they come from and the pain and memories they bring with them. Though it hurts your heart to talk through their past with them, we need to listen when they talk. We don’t need to pry or push, but sometimes they need you to know what happened before they were loved.

    Hope (15 years old) 

    1.) Yes and I would adopt again if I felt God was leading us to them.

    2.) I have little kids to play with.  lol

    3.) Worrying about the surgeries.

    Grace (9 years old)

    1.) Yes.

    2.) A lot; in a lot of ways.  Like how cute Evie is and how she is walking and talking when she was just sitting in a chair and would probably have died.  Seeing how good Lainey is.  How far Jasmine has come and how silly she is.

    3.) Not getting them for a long time.  It’s also really hard if they’re really sick.

    I can also tell you that not every one of my children want to have a big family but they all believe in adoption.  Hope knows carrying a child may be dangerous to her health, but she doesn’t even blink and says I will adopt.  Cassie is already planning her adoption trips and the special needs children she hopes to one day be the mother too.  Gracie is in a league all her own.  Jasmine and her dream of adopting 20 and driving an even bigger bus.  Gracie and Jasmine have not given up hope that Dan and I will consider adopting more.

    All of this talk got Cassie to thinking more about the subject and she wrote a blog about it too. You can read it here:  Thankful for the Crazy

    It’s true your children will be changed. Everyone assumes that it will be for the worst, but maybe, just maybe their faith will be strengthened, your family will grow closer, and your walk with God will be strengthened and in my book those are pretty amazing things.



  • Trust and Praise

    Date: 2014.05.07 | Category: Evangeline Faith

    I wrestle with fear and worry.

    I wish my faith was so strong that I never feared.

    That worry was not a word I knew.

    That I never fretted or stewed or shed a tear.

    But that would be a lie.

    Because sometimes I am caught in the moment and I see this face…

    the littles

    Sometimes my heart is filled with so much emotion,

    that I can barely move,

    my breathe is taken away.

    I stand there and watch her play in the sunshine

    with her family that she adores,

    I see the pure joy on her face,

    and think what if this is it?

    What would I do without her silly little walk,

    her running hugs,

    her contagious laugh,

    the silly way she talks?

    Evie 3

    She makes me laugh every day.

    She loves to greet people and make them smile.

    She likes to share her cookies and ask how you are

    as she drives around Fareway with her buddy in her little car.

    Evie & Eli 1

    So I can’t help but think…

    What if we do surgery and she doesn’t survive?

    It crosses my mind from time to time.

    I know everyone tells me that “God’s got this,

    He’s in the business of miracles,

    Look what He did with Ben.”

    Believe me I know that my God is full of miracles.

    I’ve seen them again and again and again,

    but I also know His ways are not my ways

    and His plan is not always what I want.

    That is where my fear lies.

    Not because I don’t trust God.

    Not because I don’t believe His plan is perfect.

    But because even though I expectantly wait,

    my God may still call her home.

    But we said we’d do all that we could to give her a chance.

    But what if that shot shortens her days?

    What if instead of extending them, we are taking days away?

    These are the thoughts that stop me in my tracks.

    I don’t want to let this rambunctious bundle of joy go.

    But we said, “We’d give her a chance.”

    So a chance we will take.

    I trust.

    I trust in a plan that is bigger than her.

    I trust in a God who holds her dear and loves her more than I can fathom.

    I turn it over and I praise.

    I praise a God who would allow me a year full of joy and laughter.

    I praise a God who would and could heal her so.

    I praise a God who has allowed me front row seats to the miracle that is her.

    Her time was limited in China.

    And she’s been granted a year.

    365 days of love and fun and cuddles.

    She has spread her love around for all to feel.

    She is a little ray of sunshine

    that has brightened my days.

    I have been so blessed.

    So I trust and I praise and I give her all of me.



  • Mother’s Day…

    Date: 2014.05.02 | Category: Family Life

    I’ve had quite a few bad Mother’s Days in my life. The first one was when we had the twins.  We had the twins on April 30th, Kyle died May 4th and we buried him on the 7th.  I could have cared less about the holiday that year.  We’ve spent it in the hospital many, many times.  But this year may be one of my hardest, because it is my first Mother’s Day without mom.

    I wish my mother could see our family grow again.  She never asked for much in life…just for us to be happy.   She understood that happy meant content and she taught us that.   She was my children’s biggest cheerleader.  She was my biggest supporter.  She encouraged and cheered and helped you along.  She was a giver, and a cryer over wrongs and sweet stories, and she was a lover of God.

    mom & mema

    She is happy. I am thankful for that and the hope that we have for our future together.  It makes me happy to think of her in heaven, but it still hurts that I can’t pick up that phone and hear her voice.  We talked every single day.  People sometimes looked at me like I was crazy when I would mention that fact, but she was not only my mother she was my friend. I want to be able to share my life with her.  I want her to encourage me when I’m sad and celebrate with me when I am happy.


    EPSON MFP image

    When others said we were crazy to adopt two, she said follow God’s lead.  When others questioned us adopting four the very next year, she told me that I only had God to be accountable to.  When others questioned what it would do to the rest of the children, she would tell others about how caring her grandchildren were precisely because we had adopted.

    boo 2

    She stood by us and supported us while we were in the hospital.  She never questioned us adopting children who would most likely have much shorter lives.  She never questioned us making our lives busier.   In fact, it was her that said housecleaning could always wait.  She liked to tell me that if the only thing people could remember about me when I died was that I had a spotless house, then I was doing something wrong.

    Mom with kids

    Mom’s are important.  That is why my heart breaks for the children who still wait.  Yes, adoption is hard.  Yes, it costs a lot of money.  Yes, there are things wrong with the system.  But God calls us.  Children need a mama to hold their hand and kiss their faces and bandage up booboos, the ones you can see and the ones that are hidden deep within their hearts.

    the littles

    We have received PA for two beautiful little souls that I know my mama would have loved.

    photo(7) photo(8)

    So in honor of my mama, I want to encourage you to consider being a mama for a child in need. There are many, many ways to do it.   There are hurting souls all over this world.  God calls us to care for them and to not leave them alone.   Please prayerfully consider what you are being called to do.  There’s no better sound in the world than hearing your child say, “I love you.”

    Happy Mother’s Day mama!  I miss you and love you!