Archive for June, 2015

  • Happy Father’s Day

    Date: 2015.06.21 | Category: Faith, Family Life

    Someday I am going to get my husband to write a blog post about what it feels like to be the father of 14 children, but for now I will just write a post about my husband from my point of view.  I write about the children and our adoption journey a lot.  I don’t often write about Dan, mainly because he is a pretty private guy.  He prayed long and hard about our blog when we decided to write about our adoption journey.  He felt that the benefit of others seeing adoption first hand trumped his need to be private.

    Dan and I started dating when he was 15 and I was 16.  We had the usual high school romance with on again, off again issues.  We got back together shortly after high school and were married when he was 19 and I just turned 20.

    photo (1)

    He decided to become a physician after the twins were born.  He wanted to make a difference in the lives of babies.  He wanted to change their outcomes.  He didn’t want other families to go through the pain that we had gone through with the death of Kyle and the extended hospitalization of Codey.

    He fulfilled that dream after 15 long years of training and has now had the perfect job for over 14 years.   He is still able to do his clinical work and he also has the honor of being Clinical/Quality improvement director for a large company.  This job allows him to teach others about how important it is to not only take care of the patient but to truly care about the patient.

    During his fellowship, he fell in love with a little girl in his care.  She had a major heart defect and her pre-adoptive parents had backed out.  Her biological mom had decided not to treat and Dan was left with the task of stopping her treatment.  He couldn’t do it.  That is the kind of man he is.  I love that about him.  I will forever remember his call and how my heart felt when he said he had bought this baby some booties and stuffed animals because her little bed looked so bare.  Little did we know where this journey would lead.

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    Sixteen years later and she is a thriving healthy teenager.

    Hope's red hair

    A few years later, we added Gracie.  Our family was complete or so we thought.

    One of my favorite family pictures!

    One of my favorite family pictures!

    People often talk about reluctant husbands in the adoption world.  In our family, I was the reluctant one.  I was the one dragging my feet because I was unsure about adopting at the age of 45.  Dan felt like we needed to do something about the orphan crisis.  He never pressured.  He just prayed.  He knew if it was truly what God wanted I would agree to it.

    When we set off on this journey, we thought we would adopt two.  We never intended to adopt eight in three years.  We were just following God’s lead.  We’ve learned in our marriage that God’s plan is always best.   Even when you are fearful.  Even when that first step is so scary.   Even when you can’t possibly see how it could work.  It is always best to follow God’s lead.

    Our children have instantly known that they were safe.  It’s my favorite thing about the day when we first met them.  Every one of our children has gone to him.   Ben grabbed on and never let go.  Ben’s first word was daddy.

    Ben and daddy

    Ben and daddy

    Dan gets down to their level and they know it’s going to be ok.

    Evie Gotcha Day

    Our children have a safe shoulder to lie on…

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    Someone who will be there with them no matter what…

    Evie 3

    Someone to be silly with…

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    Strong arms to keep them safe…

    ben 3

    A lap that will hold one or two…

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    or more…

    Dan and kids

    Someone to celebrate the big moments…

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    and little moments with…

    Cassie, Dad and fish

    A hand to hold…

    Evie hand

    Someone to help you when you can’t quite reach…

    Evie 9

    We’ve been through a lot together.  Dan is not just my husband.  He is my best friend.  Many would consider the life we have lived as hard or unlucky but we both know we are blessed.  Blessed to have met so young.  Blessed to have so many little blessings that we get to wake up to each day.  Blessed to have a child who waits for us on the other side.  Blessed to have the hope of forever.  Blessed to have had 30 years.

    It is Dan who has taught me the life lessons that have helped me most.

    When I was young and hurting and afraid to trust.  It was Dan who reminded me that I have the choice to wake up every morning expecting bad things to happen or to trust in his love.  Those words allowed me to trust God and God’s love for me.  It was Dan who showed me what a true relationship with Christ is.  It was Dan who taught me that life is all about perspective.  I can decide to be grateful or I can be bitter and angry and never appreciate anything.

    We chose to date when we were young.  We chose to stay together when things were tough.  The death of a child is hard on many marriages.

    We sealed the deal in China when we put our names on our lock on the great wall.  (The idea is that you have to break the lock to end your relationship and China is a long ways away.)

    china 2012 041

    Every day I get to see Dan in action.  He loves his children.   He would do anything for his children.  He keeps them safe and provides for them.  He isn’t perfect, none of us are, but his heart is always in the right place.

    I am blessed to have walked this journey with this man.  Our family has changed a lot in the last three years.  Not many men would sign up for this, but I am blessed that Dan knows what is truly important.  He knows that life isn’t about the things you can acquire.  It’s about figuring out the plan God has for you and using your gifts to the best of your abilities.   Time and time again Dan has followed God’s lead where others would never go.   He has said “why not?” even when he had hundreds of reasons to say no and my life has been forever blessed by those words.

    The crew

    Happy Father’s Day Dan!  We all love you so much!

  • I Hate Indifference

    Date: 2015.06.13 | Category: Adoption, Faith

    I know hate is a pretty harsh word, but I am having a hard time being quiet about it.   Maybe I should have titled it I Hate Indifference or How our Family Decided to Try and Make a Difference!  We no longer wish to suffer from depraved indifference.

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    Recently I was in the ER with Elyse.   Our visit was in the middle of the night and she shared many, many things with me.  I can’t even begin to tell you how hard it is to listen to your child tell you of their abuse in such a matter of fact way.   No tears or shaking or trembling of the voice, just words said normally like they happened to someone else or as if they deserved it.

    In January, when we adopted Elyse, she was an over-the-top, bubbly, joyful child, but she told us over and over again that she would NOT be learning English.  She said she would stay with us awhile but she was not going to be a part of all this family stuff.  Her heart was definitely still in China.  I was so worried that she would not bond.  I knew that it was going to take forever to reach her and that hurt my heart.

    When Jasmine ended up in the hospital for so long, just weeks after we got home, I thought it would take even longer to bond, but just the opposite happened.  Because Elyse, who is very talkative could no longer communicate, she had to learn English.  She spent more time with other family members besides Jasmine.  She found out that she missed Dan and I.  She decided she really liked having parents and lots of brothers and sisters.

    In this past month we have seen a huge turnaround.  She loves to tell people she is an American.  She tells me that she loves me and that she is sorry for the way she treated me in China.  She is the first to ask if I’m okay or if I need anything.  She has asked that we only use her English name. At first, I didn’t understand why the change came about but I was thankful that my early worries about her not attaching to the family were wrong.

    In the ER, as she was telling me about what happened to her in China, she also told me that she now knew that she didn’t deserve to be hit.  She said that she knew if people truly loved you then they would protect you.  She told me Dan and I taught her that.  She said I love my family and I want to stay here forever.   This was a huge break through for her and the first steps in helping her to heal.

    I have a hard time with the abuse stories and the neglect stories.  I know they aren’t everyone stories but they belong to too many orphans.  Too many orphans are abandoned because their parents can not provide the care they need.  Too many orphans end up abused and forgotten.  Too many children are neglected world wide and I know it isn’t just an orphanage issue.   It happens here and all around the world.  Children are being trafficked.  Children are growing up alone and sent into the world alone.

    But if you ask most people they have no clue this is going on or to what degree it happens.  I know I didn’t know.  I lived in my own little world and didn’t believe that I could do anything about the world’s problems.  Truth-be-told, I didn’t think the world problems were any of my concern, but I was wrong.  Indifference is in epidemic forms right now.  We care so much about me, me, me and we have forgotten what God has called us to do.

    Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:4

    Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.  Galatians 6:2

    But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?  Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.  1 John 3:17-18

    He who gives to the poor will never want, But he who shuts his eyes will have many curses.  Proverbs 28:27

    Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.   James 1:27

    These are just a few.  We know we are commanded, but we are too busy or too poor or too (insert excuse here) to do anything about it.  We all do it.  It seems overwhelming. What can one person do?  I’d be the first to admit that.  I am not here to lecture but merely to remind you that you can make a difference.

    Everyone can make a difference.  The first choice is to stop being indifferent and open your eyes.

    Our family chose to make a difference when we couldn’t let Hope die alone in the hospital.  The kids were little (Zach was 11 and Cassie was 6) but they understood no child should die alone in the hospital without a name or people to love them.  I didn’t think about it in the term “we were making a difference”.  We just did what we felt was the right thing to do.

    When we chose to adopt again, everyone in the family was on board.  I will admit that we didn’t fully understand the plight of the orphan until we stepped foot in an orphanage, but we quickly began to understand.

    We decided that this would be our family mission.  We wanted to raise awareness for the orphan.  We wanted to spread the news about adoption.  Many people complain that adoption is too hard or too expensive but I am telling you the cost is much greater when we do nothing.  The cost of souls that believe they are worth nothing and deserve to be abused is too great.   You want to save lost souls?  What better way than to show them the love of the Father?

    We can no longer do nothing.

    I have read this verse in the Bible many times.

    Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says. James 1:22

    And then I read it in the King James version.  For some reason, it had more impact on me.

    But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only…

    BE DOERS!!!!

    That is pretty clear.  So what are you doing?

    We realized that our family was probably done adopting but there were so many more children who wait.  How could we just stop?  How could we do nothing?  We decided to join with Love Without Boundaries because they helped us find two of our daughters through their advocating on their blog.  The more we learned of their programs the more in love with this organization we were.  They do what they say they are going to do with the money received.  They have a 4 star rating on Charity Navigator.  They have a cleft exchange, education programs, the Unity Fund (which helps families stay in tact by getting their child the surgery they need), foster care programs and more.  When you sponsor a child or give towards a surgery, you get updates.  Ever wondered where your money goes when you send off a check to an organization?  Well, wonder no more.

    So what is stopping you from being a doer?

    Right now LWB is trying to help a mother who has been using social media to reach out to others to try and get her children medical help.  It’s amazing how hard this mother has fought and now there is hope.  Can you imagine not being able to get the care you need for  your children?  Won’t you please consider joining with LWB and help them get the care they need?  (A mother’s plea)

    Start here.  Every dollar counts.  Then open your eyes to what God lays before you.  Is there a neighbor who needs helps?  A widow?  A single mother?   Be a doer!!!!

    Anne Frank says it best – “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

    (This video is almost 8 minutes long but it is worth every minute.)

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