Archive for September, 2015
I posted this on my Facebook group, Seriously Blessed by Adoption, the other day and I felt I should share it here too. Jasmine’s words contain great wisdom. I am constantly amazed at how much she has been able to grasp in such a short time.
Profound lessons learned this afternoon:
Jasmine coming to grips with never being able to walk is much like a person who is paralyzed coming to grips with what their life will now be like. We were told about a motivational Christian woman named Joni Eareckson Tada. Jasmine and I bought the movie and spent the afternoon watching it. Joni says that she would rather be in her wheelchair and know Jesus then walk and not know Him.
Jasmine looked at me and said, “Mama, it’s like my life. If my grandmother hadn’t placed me in the orphanage, I would have spent my life in a corner in her room. I would have never gone to school. I would have never had a power wheelchair. I would never get to do the things I do now.
If I had never gone to the orphanage, I would have never known how children hurt. I would have never known what it feels like to be an aging out child. I would have never cared about orphans.
If I hadn’t gone to the orphanage, I would have never been adopted. I would have never been loved by you and daddy. I would have missed out on the love of all my sisters and brothers and the fun of watching kids join our family. And most of all I would have never heard about Jesus or known that my life was not worthless.
The next day Jasmine woke up and said to me, “The very last thing that has happened is that I am still alive. Mama, do you know what it is like to think that you would probably be dead if you hadn’t been adopted?” She went on to tell me again how the nannies offered to help her end her life. She told me that the nannies told her over and over again what would happen to her when she turned 14. It isn’t always the case that you will be turned out on the street or go to an institution at 14. If you can work, they will sometimes hire you. If there is someone who has taken you under their wing, then they will allow you to stay until you are 18 or older.
But they had let Jasmine know they were tired of taking care of her. They told of her of the place she would go to live the minute she turned 14. She was told it would be survival of the fittest at the adult institution. I don’t know anything about these places so I asked around. It is pretty much like it is here in the states. It depends on what place you go to and how much they care, some are good, some are bearable, and some are very bad. Where she would have gone was bad, so yes, it would have been very hard for her to survive there.
Plus, without surgery, breathing would have gotten more and more difficult. What kills these children with SMA normally is respiratory illnesses. Here in the U.S. Jasmine has a cough assist machine to help her breath. We use it every morning to help open up her lungs. She had surgery that helped elongate her back and helps her take deeper breaths. She gets regular checkups and help from the very best doctors.
It’s a lot to handle as a 16 year old and yet she does it with grace most days. She has her sad days and her mad days but for 90% of the time Jasmine is joyful and outgoing and compassionate. Believe me with the stories she has told me, the fact that she isn’t a bitter, angry, awful teenager is in itself a miracle. I ask myself that all the time. How did she keep her joy? How did she stay so hopeful?
How? She held on tight to the hope of walking. She dreamed of having a family of her very own. She knew that there was someone bigger than her out there that she prayed constantly to.
I am so moved by her story. I am so blessed to get to be her mama. She teaches me something new every single day. It is an amazing journey and I get to be the one to help her navigate it. It’s a pretty amazing thing but that’s to be expected because she is a pretty amazing, wise young lady.
Elyse has been talking about writing a blog just like big sister, Jasmine. She has been begging me to do a blog about her mama. I promised her I would write what she says no matter what, but after typing this I had serious second thoughts. I have sat on this blog post for a while. I gave her time to think about why she wants to say this. She has told me over and over again that she wants people to understand that a child might not be nice in China because they don’t know any better. They might say things and act up because they are afraid or that is what they have been taught. She feels so bad that she judged me in China. I never gave it another thought after the first few times she said it and it still haunts her that she was mean to the person who came to give her love and a family.
In the end I decided to share this because I thought it was very insightful for a nine year old and it is a small insight into the mind of an child when their whole world is turned upside down. She is truly the sweetest, most caring, helpful little girl. I was afraid she would never attach to me. I was fearful that I would never be the mother she wanted. I was afraid she would never be happy with living in America. I was afraid all those lessons she was taught early in her life were part of who she was forever. The girl Elyse was when we first met her and who she is just 8 months later is vastly different. We are very close and I am very blessed to get to be her mama.
When mama was in China, people take a picture of me and mama. I saw mommy and did not know what to think. I was really mad and really grumpy. I thought Zach and Stephanie (brother and sister-in-law) were my mama and daddy. Mama said, “We go somewhere.” and I said, “NO!” I was really mad at mom. Sometimes I didn’t listen to her.
Sometimes I go to eat with Zach and Stephanie and mama. Sometimes I not be nice to mama. I feel bad now. I sometimes say bad word to mama. I say that she is fat. In China it not good to be fat. We laugh at fat. I make mama feel bad. I say it many times to many people.
I talk to mama about it after we be home for long time. I tell mama that I am sorry for saying bad word. Mama said, “I forgive you. I was not mad.” Mama said, “It only made me sad for a minute. I am heavy. It’s the truth. It’s ok.” Daddy said, “Mama already forgive you. You don’t have to feel bad about it.” But my heart is a little bit sad but mama said, “You don’t know me in China. It’s ok.” Right now I don’t do it because I know mama and I love my mama. I learn that fat don’t make you a bad person.
In China, I say, “I no learn English.” Mama said, “You will learn.” I said, “Mama I don’t. It too hard.” I tell her I no learn English cause I marry Chinese boy.
We went on a boat. I say, “I don’t like pizza. I won’t eat pizza.” Mama said “Just try it.” and I say, “No!” Stephanie say, “Just try it.” I said, “Mmmmm. Pizza is good!” The water was very pretty. It was very much fun. I sorry I was so mad.
I took a big bath in the hotel. It was so much fun. Mama said, “It’s time for bed and she signed ‘night night'” We had two beds but I asked mama to sleep by me. I was afraid. I patted the bed and she know what I say. Mama sleep by me. At night I didn’t sleep. I take pictures and watch t.v. I didn’t listen to mama when she said to go to bed.
Mama said, “We have to adopt Max too.” But I said, “No! I want to go to America.” Mama said, “We can’t leave Max in China.”
Then we went on a big plane for a very big time and we went to America.
We be in America for a long time. Jasmine go to the hospital and I learn English very good. Gracie and Cassie help me.
One day I cry because China say I can’t do anything, but mama and daddy say you can do anything. They say I can cook, drive a car, go to school. They say I can do anything. I cry and cry because I can’t do anything because I in a wheelchair and I am worthless. I know cause China said. I can not do anything. Mama and daddy said, “You can do everything! Dream big!”
In my house Jasmine and Codey are in wheelchairs. Jasmine can say Chinese and Jasmine explain it to me in Chinese that I can do anything and I believe it. Mommy and daddy show me videos with lots of people get married and do lots of things. I can go to school. I believe it!
I have lots of little brothers and sisters. Gracie every day she help me. She help me learn English. She shares her stuff with me and her room. She tell me it our room. She helps me get in bed.
In China they say, “I can go to America. Have a special surgery and fix your legs. Then I can get married and walk and do everything and be happy.” But that’s not true. It make me very sad. Mommy and daddy say they would fix it if they could.
I really happy mommy and daddy adopted me. I get to be called daughter. Mama said, “I so happy you are my daughter and I can be your mom.” Every day I wake up and mommy helps me get up and in my wheelchair. Everyday she say she love me.
I so happy mama and daddy love me and every day hug me. Every day they say they love me.
The three girls have asked me to write a blog about adoption. I agreed to write their words just like they say them. I may be in trouble for this one. 🙂
These three are going to be world changers. The heart they have for orphans is so sweet. They want to help. They talk about it all the time. They want to open eyes and hearts to the needs of children. I couldn’t be prouder of them even if they just won’t let the topic of us adopting drop.
Jasmine (16, adopted at age 14) – You should adopt because kids need a family. When you adopt a child, you will know they are so happy for a family. When you are in an orphanage you don’t have anybody to love you. You feel sad and lonely in an orphanage. When you get adopted you can have a mommy and daddy love you. When you have family you are able to do more things not like in the orphanage. You can eat what you want and not the same things over and over and people always feed you. You no go hungry.
Maybe sometimes people think orphanages are good but they are not good it is awful. Kids come to the orphanage and they become really, really sad. When you get a family, you are not alone anymore.
My mama show me pictures of lots of kids that need adopted. I want to help them get a family that is what Jasmine’s Dream is. My daddy say my dream is “a family for every child”. I see a picture of a little girl she is so little and cute. She can use her knees but she has to crawl. Me and mama had a conversation. I said, “Mama, can we adopt her?” Mama said, “No, we can’t anymore. We have lots of kids.” I said, “She is a very pretty little girl. You would like her mama.” Mama said, “It hurts my heart. I can’t look at her anymore.” I said, “Don’t be afraid. Maybe she is our sister. We can help her find a family but I think she is our child.” Mama tell me she will not talk to me about it right now.
If people want to adopt, I say, “Don’t be afraid just go for it!”
Elyse (9, adopted 9 months ago) – Adoption is good because there is daughters and sons who needs a mommy and a daddy. Children are happy when family is together. Some people don’t have to adopt but there are very sad girls and boys that need a mom and dad so if you want to please adopt.
I think Jesus said we can adopt a little girl. She is 7. She is sick like me and Gracie and Jasmine. I think she is my little sister. I don’t care if we adopt 1, 2, or 3. I wish she had a family. She is very sad and looks like me. I wish that many children could be adopted. I will make birds for little girls so they can have a wish to have a family.
I saw another little girl who was very tiny, very, very tiny. She was some where not China. I can’t believe she was 5. She was so tiny. I wish she could have a family. I wish she could have a very good family like us. I don’t want her to die. I hope she has family that love her so much.
Last time mama show me that picture. I was so very sad. I hope some people find her and let her have family. She should not be so little and so sad.
Gracie (10 years old) – People should adopt because no mother and no father is too old and no child should be without a father and mother. Children need families and people who love them to grow up and be happy. It is really fun to have a lot of siblings to play with.
You get to take care of a child who doesn’t have a family and you get to let them know what love is. It would be nice if families could always care for their children but it doesn’t sometimes happen. When it doesn’t happen, is when adoption is good. We should help families stay together but if someone doesn’t have a family we should be there for them. I think this is what Jesus would want.
I hope you think about adoption and how happy you can make some boys and girls.
I think they make some good points so I will post it because I want others to understand that they want to do more. They want us to do more. They make me a better person. The stretch me and how much we can do. They have a big goal to help 1,000 orphans and I believe they will accomplish this goal. it is such an honor and privilege to be their mama.
To you it’s a piece of silicone that you will spend $5 on and may never ever wear.
To her it’s the visible proof that you can make a difference.
It brings sisters together to fight for a cause bigger than themselves.
To you it’s a cup of fancy coffee or an inexpensive lunch.
To her it’s the first step toward her dream of “a family for every child”.
Even if we only sell a few, it will be worth every penny spent to empower our girl.
Just look at this smile.
She once only heard the words “you are worthless”.
But today she is
a force to be reckoned with,
a world changer!
She KNOWS can make a difference.
Every dollar goes towards her dream of keeping families together
and helping older children find a family.
Buys a RED bracelet
and changes the world for one little girl
who then changes the world
for children just like her.
These three girls took a year.
They saved their allowances.
They did extra chores.
They saved their birthday money.
The sold their personal items at a garage sale.
They sold snacks and lemonade.
Others kindly donated to their cause…
and they raised
and then they decided they wanted to purchase red silicone bracelets
to try and double that amount.
You can make this dream come true.
Just go to their fundraiser page on LWB’s site
go to their Facebook page and message me.
or send your donation to
Jasmine’s Dream, P.O. Box 57675, Des Moines, IA 50317
And you too can change the world.
The blog post “Questions and Answers” popped up on my memories recently on Facebook. I thought I would do an updated version for this year. People ask a lot of questions or make statements that deserve a response, most of them out of genuine curiosity. Some questions are funny, some are heartfelt, and some are just plain interesting.
Where did you and Dan meet?
We attended the same elementary school, junior high and high school. We started dating when Dan was 15 and I was 16.
How long have you been married?
Did you always want a big family?
Yes, I did. I think Dan was considering 4 at the most because that is what we both grew up with. Now, if we could make it happen, he would take in a child every year.
Did you always know you were going to adopt?
No. We had neighbors who were adopted, but I never really thought about the adoptions. They were just the sisters of the kids we grew up with. Our church never really talked about adoption or James 1:27 and why it is important.
Who initially wanted to adopt? Was it hard to talk Dan into it?
This one is the funniest to me because Dan had to talk me into it. Well, the first adoption (Hope) was a surprise and a beautiful story of faith and God’s hand, but when we were 45 and he started saying we should and could do more, I thought he was crazy because we were way too old to adopt.
You aren’t actually considering adopting more are you?
Well, we are pretty sure our family is complete so I am assuming we are done. Our house is pretty busy, but I believe fully that God has led us to all of our children. He has blessed our family over and over again by following His lead and it would be insane for us to say “No” to him now. Besides whenever we say things that are absolute it usually turns out the other way. We will leave it in God’s hands and keep our focus on the children we are caring for right now and pray that if there is another child(ren) in this world that are meant to be with us that He makes it abundantly clear as quickly as possible so they are not alone for any longer than is necessary..
Let’s see how you feel about having so many children the same age when they are teenagers.
Truth be told, bring it on. I pray that I get the chance to parent six teenagers at the same time. Eli, Ben, and Evie all have very complex heart defects and their life span will be shortened. Noone can tell us for sure how long they have. I pray to God that I am allowed the wonderful opportunity to parent six teenagers that have three and 1/2 years separating them.
Are you insane? Are you crazy? Have you lost your mind?
No, we are not crazy, insane or any of the other phrases that you might ask. Dan and I, however, are obedient to God’s calling. The first time it was hard to turn it all over to Him, but when you see the blessings that have been bestowed on you for following….well, each time it gets just a little bit easier until you know it would be insane not to follow His lead.
What about your other kids at home? Do they feel neglected? Do they resent sharing their time?
No, if anyone should have had a problem with us adopting more children, it would be Gracie. She was the baby at the time. But Gracie loves her siblings and brings me new pictures of children available for adoption all the time. She wants to help other little girls in wheelchairs. She knows what it has done for her sisters. It makes Gracie’s life harder. She is the person who grabs things they can’t reach. She is the person they ask to run and grab something. She has to put away the clothes that they can’t reach. But she does it with a willing heart because she loves them, not because someone expects it of her.
Grace has mentioned wishing she could hypnotize Dan and I so we would forget how many children we have and adopt again. Just the other day I met a mom through Facebook that has 15 children at home. 12 adopted and they are adopting two more which will make 17. Gracie told me, “See mom. She’s not afraid of the number 17. Embrace the number 17.) Jasmine informs me daily that “I could love more”. Elyse prays for three more sisters (which is where the number 17 comes into play) but says she would settle for one more.
They bring me pictures of bunk beds and show me pictures of children waiting. Jasmine, Elyse, and Grace share the master bedroom because it has the most open bathroom for the wheelchairs. They show me plans of how they can fit more beds in their room. We are currently on a picture with three bunkbeds with trundles. Folks that is six more girls they think they can fit in that room. They talk about how sad the children look in the pictures and how happy we could make them by giving them the love of a family.
You must have lots of help.
I don’t have paid help, but I do have help with my older children who live at home in an apartment, in our garage, on our acreage. When we moved here 14 years ago, we wondered what we would do with a 7-9 car garage. We chose to turn the back into an apartment for the kids as they go to college. Cassie, who is recently married, and her husband, Reece, have chosen to stay in the apartment while Cassie starts teaching and Reece finishes up college. Dan works from home during the week and Dan’s mom comes down when I ask.
We recently simplified the whole house and got rid of tons of stuff. We donated and threw away anything that hadn’t been used in the past year. We drastically reduced the number of items that I had kept because someone gave them to me and it was a memory. We took pictures of the items to keep the memories and then donated it. We took the number of toys way down. We made a place for everything. We instituted a new policy of straightening everything before story time at night and made a list of an item to be deep cleaned each day during the month. The middle girls all have their chores and the littles have small items they are responsible for. We do a big general clean on Saturday while daddy does his 24 hour shift. So far it has simplified everything immensely.
How many children do you have at home? How many children do you have all together?
We have fourteen children. Thirteen still living. Kyle passed away at five days of age, twenty-eight years ago. We have twelve children living at home. Cassie and Reece live in the apartment and the other eleven live in our home. Our oldest son, Codey, is severely mentally and physically challenged and continues to reside in our home. Plus, the four middles and the six littles.
How do you cart everyone around?
We have a bus. Yes, a bus! The children love it. I love it too except for the mileage. It has a wheelchair lift and room for sixteen passengers, two wheelchairs, and the driver. This is another reason why the girls think we should be able to adopt more. Apparently, if there is room in the bus, there is room to adopt.
Is your house huge?
It is a nice size ranch house. It has three bedrooms upstairs and three downstairs. We remodeled to a more open concept a couple years after moving in and it has worked out wonderfully for Jasmine and Elyse’s wheelchair. We have a big sunroom that we have converted into a playroom for the kids. It is big and sunny and they have lots of room to play.
What has been the hardest part?
The waiting is hard. Once you see their picture, you want to go get them. Every day you wait, knowing where they are, is painful.
Unknown diagnosis are hard.
Lainey not sleeping has been very hard. For the most part, it has gotten better. She will sleep for 4-5 hours and then wake up one time and get up for good at 5:30. Have I mentioned I am not a morning person? 🙂
But truth be told the hardest part, for me, is that I can’t do more. We are sponsoring children. We have started Jasmine’s Dream (Love Without Boundaries/Jasmine’s Dream) to advocate and raise funds for children in need. Jasmine has set a goal of helping 1,000 children. We are helping others who are adopting but it still doesn’t feel like enough.
Every day in China children age out of the system at the tender age of 14 and are released with no resources. Many times they don’t have an education or anyone to turn to. Every day children die in orphanages – alone! Every day children are hungry and hurting and wanting a mother and a father to love them. Every year many children age out of our own foster care system. Only a small percentage of the children without families in the world will ever be adopted. A heartbreaking fact when you consider just how many Christians there are. If we, as Christians, stood up and either adopted or helped others, there would be no orphans. What a beautiful statement of the love of Christ.
Why aren’t we doing more? Why do we choose to close our eyes to what is going on around the world? Why do we continue to make excuses?
“The problem seemed so vast, so endemic, that stopping to help a single panhandler (person) could seem pointless.” – Laura Schroff.
If we all stopped and helped just one, we could help them all.
“And so we swept past them everyday, great waves of us going on with our lives and accepting there was nothing we could really do.” – Laura Schroff
What are you doing with your life? Are you caught up in the busyness of your life? So much so that you can’t stop to help one?
“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” – John Lubbock
The picture in the news recently of the little boy who washed up on the beach raised such an uproar. It was horrible. It was heartbreaking. I would agree with that completely but children die everyday all around the world and we pretend it isn’t happening because no one was there to snap their picture, because they weren’t deemed newsworthy.
Here is one example. (Heavenleigh) This little girl is 5 years old and weighs 10 pounds.
Are you looking? Do you see the hurting people? Do you see the children in need? Stop and look for that one that you can help!
Everyone is able to do something.
I still remember the call from CCAI. They said now that we had been matched with Maisey, there was something else they wanted to let us know about, China has a program that would allow you to adopt two children at the same time, if the second child had more complex needs. Dan and I prayed about it. We decided since we were only going to China this one time, that we should adopt two. We figured Maisey would have someone her own age to play with and she wouldn’t feel alone coming to this big, new place.
Hope had come to us asking if we could adopt a little boy with the same heart defect that she had. As a family, we agreed that was a good idea and Dan nicknamed our second child Tigger. We started to pray for Tigger.
We hadn’t had a litttle boy in the house for a very long time. It was fun trying to guess how old he was going to be and what he would look like. We continued to look at CCAI’s Waiting Child page and prayed.
One day Dan asked me to come look at a little boy he had seen on the page. I gasped when I saw his little face. I instantly felt a connection and knew that he was the one. What a sweet little boy. That first picture might have made me gasp, but it was the second picture that stole my breathe away. I had no idea what special need he had, but he was definitely our son. As I was standing there, very emotional, Dan pointed out Ben’s special need – CHD. He was a little heart warrior.
We wrote to CCAI and waited for an answer. When we didn’t hear the next day after they had been open a few hours, I called to make sure they got our message. They had received it but there were other families in line looking at Ben’s medical records. They would have to get back to us. I remember being so upset. This was my son. How could anyone else have his file? What was God doing? Was I really supposed to be his mother? The questions went on and on. We waited and waited and waited. I finally went shopping with the girls just to give myself something else to think about.
Finally, we got the call that they would be sending the records to us for our review. In my mind it didn’t matter, Ben was our son already. I called Dan to let him know. He said he would send the records off to be reviewed by his cardiology friends. I just stood there in the parking lot of Burlington Coat Factory. I remember turning to the girls and crying. “What if he is too sick and daddy doesn’t think we should do it?”
I was a nervous wreck. My stomach was doing flip flops. I knew he was our son. I prayed and prayed and prayed for peace. I prayed for wisdom. I prayed that Dan would feel the same way. I asked God for clarification. The girls keep teasing me over the fact that I would break out in tears over a child I had never even met. If this happened now, I would just trust that feeling but back then I didn’t have a clue how marvelous it is when God works on your heart.
When I came home, I ran right to Dan’s office to see what he knew. I opened the door and saw him sitting there with the saddest look on his face. I thought for sure he was going to tell me that Ben was too sick, that we couldn’t put our family through this, that there was no hope. Dan said everyone he talked to said, “Don’t do this. There’s no hope.” but then Dan quietly said, “He is our son. He may not make it until we can get there, but we need to try.”
Little did we know what a daddy’s boy Ben would be. He went to Dan right away at the registration office and he held on tight from that day on.
I never want to forget how that felt. How much I wanted Ben to live just so I could hold him even if it was only for a day. I wanted him to know that I loved him. I wanted him to feel the love of family. I wanted him to know his life mattered.
We got much more than a day with Ben. He has now been with our family 1,267 days. He has gone from a sad little boy who slept with his food to the best big brother to the littles. He loves the job of being big brother. We recently nicknamed him “Minion Squad Leader”. He LOVES this title.
He loves cars and puzzles.
He loves video games especially Mario Cart.
He has grown so much since we brought him home and especially since his surgery.
He has a great sense of style and loves bow ties.
He has the greatest giggle.
He loves to run now. He used to only be able to run around the couch and then he would have to rest. Now you can’t stop him.
Ben reminds us to enjoy life and to take nothing for granted. He reminds us that it isn’t how many days we are allowed to have, it’s what we do with those days.
That’s a pretty successful life for a 7 year old.
Happy birthday to the best Minion Squad Leader around!
- 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