Archive for the ‘Elijah’ Category

  • Elijah James turns 5

    Date: 2017.01.21 | Category: Elijah

    It’s sad when you look in your blog drafts and you see Elijah James turns 4 but you have to change the title to Elijah James turns 5 because you never got the first one done.  I have vowed to do a better job of chronicling our lives for the kids as the grow up.  I was fairly good at journaling with one or two children.  I’m not doing such a great job with 13 kids still at home.   But today is a new day and 2017 is a new year.  There is always time to start over and do it right.   Right?  🙂

    Elijah is our littlest guy.  His story is amazing and overwhelming and I am so humbled that I get to be a part of it.  His sweet little face reminds me every morning that miracles happen.

    What a gift he is for that reason and so many more.  (I will add what I posted on Facebook about his story at the end of this post for those who don’t know his story.)

    Eli has always had the sweetest little face.

    He is the best little guy.  He is easy going and loving and kind.  Rarely does anything upset him or make him mad.

    He has always been best friends with his sister Evie.

    They were adopted on the same trip and their bond continues to be a blessing.  Evie is easily fearful and Eli is brave.  He holds her hand and comforts her.  He is her best friend and protector.

    He loves anything active – gymnastics, trying to be a ninja, running through our backyard..  He loves to play.  He loves superheroes…

    and since his color is green, Hulk is his favorite.

    He patiently waited months for his PJ Masks Headquarters set.

    His big sister, Gracie, is the cake maker in the house.  He asked for a green cake with PJ Masks and dinosaurs and she did just that. It was a very green cake through and through.

    We called Zach, Steph, and baby Nicholas to show him our Pj Masks Headquarters toy.  I think Nick like it.

    Usually we take the kids shopping for their birthdays.  We spend a day with just them.  I had a doctor’s appointment that morning and Elijah asked me to just pick up the toy.  He said that he didn’t want to waste time shopping.  He just wanted to play, play, and play.  He asked if I could be sure that there were enough of the PJ Masks people for everyone to play.

    He asked for Burger King and corn dogs for lunch and that place that sells fish and chicken and corn on the cob (LJS) for supper.  Since the rest of the kids love those foods too, everyone was happy and full.

    It was the perfect laid back happy birthday.

    Happy birthday little guy!  Daddy and I are thankful every day that we get to be part of your life.


    The picture that started it all.   We saw his face in a newsletter and asked if he was listed any where for adoption.  His paperwork wasn’t prepared because he was considered “terminal” in China.  We asked for them to please make him paper ready and the rest is history…

    I don’t know how many of you know Eli’s story but it is amazing and every time I look at this little miracle walking around…

    Well, it just takes my breath away.

    He was born without main branch pulmonary arteries and now he is considered healed. He walks around with arteries that we’re made from his 4 large collateral vessels and some grafting material, during a 14 hour surgery by Dr Hanley.

    When I hear him giggle or tell one of his great stories, I am reminded of this incredible gift he has been given – a chance at a normal life.

    When I saw his picture for the first time, I just knew he was supposed to be our son. We saw his pictures and then waited for his papers to be prepared. In one of the craziest, God’s-hand-is-all-over-it stories ever, we had PA for Lainey and were waiting for Eli’s paperwork to become available. While we waited, not knowing if his papers would ever become available, we proceeded with Evie’s adoption. Dan kept telling me to have faith so we did the crazy thing and added Evie.

    We had PA for both girls and saw Jasmine’s picture and added a third child.  Six weeks before we traveled we received notice that Eli’s papers were ready and he needed to be expedited. It was allowed, which is unheard of.

    We had no clue how we were going to pay for the extra fees or the 4th orphanage fee or the travel for the 4th adult that our agency was requesting we take with us.

    On the very day we heard they would allow us to bring Elijah home, we received a check in the mail, from the University where Dan did his residency, for taxes that were wrongly taken out of Dan’s check for a few years starting in 1995 plus interest. The interest was the kicker. We sat holding a check that was enough to pay for the fees, the orphanage fee and the travel costs for our daughter. We were not expecting this check.

    I know people think we were crazy for that year. I remember saying “You can’t possibly be saying what I think you are saying God”, but Dan and I heard him over and over again so clearly. Each and every time God provided in amazing ways on that journey to Eli. Every day when I look at his sweet face, I am reminded of this fact.

    Eli is an amazing blessing. He is a great kid. We were blessed beyond measure for being obedient to His call and patiently* waiting for God’s timing to be made clear.

    (*We’re going to pretend I actually did it patiently, never doubting, and readily agreeing to this journey! Even though it went more like “What? You want me to do what? Seriously? I don’t think so. I can’t handle that. Don’t you remember when I said ….? You name it. I probably said it.)

    I’m so happy it’s not based on how great my faith is or how strong I am or how much I can do, because I would have missed this.

  • We’re Home!!!!

    Date: 2014.09.27 | Category: Elijah

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

    Eli 10

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

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

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

    Eli 7

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

    Eli 6

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

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

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

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

    eli 9

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

    Eli 2

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

    Eli 3

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

    Eli 8


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

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

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

    Eli 5

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

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

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




  • Little Guy Updates

    Date: 2014.09.22 | Category: Congenital Heart Defect, Elijah

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

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

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

    Eli 5

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

    Eli 6

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


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

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

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

    Eli 4


    Eli 3

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

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

    Eli 7

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

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

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


  • Eli Update

    Date: 2014.09.18 | Category: Elijah



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

  • Thank You!

    Date: 2014.09.15 | Category: Adoption, Elijah

    I took the dogs to get their shots the other day.  The vet looked the dogs over and mentioned that Snickers needed a tooth cleaning.  I said, “I know. We discussed this last time.”  He looked at me as if I was the worst pet owner ever and started to lecture me on why spending the $1,000 for a tooth cleaning was necessary.  Most of the time, I just go about my business but this time I decided I was going to tell him what I have been up to these last two years and see what he said.

    Two trips to China were we’ve adopted six children.

    (I left off that three had worse medical needs then we thought.)

    We’ve had two heart surgeries and four heart catherizations.

    (I left off the two dental surgeries and the fact we had to travel to Boston & Stanford for the heart surgeries.)

    My mom spent months in the ICU.

    My mom died, my stepdad died, my grandfather died.

    My brother-in-law had a massive stroke.

    My son got married.

    And add to that what we have coming up during the next four months and it wasn’t likely that the dogs would be getting in any time soon.

    We have two upcoming surgeries. (Eli on 9/17 and Evie on 10/20.)

    We leave for China in 9-12 weeks for the adoption of Max and Elyse.

    Jasmine has back surgery in January for her scoliosis.

    I didn’t want pity.  I just wanted him to understand that sometimes there are reasons people don’t do something and it has nothing to do with how much they care about their pets.  I told him I promised to get the dog’s teeth cleaned as soon as I could, but for now it was just going to have to wait.

    As he left the room, the tech looked at me and said, “I think just one of those would have been a good enough excuse.”

    The vet was very kind and understanding.  He told me to just schedule it as soon as time allowed.

    But it got me to thinking about the fact that we should all be patient with each other.  None of us knows what the other is going through.  I’ve often shared the story of running into a lady with my cart at Wal-Mart not long after Kyle died.  I just sat there and stared at her and then started crying.  She was so angry and I couldn’t say a word.  She must have thought I had lost my mind.

    We are all going through something aren’t we?

    A family member had a stroke,

    a heart attack,

    was just diagnosed with cancer,

    family members die,

    children run away,

    marriages fall apart,

    drugs and alcohol take their toll,

    the lists go on and on.

    How much better would this world be if we gave everyone the benefit of the doubt?

    What if they are having a bad day, a bad week, or what if they are just rude.  It has nothing to do with you.  It’s like I always tell the kids, people can say what they want, it only becomes an issue if you believe what they are saying.

    I learned long ago that people will judge.  It’s what they do.  It’s human nature. Sometimes people do it to make themselves feel better.  Sometimes people do it because they truly believe they know what is best for everyone.   I have seen and heard it all.

    People have an issue with us homeschooling.

    People have an issue with us adopting four at once.

    People have an issue with us adopting too many children with health issues.

    People have an issue with us being older.

    People worry about what we are doing to our other children.

    Heck, we even have a neighbor who is upset that we can’t keep up with our yardwork as well as we should because we have too many kids.

    Seriously? Sometimes you just have to let people be.  Especially people who don’t even know you or your family.   Let them talk.  Let them criticize.  And then take the time to pray for them.

    Years ago this would have driven me crazy.   I would have lost sleep over it, but not anymore.  Would you like to know why?  Because I gave up caring what others thought and started living my life for God.   I am accountable to only one.  I can’t imagine on my last day standing before God and having Him criticize me for caring about a sick child or stepping out in faith and adopting four at once.  I doubt that God cares about my yard or the shape that it is in.

    God knows we love our children.

    They are thriving.

    Will everyone get to go out for three different sports each month?  Nope!

    Will they get three meals and snacks and special treats?  Yep!

    Will they get to go to a private college?  Nope.

    Will they get an education, one that they were not even guaranteed in their previous years?  Yep!  Assuredly!

    Will they have every toy and electronic gadget they could ever hope to have?  Nope!

    Will they be loved and treasured and cherished until the day they leave this earth.   You bet they will!

    Which brings me to my second thought.  As we prepare to leave this morning for Eli’s surgery, I’m remembering all the people who do care.  The people who have covered us in prayer, our church family, the people who have brought meals and sent cards and encouragement and to my neighbor on the other side, who my children adore, thank you for helping me mow our crazy over run lawn.  Dan and I both say, “Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!”

    Eli needs this surgery.  His oxygen sats have dropped.  He is much bluer.  We knew this day was going to come.  We can not put it off any longer.  I know that He is good hands.  Dr. Hanley is the best at this surgery.   At the end of the day, we will know we did everything possible to give him the best shot at life.  Eli is a wonderful soul.  He is sweet and courageous and so very funny.  If you haven’t already done so, check out our page on Facebook  “Seriously Blessed by Adoption”.  You can see Eli spell his name and his siblings names.  If you don’t have Facebook, I’ll give you a hint, every word is spelled B-E-N.

    Thank you for the prayers that have covered our little boy throughout the past year.   He has been such a blessing.  Yes, this year has been hard but it has been so unbelievably awesome too.  I am so thankful the words of the world didn’t keep us from following where God was leading.  God is good.  He is faithful and trustworthy.  He has blessed us in ways we couldn’t even imagine.  No matter what happens, I have no regrets.   Dan and I feel extremely blessed to be on this journey with Eli.


  • 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.



  • Blessed Beyond Belief

    Date: 2014.04.01 | Category: Adoption, Benjamin, Elijah, Evangeline Faith, Family Life, Grace, Hope, Jasmine (Shuang Shuang), Lainey Rae, Maisey, Photos

    I stood outside in the corner of our walking path and cried tears today.

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    Maybe it’s because the talk I gave this weekend brought so many memories to mind.  Maybe it’s because I wish my mama could have been there and I miss her so much.  Maybe it’s because we are waiting to hear from sweet Kelly.  Maybe it’s because I keep seeing picture after picture on Facebook of children just wanting a family.  Maybe it’s because the world is so unfair to so many children and I can do so little.

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    For whatever reason, the tears came but they didn’t diminish the wonderfulness of what my eyes saw.  Happy children playing outside in our big backyard.  I remember a couple of years ago when Dan and I were regretting buying the acreage, with all the upkeep and mowing.  Regretting the remodeling we did on the house and having spent money that we would have never spent knowing what we know today.  My brother, my son, and I (but mostly my brother) put in a 600 foot walking path in our middle acre.  It wasn’t getting much use.  We hadn’t done the tree and flower planting that we should have.  We wondered if God was asking us to sell the house. But selling just didn’t seem right so we stayed and now we know why.

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    Now the yard is a giant play place where  I get to see the little girl who ten short months ago sat on a floor in China raging, pulling out her hair, so unhappy, with us wondering if she could ever be happy and feel loved, run across the open ground with a look of pure joy on her face as the wind whips her hair.

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    I get to see the little girl who weighed six pounds at six months, thrive!  The little girl presented to us as deaf and unworthy, blossom and grow and blow out of the sky any of the limitations I thought she might have.  She is so much more than any of the descriptions on paper.  She is a fighter and loves with all her heart.  She is a beautiful spirit in a tiny, strong, little body.  She is smart and pretty and helpful and such a little mama.


    And how can I look at Jasmine and not think of where she would be?  I watch her speed around the path, hair flowing in the wind, a huge smile on her face, enjoying every moment of freedom that her hot pink powered chair brings her.  I want to say slow down and then I remember all the limitations others have placed on her, all the pain, the wounds and scars, and I cheer her on instead.

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    I look at little Miss Evie.  The girl they told us only had a few months left.  I’ve had ten months with this beautiful soul.  Ten months of love and laughter.  There have been tears, fear, and restless nights, but to watch her run and play, to be allowed to be a part of all that is the miracle of her…..I am completely and utterly blown away and so undeserving.


    Which is why the tears flowed.  Why am I so blessed?  Why should I be allowed to call these children mine?

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    I get to spend time flying kites, getting hugs, and listening to their sweet laughter roll across the wind.

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    Jasmine is free and happy.  Secure in the love of her family.

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    My older children are happy.  We’ve had much to celebrate.

    Family Picture

    Photo courtesy of Wunderkind Gallery

    Benjamin!  Where do I even start with Benjamin?  Before his surgery he couldn’t run around our sectional without being winded and now he is doing 5, 6, 7, or more laps around the path.  You can hear his laughter and his little bell ringing around every corner.  Every time he goes past me he yells, “This is so fun mama!”  His little legs pedal faster and faster as he zips around the path trying to catch Jasmine and Gracie.

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    The joy on their faces is unmistakable.  Maisey and Ben’s bond grows deeper and stronger with every day that passes.

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    Then there is the little guy.  He is this tiny bundle of rambunctiousness that is just so much FUN!  I don’t know what we will find out in May but he is so worth it all.  I can’t even explain what it is to watch him run and play.  He is the perfect little bundle of boy and my heart overflows with love for him.

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    Little Lainey secure enough to fall asleep in the sun.

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    Little Evie running to my arms.

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    Blessed to have spent over 30 years with the love of my life who shares my dreams.

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    Standing in awe of the little bundle that started this whole adoption journey.  A baby.  A gift straight out of no where.  Who gets gifts such as these?


    Others ask us how can you do this?  Aren’t you tired?  What were you thinking?  What am I thinking?


    That is what I am thinking as I stand there with the tears flowing down my cheeks.  Blessed at this family that God has made.  Completely and utterly humbled by the God who would allow me such a blessing just because I was obedient to His call.  What a gift to be given.  How do I do this?  How could I not?

  • The Little Pirate Turns Two

    Date: 2014.01.18 | Category: Elijah

    In June of 2012, I saw a picture of a little boy in New Hope Foundation’s newsletter.  They were pleading for a family for this little guy. China had said they couldn’t do surgery and his only hope was coming to the U.S.

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    Then a month later, I saw a Show Hope newsletter asking for the same thing for little Warren.  By then I was praying and pleading with God.  I knew in my heart if it was meant to be that he would be my son but so many things could go wrong.  But I had faith and truly believed he would be my son, I just knew it from the very first moment I saw his face.  I mean really, who wouldn’t fall in love with a face like this?


    Months went by as we waited for the orphanage to make him paper ready. We waited and waited and waited.  We finally had to make the choice to adopt Evie and Lainey and go back to get Eli when his papers became available.  I never gave up hope because I knew this little guy was my son and Ben believed fully that Eli was his didi.   (You can read more about it here. Miraculous Happenings)

    In the meantime we saw Jasmine’s picture and proceeded with her adoption before she aged out.  China had allowed us three.  We would just have to turn around and use our paperwork and head back in another six months or so.   But then in March his papers miraculously became available.  Everything was expedited and China allowed us to adopt all four at once.  In May he became our son.  The magnitude of all that happened for him to become our son is never lost on me.  I am blessed over and over again by this sweet little guy.


    Elijah James is as sweet as sweet can be.  He is fun and games and everything good.  He is goofy and funny and loves to cuddle.

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    I have a song that I sing to all the kids before the go to sleep.  I make up their song as I get to know them.

    Here is Eli’s:

    Eli the pirate, he stole his mama’s heart.

    Eli the pirate, right from the very start.

    Eli the pirate is as cute as cute can be.

    Eli the pirate is a treasure to me.

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    He loves to bake.


    And chase and be chased by his siblings.

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    And be silly in every possible way.

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    This year we got to meet Steven Curtis Chapman because Eli was the 500th child to be admitted to Maria’s Big House of Hope in China.  SCC’s Glorious Unfolding tour came to Iowa.  His Glorious Unfolding cd is one of my favorite SCC cd’s ever.  It was so fun to meet Mr. Chapman and thank him for all the care he gave to our little guy.



    Eli is so easy going and sweet. Evie and Eli are best friends.  They have their own little language that is so funny.  When Evie gets her shot, it’s Eli who is holding her hand and high fiving her afterwards.  He is the first to say please and the first to say thank you.  He is the first to go to sleep without even a peep.   He loves everyone and hasn’t found a food that he doesn’t like to eat.  He is the lowest maintenance of all the kids.  He is thrilled with the littlest gift.  He has the cutest dimple and the best smile.

    Eli’s future is uncertain, but isn’t everyone’s?  We have an appointment at Stanford in April.  We will see what they have to say and what they can do.  In the meantime, we will thoroughly enjoy the days we are blessed to spend with this little guy.  We know how lucky we were to be able to adopt him in the first place. It’s hard to worry about the number of his days when you had a front row seat to the amazing miracles God had happen just to allow us that gift.

    Happy birthday little guy!  xoxox



  • Thankful for…

    Date: 2013.11.28 | Category: Adoption, Benjamin, Cassie, Codey, Elijah, Evangeline Faith, Faith, Family Life, Grace, Hope, Jasmine (Shuang Shuang), Lainey Rae, Maisey, Photos, Zachary

    A little boy that did better than anyone expected. (Today he has walked down the halls, had his chest tubes and i.v.’s taken out, and even smiled.  UNBELIEVABLE!)


    A little girl that we were told was deaf but can hear enough to dance to the music.


    A little girl who now understands love and has learned how to give kisses.


    A little boy that has blossomed and grown.


    Exciting proposals and new additions to the family.


    Family that becomes best friends.


    People coming together to help others.

    Shaved little heads that now hold enough hair for big sister to do a silly hairdo.


    Siblings that get opportunities to make great memories together. (Hope loves special effects make-up.  Cassie took her to be a zombie extra in a local movie.)


    Big siblings that love their siblings enough to take care of them when mommy and daddy have to be gone with someone who is sick.


    Husbands who support you, dream with you, love you, and make you laugh for more than 29 years.

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    Friends, family and others who encourage, support and pray for you.

    Meeting people who have majorly changed your lives. (Maria’s Big House of Hope, New Hope Foundation and the Chapman’s daughters words that made me rethink being too old to adopt.)


    Thankful, blessed, grateful, overwhelmed, and humbled – all these and more.