Archive for the ‘Grace’ Category

  • Happy Birthday Gracie!

    Date: 2020.03.23 | Category: Adoption, Grace

    The history of Gracie…

    16 years ago I felt like God was speaking to me. I felt like he was saying that we should have another child. This made no sense. I was almost 40 years old. I had had my tubes tied 12 years earlier after giving birth to Cassie. We had already adopted and knew what a beautiful thing adoption was but somehow my heart and my head kept going back to me being pregnant again.

    I didn’t tell anyone what I was feeling. I figured it was just me wanting to be pregnant again or me wanting to hold a baby again. Maybe this time my pregnancy would go okay. Maybe this time I wouldn’t be filled with such fear. Maybe this time everything would be ok. I figured that maybe I was just imagining things. Maybe I was just having those pangs mothers have when they realize they would never care for a little baby again.

    When Dan came to me a couple months later and said that he was thinking maybe we should have one more baby, I was ecstatic! I had been praying that if this was really something that God wanted us to do, then Dan would come to me. And Dan did. Dan said that he just had this feeling that it was the right thing to do.

    We talked to our family doctor and saw a fertility doctor. They checked to see if my eggs were still good. To this day that sentence cracks me up, like we were in the grocery store opening up the cartoon to make sure everything was still fresh. Anyway, the doctor said that we could have the surgery but that insurance wouldn’t cover it. He said the odds of me getting pregnant after this surgery, and after having my tubes tied for so long, and being 40 years old were very, very slim.

    Dan and I opted to proceed. We didn’t want them to do invitro we just wanted my tubes repaired and for nature to take its course. We figured if this was really what God wanted us to do then we would get pregnant on our own.

    The very first month I got pregnant. We thanked God for this miracle and we celebrated this new life. We had routine ultrasounds every month because I was over 40 years old. 35 weeks in, at one of these routine ultrasounds, the ultrasound tech got very quiet. She left the room. I looked at Dan and asked him what he saw. He said that it looked like blood.

    The tech came in with the doctor, who Dan knew because they worked together. The doctor informed us he was going to take a very big needle and draw off some fluid and if there was blood, we would have to do an emergency c-section. He put the needle in and pulled out the fluid.

    There was blood.

    He said he wanted to check one more spot, just to be sure. He grabbed another syringe and used the ultrasound to find another spot to pull off more fluid.

    The syringe was filled with more blood.

    The doctor informed us that we would have to go now. He told us to be thankful that we had the routine ultrasound because I was having no signs of distress with the baby and the baby needed to come out right now. The hospital was right across the street. I was devastated. Everything had been going so well. Why would God have me get pregnant to lose the baby now? How could this be part of the plan? This made no sense.

    Cassie was devastated. She had wanted to be with me during the delivery, but she was with her siblings 90 minutes away at grandma’s house. There was no time for Cassie to get to me before the delivery.

    Grace was born by emergency c-section the afternoon of March 23, 2005. We had wanted to have two pregnancies so there would be two children close together but when the high risk ob asked us what we wanted to do we said, “Tie the tubes. We don’t want to go through anything like this again.” He said good and informed us that he had no clue how we got pregnant in the first place. One tube was completely scarred over and the other tube didn’t even look hooked up. But we knew. We knew who had sent her to us and we named her Grace.

    Gracie was the best baby. She was sweet and everyone loved her. She was an old, old soul. There was just something about her. She understood things that no little child should understand. She had great compassion and empathy. She was kind and loving.

    We had been up at Dan’s grandma and grandpa’s house because Dan’s Grandma Ethel wasn’t doing very well. We all sat around and told stories while grandma rested in her chair. We knew Ethel didn’t have long. Gracie was one and 1/2. She held grandma’s hand. Grace offered Grandma her sippy cup. She was taking care of grandma even though Gracie couldn’t have known what was going on.

    During Grace’s young years she lost a lot of people she loved. She lost her great grandma at 1 and 1/2. She lost two great grandpas (Dan’s grandpa and my grandpa), she lost a grandma (my mom) and a grandpa (my stepdad), she lost a great aunt (Kay), she lost an uncle (Dan’s brother – Rod), and she lost papa (Dan’s dad) between the ages of 6 and 10.

    During the summer of 2012 Grace was sick off and on. We didn’t think much about it until we headed into the fall. Then it seemed like she just couldn’t kick this bug and she was tired all the time. We started to get an uneasy feeling and we decided to have her checked for mono because her strep tests had come back negative.

    We knew there was something wrong when the doctor pulled us in the hall. He told us Grace’s labs were all off and he had made us an appointment for that afternoon with an oncologist. We didn’t know what to think . We didn’t want to worry without knowing for sure, but it seemed impossible not to worry. We showed up at the oncology appointment. There was blood work ordered and a bone marrow biopsy scheduled for the next morning. All of this happened over the week of Thanksgiving in 2012.

    The good news was that Grace didn’t have leukemia. The bad news? No one knew what she had until she woke up with a butterfly rash across her cheeks.

    It was systemic lupus erythematosus.

    LUPUS! 6 year olds don’t get lupus, but I was wrong. They do.

    Because it was a holiday, they said we could wait to see the kidney specialists at the Children’s Hospital, sometime after the first of the year. Dan made them do the urine test right away that weekend. Thank goodness we didn’t just wait for the appointment a few months away because Grace had stage 4/5 lupus nephritis. I could write a whole book about the times Dan has had a feeling and saved the children from something horrible, but that’s a story for another day. Grace had a kidney biopsy done and they started her treatments right away. Today her kidneys are doing well.

    During Grace’s treatments, she never felt sorry her yourself. She took her boatload of meds without complaint. She comforted me by telling me that she was thankful to be alive and thankful that there were meds to take.

    She raised money for other kids who were in need.

    During all of this we were in the middle of our adoption and getting ready to leave in a few months for Ben and Maisey. We asked Grace what she wanted us to do. She said, ‘You have to go get them. They are my brother and sister. They can’t stay there. I will be okay. I just want my siblings to be home for my birthday.” We scheduled her chemotherapy treatments around our travel dates. We prayed and prayed that nothing would happen to her while we traveled a half a world away.

    We came back to America with Ben and Maisey on Grace’s 8th birthday.

    New beds are the best!

    When we decided the very next year to adopt again, Grace was so happy. She loved Ben and Maisey and wanted to add even more children. She was thrilled when we added an older child, Jasmine. She even wanted to share her room with Jasmine.

    The very next year she prayed and prayed for a child her own age and we brought Elyse home.

    The year after that she knew, along with Elyse, that J.J. was her sister.

    I say all of this to show what an incredible kid Grace is. She’s been through a lot in her 15 years. She opened up her heart and shared her room and gave up her spot of being the baby in our family to bring home NOT one more child BUT 10 more children.

    Gracie is not your usual kid. The last couple years have been hard on her. It’s hard to be a teenager in a house full of the “talked about kids”. It’s hard to deal with the stress of kids who take their anger out on you. Heck, it’s hard for me and I’m a grown up.

    There’s meds and doctors appointments. There’s the conflict caused when the sister closest to you in age isn’t able to do the same things you do. There’s more responsibility. I wish I could say that adoption hasn’t made Grace’s life harder, but it has made it harder. But when asked about it, Grace always says that she would do it all over again. She says she can do hard things and having family is the most important thing.

    Dan and I try extra hard to not give her any extra work but she does have to babysit sometimes. She is able to earn things with her babysitting money and she loves that. Gracie babysits because she’s amazing. She understands Lainey’s seizures better than most people. She can administer a rescue seizure med and knows how to perform CPR. She knows how to do g-tube feedings. She knows when Max needs a little more supervision.

    Gracie is amazing. It broke my heart this year when she told me that she lives in a house full of people who have amazing stories but she is just this ordinary girl. I tried and tried to get her to understand how amazing it was for her to share her family and her home with all these children. Her response? “Mom, that isn’t special. Anyone would do that.” When I explained that not everyone would do that, she informed me that they should so just because others wouldn’t do it, didn’t make her somehow special because she did.

    I am taking this moment on Gracie’s special day and writing all of this out so she can see her story. It is AMAZING! Gracie, I hope when you read this that you really understand just how incredible your story is and how amazing your heart is.

    Grace, you have opened your heart, shared your things, and gone above and beyond what most kids would have ever done. You are an incredible kid. I know that the teen years have been hard. Heck teen years are hard if nothing is going on in your life and you’ve got a lot going on.

    You love and you love big. You weren’t afraid of adopting kids that might die. You were more afraid of not adopting them. You are beautiful and smart and talented. God knew exactly what He was doing when He placed the thought of “one more” on my mind. You being so open and willing to bring your brothers and sisters home is what made it easy for me to say, “Ok God. I will follow.”

    Right now I know there is a little girl in China who has your heart. We pray and pray for her to have a family. I know if China opened up their doors to large families adopting again, you would be there filling out the paperwork and begging us to bring her home. Well, you already beg. We just can’t do anything about it. That shows who you really are. Your parents are 55 years old and you know that if something happened to us, you’d have to help care for your siblings and this new one that you wish you could adopt and yet you would instantly do it without any hesitation knowing how much more work it would be. As you tell me all the time, she reminds you of Lainey and look how amazing Lainey is doing. I love that about you.

    I hope you understand how incredible you really are. You have an amazing heart and daddy and I are so proud to call you our daughter. Daddy and I love you so much Grace! Happy 15th birthday sweetheart!

    P.S. When you decided that you wanted to do judo along with the TaeKwonDo you were doing with your family, your dad gave you a challenge to see how serious you were about it. One month to do the following: 1,000 hours of exercise, 1,000 pushups, 1,000 situps, 1,000 squats, and 300,000 steps. You did it! I don’t ever want you to forget that you did that!

    I love to see how excited you are about judo and how excited dad is that you are doing a sport that he loves too. Can’t wait to see where you go with this passion of yours.

  • Grace’s Story

    Date: 2017.03.23 | Category: Family Life, Grace

    GRACE /ɡrās/noun

    (in Christian belief) the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.

    12 years ago the sweetest little girl was born.  Grace’s birth was emergent and everyone who congratulated us, after they heard the story of her birth, said, “By the grace of God”.  Dan had already been calling her Grace so her name seemed very appropriate.  Grace, after the grace of God, and Elizabeth Lynne as a middle name because both Cassie and Hope wanted Grace to share their middle names.

    I had been thinking that I would love to be pregnant again.  My heart was filled with thoughts about another child. Maybe this time I would have an easy pregnancy.  Maybe this time everything would go okay.   I heard God saying “trust me” over and over again.  I kept thinking I might just be crazy but I prayed and prayed that if God wanted me to proceed with this then He would talk to Dan’s heart.  I refused to say anything about it.  One day, out of the blue, Dan came to me and said, “If we ever want to have another baby, we best be doing it.  We aren’t getting any younger.”

    God answered my prayers.

    God’s grace!

    It didn’t make any sense for me to have a tubal reversal.   We had already adopted.  We loved adoption but we heard God saying “trust me” so we did.  It had been 11 years since I had been pregnant.  11 years since my tubes had been tied.  I was 40 years old.

    We were told that the odds were slim to none and yet I got pregnant the very first month.

    God’s grace!

    Because of my age we were required to go to weekly ultrasounds after a certain point in my pregnancy.   While our wood floors were finished being stained, Dan and I had just spent the weekend in a hotel.  Grandma had the other kids.  We were relaxed and enjoying life.

    I walked into that routine appointment as happy as can be.  I was feeling no pain, no twinges, nothing seemed out of the ordinary.  I left that appointment being rushed to the hospital for an emergency c-section.    Had we not had that appointment, I would have never known that there was something going on, and Grace wouldn’t have survived.

    God’s AMAZING grace!

    Tons of blood was found.  It seemed a vessel had ruptured.  As they prepared me for the c-section, I tried my hardest to trust His plan, but it made no sense.  We had heard God loud and clear.  Why would He take her now?

    After the c-section, our doctor, who knew we wanted to try to have more children, asked me if I wanted to try again.  I said, “No. I’ve had enough.  We’ve had complications with too many pregnancies.”    He replied, “Good thing.  I have no idea how you got pregnant in the first place.  One side is completely scarred and the other doesn’t even look like it’s hooked up.”

    God’s grace!

    Dan took Grace to the nursery.  Grace needed oxygen,  but she was stable.   The high risk o.b. came to check on Grace.  He informed Dan that “That was the most blood I have ever seen in a delivery and have the baby survive.”

    God’s grace!

    Grace did remarkably well and avoided the NICU.   Grace’s very own neonatologist (daddy) stood by her side and watched her very, very closely.

    Grace came home and was doing very well.   Grace hit every milestone on time.  Grace was sweet and adorable and such a joy.  We felt so very blessed.  Grace’s older siblings adored her.

    Then when Grace was six, she was sick on and off for months.  There was nothing that seemed too serious – a cold, a sore throat, a temperature.   Grace would get better and then it would be back.  Grace was tired and couldn’t seem to kick it.  We were thinking strep throat or mono that day when we took Grace to our pediatricians.

    I knew by the look on the doctor’s face that it wasn’t good.  They said, “We think Grace has leukemia.  Appointments have been scheduled this afternoon with oncology.“     I sat there unemotional.  We’ve been through bad medical problems before.  I refused to fall apart in front of Grace before we knew for sure.   We would take this one step at a time.  I drove home to pick up Dan.  We were prepared to confront one of our worst nightmares.

    We showed up at the oncologists and they scheduled a bone marrow biopsy for Grace right away.  There were trying to get everything done before Thanksgiving so we didn’t have to wait too long for the results.

    They ruled out leukemia, but no one knew for sure what Grace had.  There was more blood drawn.  We were sent home with our little girl, relieved that it wasn’t leukemia, but worried because we still had no answers.

    Then the rash appeared.

    Dan had just left for a trip.  His plane landed and I called him and sent him the picture text.  He said, “It’s lupus.”  I’ll be right home.

    Dan came home.  He pressed for more testing.  He argued about waiting until after the first of the year for an appointment at our children’s hospital.  He asked for them to do a urine test.  He fought all weekend to get this testing done.  They finally allowed it and we received the call.  “Be at the Children’s Hospital bright and early tomorrow morning.  There are issues with Grace’s kidneys.”

    We arrived at the hospital and a kidney biopsy was scheduled right away.  Grade 4/5 glomerulonephritis was found.  Had we waited until after January for Grace’s appointment – Grace would have lost her kidneys.  Thank God for daddy’s who have the knowledge to keep pushing.

    God’s grace.

    Grace handled it all with such graceGrace was strong.  Grace trusted God’s plan.   When hair loss was mentioned, Grace donated her hair.  When she was feeling sad, Grace raised money for Love Without Boundaries.  Grace raised awareness for NEGUGrace prayed.  Grace told me to trust God.

    Here’s a quote from Grace (7) in a previous blog post.

    Last night as I was tucking Grace in she told me that she didn’t like having to wait until the sun went down to swim, that she was really kind of tired of medicine and she wasn’t happy that she would need another pulse of steroids on Wednesday with her chemo.  Grace told me that she didn’t think lupus was very nice.  Grace said she understood that God is perfect and His plan is perfect so He must have some reason for all this so she would try her best to be happy.   Grace then said, “Sometimes happy takes work but it’s worth it.”

    Grace is an old, old soul in a six year old’s body.

    We had to decide what to do.  We were set to travel with our adoptions sometime in the spring, most likely March.  Grace needed chemotherapy.  Grace needed blood tests and was taking a ton of meds.  Could we proceed?  Should we proceed?   Would Grace be okay if we left?

    “Of course we should!”  Grace said.  “Why would we question God’s plan now mama?   We can’t leave my brother and sister in China.”

    So we scheduled our travel around her treatments.  We traveled and we returned to a very happy girl.  Our adoption worked out perfectly and we arrived home the night before Grace’s 7th birthday.

    God’s perfect timing!

    God’s grace!

    Throughout these adoptions Grace has been one of our biggest cheerleaders.  Grace readily gave up her place as baby of the home.  Not one, not two, but nine children are younger than her.

    Grace shares her room.   Grace is my extra set of hands.  Grace is so much like me.  Grace LOVES adoption!!!  Grace has a heart that is SO big!  Grace is the legs for her three sisters in wheelchairs.

    When we worried about adopting JJ, it was Grace who reminded us over and over again that kidney issues are scary but doable.  When we were adopting Elyse, it was Grace who couldn’t wait to share her room and her clothes.

    God knew what He was doing when He placed Grace on my heart all those years ago.  God was so very wise.  It made NO sense and now I can’t imagine doing this without her.

    And yet, when I wrote my recent article for No Hands But Ours, I forgot to mention my sweet girl by name.  We mentioned how many children we had, but I didn’t mention Grace by name.  I try so hard not to do that. I’ve made that mistake before with Zach and Cassie.  It hurts their feelings, even though they understand so I try hard not to.  Our bio kids are amazing.  They have made this adoption journey possible.  They aren’t a footnote in our adoption journey.  They are the title page and I hate when because I’m writing about adoption or special needs that they don’t get the credit they deserve.

    Grace is an important part of all of our adoptions.  Grace has had such faith throughout it all.  Grace has trusted God with an amazing faith that most adults don’t have.

    I asked Grace what I could do to make it up to her and Grace laughed and said, “You can say my name 77 times in my birthday post.”

    And so I have.   I LOVE Grace!   Grace is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!

    My life has been forever changed by a little girl named Grace.  Every day I look into her face and I think about every miracle that brought her to my life.    Grace Elizabeth Lynne you are an amazing girl and mama is so proud to call you my little girl.  Praying God’s blessings continue to surround your life and lead you on the rest of your amazing journey.

    Happy birthday Grace!

  • I LOVE Adoption (By Gracie)

    Date: 2015.07.19 | Category: Adoption, Grace

    Hi my name is Grace and I’m 10 years old.  I’m one out of 14 children.  I never dreamed that I was going to have 13 siblings but I am happy. I have lupus and there’s 10 other siblings with different sicknesses. I know some people think that adopting is crazy but I LOVE it!

    kids 1

    Sometimes it brings sadness and sometimes happiness.  Don’t be sad if they don’t adjust to you right away. I learned that the hard way.  My mom and dad adopted the first two Ben and Maisey.  They were scared. They didn’t adjust to me right away. I was so confused by that because I was only six years old.  I didn’t know how to respond to them because they were in an orphanage where they got hurt and people were just mean and cruel to them. They were afraid for a little bit but they love to play. They left my little sister to die.  I don’t understand because she is so happy and I’m just so happy that she’s my little sister.  Ben Ben was very little and very sick and he wanted to eat all the time.  He was so blue.

    Cassie 4-14 158

    It was one or two years later and we were going to adopt Evie and Eli and Laney and Jasmine.  Jasmine was going to be 14.  When you turn 14 in China and you’re in a orphanage you get sent to an institution. But when I learned what an institution was I did not want her to go to one because there is people who aren’t nice and she’s in a wheelchair that would just make it so much harder for her so I gave up dance and tumbling just so we could get her.   Lainey who’s gotten so far she used to just rage all day but now she’s happy.  She plays. She says I love you mom and she says I love you Dad.  She said hey Lainey.

    IMG_7770

    Evie she was really blue but after her heart surgery she called herself a princess. Now she only responds to Princess Evie and she’s happy.  Eli has a heart defect too but he was as blue as Evie. He is silly and likes to dance.

    IMG_7786

    Two years later my mom and dad adopted Elyse and Max.  Max has no ears at all.  Elyse is in a wheelchair. Elyse was not in orphanage her whole life. Elyse told me she had a foster mom and dad but her foster dad was mean and drank bad stuff and he hit her.  That made me sad.  I like having a sister my own age. We share a room.  Max is very silly and he loves to dance even though he can’t really hear the music.

    IMG_7969

    All of these children that I’m talking about are my Chinese siblings I have one more sibling who was adopted Hope who is 16 and she was adopted in the US. I love Hope so much.  I love my family.  Someday I am going to adopt 20 kids too.

     

  • Happy Birthday Gracie

    Date: 2015.04.02 | Category: Grace

    Gracie and boo

    Our little butterfly turned 10 years old on the 23rd.

    420142_526799807355656_1316086332_n

    Where has the time gone?

    Gracie has had an eventful year.

    She got what she had been praying for since we started the adoption process….

    A sister who was also 9.

    Gracie & Elyse

    They do their makeup and stay up late talking and laughing.

    They sometimes argue but mostly just have fun hanging out together.

    Gracie dreams of adopting 20 children

    or

    being a neonatologist like daddy

    or

    going to China and caring for babies at New Hope.

    Gracie doctor

    She has always had a faith that was older than her years.

    So I have no doubt God will use her in one of these ways.

    She was diagnosed with lupus over 3 years ago.

    Gracie butterfly rash

    She has been in remission now for over a year.

    We are hoping to have some wonderful news in May that would allow her to stop taking her chemo drugs.

    Gracie came into this world five weeks early by emergency c-section.

    She was given the name Grace because we knew she was only here by God’s grace.

    She is such a blessing.

    She is caring and kind.

    She is the best big sister.

    She has a heart for orphans and for those less fortunate.

    Gracie fund raiser

    Jasmine and Gracie love the idea that even though they are young, they can make a difference.

    LWB Heroes

    They spend their time dreaming of their next big way to help.

    I love that about them.

    They know they can make a difference.

    What an empowering thing!

    I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Gracie.

    She knows at any time she can relapse and that life isn’t always guaranteed so she lives it to the fullest.

    We could all learn something from this little girl.

    I know that I already have!

    Happy birthday sweet butterfly!

     

  • Hurting Hearts

    Date: 2015.01.04 | Category: Adoption, Elyse, Faith, Family Life, Grace, Jasmine (Shuang Shuang)

    It all started with tears over the fact that she didn’t want to have a tea party with Elyse and Gracie.  Somehow I knew it wasn’t about the tea party.  Jasmine is usually easy going.   It was unusual for her to balk about something so trivial.  I asked her if Elyse had said anything to upset her and she screamed, “This is boring.  I don’t want to do it.”

    I let her know she didn’t have to play with the other girls.  I let her know that she could just sit in the room and watch them then but it would be more fun for her to participate.  She still didn’t budge on her position and I left them alone in their bedroom.

    About five minutes later Gracie came out saying Jasmine was sobbing.  I tried to get Jasmine to talk.  Cassie tried.  Gracie tried.  None of us had any luck.  I told her I knew that there was something else going on.  I asked her to e-mail me when she felt ready to talk.  She told me there was nothing wrong and I gave her some more time to calm down.

    The sobbing continued.  We continued to try and talk to her.  Jasmine yelled, “There is nothing wrong.  I am NOT sad!  I am NOT mad!” as the tears continued to roll down her face.

    This lasted three hours.

    Three hours folks and she kept insisting it was because she didn’t want to have a boring tea party.

    We’ve had one other huge battle like this one and that battle was over her saying she was stupid.  This was admittedly the dumbest fight ever in the history of fights.  She refused to back down about saying she was stupid.  I told her she knows three languages.  She is doing amazing in school.  She is one very bright, insightful girl and I would not let her call herself stupid.  The fight continued.  She yelled.  She threw her pencil.  She cried and cried and cried all over the fact that I refused to let her call herself stupid.

    I informed her that she could either say, “I am NOT stupid or I was going to make her write it 50 times.”  She still refused.  I got out the paper and the pencil.  She wrote her sentences but she refused to write the NOT.   This part of the disagreement went on for a couple hours.  I tried to let her calm down.  I had Cassie talk to her.  I had Dan talk to her.  I had Hope talk to her.  She refused to say, “I am not stupid.” and the tears continued to fall.

    See we’ve been here before.  I knew the fight wasn’t about the tea party just as much as the other fight wasn’t about her admitting she isn’t stupid.   It was about fear.  It was about having so many emotions over so many confusing thoughts that the simplest thing set her off.  It was safe to be mad about a tea party.  It was not safe to admit your fears.

    I told her that she had to stop and calm down.  I wasn’t going to argue with her.  She needed a shower so I gave her time alone in the shower so she could think.  She refused to talk.  I had already told her she had two choices.

    1.) To let me know what was really wrong.

    2.) To go to bed.

    She chose to go to bed.  I couldn’t believe it.  I gave her the options and now I had to follow through.  It was 6:30 p.m. and she chose to go to bed. I gave her ten chances to change her mind.   I gave her her I-pad in case she changed her mind.  I told her she could let me know just a little bit at anytime and we would talk but that she wasn’t allowed to not tell me the truth.  She couldn’t keep saying “I’m not mad.  I’m not sad. She could ask to talk about it later but she could not keep lying to me about there being nothing wrong.”

    Three hours later I get this e-mail.

    “Are you sad adoption me?”

    Am I sad that I adopted her?  Oh my heart.

    “I do wrong. Do you think I’m stupid?”

    Followed by….

    “If one day you do not want me, I really do not want lose the family.”

    “Because I know what will become of my foture.”

    And then she asked me to come to her room to talk.

    It wasn’t about the tea party.  It was about Elyse mentioning that the nannies told her that she could come to America and be healed.  The nannies had told Jasmine the same thing.  We were about six months in when Jasmine had enough English under her belt to ask us when she would get the surgery that would let her walk.  We had the horrible task of letting her know that there was nothing that could be done.  You can’t fix muscular dystrophy.  We had to break her heart and now we were going to have to break Elyse’s.  I told Jasmine not to say anything to Elyse because we haven’t seen a doctor yet.  Jasmine doesn’t need to be the bearer of bad news that could wait for another day.

    But all of her discussions with Elyse brought up the fears that she had before.

    Jasmine told me that she was worried that she would get too heavy and I would take her back to the orphanage.

    Because it has happened to her before.

    Jasmine let me know that she was afraid about having her surgery on the 13th because she didn’t want to wake up in the hospital alone.

    Because it has happened to her before.

    Jasmine was worried that I would decide that she was no longer worth caring for.

    Because it has happened before.

    It wasn’t about a tea party.  It was about her wanting a family.  It was about her wanting to walk.  It was about her wishing she could dream about one day growing up, falling in love, and having a family of her own.

    I’m sharing this story today because I want other parents who have adopted or are choosing to adopt an older child to remember not to take it personally and to remember the trivial fights usually are about something much more.  It’s not about wanting to eat late at night.  It’s about them testing you to see if you will feed them and love them.  It’s not so much about control as it is about fear.  Fear that you don’t love them enough.  Fear that they won’t get food.  Fear that this whole family thing isn’t going to work out.

    I can understand this.  For years when Dan and I met, I would test him.  I would push him.  I would bait him.  I would argue with him.  Why?  Because I didn’t believe someone could truly love me.  My dad and my mom divorced when I was 10 and then shortly after that I was sexually abused, for a whole summer, by an older trusted friend.  It played with my head and my self worth.  It made me believe that men would just hurt and that I had no worth.  This took place over about six months.  Now imagine if your whole life had been one of not feeling loved or worthy.  What if they made you believe that you are so bad that if you ever let anyone know the real you, they would return you to the orphanage? How much would you test?  How much time would you need to heal?

    Dan finally made me see that I could trust him and live each day happy or I could spend my whole life assuming he would leave and be miserable.  I had to make the choice.  These kids are in the same boat.  They have to make that choice but the first couple of years are just trying to figure it out.  They don’t have the language or the maturity to make that choice.  It’s all about survival.  If they learned to survive with manipulation, then they will manipulate.  If they learned to survive by withdrawing, then they will withdraw.  It takes time to let go of the fear and the anger.

    So it’s up to us, the supposed grownups, to remember it has nothing to do with us.  It has to do with fear and we have to remember who the author of fear is.  It isn’t God.  God is all about hope and redemption.  Satan whispers and people doubt.  Please remember that the next time you are in the heat of the moment.  Take a step back.  It’s not about the tea party or them loving you.  It’s about fear that they will one day lose this thing that they can’t even admit that they want.

    FAMILY!

     

  • 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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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?

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

    I.AM.BLESSED!!!!!

    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?

  • Happy 9th Birthday Gracie!

    Date: 2014.03.23 | Category: Grace

    My sweet little butterfly.

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    Turns 9 today.

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    Where has the time gone?

    Gracie is the big sister who plans picnics on the kitchen floor.

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    Turns big boxes into boats.

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    She is the first to play pretend.

    The first to lend a helping hand.

    She is the first to cry when a story is sad.

    She is the sister who will bundle everyone up to play in the snow.

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    She is an old soul.  I never quite knew what that meant until I had my Gracie.

    She has a faith that is amazing.

    She believes in God with all her heart.

    She prays and talks to God like He is an old friend.

    When she overheard the doctor say she may lose her hair with chemo,

    she got the idea to donate it instead.

    When she heard them talk about the heavy duty chemo they used maybe causing sterility,

    she said she’d just adopt then.

    She believes in trying to help others.

    She is the child who will give away her toys to others.

    She believes in saving the world one child at a time.

    Jasmine and Gracie came to us with their idea to adopt more.  They share the biggest room in the house.

    We had to give Jasmine the master bedroom so she had enough room for the lift and after taking out the bathtub there is enough room for her to maneuver in the bathroom.

    They measured and figured out what bunkbeds would work best.  They said they’d give up their allowance.  They would do whatever it takes to bring more sisters home.  They would clean, they would give up what they could, they would share everything they had.

    Just please can we adopt again?  (You try saying no to these two faces.)

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    She is light years ahead of where I was at her age.

    She loves the lessons learned at Women of Faith.  She loves to sing out her praises to God as loud as she can.  I’m so glad she got to go this year with my mom.  Nana was always very special to Gracie and it has been a hard year having to say good-bye.

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    She shops all year long for Operation Christmas Child.

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    I had a tubal reversal at the age of 40 to have Gracie.  Both Dan and I felt God talking loud and clear that we were to have another child.  We believed in adoption, having already adopted Hope, so having a reversal didn’t make much sense but we felt that was what we were being asked to do. If there is anything we have learned through our lives, it’s too be obedient to the call of God.

      The doctor told me my odds were slim.  I got pregnant the very first month.  Because I was over 40, they did routine weekly ultrasounds.  At our 35 week appointment, they found that I had a vessel rupture.  I wasn’t having any symptoms – no contractions, or pain, nothing!  Gracie was surrounded by blood.   They had to get her out right away.  After she was born, her doctor said, “Now that I know she is okay I can say that is the most blood I have ever seen and have the baby come out alive.”

    She entered the world and we heard “by the grace of God” over and over again.  That is how she received her name.

    We had wanted to have another child after Gracie.  Dr. Neil asked if I wanted a tubal again and I said, “Yes.”  He said, “That’s good because one side doesn’t even look connected and the other is so scarred I don’t know how you got pregnant.”

    Dan and I just smiled at each other because we knew.

    Every time I look at her sweet face I know that I was given a gift.  Having lost a son, I know that isn’t always how it works.

    I do believe God has a wonderful plan for Gracie.  I know that with all my heart.  She is a special, special little girl.

    When she became sick and just couldn’t get better, we had tests run.  They thought it was leukemia, but it ended up being lupus.  Who knew six year olds could get lupus?  Gracie never asked, “Why me?”  She understands that sometimes life isn’t fair.  She said, “She didn’t understand God’s plan, but she would trust God’s plan.”  This coming from a six year old.  See what I mean?  She’s an old soul.

    I don’t know what God’s plans are for my girl or where He will lead her, but I do know that I am blessed each and every day to be able to say that I am Gracie’s mommy.   It’s an honor I don’t take lightly.

    Happy birthday sweet Gracie girl!  Your daddy and mommy love you very, very much!!!

     

     

     

  • I have a favor to ask…

    Date: 2014.03.21 | Category: Grace

    This Sunday my little Gracie turns 9.

    It’s been two and a half years since we had the scare of our lives

    from first going for a bone marrow biopsy to check for leukemia,

    to not knowing what was going on,

    to more labs and waiting and even more labs,

    to seeing the butterfly rash and her father knowing exactly what she had.

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    LUPUS!

    We then had a kidney biopsy because the lupus had affected her kidneys.

    She ended up with class 4/5 glomerulonephritis.

    Gracie has been on many meds for these past couple years.

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    She’s endured chemotherapy

    and they weren’t sure if she would lose her hair or not.

    She didn’t want her hair to just go to waste so she donated it.

    That’s the kind of heart my Gracie has.

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    and from that my friend started a “Hats for Gracie” page on Facebook

    to lift my little girl’s spirits.

    It was the best thing for her during those hard times.

    She would run to the computer and check how many people were praying for her.

    We don’t update much any more

    but it used to bring Gracie such joy.

    Because of the joy it brought her, my favor is this….

    if you have a Facebook account and haven’t already done so

    won’t you please go to her page and like it.

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    You have to click on the box that says “LIKE”

    It looks like this.

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    Gracie’s heart is a beautiful thing.

    She has been through a lot in her short little life.

    In the past couple of years, she has lost a great grandma, her gramp gramps, a great aunt and her beloved Papa. And just two months ago she lost my mom, her step grandpa, and her great grandfather.

    That is a lot of loss for one little girl.

    The past couple months have been so hard on her.

    She misses her nana and she so wanted nana to be at Zach’s wedding.

    Gracie is an old soul and has a faith in God that is amazing!

    She wanted to adopt and is thrilled that she is no longer the baby and there are five more little ones below her.  How many children would do that?

    She is the one who willingly gives up her time during the day for Jasmine.

    Gracie is at Jasmine’s beck and call because Jasmine can do very little for herself

    and yet Gracie rarely complains.

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    It’s Grace and Jasmine that are asking us to adopt more – six more if they have their way.

    They want to share their room with six more girls.

    They want to share their toys, their clothes, anything they own.

    They have offered their allowance to help with the cost of adopting.

    Please won’t you help me make her birthday extra special?

    I would love to get her over 700 and that is only 20 more “likes”

    She has always loved her Facebook page.

    Thank you so much for considering this

    and if you have already liked the Hats for Gracie page.

    THANK YOU for brightening my little girl’s life on a daily basis!

  • 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!)

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

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

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    A little boy that has blossomed and grown.

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    Exciting proposals and new additions to the family.

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    Family that becomes best friends.

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    People coming together to help others.

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

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    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.)

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    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.

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    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.)

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

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING everyone!

     

     

  • Blessings

    Date: 2013.08.21 | Category: Benjamin, Cassie, Elijah, Evangeline Faith, Grace, Hope, Jasmine (Shuang Shuang), Lainey Rae, Maisey, Photos

    Evie is extubated and resting now. It was a very long morning and afternoon where she was uncomfortable and they couldn’t control her pain. This is the first time she has rested comfortably all day long. Counting our blessings one medicine and one tube removed at a time.

    Dan and I were just talking about how at this time last night (7pm), they were rushing her down for an emergency heart cath with ECMO on standby and tonight she is happy and resting and on her way to healing. Can’t get much more blessed than that.

    Yesterday I wrote about some pictures that a friend of Cassie’s took. She came over with her camera and just played with the kids in the backyard. I picked 20 of my favorites to show you. Some good news is always in order. I have been blessed 12 times over….

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