Archive for the ‘Hope’ Category

  • Unwanted

    Date: 2012.09.25 | Category: Adoption, Hope

    I just finished reading Christine Caine’s book Undaunted.  Here’s a somewhat funny story before I start on my ramblings.  It took me two weeks of hiding in the bathroom (because it is the only place people will leave me alone) reading a chapter at a time to get the book done.  I left it with Dan one day while I went out, with all the children for a couple of hours, and when I came home he handed me the book and said how good it was.  Not sure if I’m a slow reader or if the constant interruptions really do make a difference.  Hmmmm…..I wonder. 🙂

    Anyway, I often wonder what to tell my children about their adoptions.  I have been as honest and as kind as I can be with Hopey.  I have always told her the truth though.  I don’t know why her biological mom did what she did, but the truth is her biological mom did abandon her. Her pre-adoptive parents did back out and her biological mother left her there in the hospital.  There were those who told me I should sugar coat it or not tell her at all, but I didn’t want to build our relationship on half truths.  I don’t need to be brutally honest but I need to tell her the truth.  She could order her medical records at any time and see that it said to not treat and withdraw the meds, which would have led to her death.  Those same records say her biological mother abandoned her.  The truth is there in black and white for her to read.  I won’t lie to her.  I will answer her questions as honestly as I can without being cruel.  I want her to know that at all times I am telling her the honest truth.  I don’t want her to doubt anything I say, including when I profess my love for her.

    At first I admit, I had reservations about Hope finding her biological mom if she ever chose to.  It didn’t take very long for me to be secure in her love for me and for me to not feel like I might someday be replaced.   Human emotions aren’t always rational and my mommy heart was unsure.  I had always hoped that her biological mom would check on her.   We gave her our lawyers number and told her to call whenever she wanted to know anything.   We had hoped she would at least check to see if Hope made it through the first surgery.  She didn’t call, nor has she called in all these years.  So now my reason for not wanting Hope to look for her biological mom isn’t because I might be replaced, but that she could really hurt Hope.  There are worse things then being abandoned and there are many worse things she could say to my girl.

    I pray for Hope’s biological mom’s heart to heal.  I pray for all of my adopted children’s mothers.  What a hard choice.  No matter what reason whether it be because you hoped they’d find a better life, get the treatment they needed, or you were too afraid to proceed with the medical conditions – it’s not a choice most mothers could make.  I also know that they may have been abandoned without much of a backward glance.  I mean how could you walk away from your 9 month old in a park?  Did Ben’s biological dad just drop him off there and Ben’s biological mom didn’t know for a while?  We have heard this sometimes happens in China.  Why was Maisey left in a stairwell?  How can people just walk away?  My heart just hurts when I hear those things.  Ben and Maisey’s adoptions have helped Hope though.  I have asked her what Ben and Maisey did to be abandoned.  She says, “Nothing!”  This truth has helped more than all my words through the years.  Sometimes people do things we can’t understand through no fault of our own.  It is hard to not take it personally, but it doesn’t mean it has anything to do with you.

    I have always told Hope that this was God’s plan.  She was supposed to be with us and He found a way to get her here.  But as a child, when you feel you aren’t loved, for who you are or you weren’t wanted….it hurts.  There is no way to get around that.  What I liked about what Christine Caine said was that even though the country of Australia said she was unnamed and unwanted that that was not the truth.  The truth is she was named by God and she is loved and wanted by Him.  (Psalm 139:13-16).  I will quote those scriptures to Hope.  She was never unwanted – God formed her and made her.  She was never unnamed – God has always known her name. (Isaiah 43:1)  She is a chosen child of God and God is a Father who will never leave her.  The truth is in the Bible.  The truth is not whatever her biological mom, her medical records, or the world says.  She has always been wanted by God, there has always been a plan, and she is a beloved child of  God’s family and this family.

    I have often talked about all the miracles that happened for her to end up with us.  I believe with my whole heart that Hope was always meant to be my daughter.  I feel the same about my other two.   From the instant I saw their faces, I would have died for them.  They were meant to be my children just as much as the ones I carried in my womb.  I wondered about adopting an older child.  Would I feel the same?  It’s easy with a baby.  Who doesn’t love a little baby?  I can honestly say it wasn’t any different with Ben or Maisey.  I saw their pictures and I knew.  I had months to pray for them and to ask God to let them know we were coming.   Dan often prayed for them to be able to dream about us.  I love that he did that.  From the moment, Ben and Maisey were placed in our arms, it has felt right.  I understand how I felt, but how did they know?  It has to be a God thing.  We have been so blessed and it wasn’t any different because they weren’t babies.

    Their stories may seem sad to some and I understand that.  But the other part is how miraculous their lives are.  I am blessed daily with their presence and I often think about their biological mothers and how much they are missing.  I have been blessed with three of the sweetest souls.  I hope that I am able, with God’s help, to let them know just what a gift their lives have been.  They are loved.  They are named.  They were chosen!

  • Hopey’s Gotcha Day

    Date: 2012.06.29 | Category: Hope

    13 years ago today, Hope’s adoption became final.   We had her from day one and it was a wonderful, unexpected gift.  She has turned into such a beautiful teenager.  As her song says, “Princess Sunshine.  Princess Sunshine.  You’re my light.  My heart’s delight.  You’re everything I hoped for and everything I wished for.  I love you.  Yes, I do.”

    Hope's first birthday pic

    Just got her braces.

    Swinging with baby Mei

    Taking a picture next to the sign. We laugh because her surgery was called the Norwood.




  • Surrounded by miracles

    Date: 2012.06.25 | Category: Benjamin, Codey, Grace, Hope, Maisey

    Many people look at my life and think it’s crazy.  They tell me they could never do it.  They see only the health issues.  I don’t see those things when I look at my children.  I see beautiful, happy children full of life and compassion.  I see miracles all around me.  Here are just a few of them.

    Recently we learned more about Maisey’s story.  We knew her time in the orphanage was rough. We had heard stories of babies who weren’t able to feed right. We knew that the House of Hope had found her, took her to their foster home and nursed her back to health. What we didn’t know is that when they found her she weighed 3 kilos (6.6 pounds) at 6 1/2 months old.  My poor baby was starving.  I hate to think of her lying there crying and not having any comfort. She is so sweet and so funny.  She has brought so much joy to my life.  The miracle that is her life is so amazing to me.

    Becoming an Iowa girl!








    We had also learned that our sweet Benjamin probably shouldn’t have been put on a list.  They’ve opened up the special needs category a little, but we have been told that China doesn’t put children who have poor prognosis on their adoption lists, but somehow Benjamin found his way onto one. Don’t know how it happened but I’m so blessed that he did.

    He sang "Happy Birthday to me!" all the way through Target.

    We were told numerous times that Codey wouldn’t make it past the week, then a month, then a year.  I don’t know how many times we called family down because they said he wouldn’t make it through the night.  We were told he would be blind (he isn’t), deaf (he isn’t), and in a vegetative state….well, see for yourself.

    He's a happy boy!

    Then there is Hope, whose biological parents lived in the south, came to Iowa to deliver for pre-adoptive parents who lived on the east coast.  I don’t understand it, but I’m so happy that it happened.   On top of that is the miracle that Dan was in the unit and heard her story.  Not to mention the miracle that she  made it through all her open heart surgeries. I am so blessed to have her in my life.

    She is such a pretty girl!

    Or the fact that I just happened to have a routine ultrasound where they picked up my blood vessel rupture with Grace.  I was having no pain and no contractions.  Everything felt fine.  They said just a few more hours and she probably wouldn’t have made it.  Our doctor and Dan’s friend said after he pulled her out, and now that he knew she was all right, he could say that was the most blood he had seen and had a baby come out okay.  Add to that, the fact that I was 40, had my tubes reversed after 12 years and got pregnant the very first month.  The doctor asked if I wanted them tied again to which I replied a resounding YES!  He said good because I don’t know how you got pregnant any way.  One tube is way too scarred and the other doesn’t even look like it’s hooked up.  The GRACE of God is alive and well in my life.

    Grace has the most compassionate heart!

    My life is full of happy, wonderful miracles!  I am so very, very blessed every day to get to be their mama.

  • Hope

    Date: 2012.02.28 | Category: Hope

    I went to bed the other night thinking more about all the things that have happened with Hope.  I thought I’d put a few of them in writing in this blog, most of them have been written in her journal already, but it’s fun to look back at all the things that had to happen for her to be part of our lives.

    For Hope to have come to the U of I Hospitals, was in itself amazing.  Her parents were from the South.  They came to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to deliver her.  I, to this day, do not know why.  The pre-adoptive parents were from the east coast so why did her biological parents not go to the east coast?   A few weeks before she was due, the pre-adoptive parents asked for another ultrasound to be done.  Had they not asked for another ultrasound, Hope would have delivered in Cedar Rapids.  She would have gone to live with her pre-adoptive parents.  They did the ultrasound and found her heart defect.  The pre-adoptive parents said they would not proceed with her adoption. I remember Dan saying it was ironic because where the pre-adoptive parents came from was one of the best hospitals that did HLHS repair.  Hope was brought to the University of Iowa Hospital for delivery.  Dan heard the story and is moved by it.  The biological mother has decided she will deliver but will abandon the baby and refuses to do the surgery.  The surgery is risky, odds are 50/50 at this time and for that reason the hospital is not required to do the surgery.  The options presented to parents when their baby is born with HLHS are: 1) to not treat, 2) the three-step repair surgery, or 3) a heart transplant.  Dan cannot stand for Hope to be alone at the hospital and to die without a family so he decided to talk to me about bringing her home.   We’ve been through Kyle’s death.  We knew what to expect.  We figured we could handle this and this little girl deserves a family who loves her.  No one should be alone when they die.

    For Dan to have been in the unit was a miracle in itself.  Codey had to have his shunt repaired earlier in the month.  Your rotations are for a month when you are doing your fellowship.  You are either in the unit or you are doing research.  Dan would not have been in the unit, had he not had to make up for missing a couple days because of Codey’s surgery.  Since Dan would not have been in the unit, he would not have heard about Hope.   He did hear her story, fell in love and he talked to me.  He refused to let me see the baby until I had time to pray and contemplate . Dan knows how much I love babies and once I saw her I would not be making a decision based on facts or what God is saying or what was best for our family.

    We decided to talk to the kids to get their opinions.  Zach,who was 10, felt that no baby should die alone and without a name.  Cassie, who is 6, had always wanted a baby sister.  She is ecstatic about the prospect of having a sister.  She got on her knees and begged for this sister, who may only live a couple of weeks, but Kyle was her brother and she doesn’t even know him, but someday she will be with him forever, so this little girl will be her sister forever too, even if she only lives a couple of days, and really she has always wanted a sister so plllleeeeaaaassseeeee can we have her?  (If you know Cassie, you know that is exactly how she talks when excited.  It’s one big, long run-on sentence. I don’t have a clue where she gets it from. lol)   I was blown away by my kids reactions.  Dan talked to social worker, nurses, and physicians many of whom think we may have lost our minds and weren’t afraid to give Dan their opinion.  He put everything into motion.  Because Hope was so sick they talked directly to the mother to get permission for us to take Hope home.  Her biological mom seems relieved that we want her baby.  We started making plans to take Hope home.

    After praying about Hope, asking God whether this will be too hard on our kids, deciding that we can do this, and setting things in motion, the cardiac surgeon comes up to us and says that he will do everything in his power to get her through surgery if we want to try.  We take this as a sign from God and we decide if we’ve come this far, we should at least give her a chance at life.   We decide to proceed with the surgery and adoption.  We talk to the social worker again.  We find a lawyer.  I can’t even remember how.  We file the papers.  Time is of the essence because once they stop the prostaglandin, Hope’s PDA will close and she will start to die.  A judge rules that the 6 month waiting period can be waived so that we can get her on our insurance. We have a quick home study. Everything is proceeding which, having gone through what we have gone through with Benjamin & Maisey’s adoption, is a miracle in itself.

    We found out it will cost close to $10,000 to adopt her.  We obviously don’t have $10,000.  We were barely able to scrap by on what Dan made working at the hospital. Fellows are paid better than residents but it’s still not a lot.  We had $120,000 in school loans, a car that barely worked and had to pay $1,200 for a 3 bedroom house – gotta love those college towns.  We started to pray for help knowing if this is truly what God wanted, He would provide.   We got a credit card offer in the mail, we took this as a sign and applied for it, believing the whole time that no one would be crazy enough to give us that much credit.  They gave us a $10,000 limit.  Who gives a $10,000 limit to poor people with huge debt?  We paid for Hope with a credit card and on June 29, 1999, she legally became our daughter.

    Hope’s first surgery, when she was 3 weeks old, was complicated.  She came out of surgery with her chest still open, a thin, transparent sheet covering it.  What an amazing sight, to see your daughter’s heart beating in her chest. It was completely and utterly unbelievable and amazing, but just take my word for it – no need to see for yourself.  Her heart rate went through the roof.  The doctors can’t get it below 200.  They told us that she can’t last for long like this.  They wanted to try an experimental drug.  Dan says okay but he is going to do some more research on it and headed to the library.  We prayed and prayed and prayed.  They gave the medicine and nothing happened.  They can’t figure out why.   They gave the medicine again and nothing happened.  Dan came back after hitting the computers and said he didn’t want her to get the medicine, it’s experimental and he thinks there may be other alternatives to try.  The nurse said they’ve already given two doses and nothing has changed.  They can’t figure out what has happened. The nurse comes in later to change Hope’s tubing, feels Hope’s bed, it is all wet.  The medicine has drained out onto her bed.  Hope never got the medicine.  I remember the nurse’s face when she was telling Dan that something was wrong with the hub and Hope didn’t get the medicine.  In the meantime, there is an alternative found, they tried it and her heart rate came down.  There were great risks involved with the experimental medicine and somehow Hope did not get the medicine.  I don’t know why it happened, but I love that it happened.

    I remember being so sad and just wanted to know that it would be okay.  I had been through this before with Codey.  He didn’t even leave the hospital until he was 14 months old and then it was only for a few days.  He was so sick and for so long.  I don’t know how many times we have heard that he was going to die.  How many times we called family for them to come down because this would be his last day. He was on a vent for years, trached until he was 5.  Dan and I cared for him at home. We had nurses for a while, but that lasted only a year or so because of different things that happened.  I think about that a lot.  Who lets parents with no medical experience take home a child home who is that sick?  With Codey, we were asked time and time again if we wanted to withdraw support.  How can you withdraw support on a child who is lying there playing and kicking and smiling? I remember thinking all the time about Kyle being on a ventilator.  He died with every possible thing being done for him.  I knew that if God wanted to take Codey, He would take him home. I didn’t want that to be my responsibility. I didn’t want to make that decision. I didn’t want to question whether what I did was right or wrong forever. I knew what that decision was like for parents because there was a boy in the unit that had been sick for a long time and those parents withdrew support.  I pray for that mother to this day and I think about that little boy all the time.  Dan even had his name engraved inside a ring – their story touched us that much.  I know that everything is on God’s time.  They told us Codey probably wouldn’t live past a year and he will turn 25 this year.  Only God knows the number of days any of us have.

    Anyway, back to Hope, I remember sitting in my friend’s driveway with Zach and Cassie.  I was praying for Hope again, she was just a few days old.  Talking to them about what was going on.  I joked that I just wished God could tell me that it was going to be okay.  If I could just have that confirmation, I could go through anything.  We all laughed and I got ready to back out of the drive.  As I started the car, the radio came on and played “everything’s going to be all right, rock-a-bye“.  We all just stared at each other.  I know people talk about coincidences, I prefer to call them Godcidences.

    Hope had her 2nd surgery when she was 8 months old.  She was supposed to be in surgery from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.  She ended up getting out of surgery at 6:15 p.m.  They ended up keeping her in circulatory arrest for much longer than was recommended, over an hour.  They had a hard time getting through all the scar tissue, there was a lot of bleeding, and other issues that arose.  It was a very scary time.  They kept her paralyzed for quite a while after surgery because they were worried about seizures.  Dr. Chris stayed by her bedside.  She came through it all fine.  What a fighter she was, which leads us years later to the next story.

    When Hope was 4, we were driving down the road and she proceeded to tell us a story about dancing with a boy named Kyle.  We thought she was talking about a boy from home school tumbling who was one of her teachers.  She said, “No mommy! My brother Kyle”.  She told Zach, Cassie and I a beautiful story about when she was a baby and was lying on a table, and Kyle came to dance with her.  Kyle told her that everything was going to be okay and to not be afraid.  I tried to remember then if we had even talked to her about Kyle.  If you ask her today, she will tell you that she doesn’t remember the story.  If you ask Zach, Cassie & I, we can recall it vividly.  What a day that was.  I realize there is no proof that this can happen, but she was arrested for over an hour and who knows?  As a mother, I like the thought that Kyle was there for her.

    When Hope is 3, her heart surgeon is going to move to Canada.  He doesn’t want anyone else doing Hope’s surgery because he knows what he did to start with and what he’ll see when he opens her up.  He asks us if we are willing to do it early so he can finish what he has started.  God is in all things because he did not let Dr. Chris forget her.  We’ve had many doctors move.  It’s not uncommon in a teaching hospital.  The most we ever got when they moved, was a letter in the mail.  I love that God kept her on Dr. Chris’ heart.  She did remarkably well.

    We go to the U for all Hope’s medical care.  She had to have heart catherizations from time to time.  Her cardiologist was moving and we were to meet her new doctor.  Dr. D.  We were nervous because we had had the same cardiologist for a long time.  Dr. D heard Hope’s story from her previous cardiologist and decides to take Hope’s information with him to a nationwide cardiology conference where he presented her information.  This is all before he has even had an appointment with us.   He presented her case (a broken stent in her left pulmonary artery) to his colleagues and they decided what course of action he should take.  She got the very best advice from the very best cardiologists across the nation.  Why would he do that for a patient he had yet to even meet?

    We discuss Benjamin’s case with this same doctor.  He tells us while he was in New York he worked on a couple of cases like this.  He says it’s an unusual case because most of these kids, who are born in the US, get it fixed right away and are completely healed.  He has, however, worked on a couple of kids who were adopted with the same defect as Benjamin.   He says he won’t be able to fix Benji, but he can buy him some time, maybe even 10 years.  We have the utmost respect and trust for this doctor.  How a doctor from New York ends up in Iowa, and has worked on cases like Benjamin’s, I don’t know, but I thank God every day that Dr. D is here.

    These are just a few of the things that have happened in Hope’s short little life.  God is at work in the big and the little things.  Trust in His plan.  Trust that all things work together for good….not that all things are good.  I am honored that He would see fit for me to see these things while I am still on this earth.  I can’t imagine how many more will become clear to me when I hit heaven’s gates.   I’m sure I will hit my knees thanking Him for coming to my rescue and praising Him for all the things my finite mind couldn’t even comprehend or missed completely and didn’t see while I was living.  I am truly blown away at the many blessings I have received and the things that have worked out for the best when I thought it wasn’t even possible.



  • Blessings

    Date: 2012.02.20 | Category: Benjamin, Hope, Maisey

    I’ve been thinking about this lately because I’ve had so many people say “you are wonderful to do what you are doing”.  I’m never sure how to respond to that, especially since no one tells you that “you are a wonderful for doing what you are doing” when you get pregnant.

    I can tell you without a doubt that my 3 adopted children are my children and have been since the moment I laid eyes on them.  It was love at first sight.  With Hope it wasn’t even first sight. Dan called to tell me that he had to ask another resident to go back to a delivery because he couldn’t do it.  He had heard this story about a little girl with a heart defect, the adoptive parents backed out, and the biological mother had decided not to treat her, which meant that she would die within a week or two.  He had been to many deliveries, heard and seen many things, but he could not go to her delivery.  He was attached to this little girl.

    He was supposed to write the orders to stop her prostaglandins.  He couldn’t do it.  Instead he went to the hospitals gift shop.  He called me after she was born to tell me that he had bought her booties and stuffed animals.  He couldn’t stand that her bed looked so empty.  He wrote an order for the nurses to rock her every hour.  He called me and I knew it the minute he said it.  She was supposed to be ours.

    The kids, Dan and I decided to bring her home so that she wouldn’t die alone in the hospital.  We had already been through Kyle’s death and knew we could handle it. Cassie said she didn’t care if she was only here for a day she would be her sister forever.  Cassie got on her knees and begged.  Zach said no child should die alone and without a name.  We knew that we could proceed with the adoption after she died because friends of ours had a child die during the adoption process and in Iowa you can still finish the adoption.  So we knew she would die with our name and she would be loved for as long as we had.  We were prepared. Well, at least as prepared as you can be.

    Once we had decided on that though, the cardiac  surgeon came up to us and said if we would proceed with the adoption, he would do everything in his power to get her through her surgeries. We decided to try.  Dan’s mom even called me the day after I told her about this baby and she said, “How is she doing?  It’s the strangest thing.  I feel like I’m her grandma or something.”  I laughed and said, “Well, that’s good because guess what we’ve decided to do.”  Someday I’ll have to write about all the God things that have happened with Hope.  It should be a book.  She is a miracle, a gift.  Any wonderful thing I did pales in comparison with the blessings that God has given me by letting me be her mother.

    Benjamin and Maisey’s story were my first journals on this blog.  We looked at many, many babies on the CCAI web-site.  I knew the instant I saw them that they were my children.  I can’t explain it.  I can’t explain how God works.  It just was.  I cried when I saw their faces, much like I did after I delivered my babies.  These are my children.  I can’t stand the fact that they were abandoned.  I don’t want to tell them that, but it is their truth.  I can, however, tell them over and over again what led them to us.  How God works and how their lives were meant to be.  They were meant to be my children.  I would do anything for them.  I would gladly give up my life for them.   I haven’t done anything special except love my children.  So if you say, “It’s wonderful what you are doing” and I stare at you like I don’t know what you are talking about – this is the reason.  I haven’t done anything except trust that what God has laid upon my heart is the truth.   I’m so blessed that these children are mine.   Hope is named Hope for just that reason because it means trust and faith.  It’s not hard to trust a perfect God.  When you have trust, have faith, and follow what He lays upon your heart, amazing things happen.

  • It’s a small world….

    Date: 2012.02.18 | Category: Hope

    I was at an eye appointment with Hope on Monday and asked the eye doctor when she would need to see the new kids.  We agreed that it’s not emergent and we can schedule an appointment when life calms down….which makes me chuckle.  I’m not sure that is likely to happen, but I’ll schedule the appointment anyway.  Benjamin needs his heart catherization in the first 3 weeks.  Maisey needs her hearing checked right away.  She will be 2 on April 9th.  Totally off the point, but I remember standing in Linda’s kitchen last year and crying because she was going to turn 1 without me.  A whole year has gone by.  How is that possible?  Anyway, back to the subject at hand.  All the literature says that the earlier you get their hearing appliance, the better.  Hopefully, before they turn two.  It helps with their speech.  We will work on that as quickly as possible.

    The eye doctor and I started talking about adoption and blogs.  She told me of a blog she follows with a baby with a heart defect.  She describes the heart defect and I chuckle because it is Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.  I point and Hopey and say that is the heart defect Hope has.  She loves that Hope looks so good and you can’t even tell she is missing her left ventricle.

    We then talk about a blog she has been following about parents that are in Taiwan getting their little boy right now.  He is almost 4, just like Benjamin.  She tells me that the little boy will go to the Dad and to the older sister, but not the mother.  I can’t believe she has hit on my worst fear.   It’s ironic really.  I don’t remember ever wondering if my babies would love me when they grew up – not even with Hope, but for some reason the fact that they are already little people scares me to death.  It makes me so nervous.  I know, if it happens, that I can’t take it personally, but how do you not take it personally?  Especially when all I want to do is hold them in my arms and give them all my love.  I was recently told by a friend that they will sense how much I love them and they will be fine.  He mentioned my “mommyness”.  I know I tend to mother even if people are not my kids.  I try not to, but I just do.  I want to be able to say I’m at peace but still I worry.  Which is hilarious because I know better than to worry.  God has shown me that lesson over and over again.  You’d think I’d learn.  Whenever I am truly worried about something, some completely different happens & I end up saying, “Well, I didn’t see that one coming.”  When will I learn?   I try so hard to just have faith, to trust and be at peace.  Dan and I have been praying for months now that God would let them be open to us and let them have peace in their hearts as they wait.  I will continue to just turn it over.  Maybe someday I will get it right – hopefully, tomorrow will be the day!