Archive for the ‘Maisey’ Category

  • Reflections on 5 Years of Amazing!

    Date: 2017.03.12 | Category: Benjamin, Maisey

    Facebook has this amazing thing called “On This Day” where it shows you pictures that you posted from this date during the previous years.  My day has been filled with pictures of our very first China adoption.  I can’t help but get all choked up when I see the pictures and remember how it felt to have them placed in my arms on that day.  5 years has passed so fast and Maisey and Ben have changed so much!

     

    There are about a million different scenarios about how that day could have gone but the truth is it was so overwhelmingly heartwarming/heartbreaking that it changed our lives forever.  Had it not gone as beautifully as it did, I’m not sure we would have adopted 10 kids in 4 years.  I am forever grateful for the beginning that showed us how beautiful adoption can be.

    Here’s what we knew for sure when we set out to adopt (again).

    1.) We were older parents.  I was 45 when Dan first brought up adopting again, 46 when we filed our papers, and 47 when we finally stepped foot in China.

    2.) We had older children who were very supportive of this decision.

    3.) We had already adopted once domestically 11 years before and were blessed by that adoption.

    4.) We had the resources and medical knowledge to care for a special needs child.

    5.) We were never going to be empty nesters.  Our plan is to always keep Codey, our older son who has cognitive and physical disabilities, at home.

    Here’s what we knew after the first day we met Ben and Maisey.

    1.) Institutions are no place for a child to be raised.

    2.) Special needs, especially physical ones, make it easy for others to treat you as “less than”.

    3.) Even scared, hurt little 3 1/2 year old boys with severe food issues, can have sweet hearts and look out for their new little sister.  He cried if we moved his food, but he always shared with her.  (Ben ate for 3 hours after we brought him back to the hotel and slept with food or silverware in his hands for the first few months home.)

    4.) When a 3 1/2 year old refuses to be called their Chinese name or speak Mandarin from the moment you meet them, and refuses to go to anyone in the orphanage where they’ve been cared for for the past 3 years, there’s something not right.

    5.) Every child just wants to be held and loved.  They want someone who cares about them.   They want to feel safe.  This picture was just days after we met Ben.  I get choked up every time I look at it.

    What I know for sure 5 years later.

    1.) Two children adopted at the same time can become the very best of friends.

    2.) Your life will be forever changed by adoption.  Some days are harder than hard, but most days are beyond beautiful and life changing in ways you can’t even imagine.

    3.) No matter how long your life might be, you deserve the love of a family.  You deserve someone to hold your hand, sit by your beside, and let you know you will never be alone again.

    4.) Miracles really do happen.

    5.) Large families are busy, chaotic, noisy, and filled with more love, hugs, and kisses than you could ever imagine.

    The first five years have been overwhelming, busy, crazy, but DOABLE!

    1.) 5 heart surgeries and 5 heart catherizations for 3 children with 2 being considered completely healed.

    2.) 2 BAHA (hearing aid) post placements and the miracle of hearing well.

    3.) 5 trips to opposite shores for heart surgery Stanford (California) and Boston Children’s (Massachusetts).

    4.) Countless doctors appointments with numerous specialists.  Orthopedics, otolaryngology, cardiology, physical medicine, neurology, pulmonary, genetics, urology, nephrology, rheumatology, hematology, and developmental/behavior medicine.

    5.) Spinal fusion surgery and 5 weeks of hospitalization due to complications of a spinal fluid infection and subsequent spinal fluid leak.

    I’m hopeful the next 5 years will…

    1.) Bring more healing both physically and emotionally for our children.

    2.) Strengthen the bond of family even further between all my children so they will always be there for each other not matter what the future brings.

    3.) See more and more families open their eyes to adoption.

    4.) See more and more families step up and be the helping hand that allows more families to stay intact and not have to make the heartbreaking decision to give up a child.

    5.) Allow all our children to feel the love of God in their lives, that they will see their true worth, and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are loved and cherished by their father and I.

    What an amazing journey this has been.  I am so happy that Dan and I decided to be obedient to God’s calling.  Our lives are full of the brightest colors.  I can’t imagine going back to the comfortable life we were living.  That life was so black and white, well ordered, comfortable.   Yes, there is pain and hurt and I will never be able to close my eyes to the suffering of the children in this world, but there is also so much beauty to be found in the ripple effects of helping where you can.  Reaching out a hand to help, feeding those in need, helping to pay for a surgery, fund a healing home, sponsor a child, the list goes on and on.   The need is great but we can make a difference one child at a time because “Every Child Counts“.

    My prayer is that one day Jasmine’s dream will come true – “A family for every child.”   What a beautiful day that will be.  Until that time …

    “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”  – Theodore Roosevelt.

    BECAUSE…

    “If you wait until you can do everything for everybody, instead of something for somebody, you’ll end up not doing anything for anybody.”  – Malcom Bane

     

  • Happy Birthday Mei Mei!

    Date: 2014.04.09 | Category: Maisey, Photos

    Two years have passed so quickly.

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    My little girl turns four today!

    Maisey is the quietest of the littles.

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    She is the one most likely to be off somewhere playing quietly.

    Or inventing a new game.

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    She loves playing pretend and dressing up.

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    She loves books.

    She loves playing with her dolls and being a princess.

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    She is the best big sister.

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    She likes to help by feeding Evie and Evie just goes along with it.

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    She likes to sweep the floor and she does it in style.

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    She is Lainey’s biggest cheerleader.

    This year she got her BAHA and new glasses.

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    She sings all day long ….. “Let it go!  Let it go!”…. in the fun new dress Cassie found her.

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    She dances and tumbles and runs and rides her trike.

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    She is a girly girl and LOVES makeup.

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    She is such a daddy’s girl.

    Daddy and Maisey like to make fun fruit art together.

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    She gets along so well with the other littles.

    They are such good friends.

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    She is the girl of a million different faces.

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    And her wink…

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    And her favorite face to do when she pretends she can’t understand what we are asking her.

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    We learned last night that she likes to get flowers courtesy of big sister Grace.

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    Maisey has been the perfect addition to our family.

    She is full of grace and joyful fun.

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    She has changed so much from that very first day we met.

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    But she is just as sweet as ever!

    Happy birthday little one!

  • 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?

  • Where Has The Time Gone?

    Date: 2014.03.14 | Category: Adoption, Benjamin, Maisey, Photos

    A few months later....

    One of the first pictures we got of Maisey

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    An update we received of Benjamin.

    Yesterday, was Ben and Maisey’s Gotcha Day.  It’s been two years since we first saw their little faces that day in the Registration Office.

    First family picture of the 4 of us.

    First family picture of the 4 of us.

    Two years.  So much has happened since that day.  They have both grown and lost the sadness that surrounded them those first few weeks.

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    Every time I see these pictures it takes me back to how truly sad they were.  They were sad, not because we were new to them, although that may have been a part of it, just sad in general.  It was like part of their spirit was just beaten down.

    In the hotel room they started to come to life, but every time we left they shut down again – afraid that we might be taking them back.  It’s part of the reason I share our story of adoption.  I want people to understand how beautiful it is but also just how hard institutional life is on children.  Children were meant to be raised in families not institutions.

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    Ben took to Dan that very first day.  He climbed into his daddy’s arms and he never looked back.  I wonder about what has happened in a child’s life that they would willingly go to a person that looks so unlike anyone they have ever seen before and just hold on for dear life.   He never cried for anyone else.  He trusted us from day one and has continued to thrive and grow.

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    Maisey was the same way.  She hung her head and wouldn’t look up.  She had a huge bald spot on the back of her head from throwing herself to the floor.  It only took a day or so to realize she wasn’t completely deaf.  A day of getting at her level and talking to her and she was no longer so frustrated that she needed to throw herself to the floor.  Do you know what that does to a mama’s heart?  To know that her child wasn’t worth the time for someone to get on their knees and truly to talk to her?  Maybe they were just too busy to take the time or maybe they just didn’t care or maybe she wasn’t worth their time.  I’ll never know, but what I do know is it wasn’t right and it broke my little girl’s spirit – just a bit.

    Holding Maisey for the first time.

    Holding Maisey for the first time.

    I have been blessed from day one with these two.  They have added so much to our lives.

    They run…

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    And laugh…

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    And play pretend…

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    And rock out….

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    And love…

    Especially Maisey – she loves being the big sister.  She’s quite the little mama.

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    And were the perfect addition to our family.

    Look how much they’ve grown.

    Ben Before & After

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  • 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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  • Updates

    Date: 2013.07.20 | Category: Adoption, Benjamin, Cassie, Codey, Elijah, Evangeline Faith, Grace, Hope, Jasmine (Shuang Shuang), Lainey Rae, Maisey, Zachary

    So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 NIV

    I’ve been hanging on tight to the “do not fear” portion of this verse for the last couple of weeks.

    I will apologize ahead of time that this post is long.  I’ve chosen to post updates on everyone in one blog.  The good news is each paragraph is a story in itself so you can stop and come back and it won’t even matter.  Plus, if you leave and come back it adds another visit to my blog and I am really close to going over the 20,000 visit mark for the year.  Isn’t that unbelievable?  I sometimes forget that there are those, that I don’t even know personally, following our story.  I update for my family and friends who I know are praying for our family and for each of my children and pray that maybe, just maybe, I will reach someone I don’t know and they will be encouraged to do more.  They will be encouraged to follow where God leads them, even if they are afraid.  It just seems amazing to me that our story touches others.  To me, it is just our life.  It’s just my normal.  It can be really, really loud, and really, really busy, but at the end of the day we are just a family.

    If you are one of my readers, which I guess you’d be if you are reading this, thank you.  Truly thank you.  Thank you for caring about my children.  Thank you for covering our family in prayer.  As Christians we are commanded to encourage each other and lift up each other.  You do that for me with your comments.  You do that every time I hear about someone praying for my children.  What a blessing.  It goes without saying that the title of my blog says it all….I am SERIOUSLY blessed!  Thank you!

    Benjamin

    Poor Benjamin had been feeling so bad.  He was admitted to the hospital to receive IVIG because his platelets dropped to 12,000.   He had a severe reaction to the IVIG, his temp jumped to 105.1 and his heart rate was well over 190.  When your heart is as overworked as Benjamin’s is already, a very high heart rate for an extended period of time is not a good thing. During his hospital stay, I asked him, “Benjamin, do you know that God loves you?”  and he responded, “Yes!” and then I said, “Benjamin, do you trust me?” and he said, “Yes mama!”  as he snuggled in closer he said, “I’ll be brave.”   He really is the bravest kid.   I wish I had the words to properly convey how humbling and overwhelming it is to watch your child truly trust God.  When said child is only 4, it is just mind blowing.  Benjamin is sweet and gentle and so loving.  Benjamin can not hear sirens without requesting that everyone pray, well commanding it is more like it.  When you pray, you have to pray for the person who is hurting, for their family, for the people driving, and for their safety.  You can’t leave anyone out.

    We had been home for a couple days and Ben was still whiny and not eating.  His dentist decided it was time to take out two molars before he has surgery.  One of them was infected and yet Ben wouldn’t really complain.  Benjamin’s surgery is scheduled for August 13th at Mayo.  We have to check in early the morning of the 11th to check his platelets and see what needs to be done to get him ready for surgery.  I am nervous about this surgery, but we know it is his only hope of being pinker and extending his life.  We are trusting in God’s plan and His timing.  We are putting Benjamin in His hands and praying for the best.   Plus, Benjamin has decided that he is SuperBen Ben and he can handle anything!

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    Plus, Gracie has informed me that “it’s a pretty good day for a miracle”.  So we are going to go with that.  It does seem like a pretty good day for a miracle!  🙂

    Cassandra

    She has been such a huge help this summer.  She was invaluable in China and continues to be so.  She allows her mama some sleep, some much needed sleep.  I am always amazed at how much she has learned from our life.  She is so far ahead in her walk with Christ than I was at her age.  Here is her latest post that shows exactly what I’m talking about.   Things I Have Learned

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    The boy turned 25.  How is that even possible?  I’m barely over 25.  Although, I suppose that makes the fact that I just had my 30th high school reunion a little improbable too.  🙂   Codey has adjusted well to all his siblings.  He doesn’t seem to mind the increased decibels in the house.  It has gone remarkably well.  Better than I could have even hoped for.  He has been healthy and he is a pretty happy guy.

    Elijah

    We now know why it said that he was “charming and handsome” throughout his papers from the orphanage.  This boy will charm the socks off you.  He is sweet and the faces he makes just crack me up.  Last night we hit a wonderful milestone and he melted my heart a little more.  There are many habits that children come with, who are raised in an institution, one of them is not wanting to be held or rocked.  Some, not all, children have this.  They are so used to being alone.  Comforting themselves.  Not crying out when they are in pain because no one responds.  It’s just very, very sad.  Last night Eli had a nightmare and he let me rock him.  He let me hold him and comfort him and he said, “Mama, wuv you.”  Those moments are to be treasured.   Those moments of complete trust and the understanding that you are there for them.  Little tiny steps but every time they happen they just warm your heart.

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    Evangeline

    This little girl just continues to improve every single day.  She has gained about a pound a week and weighs in at 20 pounds now.  She is sitting, crawling all over, pulling herself up to standing.  She is singing and saying new words every day.  Little Evie’s heart catherization is scheduled for August 6th at the U of I Hospitals.   I am soooooo not ready for this, but she is getting bluer and bluer.  It needs to be done.  I love, love, LOVE this little girl so much!  She has a personality that is just so big!  She steals people’s hearts in a matter of minutes when they meet her.   They are hoping to place a stent in her PDA and increase the blood flow to her very small pulmonary arteries.  Their hope is with increased blood flow, maybe her arteries will grow.  I’ve had others write to me, to encourage us, with stories telling how this has worked for their children.  Praying that there is hope for our little Evie Faith.  Her middle name says it all – we have proceeded in faith and continue to press on in faith.

    Faith makes things possible NOT easy.  Have you heard that saying before?  That’s where I am right now.  It’s easy to love her.  It’s easy to have your heart completely stolen by her.  It’s easy to thank God for the gift of being her mama.  It’s hard to know that I may not ever get to have a birthday cake with her.  How silly is that?  But not being able to celebrate a milestone with her makes me cry.  It really is the little things in life that matter.  It’s hard to think about taking this chance, even though the percentage is low that she won’t make it through the cath, the truth is she might not.  Am I strong enough to take this chance?  How strong is my faith?  Can I truly just turn it over?  Fear Not!  Fear NOT!  FEAR NOT!  Eyes directly on the Lord and counting each and every blessed day I get to spend with her.

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    Gracie

    She just got a great report from the hospital at her check-up.  She got to drop another medication.  She grew taller, which is a big deal for a child who isn’t growing from being on steroids.  She’s been doing really, really well.  She has also informed me that when she grows up she is adopting 20 kids.  That is just my Gracie’s heart.  She loves more and wants to do more.  She just loves her siblings.   In the picture below she made an early morning picnic for them.  She’s always the one making the forts, playing games, giving baths (with help), having dance parties, etc.

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    If you are wondering why Benjamin is in a penguin costume, well, the night before the girls had a fancy dance party complete with big, frilly dresses.  Benjamin thought he should wear a tuxedo and this was as close as he could find.  He then wanted to sleep in it, which I allowed.  There’s just something about not knowing how many days you have that make the little things seem like not such a big deal.  Who cares if he sleeps in a penguin costume?

    Hope

    Hope is Epic!  Her words not mine.  I was asking her what she wanted me to tell others about her and she jokingly said, “Say I’m epic!” and then rolled on the floor laughing.  So, of course, I have to include those words.  That is just the kind of mom I am. Supportive!  Actually, Hopey is truly epic and is doing really well.  Health wise you’d never have any clue she is missing half her heart.  She recently just had a nasty bout of strep, but other than that she has been remarkably well.

    Jasmine

    Oh my goodness, this girl has been busy.  She went to another VBS at a friend’s church.  It was wonderful because they used the same VBS theme that our church did so she already knew all the songs and could sing along.  She is learning more about God every day.  We tell her the basics.  God made everything.  God loves you.  God loves me.  We love God.  God brought us to her.  Today a friend of the family who speaks fluent Mandarin asked her about God and told her a few more things.

    The reward for attending every night of VBS was a ticket to the local amusement part, Adventureland.  Tonight she went with Grace, Hope, Cassie, Zach and Stephanie.  She loved it.  She had a corn dog and a sno-cone.  She tried the teacups, the ferris wheel, and a pretty tame roller coaster.  She played tons and tons of games with Zach and won two small stuffed toys.  She had an old time picture taken in the photo shop.

    She has come so far.  We are still waiting for her neuro appointment and her 2 1/2 hour MRI, which is scheduled for next week.  She had an eye exam this week and it broke my heart.   So many things that orphans feel and are fearful of that we can’t even imagine.  Take for instance the eye exam.  They started showing her letters and all was going well until the letter “H” came up on the screen.  She didn’t know “H” so they handed her a board with four letters on it and asked her to point to the one she saw.  It was then that the tears started. Not just a tear but full-out-sobbing tears.  It broke my heart.  She heard the word “test”, couldn’t say the letters, and just lost it.  When I asked her about it on Google Translate all she would say was that she was “afraid”.  She wouldn’t/couldn’t tell me why.  It just made me sad.  Something as simple as not knowing a letter should not fill you with such fear.

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    Today I asked her if she was happy here and her little face just lit up and she said, “Oh yes, Mama!”  Those three little words just made my day.

    Lainey

    She is still not sleeping which makes for some really, really, really long nights.  We have started taking shifts.  Every once in a while, Hopey takes the 10 p.m. to 12 p.m. shift for me, because she likes to play video games and she isn’t able to have alone time during the day.  It’s a win-win situation.  Zach hasn’t been able to take many because of the final push on his video game, but sometimes takes the 1 to 3 shift.   Cassie has been taking the 1 a.m. to 7 a.m.  shift with Dan taking over at 4 a.m. when he is able to.  Cassie is sleeping on and off during those hours, getting bottles left and right, holding a child who doesn’t want to be consoled, and all in all, being a life saver.  I get up around 6:30 a.m. and take over with the crew, since no one, but the older kids, like to sleep past 7.  Cassie then goes back to bed until noon.   We have to find a solution before the end of August because Cassie will be going back to school.  We have recently been approved to try melatonin.  There was some debate on whether you could use it with a child with PKU, but we’ve been given the okay.  Hopefully, this will help our child, who doesn’t want to sleep. sleep.

    On top of that we found out that Lainey is extremely farsighted.  We have been noticing that she grabs at things funny, like she just can’t see it clearly. She takes both hands and kind of starts big and brings them in closer.  She seems to have an issue with depth perception and she is clumsy.  It’s nice that at least there is a reason for this.  We ordered her a pair of glasses.  They are like goggles, completely unbreakable.  This child might make that statement untrue.

    lainey

    Here she is rocking her compression shirt.  It has really helped her.  When you put the shirt on, she instantly becomes calm.  It is the strangest thing.

    But all in all, if you saw the Lainey we saw on day 1 and compared her to the Lainey you see before you now, things are so much better.  Truly better.  She is happy.  She hugs.  She plays with the kids.  She laughs out loud.  It does a mama’s heart good to know that she knows she is loved.

    Maisey

    Well, little Maisey Mei got herself some glasses.  Fitting glasses on a little Asian nose and not really having ears is a challenge.  These are what we found.  Cute, little, pink wire-rimmed glasses.  We use her hearing aid headband to hold them up and it seems to be working pretty well.  Her speech has just taken off.  She is getting clearer and clearer in the way she says her words.  She is a great big sister to the littles.

    mei glasses

    Mom

    Mom is back in her own home and feeling better.  She  just had her check-up today.  She is still really weak but is steadily getting better.  Her ejection fraction went from 20% to 35% – so that was wonderful!  We were also told that she would need her carotid surgery done first to allow for proper blood flow to her brain when she is put on bypass.  They said surgery is likely three months after pulmonary emboli are discovered.  That would mean surgery could possibly be in 2 months with her quadruple bypass following 4-6 weeks later.

    I am posting pictures of all the kids so I thought I’d include the picture my sister-in-law recently took of my mom.  She is rocking those Minnie Mouse shades!  Mom won’t care.  Really she won’t.  Have I mentioned that my mom doesn’t own a computer or know how to get on the web to even read my blog?

    45401_10152328194449119_1556514597_n

    (No worries.  I did tell her and she gave me permission.)

    Zachary

    He is busy with his new game that is set to be released at the end of the month.  I say “his” but the truth is, he is the lead programmer for an international company trying to put their first game out.  It’s pretty exciting watching how God has let him use his degree from home, which pretty much everyone said wasn’t possible.  Oh and have I mentioned that he has a girlfriend?   She is very sweet and all of Zachary’s siblings really, really like her.  I won’t out them and put up a picture….yet.  For now, do you hear that Stephanie?  🙂

    Everyone

    Everyone gets along so much better than I could have even hoped for.  Maisey helps Lainey in so many ways.  Maisey seems to have an affinity for helping those who aren’t able to communicate.  She just gets right in their face and directs them.  She makes Lainey hug and hold hands and play.  It is a blessing to watch them play.

    sisters

    Right now the littles are riding their cozy coupes in circles around the couch.

    cozy coupe

    Life is hectic, busier than I could even ever imagined but it is full of love and laughter.  I couldn’t imagine my life without even one of my blessings.

    Praying life is treating you well friends.  Enjoy your family, your friends, your faith and follow God’s lead without fear!

     

     

     

  • Dr. Joyce Hill

    Date: 2013.06.26 | Category: Elijah, Lainey Rae, Maisey, Thoughts to ponder

    There are people in our lives that change us for the better.  People, who we have never even met, whose words impact us and change the course of our future.  Dr. Joyce Hill is one of those people in my life.  It was by chance that I even learned about her.

    joyce_robin

    One day I just happened to post on a Show Hope Facebook status, thanking the volunteers for all that they do for the orphans in China.  I don’t often comment on Facebook threads where I don’t know anyone, but that day I felt led to say “thank you”.  At the time, we were waiting to go get Maisey and Benjamin.  Cathy at Show Hope responded to my comment and asked me if they had cared for any of our children.  I told her that I didn’t think so and she asked for their names so she could check.  She told me that they hadn’t cared for Benjamin but they had cared for Maisey.  We exchanged e-mail addresses.  She told me about the wall in her office where she has pictures of children waiting for their forever families and pictures when they get home.  I thought that was very sweet and I told her I would send her a family picture when we all got home.

    Many months later, Cathy wrote me back saying that she remembered that Maisey (Chaya) had been in an earlier newsletter and she thought that I might like to see it.  Through that e-mail we learned that Maisey was the 1,000th baby at The House of Hope in China.  We learned that the Hill’s ran this home and their mission statement was “To comfort always, to relieve often, and to save sometimes.”   We were intrigued and purchased the book that Elisabeth Gifford wrote called “The House of Hope”.  When reading this book, on almost the last page of the book (pg. 216) we read “On 22 October, Chaya, an abandoned baby with huge, trusting eyes, was admitted to New Hope.” This book is an amazing testimony to following God’s calling in your life.  I highly recommend reading this book.  This book will open your eyes to the plight of the orphan and move your heart to do more – whatever your calling may be.

    Maisey

    Dr. Hill has now treated many of the sickest babies in China at the House of Hope.  In Maisey’s case, we learned that they found her in an orphanage weighing 6 pounds at 6 months.  They cared for and loved my Maisey back to health.  Because of their care, we have been blessed with this sweet, little girl.  It’s hard to explain what something like that means to a parent.  To know that your child suffered, that someone saw her worth, and gave her a chance.  And because of that chance, you were blessed with the sweetest little girl with the biggest personality.

    Dr. Hill has also cared for my little Lainey and Elijah.  Eli was cared for at Maria’s Big House of Hope.  He was actually their 500th child admitted.  I saw Eli’s picture in the New Hope Foundation newsletter and fell instantly in love with this little guy.  It’s pretty amazing that we ended up with two of their milestone babies.  Lainey was also cared for by New Hope.  She has required a special formula for her metabolic disease and they were able to provide that for her.

    eli

    lainey

    The Hills influenced Dan and I in one more really big way.  In their book they have a quote, when they were talking about what God was asking of them.  Joyce said, “Rob, I think God is asking us to get into a river and I don’t know where we are going to end up, but I think we should just get in and we should go with it.”   Her husband, Robin, had a well-paying job.  They lived a very comfortable life.  They decided to give it all up and stay in China and care for the very least of these.  Up until that moment, they hadn’t even thought about staying in China and caring for orphans.  They just felt that God was telling them to stay.  God was encouraging them to bring compassion to dying children, to let these children know love no matter how many days they had left.  I can think of no greater calling in life than to care for those that others have discarded or considered unworthy of their time.  When Dan and I felt led by God to adopt four, we felt unprepared and wondered if we could do this.  We prayed about it and decided to do what the Hills had done and jump in and see where God would lead us.  To give up control and to trust in His plan.

    We proceeded in faith and had a year of watching miracle after miracle unfold until we were allowed to adopt four at one time in China.  It hadn’t been done before and they said they wouldn’t make it a precedent, but we were the privileged pair that watched it all miraculously unfold.  What a gift.  What a glorious thing to be a part of.

    Through all of this we learned about Love Without Boundaries, which Dan is now a volunteer for.  Dan and Dr. Hill have corresponded during the past year and have become friends.

    As you can see, the Hills have played a huge part in our lives.  I had always hoped to meet them.  Dr. Hill has been ill for many years.  She has been confined to her bed, flat on her back for way too long now, but she has still continued doing her work from that position.  Unfortunately, we recently learned that Dr. Hill had been in a coma and was not doing well.  She had gone home only to be hospitalized again.   It is posted on their site and you can read about it there.  Hope Foster Home

    Today, however, we learned that Dr. Hill has woken up and surgery is being performed as I write this blog.  There is hope today at the House of Hope.   I ask for prayers for Dr. Hill.  Please pray for her and her family.  Pray for the doctors and nurses who are caring for her.   I pray that her suffering is eased and that there is an end to the endless headaches that she has suffered.  In a world full of celebrity worship and heroes that have very little worth,  I believe Dr. Hill to be a true Hero.   Even though she would be the first to tell you that what they did wasn’t as much brave as it was obedient, Dr. Hill will always have a very special place in my heart.  Because of her care, because of them following God’s lead in their lives, my life has been blessed with three of the most wonderful children you could ever ask for.  That is a priceless gift.  How do you ever thank anyone for something that wonderful? There are not words to convey my feelings for Dr. Hill.  I ask that you continue to lift Dr. Hill up in prayer and I pray that she will be blessed with the same compassion and caring that she has showered on so many others.

    P.S.   If you feel so lead, you can support the Hill’s in their mission on their website.  Hope Foster Home (Babies)  They have a page listing the financial needs they have or you can specifically sponsor a child.  I highly recommend sponsorship because you get updates on how that child is doing. It is a fun way to care for one of the least of these.  We sponsored Lainey who was Ginny Rebecca on the site and we got updates for her along the way.  There are many ways to help both monthly and as a one time gift.

     

  • Miraculous happenings.

    Date: 2013.04.24 | Category: Adoption, Elijah, Maisey

    “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein

    My Facebook post from today:

    We went ahead and planned our consulate visit for the girls and set our travel based on their schedule. We didn’t want Min to have to wait any longer than necessary since she is so close to aging out of the system. (In China once you hit 14, you are no longer available for adoption.) She will turn 14 on June 1st. We took a chance that they might not be able to get Eli’s Article 5 and travel approval (T.A.) granted in time to have the same consulate appointment as the girls, which would mean extra days in China waiting for his consulate appointment. When we asked the Consulate if they could hold an appointment for him, they told us not without a T.A. So we decided to proceed and left the details up to God. He’s done a pretty good job so far this year. Today we heard that T.A. has been issued and the consulate appointment is the same day as the girls. This has been a year of miraculous happenings all around. Feeling very blessed today. We get to travel and get them all at the same time without delays! If you’ve never adopted you may not understand just how miraculous this is but I can assure you the delays in paperwork are mind boggling sometimes. Believe me this is huge!

    I just thought I’d share an interesting tidbit of our adoption journey.

    Here is an excerpt from the June 2012 newsletter that we read with Eli’s (Warren’s) information.  This is the picture that I fell in love with.

    “This week we ask for prayer for a family for Warren who has a complex heart condition that the surgeons say he may have a chance of some surgeries if he is adopted to the US. Please pray that a family would be willing to adopt sweet Warren to give him the best that life can offer despite his condition.”

    july 25th 2012 019

    And the very next month here is what the newsletter said:

    “Prayer Request for the month:    Last month we asked for prayers for a family for Warren and we rejoice greatly for answered prayers. We hear that a family in the US is very interested in adopting him and we hope that everything will go smoothly and quickly for him.”

    Why did this news change?  Well, because we asked about this sweet, little guy.  I mean seriously….just look at that face.  Would you not fall in love too?  I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.  When we got the papers from his orphanage, they described him over and over again as handsome and charming.

    And later we read this amazing news in Show Hope’s July newsletter and all the while I was reading it I was thinking “No, you can’t advocate in this newsletter for a family for Warren because his mommy and daddy have been found.”  And then I prayed….a lot!  Hoping that we would be the family that would be allowed to adopt him.  All the while Ben was calling this little boy his didi (little brother), which made absolutely no sense.

    “We ask for prayer that a family will be able to adopt sweet Warren so that he might be able to have the chance of surgery and the best that life can offer him,” shares Dr. Joyce Hill, who oversees the Show Hope Special Care Centers.

    Maria’s Big House of Hope, located in the Henan province, has provided care, love, and medical attention for 500 children with special needs. Within all three Special Care Centers located throughout the province, Show Hope has provided life-giving care for more than 800 children.

    “Warren, as the 500th child to come into care at Maria’s Big House of Hope, signifies the hundreds and thousands of children we hope to care for in the coming years, thanks to the generous support of so many amazing donors and supporters,” shares Scott Hasenbalg, Show Hope’s Executive Director. “We have the amazing opportunity to watch miracles happen as children who had no hope become stronger, healthier and happier children. As more donors join this work, we hope to open even more Special Care Centers as soon as we are able.”   (Show Hope)

    Eli was our own little celebrity.  I find this whole thing ironic.  The reason that I chose to adopt in the first place was that Mary Beth Chapman just happened to write a book.  Choosing to See  I had been wrestling for quite a while with the fact that Dan wanted to adopt again, but I felt like I was too old.  In the book, Mary Beth’s daughter asks her if it is better for an orphan to have an older mother or no mother at all.  I read those words, cried, changed my opinion and we proceeded with our adoption.  This little boy that I fell in love, (Warren/Eli)  had been cared for in Maria’s Big House of Hope, which is named after the Chapman’s daughter Maria who had been killed in a tragic accident.  And then another amazing thing happened  (another sign of God’s humor and His work in all of this).  After we had been home with Maisey for a few months, we learned some information about her.  She was a little celebrity in her own right.   She had been written about in a book.   The House of Hope   Our little Maisey (Chaya) was New Hope Foundation’s (Hope Foster Home ) 1,000th admission.  If you sponsor a child in this home, it goes through Show Hope too.  Coincidence?  A twist of fate?  I choose to believe otherwise.  I know whose hand has been  all over our adoptions.  What are the odds that we would be blessed with being parents to both of these “milestone” children who had been cared for by Show Hope which is helped by the very people (The Chapmans) who sent us on our adoption journey to start with?

    In life, if you take the time to look, you will see God’s hand in the smallest of details.  Things that we think are unimportant or don’t matter, add up to bigger things down the road.   A book read, a detour in the road, your pain, a delay, they all can be part of a bigger plan, a bigger purpose.  “It’s incredible to realize that what we do each day has meaning in the big picture of God’s plan”  ( Bill Hybels )  Do everything as unto the Lord because you never know which part of your seemingly ordinary day is just waiting for God to make it extraordinary.

  • Maisey Meilyn is 3!

    Date: 2013.04.09 | Category: Adoption, Maisey, Photos

    I remember being matched with my little girl. I remember Dan and I praying about it and him giving her the nickname “cupcake”.  I remember him saying that he was ready to be matched as soon as possible.  We had just sent in our papers and they said we would probably be matched in 6 months or so.  They called us to present Maisey the very next day.   We had checked on the “Medical Conditions Checklist” that we would consider a deaf child. Cassie had just taken a year of ASL and thought we could do it.  We agreed to accept this little girl as ours.  I remember a few days later, I was standing in Linda’s kitchen, and realized that it was my little girl’s birthday.  I cried.  She was turning one and we were looking at a whole year before we could go get her.  It was so heartbreaking and unimaginable.  So much happens with a child between the ages of one and two, and we were going to miss it all.  My heart just hurt thinking about it.

     

    Then the day was finally here, we were going to travel.  Oh, that moment when they first placed her in my arms.  It was March 12th, 2012.  We got her in time to get to celebrate her 2nd birthday with her.   I was so overwhelmed with emotion when I first saw her face.  She was just so quiet and timid.  She walked around with her head hanging down.  She was hesitant…..

     

    But then we started to get glimpses of who Maisey really was.

     

    She was sweet and compassionate and loving.  When Maisey decided we were her family, she was all in.  There was no hesitation on her part.  She just decided “Hey, I like this being loved thing” and just went with it.  She knows she’s adored.  She knows she’s loved.  She runs and jumps and climbs absolutely everything.  She has no fear.  She lives life with such gusto.  Everything she does is with great excitement.   She wakes up ready to go every day.  She jumps up with a huge smile on her face.  She runs to you and hugs you like you are the best thing she has ever seen in her whole life.  She loves with great enthusiasm.  She loves with reckless abandon.  She comforts you when you are sad.  She is so empathetic.   She is truly so caring.  Plus, she likes to pretend that she is in charge.  🙂

    Dan thinks this song says it all.  (Listen from the 28 second point until the 2 minute mark.)  She is bouncy and full of life and she believes without a doubt that “I’m yours!”.

    We have been so blessed to be loved by Maisey this year.  We set out to save a little girl without much hope for a future in China.  The future for a deaf child and an orphan in China is very bleak.  We learned after we got home that Maisey weighed 6 pounds at 6 months.  We found out that she was a mini-celebrity.  She was the House of Hope’s 1,000 patient.  She was even listed in the book The House of Hope by Elisabeth Gifford .  Maisey’s name was Chaya in the book.  The Hills saved our little girl.  She is a fighter.  When we got her she had no way to communicate and had a huge bald spot on the back of her head from throwing herself on the floor.  Now she is signing and has her BAHA (bone conducting hearing aid) and her speech has just taken off.  She sings and dances.  She loves tumbling and her tumbling teacher (Cassie).  She loves to slide and run and swing.  She loves books.  She loves babies.  She just loves life.  What a beautiful addition to our family she has been.  One of the best things about Maisey is her love and compassion for Codey, a totally unexpected, beautiful gift.   We all feel blessed to have Maisey run to us, yelling our name,  jumping up, and hugging us as tight as she can. Maisey makes everyone feel loved.

    Happy birthday sweet Maisey!  Looking forward to what the next year has in store for you as you learn and grow.  I can’t wait for you to meet your new siblings and for you to spread your love and sunshine all over them too.  🙂  Mommy loves you so much sweet girl!  I can’t wait to see what God has in store for you, my sweet, little cupcake!

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