The place where what you thought was going to happen, doesn't happen.
Where you either get mad about your situation and give up, or you hang on and trust God.
The day after Thanksgiving, V and her Dad let me know they are planning to keep the baby. I had wondered if it might be coming, so I was not caught completely off guard. But it was still hard.
Three days ago, on Lucas' birthday (his one wish!), this precious baby made her appearance. There was such happiness in his voice when V's dad called to share the news. She is very loved. I suspect she has her Grandpa wrapped around her little finger already.
We've been invited to continue in our friendship with this sweet family. We are not sure what that will look like yet, but we look forward to keeping a connection with them.
Please pray for us as we walk this road.
Please also pray for V as she begins her parenting journey.
This is not easy. We are a little discouraged. This was to be a designated adoption, which would cost us only basic legal fees. Now we will work with our adoption agency and our fees will be $9,000. Their fees are SO reasonable and warranted. They cover counseling, a few birthmother expenses, legal paperwork, etc. And we love our agency, so we are happy to pay for their services. But it is a big jump for a family that just experienced three years of unemployment. (Did I mention Andy just started a new job? That is another post! :)
Thank you for the loving support and encouragement we've received from so many of you. You remind us in these low moments that this journey is about much more than growing a family.
I've received a large number of body butter orders this week. It turns out several bloggers have featured our organic whipped hair & body butters on their blogs. What a fun surprise! A big thank you to Ashlee, Sharla, Lovelyn, Lora, & Kristen for encouraging families to check out our products! :) It's a great way for me to pass the time while we wait to find out if the little one we're matched with will be joining our family or not. It's been a hard wait this week, so I'd appreciate prayers for that.
As we look forward to our day of thanks tomorrow, and the shopping that traditionally begins right after that, I am thankful that our family keeps it simple. Both sides of the family exchange a bare minimum of gifts, and keep the focus on the reason that Christmas exists -- to celebrate the birth of our Savior!
This year, I've been reminded that the shopping that we do has the potential for feeding into the consumerism that surrounds us, or making a difference.
If you are looking for opportunities to shop with a purpose this Christmas, check out this post, by Lovelyn.Every idea posted is an opportunity to invest in helping women in other countries support their families, assist an organization that cares for orphans, or add to the adoption fund of a family bringing a new little one home. I will be checking our budget soon. There are some awesome products listed, and I can't wait to buy a few!
If you didn't find everything you need there, check out Andrew and Lora's blog, Vitafamiliae. They said, "Every shop on this list represents a family or ministry raising money for adoption and orphan care. This Christmas take your gift-giving to the second power by buying gifts from these families." Be prepared to enjoy a lot of browsing and find some very unique gift ideas. There are almost 60 links here!
Then, since by this point you're staying up until 1am anyway, take a few more minutes and check out on of my fav blogs, Rage Against the Minivan. Kristen says in her Gifts that Give Back post, "In a season marked by giving, I love the idea of giving back to our community and our planet. A few years ago, my family decided to forego gifts for the adults, and give donations in each person’s name instead. It’s been so fun thinking of each family member and finding ways to honor each of them with a unique donation. Here are some great ways you can do your Christmas shopping and give back at the same time."
If you know of any other great lists, please let me know. I'd love to post them here!
We were honored last week when Sharla, from Adoption Magazine (based in Canada), asked if she could share our post on supporting adoptive families. (Click here to read.)
Sharla's blog exists to encourage adoptive families, share the beauty and complexity of the adoption journey, and share information with those who are considering walking this road. I encourage you to check it out!
While you're there, take a few minutes to read my friend Denise's post on failed adoptions, called Empty Car Seats. She beautifully captured the roller coaster ride that is adoption. Now I don't need to write that post myself! ;)
Today, we are celebrating. It is official! Yesterday afternoon, we met with a beautiful young lady who has asked us to adopt her little girl, due the beginning of December. V is from Togo, and she has not been in the states for long. We had a wonderful visit, complete with a viewing of her brand new ultrasound pictures. Baby girl was facing up, so they captured her precious little face, and a foot print, too!
We have such a peace about this situation. We were matched through friends, and it is very evident that God brought this young lady across our path for a reason. We hope it is so we can adopt her little sweetie, and we have great hopes for a wonderful relationship with her, too.
Such excitement around our house today. The weather is changing, a baby is coming, and we can't wait to get ready for her. We have so much to be thankful for. :)
Favorite natural remedies: (not all at once, of course!)
herbal remedy every 2 hours
green juice with probiotics mixed in
bath with oatmeal in a sock; don't rinse
bath with a few drops peppermint oil and tea tree oil; don't rinse
bath with epsom salt & baking soda; don't rinse
1/2 tsp. baking soda in 1 c. water; dab mixture on spots and let dry
organic raw apple cider vinegar; dab on spots, let dry
olive oil and vitamin E oil as an 'everywhere' moisturizer (optional: add 1 drop tea tree oil)
chaparral healing salve on spots
mixture of raw honey, cinnamon, & vitamin E on spots
We decided a long time ago, for a variety of reasons, that we did not want our children to have the chicken pox vaccine. When a friend's children came down with chicken pox, we exposed all the kids and prepared ourselves for self-imposed quarantine and a good case of the itchies. Two weeks later, Lucas & Destany had a little fever and a couple spots. We exposed everyone again, and Keandre got a mild case (12 spots/all the classic symptoms). What gives?
Finally, we figured it out. Although I had told her we didn't want the vaccine, our former pediatrician (SO glad I can say 'former') gave the older three children an MMR/Varicella combination. I didn't know such a thing existed, and I was not happy when I figured this out a few days ago. Grrrr.... We decided that at least this was a good booster and will hopefully bring good immunity regardless.
Brooklyn was the last to get them, possibly because she is still nursing. She is handling it wonderfully!
We know 9 or 10 families who have been taking this polka dotted journey with us, so we've had no lack of playtime with them. But we are glad it is almost over, too! We are ready to head back out to the park, the grocery store, and for playdates with friends who didn't feel like sharing the polka dots with us. :)
Andy has started biking Destany to school some days.
She loves it!
Brooklyn has the chicken pox. Not too many spots so far. We're doing lots of baths, which she loves!
While I was busy giving baths, Lucas decided to take the morning off school and dig a big hole in the backyard.
Before B's morning nap, we put a raw honey, cinnamon, and vitamin E mixture on her spots. She was a sweet and sticky mess, but she slept great, and woke up happy! Then into another oatmeal bath she went. :)
I've been stalling on this, but it is time. Our adoption fund took a hit with our failed adoption, and I finally updated it -- deducting the $3,100 we used. Because we provided for all of this birthmom's needs for three weeks -- setting up 2+ months of room & board, and completing some of the legal work for the adoption, we needed to pay for those services.
This adoption loss was a painful experience for us, but thankfully, I can also say it was one without regrets. After all, this baby is related to our sweet Keandre. She deserves everything we could give her, and more. We had an opportunity to be a part of her life, even if only for 3 weeks and before she was born, and we took it. Regardless of how it turned out, Keandre and his birth family will always know that we believe God caused our paths to cross for a reason, and that we acted in faith when we were asked to be available for her, even though her birthmom later changed her mind.
We know through a relative that this precious baby will be four weeks old tomorrow. We think of her often, and pray that she is healthy and in a loving family. We know someday we will learn the rest of the story. That is the blessing of an open adoption, and having continued contact with Keandre's first family.
Please know that your loving support has helped us to recover from this loss with our faith firmly intact.
And yes, we still feel strongly that God would have us be available for another baby, and we can't wait for Him to show us what He would have us do next!
If you need some body/hair butter, please let me know. If you need a babysitter for a date night, we'd love to help you out. Just email us or give us a call. :)
I know, I know. It's been *forever* since I posted. I'm happy to be back in the swing of things! We've been laying low for a while, busy with family, dealing with the adoption loss, and enjoying the start of the new school year. A friend and I just started a multicultural home school group, and we're excited to be off to a great start. (Fourteen families have joined already!) And did I mention the weather just turned in Phoenix?! Ahhhh, hope is in the air. :)
First things first. I went back through my unfinished drafts and posted a few of them (post-dated, of course). Enjoy!
We have been known to dress all our kiddos in the same color, to keep track of them at the Children's Museum or a crowded splash pad. But a trip to Target? I assure you it was their idea this time. But I figured we stand out as it is. Why not really make them wonder? :) (Can you believe we had 5 shirts in 5 different shades of green, and they all fit? Nothing short of amazing, I say.)
ps - We're having a great time with cousin Sam this week while his parents celebrate their 10th Anniversary. Congratulations, Uncle David & Auntie Sarah!
UPDATE: We did it! CURED was in 2nd place for the Central region when the contest ended, and won the $100,000 grant! Thank you SO much for your help!
Are you on Facebook? Do you have a spare 30 seconds a day to vote for a good cause?
If so, we need your help! Vivint is giving away LOTS of money to a select few charities. And we, the general public, get to decide who gets the money!
There are MANY great charities on the list, but we hope you'll choose CURED. This non-profit organization working toward a cure for Eosinophilic diseases.
Keandre has this serious and painful disease. It has been life-altering for him. It has changed who he is as a person. If you have followed our journey at all, you know that he has had a rough go of it. We are so very thankful to say he is finally on the path to healing, but we have a long way to go still. It has taken daily medication and strict avoidance of 21 different foods (dairy, eggs, nuts, wheat, soy, fish, chicken,....you get the picture?) to even start him on the right path. And he will continue to need regular endoscopies, medications, and this very strict diet indefinitely.
If you know Keandre (or another child with an Eosinophilic disease), we'd appreciate you voting in his honor. Here is the link to vote.(And here is where Vivint explains how to vote.)
It's official. Destany is in first grade! Ultimately, we hope to have both Lucas and Destany at a local Montessori school, but while we wait to see if there is a little movement on the waiting list, Destany is at the local school, and Lucas chose to continue home schooling. Yes, I have mixed feelings about it. But we are quite content to try out public school for a time, knowing we can return to home schooling at any time.
At the end of the day, we were presented with a little keepsake. You may notice that she wrote Nichole instead of Destany. Yes, at school our sweetie is going by her middle name, Nichole. At home, too, if she can get us to remember! We have always liked the name Nichole, and it is her birthmother's name, too. So when she decided that starting at a new school was a good time to try out a new name, we agreed. So far, so good!
I know. We have been quiet around here lately! Thank you for all the sweet emails, facebook messages, and thoughts and prayers for us after our adoption loss.
Someday I hope to write more about losses in adoption. We have now experienced three failed adoptions over the last 5 years -- each of them unique. Failed adoptions are so often feared in the adoption community.
For now, I want to simply reassure our friends and family that although I haven't been blogging, we really are doing fine. We're just enjoying some quiet time and the flexibility of summer schedules.
When we suddenly matched with this expectant mama, life went on hold as we helped her relocate, get set up with our agency, etc. Now that the adoption is off, and we are finding closure and moving on, life feels normal again. I like that. :)
I have half a dozen posts floating around in my head, and when I get a spare minute, I might get to post one or two. Maybe.
For now, I'll let you know that we are far from giving up on adopting again. We have enjoyed a break from it all, but now we're gearing up to apply for a couple adoption grants & an interest-free adoption loan. Then we'll start Parents' Nights Out fundraisers again, keep making whipped body butters, and do our homestudy extension, which is due in September.
We still hope that God will bring another precious baby our way, but in the meantime we're enjoying all that life keeps us busy with for now. And trust me, that is plenty! :)
Yesterday morning, as I braided my niece's curls into braids with beads she loves to click-clack, I prayed for the baby girl we would soon add to our family.
Khiana, age 2
Hours later, we received news that our adoption was falling apart.
Same as before, we won't be sharing much here. It is a private matter, and we want to respect the privacy of all who are involved.
Several people asked, when we announced that we were officially matched, if this was the expectant mom we mentioned briefly in this post. Yes, it is. All that we will share here is that this was an unusual situation. This expectant mom knows us -- in real life and through our blog. We respect her right to do what she feels is best for her. And we ask for prayers for all of us as we work through some grief about things not working out as planned.
A few thoughts about all of this....
Do we regret announcing our match? No, not really. It is hard when things turn out this way. But this is life...it is the road we are walking. We want to live life authentically, even when it is hard. We are blessed with amazing friends and family who understand the ups and downs of adoption. They know that in the end, when God brings a baby home through adoption, he or she will be worth the wait. :)
What now? We grieve and finish letting go. We relax and take care of each other. We talk about what we could have handled differently. We help our children express their disappointment and reassure them that although we thought this would be our baby, she was not our baby yet, and sometimes plans change.
What is the next step? We're not sure yet, to be honest. We don't know if God is truly going to grow our family again, or if He just wanted us to walk this road again so we'd be ready when this particular situation arose. But through this, God is growing our ability to leave that in His hands and not have to have every detail of our lives planned out. (If you know me, that is HARD! :)
What about fundraising? Since we don't know what God has in store for us, we will slow down the fundraising until we feel like we have more direction. Some of you will be relieved to know that I plan to make the whipped body/hair butter indefinitely. (I know this because you email me and tell me to please, please, not ever stop! ;) For now, I will keep designating all profits for our adoption fund. We will start up the Parents' Nights Out and other fun stuff again once we know if God would have us continue to save for another adoption.
Thank you! For your loving prayers and support as we excitedly prepared for this little one. You blessed us so much!
Four hours flies by when you're caring for 16 kiddos. :)
Our first PNO adoption fundraiser was great, and afterward my mind was swirling with ideas on how to make it even better! So this time, in addition to everything I did before, I added in the following:
I asked the parents help us instruct the kids on a few guidelines for the night.
I posted signs on the back door reminding everyone to wear shoes outside.
And then take them off again when they head back in.
(It bugs me the feet are all so fair, so I'll be taking my own pics for next time! ;)
Everyone brought swimsuits, towels, and their own labeled water bottle.
Once everyone had arrived, Mr. Joe made nametags for them out of blue painter's tape.
All the plates were labeled with the kiddos' names (blue tape again). I also had all the food prepped in advance so it was easy for Erin and I to serve dinner.
All of these changes helped the evening go relatively smoothly....as much as is possible with so many kiddos! :)
Here is a little of what we did:
We played with the food toys.
We entertained the baby bunnies.
We got wet!
I don't have any great pics from the last hour or so, but after everyone was in their pjs, Mr. Joe played his guitar so we could sing and dance. There were fun & crazy songs, then quieter worship songs to help everyone wind down. Then we dimmed the lights and watched a movie until pick-up time. The kids were hungry again, so I was busy serving more bananas, grapes, & carrots.
We may compost, recycle, carpool, use cloth diapers, and have rabbits in the back that take the place of a lawn mower.
But we aren't quite that environmental.
It's just been one of those months.
That month when the water heater bursts a pipe, the car needs repaired, one AC unit needs expensive work done, then the other AC unit goes kapoot and needs replaced. Oh, and did I mention the water softener also died? Yeesh!*
I've heard of many a Christian family that faced excessive hardship before adopting -- just before taking a leap of faith and committing to another precious child.
Destany said it well a few days ago.
"Mom? I don't think Satan wants us to trust God right now. He is attacking us and trying to make us discouraged!"
Amen, sweet girl.
But our God is stronger, more powerful.
He is faithful.
As always, prayers for provision and protection appreciated.
2 hot & sweaty kiddos
*Note: this is why our adoption fund is separate from our everyday budget! :)
If you're thinking of doing a similar event, and want some ideas, here is how we approached it....
When parents arrived, we asked them to fill in a large sign-in sheet on the wall. This made for easy reference for caregivers.
Here are a few of the notes. (Insightful parents, no? ;) 'official animal guy' 'director of play :)' 'likes to escape' 'drama!!! :)' 'all boy...can be rough, but sweet, too' 'very LOUD!!!' 'sweet 'n sassy' 'a biter :('
We had a schedule, which we followed pretty closely.
We served a meal that was healthy, easy, and could be changed up to accomodate food allergies or picky kiddos. In short, everyone was happy and well fed by the time we left the table.
lunch meat, cheese, veggies & hummus, avocado, grapes, watermelon, etc.
We followed dinner with a healthy dessert -- Dreyers fruit popsicles (no corn syrup, food dye, etc.) The kids didn't know the difference! :)
After everyone was cleaned up and in their pjs, we dimmed the lights and turned on Shaun the Sheep. If you haven't seen Shaun the Sheep, you are missing out! The youngest to the oldest all watched with interest. We picked up this dvd for $5 at Target. We're going to wear it out. (Also on Netflix.)
Keandre has been requesting another 'mohog'. (AKA 'tocog'.) So this morning, before jetting off to church, we obliged.
Unfortunately, I needed to stay home this morning because I've got a headache and no voice. Keandre is baffled. He's convinced I'm kidding him. If only.... Do you know how hard it is to parent four kiddos when you can only whisper??? ;)
...until another precious daughter may be in our arms. Yes -- we are very excited to announce that as of this afternoon, we are matched! The expectant mom is as sure of her decision for adoption as one can be, so we are excitedly making plans to welcome another sweetie into our lives in the near future. She is due exactly two months from today. Yippee! :)
If you are not familiar with the legal fees associated with adoption, you may have wondered about fundraising -- why it's necessary, and whether it's appropriate. My friend Cate blogged about this topic today, and I think she explained it so very well.
Thanks for sharing our link, too, Cate. What a fun surprise. :)
If you know us IRL (in real life), you know we've been praying for an expectant mom who was considering choosing us to adopt her baby girl, due in about 2 months. (We don't post details about potential matches -- only ask for prayer. Thanks for understanding! :)
We were so deeply encouraged by your immediate outpouring of love, prayers for all involved, and a desire to help us fundraise to pay the adoption/legal fees.
It looks like that match is not happening after all, and we are grieving that, but trusting God with the outcome. We know He has a plan for this Mama and her precious daughter.
Starting to get ready for this little girl to join our family definitely confirmed for us that we can't wait to adopt again. Even our children were ready to jump in whole-heartedly. :) Our local agency has very few waiting families right now -- they have had so many placements lately that they are at an all-time low number of available families. So we are excited to put our energy into fundraising again, and we will be available as soon as possible. In the meantime, our agency knows they can call us with an emergency placement if we are needed.
My heart goes pitter-patter at just the thought of a call. :)
Our first fundraiser event will be a Parents' Night Out this Friday, June 24. If you would like to get involved as we prepare to bring our next baby home, there are two ways you can help.
1) Bring your sweetie(s) to our house between 5pm and 9pm on Friday, June 24. Enjoy a kid-free night on the town in exchange for a donation of any size toward our adoption fund.
2) Volunteer to help provide dinner or dessert, contribute some needed supplies (play dough, sidewalk chalk, etc.), or come play a game with us us.
What will your kids do while you are out? We will paint and use play dough, eat dinner together, go for a walk, play games, play with the rabbits, and generally have a great time! We'll end the night with a movie so everyone can wind down before their parents pick them up.
Details: There will be a ratio of one caregiver for every 4 children. All hands-on caregivers will be friends who we would trust with our own children. And if you send pjs and toothbrushes, your child(ren) will even be ready for bed when you return.
Please comment here or email me if you'd like to be involved. And thank you for your continued love and support! :)
-------------- To see how it went, check here. Definitely a fun and successful night!
Today we had an appointment with Keandre's GI doctor and a nutritionist at the children's hospital. Our time there wasn't as helpful as I had hoped, but it never hurts to check in. Basically it comes down to this:
Keep doing what we're doing until July. (Pretty profound, huh? ;)
His stomach hurts daily, and he still coughs and gags -- especially when he is throwing a tantrum. And we have just a few of those every day. Four-year-olds aren't particularly adept at dealing with life-altering medical conditions. Especially when they are dealing with pain and have to avoid some of their most favorite foods ever.
So....now we wait, and pray that his body continues to heal. There is not much more we can do for him until his endoscopy, aside from trying to help him cope with it all. Prayers are always appreciated.
It has been weeks since we posted and asked for your help in naming our rabbits. As it turns out, if you submitted name ideas, this is actually in your favor. Instead of 3 names, we ended up needing nine! Finally, after much discussion, they have all been named. Our kids are excited to send a little 'prize' in the mail for the winners of the name contest. (See bottom of this post.)
Now for the list of bunnies. These sweeties are looking for new homes!
Our biggest rabbit, who seems to have identity issues, was dubbed el Pollo Loco/Crazy Chicken. Update: CC has found a new home with Anna-Lise & Isaac. He probably misses his lady friends, but he'll get over it (we hope). Isaac LOVES him, so at least he'll get lots of attention!
Update: Hop (or Hop-Pop) is 'visiting' Kim & Brian. He may have found a new home. It sounds like he is Evie's new playmate! She calls him Buddy. :)
Flopsy, busy Mama that she is, will be looking for a new home after she weans her last litter. (Which is hopefully the newest babies, born just a couple days ago.)
We'll be keeping two of her babies.
Daisy and Coconut, also known as 'the twins'. (How weird is that -- I actually caught them doing the exact same thing!)
Carrot is very cuddly and is a favorite around here.
Velvet has very unusual coloring -- fur the same color as Brooklyn's hair! (Plus some random grey markings. I think it's kinda endearing. :)
Sweet little Mocha. AKA Mocha-Lotta-Bunny.
Bun-bun also has really random markings and is a sweetie!
And here are the 7 new babes. They were born on May 25, exactly one month after the above bunnies (born April 25). They're a little scrawny, but hopefully they'll do okay.
If you are on Facebook, you may have noticed that we are having trouble limiting the number of bunnies that keep coming our way. It's rather embarrassing, actually. I assure you that we do know how this happens. ;) When we bought our rabbits, they were supposed to be female. And we didn't know a Mama could get pregnant just hours after giving birth! So we may end up with 3 litters in 3 months. (oops.)
That means we have LOTS of bunnies needing new homes. Would you like one? Pretty please?
If you don't know much about rabbits, check out this site. Rabbits make wonderful house pets (easily litter-box trained), are quite social, don't bark or meow, and they are just plain fun to have arround. Ours free-range in the back yard. We wet down an area of dirt every day, and they dig into it and find a cool spot to lay. They are pretty tame, and even hop up to us when we go out back.
Did I mention that we haven't had to mow the backyard grass since last Fall? :)
Congratulations to: Heather & Cooper, Dee, Samuel, Denise, Annie, Daddy/Andy, Sandy & Mark. Thanks to everyone for all your great name ideas!