Sunday, March 1, 2015

Birthday Reflections

My thoughts were so heavy last week as I reflected on this precious kid and all that's he has endured in just one year with us and three years on this earth...

When he wakes he will be three. On his birthday, I know his first mom must be thinking of the baby boy she said goodbye to... I wish I could show her how much we LOVE him and I pray I'm doing right by him. I hope that she would be proud of how we are raising him. I wish I could send her a picture of him eating spaghetti with tomato sauce all over his face. Could she ever imagine he would be living in the US? I wish I could share a video of him pointing to each person in our family and hear him say the words FAMILY. Could she ever imagine THIS family for him? I wish she could hear him when he looks at pictures of babies or animals and hear the words, "awww cute". Could she ever imagine he would speak English? I have so much adoration for this brave woman. I can't fathom ever having to make such a sacrifice.. This year I pray there are less women in India and around the world that will have to choose adoption for their children. All families should be able to stay together and I'm forever thankful to be Ryan's plan B. We love our little chocolate muffin and can't imagine life without him. 



Thursday, February 26, 2015

My heart is for India shirts!

Hey blog friends --

After several requests, we launched our shirts again and need to sell a few more so they'll be printed. Deadline to order is March 1st!

I always get a lot of questions about our shirts when I wear them so it's a great opportunity to share about adoption! They're only $16. Check them out here -- 






Tuesday, January 27, 2015

MATCHED! But there's a small detour in our journey...



Our daughter is not in India, but...






















CHINA! 

It's been a wild roll coaster ride the last two months - lots of twists and turns, many ups and a load of downs.  Here's how it went down:



A week before Thanksgiving, my precious friend, Kristen, tagged me in a post on a China advocacy page. I saw a photo of a little girl, 5 years old, dressed in pink. She just looked like an itty bitty panda bear.





So I saw her photo on the Facebook page and thought, she's cute and went on with my day. A few days later, I went back and looked at her again. I showed Scott a few cutie pie kids and he kept going back to her. She was listed with our agency on their special focus list. I inquired about her and had to get some documents ready to see if we were a good match for China. Were we supposed to change programs? That didn't exactly make sense... Scott and I had a lot of questions and were praying for clarity and maybe some sort of sign....

When you ask Him to send signs, boy will He! Over a week's time, I saw multiple PANDA BEARS everywhere, to include our reading story at school that week was about a panda bear from in China, I saw kids wearing panda shirts, and a Panda Express was opening in our city. Even some of my friends and family were seeing panda bears FOR me and sending me pictures even though I don't think they exactly knew why they were sending me panda pictures (thank you). We also found she shares a birthday with someone very special in our family. That in itself was a HUGE sign.








I mean, really check out all these pandas that have been sent our way in the last several weeks.... 


And more pandas...





We got her file, put her "on hold" and I felt apprehensive looking at all those pages of information. She's had several surgeries and there were a lot of unknowns. Would we be enough to handle what she would need once she's home? I had Little Panda's file sent to the International Adoption Clinic (IAC) in Birmingham so the IA pediatrician (who has also adopted 3 girls from China) could look over it and basically interpret it for us. Once she started telling me all about her little heart and all she's been through and what she most likely will have to endure once she's home, my own heart sank.  I knew it wouldn't be an easy decision to make. I wanted to gather as much information as I could to share with Scott. I posted a question on the China advocacy page, asking if others had any experience with her complex congential heart defect (CHD). I found several wonderful moms and one in particular that was a gem. She had adopted four heart babies from China and was incredibly knowledgeable. One of her China babies is even from the same orphanage. She blew me away with information, all hard facts, nothing sugar coated which is what I needed to hear. She is in close contact with a pediatric cardiologist that looks at files for free. FREE! That was a huge blessing! Once I got the lowdown from the IAC ped, I asked a close group of friends to pray for us.  My friend Medea said I HAD to meet her friend Meredith because she works in China with heart babies so I quickly contacted her. She blew me away with her knowledge plus she has two sisters adopted from China AND one of her sisters has a similar heart condition as Little Panda. She also knew the doctor that did Little Panda's heart surgery. Read that again - in the most populated country in the world, she KNOWS the doctor that did her surgery. What are the odds? I mean, only GOD could connect me with so many wonderful women in a matter of hours. Scott and I talked about it a little over the next few days. I felt confident that if God was sending us to her, then he would make a way for it to work. The easy thing would be to say No. It's always easy to say No to something that's scary and unknown, right? But saying Yes meant we were agreeing to many things we didn't understand. There are times when it's hard to decipher between our will and God's will.  This was one of those times.

Ultimately, we felt uneasy and chose to turn down her file a week later. I grieved for several days. None of it made sense. I kept seeing panda bears everywhere. It just didn't feel right. A few times at school, I put Christmas music on for my kinder babies and let them dance while I attempted to discreetly wipe away tears. A few sweet kinders came over and gave me hugs, not saying a word. A week later, I sent her picture to Scott in a text message and said I felt God wanted us to pray about her again. He said, Ok and that was it. The next day I was finally able to talk with my sweet friend, Missi, who happens to be a miracle. She was in a terrible car accident last summer and nearly died. As we talked, I updated her on our adoption and told her we had looked at a file for a little one ... I got chills and was speechless for several long seconds. It dawned on me that Little Panda has a lot in common with my friend Missi. I told her we had been praying for clarity but at that moment God made it so clear that we were meant to pursue her again. I mentioned it to Scott later that night and didn't think much of it since it was nearly Christmas and things got hectic, especially when the flu entered our home. Two days later, on Christmas Day, after we exchanged gifts Scott said he wanted to give me my "big gift" which was the green light to purse Little Panda if God would continue to open doors. We requested her file for the second time for the second time a few days later. I was able to find a Facebook page for families adopting from her province. In doing so, I connected with Kelly, who visited Little Panda's orphanage with a medical team last fall. She gave me tons of wonderful information about her along with dozens of photos and videos. She then introduced me to a family that adopted a little girl from the same orphanage at the time we first requested her file. They also shared photos and videos with us. Just last weekend I connected with my local friend, Laurie. I met her several years ago through photography and knew her daughter has CHD (congenital heart defect) as well. As we chatted I found out her daughter had one of the same heart surgeries as Little Panda and she also underwent the other heart procedure that Little Panda will need later on. I love how God crossed our paths many years ago and knew this time would come when we would have heart babies in common.


We were transferred to the China program a few weeks ago and we submitted our Letter of Intent on January 16. Yesterday we were granted pre-approval for our Little Panda which begins our journey to China! 


I started writing this all out many weeks ago. I want Little Panda to someday see how God sent a village of people to pave the way to her like only HE can! 



Saturday, December 27, 2014

"The days are long but the years are short"

Isn't that the truth?

It sounds so clique but it is really hard to believe our little chocolate muffin has been home for one year.

On one hand, it's like he's always been with us, and on the other it flew by so fast. It's been a difficult, joyful, crazy, hectic, blessed, frustrating, yet rewarding year. I wouldn't change a thing because all of it has taught me PATIENCE on a whole new level. It has taught me how to LOVE in many tangible ways. It has taught me how to be a better MOTHER. In more ways that one, it's taught me how to be more like JESUS.


We celebrated our Forever Family Day in a couple of scattered ways due to the holidays and weekend plans. We went to eat Indian food with family a few days before at a local Indian restaurant. We all ordered Indian food and Ryan had chicken fingers and fries. :)



Our actual Forever Family Day falls on Christmas Eve since that's the day we were all HOME and reunited as a complete family. Since that's such a busy day, we celebrate on December 16 which is the day he left the orphanage forever. 

That morning we had cake for breakfast. Did I mention he loves cake? Like a lot? Can't you tell from this cheesy-I-love-cake smile?

note the tiny fingers entering the shot on the right..

He may have touched the cake here

He's serious about cake y'all

Cake selfie with Big Bro



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And our One Year Home Photo. Mom totally bombed months 9, 10, and 11. Those were tough months with a not so cooperative toddler. The afternoons are not his best time so when the reminder clicked on my phone, I just turned it off knowing it was just not gonna happen. I think we are finally out of that rough patch since his language/communication has picked up greatly over the last 3-4 weeks. 
THANK YOU JESUS!


I can't even




He's changed so much in one year - he lost some neck rolls, baby fat from his face, and you can tell he's a little taller in the high chair, too. 


In one year Ryan has gained almost 5 pounds and grown four inches taller. He's finally filling out 2T clothes and he turns three in February. Still a peanut but he's growing steadily and he is filled with so much JOY! He's happy all the time y'all. True story.  :) 

So blessed. Thanks for being a part of our story. 









Sunday, November 2, 2014

Orphan Sunday


Today is Orphan Sunday. It's a time to share the plight of the orphan here in the US, watiting in foster care, and those worldwide. Many of you have followed our journey through my (pitiful) blog, Instagram, Facebook and in real life. Many of you know how incredibly blessed we've been in our journey to bring Ryan home from India. Many of you rejoiced with us, prayed with us and have loved our little boy nearly as much as we do. We thank you for being a part of our tiny village.

But. He's just one little boy.

And there are many, many more that need families. Too many to count. Over one hundred million. Imagine the population of Russia, which stands at roughly 143,000,000 people. There are more orphans world wide than there are people in Russia. Let that sink it. 

When we first met Ryan, he just was existing. He walked with a shuffle, barely lifting his feet. In fact, I thought there was something wrong with his leg or hip. He had never run in a grassy backyard or kicked a soccer ball or run on the beach with sand in his toes or even wore shoes appropriate for running. He didn't appear to have a purpose, he was just there. He was missing the love of a family.

As you can see here -







And now - he's filled with so much joy! He laughs and squeals when he's happy, he smiles gigantic smiles that light up his face, hugs big bear hugs, gives sweet kisses and ... He runs. He RUNS! It might not seem like much to some but to witness him go from shuffling like a little old man to a streak of joy running all over the place makes my heart so happy!





On Orphan Sunday we encourage others to be the village for an orphan. Not everyone is called to adopt, but here are a few ways you can choose to be a part of the solution:

  • working in orphan care ministry through mission trips and child/family sponsorship 
  • advocating for those that have no voice to friends and family and on social media
  • coming along side and helping others who choose to adopt by praying for them 
  • offering heart felt emotional and financial support to adoptive families
  • host an orphan through organizations such as New Horizons 
 We can all do something to change the world for the least of these. 



Please take a few minutes to watch this video. It will change the way you look at the orphan crisis, through the eyes of Jesus. 


James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Accepted!

Yesterday we received an email from our new agency telling us our application had been accepted! We are going to be a pilot family for an agency that has extensive experience in over a dozen countries but they haven't worked in India yet. We are thrilled to be able to help pave the way for future India families! Next week we will have a conference call with our case worker to discuss our next steps. Realistically, we are still looking at probably two years before we bring our next child home. We know what to expect this time and we'll just roll with it. :)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Coming Soon - a big sister!


Oh India. 

Throughout our adoption journey with Ryan we didn't think we could muster the strength for another India adoption. They're brutal. The unknowns are terribly difficult and the lack of consistent timelines can make anyone insane. It's definitely not for the impatient. ;) I think we tested that theory a time or two. But once we went to India, we knew God would call us back. We knew he placed India in our hearts for a very distinct purpose. While we may never know all of those reasons, for now we know he's called us to adopt a sister for Katie, Braden and Ryan. In the past several weeks God has opened so many doors and we are boldly walking through them, anxious to see where this will lead. We know this will be difficult and we know the sacrifices involved. We also understand that if we don't adopt, who will? There are too many children waiting for families. Far too many. Some of them die because they don't receive the care they need. Some of them have absolutely no future if a family doesn't come forward. To us, that's unacceptable. 

“We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.” – Radical by David Platt.

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