2014 in review

2014 flew right on by and we are now entering "the year of the hover-board".
I like to spend a little bit of time at the end of the year in reflection. The first time I did this was here, for 2012, helping me create and seal some precious moments in that I would otherwise be unable to recover years from now. So let's look back at some of the biggest moments of 2014.


2014
A year of Hope, Hope Lost, Gratitude, and Grace.


January was our first full month home with Little Man. Quite a chunk of that time was spent battling RSV at Texas Children's. We were thrown head first into parenting. It challenged me to let go of expectations and control. I made the decision right there to not take for granted one second of the new gig I have been given. No matter what. 


In February, we started at The Rise School of Houston. 
Game Changer. 
The teachers and therapists at this school are one of a kind, helping Little Man reach his potential. He loves it, I love it and they, of course, love him. 




We spent Easter weekend in Boston visiting Aunt Courtney, Crazy Uncle C and sweet Cousin Abigail.    

The Ducks were wearing Ukraine and DS awareness colored scarves. They must have heard we were coming to Boston.

Best Friends in the making!


Spring came and brought with us Little Man's first birthday



What many did not know, is it also brought us another pregnancy. As Little Man blew out his candles (Ok, you caught me, really we blew them out), I had sweat beads of morning sickness nausea dripping down my neck. The flame flickered out and I pictured us doing this again at his birthday next year, with a baby in our arms. We were the cliche - we were that story that always gets told to adopting couples - we got pregnant right after an adoption!

In the summer, I graduated as a Family Nurse Practitioner and some how passed boards. Grace! An adoption and grad school might be tricky for some, but not if you are surrounded by the incredible family and friends that I have. As family gathered to celebrate, I started to have signs and symptoms of a miscarriage and we ended up at the hospital instead of the ceremony. Instead of walking the stage, I was given a different gift:
I watched a baby's heart beat within me for the first time. 
Hope had been conceived.
 The next couple weeks we hung onto hope. Each appointment with a flickering heart made my hope grow stronger.


We lost Hope the end of May.



May, June and July were hum-dinger months for Little Man. We got our senses up and going! Tubes were put in the ears, glasses were prescribed and he got his undescended testes brought down! Then to really end the summer with a bang, we had a couple of health scares. Including a rushed ER trip with the car flashers on and me, embarrassingly, hanging my head out the window, flailing my arms screaming for people to get out of our way. Because acting like a maniac in tense situations helps. 
Kidney function concerns, frustrating MRI's, and a couple blood tests later we confirmed Little Man is healthy, happy and thriving. He just had a terrible kidney infection. Once we found the right antibiotic, he healed right up. 
He is tenacious and brave. 


We finally made it to Midland in August. A trip to Mimi and Papa Jack's house after a hectic summer was just what the doctor ordered.




Catching up with old friends. I still can't believe we are old enough to have kids. 


Fall brought pumpkins and teeth.  Little Man loves words that start with d and p and laughs hysterically at them. He brings such joy. He is a gift in so many ways and our lives are way better indeed. He also got a mouthful of teeth; it seems like overnight. We woke up one morning to a cute-giant-toothy grin! 



Fall also brought us an attempt at IUI.  The D's made it a family affair. We even awkwardly met up with Crazy Uncle C in the hospital lobby. 

All of us in the exam room right before the procedure.

 How funny would it have been to say Little Man was there for his brother/sister's conception? 
To be honest, I never really thought it was going to work, I just felt like I needed to try it so I wouldn't regret not having tried it later. Surprisingly, this failed attempt did not rock me the way I feared it might. It might also be because right after the Big-Fat-Negative-news we entered Winter.

Winter brought such a season of gratefulness. Thanksgiving 2013 was spent eating crackers on an orphanage couch with Little Man. To have him in our home, in our arms, crawling around, babbling up a storm this year was overwhelming. 




Thanksgiving 2013 vs. Thanksgiving 2014
Basically, everyday I had a "this time last year" moment that would almost move me to tears. Instagram followers were probably annoyed with all my #tbt cheesy posts. I couldn't stop myself. I was stuck in a sentimental cloud for most of November.
 We are a family. And on Dec 13, we celebrated with our friends and family that we are indeed "Forever a Family." 
His RISE teacher made it to the Forever a Family celebration.

Once again, we move into another year without the "gift" of pregnancy. There were a couple days of lost hope in 2014.  Literally and metaphorically. Our hope was due in December and due dates can be daunting with miscarriages. But Christmas came and reminded me Hope did come to the world. Our long awaited HOPE is already here.



At an Ellie Holcomb concert I was reminded: Hope is Alive




Thankful for Grace. During the last couple of years, there have been people in my life who have stepped up to the call. They provided resource, encouragement and friendship in astounding ways.  I move into the new year asking God to stir my soul, to make every bitter thing sweet as I hunger for him, and to open my eyes to how I can now be an encouragement those around me. 


We enter another year asking God to redeem our loss. And if you have read much on my blog, you know he does time and time again. 
2015 and Martin McFly, Here we come!

He is walking hand-assisted.  In 2015, we are definitely gonna be strolling or hover-boarding, either would be pretty cool.



Do remember me


A couple weeks ago Little Man and I were cruising into town to go to RISE and jamming to our usual PAGE CXVI, in hopes that it would lull him into a deep travel slumber. Instead it was me that got lulled into a deep travel sob. One of the lullabies was Do, Lord an old hymn. Tears leaked from my eyes and stuck to my cheeks as the song words swirled throughout the car begging to be remembered.

Do you remember me?

Have I been forgotten?

Infertility has the trick of making you feel broken. Lying to you that the reason you can't get/stay pregnant is that you are broken and God does not want to fix you. You have been forgotten. I laid on the couch at 9 weeks pregnant already on bed rest with a subchorionic hemorrhage. We were not of to a good start. A group of friends gathered around and "laid hands" on me to pray for me and baby. This is awkward for me. The denomination I grew up in did not do this much. I feel silly. I doubt. I am cynical. I wonder. And in that moment I desperately searched my heart and genuinely asked God to help me overcome my disbelief, begging him to remember me.

That night I miscarried.

Do you remember me?

"O God my rock," I cry, "Why have you forgotten me? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?"

Thanks David for finding the right words. Here I am, wandering around in grief and oppressed by my damn old ovaries! Betrayed by my own body and mind, acting as my oppressors. 

If there was one thing I would say to someone wandering around in similar grief:

YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN

God loves you. AS IS. Do no let infertility whisper this lie to you anymore. The answer is 100% yes.
 He remembers you. 
He is the rock you can stand on during this whole journey. He is the one that will remind you of your great purpose and worth with or without pregnancy. He is the one that will redeem your infertility and make it into a story about him pursuing YOU to be a part of his kingdom.
I have been there sister, loved by God. I know the darkness and distrust that can take root. I began to not trust God. Not trust him with my prayers. I began to fear the worse. I needed to be reminded and then I stumbled across this video:


   

   

   

   

   

   

   



Mornings with Little Man

Effortlessly cool while mom tries too hard. 


Many changes happen when you become a parent. Dinner, going to the store, getting ready for bed, these activities take on new shapes and routines. My morning routine is wonky. I still haven't worked out all the kinks.

Pre-Little Man Morning:
Jump up at first alarm - I hate snooze
Run if there's time,
Start the coffee
Shower
Blow dry hair
Sip coffee while putting on make up
Take a moment to check mail, FB, instagram
Get dressed- probably change outfits once or twice
Prepare my over-priced flaxseed whole-grain waffle with almond butter
Load car,
Listen to NPR and feel smart and up-to-date while driving to work 
Get to work 10-15 mins early.

Simple. No fuss. No rush.


Little Man Morning:
Hear Little Man get up at 4:30,
Pretend that I don't hear him yet and try to sleep another 30 mins praying he too falls back asleep
I am desperate for a snooze button now
Hear Little Man getting even louder
5:15 find him sitting up in crib looking at me sooooo sweet
Change the fullest diaper ever- this kid can pee - A LOT.
Take the sheets off the crib and put in wash- he peed through the diaper
Make him a scrambled egg and extra-fatty-dietitian-ordered smoothie
A mix of feeding and very supervised self-feeding goes on at this point
Attempt to start a pot of coffee
Make his lunch. which stresses me out every day. I am so worried about not sending him enough or sending him something he will choke on
Clean him up - somehow there is egg in his hair and his diaper
Set him in front of Baby Einstein where I now have exactly 20 mins to get myself ready
Shower or rewet my hair
Pretend my hair is curly and try to scrunch it with assortment of miracle curl-making gels
Swipe some eyeliner and mascara on
Throw on first outfit I find in closet
Load car with lunch pail, back pack and undrank coffee
Dress him while he attempts to eat my hair
Help him hold the bottle of almond milk he is trying to guzzle down
Load car
On the road by 7:20 or traffic will win the war its rage against me
Put on Toddler Radio or Page CXVI lullabies (Don't even mention the phrase "Science Friday" to me right now, I miss Ira like I miss a dear friend)
Get stuck behind stalled vehicle
Sing Wheels on the Bus for 45 mins. He really like it when the people go Up and Down. 
Get to school and attempt to put shoes and glasses back on that were taken off and thrown during the drive causing a scene in the parking lot.
Disheveled, slobber in hair and snot on sleeves we enter the doors of  Rise School



These changes while sometimes frustrating can also be the BEST part of my day.  Little Man is a morning person. He greets me with the absolutely cutest grin and cuddles in between ripping the glasses of my face. When we sing together he reaches for my hands to bring them to his cheeks, excited that I am there and singing his favorite songs. And we all know how I feel about two piece pajamas…..

Why did I wait so long to get up and hang with him? 

These moments are so temporary. Soon I will be handing him a sippy cup and telling him to eat breakfast by himself, longing for the days where he needed me to help him more but proud of his growing independence. One of my friends wrote a birthday blog for her precious boy who turned one last week. One sentence stuck out as she tried to encourage other moms of children with special needs:

"….you will get to enjoy your baby a little longer. And when they do hit those milestones you will celebrate like you won the lottery."

In our case, enjoying our "baby"even longer has brought me such joy as we missed the first 8 months of his life. Each milestone that I get to be there with him for has been like winning the lottery. Soon…. he will be two. Our frustrations, challenges and morning routines will look different.  Hidden in those challenges and routines will be the best moments a mom could ask for if I take the time to be fully present for them.  As we enter the season of "1-year ago today" moments….. I know I will be bombarded with the memories of getting his referral picture, getting the call with travel dates, first meeting, first time he feel asleep in my arms, first smile, etc. In one year my world has changed so much. Overwhelmingly wonderfully different. What will our life look like next year?

Have I mentioned he is the CUTEST BABY IN THE WORLD? 

This is our new "kisses" face. He is puckering up his lips asking for a kiss.  I mean…. you cannot withhold smooches from that face!!!
He fell asleep in the store-brand diaper. This is no good. NO GOOD. This definitely means a change of sheets in the morning. AHHHH but that little boy is one precious sleeper.




Chew on this: Meet the cutest eater ever

Eating/Drinking has been quite the adventure for us. But even if he hasn't always done it well- he has alway done it oh-so-cute!
Feeding in U was so scary. He only got 1/3 of each feeding and was struggling with aspiration.

Many international calls to our on call Speech Path Aunt Courtney for help.

He is a champ at pureed food. And now he can even sign "more".

At around 14 months we finally got down the pincher grasp and starting picking up bites of food ourselves. We are slowly upgrading and are now chomping on bananas, itty bitty bits of chicken, yogurt melts, pasta bits and puffs. Strangely he loves plain Quinoa. I know this list is only going to get bigger and bigger.


 We still have not been able to figure out the sippy cup. The honey bear makes an appearance at every meal and we make some grand attempts which usually results in him spitting water everywhere.


Spoons are also an excellent teether. 

Either side does the trick.


He chews cute my friends. Old man face is one of my favorites.

Showing off how well he eats broccoli. Veggies are better than fruits to this guy. Still having to puree quite a bit but I have figured out some easy go to meals to help save time and money. Those food pouches are awesome but that add up with your kid is downing 12-16 oz each meal. The fridge is overflowing with steam-ready bags of frozen vegetables. Microwave those bad boys and toss in the magic bullet = instant meal. Then add quinoa as a side is; heaven to Little Man. He might be a vegetarian. I keep asking him about it but he has yet to give me answer for now. He probably just doesn't like labels you know. Allowing room for him to change his mind later if he wants :).


Chomping on my pizza crust at dinner. He would not let me take it out of his mouth and placed a death grip on my hand.

Every week I am amazed at his milestones. He loves food. Is crazy about it. OBSESSED. 

How the D's do infertile - Part 2

What to do with infertility?

Where is "How the D's do infertile Part 1?" you ask. Come on guys- you know this story- we ended up in the Ukraine!! 

I meet with my doctor next week to reconsider our options. I am very unsure about what to do next. I am very nervous about getting pregnant again. I want it but then I don't.  During this last pregnancy, I think we all felt there was no way we would lose another, not to mention it was just cliche to get pregnant right after an adoption. :) Right?!? When I think about how it all played out…….
All said positive. Fear can make you feel not so positive about it though.
Fear creeps in.

What if it happens again
Can I handle it?

But what is next for the D's? What to do with infertility?

When we finally (it sure is embarrassing how long it took) asked God what we should do about it last year we were given a clear answer to adopt. Now I am waiting for another answer. 
It is so simple to try and label infertility as bad. Cause it SUCKS. While reading "Anything" by Jennie Allen, I came across a story of a young lady who has been given more the her fair share of what the world would label bad (abandonment, disappointments, abuse, etc) and her response:
"You have to thank God for the seemingly good and the seemingly bad because really, you don't know the difference."
I can relate to that. While this now 4 year journey has left me with many days and nights of tears and confusion it also has brought me incredible moments of truth and clarity. Truth about God's love for the Hubs and I. Truth about His Glory. Truth that is seen in little man every day. I don't know if Infertility is good but I have seen how God can redeem it to be good. 

Can I trust God with my infertility?

I am trying. 


Please prayer for our family as we once again hand over this issue and pray God uses it to bring Him glory. Who knows where the D family will end up this time?!?! 
Truth moment #1029: First family photo in the Ukraine.
Struggling with identity and worth…. {BUT THEN GOD}….. Now calm in His calling and love.




How I became Jerry Gergich from Parks and Rec

Did you guys jump on the Parks and Rec band wagon?

ummmmm WHY NOT?!

Ok. well it is not too late. Get off this blog- go to Netflix or Hulu- and jump on board.
For two reasons. Mainly, it is super funny. GEEEZZZZ.
Secondly you will better understand this next sentence.
At clinical, I became the Jerry Gergrich of the office.

The doctor constantly introduced me as Carla to his patients. I felt awkward interrupting/correcting him so I simply let it slide. I let it go too long. I eventually started introducing myself to patients as Carla!!! When I finally corrected him (the second to last week) he smiled and said "ok". Then we went in the next room and called me Marilyn to the next patient.

Trying to act cool about this name change, I casually leaned back against the wall with a faux-intellegent smile and nod. Telling myself that Marilyn is probably just an incredibly smart student I remind him of- RIGHT?
Click. I accidentally turned off the lights with my "lean back" while he was doing a hernia check.


"Hi, I'm Carla. The student working with Dr. B. But you can call me Marilyn."


Then awkwardly, when it was time for him to fill out my evaluation at the end, he read the name at the top of the form:

"Carly?" with a peculiar look
"Oh yes sir, Carly is my legal name."
"Hmmm. ok"

I mean really, what else was I suppose to say here?

For reals guys. Someone how I graduated.



"God, they're both horrible."











Walk Freely



Sometimes it confuses me, you know. There is this fine line I try to tiptoe along, arms stretched out from my side, wobbling back and forth. When I finally start to feel my footing secure, confident in who I am, who God calls me to be and what God is doing through me; suddenly I lean back the other way, squirming unbalanced between worried I am arrogant, then almost falling off altogether by the weight of disbelief in myself. (Which really is a disbelief in something/someone bigger, right?)

My struggle with insecurity and self-esteem is no secret.
Amazing Grace. It is true it is amazing. The whole point is that we didn't deserve it, we didn't earn it, God gave it.  This is the truth BUT that is not the end of the story.

HE CHOSE YOU. He believes in you enough to send his Holy Spirit to live inside of you. He calls you his daughter.

He believes in you. You were created to be you. When we come into the kingdom (or insert whatever over-used christian culture cliche here you prefer) He doesn't say: Well thats good cuz you were junk before….
HE says HALLELUJAH!  I created her. I loved her before. I love her still.  I love her always.

He made you unique. With such purpose. WITH SUCH LOVE.

I think sometimes
sometimes
We dwell in this realm of broken. We get stuck at the "we are all sinners" camp site and set up camp making us some burnt marshmallows wishing we could do more. Giving cynical judgmental stares at the women and men out doing "BIG" things. We linger around acting like we don't deserve more. We forget to move forward to rest in the peace that He thinks we do.

Grace. We don't deserve it. We cannot earn it. This is suppose to be liberating. It is for FREEDOM that Christ set us free. Not to feel in chained by grace or darkness. By a before or the after.  When the after is not all rainbows and unicorns we tend to question the authenticity of our encounter that brought us out of the before.

Grace is not a one time event. It cannot be confined or defined in before and after parameters. This kind of love, this remarkable grace, cannot be contained.
It sets us FREE.

Oh to embrace the freedom of grace. We are free to be the unique and wonderful daughters of the KING.

Not arrogantly, but confidently walking. Walking through our stories. My story includes a journey of faith.  Some days I still struggle with this walk. With my story. With my faith.
Yet I am set free. I am free to be me in the fullest way. He chose me. He loves me.
Balanced.
He steadies my tittering as I walk along. He reminds me I need not stretch out my arms side to side- an inefficacious reach to steady myself. I can stretch my arms high, waving in praise and redemption. Confident to walk freely in who He made me and in what He calls me to.

He loves you AS IS. That's not arrogant. Because THAT IS FOR EVERYONE! That is for YOU!


(Shout out to my son who is reminding me about being loved AS IS daily. Woot Woot Little Man)




Why the debates regarding the ethics of adoption scare me?

During the adoption process (and before), I came face to face with the a hot debate that is quite controversial and rather charged on social media. 
Dom dom dom:

THE ETHICS OF ADOPTION.


I am an exceptional devil's advocate on practically any subject. I grew up not really questioning what was taught to me or what I was told to believe and as I came into adulthood I found myself, in rebellion, questioning everything. I argue everything back and forth in my head.  You start talking to me about a side, for some reason, my first reaction is to start spouting out defenses of the other. You switch it up on me, confusingly, I start reasoning the other way.  I want to know both sides. This is a double edge sword. I stabbed myself on multiple occasions playing with this sword in this particular debate. 

In the early 2000's there seemed to be what some would call a huge "christian movement" to adopt internationally and "save orphans". But the result of this surge created space for some questionable ethics and practices. ERK. Adoption is so not the way to "grow the church".  We heard about the little girl in Guatemala kidnapped, sold to an orphanage, and then adopted internationally. That must have been devastating on both families.  Then we get updates regarding  horrible stories of mothers in Ethiopia paid to give over their babies due to the demand of sweet little African baby girls by caucasian American families. And the stories of abuse, they definitely make the headlines. I cannot tell you how many people told me about the mother who sent her newly adopted child back to Russia. Alone. On the plane. Heartbreaking.
I think it is great that critique from these stories brought up some much needed concerns for reform. They made us step back and check our motives.  Hearing the word industry in the same sentence as adoption  just sounds weird right? I am right there with you. Something smells fishy. I do believe there is cause to pause…… But pause my friends……... NOT STOP.
Sometimes yucky people adopt and sometimes good people adopt and the process was yucky. YUCK! 
Such stories also stirred up a new movement. A "preserve the family" movement as I call it.
Well of course hearing nauseating stories as these make us apprehensive or angry - THOSE STORIES SUCK!
I hate them too.

But here is what I also hate:

That when we started adopting, I had to change the comments sections of my blog to be moderated because of the hateful responses I kept receiving. Not comments wanting to discuss concerns or raise awareness. But comments such as: "I give it a year before your baby is dead" or "Counting down the days till I read about how you abuse your child in the news".
OUCH! Really? How does that help advocate either side?

I fear, that to often, this social media draw to pounce on the movement of adoption, accidentally results in a new generation now afraid to be involved in orphan care at all. I myself spent several nights crying, reading about this debate and questioning our calling. (OMG- looking at Little Man CRAWLING across the floor right now as I type reminds me how glad I am that those doubts did not win.)
I am scared that we now have at our hands the perfect excuse: 
"I believe in the preservation of families."
We are not necessarily aware that we are hanging on to this phrase as a cop out  but we quickly judge those who have/do adopt and yet we do very little in regards to that statement we shout  adamantly towards them. 
Adoption is not saving children, but it is simply parenting the best you can someone, whom without you, would not be in a family. And here is where I will get kick back for sure:

Sometimes adopting is better than preserving the family.

Or maybe we can say it like this:

God can use adoption to redeem the disruption of family.

Yes, there is grief and loss. I am not down playing it. To a scared/angry kid confused about their past, he might say he does not believe in adoption. He might say he would have wanted to stay with his birth mother.  These feelings are valid. It is hard. There are gray areas. Your child will have a missing link to their history. I cannot imagine the damage to identity this might do.  It is our role to raise them to know and believe this DOES NOT DEFINE THEM. I will not try to act like I can pretend to understand what this feels like, I am not adopted. Can we start a discussion on how to help our children write their story rather than simply posting on Facebook that adoption isn't ethical because there is loss and confusion involved? Help them find their identity, to know their WORTH. Not as children we saved, but as children we unconditionally love.



AND let's just be frank. My child was one of 65000 disabled children living in an institution (this does not mean those are all orphans though).  He weighed 11 lbs, could not hold up his head and was in and out of the hospital with aspiration pneumonia. Now his life expectancy is 60 and he spends all day (expect if I can get him to take a 2 hour nap) experiencing life outside a crib. His parents were wrongly and unfairly told he would do better in an orphanage by their doctor. THAT SUCKS.  But I also know parents in the United States who were heard these same lies from their physicians 30 years ago and CHOSE to preserve their family ANYWAY.  Little Man's biological parents made the choice not to and in some ways, I have to respect that decision. Maybe they made it for reasons beyond the DS. Maybe it was a prayed over decision. I will never know. They terminated their rights and signed their 3 lb baby over to police custody while he was intubated in the NICU.  I believe there needs to be great reform and education in his previous country to counteract stigma and lack of education to help ensure these decisions are made not based on those fallacies.  If education and resources are available to them maybe we, in good faith, can respect the decision made to place a child for adoption the same way would respect the educated decision to place a child in adoption by a pregnant woman in the United Staes.  I want to support amazing people like those at WIDE-AWAKE or Mission to Ukraine who are trying to educate and advocate for resources and system changes in hopes of preserving the family there. BUT MEANWHILE….. there was Little Man…..alone in a crib all day with NO family. MEANWHILE…. two precious 5 year olds sat alone in strollers all day until an incredible young couple said yes to adoption. I am not saying this as a kudos to us.  Just a little perspective. By God's grace we have started a journey that does indeed make his life better. Is that wrong, egotistical, prideful to say that his life is better? Maybe. Does it help if I mention he makes my life WAY better too?

The adoption movement is not the same movement as before.
In 2004, there were 22991 international adoptions in the US. In 2013 there were 7092.  So I would say the word is out: We need to check our motives. We need to check our practices. We need to educate ourselves. But we also need to quite scaring everyone away. 

I say these things to myself as much as to anyone else plus I am not an expert on the subject. These are simply rantings of an adoptive mama. 

I believe we can allow these concerns to give pause………. for a moment. We can reflect, grow, maybe reform where necessary……. 

Don't run away!

We are truly called to care for WIDOWS and ORPHANS. 

Don't stop because a flawed human world got involved in the system. The same way I have to remind myself not to completely run away from the church because is full of imperfect humans, and we are really good at messing things up. Abuse found in adopted families does not equate that adoption is unethical. There are so many holes in that argument. We can absolutely step up as a church to reach out to victims of this abuse. Let them tell their stories. Give them respite. Give them a voice.  Educate pre-adoptive families on stresses in adoption. There are bad people who adopt and do bad things; this does not lead to the reasoning that adoption is bad. 

Don't stop because you believe in preserving families. But instead of belittling a friend at church in the middle of an Ethiopian adoption -which you just read on Facebook is super unethical and now you are an expert about - investigate how you can put action to your words. You want to preserve families? Let's do it. I am totally on board and love that you have a passion for this. What an amazing calling?!?  You don't necessarily have to go reform the system (although that would be neat). Get involved with pregnancy crisis centers. (Heads up- some mother's still come to the difficult but well thought about and intensely prayed about decision of adoption. And it might be the RIGHT decision for them. Don't make them feel otherwise because of your need to preserve a family.) Enroll to learn more about Foster Care with an agency focused on reconciliation if possible. Help throw a baby shower for prego local women who might not have all the resources for a new baby. OHHH I would love that instead of hateful comments to moderate once I post this blog, I got comments/responses sharing other great ways to be involved in widow and orphan care BESIDES adoption. Let's spit ball some ideas to help get people involved; not scare away those interested in orphan care with this heavy debate.

And for those of us who are adopting/adopted. Can you share some grace? We are trying to preserve families in our own way. An orphanage is NOT A FAMILY. I am preserving a family for Little Man, we are his family. 




The chapter: Recurring Loss



Blogging about infertility can mean, from time to time, the less jovial post.

This last month we drifted out of the waters of infertility and into the vast ocean of recurring loss.

Infertility can keep you wearingly treading to keep your chin above the waters of insecurity.
 Recurring Loss simply drowns you in grief. 


Infertility is struggle to get pregnant, recurring loss is the struggle to stay pregnant.

Many ask if it hurts less with a child at home or does it hurt less with each time. (These are legitimate questions- I like and understand why you ask- always ask rather than assume).

After hearing the news of the loss, I got to go home a see a family that remains precious AS IS. Any further additions will be welcomed with joy and praise and still my heart is currently complete with my spectacular family of three. I am so overwhelmed with thankfulness for Little Man that I do not as quickly feel forgotten my God as I did times before. He brought together a beautiful family. He redeemed my broken body by using it to guide us on a journey to meet the most incredible little boy- and in his grace I got to take this little boy home and call him MINE. This journey led my Hubs and I to place our worth and identity in God alone. A lesson difficult but amazing to learn. That said……..

"Does it hurt less with little man home?"

I smile a little and lie a little. The real answer seems too harsh to say out loud.

"Yeah, it hurts less."

But the truth is…..

One day there is a heart beating inside you. The next day that life is gone.
One day hope pulsates within of you. The next day that hope is gone.

Not a lot makes that hurt less, maybe just hurts differently.

For those who keep trying to conceive (Or have conceived) after recurring loss, what are ways you stay encouraged to keep trying? What resources, books, songs or scriptures keep you uplifted?

Would you consider sharing your story as a resource for those just starting this new chapter of our story?


How the D's do senses


Hearing-

When we first got home, new mama bear rushed quickly to get Little Man into every type of doctor/medical appointment possible. Let's get the party started.
We saw audiology after only being home 3 weeks. Little Man and I sat in a chair in the middle of a little room with black speaker boxes scattered across the wall and in the corners. Then the audiologist sitting outside the room used the microphone to play her voice at  certain tones or volumes through one of the speakers and evaluate the response. Will he look in the direction of the box the sound is coming from?  Little Man looks anywhere but the speakers. He mainly just stared at his hand the whole time. We stepped out of the sound room to receive the verdict that we have moderate to severe hearing loss. 

Really? 

At that point, he had only been out of an orphanage for 3 weeks where I am sure he had learned to tune out distractions. Noise and sound was not relevant to him there. It had no meaning. So when he doesn't turn to look where a sound comes from, can we know for sure he is not actually hearing it,  or does he just simply not care?

Congestion is a theme in this house. Each morning is greeted with thick snot and a junky cough until it has an hour to drain out.  I was not surprised when the tympanometry readings of Little Man's ears showed this little guy is full of fluid. Yeah, it pours out all over me every morning!

Last week we repeated our audiology appointment, now 5 months home. He still didn't look at very many of those speaker boxes. HMMMMMMM……...

Time for Eustachian Tubes.


Vision-

About 2 months ago, we started noticed that Little Man's eyes would cross several times a day. Ok to be honest, My mom vision never saw it. I just see cuteness every time I look at his face!  Walking into his one year well-child check up the first question I got-

 "How long has he been going cross eyed?"

 And now that I am aware of it I see it quite I bit. It has gotten worse. Our first opthamologist appointment (remember how I was over zealous mama bear?) was the first month home and we were told everything looked great. In fact, we were even told not to come back until pre-K or Kindergarten for another check up. However, that is not consistent with the recommended screening for children with DS, but who I am to argue with a TCH ophthalmologist. 

This time we went to the same ophthalmologist our pediatrician (who we simply adore by the way) uses for her daughter and got much different results. 

Time for Glasses.

We are on the road to enhancing our senses!  

Any recommendation of brands for glasses for a 14 month old? One who is trying to learn to crawl and likes to face plant frequently?

What do you guys think of Miraflex or Specs4Us?

Hubs likes how Miraflex looks better, but I have heard that they sit too close to the eyes. 


Specs4Us



I guess he is not a fan.

He was over the whole "enhance the senses" movement at this point. I did not even try to do a MiraFlex photoshoot. We will try again this weekend.

How the D's do ONE

He celebrated his first year surrounded by a family that is absolutely smitten with him. 


 He brings JOY to our life every day. 


Did I mention that the cake was egg and butter free? 
The egg was on purpose - I haven't introduced eggs in his diet yet and did not think first bday party was the right time to discover if he had an allergy. Googled up some suggestions and threw in a little applesauce and a mashed banana instead.
THE BUTTER HOWEVER-
Once everyone had arrived, my social anxiety kicked in and needing a boost, I opened the microwave to warm up some leftover morning coffee. SURPRISE, there was the butter I had put in the microwave to soften while making the cake. 

Cousin Austin coming in for a quick smash cake pep talk and strategy planning conversation.

First Contact initiated.





I guess Little Man is a health nut because he seemed to approve of the SANS butter and egg cake.







As Is

March 18. Three months home. Why is time flying by so fast? Someone should have warned be about this time-warp phenomena that happens once you have a kid!

Guess What?

He is STILL THE CUTEST BABY IN THE WORLD!

We started "school" with physical therapy, occupational therapy, music therapy and speech therapy.  What I love about ''therapy" is that it is mainly just play. He plays, explores and learns about life outside of a crib. 

He can now stand up big and tall. SO BIG. He puffs up his chest and straighten out his arms with such pride as he stands erect.  He looks at you with serious eyes waiting for his accolades. Everyone claps and praises. Then he laughs. He laughs. GUYS- he laughs!!!! No sweeter noise. Although, it does basically sounds like a Donald Duck impression. It makes me smile so big my cheeks hurt just thinking about it.

I want to celebrate and share so many milestones with you, but I also know how easy it is to compare and judge. There is no race. No magic timeline. Each time I post an update, I plead that your heart does not become heavy with fears that your little one has not done these things.  I then try to push out the fear in my own heart, that you may read an update and wonder why my little one has not done more.
Early on in this process, during our Home Study, our social worker asked us what our expectations for little man were?  I was caught a bit off guard. Expectations? The spectrum of delays and disabilities we might encounter was so vast and unknown at that time.  I could not set expectations on this future child and the idea of him not meeting them seemed cruel to him and me. Then I realized, it's a question to allow for self-refelction-- ahhhh sneaky SW! Of course it is only natural to have some pre-conceived expectations. And some are actually healthy. 

With each milestone, while I beam ear to ear for it is indeed a significant event to relish in, I expect not one more. Not that I do not think he can or will, this kid is a rockstar so he is probably going to blow us away. I want that for him too. I want him to reach them and push through to his full potential.But he does not have to earn his worthiness. 

The pulsating question lingering in the background of this adoption: what deems a child worthy of love, worthy of a family, worthy to live?  Because for >90% of Americans who find out they have a baby with DS in utero, the answer to this question may surprise you. For the families hearing this diagnosis in the Ukraine, the doctors tell them it's a deal breaker and in fear and, what I honestly believe are best intentions, they sign the papers and walk out of the hospital leaving their sweet, new, awaited baby behind. Chills as I reflect on what I saw and heard in the orphanages and encounters we experienced while in country to adopt him. The darkness behind the thought that these moments might have been missed if God had not given us the courage and push to say yes. Every child deserves a cheering squad to squeal with delight as they learn and accomplish new skills. 

Every night we sing to him a cheesy night-night song, naming family members and friends, reminding little man, they each love him, just the way his is.


I sing to remind him. I sing to remind myself. While singing I pray for discernment to recognize the healthy from the unhealthy expectations. That when underlying lingering expectations are not met that I have the peace to press on.  To help him reach each achievement he can. To celebrate these significant events for him yet know they change nothing of his worth. I end up being overwhelmed with thankfulness that he is in my arms. Precious little boy. My precious Little Man.


You're Mama's Little Man and she loves you
She loves you
She loves you
You're  Mama's Little Man and she loves you
And she loves you just the way you are.
You're Daddy's Little Buddy and he loves you
He loves you 
He loves you
You're Daddy's Little Buddy and he loves you
and he loves you just the way your are.
You're a precious little boy and God made you
God made you
God made you
You're a precious little boy and God made you
and he made you JUST THE WAY YOU ARE.



A  plea to celebrate. To purge away the judgement and fear and Celebrate the children around you as they are. For each milestone achieved. Each moment. They are worthy as is. They deserve a hooraaaaahh! 

Where can you find a place to celebrate more and love more as isCan you watch and listen to them sing "Let it Go" for the umpteenth time and still cheer? Can you tell that student how proud you are that he tried hard on the STAAR test this week because he has no encouragement at home? Call Big Brothers Big Sisters and volunteer to mentor a Little. Go to an informational about Foster Care where every day, kids wait for a someone step  up to celebrate them.  Maybe pray about adopting- pray about adopting a child with special needs. Can we read about milestones and new skills our friends share on FB and blogs without the judgement on ourselves, our kids or the author? I am praying for the grace to practice loving more as is, will you join me?

The Journey to Destination BEST



As I write this, a snotty little guy lies in the pack n play next to our bed heavily breathing, deep inside an unawakenable slumber. (When this guy is ready to sleep - he is out for the count). I keep looking over every couple minutes in disbelief.

That is my kid.

Our responsibility.

I have a son.

The depth and reality of this sometimes is overlooked between the feedings, the poopy diapers (or more often- the fret over lack of said poopy diapers), the laundry, family, friends, Christmas. 

I cannot compare this to anything else. I do not know what it is like to come home from the hospital with a fresh wrinkly newborn or hear that first cry as a baby is placed upon the exhausted laboring mother's chest and still I watch as his chest moves rhythmically up and down in a deep peaceful sleep filled with surprising assurance and confidence that we belong together.



And I feel like I have labored, like I pushed for hours.  Then with an exhausted cry, sweaty brow and a nauseated husband; walked out of the airport and collapsed into my families arms as they greeted our  child into a new world. 

I once heard a sermon by David Platt where he expressed that he kept thinking adoption as a second best option. Even during his families journey to bring home their son. While excited,  it was at most -second best. Until they were home. 

Then it became BEST.

Either way. You end up arriving at the best.

I no longer go to gender reveal parties or see baby bumps and ache that my journey did not take me through that path.  Instead, I see them and rejoice for those moments for sweet friends and pridefully ponder the uniqueness and beauty of my own Little Man's story. Pretending all the grief and insecurity of infertility magically slipped away as the plane taxied into our home gate would be a lie. But just as they have experienced a precious joy that I might never personally encounter, I have been blessed to go on a journey that they might never walk through either. 

Either way. 

He is our OWN son. Because that is what adoption is. Where he did not own before, he owns now. He did not have a single thing to bring with him or any visitor to say goodbye to when we walked out of that orphanage. For 7 months nothing belonged to him.  He might not carry our genetic makeup (but can we just say that his biological parents sure did pass on some major cuteness) yet he carries every inch of our heart and soul. 

The intimate exchange of souls where the definition of BELONGING takes root. 
We belong to him. He belongs to us. We are each other's owns.  

AND DID I MENTION? IT'S THE BEST.

Shameless Selfie while waiting for Hubs outside the SS office! 










One month

The long anticipated one month home post.

And I DO NOT want to do it.

Not because I am not completely smitten with most definitely the cutest baby IN THE WORLD. Because I am.
Not because we are not getting into routine and learning to live life as a family of three.
Because we sort-of are.
Not because Little Man is not growing leaps and bounds and learning new milestones daily.
Because he is.

But rather because of pride. Silly Pride. We celebrated one-month-home in the hospital battling the notorious winter villain- RSV.

Pridefully, I wanted to show you a happy healthy family. To display how adoption changes lives.
Ohh prideful heart. It whispers- "you failed" and taunts me with an absurd "is this really better?"

YES. YES. WAY BETTER.

For ALL of us.

When we met Little Man, we were pretty sure he was deaf. No exaggeration here. We left the orphanage after our first long visit and started talking about what this means for us as a family. For the next week we would clap loudly, snap everywhere, make sudden noises and wait for his response. Nothing.  We were so certain of our "diagnosis" that we even got excited about the idea of our family being able to communicate with sign language during awkward moments, in elevators, at church or across the room. Little Man did not respond to sound throughout our visits in the Ukraine. In a short 7 months, he had learned to tune the world out.

Now he startles when I drop a pan in the kitchen. He notices when his cousin begins to cry in the next room. He turns around to see who is clapping and causing a racket. He is learning to babble, grunt, laugh and ohhhhhhh yeah, he is learning to cry and express his frustrations.  Which I am having to keep reminding myself is BEAUTIFUL. (hmmmm at 3 am someone might need to remind me of that)

He is becoming an attention hog- and he deserves to be one!

It is not better because of what I am doing. Or what Hubs is doing. Or Mimi. Or Gramm.
I am making more than my share of rookie mistakes. I would tattoo "New Mom" on my head but I am pretty sure it is already there by the stares I get while trying to figure out to get my son in the carseat and unload my basket of groceries in the parking lot.
 It is better because we are together.  God brought us together to work this life out as a family. And this, my friends, is way better than working it out solo.

No contest- I am now mom of the CUTEST BABY IN THE WORLD.  I love telling every person I met that. Every nurse, doctor, respiratory therapist and social worker had to agree with me because, as you can see below, how could they not? :) How blessed am I?





And unlike the 2 months he spent in the hospital right before he met us, this time he was not alone. Not for one second. 

Take that RSV.

Take that Pride.

THIS IS BETTER.  

One month!

It's nice to meet you.

Nov. 15-

We woke up knowing we were most likely not going to the orphanage today. We were told we would have to wait till Monday. What they said made sense logically, but emotionally, "Can I just meet my son already people?!?!"
We had our DAP referral appointment the day before and it was pretty much uneventful. We sat on a couch and found out our little man's birth name and his legal diagnosis. Nothing more. We had brought a copy of his listing picture to swap out with the baby picture stapled to his legal packet. Serge quickly ripped it off and stuffed the new one in his folder when the referral lady walked out of the room.


Today, the plan was to pick up our official legal referral for Little Buddy at one building at 3 pm, fill out some more paperwork, get that paperwork notarized and bring it back to the original DAP building. This process and traffic would mean not making the hour long trip out to the orphanage in time. BUMMER.

Our facilitator call at 2 pm and said she was sending a taxi our way to get us because she was rushing to try to finish all the paperwork herself and (no promises) try to get us out to the orphanage today!
TODAY!
I tried not to get too excited.
"Can we call our parents? Should I post it on our Facebook page?'  The hubs was already celebrating and wanted to share the update.
My thoughts quickly turn to our miscarriage, to losing our first referral for Octavian, to three years of infertility. The pain of sharing news too soon.
No. Don't share yet- it might not happen. 
I know disappointment all to well, I do not plan out encountering it here. I refuse to get carried away too soon this time.
We get the paperwork notarized, picked up the official referral and hop in our facilitator's Nissan Milano to head to the orphanage.
"How 'bout now, Can I tell people we are on our way to meet him?" 
A sea of red break lights in front of us. Traffic.
No. Don't Share yet- it might not happen. 
Traffic was horrible.  My brain keeps reminding my heart- it's not going to happen. Don't get disappointed. Our facilitator tells us she has called the assistant director of the orphanage who has gone home for they day (I knew it)
BUT…. She is going to meet us back up there whenever we arrive so we can meet our son!
The breath is sucked out of me. Is the really going to happen?
No. Don't Share yet…... but maybe…. could this happen?
At 5 pm we pull into a spot across from the orphanage and walk through the green gate up the path and through the door.
My heart now told my brain-
SHUT UP! THIS IS HAPPENING!
We go upstairs and meet a sweet assistant orphanage director who directs us to take off our coats and sit down. She runs back down the stairs. I cannot sit. I pace. I awkwardly dance. I hug our facilitator and make weird laughing noises.


So thankful for our facilitator! We love her!

I obviously at this point, no longer know what to do with myself.


She walked in with a little wide-eyed blue bundle and placed him in my arms. 
He looked into my eyes and I was done. Screw Disappointment. I'm all in!





It could all go wrong. We might not pass court. International adoptions have risks. There are reasons to fear.  A life long lesson in parenting a child with special needs lies ahead. A lesson in parenting in general.

But here in this moment, was no fear, just love.




This snuggle, this snuggle right here, this is where the truth sunk in that God is working things together for good, that He has plans to give me hope and a future. I was sitting there holding that hope and future in my arms. Forgive me Lord for my persistent disbelief in that promise. Thank you for walking me through my disbelief and for the grace to take me on this journey in spite of it.





Radio Silent




AHHHHHH!

We got dates!!

Do the "Dates Dance" with me guys! yes yes yes Here We Go.

As we go into the next leg of this incredible journey I have to make an announcement that many may not like to hear:

We now must go Radio Silent.

The country we are going to has important privacy laws in place to help protect the child in this process and we want to respect that. Furthermore, any signs of breaking these laws can disrupt this process and end the adoption. No good.

Hang in there.

Once we make it through court we will share all the good news. We truly appreciate all the support and love we have received and do not want to leave you hanging.

Feel free to find a family member or close friend and ask for an update but we can no longer share through the internet until everything is final.


AHHHHHHH!
(did I say that already)


See ya on the other side.