Friday, July 29, 2011
A long time ago, I had a super optimistic friend that occasionally got on my nerves because she was so very optimistic. *grins * When she got down, she played The Blessing Game. I used to roll my eyes. But I'm of the belief that you can learn something from everyone. So one time, I tried it myself, and decided it wasn't half bad.
Today has been an incredibly cr*ppy day. So, what else is there to do? Play The Blessing Game! *blinks back hot tears of frustration*
1. I have an incredible man by my side to walk this adventure called life with. He's there no matter what-- through thick, thin and super thin to barely there! He's proven this over and over in our 7 years of marriage. We laugh together ALOT and we cry together too. He knows me inside and and out.
2. I have four healthy children with lungs that work very well. Both Solomon and Xander screamed the whole way home from the church tonight. We were there to meet the prospective pastor. Oh yeah and they screamed during part of that, too. The girls gave us the running commentary of what each of their brothers were doing in the van as they were screaming. I could just feel gray hair popping up!
3. God is always there to hear the cries of my heart. And He knows my thoughts before I say them. You know.. like when you are sobbing so hard that no one else can really understand what you are saying? He's got you!
4. Our adoption fund is complete thanks to an incredible blessing.
5. I have amazing friends that pray for me without me asking. Just today I got an email from one of them. She has no idea what an encouragement her words were to me.
6. I got news today, that my friend, M, that suffered two devastating late pregnancy losses is expecting a baby boy and he looked wonderful on her most recent ultrasound. I danced around the room and ran to tell Brandon when I found out.
7. Tonight at church, a couple that we are becoming friends with asked us how things were going and they weren't scared off when we let them know some issues that have come up. I have no doubts that they are carrying part of our burdens and praying for our situation.
8. Xander signs "Thank you" when you change his diaper. What a polite little fellow he is growing into. He also signed "Sorry" for acting insane in the van and then said "I lu loo!" (I love you!)
9. Solomon reached over my shoulder to pat my back when I hugged him before tucking him in. Sometimes the blessings are so little, you might miss them if you don't look closely!
10. Lainey saw that there was some work to be done when we got home and asked if she could do it for me. Bless her little servant's heart. <3
11. Julianne shared with us that she has faith that this is all going to work out and soon all seven of us will be together, forever! I love her optimism.. even when I am having trouble mustering it up in myself..
*smile* I am feeling a little better.
Please pray for the communication to be a bit more definite when we speak to the agency this coming week. Brandon and I feel very out of the loop and it has become very frustrating for us.
Trying to hang in there,
Thursday, July 28, 2011
I'm ready to share more... And it still makes me giggle and stand in awe of how wonderfully God plans things.
Here is just a few of the things that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up during that phone call.
1. I've always wanted a December baby... always. I know that sounds completely random, but well we all have random quirks right? (We currently have Feb, April, May and June.) Annalise was born in December. This past December we were in Disney and I kept counting our children (I do this pretty obsessively when we are in public) and feeling like someone was missing. Brandon and I had a similar experience right before I found out I was expecting Solomon.
2. Last March 2010, I experienced more adoption dreams than I have in any other single month. Adoption was SO on my heart. In fact, one major plus to moving to this apartment was that we could be approved to adopt again... Annalise was born 9 months later.
3. Among the list of specialists that we will be in contact with is an orthopedist. We have one that we LOVE. Lainey will be attending physical therapy... so will our Annalise. We know our orthopedist's views of adoption, because I mentioned the baby SB to her (he also had orthopedic needs.) She has an amazing heart.
4. The one transfer that we thought we desperately wanted for Brandon has no Children's Hospital nearby. Annalise needs to be near a medically resource rich area with several specialists. We were told that when it came down to deciding between a few families, that they looked at what resources are in the area. The local Children's Hospital is about 10 miles from our home and the Medical College of Virginia is just a little further than that.
5. But if we took any of the transfers that he had applied for, we would have been at least 12 hours away from Philadelphia and Baltimore. Philadelphia and Baltimore are where the main specialists in the CdLS field are located. Currently, Baltimore is less than 3 hours away and Philadelphia is about 4 and a half. *Every* transfer that Brandon applied for would have made it more than 12 hours away from these medical facilities.
Resting in His plans,
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Our Annalise has Cornelia de Lange Syndrome. We've known about it from the start. We had never heard of it until we connected with another adoptive mother that was advocating for her, desperately hoping to help the agency find a forever family for a sweet child. This mother also adopted a child with CdLS.
We researched.. we prayed and we sent our homestudy out. We've had so much peace about her. But we need to get things set up so we can transfer her care. So we called and got some appointments scheduled.
We also called the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHoP.) They have a Center for CdLS there so we will take her there to have specialists familiar with CdLS help us make a game plan so that she is getting the best medical care available. Our specialists in town will use that information as a guideline.
I've hesitated a bit to post about CdLS on our blog. We've mentioned it to a few friends who have all been amazingly supportive. I hesitated because I want people to see her for her, not just see her CdLS. Please forgive me for not sharing sooner.
When we spoke with the girls about Annalise.. we told them that she was going to look a little different than what they were expecting. She has two fingers on one hand, and one on the other. She has no radial bone in her arms. BUT before I could say anything else, Lainey interrupted me and said "But Mama... she is still fearfully and wonderfully made by God."
I swallowed hard, blinking back tears and told her yes, that she is still fearfully and wonderfully made. And then they ran off to play.
I wish the whole world could be so accepting. I know that people may stare. People may ask questions. We get that. But we've also fully embraced Annalise and just want the very best for her. We want her to be included, embraced and celebrated.
After our crazy phone calls with Bran on one phone line calling one office and me on the other phone line calling a separate office yet trying not to schedule things at the same time on the same days.. and after explaining for the 550th time that the earliest we can take her to be seen is September because she isn't with us yet but that we don't know for sure what day she will be here either... we packed up the kids, got in the van and left!
We went to Sonic for Happy Hour. Ya gotta love half priced slushies and sodas.
We turned the praise music up. I put my sunglasses on and spent time enclosed with 5 of my favorite people in our van. We thought about Annalise. I prayed as I watched the country fields blur past my window.
It was peaceful.. and another day passed which means we are one day closer to visiting Annalise and ultimately bringing her home.
Father, sowing Your Word into the hearts of my children has already returned fruit! I'm so thankful that You've prompted me to teach my children to memorize Scriptures. Please continue to look over Annalise-- prepare her heart to join our family soon. Give us strength as we count down the days before we meet our third princess. We so desperately want to hold her tiny body in our arms. Lord, help us to work out the logistics and order our steps so that we can transfer her care. I'm so thankful that I've been in contact with other parents that are parenting their special blessings. The wisdom that I've gained from them and the Foundation for CdLS has been so incredibly valuable. We love You and praise You. Amen!
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
This afternoon, we found out that our visit is looking like August 9-10. We will find out officially later this week.
Fourteen more days.
And we'll visit.
Then we'll come home.. without her.
The soonest she can come home is after August 24th.
It is disappointing. But we have to trust that this is His timing...
We'll continue to pray and wait.
And eat icecream.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Then this afternoon, we met up with some classmates at a local restaurant to eat lunch and chat. I was able to let our new friends know that Annalise has some special needs and briefly got to share about them.
And they didn't blink an eye. It was as if I said, "Our Annalise has brown hair, brown eyes and one dimple." There wasn't an awkward silence.
But I know what was there: Acceptance.
I nearly burst into tears at the table. Instead, I looked away and took a few deep breaths and my heart sighed.
I can't wait to see how God uses Annalise for His glory. I wonder how He will use us as we parent Annalise. We are praying you home, Baby Girl and can't wait to introduce you to our friends, near and far, that are so diligently praying for you and us.
Father, as I look back over our journey the past few years, I'm always amazed. Part of the journey was painful. Some days were lonely. The pruning hurt. But the growth that I see in Brandon and I as Believers and the strengthening in our family unit, is nothing short of amazing.. Thank you!
PS: The form does have to go to South Carolina. Our socialworker is going to call this week and politely ask that it be expedited. Pray that it returns quickly!!!
Friday, July 22, 2011
2. 10 years ago I lived in South Carolina for a short time. There is a possibility I would need a form to go to SC and back before she can come home with us. (A NJ requirement not a VA requirement.) This makes us nervous because our form for Georgia like this got held up in our homestudy for Xander. Please pray we don't need this form. It only searches back 7 years and I have NOT lived in South Carolina during that time.
3. Please pray that our visit with Annalise and our placement takes place before August 17. Otherwise the soonest she can come home is after August 24.
4. Please pray for her foster family that has cared for her so lovingly while she has been in their care. We hope to be able to keep in touch with them. (We still keep in touch with Xander's cradle care parents.)
5. Pray for peace and comfort for her birthparents. They love her very much and we look forward to updating them just as we do Xander's birthmom.
6. Please pray for the children waiting patiently (or at least trying) for their sister. Julianne was in tears this morning because she said she just wants to see her Annalise so badly. :( We've talked about it to try to comfort them, but I'm praying for peace that passes understanding.
I cherish each prayer said on our behalf and thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Why did you name her Annalise Hila? / What does her name mean?
The name Annalise came to me in a dream a while ago. It means "Grace and Favor." Ever since I've had that dream, I've continued to have other dreams involving adoption. In those dreams, we adopted a girl but I could never see her face and I had no idea if she was going to be adopted domestically or internationally. See my postings about those dreams HERE and HERE. (Note: the November 18th post was written just a few weeks before OUR Annalise was born.)
We struggled to find a middle name. At one point, we thought her middle name was going to be Promise. Then when we found out that we were selected to go through the match process with this particular baby, I remembered that we first found out about her on the 4th of July. She is a first generation American in her birth family (more on this later), so I thought something patriotic would be fitting. But nothing fit.
Yesterday, when we got the match call, on a whim I asked what her name is right now. It's Hila. Right now the agency is pronouncing it two different ways. Hee-la and High-la. But the adoption worker didn't know any of the story behind her name or the significance.
So I looked it up. And it came up that it is a Hebrew name that means Praise. When I read that, I KNEW that this is why finding her a middle name was so hard. She will keep her name and we will move it to a middle name. She will be Annalise Hila. We are pronouncing it "High-La" although I know that isn't the Hebrew pronunciation. We are trying to make it easier for others to say properly.
How old is she?
She is 7 months old and will soon be 8 months old.
Wait, isn't Solomon only 14 months old?
Yes. *giggle* We'll be some Busy Bees. We will have 3, two years old and under. I told you my spacings keep getting smaller!!!
3, two and under? What are you doing logistically?
We already have an infant carseat. It will take one more crib. And lots of diapers! Oh and I'll be praying A LOT. God has grown me with each addition, and I expect nothing less with our 5th.
International or domestic adoption?
When will she come home?
August. We will visit her first and then come home. During that time, the interstate compact paperwork will be completed and when it is done we will go get her and bring her home. This will mean only a limited amount of time away from the Fab Four.
Where will she be in the meantime?
She currently lives with a private foster family for the agency. The couple has fostered over a hundred children for the agency. The foster dad is a pastor and the foster mother is a retired nurse. They sound like really neat people and I can't wait to meet them and our Annalise!
Speaking of the Fab Four, what will you call the Five now?
Fantastic FIVE! I also call us something with our last name in it.
Are you done yet?/ How many more do you want?
I don't know. Brandon and I have always taken the additions to our family ONE at a time, since God hasn't seen fit to send us twins. So Annalise will come and then we will see what happens. But you should know that Brandon LOVES even numbers... *wink, wink!*
Off to nest like a mad woman!
God, You always amaze me. I am so blessed to have the opportunity to raise five children to know You. Thank you for choosing Brandon and I for this wild ride. Thank you for giving my children such incredible faith. And thank you for answering Julianne's prayers for a baby sister! We are excited to see the layer that Annalise adds to our family. One of our friends posted on my Facebook wall that they are so glad that James 1:27 spoke to our hearts. I'm thankful we listened. We love you and praise you! In your Son's most precious name, Amen!
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
I'll share more after I go to my appointment and run some errands.
Mama has a dress to buy for the newest princess.
Julianne's reaction was priceless. Annalise is already very, very loved!
~Stephanie, mama to FIVE!
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
So today I laughed until I cried. And then I laughed some more.
It happens a lot. If I'm 100% honest, one of the first qualities I loved about Brandon was his sense of humor. I usually have a really dry, sarcastic sense of humor and Brandon has a haha sense of humor. I do my fair share of rolling my eyes at his jokes, but he is one of the few people that can make me laugh until I cry.
This afternoon we were out exploring the areas around our new church (not the one I blogged about before.) We really like the area and we've started looking at the rental and real estate market.
Anyway, so a friend at church told us about a house in his neighborhood that had been listed for rent that was now listed as for sale by owner. He said we should call and see if they would consider renting.
So we drove by. We couldn't tell much about the house from the outside so Brandon called the number on the sign.
He chuckled to himself but I was oblivious. (A porch down the street caught my eye. Porches=Heaven in my book!)
I could hear the phone ringing and could tell that he was about to leave a message on the voicemail/answering machine.
And this is what I heard next:
"Hi, my name is Brandon ______, and I was calling about your property on...
And at that point I choked on my Pepsi and started laughing hysterically. So did he. But he still had to give his phone number! So the numbers were broken up by our poor attempts at stifling our laughter.
We didn't do so good. He held the phone down and we laughed some more. I tried to get him to repeat his phone number. But he couldn't. He hung up.
And then we really died with laughter.
He called back and left a message saying that he had been disconnected
Off and on, we've giggled about it. It just sounded so ridiculous.
Property on Mars.
Welcome to our life!
PS: I've had a really tough day today. Brandon's wedding ring has been missing, our van's ac isn't working properly, I got bad news from Georgia, and we are still patiently waiting to hear about Baby Girl. If you think about it, would you pray for us?
Thursday, July 14, 2011
She asked a few questions that they felt weren't addressed in our homestudy. They included things like:
How do we plan to homeschool our oldest two and balance having five children.. three, 2 and under?
What activities are the girls involved in with their peers?
After that we went over the little one's health history and I got a few pieces of information about her birthparents.
When I got off of the phone with the adoption worker, I recieved an email with the release of information form for our homestudy agency. I quickly filled that out and sent it back.
We should know at the very least a little more late next week.
Shortly after I took care of that, I found myself chuckling as I wiped the counter. This has been a wild ride. If we are indeed matched with this little one, I'll be able to share more. Let's just say that God is SO in the details. I never imagined when we started thinking about adoption in 2007 that I'd ever be able to hand the whole thing over to God and simply say, "Your will be done."
But I have and I can't wait to see the rest of the "ride."
And so we wait....
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Did you just read the last word of that sentence? It makes me go "Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm..."
Maybe Julianne's prayers are going to be answered... (See what I mean here and here.)
If all goes well, then I'll sign a release of information and she will call and speak with our homestudy agency. Our homestudy worker is on vacation, so she'll have to speak with one of the other social workers.
So.. if you could pray for the phone call to go smoothly tomorrow, I'd greatly appreciate it. The time is listed as somewhere between 9am and 3 pm (eastern time.) Oh and you could pray that the children cooperate and that maybe World War 4 not break out while I'm on the phone.. that would be greatly appreciated too! Brandon will be at work so I'll be holding down the fort by myself.
PS: Oh and the baby boy that we were hoping to match with (the one I nicknamed SB) isn't a possibility anymore. That situation got a little weird and we've taken it off of our radar.
Ahhhh, yes. But not that settle down.
I've been peeking at real estate!
Our rent here is outrageous by our Augusta's standards. It hurts me to write that check each month. While our current lease is up in October, I don't think it will happen that soon. I don't think we'll feel comfortable buying until at least fall 2013.
I've looked at real estate here before, but I never really looked because I wasn't staying. Remember? This was a year plan and we were going home.
But lately I've noticed that when I talk about Georgia, I say Georgia. Or "Where we grew up." Or "Where we lived before."
When I have a bad day, I don't have pangs of homesickness. Sure I miss people. But not the location.
Now when I have a bad day, I go for a drive... around here. And I've found some gorgeous spots that make me smile even on the worst days.
Something is changing.. and I can't put my finger on it. But this has become home.
...Only took 32ish months.
PS: I just did something special, and I'm dying to share, but I can't. Someone (ahem.. my husband) reads this blog regularly. Trust me, if I pull this off, I'll be sure to share as soon as I can!
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Tonight, as I was procrastinating finishing up my side job's assignment for today, I found myself replaying a conversation that took place during a double diaper change. (I change Xander then Solomon, one right after the other.)
I had my back to the girls because I was standing facing the boys' closet where our changing table and dresser are located. My hands were pulling up Xander's shorts when I heard Julianne's voice from behind me. "Momma, what is that up there?" I glanced over my shoulder quickly and realized she was eyeing a stack of clothes on the top shelf. They are the tiniest boy attire that we own and I had quickly plucked them out of an unsorted drawer before laying Xander and Solomon down for a nap that afternoon.
Turning back around to kiss Xander before I put him back on the ground and repeating the mundane task, this time with a smaller tushie, I said "Baby boy clothes."
Now, Julianne isn't one to just take the short answer these days. And as my hands flew over the snaps on Solomon's outfit, I heard a small voice ask, "Baby boy closes? For what?"
As I wiped Solomon's nose with a baby wipe I said "Maybe for the new baby."
And without missing a beat, Julianne said, "We are 'dopting a girl baby."
I quickly answered back, "Julianne, we don't know for sure we are adopting a girl baby," as lowered Solomon to the floor. I gathered some laundry and the two diapers and started to leave the nursery.
And she sniped a quip back. "So Momma, where are the girl closes?"
I told her they were in a bin and that I hadn't had a moment to sort through them yet, but that we didn't have a ton of girl things leftover from when she was a baby.
She was satisfied with my answer but I heard her say softly before I left the room, "Well... then I guess we have to go shopping for girl closes, huh?"
I love that she says closes instead of clothes. It's the whole pluralization/possessiveness thing that she hasn't quite grasped grammatically yet. And yet, I love that she is able to form an argument of sorts and problem solve. No girl closes? No problem.. I know how to solve this-- Let's shop. And again, I love that she is so excited about a new sibling.
One day, when she says clothes, I'll long for these days. And it's after processing my busy days, that I realize that this is a season. A season that won't last forever.
May we all embrace the season we are in now.
Monday, July 4, 2011
Sunday, July 3, 2011
I've struggled with whether or not to discuss this openly on my blog... but part of me feels that it would be untruthful to not share.
The world of adoption isn't even close to a world of sunshine and rainbows.
There, I said it.
I think that alot of people, even adoptive parents, think that the domestic adoption process is "easier." I've been told that several times over. Each path has it's own pros and cons... and it really depends on where you have been called. This isn't a debate.
The adoption world (no matter which path you choose) is a system of jumping through hoops and then waiting. Hurry up!!!! .. and wait. Back and forth, you are tossed between two extremes.
And we knew it full well when we started.
The little one that we hoped to be matched with.. the one that we sped through paperwork and had it faxed to his agency the day that our homestudy was approved... he still waits. Brandon called the agency to make sure our homestudy had arrived and was given some more information.
He's waited 6 months with no permanency. Not because there aren't families that would welcome him in their home. Not because he has special needs that families feel they can't manage.
He's had no permanency because his birthfamily simply refuses to make a decision. They made the decision to make an adoption plan for him, but they've hemmed and hawed for 6 months over who to match with. They wanted a family with a children's hospital nearby. Those families sent in paperwork. Then they wanted a family with children with the same diagnosis and experience. So those families sent in paperwork.
And he still waits. With no permanency in his little life.
It frustrates me all the way down to the core of my being. I have no doubts that making an adoption plan is hard to do. But if you've already done half of the process.. why not finish? Doesn't he deserve it?
This particular child's circumstances have eaten away at me since mid-June and there is nothing I can do, but take it to my Father in prayer.
Sometimes I wonder: If I really knew what I was asking for when I asked for Him to break my heart for what breaks His, would I have done it? And the truth is, I have no idea. Somedays it just seems like too much. And then I think of all the sacrifice that Jesus has made for us.
Would you pray for this little one? Pray that his birthparents make the decisions neccessary to give him permanency. Lots of adoptive families have submitted their information for him. Lots and lots.
PS: We are still waiting to hear about SB.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
So, now you will see some nifty tabs at the top of the blog.
The Beginning: The Reader's Digest version of how Brandon and I met.
Meet the Fab Four: A little introduction to each of the children that I'm blessed to have call me Mama.
Adoption Timeline: The timeline for our current adoption. (It was taking up tons of room on the sidebar, so I moved it.) Check it out, I've added a few new dates to it.
Prayer Needs: I moved this to a tab but I'm afraid that it might get neglected there.
Homeschooling: More information will be here soon. I just created the tab so I didn't forget.
I've also added some things on the sidebar. One is the Label Gadget. I have meticulously labeled my blog posts but have never used the gadget. Now that I've moved a few things around, there is room!
Hope you enjoy the changes I've made. Next up is the blog design.