The Family

The Family

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Take A Look At This!!

Wow! I mean really, WOW!! I am just blown away by the graciousness, goodness and love of fellow Christians sometimes! Just LOOK at this..........

I don't really know what to say!  These amazing people took it upon themselves to plan and organize all of this at a moment's notice, knowing that we do not have much time, but wanting to help anyway.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for doing this for us, and more importantly, doing it for our sweet babies.  Getting them home is our number one priority right now, and we appreciate the love and support more than anyone will ever know!

I tell ya, adoption not only creates families, but boy does it ever bring people closer and help you to realize the love others have for their bretheren.  And the love they have for the children of this world!!!

Sooooo, if you are in Lexington, or live somewhere close by, PLEASE stop by the Hilton on October 14th and help us fundraise for this adoption.

I know there will be some great food, and some fabulous prizes to bid on in the silent auction too!!  I only wish we could be there ourselves.
But we will be in spirit, that's for sure!

God is SO good!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

More Pictures.....

As promised a while ago, here are a few more pictures from our fabulous family photo shoot!!  Despite a downpour, thunder, crazy winds, and afterwards-- mud and puddles, the amazing Jennifer Sides of Four Sides Photography got it done!  Thanks again Jen for your great work with our family!!

This one above is my absolute fave!  Love the vintage feel!

Tallest to shortest, Evan is so proud he has Tim beat by a couple inches!

My Beauties

My Handsome Men

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

We Have A Button Posted!

Hey everyone, take a look at my sidebar to the right, and at the very top you will see a new Reece's Rainbow button with pictures of Masha and Christopher!

If you click on one of their pictures, this button will link you directly to our FSP on Reece's Rainbow-- otherwise known as the Family Sponsorship Page.  There you can read a little blurb about how we got started with the adoption of these two precious children, and if you feel lead to do so, you can donate directly to our FSP fund.  All these donations are completely TAX DEDUCTIBLE which is awesome!

Also, if you have a blog, please please please copy and paste the URL below the button and add it to the sidebar of your own blog.  This will help us get the word out about our adoption and enable others to donate if they would like to as well.

Our travel time is quickly approaching- we will probably be leaving at the end of October!!  WOW!!  It seemed like the time would never get here, and now, it is one short month away!  

We appreciate everyone's help with spreading the word as we get closer to bringing our babies home!!  Thank you!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Makes It ALL Worth While.....

The following is a letter my 10 year old daughter Georgia just presented to me as she headed upstairs to bed.  Just makes my heart melt, gets me teary eyed, and makes me happy to know I must be doing something right.

Dear Mommy,
I love you so much it's unbelievable. 
Thank you for giving us an education.
You are the best mom I will ever have.
I am so glad you love adopting and having a great love for orphans.
                                                                Love, Georgia


Moms are the best
Over and over they do things for us,
Mighty to carry the laundry
My best helper is Mom.
You are the best Mom of them all.

Love you so much and rember (remember) that!!!  :)


That's my baby.  Just one of 6, almost 8, reasons that make it all worth while every day.
Enough said   :)

Some Big, BIG News!! :)

I wanted to finally announce to the world that we are ADOPTING again!!!  We are very excited to be adding to our family in this wonderful way once more. 

This time we are headed to Eastern Europe to adopt two younger children with special needs.  Our daughter is 4 1/2 and has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, hydrocephalus, strabismus and some urinary issues.  Our son is 14 months old and has Down Syndrome.  We found both these children on the Reece's Rainbow website which advocates and awards grants to children in Eastern European orphanages, most all of them with various special needs.

Little Masha-- her Reece's Rainbow name and picture

We feel very blessed to be on this journey once again, but I would be lying if I didn't say it was a bit scary too!  No matter how much you feel like you have prepared, you still pray that you will be able to be capable and loving parents for these children.

Christopher-- his Reece's Rainbow name and picture

It is going to change our family forever and we know that.  I think these children will be an incredible blessing to our lives, and we have spoken with tons of parents who have adopted children with special needs and they agree.  But we are also not blind to the challenges we will face.  We DO know what we are going into.  We DO know it will change our family, and despite the hardships we know we will encounter, we trust that it will be a change for the better.

God has truly called us to step out of our comfort zone this time!  From the first day I found Reece's Rainbow and looked at their list of waiting children, I felt God truly move in my heart.  I would pour over the list of hundreds of children and just pray and cry.  I would emerge from our office red-faced and teary eyed from crying so hard for these precious babies that I could not stop, and my husband would look at me worried and ask if I was ok. 

I told him that never in my life had I EVER felt the calling to be a parent to a child with any sort of special need................ until now.  I mean, every time I had ever gotten pregnant, I did what most parents do.  I said Lord, just please give me a healthy baby.  That is what we all want and pray for, right?  So after being blessed with all these healthy children, why oh why would I want to step up and parent a child with physical or mental needs???  Because.

Because if we don't than who will?? 
Because don't these children deserve a family just as much as every other child?  Because isn't this what God calls us to do?  Step out in faith?!

Tim and I talked long and hard about all of this.  We actually found out about these two children while we were in the process of getting Gideon from China.  We talked, we researched, we prayed, we talked some more.  Our children begged.  "Please go get them!!" they said.  We talked long and hard with all of them about what this would mean for our family.  The changes, the struggles, the differences.  They were still adamant-- go get them. 

So after much discussion, prayer, fence-riding and begging from the children, I left the decision ultimately up to my husband.  On Valentine's Day of this year he gave me and our family a great gift-- yes, he said, lets go get them.

There was much whooping, hollering and tears of joy that morning in the kitchen before he left for work!!!!

Then, the paperwork began.  Oh the paperwork.  At the very least it kept me busy and my mind occupied during the long wait we had to go back and get Gideon after his TB test had come up positive, and we had to leave him in China.  It gave me something else to do on occasion other than worry about him, which I did incessantly anyway.  :)

Let me tell you, for those who do not already know.....filling out adoption paperwork is a full-time job!  Absolutely exhausting.

So the paperwork finally got done, Gideon came home safe and sound, everyone was-- and still is-- adjusting beautifully, and we thought we would travel sometime in June.  Maybe July.  Oh no, of course not!  After all, nothing goes according to our plan right?  Have to trust that the Almighty has a better one I suppose, because don't you know, this particular country decided to change their adoption process of special needs children right as we are getting ready to be submitted!  Of course.

So, although there is a bunch more to say about that I won't, other than that as of a few days ago, we finally got our travel date to go get our kids!! 

Unfortunately it has to be postponed because this country in EE is still revamping their "special needs list" for kids under age 5.  Children under 5 must be diagnosed with one of the needs on this list in order to be allowed to be adopted outside of their home country.  Our little boy's need of DS is on the list, but FAS is not.  The new list is due out on Oct 10th-- we hope-- and that is the EXACT date we were assigned for our appointment.  We are therefore asking for an extension till about Nov 1st just to give the country a little time to implement that list, and in case it doesn't come out on the day they say it will. After all, since when does anything in politics happen on time??  We felt it was better to wait so that we have a better chance of bringing home both children at once, as was our plan.  If Masha's need isn't on the list, she will have to wait until she turns 5 in January, we will have to re-do all of our dossier paperwork, and we will have to travel back then to get her.  I certainly hope with all my might that this does NOT happen!!!!

This is a life saving mission of sorts you know.  Our dear Miss Masha was due to be transferred to a mental institution in January right after her 4th birthday if a family did not come forward soon to adopt her.  That was one of the reasons we knew we had to step out in faith again, like we did for Gideon.  Her fate was sealed.  She had run out of time.  They do not keep these children until the ripe old age of 14 in this country as they do in China.  Nope.  If you have a special need, you better be adopted by age 4 or off you go to the institution.  Heartbreaking.

People were advocating for her left and right, but no one was coming forward to commit to her.  I was surprised, but I shouldn't have been.  She was meant to be ours.  :)  We were meant to be her family, to step forward.  And we did.

It was too horrible to think of where she might have ended up without a family committing to her, and where they still might have sent her even though they know we are coming, if the director had not considered her one of her "favorites".

Make no mistake though, this orphanage is still no life of luxury, favorite or not.  This place is one of poverty and neglect.  These children are not looked at as being worthy of families, after all who would want a less-than-perfect child?

As a result, our daughter-- though 4-- is all of about 20 lbs and fits into sz 2T clothing from what I am told.  And that is even a little big on her slight frame.  Our son is left for hours and hours to languish in a crib with no stimulation, no toys, no care.  A 14 month old baby who probably cannot sit up on his own, hold a bottle, or perhaps even hold his head up.  Because he almost NEVER is allowed out of his crib.  Never.  Can you imagine??!!

We must get them out.  We are going to get them out.  Soon.  But not soon enough.

For now, please keep our family in your prayers. We covet them as well as your good wishes for us and our children-- both the ones we are leaving here in order to travel, and the ones we are going to save.

Pray that our flights will be safe. 
Pray that we will have all the funds we need. 
Pray that there will not be any suprises come court day, and that our judge will be wise and kind towards these children. 
Pray that our children waiting there will be cared for well until we arrive to get them.  Pray that our health will remain good while we are in-country. 
And pray for the continued support of our friends and family for our adoption.

We thank God for entrusting the gift of these children to us and hope to serve Him to the best of our ability as their parents.  We want to be up to the challenge! 

Thanks to everyone in advance for your support!!!!!!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Not Always a Walk in the Park

LOVE this blog post.....!!
This woman, Jen Hatmaker, tells it like it is.
She and her husband adopted.
They love their kids to death.
But it is hard sometimes.

Life isn't always a cake walk, no matter where you are or what you are doing.  That goes the same for adoption, and in this blog post she is just keeping it real.  Which is just how I like it.

Yes I am a big advocate for adoption, and I am thankful beyond measure that we have allowed God to work in our lives in this way.  But does that mean it is always easy?  Heck no!  We are still in the process of parenting people, and parenting is never easy!  It is a daily responsibility just full of emotions and choices.  Just because we got to choose these particular children does not make raising them a walk in the park.

I absolutely love the following part of her post too, which she says after describing many difficulties she is having with a newly adopted child......

"I know what you're thinking: You asked for this. Yes we did. And we'd ask for it again, with full disclosure and foreknowledge. We would. We would say yes to adoption, to Ben, to Remy. We would do it all over again. We might do it all over again in the future.

That does not mean we are not exhausted."

For us and our personal experience, we have been blessed with crazy good children and a calm after the storm of "the process" of adopting them.  But it is not always that way.  Oftentimes people adopt kids and bring them home, and they are great for all of two minutes and then the chaos begins.  What then?
You figure it out, you do your best, you get down in the trenches for awhile... or maybe a long while... and you pray and move forward with God's help.

BUT the absolute LAST thing you need is someone coming up and saying the infamous "I Told You So!"  or  giving you the well worn, "Well you made your bed now you gotta lie in it" schpeel.

Like I said, thankfully I am not speaking from personal experience here.  But I have heard adoptive parents speak of this exact thing over and over.  And who knows, someday it might be us.  Things can change in a moment because this is a child we are talking about, a person.  They aren't always going to be perfect.  For goodness sake, we their parents are far from perfect!

So lets not throw the baby out with the bathwater, as the oldies but goodies used to say.  Lets not condemn people's choice to adopt just because things aren't going as planned, or because they have hit some emotional potholes along the way.

Lets support them, love them, encourage them instead of pointing out every fault, blemish or difficulty.  After all, isn't that what Christ would do?

I know in speaking for myself, if the day comes when I am having a terrible problem with one of my biological children, I certainly wouldn't expect anyone to come and say  "Well, you chose to give birth and trust God to give you a child, now see the mess you have gotten yourself into!?"  No, I am fairly certain that would never happen.

So why do people feel so free to say it about the adopted children?

I mean, isn't it the same thing?  We are stepping out in faith, allowing God to lead us to our children that He means us to have.  Yes they will come with scars and blemishes, some emotional some actually physical.  Yes they will have difficulties, some worse than others.  But they are ours.  We love them.  We wouldn't trade them for anything in the world.  We accept the hard times and with God's grace, attempt to muddle through.  We do the very best we can with what we are given, we learn, we pray and we look to others for help and reassurance.

To others
To our friends, our family, our church.
For love, for support, for guidance.

Not condemnation, or whispers or I-told-you-so.

So go take a look at Ms Jen's blog.  She speaks about so much more than this, and way more eloquently than I ever could.  But this one piece of it just stuck out and spoke to me. So let us try our best to remember...

"Love one another as Christ has loved you."

We adoptive parents are no different from everyone else. No better.  No more perfect.  We simply followed God's call to rescue one of his equally imperfect orphans.  Help us along that road when things get rough.  Love and encourage those who are in despair and need guidance.  Thanks!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My thoughts exactly.....

Here you go......  my thought for the day

So what are YOU waiting for??????

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Great News!

Just wanted to update everyone and let you know that as of today, Gideon is now FINISHED with all his TB medicine!!


We are ALL very excited to say the least, especially HIM!!

Praise God for getting us through all that mess, and allowing Gideon to have no adverse reactions to any of the medicine in the process.  He has really handled it all like a trooper, but we are super glad that it is over.

And you wouldn't think this kid had experienced any problems with his lungs, now would you????......................

Here he is sprinting his legs off to get to the finish FIRST (as always) during our running club practice.  He is a speed demon, and barely even winded at the end!!
Thank you God for modern medicine.
Thank you God for answering our prayers and allowing him to be cured.
Please Lord allow him to stay well!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Yeah Fall!

We are now officially back in the swing of things!  We have been homeschooling for two very productive weeks, and getting ready to start our third week tomorrow.  I originally didn't feel ready, but now that we are in a routine and I have mapped out a new schedule, I feel better about it and more prepared.

Homeschooling high school is such a challenge!  I always feel like we could be doing more with all the children, but especially high school.  I have to resist the urge to try and cram just "one more thing" into poor Evan's day.  He has tons of reading to do each day, and this year he has three "off-site" classes away from home, so he has to be very prepared for each of those and tackle homework and projects from those teachers as well.

Evan is doing well on handling those responsibilities so far, but poor Gideon is another story.  He is absolutely LOVING school-- no question-- but he has yet to learn the responsibility it comes along with.  He needs to be continuously reminded of homework, the little bits he is able to do, and tonight he completely left it, despite reminders, until about 9pm.  We made it clear that any weekend homework needs to be done on Saturday from now on, no more of this Sunday night stuff!!

Things are coming slowly but surely for him.  His English is definitely improving!  Yeah!  He loves doing work on the computer and is presently working on a project about China for his Chinese class, which of course he is very interested in!  Math is much more a work in progress, I just don't think he was taught very much over there unfortunately.  But he definitely tries which is half the battle, right?  :)

So far, we are really enjoying the Fall-- though I guess it isn't officially here yet.  The temperature has been much cooler these past few days which has been SO nice!  As Evan says, it is "perfect soccer weather!"  The kids have been playing their hearts out on the soccer fields each week, and doing really well in their games too.

I, for one, am enjoying this time of the year where we get to decorate for the fall season, eat tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch (like we did today!), and cozy up under some super-soft blankets at bedtime. 

We have also gotten to have a couple little adventures--
A few of my girlfriends and I took our annual Girl's Weekend trip to Ashville, NC last weekend, and what a great get-away it was!  The weather was perfect and although we were a tad bit too early to enjoy the changing of the leaves, we had a fun time in an adorable cabin with some shopping and spa treatments thrown in for good measure!  A very lovely way to relax and enjoy the coming of fall before we have to gear up for the holidays!  Between the 5 of us there are 17 kids, so it was also a wonderful break from our mommy duties!  :)

In addition, the kids and I got to go to the waterpark at Great Wolf Lodge this past Tuesday!  The Boys and Girls Club was running a fundraiser back during the summer where they were selling tickets to the waterpark for only $5 each!  What a steal!!-- especially considering that you usually cannot attend the waterpark unless you stay over in the hotel which would be A LOT for us with 6 kids.

The day turned out great-- the kids had a whole 7 hours of splashing, swimming and barreling through crazy water tunnels and at the end were exhausted.  I was hurting the next day considering that for each ride you have to climb the equivalent of two or three stories so you can slide or tube back down!  My legs got a workout that is for sure!  But we all really had fun and it was a great treat to go to the Lodge!

So here is to an autumn filled with cocoa and marshmallows, great books read by the fire, the sound and smell of crisp leaves crunching underfoot, cozy afghans and hot, steamy bowls of soup!  Enjoy the season, and..............

Happy Fall Ya'll!!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

EEeeeeK! New Family Photos Taken Today!! :)

Well, we have FINALLY gotten some new family photos done and boy has it been a long time!  I am so grateful to Jennifer Sides at Four Sides Photography here in NC for the fabulous job she and her assistant did today with our crazy brood, despite a raging downpour and tornado warnings.  Yes.  I said tornado.

But did we let a little smidgen of bad weather deter us???  Oh no!  Pictures had been planned and pictures we were going to take.  No matter what!!

Take a look at the little sampling she just sent me.  I think we did pretty well despite the weather!

And................... if you live anywhere in the Charlotte, NC area, I highly suggest you "friend" dear Ms Jen on Facebook on her Four Sides Photography page and take a look at some of her other work.  Quite beautiful!  Or, you can look her up on her website too ~

Soooooooo......... here ya go!  A little sneak peek!! 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Hodgepodge-- Soccer, Horses and Exchange Students

We have been enjoying our last full week before our kickoff to homeschooling this next Tuesday.  Activities have already started for the school year however, so we are in full swing with the extracurriculars already!  Soccer for 6 has been fun, but ever a challenge to see who can bring whom where at what time for practices, games etc!

Everyone had their first games this past Saturday.  Schuyler and Kierstyn are on the same team and they won theirs!

Mr Gray-Man has been playing for three years now.  Getting really good with that foot!  Watching him boot it into the goal with such force last night at practice made this mama proud!
(they won their game Saturday too!)

Schuyler has also started back with her riding lessons.  She loves it and is getting to be quite the horse-woman!

Schuyler and Fudge

Returning from a trail ride

So love this girl and LOVE her affection for animals.

But perhaps the MOST fun and interesting experience we had this last week was getting to meet our new friend Zoe.  Zoe is an exchange student here from of all places.......
Beijing, China!

He stayed with our neighbors for a few days since his plane to Vermont was delayed because of the hurricane.  He has been studying here for one month and already speaks English quite well.  Turns out, when I was in Beijing the first time this past January, Evan and I actually visited his neighborhood-- the Hutong area of Beijing.  He lives in one of the very old and historical houses there.  So cool!

We had a great time hanging out with him and talking. He is a sweet and very polite young man! And he is also a great soccer player, so the kids all were playing soccer together many times a day and well into the evening hours.  So fun to see my front yard filled with 11 kids all playing together and having a great time!!  :)

The whole gang-- sorry it is so dark!

So we have been having fun here, hope your week has been great and here's to a relaxing Labor Day Weekend!

We are going to FINALLY get some family pictures taken this weekend.  YEAH!!!!  Sooooo looking forward to that..... and some BBQ-ing on the grill.

Enjoy your time with family, we sure will!