Showing newest 7 of 28 posts from November 2010. Show older posts
Showing newest 7 of 28 posts from November 2010. Show older posts

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Family Story~Armenia

I am excited to be sharing the story of my sister and brother-in-law.  They recently brought home their son from Armenia!  She blogs at Work in Progress.

First, please give a brief overview of your family:  how many children, how old they are etc.
Jim and I have been married for 13 years and have 3 biological children and 1 blessing through adoption.  Madeline (11), Marney (9), Owen (6), and Ben (2), already, we forget which one was adopted.

1. What led you to adoption?
Adoption was never on our radar screen as a young married couple.  We easily conceived 3 children with no fertility issues.  We probably never would have thought much about adoption if it had not been for my sister and brother-in-law.  They brought home our first nephew home from Russia 9 years ago, and since then have taught us much about the beauty and challenges of adoption.  As their family grew, we would often look at our nieces and nephews, and wonder what their lives would be like had they never joined our family.  It was painful to consider that they may never have had a family to call their own.  

"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do.  God, who weighs our hearts and knows our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act."

I have, for reasons I can't explain, always felt that I was going to be the Mother of a child with Down syndrome.  Throughout my three pregnancy's, I felt at peace with the possibility it could happen, in fact I was practically convinced it would.   I didn't have most of the diagnostic testing that I could have, because it simply didn't matter what kind of child God decided to give us. 

God had other plans, he decided to give us 3 wonderful "typical" children.  Funny guy.  We felt so lucky and happy to have those three healthy, smart, and beautiful kids.   We are truly blessed, and so not worthy.  They bring so much joy to our lives. 

Even though life was busy and fulfilling, we never lost our heart for children with special needs. When God opened our eyes and our hearts to adoption, it seemed only natural to hope that he would match us with a child with Down syndrome.  It was an "ah ha" moment.  This was why he had planted that feeling in our hearts so many years ago, he wanted us to step out in a way we could never have imagined.

And thus began our adoption adventure...

2. What was most helpful in the beginning of your journey?
Having a sister and brother-in-law who are so knowledgeable about adoption, and such a source of encouragement was priceless.

3.  What were/are your favorite adoption resources?
Dr. Ray Guarendi's book "Adoption, Choosing it, Living it, and Loving it"  It is a funny and common sense look at adoption, an easy informative read.

4.  How did you fund your adoption?
Whatever it took, short of begging.   However, we are not proud people, and would have resorted to begging if need be!

We traded in a car for something less expensive, and Jim took a second job delivering pizza's for a little while.  Also, we held a garage sale.  Generous friends and neighbors donated items to help us raise money.  I worked part time while going to school, and homeschooling our children.  We trimmed our budget where ever we could.  We also received some generous donations from family and strangers alike.  It was a crazy time, but we basically decided we needed to do whatever we had to, to bring our little guy home.

5.  Why did you choose International/Domestic/Foster?
We originally started out thinking we would adopt domestically, but God kept closing that door.  It was not until we found Ben on a waiting child list that things began to happen, so we felt that this was the direction we were supposed to go.

6.  Anything you would say to encourage those still on the fence?
Go for it!

7.  Any adjustments/challenges with your child/children
We are currently in Armenia completing our adoption, so we have only had Ben for about 2 weeks.  So far the adjustment has been very smooth.  He is a happy, easy going little guy.  He has a few issues we are working on, but overall we could not be more thrilled with how quickly we have bonded.

8.  What was your biggest fear?
My secret biggest fear was that I would never be able to love Ben like I love the children I gave birth to.  That fear was put to rest the moment I held Ben in my arms for the first time.  There was an instant, unexplainable connection.  

9.  What has been your greatest blessing?
So far, our greatest blessing has been finally getting our hands on this boy!  He is such a joy.  We cannot wait to get him home, and introduce him to the rest of our family.

Thanks for sharing your story!

Just wanted to say a big thank you to all the families who shared their stories throughout the month of November.   A big thank you too to all of my readers, even though you may not read this blog because you have an interest in adoption.  I am so thankful that you all decided to tag along for the ride!

God Bless and Happy Advent!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Family Story~Ethiopia

Ani and her husband were gracious enough to share their adoption journey.  I love how often couples consider adoption while dating and/or engaged!  Many thanks to them for sharing their inspiring story.

First, please give a brief overview of your family:  how many children, how old they are etc.

Jeff and I just celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary!  We adopted our son, Juan Pablo (age 3) from Ethiopia in July 2008.  This past June, we brought home our daughter, Ana Luisa (18 months) from Ethiopia.
1. What led you to adoption?

Both of us had always wanted to adopt.  Even while we were dating and engaged, we talked adopting someday.  About six months into our marriage,  I was listening to our local Catholic radio station, and heard someone from an adoption agency in the area talking about their programs.  I made a point to remember the name of the adoption agency, thinking it would be a good thing to remember for the future.  Later that day, I googled the adoption agency, just to check it out.  I was immediately captivated by the faces of the children on the agency's website, as well as the stories of the families who had adopted.  The more I browsed, I realized this was something that we could actually do!  Though we had been trying to get pregnant, we weren't pregnant yet, so I began to think, "Why not?"  I brought it up with Jeff, and he was completely on board from the beginning.  We began to pray, read, research, request information packets from different agencies, and attend information meetings.  The agency we chose had a one year marriage length requirement, so the day after our one year anniversary, we started our first adoption process!
2. What was most helpful in the beginning of your journey?

We did not tell anybody that we were thinking about adoption until we had already started the process.  We suspected that reactions from family and friends would be mixed, and we wanted to make sure that we were making the decision together and trying to discern God's will for our family together, without being pressured or influenced by anyone else.  In addition, all the research and reading and talking about adoption really prepared us for the responses that we received when we finally did share our news.  Our situation is a little unique, in that we were 24 and 25 years old, and had been married for only a year when we started the adoption process.  Many well-meaning people in our lives had a lot to say about us being too young, not married long enough, not having tried enough to have biological children, adopting a childoutside of our race, etc.  Everybody had questions about the reasons behind our decisions.  Thankfully, because we had spent so much time talking things through, picking everything apart, and learning as much as we could, we felt very comfortable responding to the negative comments and answering people's questions.  Though I wouldn't necessarily recommend that everyone be as secretive as we were, I would say to make sure that you are able to make all the adoption-related decisions for yourselves.

3.  What were/are your favorite adoption resources?

We have found Adoptive Families magazine to be very helpful.  We also love Adoption Parenting, from EMK press, which was actually required reading by our agency.  Another favorite is Attaching in Adoption by Deborah Gray.  Although they are not specifically adoption-related, we also found Parenting with Grace, by Greg and Lisa Popcak, and pretty much any book by Dr. William Sears to be particularly helpful, because of their focus on attachment.

4.  How did you fund your adoption?

I'm still not completely sure how we funded our first adoption!  We had put all our combined savings into a down payment for our house just over a year before we started the adoption process.  Because I was in graduate school I wasn't making much money with my part-time student job, and although Jeff has a good job, he was still at the bottom of the totem pole being just a couple years out of school.  We came up with a very strict budget, and signed up for a line of credit for adoptive families through Bank of America.  We weren't sure how it was all going to work out, but God provided!  A couple weeks after we started the adoption process, Jeff got a raise.  We stuck to our budget, and although the process took less time than we had anticipated, we never actually had to use the line of credit!  Jeff's company also has an employee assistance program, and between this and the adoption tax credit, we were able to get back most of the money we used to pay for the adoption once the process was complete.  This is what helped us fund our second adoption, along with sticking to our budget.  We've also signed up for several "0% APR for 12 months" credit card offers, knowing that we would be able to pay the whole balance off with our tax refund.  I know the current financial crisis has everyone warning against buying on credit, but when you know you have a massive tax refund coming, as long as you keep track of how much you're spending, it actually works out ok!

5.  Why did you choose International/Domestic/Foster?

Both of us had done mission work in developing countries in high school and college.  My mom is from Mexico, and most of my extended family lives there, so our family is already somewhat international to begin with.  When Jeff and I started dating, I was pursuing a master's degree in public health, in hopes of doing AIDS relief work in Africa after graduation.  When things between us got more serious, and we went on to get engaged and then married, I had to change my plans, but the seed was already planted.  At the time that we began the adoption process, my brother was heading off to Benin to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer for two years.  I think the combination of all these things very naturally led us to international adoption.

6.  Anything you would say to encourage those still on the fence?

Pray.  I don't believe that everybody is called to adopt, but I do think that every married couple should at least pray about adopting.  And if you feel the Holy Spirit is nudging you in that direction, seriously look into things.  We have had several of our friends say things like, "We've talked about how we would love to adopt someday, but we know we would never be able to afford it."  I always encourage these people to pray about it and do some research- if God is calling you to it, He will make a way!

7.  Any adjustments/challenges with your child/children

Of course!  With our son, the biggest challenge has been sleep!  When we brought him home, he had no concept of days or nights.  At night he would sleep two hours, then be wide awake for the next two hours, then fall back asleep and repeat the cycle.  It was like having a newborn at night and a very, very active toddler during the day!  We co-sleep with him, and finally, after almost two years, he started sleeping through the night about six months ago.  With our daughter, the biggest challenge has been nutrition.  She was born with a cleft lip and palate, and as a result had difficulty using a bottle.  The orphanage workers simply didn't have the time to spend making sure she was eating enough, so she was extremely malnourished when we brought her home.  Figuring out what to feed her, how often to feed her and how much to feed her has been a slow and sometimes frustrating process.  She is doing great, and gained a lot of weight very quickly, but she still seems to be always hungry!

8.  What was your biggest fear?

My biggest fear was that my children wouldn't attach to me and accept me as their mother.  I really had nothing to worry about!

9.  What has been your greatest blessing?

Aside from the joy that our two beautiful children bring us, the greatest blessing of being adoptive parents has been how much God has shown us of his love for us throughout the adoption process, as well as these first few years of parenting our children.  Being adoptive parents really has given us a unique and wonderful perspective on God as our adoptive Father, and the love that he has for us, his children.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Little Star

Little Star

Since today is the first Sunday of Advent, I am taking a little break from adoption talk to chat about Christmas.  A few weeks ago I was contacted by an author to take a look at his newest book.  The book is called Little Star written by Anthony DeStefano and illustrated by Mark Elliott.

I read the book through first before sharing it with the children.  I thought it was a charming book that had a cute way of telling the story of Christmas.  The true story of Christmas, minus Santa, imagine that!  I was anxious to see if my children would enjoy the book as much as I did.

We read it together in the afternoon, several times, and they did indeed enjoy the story.  They commented often on how much they enjoyed the illustrations and the fact that Jesus, Mary and Joseph looked so real.  This is a simple, straightforward story about Christmas, without the dumbing down that so often occurs in some children's stories.

I am glad that we now have this book to add to our ever growing Christmas book collection.  I happen to enjoy giving good quality books to those I love.  I know many families have the tradition of giving books at certain times of the year for instance the Feast of St Nicholas, Christmas Eve, or Epiphany.  This would be a great book to share with any of the children on your list this year!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Family Story~Russia

First, please give a brief overview of your family:  how many children, how old they are etc.

My husband and I have one son, Matthew, who is 16 months old. I never feel right answering this question without mention of our two precious babies we lost. We had a daughter in 2008, Sophie, who was stillborn. We also lost our son in 2009 due to a first trimestermiscarriage.

1.    What led you to adoption?
The short answer is God. The long answer is a drawn out struggle with infertility and babyloss. We so badly wanted to be parents, and we felt like we could build our family through adoption. We both are from families with no experience with adoption, so this journey was completely in uncharted waters. We were learning as we went, and so were our families.

2.    What was most helpful in the beginning of your journey?
Adoptive Families Magazine’s website was fantastic. Their website has a lot of information on all types of adoption as well as a listing of agencies and attorneys. It was also very helpful to speak with other families who were built by adoption. If you don’t know any, join a Yahoo group or other online group where you can find others who adopted.

3.    What were/are your favorite adoption resources?
-Adoptive Families Magazine (their online site is at was great too, and they have boards that you can post questions to for other families who are going through or went through the process.

4.    How did you fund your adoption?
Great question! I added a PayPal button on our blog, and I cannot even tell you how amazing it was to watch the generosity of our loved ones. My parent’s church even took up a collection for us. Don’t be afraid to send out a letter or email telling people you found your path to parenthood but you need to fund the costs. We set up a fundraising site at where the sale of t-shirts resulted in a donation to us. I also had a friend host a Pampered Chef party for us and she generously donated her commission price back to our adoption. It was amazing to watch checks come in the mail every day and often from people we don’t even know. Lastly, because our adoption was very expensive, we took out a loan for the remaining piece. We’re still paying that off. And, miracles abounded even right up to the minute we left. We were only given two weeks’ notice for travel, and Matthew’s Godparents donated their frequent flier points to us and we flew for free to Russia the first time. Really, if this is God’s will for your family, He will make it happen. Just trust, pray and ask. And get ready to see a miracle.

5.    Why did you choose International/Domestic/Foster?
We started our process with domestic adoption in mind. And, my husband would tell me here and there he just did not feel like a good fit for us. We worked up to the point of being ready to actually be listed with a domestic adoption agency. Then we stalled. It did not feel right for us. We had stopped our adoption process just about completely this time last year. I knew I couldn’t push my husband towards domestic if he didn’t feel good about it. We even had a baby born situation (when a child is born and placed for adoption, but there are no intended adoptive parents) last December that feel through. We had no idea what we were going to do. A friend forwarded an email to us in January from aRussian adoption agency that changed our lives and opened the door to our son. From the moment we learned of this Russian program, both of us felt a peace. We felt like we were in the right place. And, God confirmed that by moving everything in our adoption along at lightning speed. We applied to our agency in January and we were home with our son in July.

6.    Anything you would say to encourage those still on the fence?
Do not give up. Just because you have already tried so many paths to parenthood and not succeeded, it doesn’t mean your story is completely written. Be patient. Pray. Discern. I requested a lot of intercession from St. Thomas More, the patron saint of adoption. Talk to others who adopted, and lean on them for support. We all remember being on the fence and not knowing what to do next, and we’re happy to encourage and pray for you as you discern.

7.    Any adjustments/challenges with your child/children
The first week we had custody of Matthew was tough. He was 12.5 months old and went through a grieving process for the only people and place he knew. He didn’t know us, we didn’t know him, and we were in another country in a tiny apartment. We saw a lot of behavior issues from him at that point. Since we’ve been home, we have seen this improve greatly. We are working through a language delay, but otherwise, he’s on point with his peers. And, some days I wonder if his behavior is perhaps adoption related, but I have to remind myself I have a perfectly active toddler who is just into everything.

8.    What was your biggest fear?
Something happening that would have prevented our son from coming home (an in-country natural disaster, the country closing to international adoptions, us arriving to adopt him and not having the correct set of paperwork, etc). Russia requires two trips, and during our adoption process, there were a lot of negative things in the news about Russian adoptees. I was always worried that we were going to hit a roadblock and not be able to travel. There were a lot of scary moments. The day before we were to leave from Russia, our agency director called and said the country had placed a halt on adoptions and we couldn’t travel. I was in Starbucks and I just began to cry. Within 2 minutes of this, my husband called me and said that travel was back on. The day we left for Russia, we were the first flight in two weeks to arrive in country on time due to a volcano erupting. I am pretty convinced God has a sense of humor to put a volcano on the map during our travel time. I can honestly say that with all those possible roadblocks, there was a divine plan for us to be with this child, and the way at any moment anything could have gone wrong yet did not, was just a complete miracle. 

9.    What has been your greatest blessing?
Matthew! He’s just amazing. When we met him, we laughed because he is so much like us. He looks just like my husband, which God totally had a hand in doing. He is the happiest child I have ever met. And, I know from the very beginning of time, we were meant to be together. I love that our story of heartache, longing, wanting and sorrow has turned into the greatest story of love, joy and complete contentment. The days of loss and sorrow which pushed my faith to an almost breaking point has turned into days of joy and peace which have strengthened my faith more than anything in my life. I tell my son just about daily that the day I met him, he made me into the happiest mama in the world (a line borrowed from the book, God Found Us You by Lisa Tawn Bergen). There is a joy deep in my soul now just from being in our home listening to the squeals and giggles of a child. The very home for so long I was certain would never have baby sounds in it finally does! 

10.  Please feel free to touch on or add anything I didn't address!
If you’re waiting to start the adoption process, or still aren’t sure how you are going to become parents, take care of your marriage. Waiting for a baby is hard and it is certainly enough to cause disagreements and turmoil in a marriage. Make sure you still find time to connect. And, if you’re on a tight budget, you can always do fun inexpensive things like have a picnic on your living room floor or write a love letter- all things you’ll find really hard to do once a little one joins your lives!

Thanks for sharing your beautiful story!!   You can find out more about Meghan's family at Lil Chopstick.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Give thanks to the Lord who is good, whose love endures forever" Psalm 107:1

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wrapping up the Week - 11/24

What We Are Reading→ 
Russian Winter
Knit the Season
On my Kindle: The Rosary
Bob is reading The Hobbit to the boys

On My Waiting to be Read Pile:
Elisabeth Leseur
Theology of the Body for Beginners
Jane Eyre
Brideshead Revisited
How to Read a Book

Around the House→ We put our Christmas tree up yesterday!  Our tree has never been up this early, but we were anxious to see if it was going to fit in our family room with our new couch.  It fits.  I have been inspired by others to finally do a Jesse Tree.  I have had the ornament kit for a couple of years, but this year will be the year.  I have an idea on how to keep the kids involved each night with the ornaments, without having six of the same ornament on a little Jesse Tree. 

Around the Kitchen→ We were busy in the kitchen yesterday.  We made rice pudding (for Korea week) in the rice cooker, I think this might be my favorite rice pudding recipe.  We made crock pot  applesauce, well, Bob cut up the apples and I dumped the stuff in and turned on the crock pot ~ delicious!  I also made two pumpkin pies.  I’m not sure why I made them two days before Thanksgiving, but I did and they were good.

Feast Day→ While Thanksgiving is not an official “Feast Day” in the Catholic church, most of us will certainly be feasting!  For the last couple of years I have been making cranberry sauce.  I am not a huge fan of fresh cranberries and the cranberry sauce from the can is just plain disgusting, but I tried this recipe using fresh cranberries and have been hooked ever since.  Enjoy!

Discovery Time→    

   Basic Skills Unit:  We read more Korea books as well as some Thanksgiving books.

Jacob ~ Mental Math, Vocabulary, Map Skills
Jonah ~ Handwriting, Phonics, MUS
Sarah ~ Handwriting, Phonics, MUS

   Along the Alphabet Path: - K is for Korea.  Aside from our Korean stories and rice pudding, we didn’t do too many Korean things.  I searched for a simple Korean craft to do, but I didn’t have much luck.  I also wanted to purchase the traditional game Yutnori but couldn’t find a source.  So, we made play dough and brought out the A-K cookie cutters and they used their Do a Dot Stamps for some letter K review.  Here are a few of the books we read over the last couple of weeks:

K is for Korea
Look What We’ve Brought you from Korea
Waiting for Mama
The Royal Bee
The Trip Back Home
The Princess and the Beggar

I am thankful for....Thanksgiving!

Check out the Carnival of Homeschooling :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Family Story~International Adoption

Cari, who blogs at Wherever He Leads Us, was kind enough to take a moment from her busy schedule to share her family story.

First, please give a brief overview of your family:  how many children, how old they are etc.  My husband & I are high school sweethearts and have been married for 17 years.  We have six children.  Bio girl 14, Caribbean girl 12, Bio son 12, Bio son 10, China girl 5, China girl 2.

1. What led you to adoption?  At the age of 10 or 11, I remember being in my room and having a daydream of a little Chinese girl with long dark hair.  From that moment I had always wanted to adopt a little girl from China .  I know now that desire or daydream was given to me by God as a purpose for my life.

2. What was most helpful in the beginning of your journey?  Being able to actually talking to someone that had already adopted, so I could asked them questions about their experience with the adoption process and agency they used or recommended.  Also, I researched as much as I could on the internet about every aspect of the adoption process.  During our 2nd & 3rd adoptions, I found that yahoo groups and blogs were very informative.

3.  What were/are your favorite adoption resources?  Real adoptive moms!  Usually I “met” them through blogs or yahoo groups, and on a rare case in person through school or church activities.

4.  How did you fund your adoption?  Our first adoption was funded through almost three years of saving our money each month.  Our 2ndand 3rd adoptions were so close together, that we not only depleted our savings, but also sent out donation letters through a non-profit company and borrowed against our 401K.

5.  Why did you choose International/Domestic/Foster?  I believe that God has specifically spoken to us and led us to each one of our children.  My husband and I never had a conversation about adoption where we just thought a specific country was more interesting to adopt from the other.  I felt The Call {from God} to go to China specifically for a baby girl for our first adoption.  During that trip, we saw a little baby with cleft lip/cleft palate in the orphanage and eventually through prayer and seeking God’s Will, we felt Him sending us back to China again for another little girl with the special needs of cl/cp.  During that adoption process, we clearly were led to an older female child from an island in the Caribbean , and had to move quickly to complete all the necessary adoption paperwork to bring her home.  The last two adoptions were completed this year and within four months of each other.

6.  Anything you would say to encourage those still on the fence?  Spend much time in the bible and in prayer asking God to make it abundantly clear what He wants you to know.  When you have a peace about something {even if it doesn’t make sense to anyone else}, know that is God’s will and trust that He will provide and equip you for the mission.

7.  Any adjustments/challenges with your child/children  Our first adopted daughter {adopted at 8 months old, home 5 years} had some self-soothing behaviors from being in the orphanage, that she still shows today but not as often; such as head banging when she is has awakened during the night or early morning.  Our second adopted daughter {adopted 2 y.o., home 7 months} has the special need of bilateral cleft lipand palate.  We go to many doctor appointments and have surgery scheduled, but otherwise have had a great experience with her transition into our family.  Our third adopted daughter {adopted at 12 y.o., home 4 months} has been our most difficult adjustment and great challenge.  We realize that she has had the most traumatic experiences out of all of our children, and we also realize that she has only been with us 16 weeks.  This is also our first time working through an older child adoption.  The transition will be slower and take more time.  It has been the most mentally and physically exhausting experience of our lives.  Having said that, I still believe that God called us to bring her home as our daughter and that in time we will experience the most joy from seeing God heal her. 

8.  What was your biggest fear?  Having the money to pay a fee when it was due for the adoption, and how were our other children going to be emotional after we bring in another child...especially an older child.

9.  What has been your greatest blessing?  Watching all the children when they are playing and laughing together.


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