Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bloody Noses, Toothbrushes, and an Adoption Update

Abel caught the driveway with his face the other day while playing outside, received his first big boy boo boo:

His nose bled a lot, but he really wasn't that upset. I was sadder than Abel was! That night, he was mostly just red on his nose and forehead. It actually looked worse the next morning.

Until I took this picture, I didn't know he still had pizza in his mouth from dinner over an hour before! My little chipmunk :)

This was the next morning.

In addition to putting manly looking cuts on his face, Abel has also been very in love with his toothbrush. He had one with trains on it, and carried it around all the time. So I bought him an Elmo one, and if he could have I think he would have given me a 'mom of the year' award when I presented him with that thing. He has been 'drawing' on the chalkboard wall with his wet toothbrush (gag), sharing it with Chase (super gag), and brushed off a shoe with it (extreme gag). That's all good for his immune system, right? He even stuck it in his overalls so he could walk around with it. Not the pocket, inside the actual overalls like this:

Now that I think about it, I read somewhere that some kids like toothbrushes for teething. His doc said his molars are coming in, and he has stopped chewing on his fingers in favor of the brush.

This picture was pre- boo boo. Aunt Sherry, do you recognize the shirt he's wearing? :)

I posted this picture because he just looks like such a big boy to me here! Something about the little boy jammies, just sanding there with his sippy cup <3 I sure do love him. As ready as I am for the next one, it's moments (and pictures) like this that make me so very thankful for this one on one time I have with my Abel. I know that once we have another our relationship and family will change a lot, and I am trying to be aware of this special time I have with my firstborn rather than being impatient about having another. I've said before, if I were the boss of my life, I'd be on number 4 by now :) But instead of being sad about the children I don't have right now, I am choosing to cherish the precious one I do have! I am very content and fulfilled. I love being Abel's mom! I am thankful to God for forcing me to pause and focus on my son, thankful for teaching me to be content and to find satisfaction in Him (God).

Please pray for Reed and I as we make decisions regarding the future of our family!

On a related note, the DePaul adoption/foster agency called me back. The social worker was very informative and helpful. Bottom line, she said that we would most likely be waiting years for a young child if we did not want to foster first, but just to adopt a child out of the system (foster parents get first pick). As of right now, we are planning on taking the certification and training classes offered this summer. From there we will have background checks and home studies. We will then be placed on a waiting list until a child comes through for us, renewing our certification with a new home study every year.

There are several big decisions that await us! We know that God will bring us our next child in His timing and we are praying that it will be obvious to us what step we should take next to add to our family. It's no secret that Reed and I love children, and would both love to have a sibling for Abel soon. He loves his buddy Chase, and I would love to give him a life long buddy! I am trying day by day to trust in God, and to trust the leadership of my husband. I am praying for wisdom for Reed, and patience for myself! I am so very thankful that God is reshaping my very impatient and aggressive heart with "the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit" (1 Peter 3:4). I can feel a major difference in my desires and attitude, which I can only hope is glorifying to God and a blessing to my husband!

Thank you all so much for praying for us and encouraging us along in our journey!

Friday, April 15, 2011

15 months of Abel

Please take my new poll ------------------------------->

These past 15 months with Abel have flown by! I can't remember life before he was born, but at the same time it feels like yesterday! He is now walking well, and says about 20 words. He loves to play outside, especially with Chase (the boy I babysit). Abel is extremely attached to me, and usually won't go to other adults. I've discovered that he loves Elmo, but mixes up Buzz and Woody (by calling them "Bwoody").

Daddy taught Abel to look for birds outside, which he calls "bees." He loves to look for them in the sky, and points at them when they fly overhead. Sometimes though, the bird he spots is only a butterfly or moth. At least we're close :) Abel asks to take baths all day long, and doesn't even get out when I drain the water and he's sitting there cold and naked. Now that he is big enough for the real tub, it's his favorite thing to do! He knows a few words in sign language, but mixes them all up for about a week every time he learns a new word. It's pretty confusing -- for us and for him!

He is still taking two naps, and has finally begun sleeping through the night consistently about 2 months ago. He is no longer anemic (as of 3 months ago) and we're still seeing a specialist at UVA for his kidney (check up in two weeks). He weighed in at 18 lbs 10 oz at his check up today, and is in the less than third percentile for both his height and weight, where he's been pretty much since birth.

Abel and Chase discovered the swords I had put away for Christmas I found them battling in Abel's room.

Pointing with the sword

Waiting for Chase to join him down the hall. Abel's ready for battle!

Good thing that's not a real blade :)

That 12 month shirt looks a little big on my 14.5 month old, doesn't it?

Pointing at all the birds in the sky.

Inspecting the flowers. So cute!

I was trying to teach him how to sniff it, but he kept tasting!

For you, Mama!

What a joy you are to us, little one! Daddy and I just cannot get enough of you. We try to soak you up every second we can, but you keep changing so quickly. I wish each month was twice as long!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Chasing Down Info

Many of you have been asking how the adoption is moving along, and I have one word for you: slow! I told Reed that if this is any sign of how this whole process is going to progress (and judging by many adoption stories I've heard, it is) then this is going to take a while.

The first phone call was to Lynchburg Department of Social Services (DSS). The adrenaline I felt while dialing in that number was very similar to the rush of emotions when you look at a pregnancy test. I was a little let down what I had to leave a message on the machine, and didn't hear back for a few days. But when they did call back, I was greeted with a ton of new information. The type of adoption we want to do (from foster care) will not be as simple as we were hoping. Virginia does a program called dual approval for foster parents. This means that if a foster child becomes free for adoption, in most cases their foster parent will adopt them. This is to keep the family setting as stable as possible for a child, rather then passing them on to a third family for adoption. The Lynchburg DSS ended the adoption only program about 2 weeks before I called. I was given the number to the DSS in Bedford, because they still run a small program for adoptive-only families. While we still would take dual certification classes and legally be approved to foster, we would just wait until a child became available to adopt, who for some reason couldn't/wouldn't be adopted by their foster family. We knew that because we wanted a young child, that this would already be a long wait. But now, knowing it would have to be a young child that the foster family isn't adopting, our wait is getting longer.

I call DSS in Bedford. Leave a message. Wait a week. Leave another message. Wait another week. The day before I was going to call a third time, Jennifer from Bedford DSS called me back. She apologizes that it took so long for her to get back to me, and like the previous social worker, she was very friendly. I am feeling more comfortable with the idea of the inevitable home study process, as I realize that these hard workers truly want to find good homes for the kids they care about. She tells me that we would have to travel to Danville (over an hour) for the 7 week training courses if we go through her. She also repeats how difficult it will be to find a young child that will be available for adoption. She says that after we're certified (go through the courses and home study process) we could have a child 5 days later, or 2 years later. She wouldn't be surprised by either. Jennifer then gives me the name and number of DePaul, a human services organization that specializes in hard to place adoptions and foster care. Jennifer in Bedford says that we can do our training through them, since they're in Lynchburg. We will then talk with a social worker through DePaul to find the type of child we're looking for.

I have called DePaul. Guess what? I left a message, and I'm waiting for them to call me back.

Sometimes, I feel discouragement creep in. I know we haven't faced anything hard yet, and I am familiar with some horrific adoption stories. I know of parents who have literally waited YEARS for their child. Rooms decorated, only to have biological family step forward and take the child instead. Some who have been matched and for some reason or another will never meet their child. I am discouraged that there is such a huge need for families, yet it is so difficult to bring a child home. My heart aches for the children who are growing up without parents, without a home, and for couples who long to nurture one of these children.

If you are in the process of adopting, I want to encourage you: the children are so very worth it. Worth the waiting, and the money, the time investment, and the invasive forms.

Please join with me in praying for patience for all adoptive parents, and for orphan's hearts to be calmed and quieted while they wait for a family. Pray that around the world, adoptions will move quickly, and become a smoother process from beginning to end.

I'll keep you updated as soon as I hear back from DePaul!

Edited the same afternoon to add:
She called me back during one of the busiest times of my day, when both boys wake up from their naps and we eat lunch. This time she got my voicemail :) She will be in the office all day tomorrow, so I'll be calling then!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Pursuing Adoption

Many of you know that Reed and I are hoping to add to our family through adoption in the near future.

We'd like to officially announce that we've recently begun pursuing more information about the specific type adoption we're seeking. Not much has happened yet, but I want to share the trials and successes we face as we go through the adoption process. And we're really excited!

I have several purposes in sharing our adoption story as it happens: First, I want to keep our family and friends informed as this new chapter in our lives unfolds. There are many details and tons of information to pass along, and this is a good place to keep it all. Second, because we want to encourage those who might also be considering adoption. We want you to know that Reed and I aren't anyone special or amazing.

In fact, we're just two (very!) young, broke, and inexperienced parents with lots of questions who feel compelled to respond to God's command to "Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy." (Proverbs 31:8-9)

We don't have a special adoption handbook with all of the answers. We don't have someone holding our hand, showing us what paperwork needs filling out. Reed and I know that we are at the very beginning of this, stepping out in faith, taking our family on a journey with an unknown ending. But we want to show you step by step and month by month what it takes to bring our next child home. That way when you adopt too, you'll have an idea of what to do, what problems might come up, and how long it takes. We want you to see that if we can do it (Lord willing) you can too! Third, we are seeking your prayers. Please read what I have to say, then pray for us.

I am planning on doing a post of frequently asked questions soon about our adoption. I don't claim to be an expert (by any means!) but I have done a lot of reading, and of course I can answer questions directed to us specifically. Many people are asking us the same things, so I'd like to share the FAQ's along with answers here on my blog. If there is something you're curious about, concerning adoption in general or about our adoption, please leave a comment. We've been asked a wide variety of personal questions, so don't be shy!

Please rejoice with us at the possibility of bringing a new little one into our home! And join with us as we pray for God to make the adoption process move as swiftly as possible.

"Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. God settles the solitary in a home..."
Psalm 68: 5,6