January 15th was the first time Leif crawled. July 20th is the last time I remember him crawling. And that was only because I was chasing him and it apparently took too much concentration to giggle and walk fast.
I really want to try to remember his lasts. I don't want to one day realize it had been weeks since he held his hands up to me to be picked up and cuddled. He seems to be having so many "firsts" these days that I realize there are some baby things he just does not do anymore.
Right now he is trying to wedge a piece of green bean between his toes. How many of us remember the first time we did that??
Some might argue that being a Christian is crazy. I suppose then I should not mind when people say Jamie and I are crazy for adopting a fifth child, bringing our total to 9. What bugs me though? The only people who have called us crazy are fellow Christians; not our coworkers, not our social worker.
How will we handle that many children? Excuse me?? Parents have been handling large broods for thousands of years. How many brothers did Joseph have? I'd guess there were a few sisters in there too. Just because a few of ours have Down Syndrome does not suddenly make life some incredible challenge. Quite frankly, it is one of my teenagers that wears me out the most these days!
Please, stop thinking like a spoiled American and think like a child of God. We can handle it because He is our strength and our Redeemer.
We do not need to eat out once a week or have steaks for dinner. We do not need to buy everything ready made for us. I am not the only person who saves money by baking my own bread, making my own laundry soap, growing a large garden, and cooking from scratch. Bean soup is nutritious and delicious. Beef stew goes a long way. No one in my family has ever complained about hand me downs. That does not mean I never buy new clothes for anyone, there can be some very good sales out there. Learning to live with less is a good thing.
Okay, I am done venting. Check out the link below to one of Mary Hunt's Everyday Cheapskate columns, which coincidentally was in my emails today:
I began reading a new book today, Fields of the Fatherless by Tom Davis.
Wow. I am still only in the first chapter (VBS every morning), but I think everyone should read it.
On page 37 he says. "God gave us the responsibility to care for the defenseless. It's through our hands the Father's love touches, it is through our voices His voice is heard, it is through our efforts and those of the church that His care is revealed to the ones the rest of the world has forgotten." He really nails it.
There are far too many orphans that the world, and the church, has forgotten.
And yes, this is another plea to help us show an orphan that she is not forgotten. Help us show her the love of Jesus. Help us show her orphanage that she does matter, that all children matter to our God and to us.
Elsa is no longer forgotten.
Our child needs your help to come home.
A friend of a friend has arranged an online 31 Products fundraiser for us. 100% of her commissions will go towards our adoption of Elsa. Through her efforts His care will be revealed to Elsa. Please visit the website here. There are some really neat products; I had never heard of "31 Products" before but am glad I know about it now! There is also a neat 31% off for every $10 spent sale. This fundraiser ends Saturday, so please take a look at it soon. Or now!
We have been trying to keep an eye on Dante's Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) and last March he had an echocardiogram to try to determine the size of the hole. We were able to come to a few conclusions that day:
1. Dante's vocal chords and lungs are healthy.
2. Dante is able to physically express irritation and annoyance.
3. We needed a sedated echocardiogram if we wanted to know the size of that hole.
Today we went to the UMass Medical University Campus for the procedure. It took some time getting him sedated, first with a liquid and then an IV to administer the rest. Thankfully we bought him an iPad some time ago and he absolutely loves Starfall. I am used to having to hold him during blood draws, so it was harder for me to see him suddenly go limp then it is to hold him kicking and screaming.
Dr. S is wonderful, and was able to do everything he needed, including an EKG. Dante does indeed have a hole large enough to recommend repair. I carry a notebook with me to all of his appointments, and when Dr. S started his explanation I was about to start taking notes. Dr. S instead took the notebook and drew me two diagrams and wrote notes for me as he explained it!! Here is the same explanation he gave me. The hole is having no detrimental effects on him now, although his right ventricle is enlarged. However it is the possibility of some very bad long term problems that cause us to want to have this fixed now. Later would very likely be too late.
It was recommended that we take Dante to Children's Hospital Boston to have the catheter procedure done. The US News rated Children's Hospital Boston as number one in the nation for cardiology. It is only a little over an hour away, and Dante has even been there to the Down Syndrome clinic so I know where to go. I was told to expect a phone call within two weeks to discuss the timing and plans. We expect to be in the hospital for only one night. That is much better than up to a week if it was surgery being recommended.
I am very thankful for the wonderful doctors and nurse that took care of Dante this morning, and thankful that we have the nation's top experts so close by to continue to help him.
Today Jamie and I bought Leif 2 semi-dwarf apple trees with money he had saved from Nana and Poppy.
It has been a beautiful day, and Leif played in the sprinkler with Nikita while Dad dug some holes for the trees.
Leif was so funny, getting his hands wet and then rubbing them all over his hair. He thought he was taking a bath! I was surprised he took right to the spray and had such a blast with no crying.
Afterwards he went over to his apple trees for some pictures. He loved holding the shovel and playing in the loose dirt.
Leif even consulted with Dad on the soil quality, but I drew the line at the taste test.
We look forward to watching Leif and his trees grow in the coming years. He already likes to pick and eat the blackberries and blueberries, and I am sure he will learn to tend to his trees.
I worked last night, and brought home with me a slice of Cracker Barrel Chocolate Coca Cola Cake. I decided to save it for breakfast. This morning Jamie was feeding Dante breakfast when Amelia noticed the cake on the table, still in its take home box. I immediately knew I should have hid it in my sock drawer.
She got three forks out, naming off Dante, Amelia, Mom as she took them out of the drawer. I told her it is MY cake. Amelia responded "Good Grief" (I hear that a lot from her) and put one of the forks back. She set the other two on the table and said "Mom and Amelia". I knew I had lost that battle, and apparently Dante lost too!
It turns out my biggest mistake was giving Leif a bite too. The best way to lose weight is to have Amelia and Leif share your food.
I am working again tonight. Since the boys are off working for the summer and Nikita has youth group and a sleepover tonight, Jamie will be home with the five youngest: Amelia, Sunny, Micah, Dante, and Leif.
Jamie is an amazing Dad, and he will have no problem taking care of it all. I did make scalloped potatoes and ham in the crockpot so he does not have to do a lot of cooking. He always puts the kids in bed, even the nights I am home, so they have a solid routine down.
Jamie is Superhero Dad. Even Dante, though trapped in the world of Autism, clearly thinks his Dad is tops.
We are blessed, the kids and I, to have him as our man.
We can afford to have 9 children. We can feed them, clothe them, see to their medical needs.
The problem is paying for the adoption of our 9th child.
It is not by any means affordable. We are looking at approximately $18,000 in total costs. Home study, agency fees, medical fees, immigration fees, translation fees, orphanage donation, visa and passport, airfare, travel in country, hotel and food in country, post-placement fees. It adds up. QUICKLY. And this is with some of the fees being reduced for special needs adoption.
We have had 2 tag sales that raised $329
We have had private donations totalling $320
We have $455.50 in our chip-in
This leaves a long ways to go. Today I began grant searching in earnest and it is driving me nuts.
Some background information for anyone reading who has never adopted: Having a home study done is VERY invasive. Jamie and I each had to write a biography. Our kids were questioned. Our home was inspected. We had CORI checks and background checks done. We will be fingerprinted. We have submitted tax returns and a complete breakdown of our finances. We have given references, and proven we have jobs and will continue to have jobs. We had physicals to show we are not about to die. We even proved our cat and dogs are up to date on their rabies vaccinations.
And in the end, our agency decided we are worthy.
So WHY does every grant organization out there expect us to prove all of this to them again??? All they need to know is we are Christians, we are adopting, and we need help. They get a home study as proof that we are adopting-- just read it and they will see everything they need to know. Why does a Christian adoption grant organization need to know my home equity, my retirement funds balance, how many bills I pay a month and how much is leftover afterwards?? Our annual income is right in the home study.
What has happened to Christian charity? To the body of believers helping one another?
If and when we get our tax return, we can pay for a large portion of this adoption ourselves. But not all. And not at the expense of having zero savings and three teens zooming towards college.
We need help, and apparently we have to bare ourselves to strangers (the grant organizations) who will decide if we are worthy and hopefully give it to us. Not to us, but to a little girl in Estonia who desperately needs a Dad and a Mom.
We are not the only family adopting. You can see others here , here , here , here and here . That is a lot of families seeking help for their international adoptions.
Now, I know the organizations need a way to decide who gets their limited funds-- again I say the home study shows income, faith, number of children in the home, and type of child being adopted. All the family needs to add is what their adoption will be costing. Applying for grants is just being told to prove ourselves worthy over and over again. (Not even going into how many times we have to give our Christian testimony-- as if some of us are more saved than others.)
I had better stop now. I should be spending my time filling in all these forms I printed out...
When parents are adopting, they are put in the unique position of being able to choose their child. I realize this is not always the case, for example when waiting for the referral of a healthy baby. Parents give the agency a list of acceptable attributes-- gender, age range, correctible special needs --and then they wait for a referral. The wait can range from months to years depending on the country. In the end though, the parents have the option of refusing the referral.
Special needs adoptions are only slightly different. There are photolistings of children, and on some websites it is as simple as typing in the disabilities, ages, and gender the parents are willing to accept.
As Christians, when we believe that God loves all children and we feel compelled to adopt His orphaned children, is it right for us to pick and choose our children? After all, when pregnant we do not morally have that option. Many that give themselves that option-- selective abortion -- are condemned by us. Often the disabled children in orphanages are there because their birth parents were not able to handle the diagnosis, and the orphanage becomes their only option.
I struggle with this, and yet I am thankful for the choices I have as an adoptive parent. It is heartbreaking to see hundreds of photos of children who desperately need homes, and to admit that for some of them I would have to say "no". Honestly, it is nice to be able to say "the Lord is leading me this way, and He will lead the right parent to that child".
This is exactly what has happened to Jamie and I recently. We are no longer pursuing the adoption of a child in West Africa. It was not feeling right anymore, for a variety of reasons. I receive emails from RainbowKids.com about waiting children who "match" my criteria, and recently I found Elsa.
Jamie and I have felt so much peace in the last week as we have switched our plans. We are now pursuing the adoption of Elsa in Estonia. We are excited about her becoming our daughter, and we look forward to visiting her and her birth country in the next few months.
We need to file our I-800a to start the immigration process. The fee for that is $890. Once we have that approval she will be officially on hold for us. (Right now she is "unofficially" on hold for us) When the approval is in hand Nikita and I will travel to Estonia to meet her and accept her as our daughter/sister. Then the court process will begin, and 4-10 months later Jamie and I will travel to Estonia to make it official and bring her home.
Please pray that our home study is indeed done next week, since it has to go with the forms! Please pray for Elsa, that she would be prepared in her heart for becoming a part of our family. Please donate towards the cost of this adoption, by using the chipin in the sidebar. Every.little.bit.helps.
I make my own baby wipes and laundry soap. It saves us money (LOTS of money), and I know what every single indredient is.
I make my own bread, cookies, yogurt and occasionally pasta. I would make pasta more if I had a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer with the pasta maker attachment, but that would mean spending a boatload of money just to save money. (??) I like knowing what is in my food. We buy our beef at a local farm, and I have a garden every summer. I am not sure if I went a little overboard this summer -- 42 tomato plants -- but the canned sauces and salsa will hopefully last me well into the winter.
Sometimes I am just cheap though. I really wanted some pizza for lunch. We are trying so hard to save for our adoption that I could not justify ordering pizza. Nik does not feel well, Jamie is working, and the boys are at camp-- and I was not going to load my 5 little ones into the van and do a grocery store run for the mozzarella I needed! So I got the pizza dough rising, turned the gallon of milk in the fridge into mozzarella cheese, and used the leftover pasta sauce as pizza sauce.
Zachary has a new hen, an adorable little chick he named Eleanor. Leif thinks she is his peep. Eleanor is super friendly and walks right up to us. She also shared her food with Leif, who decided chick food is not for him. (thankfully!)
Leif is not quite walking yet, but he is getting close! A few steps at a time, a little more each day!
We will have exciting news soon about our adoption, including a huge change...in the meantime we have an immediate need to raise the funds for our immigration fees! Please pray for the little girl we hope to adopt, the funds, and the process.
Last Wednesday Alexander went up to Camp Good News to begin his summer as a Junior Counselor. I will not see him again until August 12th! Yesterday Zachary went up to volunteer for Teen Service. He will be home on weekends, but it is still new to us all to have both teen boys gone for such long stretches. Amelia has been "calling" them on her pretend cell phone to see how they are doing.
In Zachary's absence, it was like a dream come true this morning for Amelia when she was asked to fill in doing the barn chores that he normally does three times a week. Mrs. G up at Rocky Ridge Beef Farm is wonderful and so patient with Amelia.
Amelia helped dole out the grain to the hungry bovines.
Here she is filling a bucket with silage, being watched by the cows.
The buckets have been handed out, and below Amelia takes the time to pose for a picture on a tractor.
Amelia needed clear instructions and obviously cannot completely fill Zachary's shoes, but she worked hard!
Afterwards she picked some blueberries, which were meant for trying out a new recipe but Leif ate half of them as soon as we arrived home!
I am glad the boys are spending the Summer doing works of service, Alexander for 7 weeks and Zachary for 3. We do miss them but I know that not only is this a time of them serving others, it will be a time of spiritual growth for them. It is also nice to have someone else having expectations of them, to help them to continue to be hard workers. Nikita has not left us, but she has been spending hours each day helping out at the stable where she keeps her horse. She plans to help with the camp weeks when they start.
Tomorrow Jamie starts his summer teaching job. We are so blessed to have him working as a teacher and being home each summer, so I am really going to miss him the next few weeks as he goes off every morning to work. Thankfully they are not full days. The money will be going into our adoption fund, which is good because we really need $890 to file the immigration paperwork. Once that clearance comes back our little girl will officially be put on hold.
We are a family blessed with nine children. Four of our blessings were born to us, and five joined us through adoption. They have Down Syndrome and are such a blessing to us and everyone who knows them!
Jamie and I have been married 20 years. He is a high school teacher, and I stay home to school the children.
We are now seeking to live together in a way that is pleasing to Jesus as our family encounters new challenges and embraces what each day brings.