Friday, December 30, 2011

Do they make pizza in China?

Tianjin International Committee for Chinese Children took 35 kids out for pizza the Friday before Christmas. Jenny, who works there, has been a gift for us as she gets us ongoing info on Maeleigh, and these priceless pictures!

All these kids need for Christmas is a family!!!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hail and Blessed be....

Hail and blessed be the 
hour and moment
in which the Son of God was born
of the most pure blessed Virgin Mary
 at midnight, in Bethlehem, 
in piercing cold.
In that hour, vouchsafe, oh my God,
to hear my prayer, and grant my desires,
through the merits of our Lord, 
Jesus Christ, and of his blessed Mother, Amen.

Beginning on the 30th of November, our family prays this novena every day, at least 15 times a day. Sounds crazy, sounds repetitious? Oh, my, it is the most comforting and wonderful prayer to help to prepare for Christmas. I began praying this when I was introduced to it about 6 years ago and I have loved it ever since. I think about the words, and really picture the moment Christ was piercing cold. Those words cut deep inside of me, and I think of the infant lying in a manger with only the warmth of the animals and his parents' love to keep him warm. I think of how in our culture too often we leave the infant Jesus in the cold, and wonder how many would find room, do find room, for him. This novena prayer brings to mind every day the realization that we are there at that moment as well, since God transcends time. Our prayers we pray are there at the "hour and moment" that Christ was born, and God, in His joy at the birth of his son, will hear those prayers we pray. And I feel such comfort in the fact that we were chosen to be a part of the family that Jesus was born into, chosen to be adopted. Of course, my thoughts also go to the child who is left every day, in China, and around the world...the orphan.

  I started writing this post Christmas day and one thing or another kept me from posting it. Maybe it is the fact that everyone is home, sleeping in, chilling out, making cookies, eating all day! Our house is full as Mick is home from college in Vermont, and Sarah is home from college in Maryland. Inevitably there is an extra friend a day, at least, over, or they are running out to see other friends. We have had two or three movie nights with all of us home, snuggled on couches, making me realize we will need another chair or couch when Maeleigh comes home. Those are the moments Matt and I treasure more than anything...having the kids all home under our roof, knowing they are happy to be there, knowing that the time is short for these moments, and appreciating each and every one of them.

We had a wonderful Christmas starting with Christmas Eve with all of my family, and my parents who are 80 and 83 and truthfully have more spunk and energy than any of us. Between us and my three sisters we have 13 kids, ranging in age from 27 to 6, with one son-in-law. The 'kids' do a Pollyanna each year now, eliminating lots of crazy shopping and making for lots of fun and laughs. It has become a tradition that I know they will continue for years to come.

Matt and I celebrated our 29th Christmas, 28 as a married couple. I can honestly say that we are more in love today than we were that first Christmas in 1982. I say more because we have been through so much, we have been so blessed, and we so appreciate each other with every year. It is such a wonderful gift from God that we have each other and we love our lives.So, "We ain't got a barrel of money..." (anyone remember that song?) but we sure are living our lives 'side by side'.

We received a wonderful Christmas gift the day after Christmas of new pictures of Maeleigh. We are waiting for Travel Approval, which should come any day now...The wait is long...but ti will happen, most likely some time in February for travel which means I will be traveling with Sophie, and without Matt.

We have been so blessed by the generosity of our friends, many of whom ordered bracelets or donated to our adoption fund. You are all in our prayers and we are so grateful for your help. Someday, when our adoptions are through :) my dream is to start a foundation to help other families make it through the process of adoption. But, that is for another day...

Have a wonderful day, hopefully before the New Year we will have news about our travel!!!

We are still making bracelets, so check them out. We have had such wonderful compliments about them. You can order them right here by clicking on the Bracelets button, or send me an email and let me know waht you want, the size and colors! Thanks so much for your support!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What child is this?

We are fully into the season of great joy and hope, the season of Christmas. As we approach the joyous holiday, in the midst of shopping and decorating, we remember the reason we celebrate Christmas. I love the old Christmas carols, just love them, and could listen to them all day. One song that always brought a tear to my eye, but now even more so, is "What Child is This?" Since adopting Sophie, when I hear this song, I think of all the orphans being abandoned every day, thousands of them, being left alone, left to hope for a family. I think now of Maeleigh, who has waited more than 13 years to know that she will be a part of a family, and who will once a gain miss Christmas with them. I think of the children ignored and forgotten, and how much we are not doing to help them.

Adoption is often difficult, and is always a financial issue. My experience is that families who adopt do not have lots of money, and often go into debt in order to do so. Is it smart financially? No. Does it make more financial sense to invest in your 401 K or add to your savings account? Sure does. But then, really what are we asked to do in our lives? Not all of us are asked to adopt, I know that.It is not right, not feasible, for every family.But we are all asked to do the things we need to do to live the life that is meant for us.

As Christmas comes closer, we have lots of ideas for Christmas gifts for your family and friends. The links on the right will take you directly to our tee shirt fundraiser from There are shirts for all family members, not just adoption shirts. Your support helps us directly as we gather together the necessary funds to finalize our adoption of Maeleigh. This is a time of great faith as we are all challenged financially, and pulling together this money is absolutely a leap of faith. There is no price tag, however, to giving our daughter the family she deserves, and for getting her as soon as possible. For other adoptive families, we know they feel the same way, and so we do what we do.


Thanks for all of your support. We are waiting on our Travel Approval (TA) which should come in a few weeks, slating us to travel after the New Year! Not in time for Christmas, but not in our time, as we are always reminded.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Getting closer, and new pictures.

Not at all shy in front of a crowd!

She always has that big smile.

The kids performed for the fundraiser! Look at those two cuties next to Maeleigh, especially the little guy!

So many children without families
From the beginning of our adoption process, more than 5 years ago, we have been blessed with so many pictures of each of our kids.Families who go before who get pictures of your child, in Sophie's case, we had Pam who sent us many pictures, and now with Maeleigh we have a wonderful woman, Jenny, who works for an international agency and sees Maeleigh often.She and I email, and she lets me know how Maeleigh is doing. She sent me these pictures the other day that were taken at a fundraiser for the kids at the orphanage. She said the kids had a great time and were dancing with the band.

We found out that our Article 5 will be picked up on December 9th. for those not in the process, we are getting very close to travel, but it will not be before Christmas.We were so hoping to have Maeleigh home for Christmas, but it is not to be. So, now we are just hoping to be able to travel before Mick and Sarah go back to school for their Christmas break so Matt and I can travel together, even if part of the time.

Christmas shopping has begun in earnest, and I was awake last night with Shane (something new and different!) and I got this intense feeling of nesting, like I needed to begin packing and preparing for Maeleigh. We will be sending her a package for Christmas so that she can feel a apart of a family this year for the very first time at Christmas.

Much to do...thanks for all your support. Don't forget about our jewelry and tshirt fundraisers! Great Christmas gifts!

Friday, November 11, 2011

When God Laughs


  In the day to day of our busy life, we sometimes lose sight of the little things that mean so much, and that are truly the reason why we do what we do. People ask us why we adopted, why we are adopting again, what the heck we would want to have so many kids!!!

   Many people reading my blog do not know our history. Matt and I were married in 1984. We had met in Avalon, NJ the summer of 1982, and fell instantly, (truly) in love, and were engaged by September. (Trust me now that we have teenagers, they like to remind us of that ). Both of us were teachers, we made very little money, but we both felt very strongly that we wanted a family. Within a year and half of our wedding, I knew something was wrong. We pursued the medical route and found that I had severe endometriosis. Surgeries (5) in total, and many visits to infertility specialists were frustrating and sad. We wanted a child, we wanted a family.We prayed fervently, I bargained with God, told Him I would do what He wanted, but please, Give Us a Child....

"If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans..."

So, five surgeries later, we decided to adopt through Catholic Social Services. We began to plan for a family in an alternate way, as I grieved  the thought that I would ever give birth to a child. I was okay with that, I began to accept it. We would have a family, I knew that. God would answer our prayers. I knew that too. And so we waited.

When I found out I was pregnant with our Mick, I was astounded.That's the easiest word I can think of to describe my emotions. Almost 22 years later, I don't feel so surprised, but grateful and awed that God would grant me these children, give them to us as a Gift...truly a Gift. I did not deserve them, but He gave them to me, to us, to bring them back to Him. And so our family began...

  Within seven years we had 4 children. I would often put the kids to bed, (knowing full well that I would be awake with at least one of them through the night) and I would be amazed that these children were ours, that they were here.

  Dealing with infertility was humbling and painful. I feel for those who deal with it, and know the pain that it brings. Looking back, I know it was a part of the Plan, that God wanted us to deal with that to bring us to where we are. The pain gave us strength to raise the children He blessed us with.The loneliness and longing for a family gave us the understanding of the heart of the orphan who also longs for a family. How could we open our homes to one, two, three children when our home was already full? Because God asked us to. It's as simple as that. We know that God cannot be outdone with His generosity, and as we are blessed, He blesses us even more.

  When we adopted Shane two years ago, we were brought to our knees with the enormity of the needs that this little boy had. Shane had been left to sit or lay on a bed for more than three years. He could not hold a single thing in his hand, showed no signs of emotion...he would hit his head and never even change the look on his face. He wandered aimlessly, gave no indication that we were with him, kept his head down most of the time, and only reacted when Matt tickled him. Only at night, when I put him to bed, did he show any signs of the little boy inside of him. He would curl under the covers, and reach for my hand to hold onto. It was that hand that I held that made me think there was hope.But there was little else.

  In China, Matt and I cried for the first week we had Shane.I cried for the loss of time with our little boy, cried at the enormity of the burden we had accepted, cried for the changes in our life that were ahead for our other children. I remember telling Matt that now I would have to accept all the things I had been telling parents of blind children for more than 20 years. I would have to accept that life would be different, but it would be good. That there would be tears, but there would also be joy. I was sad, I was angry, and I was now the mother to this little boy.

  On the streets outside out hotel, we walked every day while we waited to finish the paperwork and leave the province where Shane was born. Because he had not walked much, he did not have much of a tolerance for it. We had bought a stroller for him, but we made him walk every day. In order for him to walk, Matt and I would each take and arm, not a hand, and hold both his upper arm and lower part of his arm to keep him steady. He would make it for about a half a block, and then go completely limp, he had had it. Each day we would repeat this, and try to get him to do just a little bit more each day. One day when we were walking I felt particularly sad. We were getting closer to leaving his province, and therefore we were getting closer to going home. Much as I wanted to get home, the reality of life at home and how it would change was weighing heavy on my heart. We were holding Shane as he walked, and I looked over at Matt, walking on Shane's right side. He and I exchanged a smile, our eyes telling each other how we felt. And then, as sure as I saw the look in Matt's eyes, I felt the presence of Christ walking with us, not helping Shane to walk, but holding Matt and I, and supporting our arms as we helped our son. It was an image as vivid as a painting, and if I could paint, I would be able to show each and every detail. I felt a strength inside of me that I would draw on, and continue to draw on each and every day since.

    Shane is now home two years, and the changes he has made are remarkable. He can now hold utensils, and can scoop his own food with very little help. He can walk, climb, jump, and is learning to walk with a cane. Shane now understands what we say, and while he has significant delays, he is learning every day. The stroller has long gone to the thrift store, and when we go to the grocery store, he is beginning to help me put the items on the belt.

  Shane can hum back just about any song, and is starting to initiate playing simple games. He is SIGNING!!!! He signs for shoes, more, bath, eat. He can get his own drink from the water dispenser at our refrigerator. He gives hugs and kisses...he cries when he looks for me and cannot find me, and when I am home and he finds me, he smiles and climbs in my lap.

  People ask me if Shane will 'catch up' now that he is home with us. I explain that that is not the point. He is too delayed to 'catch up' to children his age. Our goal is that Shane will continue to make progress, will continue to learn, and will continue to become increasingly independent. We want him to feel loved, and to climb the mountains that are in front of him. Pretty much the goals we have for all of our kids, just tweaked a bit for Shane.

  As we give thanks this month, and celebrate 2 years home with Shane, we are grateful for the gift of our children...all of our children.When I longed for a family more than 22 years ago, I know that God was listening...and, boy, was He laughing!!!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Update, fundraising, and LOA, oh my!

Wow, so much going on! First of all, we have launched a new fundraising project with Adoptionbug to sell T-shirts! We are so excited, because Adoptionbug gives us a commission towards our many expenses to get Maeleigh home, and they do the orders, shipping, etc, which is a major time saver for us.

  A thought about fundraising for adoption...some people 'frown' on families fundraising for adoption. They feel that if you are going to adopt, you should have the money for the fees in the bank, or coming to the bank, and ready to go. If only it was that easy! For those of us who have adopted once, let alone now 3 times, we know that money is an issue, sometimes an obstacle, and often a major worry with an adoption. But at the end of the worry is the knowledge that your child is waiting, and fees must be paid, travel arrangements made. We make do, work extra hours, and pinch pennies.

We decided to fund raise by selling things people can use, rather than just asking for donations.While donations are happily accepted ;) we wanted to offer friends something to purchase that would help us to pay for some of the fees.

We are thrilled to have a 'store' with Adoptionbug. Click on the link to the right to enter our 'store'. When you purchase one of the shirts, we will get a direct commission. With the holidays coming, perhaps there is someone on your list who might want a great shirt that celebrates families and adoption, and help bring Maeleigh home at the same time.

We are continuing our jewelry fundraiser and will be posting pictures of the bracelets we have to help to expedite shipping. Click on the link to the left to order bracelets

We also have a book sale fundraiser at on the link to enter mt store and search for any books you might need. Also, great gift ideas, and all books are very reasonably priced!

We received our LOA  a few weeks ago, so now waiting for the next round of paperwork to be approved. Each setp is one step closer!

Last, but not least, we received an updated picture (above) of Maeleigh, along with her measurements. She is almost exactly the same height and weight of Sophie! Sophie is so excited about that! We were hoping to bring Maeleigh home before Christmas, but it looks like it will be after the holidays at this point. Whatever the timing, we are getting ready!

Thank you for all your love and support. More updates to come!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Autumn...and other transitions

It has been too many weeks since I last posted, so as I sit here with a hot cup of coffee on the last official day of summer, I am thinking of the summer behind us.

Do you remember when the summer was a magical time, and seemed to stretch on into infinity until one day September came crashing in on you with the force of a freight train? One moment I was hanging out with friends and family at Mermaid Lake, the next sitting in an itchy uniform reciting Catechism questions for Sister Bernice.

Now as a Mom, the end of summer brings a relief that I truly relish. Much as I love the easy days and simple schedules, I now long for the structure and order that the kids need. This is my first year in 10 years that I am not homeschooling or teaching one or more of my kids. Amazing, when I think about it. We home schooled the whole crowd for six years, I taught at a school in that time for two years with Meghan and Shannon, and for the last 3 years Shannon has been home schooled. So officially tomorrow, when Sophie starts school, I will be home, alone, for the first time in 10 years. A moment of silence, please, at 8:10 tomorrow as I relish the momentous occasion!

We had a good summer, busy, with lots of road trips. In July we went to our annual reunion with families who have adopted children from Sophie's orphanage or from Swallow's Nest. In case you don't know about Swallow's Nest, this is the foster home where Sophie went for 6 months before we got her.Pam and Clay are two of the most amazing people who found a newborn at their apartment building about 6 years ago, while teaching English in China. That little baby is now officially their adopted daughter, and Pam and Clay have three homes for babies. Take a second to read about Swallow's nest or click on the link to the right.
Sophie at Swallows' Nest

This year was a special treat because we got to meet up with Pam and Clay and Melissa, their daughter.Sophie was so excited t see them.When she saw them last three years ago, she had no hearing, no speech, and was the size of a 4 year old. She was able to talk to them, remembered many things about her time with them in china, and she had tears in her eyes when she saw them for the first time. She prays for them every night, and she tells me when she is older she will be a doctor and go to China to help Pam with the babies.Not sure if China (or Pam and Clay will be ready for her!!!!)

One of the most amazing things about Pam is that she sees the children in the orphanage who are the sickest, and the most handicapped, and these are the children she chooses.The changes in these babies are nothing short of miraculous, thanks to Swallows' Nest. Once they receive love and nutrition and the  proper medical care, they are able to be placed for adoption.

Right before we went to get Sophie, Pam had found a little boy with a heart condition from a nearby orphanage. He was the cutest little baby, and needed a heart catheterization quickly in order to survive. At that time, Mick was a Senior at St. Joe"s Prep  and he started a fundraiser there to help with the cost. The Prep raised $2700 dollars for Xiao Jun, and when we went to China we got a picture of Mick holding this little guy. He was healthy enough to be adopted, and would need heart surgery once he was in the states. Imagine my surprise when at our reunion this summer, in walked a wonderful family, new to our reunion group, with Xiao Jun! Liam, his new name, is healthy and happy, and is waiting for a new brother, also from Swallow's Nest. Their family has 6 adopted from China, so it was great to be with other like-minded families! (Pictures of XiaoJun to follow)

Once your life has been touched by the needs of the orphaned, you are changed forever. It is as simple as that. If I had known what I know now about the children in China, I would have found a way to volunteer my time when I was younger. Since I can't do that, we are thrilled to sponsor one of the little Swallows to help her along and help Pam to get her the medical attention or equipment she needs. It is thrilling to see the progress of these kids, and to hope that they will get a chance to have a forever family some day. We call her "Autumn" and we hope to one day say her family has found her!

If your family, or school, or church youth group is looking for a project, why not  think about sponsoring one of the Swallows? Pam is amazing with what she can do for these kids, and she just needs all of us here to be her support to keep doing the work they need to do.

Autumn when she first arrived at Swallow's Nest
Recent picture

Autumn is waiting for her family...are you out there?