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!