Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Getting Ready to Submit Our Homestudy!

We have everything done for our home-study - now, our case worker will submit our study to the board at Bethany for review....if everything is in order and there are no concerns, we will be asked to pay the pre-placement fee ($7,000 - we already have just over $5,000!!!!) and submit our family profile. Our goal is November 1st.

Essie is hoping we'll have a baby by Christmas. She is beginning to get super, duper excited! Whenever we are in a store, she is always picking out cute baby "stuff" - especially PINK stuff. She has been dictating letters to the most recent letter said "Dear Baby, I love you. I want to go with you to the zoo. I hope the doctors are taking good care of you. We are going to adopt you and I am going to be your sister...." Some of her letters go on and is so precious. I am thrilled that she is so excited.

The hardest part is going to be the waiting.....

The last thing we need to complete is the family profile - a booklet about our family and why we want to adopt. It's somewhat stressful as our profile will potentially be viewed along with other profiles - in a sense, we are trying to persuade a birth mother to choose us as the adoptive family. We are having a difficult time putting the written portion of the profile together - please say a prayer that it will come together! We really need to get it to the graphic designer so that we can submit it by our goal date.

Thanks again for your kindness and generosity. We have been so blessed already and our journey is just beginning!

***As a quick reminder, feel free to pass the word....if you know of anyone who is considering abortion or placing their child for adoption, please tell them about us! Special-needs or ordinary needs, we would be honored to be considered as adoptive parents***

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 13, 2012


7:30am - Begin cleaning
10am - Pick up paper work from doctor's office for meeting
1pm -More cleaning
4pm - Evacuate clean house with 3 children and 1 husband
4:30pm - Dinner
5:30pm - Park
6pm - Home to find a beautiful bouquet of flowers on my door step - what a lovely, thoughtful gift!!!
6:30pm - Case worker arrives

The kids welcomed Becky as if they had known her all their life - Zac took her hand and he and Essie showed her the yard. They were showing her all of the old "bee hives" around the property. hahaha - ok then. They have a HUGE play set, TONS of out side toys and activities, pets etc....and what gets the attention???? The bees.

Of course, she WAS interested in our ducks :) Who wouldn't be?!?!

Essie showed off her bunny and turtles and then took her on a 20second tour of the house (All while I was taking Zac potty) So, I missed the entire house showing! LOL. Good thing we have spent weeks, days, and hours cleaning the house for that 20 second tour! Essie did make sure to show her the INSIDE of her closet and the hall closet - - - not exactly spaces I had intended on "showing off". She was really not all that interested in seeing the house - she was gracious but didn't look much other than her initial glances. I guess that's a good sign?

She did take time to talk specifically to Essie about the baby and if she wanted a baby sister or brother (Essie did not falter for one second on that answer - "SISTER!") When asked what she would do if the baby was up crying at night, she said "put the baby downstairs" - Oh my....hahahaha

Benji did great (Although he fell back and bonked his little head - it took him a few minutes to recover, bless his heart!) At the end, he was so sleepy, he was just giggling and giggling on my lap. It was pretty adorable.

Zac seemed pretty uninterested - after the case worker was done touring the house and asking a few questions about the kids, we asked the kids to play quietly in their rooms while we were talking and signing a few more papers. Mistake #1: deciding to put a movie on for Zac in MY bedroom. Mistake #2: Leaving Zac in big boy underpants - About 8:15, Essie comes into the kitchen and announces that Zac has pooped and peed on the floor.....*SIGH* I quietly and casually excuse myself (hoping that MAYBE the case worker didn't hear) - I followed Essie to the scene of the crime and there - on the floor was a pile.....and on the wall was a smear.....and around the room was a trail.....POOP EVERYWHERE. I didn't even know what to do. Zac looked at me and said in his ever so sweet and gentle voice, "I'm sorry mommy. It's all my fault" - Why is it so hard to be mad at him! (I sort of wanted to laugh!) - I put him in the empty tub and told him to wait there....I wet back out to the kitchen and said my good byes - at this point, I am fairly certain the case worker has an idea of what has transpired (Thank goodness Essie did not feel the need to show her the poop on the wall!) She graciously said her good-byes (as we were basically finished anyway) and she went on her way. T

I am so grateful to Joe for cleaning up the Poop while I bathed Zac and get everyone ready for bed (maybe that's why I can think it's funny????)

Despite the POOP, the meeting went very well! We signed a few more papers and went over some things to expect when we start talking to birth parents etc. Currently, we are only waiting for a few more papers! Our VA clearances, one more reference, and medical forms for the kids - once this is completed, our case worker will write up our info and submit it to the board for approval to proceed. Once this is accomplished, we pay the $7,000 pre-placement fee and submit our parent/family profiles. Our GOAL DATE to submit the fee and profiles is November 1st.

We are SO happy and excited to announce that we only need $3,000 more to reach our $7,000 goal! Joe and I are shocked out of our socks! What a crazy, exciting feeling to be so close!

We are so step closer in the process!!! We are hopeful to have placement by this time next year! Thank-you for your continued prayer and support!!!!

~Joe and Hannah

Monday, September 10, 2012

From Special Needs to Ordinary Needs, Our Benji Story

I will never forget my 12 week ultrasound with Benji - my OB was over an hr away as I was seeing a high-risk OB because of my uterine irregularities and my previous premature birth (Zac was born at 34 weeks weighing 4lbs 12oz). At this appointment, the Dr did a NT scan that measured the layer of fluid around the was apparent immediately that there was LOTS of this fluid. I had never seen anything like it. The Dr measured the fluid behind the baby's neck and it measured over 6mm - anything over 3mm is reason for concern. My OB was very serious as he performed the sonogram - I still have the DVD of the sonogram and can clearly hear the concern in his voice. I was trying to process everything he was saying to me.....but my mind was racing. What?!?! Something might be wrong? You are very concerned? What is Trisomy 13, 18, 21 etc..... We need to have an amnio?

After the appointment, I went out the car and called my friend Millie and just started crying - "it looks like something is wrong with the baby!" I blurted out. I still had an hr drive home and was an emotional mess. I cried all the way home. When I got home, Joe and the kids were down stairs. I tried to be brave but I felt anything but brave and it did not take long for the tears to come....."Dr Gorrell thinks there is something wrong with our baby." Of course Joe asked lots of questions and it was hard to answer them seeing as I didn't know much more than what I had already told him. Joe is my rock - he was very calm and said we have to trust in God - and wait and see what the amnio results say.

***Why an amnio? Because our OB had never seen the NT fluid that thick before and was very concerned that the baby was not going to make it birth or might pass shortly after - this was information we all needed to know to prepare ourselves for the arrival of a critical baby***

A month later, at 16 weeks, we had the amnio. A rather unpleasant experience as my irritable uterus clamped down on the needle and began pulling it inward - ouch! It was a scary time - it would take 2 weeks to get the results. At this sonogram, we discovered that we were expecting a BOY. We tried to be calm and optimistic. We didn't know how to feel or what to think.

Another 2 weeks passed and I received the call (unfortunately, Joe was away on a missions trip so I took the call myself) - the nurse called and said "Dr Gorrell wants to speak with you" - my stomach felt heavy and my heart began to race.....the Dr congratulated me on the 100% guarantee that the baby was a boy and then ever so gently said "and the child does have Down Syndrome."  I forced a laugh about the gender and spurt out some comment - trying to sound as if my heart had not fallen into a zillion pieces. He talked about some "stuff" for a few more minutes and then told me he now wanted to see me every 2 weeks because of the added risks of carrying a child with DS. I hung up the phone and cried.....and cried. I made a few phone calls to tell Joe, my mom, my brother, and my aunt.

That next Sunday, at 18 weeks, we announced that we were expecting (my belly was SO tiny during my pregnancy no one even knew I was pregnant yet!) - In the announcement, we told his name and also informed the congregation of his diagnosis. I was crying throughout the entire announcement.

WHY us? WHAT did I do wrong? DID I cause this? WHAT does this mean? WHY? WHY? WHY?

When we received the phone call that our sweet Benji had Down Syndrome, our lives were forever changed. I would never had imagined in a million years that something could be wrong - that OUR baby would have DS. I was 23 and healthy.

Joe and I grieved the loss of a healthy baby for a bit - it was a hard time.

But, it didn't take us long for God to give us complete peace. Very shortly after the amnio results, I felt the first baby flutters - what a precious blessing those little flutters were. "I'm here Mom - I feel just like your Essie and just like your Zac. I am your baby."

There were tears here and there - but they were not tears of anger or bitterness, they were tears of worry and concern - Did Benji have a heart defect? What about his other organs? Will he get leukemia? etc....We had a lot of concerning results during the pregnancy including signs that Benji's heart did have a hole and that it was working very hard. I also started having contractions at just 24 weeks.

I was hospitalized during my 25th week and delivered Benji in my 26th week. He was born weighing 2lbs and measuring 14in. I am forever grateful we opted for the amnio as discovering the diagnosis for DS following such a premature birth would have been very difficult for us.

From the moment of his birth, Down Syndrome took a back seat - not once in the NICU did I wonder about his potential "delays" or "disabilities" - All I was concerned about was his LIFE. One look at that sweet, tiny Benji and all apprehension of his DS vanished in an instance. Benji's prematurity was by far more devastating than his DS.

Yes, Benji has Down Syndrome. He has "Special Needs" - he is delayed by over 50% and requires the use of 24/7 oxygen, C-PAP for sleep, a feeding tube, numerous medications, therapies, and specialists. The funny thing is that these special needs have become "ordinary" needs for us by now....we don't know any differently!

Yes, Benji has Down Syndrome - and we wouldn't trade him for the world. He is a beautiful addition to our family and compliments us perfectly. He is absolutely delightful and such a joy.

Of course, we were never planning on having a special needs child. But most people don't.

So why adopt another? The birth of Benji has changed our life forever. Joe and I will never be empty-nesters. We are committed to caring for Benji all his life. Doesn't that qualify us as being perfect parents for additional special needs children?

Down Syndrome? No problem! For us, Special-Needs have become Ordinary-Needs.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

This is Hannah writing - as I am sitting here, thinking about my "to-do" list and all the money we need to raise to pursue this adoption, I point-blank ask myself - "Why exactly do I want this SO bad?"

One thing that instantly come to mind is (call me crazy and weird and hormonal) I am young. I am 25 and I think it's natural for me to "want" babies. Sadly, I had to have a hysterectomy at the age of 23 (3 months after Benji was born - I actually had my hysterectomy on his due date) Joe and I have always tried to be positive about the hysterectomy and joke around about being one of the youngest women to have the surgery or how jealous all my friends are that I no longer have a monthly visitor and all the money we save since we're not buying products and stocking up on chocolate. We can joke and tease all we want - but behind our smile is a broken heart. Why would God allow this? Joe and I deeply desire to have a large family. We absolutely love kids. Why would He give us this desire, this feeling as though we are not yet complete, if He was planning on taking this away from us? We desperately want more children despite the fact that we are beyond blessed to already have 3, beautiful biological children - a gift denied to many. We are truly amazed and grateful to have the 3 miracles we do. Upon completion of my hysterectomy, the Dr told me he was surprised I was able to carry children at all. Praise God we had children right after we were married while I was still so young - He knew what He was doing! God doesn't create any "ooooops" babies!

So, now what? No baby-maker! Well, there's always adoption! A very real and present need. An option Joe and I have always discussed as a possibility. There are so many kids out there who desperately need someone to love them. I have often thought that perhaps God took my uterus so that we would "have" to grow our family through adoption - otherwise, we might not consider it. This leads me to believe, we are meant to adopt!!!

And of course, another thing heavy on my heart is THE NEED. Why do we want to adopt? Is it merely selfish motives? I would say not. Our hearts are very tender towards the topic of adoption. I have everything I could ever need, food, clothing, shelter, health care, a family....and we have enough of our own to be able to share with others. We want to help. We want to meet a need. We want to make a difference. I know I harp on the special needs aspect often, but it's so true.....WHO is going to care for these precious ones? If not us, who????

One more thought and I'll be done - Keep in mind, that Joe and I feel as though we are expecting :) We are excited and are greatly anticipating the arrival of our new little one. Please join us in our excitement!!!! We know some many have their own hesitations or concerns. Trust us when we say that Joe and I are not pursing this lightly. We know exactly what we are doing. We want others to ask us about the adoption - it's not a private topic to us. We want to talk about it - this is the closest we will have get to being pregnant again and we want to enjoy every step of the way, even the hardest part of all - waiting. At this point, we are set in our course - so we kindly ask that you offer only supportive, encouraging comments.

Looking forward to Thursday's Home Visit and being one step closer to our new addition!


Sunday, September 2, 2012

We feel so blessed to have been given $345 towards our goal of $1,300 by the 13th (of THIS month)! Thank-you to those of you you who have sacrificed. This is a humbling experience for us and we are deeply grateful for your generosity.

Our goal is down to $955.00! Doesn't that number look so much better already?!?! :)

We feel as though our faith is being tested as we again had unexpected car trouble. However, we are continuing to TRUST! Joe and I have cut expenditures significantly. This is very important to us. Worth sacrificing for. We are anxious about having the $1,300 by the 13th (just 11 days away!!!!) but we are hopeful that our friends and family will rally around us and support us and this special child. Once we have paid this initial fee, we can then apply for grants and an adoption loan. Please, if you find it in your hearts to give, please do.

We know some simply cannot give financially - we understand! We know what it is like to be tight but please don't discredit your prayers and words of encouragement!

Home study update: we passed another major hurdle in the process - the pediatrician approved Benji as being stable enough to pursue the adoption. We figured this would be the case, but hearing the words was very relieving and yet ANOTHER confirmation that we are following a true call to adopt.

Thank-you for reading and sharing our story - don't forget to pass the word to anyone who might be considering placing a child for adoption. We have open hearts and arms and are anxious to add another special blessing to our family. Special Needs or Ordinary Needs - we feel up to the task!

Again, thank-you for your consideration....If you prefer to donate via snail-mail, our address is: 2458 Putnam Road, Ontario, NY 14519

P.S. We are also thrilled to have a friend (who is a graphic designer) who offered to help us create our adoption profile! This will save us many hundreds of dollars! We are so grateful for this generous gift of time and talent! We are truly blessed!