Monday, September 29, 2008

sleeping angels

Once again, I'm entering a contest at one of my favorite sites,
But I couldn't just pick one sleeping pic because they are both angels!


Madison is asleep in the car. During the day.
I can count on one hand how many times she's done that in her whole life!
Cora is crashed in her bed. Without swaddling -- a rare event, too.
What I love most about both pix is that these girls are crashed because they've been living their sweet little lives to the fullest!! Madison is sleeping after a road trip to see great friends, and just look at Cora's little red knees... she's been BUSY!
So the contest is to win a beautiful bedroom set -- we'd love to win the Lily Rose -- so go ahead and enter your angels, too!!
PS... I'm doing better. I'll elaborate more soon, but want to thank you for your prayer, links, emails and love. You are all the best.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

PADS

No, not that kind. PADS is an acronym for Post Adoption Stress Disorder. Didja ever hear of it? Me neither.

Most people probably haven't noticed that I've not been 'right' for most of 2008. I can go through the motions with the best of 'em. And I know I need to do the necessities -- getting to where I need to be when I need to be there. Plus I've gotten good at putting on The Happy Face so that I look like the blessed, happy mommy that I should be. But I'm not.


And now I know why. I have a name for my radical emotions. And maybe I can STOP IT THIS INSTANT. Okay, probably not this instant. But at least now I know I'm not crazy. Or alone. And I have a path to hopefully follow.

Can I just say? God is incredible.

He knew how I was suffering long before today. He's kept me surrounded by the love/support of true friends. He continues to envelope me with a family who loves me unconditionally; including two daughters who don’t judge my tirades. And long ago He gave me a husband who is the. most. patient. loving. tolerant. human being in the world.

As if I’m not blessed enough, He has also opened doors to new friends galore. I have a new book club group, new MOPS group, new Bible study group and some new blogging buddies that live in town and love coffee as much as me. It’s this last group that led to my discovery of PADS, in the most round-about of ways.

I am not a great blogger. I don’t post everyday. Or every week. I have a total of 43 posts in 19 months. But I read other blogs. A lot. And I "meet" new people all the time.

Addie was one of the first blogs I read since I actually know her and all. Eventually, I started going through her blogroll and reading some she recommended. That’s how I met Shalee. Since I enjoyed reading Shalee's posts so much, I looked in her blog list and saw some that were also in Addie’s. I started reading more and more different blogs. Eventually I found Lifenut. I don’t know her but we have a lot in common.

Today, she posted at another site – Mile High Mama’s. After reading her post, I read down that page to this post. Intrigued, I went to that blogger’s homepage. And read the posts that put a name to these crazy thoughts I’ve been having, justifies the emotions I’ve been experiencing, gives reason to my not wanting to clean my house (I know!), clean bottles or even clean myself many days.

Once I had a name for this 'syndrome' I went on a web-search. Oh, I had looked online numerous times in the last several months… for things like “depression after adoption” and “post partum depression for adoptive moms.” I found some articles, but never did I find the wealth of info I found today. And while, certainly, not ALL of it applies to me, a lot of it sure does.

Here’s some of what I found out about PADS from some great sites:
“The public and medical attitudes toward (post partum depression) are a far cry from the silence and secrecy that surround a much more pervasive problem – Post Adoption Depression Syndrome (PADS).”

“In many cases, after enduring years of disappointment with infertility, family members don't understand why the new mother isn't completely happy and content now that she finally has what she's wanted for so long. Rather than disappoint and confound her family, many new adoptive moms simply suffer in silence, filled with shame and guilt, feeling themselves imperfect or selfish.”

“PADS can range from a full-blown episode of severe depression that requires hospitalization or just a simple case of the blues that lasts a month or two. The few scientific studies of PADS indicate that over half of adoptive mothers experience it.”

Amazing, huh? And there's a lot more like it. I'm not alone.

It took a complete stranger to help me. A complete stranger that I met through a series of complete strangers. That I met through a friend from my church. I don’t know what you’d call that, but I call it a God-thing. A Lovingkindness. A heap of blessings that I needed RIGHT NOW.

Thanks, God.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tulsa... or rather Broken Arrow

I got side-tracked and forgot to blog about our trip to Oklahoma last month.

Some of our closest friends, K, E, T & A, moved to Broken Arrow, outside of Tulsa, a little more than 3 years ago. We visit them as much as we can; including every August when we drive down so Tuck & K can drive on to TX and ride a (crazy) bike ride called the Hotter ‘n Hell Hundred. It’s a 100-mile bike ride through TX prairie land… in August… and from what I hear, it’s HOT. Hence the name.

Anyway, while the dads are gone we moms & kids stay in OK and play! There should be a slide show at the end of this post...

We went to this monstrous pizza place – think D@ve & Busters for kids that’s faaarrr better than our local CEC with the giant singing mouse. Not only does it have games for tickets that can be traded for priceless trinkets, it has a small bowling alley, bumper cars, mini golf and even an indoor race track. And the food is great. In the slide show you’ll see Cora’s thoughts on the whole thing (she’s sleeping!).

We also melted at the Tulsa Zoo. It is a beautiful zoo and had an incredible traveling bird exhibit, but it was hot and HUMID. Imagine one of our worst summer days in KS and multiply it by 100. You’ll see some perspiration on my nice gray shirt in those pix… and my poor girls sopping wet with their own. But it truly was fun!

I asked Madison her favorite part of the weekend, and she said “all of it” (amen!), but specifically when E pulled her tooth, when A’s bird, Nonie, landed on her head, jumping on the trampoline with A, cooking with Aunt E and she really loved hanging with Aunt E’s sister, C. She played Frisbee with C’s dog, drilled holes, used a nail gun, rode on her motorcycle and basically got away with pretty much ANYthing she wanted.

Cora can’t talk, but it was quite obvious how much she enjoyed the constant attention, hanging out on the bright towels and how much she LOVED being buck naked on the front lawn! She could not get over the texture of Oklahoma grass.

My favorite part of the whole weekend would have to be Saturday evening. It rained that morning which had actually cooled things off instead of making it mucky, like around here. We hung out in the hand-made Adirondack chairs and just SAT. Of course there was our constant chatter, lots of laughing, bunches of photos and there might possibly have been a glass or two of wine for those over 21. Then we made our home-made fudge – which I always used to do with A & T when they were Maddie’s age & beyond. The whole evening was my own personal heaven.

I hate that these guys have to live 4 hours away from us now. But it sure gives us unforgettable times to treasure. While we barely saw K or T (he’s is a 16-year-old-boy, after all), in many ways this trip was better than the others. Madison was old enough to really appreciate it, Cora slept well and was happy as could be and I got to be with some of my favorite people on the planet.

Friday, September 5, 2008

baby girl's name

I got an email about the baby's name that I could be heard saying in the video on my last post. I've actually been asked this many times before so I thought I'd explain.

I haven't posted her full name because I don't want a specific guy to Go*gle her and find out details about us, but her name is C o r a l a i n e. Clearly in reality there are no spaces in her name. It is pronounced Cora-lane, emphasis on the 2nd syllable.

When we found out we were likely getting a girl, we had no girl names we could agree upon. Tuck was attached to the name Cora (have you seen Last of the Mohicans? one of his FAVs). While I love the name, we know several Cora's and I wanted something unique like our names this time (poor Madison). Plus I fell in love with the name Delainey; I thought we could call her Lainey.

One night (actually Feb 8... I know, it's scary), we were chatting when Tuck asked "what still needs to be done before Cora comes home?" I told him that we still needed to find a changing table for "Lainey." Rolling his eyes, Tuck reminded me that we'd discussed using one of my grandma's old dressers from my folks' basement for "Cora."

Silence. Then I suggested maybe we should name her Lainey Cora. I think I actually heard Tuck's eyes rolling that time. So I said, "you'd probably prefer Cora Lainey."

Picture both of us looking at each other as if saying, "Hey, that's not bad!" We both kept repeating Cora... laine... Cora....laine.... Cora...laine.

It was settled. As it turns out, her name is as unique as she is.


PS -- Although Madison's name isn't unique, I'm quite sure there are no Maddie Claire's like ours.
PPS -- It's funny that I don't call the baby Lainey at all. She simply isn't a Lainey.
PPS -- Her middle name is Hope, based upon the life verse we've chosen for her.

Fine Mommy Moments

Really... there are few words to describe my pride in these photos...


see the dog hair on her mouth? nice touch, huh?


yeah, that's the baby bed.
While I am proud of these photos, I'm even more proud of these videos. Truly.

video video

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Got Teeth?

I've had this draft saved for a while about how my five-year-old and my five-month-old have teeth coming in at the same time. Woo Hooo; loads of fun attitudes around here!

Madison has her bottom 6-year-molars coming in on both sides. And we're pretty sure Cora has her first teeth coming in... she's the drooling-est baby and chews on ANY thing and EVERY thing she can get close to her little mouth. Plus she's not so happy. And she's a happy baby. So I hope it's teeth.
why, yes, that's drool coming from Cora's sweet mouth!

But then, our big girl lost her first tooth!! Actually, it was pulled out by one of our favorite people, Erica, on our trip to Tulsa (my next post).

Mad had eaten some corn on the cob a week or so prior and accidentally bit into the corn holder -- immediately causing her tooth to bleed and her to cry. She wouldn't let me touch it for a day or so; I think it really bruised her little mouth. When she finally let me touch it, we tried to pull it but it wasn't quite ready.

We hadn't been in Tulsa for 30 minutes when Maddie was nodding a fervent YES to Erica's question of "would you like me to pull it?" And voila -- here's our girl. She looks even older to me now!!



That night the Tulsa Tooth Fairy left a gold dollar coin -- with president James Madison on it. Our Madison thought that was the coolest thing EVER!

I pretty much think she's the coolest thing EVER.

Friday, August 15, 2008

kindergarten



well, we did it. we sent our big girl off into the wild, blue yonder this morning. she was soooooo excited leading up to today, getting ready this morning, in the car over to her school and walking in to the school. by the time we got to her classroom in the back of the school, she got REALLY quiet. I asked her if she was nervous (didn't want to use the word "scared") and she said "yeah, a lot."

daddy helped her meet the little girl, Alyssa, who sits across from her. both girls gave each other big smiles. seemed to help a little. but she asked me to stay until the other parents left. of course I did. after announcements and the pledge of allegiance, it was time for mommy & daddy to leave. big hugs & kisses and we pulled ourselves away.


I'd venture to say that walking away from that classroom was one of the hardest things we've done as parents to date.

Tuck said, "it's strange to leave our baby in the hands of someone we don't really know." yeah.

we're comforted by the fact that two families we know at the school have told us that she has the "best kindergarten teacher ever." the other, bigger comfort is that God has her in His hands, even when we don't.

now? her little sister is sleeping, I have a hugely messy house, loads of laundry, paperwork, etc... but I'm not sure what to do with myself.

I'm missing my girl.

below you'll find 2 pix of her sneak-a-peak night when she met her teacher, danced her tail off to radio disney, won a huge raffle drawing and loved every thing about it. the photos of her with her sissy, with her backpack and saying the pledge are this morning, on her first day of "real school" as she called it.

doesn't she look waaaayyy too big?




Friday, August 8, 2008

Should have known....

When I added that cute birthday ticker on my sidebar, I should have known that my big girl would be slightly obsessed.
MC (at 8am Mon): Mom, how old am I today?
Mom: 5 years, 8 months, 3 weeks and 2 days old.
MC: Cool.
MC (at 4pm Mon): How old does it say I am now?
Mom: It's still the same day as this morning, Sweetie.
MC: so how old am I?
Mom: 5 years, 8 months, 3 weeks, 2 days old.
MC: Cool.
MC (9am Tues): Mom, log onto your blog so I can see how old I am today. I made birthday invitations for my friends.
Oh my.
At least she doesn't mind when I'm on the computer now. Between the ticker and the photos I've been posting, she thinks it's pretty "cool."

Thursday, August 7, 2008

God's story continues....

This is the verse from our calendar on the day I finished typing my baby girl's adoption story. Pretty incredible promise, huh?

I really can't say how therapeutic it was to type those details. For weeks/months after May 27, I've been in a big ol' pit. I even looked online to see if adoptive mothers can go through "post partum" depression. When I mentioned that to Tuck, he thought maybe instead it was "post traumatic stress" depression.

All I know is that I was depressed. And it has been relieved a LOT by putting the words to paper, so to speak. Don't get me wrong, I still have days. But I think a lot of that now has to do with a lack of sleep. ;o)

Another thing that has my emotions in a mix is the fact that for the first time in 10+ years, Tuck and I are not trying to get pregnant or adopt a baby. Our family is complete. I have NO regrets about that, but it's a little strange. We'll celebrate 12 years of marriage in November, and the majority of our marriage has been about having kids. That was all we knew. That was our normal.

I just need my head to figure out what our new normal is.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Photo Contest

I'm still so green at this blog-thing. Really, I have no clue what I'm doing.

But being the photographer I am (okay, not so much a photographer as a taker of MANY photos), I had to enter this contest on one of my favorite bloggy sites -- 5 Minutes for Mom.

Here's my big girl at the end of her first official swim lessons showing us the card advancing her to the next level. She's so pleased... and so is Mom!!

God's story, part 4

And now, back to the story...

We sent emails to family & friends asking for prayers and that if anyone was available on May 12, we would like to show this birthfather, JT, a united front. For those who could, we'd love them to come to court in case he was there.

Our verse on the morning of May 12 was Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” On the way to court my song came on KLove – Voice of Truth, by Casting Crowns. It was comforting to know that God had our back. He knew what was going to happen that day, He knew the giants we were facing and He was promising that He would be there to catch us no matter the outcome.

At any rate, we had no idea how many friends and family would take us up on our request to be at court – we had over 50 adults & kids come! Which, as it turns out, was more helpful than we could have imagined. You can read about that here. Long story short: JT didn’t actually show up, he called the courthouse. He gave the judge a sob story and our trial was extended to May 27.

While every part of this extension was hard, one of the hardest things was how it affected Madison. Naturally we had tried to protect her and shield her from the knowledge of what was going on, but she’s a bright one, that girl. In fact, just that morning she’d asked if “that guy is going to come steal my sister” from us. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t keep it together that morning. When Tuck and I came out of the private courtroom to face Madison and everyone else, I couldn’t speak through the tears. That scared my girl.

For anyone who wants to say that we doubt God when we allow our emotions to get to us, I say that’s hogwash. God teaches us to trust His plan for us and He promises that He won’t give us anything more than we can handle. But He made us human, which means we are fallible. We have emotions and the things of this earth will affect us. Just read the Old Testament. Even the biggest, strongest followers of God experienced major emotions.

Adoption is full of these emotions. My friend, Michelle, who recently adopted their daughter came to me in tears in the midst of their tumultuous adoption ride. She was full of apologies for never really showing me love and patience when we were adopting Madison! She said she had NO idea what a roller-coaster of emotions the adoption journey is. Of course, I just hugged her and said she had no reason to apologize.

To be clear: during our whole trial, I knew in my heart that God was going to come through for Cora – I just didn’t know how. I knew that He could make everything work in our favor, but I didn’t know if He would. I had no idea if that was His plan. This not-knowing had already been causing my very weak intestines to have quite the heyday for 2+ months up to this point. The delay in our court date was just another test for my uproarious stomach.

During the 2 weeks between our trial dates, we had the opportunity to speak to JT, at his request. To say that our hearts were in our throats is an understatement. He basically complained to us that it was unfair that he never had a say in what happened to "his" daughter. He directly contradicted about 99% of what Tiffany had told us; he denied r@ping her. He said he understood that we'd "probably gotten attached" to Cora (!!) but that he wanted to be her father and was going to do whatever he could, including hiring a KS lawyer and coming to court on May 27.

Clearly, however, May 27 went as everyone ELSE had prayed and we got to keep our girl!! We’d flown Tiffany into town so that she could give her testimony in person since JT’s story directly contradicted hers. We had her family (who lives in town) and our family over for a huge Memorial Day BBQ the day before court. It was such a neat, bonding time for all of us. We were able to forget the stress of the next day and truly enjoy each other. And Tiffany hardly let Cora out of her sight for longer than a few minutes at a time!

The morning of May 27, our verse was Psalm 16:5 “LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.”

Oh how we wanted to believe that promise would come true for us that very day! Tuck and I sat in our bathroom and prayed like we’d never prayed before. Not even a minute later, Mr. Kenney called to let us know he’d called JT that morning “just to see where he was.” He was in Texas. He claimed he’d had car trouble at 9pm the night before (thanks for that prayer, Grandma Sandy!) and couldn’t get to town. Mind you, he also admitted to Mr. Kenney that he hadn’t been able to hire a lawyer.

When we heard this we started to celebrate – but Mr. Kenney told us to temper that emotion until we could find out what the judge would decide. There was still the possibility JT would call the courthouse at our hearing time of 3pm. We had no idea if the judge would extend the hearing again.

May 27 was a very. long. day.

We finally got to the courthouse with Tiffany at 2:30. I honestly can’t tell you how many of our friends and family were crammed into the little hallway outside of our courtroom. And more kept arriving! In fact, Tiffany said her heart stopped each time the elevator opened because she kept expecting JT to walk in, even though she knew he couldn’t possibly get to town that quickly.

At exactly 3:00, Mr. Kenney lead Tucker, Tiffany and me into the courtroom. The judge was surprised (and impressed, if you ask me) to see that Tiffany was there… and that JT wasn’t. He told Mr. Kenney that he’d allowed JT all the opportunity in the world to show up and that we could continue with Tiffany’s testimony without him. About 12 minutes later, the judge severed JT’s parental rights based upon neglect and non-support. He then invited us to ask our family & friends to join us for the “best part” of his day, as he said it.

I’m not kidding you when I say it took a full 5 minutes for everyone to squeeze into the courtroom. Each time the door started to close, someone else would run in. The judge was flabbergasted; he said he’d never had such a full gallery. I was a blubbering idiot, by the way – and am even choking up as I type this! (the apple doesn’t fall far, does it Mom?!)

Mr. Kenney questioned first Tuck then me with such questions as “You are fully aware that once we finish today, Cora is as much your daughter as if you’d given birth to her. You understand that you can’t turn around this decision – even when she’s 13 and causing you angst as a teen…” After just a few minutes of this type of questioning, the judge deemed us the rightful parents of our beautiful angel girl.

We couldn't have asked for a more perfect ending.

The only things holding us together during this time were God’s word (Isaiah 64:4, Mark 11:24, Revelation 7:17, etc), the prayers of our friends, the hundreds of emails and cards, the phone calls and support at both trial dates. If you were one of those people supporting us, I have no way of thanking you besides saying Thank You.

The verse on our calendar 3 days after our family was complete? All I can say is: amen.

Isaiah 25:1 “O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago.”

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

we interrupt this blog...

to bring you updated photos of our girls:


Cora's first taste of rice cereal -- her adoration of Madison

Cora's smile upon awakening -- Madison shucking homegrown corn (thanks, Shannon!)
My girls in MY childhood rocker -- Madison with my favorite childhood book (Little Mommy; which she reads fluently now)

Madison on the 4th -- Cora with our new fav bottle (no hands required - great for dinnertime with her family!)


finally, Madison with her "science project" from Gammy (powdered snow)

God's story, part 3

I didn’t intend for these posts to be “poor me” posts... I hope they don’t sound so. Rather I wanted to remember the details so we can remember the blessings behind the trials. There were so many.

So our names were first on the standby list for the overbooked 4:20 flight. At 3:30, Mr. Kenney called to say the papers had arrived in Topeka and that we’d been approved to come home!! After regular boarding, the agent started making the “last call… if you don’t board now your seats will be given to standby customers…” He made this call about 3 times, telling us there were 2 seats available; as long as these people remained “missing” we would be aboard.

Madison and I started praying… the agent made one last call… then a business passenger, who has precedence over standby customers, ran up and took one of the seats. Madison looked at me and said, “Do we have to stay in Texas again tonight, Mom?” To which I couldn’t even answer.

At that point, I heard the ticket agent announce: “Would the passenger who spoke about giving up his seat please come see me?” Apparently this guy was waiting to board the plane so he could see if we got on. When the flight got down to only one open seat, he gave up his to let us get on.

I can’t even tell you how overwhelmed I was. To say I was speechless is putting it mildly.

This good Samaritan refused to give me his name – even told the ticketing agent not to tell me – because he didn’t want any thanks. He said, “I heard you on the phone with your husband. You need to get home to your mom. I can easily catch a later flight.”

We got on that flight and were home a little over an hour later!! Ohmygosh, seeing Tuck’s face was the best sight we’d seen in a long, long time.

Our friends had all signed up to bring dinners to us – we had food delivered for over two weeks, beginning with 2 that were delivered for my sweet husband while we girls were still in TX. The first month at home with Cora was pretty typical of a home with a newborn and preschooler. Tiring, yes, but also full of new discoveries, joy and unexplainable love.

Mom had her quadruple bypass surgery March 20 and was out of the hospital on March 24! She has healed remarkably from that – both in her chest and her leg where they removed the arteries. However, the blood clot that was in her other leg is still there. Prior to her surgery, the surgeons put a “cage” into the artery with that clot to prevent it from moving to her heart/lungs and killing her.

Turns out, the cage did its job – the clot moved out of its original place in her leg and into the cage. Problem is, it backed up the entire artery in her leg. She has had a full-leg blood clot since then. It has slowed her down immensely, but her attitude is incredible. She’ll go in mid-August to see if the blood thinners have been working and what the next course of action should be.

Since Cora’s birthfather, JT, hadn’t signed papers to terminate his rights, and because we were finalizing our adoption in KS, it was up to us to do “everything humanly possible” to notify him of the adoption. In early April, our lawyer told us that his private detective had tracked JT down and would be serving him papers any day.

On April 8, Tiffany called and said JT had gotten served and was ANGRY. He told her he intends to come to the hearing (May 12) to fight this. He also called our lawyer and said a LOT of other things, denies raping Tiffany and is accusing her of terrible things that she denies. Both our lawyer and Tiffany's lawyer told us that 99% of situations like this end up being the birth father trying to look tough but never following through.

Our verse for April 8 was a very familiar one: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

God's story, part 2

Our lawyer, Mr. Kenney, did his best to get us out of TX, but paperwork is paperwork and nobody else seemed to be in any hurry. We’d originally bought our plane ticket for the girls and me to return on Wed, March 12, but that morning we were told that KS hadn’t even received the paperwork from TX yet. Mr. Kenney assured us that his personal friend in Topeka was awaiting the papers and we’d be approved to leave within an hour of her receiving them. He’d been told that Texas had over-nighted the papers on Wed, so they should be in her hands by Thur morning.

I called Southwest and explained the problem. As it turns out, a manager answered my call and she was able to find spots for us to fly out Thursday at 1:50pm at no extra charge; saving us close to $200. Sally took Thursday off of work to spend the day with us and help us get to the airport. We were trusting that the papers would be taken care of, so we all went to the airport after lunch.

At 1:30, Mr. Kenney advised us to find a later flight; his friend in Topeka hadn’t called yet giving us permission to leave TX. By this time, the boarding agents all knew our story and found us seats on the 4:40 flight – again at no extra charge. So we walked the airport and killed time with Sally.

In the meantime, my parents called us to let us know my mom had been scheduled for an angioplasty on Friday morning. She had apparently been having some pains that week, but she hadn’t told me so as to not worry me with all I “already had going on.” Needless to say, news of the angioplasty was completely out of the blue and I needed to get home for it.

At 4:20 we still hadn’t heard from Mr. Kenney and our plane was boarding. The agents were holding seats for us to board last, giving us as much time as possible to hear from him. I’d had Tuck on the phone all day; we had decided to risk it and just get us home. We were literally walking down the boarding ramp when Mr. Kenney called and told us not to risk it. If either of the birth parents found out we’d left the state before the papers were approved, they could rescind their signatures and take Cora back. It was enough to make me turn around and stay another night in TX.

Thank God Sally was still at the airport because it was at that point I finally lost it. Not only was I sorely ready to see my husband and get my girls home, I was going to miss my mom’s procedure… and our luggage had just taken off for KC. Poor Madison saw Mommy crying and started crying herself. Sally just took us both in her arms and let us bawl… as she said a prayer for comfort.

I quickly got myself together and decided to make an adventure out of the whole thing – which, blessedly, Madison totally bought into. We had to buy diapers & formula, but we borrowed jammies and just washed the clothes we had on so we could wear them again on Friday. Of course, I was totally counting on the fact that we WOULD come home on Friday. Our verse this day had been: “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (2 Timothy 2:3 NIV)

Friday morning, Mr. Kenney let us know that the papers had truly been over-nighted, but they hadn’t left TX until after 5:00pm on Wed. That meant they technically left TX on Thurs and the earliest KS would get them would be Fri morning. I called Southwest and the only flight they had available with 2 seats was the 1:50 flight; so we booked it (again, no charge).

This time, Sally had to be at work because her class had a field trip. My uncle, who lives about an hour away, drove to Dallas to take us to the airport. He had a wedding to perform that day, so he was only able to drop us off at about 11:00. We still had no papers approved when our plane started boarding nearly 2 hours later. Once again, all the ticket agents knew our story because the agents from the day before had seen us and come to tell the new ones to take good care of us.
Throughout the morning, Dad called to give me the progress of Mom’s angioplasty. When I called him to tell him we couldn’t get on the 1:50 flight and were on standby for the 2:45, he told me that they’d called in a specialist to Mom’s procedure. What was supposed to have taken less than an hour had already taken two.

To top it off, we had no approval from Topeka and were unable to get on the 2:45 flight either. At that point we put our names on standby for 2 seats on the 4:20 flight; our last option for that day – Friday, March 14.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

God's story, part 1

There is so much about our recent adoption story that I haven’t shared. So many blessings through each step. So much challenge in getting through each day. To say that God refined us through this trial is a cliché and an understatement.

I’ve had a daily Bible verse calendar for as long as I can remember. The verses quoted in the next several posts are from that calendar and came at the times we needed them most. I had them taped to our bathroom mirror all the way through this adoption.

We got the first phone call in mid-December about a birthmother due in March. If you’ve ever desired a child that you couldn’t have, you know how tough the holidays can be. God gave us this glimmer of hope just in time for Christmas, though because of previous experience, nobody knew but Tuck and me. We were guarding the hearts of our loved ones and praying for strength in our own hearts. “… that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit…” (Ephesians 3:16 NKJV)

While things went very well between December and March, I’m a worrier. Most times I can pray the worry away, but it’s tougher when a baby is involved. Satan knows this and plays on it big time. In this situation, you name it and I worried. The day we left for Texas, I had this verse: “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27 NIV)

On the morning of March 3, I went with Tiffany to the hospital for her induction. I sat with her and we had some great heart-to-hearts. Tiffany’s hospital plan stated that I was to be her labor coach, but would leave when she began pushing. When it came time to push, however, Tiffany looked me in the eye and said “please don’t leave me.” It was quite the bonding moment for two mothers, to say the least.

And I got to coach my baby girl into the world!

Two days later, Madison, Tuck and I left the hospital with Cora! (her nickname) Because Tiffany’s lawyer was located 2 hours away, it took another day to get all the paperwork signed. While we never wanted to doubt Tiffany’s decision, that was a loooonngg 24 hours as we wondered if we’d have this baby taken from our arms. On March 6, Tiffany signed her papers and the four of us left Cora’s birth city. We drove to Dallas to stay with some of our close friends, Mark & Sally, as we awaited permission to leave the state.

What a blessing to stay in a home instead of a hotel with a preschooler and a newborn! The first three days with our two precious blessings were relaxed, wonderful, carefree days. We spoke to Tiffany a few times and she was doing well, too. On March 9, Tuck flew home to go back to work (he’d just started a new job) and I stayed at Sally’s with our girls, believing we’d be following in a day or two.

A little background on the birth father: he’s a 19-year-old with quite a police record already. Tiffany has known him for a long time. He denies it, but Tiffany claims her pregnancy was a result of a non-consensual incident between them. On March 10, Tiffany called us to tell us that he had called her upon his release from jail. He wanted info on “his” baby and was livid that she’d been placed for adoption. This was our biggest fear realized.

Prior to adopting Madison we’d been matched with a birthmother for 3 months. We went to doctor appointments, talked on the phone all the time, decorated a nursery, had showers, etc. Then at the last minute, the birth father decided to parent his baby. We’ve since learned that sweet girl – just 4 months older than Madison – is in the foster system due to abuse.

Hearing that this situation could repeat itself was a little more than I could manage with Tuck hundreds of miles away. But the verse I got on March 10: “For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.” (1 Peter 2:19 NIV)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

It's official: she is OURS!!!!!

We finalized our adoption of our baby girl today at 3:15!!!!!!!!!

Birthfather never showed. Birthmother gave her testimony. The judge deemed us the rightful parents of our beautiful angel girl. We couldn't have asked for a more perfect ending.

Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you. It isn't adequate enough to tell you thank you, but we do: for your prayers, phone calls, prayers, emails, prayers, dinners, prayers and for those able to show up May 12 and today. We are overwhelmed with love and gratitude for your support; we could NOT have survived without it.

We give God the full credit for today. There is nothing else we can say except Praise the Lord for his mercy and love. Our family couldn't be more obviously created by Him, and we couldn't be more proud to give him the full credit.

We love you all and simply say Thank you.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It could be worse... right?

Baby girl doesn't cry much; only when she's hungry or tired. Yesterday she was both hungry and tired... and we were in the car. Madison kept trying to put her paci in her mouth but she wasn't having it. So at a stoplight I got out her bottle, mixed the powder and started shaking it.

Over the shrill shrieking, Madison said: "Hurry up, Mom, before she pushes me over the edge!!"

hmmm....

I got the bottle to her, it went into baby girl's mouth, and Madison said: "Wow. She was really screaming bloody murder, huh Mom?"

Where does she get this material?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Update


Here's our girl... isn't she beautiful?! We went to court yesterday to finalize our adoption but it didn't go as we'd hoped. For the update I will copy an email I sent after we got home:
First of all we want to say a sincere thank you to everyone for the emails & phone calls letting us know that you couldn't be here but that you were praying with us. It was certainly obvious that we were enveloped in prayer. We also want to thank you who came to court today. Wow, that was overwhelming to see so many loving and supportive faces... and we certainly needed each one of you there.

To say it didn't go exactly as planned is a huge understatement. The birthfather called the court house this morning saying he'd tried to come but his work wouldn't let him have the days off (mind you, he works at Schlotzky's and was not at work when he called). The judge decided to quote a state precedent and extend his chances to show up in person. Our lawyer explained that this is erring in the side of conservative judgement and said "this way we won't show up on the evening news in 5 years with a birthfather trying to say he was never allowed his day in court."

That means we go back to court on May 27 to try and terminate his rights. And we're back to the original plan of hoping he doesn't show up. If he doesn't show up this time, it's a done deal -- his rights are terminated and we get full custody of our angel (name not used on purpose). If he does show up, then it's up to him to prove he provided support to Tiffany (he didn't) and that his rights shouldn't be terminated.

So. Not sure what else to say at this point except please keep praying. We can't thank you enough for loving us and being with us on this whole excursion. We know without a doubt that our angel is destined to be a wonderful addition to our family. We believe that this, too, shall pass.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 says: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

She's here!!!








Please help me welcome our new daughter.

As you can see, Madison is in love with her baby sister. She has been so gentle and protective and loving. I have a built-in little mommy in that one.
Our angel is just as peaceful and content as she looks in these pix. She's a great eater and sleeps for 3-4 hours at a time. We've even had 2 six hour nights already! Can you say Woo Hoo!?

Tuck went home on Sunday to get back to his new job, but the girls and I are hanging out at Sally & Mark's in TX as we are still awaiting the paperwork to be approved by the powers that be in Austin & Topeka. Hopefully today or tomorrow we'll be home.

I'll post more later, but wanted to get these out for now!

Oh, Madison said yesterday as she was feeding her a bottle: "I'm finally feeding MY baby, Mommy!"

Amen, sister.

Friday, February 22, 2008

We have a plan!!

I’m a planner. I like to know what’s going to happen and when it’s going to happen.

I like sleep. Without sleep, I am. not. fun.

Lately I’ve not been sleeping well because we’ve had no plan for our trip to Texas.

Madison was born here in town. We knew April was going to be induced on November 12. We got the call that she was born and we were there in 30 minutes. Nice and easy.

Tiffany’s due date has always been March 6, but she was 10 days late with her son. She sees a different doctor each week she goes in, so nobody was willing to set an induction date. She has asked me to be her coach, so I pretty much need to be there when she goes into labor.

We finally created a plan: Madison and I would go down and hang out with friends in Dallas… waiting… while Tucker stayed home until Tiffany went into labor, when he would join us. But I still wasn’t sleeping because there were still so many unknowns.

What if Tuck couldn’t get there fast enough? And who would be with Madison while I’m with Tiffany? How can we afford rent a car and sit in a Texas hotel for days on end? Etc, etc, etc.

So my friend Sally, who lives in Dallas, emailed a few days ago. Without knowing any of my concerns she said: “PLEASE stay here with us... we really want our home to be a haven for you... wait here until the baby is born, we can pick Tucker up from the airport if he needs to come in at the last minute, we can have a crib here for the baby as you travel back home, we can give you one of our cars, anything you want, we will deliver. And, I would love to go with you to College Station to help you with Madison.”

Wow. God is so good to us. He has placed so many people in our lives that are just incredible. And each day, it keeps getting better…

Tiffany called yesterday: she actually saw the same doctor 2 weeks in a row and – knowing our situation – he has decided to induce her on March 4th! That means we will all 3 fly down there together, stay in a hotel until we get custody of our angel, then drive back to Dallas to stay with Sally & Mark until we get the paperwork that gives us permission to leave the state of Texas.


We have a plan.

I slept really well last night.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Is it spring yet?!

I can't imagine living where it's perpetually warm or constantly cold and have always said that I love living where there are 4 seasons, but come ON. Enough already.

Blessedly, my girl and I get to experience spring a little early... as in 2 weeks from today. On March 5 we leave for Texas where they have been consistently having 60 degree weather. Woo Hoo! (Tuck will join us soon thereafter).

Of course the reason we're going is even more exciting than that -- we will hopefully be meeting the newest member of our family. I say hopefully because Madison reminded me at bedtime tonight that "we don't know if God has picked us yet, Mom." You see, when we told her about our potential adoption, we used those exact words: "Tiffany has picked us to adopt her baby girl, but we'll have to wait to see if God picks us to be her forever family."

We've been down this road. We wanted to prepare her... just in case.

And then I've gotten all caught up in the excitement and the assumption that we will be bringing home a baby. So I stumbled all over myself trying to explain that I feel really good about things this time... and Tiffany calls all the time... and Tiffany told me point blank that she's not going to change her mind... but finally I admitted to my sweet angel that she's absolutely right: we don't know if God's picked us yet.

Thank you for your continued prayers. I will keep you posted.

PS My friend, Marie, blows me away. I can't even put into words all that she means to me. I will forever be amazed at her sacrificial love. I love you, friend.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Joy in the midst

I'm afraid there are people in my life that think raising my daughter has been nothing but challenging for me; including my husband. I seem to complain a LOT. In fact, I called my friend the other day because I was at my wit's end and needed feedback from someone who has 3 girls, one of which is a few years older than mine. After laughing with (at?) me, she assured me that I'm normal. Truth be told, my daughter has brought me more joy than I could ever have imagined.

(Disclaimer: the next paragraph contains a LOT of generalizations… please bear with me!)

I taught elementary school for 11 years. Generally speaking over the years, the boys were easier to deal with than the girls. The boys were busy, active and in each others’ faces a lot. The girls were dramatic, emotional and full of attitude. The boys didn’t always listen, but it was usually because they literally didn’t hear me. The girls didn’t always listen, but it was usually because they thought their way was better than mine. When the boys fought each other, it was physical and over when the last punch was thrown. When the girls fought each other, it was psychological and went on and on and on and on...

As cliché as it sounds, the boys were boys. There is no cliché that fits my experience with the girls.

Until God blessed me with my girl. Now I can say: “it’s like looking into a mirror.” And that’s what intimidates me the most – how similar we are. Stubborn, strong-willed, passionate, stubborn, vocal, hot-tempered, stubborn, grumpy when tired, stubborn… And because we are so much alike, we tend to crash into each other. Often.

But I’ve noticed something in the last few days. When I’m able to control my anger, things go swimmingly well. But when I’m over-stressed or tired, it’s not pretty. The number of times I’ve found myself acting HER age over the last 5 years is amazing. Embarrassing really. If I could grow up, maybe she would, too.

My Madison Claire is incredibly creative, has a beautiful imagination and is the most loving, compassionate soul that I have known. She loves to be around people, loves meeting new people, is highly aware of others’ feelings and would do anything for her friends. She has the most pure understanding of God and His love, and she teaches me about that love every day.

Plus she’s brilliant.

I pray that from today forward I can focus on how blessed I am to not only know this little girl, but to be her Mom. I pray that I can love every bit of her every minute of every day. I pray that when she challenges me (because she will), that I can hold on to my immaturity and act like the adult. I pray, above all, that I can remember that God blessed me (and Tuck, of course) with this little girl to raise in His name, to love Him and to guide others to Him.

And now it looks like He’s doing it again… blessing us with another little girl. All along, we’ve been praying that God would bring whatever child He saw fit to complete our family. My girl is over the moon to have a baby sister, so there is no doubt He has answered our prayer.

How do I feel about another girl? Honestly, I’m thrilled. Tuck is, too; he’s a great “girl daddy” and so very patient with all the craziness. Will our next daughter be like Madison and me? Or will she be our opposite… bringing a whole different set of issues (as Addie pointed out – thank you very little)?

Either way, I say: bring it.

“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” Revelation 7:12

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Where has the time gone?!

I'll start with our news... we've been selected by a birth mother in TX to adopt her baby girl in early March! So assuming all works out, Madison will finally be a big sister! To say we're excited or that Maddie is "over the moon" is a serious understatement. So now we're trying to do -- in 8 weeks -- what most people have months to do: prepare for a baby. Whew.

Work has been wonderful, believe it or not. I love my job. Love the kids, co-workers, parents, hours, pay, the fact that I literally see my girl all day long...... but the time away from home, friends and previous activities as a SAHM has been pretty tough.

I'm not a "clean freak" so much, but my home is always picked up. Until September 2007, that is. Since starting work my home goes through a transition between Sunday and Saturday. Sunday night is small group here, so we clean like mad and it looks great on Sunday. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday... things start piling up and getting overlooked... by Friday it's a disaster (or as Madison puts it "pigsty" -- where does she get these ideas!?).

Since Friday is our Mommy & Maddie day, it remains that way until I can't stand it any longer and go wild on Sat or Sun cleaning it all up... just to start all over again on Monday. It's enough to make me crazy. And don't even get me started on laundry. Hate isn't a strong enough word. My next home will not have the laundry room all the way downstairs. Ugh.

Blessedly, however, the trials of my being at work are paying off. We will most likely have ALL of our consumer debt paid off by August or September! Which means I will get to stay home with our new baby, as I did with Madison. That alone is completely worth it.

We had a magnificent holiday season. We hosted the family here for Thanksgiving -- my folks and Tuck's folks, plus his brother and family. It went smashingly well.

My baby brother got to come home from Atlanta for Christmas!

Since we were kids, my family has spent Christmas Eve out on the town. We have a big lunch, go to Crown Center, see a movie... It was my folks' way of making Christmas morning come faster, and it still works with Madison. By the time we get home, she has just enough energy to open her gift of new jammies and put out Santa cookies before crashing into bed.

So far on Christmas morning, we've had to wake up Madison... but not this year! Every night, she asks what number to look for on the clock and we usually say "8." On Christmas Eve I told her she could come to our room if there was a "7" but to stay in her bed if there was anything before that. She came into our room at 7:01 and said "I saw a 5 but stayed in my bed until there was a 7!" Thank God for small favors!!! Below is a picture of the ONE gift she wanted more than others... her princess kitchen.
After letting Madison open her presents here (my folks and Chad joined us at 8:00), we went to Tuck's brother's house and repeated the chaos -- with 3 times the kids! It truly was lots and lots of fun!

We had a New Year's Eve party here -- kids played in the basement while we had a serious game of Trivial Pursuit upstairs (which "my" team won!). Being surrounded by family and friends is what it's all about.

Which brings me back to my original sentence: we are planning to bring a new member of the family home sometime in March! Over the past 3 years we have been in multiple situations where we "might be getting a baby." Clearly none has worked out, but the best part of all that is how close it has brought our family together. Both our actual family and our family of friends. We have so many people that have prayed for us it's overwhelming.
I hope 2008 rang in beautifully for you and that it's your best year yet. As my little friend, Moe, likes to say "Peace out, Homey!"