Friday, January 18, 2013

New year, new blog!

Hey y'all!! I have really sucked at doing my blog lately, and I hope to get back into the swing of things soon, not just with this blog, but with my other one Honeybees, Hens, and other Hijinks! That one will be more of non-adoption related stuff. We've started keeping honeybees, have some chicks on order for the spring, and who knows what else I'll get into! Please take a look at that one and maybe you'll get some helpful hints, some good recipes, and hopefully a laugh or two.

In adoption news, ANOTHER local friend of mine is adopting! My friend Brooke, who I met last year through my adopting friends, has started the process to adopt the cutest little boy you've ever seen from Eastern Europe. They've started a fundraiser through Adoption Bug, which donates part of the proceeds from adoption t shirts to adopting families. Take a look at the shirts at Kirk Family Adoption on Adoption Bug's website. I am just tickled to death for them. To keep up with their adoption story, check out Brooke's blog at Please give them some encouragement, as adoption is so stressful, and especially when it seems like you've been thrown into it with no warning, which is Brooke's story, and very similar to how ours started out last year!

I have so many special friends that I didn't even know a year ago, and it still amazes me the twists and turns life takes. As I've said before, even though my heart still breaks at not having my boys here, I wouldn't have traded our experience for anything in the world. I've met new friends, grown as a person, and really had my eyes opened to many different things. I appreciate all the comments, prayers, and support from so many people I only know through the web! I can't wait to see where this year takes us, and hope you'll hang along for the ride!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Goodbye Grandma

During the week between Christmas and New Year's, I lost both of my grandmas. Both of them, within three days of each other. I am still trying to process this in my head. Both of these women, so different from each other, but both so dear to me, are now gone forever. I know the majority of anyone reading this didn't know them, and I'm not looking for sympathy or anything like that. Actually, if I hear one more person asking in that "tone" how I am doing, I just might scream. I miss them both like crazy, but I'm fine. I promise!

Grandma (Florence) Knight

Grandma (Dorothy) Harris

These are two of my favorite pictures of them. Most pictures of Grandma Harris have her hand or any nearby object covering her face, so to get one of her smiling for the camera was rare!

Gma H went into the hospital on Dec 28 with heart problems. On Dec 30th Gma K passed away. Gma H passed away on Jan 2, which was also the day Gma Kwas buried. That was a pretty rough week, to say the least.

I've tried a few times to write this blog post about them, and I know I can't do justice to either of them in just a blog post. It would take a book to tell the escapades of Gma H! They were alike and different, at the same time.

Gma K was 92, when she died. She married young, had 4 boys and 1 girl. She lived her life on a farm, and was the epitome of the farmhouse wife. My grandpa owned a farm supply store in addition to running a dairy and tobacco farm, so they were all busy from before dawn to well after dark. Gma K cooked for the family and farmhands, sewed the kids clothes from feedsacks, worked in the fields, and the hundreds of other things a family takes for granted. She was the oldest member of Hillsdale Primitive Baptist Church, where she was a faithful member as long as her health allowed. She was a great example to me of how to love God and care for your family. Even her hobbies centered around home and family, from working in her flowers  to crocheting doll clothes. She had a great sense of humor, even after dememtia started stealing her away from us. She had a great ability to laugh at herself and her situation. The doctors gave her medication to help with her memory, and she told me they gave her pills, but she couldn't remember why. When reminded they were for her memory, she would just laugh and say "well they aren't working too good then, are they?" Dementia is a horrible illness, taking away the person inside, leaving them confused at a new world around them. Even in that though, there were still bright moments. Her memory had started deteriorating by the time my youngest daughter was born. I had named her after Gma K's mother, and when I took Anna to see her, and told her Anna's full name, she just beamed and said, "that was my mother's name!" I can't tell you the number of times we had to tell her Anna's name, and each and every time it was like the first time, and her face just lit up at knowing Anna's name. She raised her children all to love God, and there are 47 direct descendants of her that will miss her so much, and so many others that loved and respected her.

Gma H. Now she was a character. To those outside the family, she was the sweet, quiet, friendly grandmotherly type. Our church family loved her. Around just the family though, her personality really came alive! There are so many inside jokes/quotes that all came from her. She had a vocabulary all her own. Crunchies (crunchy Cheetos), smashie (Wendy's Frosty), Chick Filly (Chick Fil A) were all Grandma originals. She started her life on a farm as well, but she couldn't wait to get away from it. She was a city girl inside! Once she and my grandpa married and moved closer to town, she really enjoyed having neighbors and keeping up with what was going on in town! They had two daughters. She lost one of them, my aunt Melody, to cancer when Melody was 33. After my grandpa passed away, she wound up moving to my parent's place, into a cute little place my dad built for her behind the house. She loved telling everyone they moved her to the woodshed. Gma H was unique, and even in her last days she was completely herself. Any time she was in the hospital, she had to rearrange the room, and we would always wind up laughing until we cried over every silly little thing we said. Her last stay was the same way. We brought in chair after chair to make room, laughed at things she did and said. She wouldn't eat, and we tried everything to coax her into a bite of this or that. I tried feeding her sherbet once, and told her, "Grandma, don't you know it's against the law to waste ice cream?" Immediately she shot back "not in North Carolina!". She got very quiet the last few days, and that's how we really knew something was different. She wasn't a person to keep quiet for very long. She had an opinion, and she always felt obligated to share it. It was usually the opposite of mine, and I'm a lot like her, so we had some interesting times.

I'm grateful I had so many wonderful years knowing and loving these two women. My life is better for both of their Christian examples. Go visit your grandma if she's still around, because she won't be here forever!!


Friday, November 30, 2012

So what if it's another life?

Several weeks ago I read a comment on someone's facebook page that just floored me. The topic under discussion was abortion, and specifically due to a pregnancy by rape. One person said "so what if it's another life, I wouldn't have a rapist's baby." She went on to say some other nasty, and completely without logic, things, but that comment just cut right to my heart. Has our society become so hardened that even those who believe an unborn baby is more than a clump of cells can choose to kill them?

 It's one thing to honestly (if mistakenly) believe that a baby isn't a baby until a certain age. That's bad enough, and something I just don't get. If you get pregnant, there's only one choice of what you will give birth to. It will be a baby, a human child, no other options that I've ever heard of. Have you ever asked a pregnant woman what she's going to have? You weren't asking if she was having a goldfish, or a spider monkey, or a baby. You wanted to know whether it was going to be a male human child or a female human child. But to say "so what"?

I've been thinking on this for a while now, wanting to wrap my head around it and do a blog post that was insightful and thought provoking, but it's just not happening. One, it's me writing it, so therefore much like a dog chasing a squirrel all over the keyboard, it's not going to win a Pulitzer. And two, there's no making sense of this woman's comment.

It's just sad. It breaks my heart to think that someone can say, no, this life isn't valuable enough to save. Because it is. Every life is valuable.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My two favorite RR kids

UPDATE!!! Not long after I did this blog post (like within a couple of hours!) Dayna showed up on My Family Found Me! So happy for her family!!! It takes a while for a child to show up on that part of the website, so that means her family has been working on this for probably a few weeks. I am just tickled to death, and if her family does a blog, I will be sure and link to it so we can all follow her journey home and help out with fundraisers!

There are two children on Reece's Rainbow that really tug at my heart. Right now it's not possible for me to adopt them, but I would in a heartbeat if I could! Please take a look at both of these adorable kids and see if your heart isn't also affected. They both are in a country that is extremely expensive, but it's just money. I've seen so many amazing things happen, financial mountains melt when God's people step forward, so don't let that intimidate you for a second!! And WHEN Archie and Dayna do find their families, I will do everything I can to help fundraise, and so will lots of others.

Enough talking. Just look at their pics and that will mean far more than anything I could possibly say:

This is Archie. I've been blessed to see other pics of him, and as cute as this one is, it doesn't even do him justice. He just turned 4 in July, which unfortunately means he will be transferred to a mental institution soon, if he hasn't been already. Four year old boys don't deserve to live spend their lives in a place like that, because it's not living. Four year old boys need to be playing on the swingset, playing ball, chasing the dog around the yard, snuggling with Daddy watching a football game. Not lying in a crib with no one to love him. Want to see more Archie? Here's a link to a video, so you can see more of his adorable smile!

And sweet Dayna

Dayna is 3. I've also seen a video of her, and she is just smiling and laughing. Look at that short hair! She needs a  mommy to grow it out and put some cute bows in it!

If you want more info on either of them, just click their name and link back to Reece's Rainbow. I can also put you in touch with people that can give you more details. Please help me find their mommy and daddy!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Down Syndrome Awareness Month!

October is a busy month! Down Syndrome Awareness Month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Domestic Violence Month, Pregnancy Loss and Infant Loss Month, Eat more Bacon Month. ok I made that last one up. We all know eat more bacon is EVERY month. But I want to focus on Down Syndrome Awareness, because, to be honest, that is something I never thought much about. Why not the others?

We're all aware of breast cancer and see the pink ribbon everywhere. We know to go get our mammograms regularly. Right??? When was your last one? GO DO IT! 

We all know domestic violence is horrible, and the key to that is raising our sons to respect women, and raising our daughters to watch out for warning signs that their guy might not be who they first expect, and to get out at the first inkling of an idea.

Pregnancy loss and infant loss is another terrible situation that no parent should have to face. I've seen too many families lose babies, and it is heartbreaking. 

But there is another group of babies that unfortunately, don't even get a chance to ever be with their families. These are babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Did you know that 90% of babies diagnosed with DS while the mother is pregnant get aborted. NINETY PERCENT. The doctors tell the families that it's the easy way, it's better for everyone. It's a lie. Parents gets scared, not knowing much about DS because they haven't had much, if any, interaction with a child or adult with DS. 

The number one fact to know about a child with DS is this. Brace yourself, because it's a doozy. A child with DS is....

Just a regular child.

Yep. There's nothing scary about them, nothing weird or different. They're just kids. They have every bit as much love to give as any other child. So why are people so scared to have a child with DS?

 Here are some medical things the parents and child will/may have to deal with. Some, but not, all kids with DS, have heart defects. The chambers of the heart (4, in case it's been a while since biology class) may not be fully divided, and the doctors go in and make a wall to divide them. It's actually a very simple procedure! Ok, so that's covered by insurance, done and over with. Once it's fixed, it's fixed. They may have a lower level of hearing. Wow, scary right? Not! 

Many times they need glasses. Geez, really? How awful! Look around you at the number of people wearing glasses.

But you know what? When a parent is told their child may have DS, they don't think about these things. What's the first and biggest issue they face? The fact that one, their child may not develop a level of intelligence that most adults have, and two, because of this, their child will never be able to move out. And I think that's the kicker. It's not about the child, it's the notion that the parent will be "saddled" with the child forever. side note rant here, not just for parents of children with DS: Let me tell you something. If you're a first time expecting parent, and you think for one second that your responsibility as a parent will end at 18 when your child moves out, you are DEAD wrong. Your responsibility will never end, no matter the physical, emotional, mental capabilites your child has. It's been said, and is so true, "the decision to have a child means that for the rest of your life, your heart will live outside your body". ok side rant over.

Please please please, if you are pregnant, and find out through testing that you might have a child with DS, go spend some time with someone that has DS. Wherever you are, there are support groups for parents, lots of resources available. If for whatever reason you truly can't feel like you could parent a child with DS, don't abort it! There are families on waiting lists that WANT to adopt a child with DS. At any given time in the U.S. there are approximately 200 families waiting. And you wouldn't believe the number of families that are adopting children with DS internationally. Around the world, children with DS are put into orphanages, and then mental institutions, because the parents don't realize that they CAN do this. Most children in Eastern Europe that have DS are transferred to metal institutions at age 4. While your child is starting pre-K, with their hair in pigtails and cute little outfits on, the child in EE has her head shaved (to prevent lice) and stuck in a crib to lay there forever. No one to love them, sing to them, teach them to read, anything. 

But they don't have to stay there. I've seen people who, after having biological children diagnosed with DS, make the conscious decision to have another child with DS, through adoption. If DS was so scary, would these families do this 2, 3 even 6 times? 

Take a look at Reece's Rainbow to see how you can help a child with Down Syndrome. 

And one more thing. Well, two more things. Let's make sure we see children as children first, not identified as their disability. There's a fancy phrase I learned in my Exceptional Child class, called "people first terminology". That's just a $5 phrase that means BE NICE. How would people classify you if they looked at your features or limitations first? Oh, that's the fat chick (yeah, that would be me.) Or, take your item to the wrinkly lady to check out. The Ugly man will fix your car. How offensive would that be? We would want people to use our names, our best features, right? Don't all people deserve that? No matter your disability, your race, whatever is unique about you, you're a person first and foremost. 

So don't call a child with DS a Downy, Downs, anything like that. Call them by their name. If it's relevant to the situation, then yes, it's fine to say the child has Down Syndrome. But above all, DO NOT call them retarded, or a retard, or any other offensive term. Let's get rid of those words altogether. Yes, we all know that used to be the term everyone used to in reference to someone with an intellectual disability. But that term has gotten twisted and redefined, and now it's just offensive to the person themselves and to the people that love them. It's used in a joking manner by lots of people (even I did, before I learned not to) to call each other stupid or goofy. Don't even do that. Let's get rid of it altogether. My kids are weeding it out of their vocabulary because they see how wrong it is, and they are calling out their friends who do it. 

Give a child with Down Syndrome a chance. See them as a CHILD, not a diagnosis, and more than likely, they will brighten your world and help you to see it as you've never seen it before. Honestly, I think in that extra chromosome they have, there's a lot of love and sunshine. Don't we all need that?

This month I'll be posting lots of pictures of children available for adoption, all of which have Down Syndrome. I'll feature some families that have chosen this wonderful path, and tell you what their life is like. It'll be interesting, I hope, so stick around!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Life Worth Living

Today our church family said our final goodbyes to a wonderful woman, Sally Ford. While we mourned the loss of her companionship and guidance, we rejoiced knowing she is truly in a better place. I can't remember a time when I didn't know her. She and my mom have been best friends as long as I have been alive, and our families took many vacations together. From surf fishing at Carolina Beach in North Carolina to trips to the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia, almost every childhood memory includes Sally, her husband, and their three sons. She has been a role model for me from the time I was a child. You know how it is when you're a teenager; your parents know NOTHING, they don't understand you, and have no clue that you are practically an ADULT and still treat you like a kid. The nerve of them. At times like this, when you have someone like Sally that can put things into perspective, and put you in your place, it's a huge help. She taught me a lot. By sitting and talking with her, seeing what she did with others, and following her lead, I have learned so much. I have learned that by inviting a group of girls from church over to make candy on Sunday afternoon, you give them a memory that will last a lifetime. I have learned that you can pick up the phone to call someone or send them a card, and by doing that you help them to realize they matter and they are not forgotten. I have learned that you can speak your mind, in love, and make an impact on someone. I have learned generosity, compassion, love, how to keep a positive attitude and find the joy in any situation.

Sally wasn't in good health for a while, and this year it seemed like it all just exploded on her. She found out she had macular degeneration, and had surgery then shots after shots in her eyes, to try and preserve her eyesight. Then in May she had to have heart surgery to replace a valve in her heart. In July she was diagnosed with cancer, which had already started spreading. This is a lot for any one person to take, especially all within a few months of each other. But did she complain? NOPE. The way she put it to me one day was like this. She said "I could be bitter and say why me, why is all this happening to me at one time. But I see God working. He knew all this was coming. He fixed my eyes so I see my cards. And by fixing my eyes, they found the heart damage. If I hadn't had the heart surgery, I wouldn't be strong enough to face chemo. God knows what He is doing.".  Wow. To be able to look at all this and still give God the glory. But we all saw that her faith was unshakable.

Sally had been a Christian for about 45 years. I never saw her waver from that. She and Webby raised their boys to be good Christian men, which they all are now, and are raising their children with the strong faith they learned. As much as she hurt, she made it to every service she could. Some of the same services I missed because I was tired, or because my back hurt, or whatever other excuse I had. She has helped so many of us so many times with encouragement and support.

For those of you who may have been reading my blog from the beginning (yes, all 2 of you), you might remember that I said Sam had really struck something in me because I knew someone who was born with a similar condition in their hands. That someone is one of Sally's sons, T. He and I are the same age, have grown up together, and I got to see firsthand just what all Sam could do if given the chance. It really got to me how different their lives were, all because of their mothers. Sally gave birth to T, saw his hands were like they were, but it didn't make a bit of difference to her. He was her son, and he was never treated any different than his brothers. He was pushed to be the best person he could be, never was treated as if he had a disability or as someone different. Sam's mother gave birth, saw his hands were like they were, and cast him aside. It's just inconceivable to me. If Sam had Sally as his mother, his dreams would be unstoppable. And that's what I had intended to do. I wanted to be for Sam what Sally had been for T. And when we were unable to continue, she knew I hurt. She sent me the sweetest card and invited me over for coffee. It made such a huge impact on me. All around were people I knew who hadn't even acknowledged that we were adopting, and never understood the grief we had when we had to let go. But she did.

She knew I was hurting, and she reached out to me. And she did that to everyone. I doubt there's a person at our church who doesn't have a similar story. That's just who she was. Even in the hospital she tried to comfort everyone around her who was upset. I sat with her last Thursday at the hospital and just cried at seeing the amount of pain she was in. I was holding her hand, trying to comfort her, and she put her other hand over mine and kept saying "I'm ok, I'm alright". She even kept her awesome sense of humor to the very end. Once during a really bad pain, she took a deep breath and said "Traci, let's just go to the beach".

She has always been one of the funniest people I know. She had a sharp wit and a quick mind, and you knew you would be cheered up around her. Sally loved to laugh. Once, we were heading to the beach, I with two of my kids, my mom, Sally, my brother, and his friend. We stopped at a gas station for a break, and when we all piled back in the van, my brother and his friend couldn't stop giggling. When twelve year old boys do that, you know they're up to something. After several miles, we finally got it out of them. They had taken some snap and pops and carefully placed them under the seat of the toilet in the women's room. (If you don't what they are, they are these little paper balls filled with an explosive powder. Throw them on the ground and they make a banging noise. Completely harmless, but will scare you to death if you aren't expecting it.) Now you know how gas station bathrooms are. You don't use one until you really HAVE to go. Imagine running into one, plopping down on one thankful you made it in time, and those things going off! Let's just say it would be a good thing you were where you were. Mom and Sally were horrifed at first that they had done this, but couldn't help but laugh at the thought. Sally tried to scold Josh and his friend, but she was laughing so hard she couldn't hardly do it.

Sallie Gatewood Ford

She was one of a kind, and there is so much I could write about her. But the most important thing I will remember about her was that she lived her faith, right up to the very end. She's an example we all need. I hope I can grow up to be a Sally one day.

What will your legacy be? What will they say about you at your funeral? Will they be able to base an entire sermon around your faith and life, and be able to say, this is how everyone should do? Will your family have the comfort Sally's family has, of knowing she is truly at peace and without pain?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Full circle

Back in late February when I first saw Sam's picture and we started our adoption journey, I would never have dreamed the twists and turns that would happen. In case you haven't been following along, here's the Reader's Digest Condensed Version:

I found Sam's picture and information on a friend's FB post. After a week or two of scrambling to find a home study agency that could work with us on such short notice, we committed to Sam. Duncan soon had a family committed to him. Then the first twist, which you can read about here Details on Duncan. So now we were committed to both boys! We were overjoyed to be adding two precious sons, and began preparations. A room was remodeled, we began to look at adaptions that would need to made to the house to accommodate Duncan's CP issues, fundraising, and working on our homestudy and dossier. Every conversation revolved around the boys. Not just about the adopting process, but things like "here's a soccer camp for Sam he may like", "I can't wait to take them camping", "I wonder how they will like living out in the country". We began studying Russian, which is not easy, since you have to learn a whole new alphabet! I did lots of reading on issues they would have and adjustments they would be making, to help them make the transition as easy as possible. We were so excited for the opportunities they would have. 

But then we had the worst news possible. Sam's birthday was coming up, and our homestudy still wasn't finished. Tears and Prayers We had to make the unbelievably tough decision to back away from the adoption, to make sure we didn't cause them to lose their last chance to be free. I could not have lived with myself if that happened. We knew there were other families that were waiting to step in, so that helped trememdously. Soon we got to "meet" their new families online. The Daughtons for Duncan and The Stokes family for Sam. Both incredibly nice families, and I could see the boys fitting in so well with both of them! We prayed constantly for them and followed their journey.

As you may know, the Stokes family went over and Sam decided not to come to the U.S. after being misled by others at his orphanage. The rumors that were fed to him are crazy, but very prevalent there. We were all devastated of course, as we had no clue that might happen. Then the Daughtons went, and Duncan also said no.  Again, everyone was heartbroken. 

We could say that's the end of the story, but that's not true. There have been so many blessings for us along this journey. I have made new friends that I truly love. I've been able to follow so many stories of seeing orphans, once abandoned and forgotten, come in families where they have flourished and grown. I've seen and hugged some of these precious kids, not once forgetting that if not for the families who have sacrificed so much for them, they would still be lost to the world.

Here are some kids who are changing the world, through adoption:

Keith was adopted from one of the worst orphanages in Eastern Europe. He was basically being starved to death. The picture on the left is him at 5 years old, and he weighed 12 lbs. Yes, 12 lbs! One month after being home with his family, look at him!! Look at those chubby cheeks, those fat little arms! His family's blog is one you need to read. There are so many children still in that orphanage that need OUT. They need families to see the potential these kids have, and are willing to answer God's call and DO something. Not because you need another child in your family, but because this child needs a family. Look what a family did for Keith!

Another family, one I have gotten to know and love, is the Rhodes family. Here is one of their two new sons, Vaylo. (Hope you don't mind me stealing a pic Mandy!) He's a very snuggly sweetheart who just melts in your arms when you hold him. I could sit all day and snuggle him! Their story is also incredible. They are headed back to Eastern Europe to rescue Samuel's best friend, and they have some really cool fundraisers going on. Check out their blog and see if you can help them on their journey.

The Pickett family is also very dear to my heart. They are in the process of adopting a son and a daughter from EE, and I can't wait to have their daughter in our Girl Scout troop! She will be an inspiration to all the girls, I know. You can click above to their link on Reece's Rainbow, or click here for their blog. They could also use some financial support in their journey.

A lot of people don't understand why adoption advocates are always wanting others to help out financially. They don't understand, and say things like "if you can't afford to adopt them, you shouldn't do it", or "why should I help pay to get your kid here". Well, for the first comment, "if you can't afford to pay for it", let's think for a second. Did you have cash up front for your house? Your new car? Your boat? Your tv that you put on a credit card? Adoption is very expensive, ranging from $17,000-$40,000+. I don't know anyone who has that kind of money lying around. But why ask others to help? Because God said to. Ok, not exactly. But, He told us to help orphans and widows. Read James 1:27. Not everyone can adopt themselves. That's ok. Some have reluctant husbands. Some don't qualify for the requirements. For whatever reason, some just can't do it. But that doesn't let you off the hook. Your church may send part of the offering to a children's home. Yes, that's helping. But where's the personal sacrifice in that? And what is it doing? It's keeping the children's home going, sure. But God adopted us, he didn't leave us as orphans. Don't you think He would rather we do the same? We can help a child go from being an orphan, to being a son, or a daughter. Which way do you think makes the most impact on that child's life?

And one more family. Of course I can't do a post about adopting families and NOT mention my favorite kids, the Rogers! Jessa and Caleb, formerly known as Bernadette and Mason, Lord willing, arrive home in the United States in about 48 hours! When the call first went out about Jessa, a 15 year old girl with Down Syndrome who would be sent to a mental institution if she didn't find a home, and FAST, the adoption world rallied around her. Her family found her, her fund shot up like a rocket, and now she is Jessica Dorothy Rogers, with 10 siblings!! Her world is getting ready to explode with color and fun and love, and the world will be changed forever. Because Erika and Mel said yes, we will be her parents. We can be what she needs.

What can you do?

I guess the title "Full Circle" is a misnomer. This leg of my journey may be completed, as far as Sam and Duncan go, but I can't wait to see what's next. Once your eyes are opened to special needs (the biggest need being that these children need families) you can't turn away. And I won't!