Thursday, June 23, 2016

Elijah- God went before us

You know when you have an incredible fear 
and completely lack trust in a profession.

Such a fear, that it takes you five years to 
finally take your child to a professional.
Trying everything else because you don't trust!

I have nothing against the profession,
but my fear is finding the one who understands 
kiddos from international abandonment trauma!

Today was our appointment for Elijah at a psychiatrists office.
A psychiatrist, who was the only one in the Dallas area 
who took our insurance 
was taking new patients.
the office is within 5 miles from our house.
(seemed too good to be true!)

We kept the appointment,
and honestly not expecting much...

but, God heard my prayers!
God had set the stage!

Though we were first scheduled to see a different RN,
but God had that changed -
for no real reason shown to any of us...
The nurse that we first saw,
get this...
is an adoptive momma! 

An adoptive momma who "gets" it!!! 
Who understood my boy!!! 

As we talked, finding more and more things we had in common...

I asked her who her social worker is...
and of course,
we have the same incredible social worker!! 
The Nurse agreed, she checks up on us all the time!!! 
She is amazing! 

The Nurse also, went to high school with one of my 
most favorite adoptive mommas!! 

When the doctor came in,
she explained how we connected and he was so excited!
Genuinely excited that we understood each other,
and that he could help.

He changed up some of Elijah's meds that were given 
him from our out patient facility,
and disagreed with some of the diagnosis -
but agreed with us that Elijah's issues are 
majorly from PTSD. 

We go back in 2 weeks to discuss how Elijah is doing 
on the new meds, 
but we are praying that this will help us get further with him,
and help him learn how to cope with his trauma. 

I'm still amazed! 
God is so good! 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

5th grade Celebration

Two celebrations back to back -
just too much for this momma to handle!!

(first day of kindergarten)

Jorja Noelle is officially a 6th grader! 
A Middle Schooler!!!
Oh my!!!

Where did our baby girl go?

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Kinder Graduation

 Two of my babies celebrated Kindergarten graduation today!

I don't normally get too emotional at this kindergarten celebration,
now the first week of kinder - that is a different story!!! 
(I'm a mess!)

Today, it hit me!! 

These two kiddos - melt me!! 

Griggs is still only 5 years old and in so many ways 
is still my baby! 

He's one of the youngest kindergarteners,
and falls asleep on our 4 minute drive home
from school
3 out of 5 days during the week.

(I love this photo!) 

But works hard in class everyday,
and learned so much - academics and about himself!

What can I say?

This sweet girl has never seen such a celebration!
The teachers prepared them for the program,
but she was confused as to why
there were so many mom's and dad's and families
there to see them perform today.

Sweet Laynee, our daughter for only 10 short months,
experienced for the first time today
what it felt like to have her family cheer her name
when her name was called out.
(and with the size of our family - we were loud!! )
and she was giddy!!! 

We are so blessed to call these two son and daughter!

And of course there is this stinker!! 
Never to be left out!!! 
Watch out kindergarten, you have a year to prepare for this stinker!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Marked with love

I've heard that this can happen, 
but have never seen it myself.
At least, not until 8 months ago. 

With international adoptions,
sometimes a birth family will "mark" their child before leaving them.
So that maybe one day, 
they will meet again and they will know for sure that this is their child.

Miles was loved by someone in his past so much
that he was marked.

We giggle at his tramp stamp,
but really it is incredibly sweet! 
And incredibly special for our little guy! 

One day he will know how loved he is,
by his birth family, his foster family and his forever family! 

The other kids are jealous that Miles has a tattoo 
and momma doesn't even like the washable tattoos! 
Blessed, silly little guy!! 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Only three years!!! WOW!

Today we celebrate our anniversary of 
having Hagan and Griggs in our arms
for 3 years!!!

I still can't believe they have only been in our arms for three years!

They came to us bravely,
and cautiously 
wrapped together. 

I love these photos 
and how they are not wanting to be hugged and loved on...

we were strangers - this is healthy!

 (and I still know these looks that the boys give! cracks me up!)

 But look at these boys a few days later,
we visited their orphanage and
they didn't want a thing to do with these people.
They already understood unconditional love.

Today these boys have confidence and know what true love is! 
They are secure in knowing that we will never leave them alone again.
They love that there is always food for them -
even if they have to eat their vegetables!

I love these boys more than life itself!
I am incredibly thankful that though we said we were done adopting -
God chuckled and said,
"oh, I'm not finished with you yet!"

These two are my sunshine!!! 

Happy 3 year "gotcha" day anniversary boys!! 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

making breakfast

This guy....

you know, 
this guy...

He is growing so much!!! 

It has been a long transition with him,
but we are seeing a light through the tunnel!! 

This past weekend he was the oldest kiddo home
with mom.
And he stepped up,
over and over again  -
all weekend!! 

He even made breakfast on Saturday!! 


Trauma sucks but seeing him succeed 
and be happy in our family.
Every day Elijah has to decide to trust - 
it doesn't come easy or naturally,
but he wants to be sweet!
And he sure can be! 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Pain and fear... It's real

When I drop my child off at a new Sunday school and she cries because I am leaving her, this is normal for a 12 month old. 
But I'm not talking about my 12 month old.  I'm not even talking about my daughter who has only been home for 6 months.  I'm talking about my daughter who was adopted at 16 months and who is excited to celebrate being home for 9 years this week.  That's right, my 10 year old.  Adopted as a baby! 

Some people may think she is manipulating me to get her way, and honestly I thought she might be too. But, when I looked in her eyes there was no manipulating there. Just fear.
Her heart was pounding, and sweat was forming droplets.
Fear that is rooted so deep in her, she was hysterical from pain, yet using every fiber of her being to hold it together, begging me to not send her off. 
This precious child who seems to, well kinda does, run our family and keep us all in line, has her breaking point.  The fear of her momma leaving her and not coming back is real. 

I tell you this to help people realize a few things...

Even though a child is adopted as a baby they will pull from these unconscious emotions forever.  The fear of abandonment is real and not easily worked through. 
My 10 year old accepted us as her family on adoption day.  She cherishes her family and is happiest when the entire, crazy, loud family is together! 
But even though she has had a fantastic 9 years with us, and is secure in our love for her, she is still working through deep hurts. 

Children from adoption and/or foster care have experienced trauma no matter how young they came to their family.  Even in utero, their momma's were more than likely suffering with some type of anxiety, and that is formed in their brains.  Even a few months of abuse and/or neglect in utero or as a new born effect a child for life.

In our family, we have children adopted children from 16 months, 2 years, 3 years, 4 years, 5 years and 6 years old.  Many people think, the older the child, the harder the issues with the child will be.  In someways, I disagree- every child who comes from adoption/foster care has emotional trauma, it just manifests itself differently.  
In our family, we talk a lot about our pasts. Understanding where we come from, what we have experienced helps us process who we are now and helps us make sense of our actions.  The hard part for my 10 year old is that she doesn't remember her past but it is what formed her. She cannot pin point a situation that makes her fear going to a new place by herself.  The black hole that is her beginnings is real.  

Please be patient when you see someone in pain, or maybe being, what you might think. over dramatic about a situation.  We don't know what they have been through and sometimes they don't know what they have been through.  Let's just help each other through the pain and fear. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

My hero Hagan... here we go again...

Here we go again...

Ohhh  my heart just aches for this kiddo!! 

While on Christmas vacation, Hagan and I were cuddling and I was scratching his back...
I noticed that his lower back was bulging on the right side of his scar 
from his surgery last year (November 2014).


This is not good!! 

And of course I went into momma worry mode! 

I called our Neurosurgeon the next day - 
he didn't seem worried and said to come in when we get back,
but they couldn't get us in until January, 21st. 


So, wait we did! 

We had x-rays first and then went to see our surgeon. 

It's never good when a specialist is silent.

He looked at his back, looked at the x-rays,
did reflex tests...

and sent us back to x-rays - for 4 more sets of photos.

Hagan is so good at getting x-rays done! 
He cracks me up - he goes in there and just stands in the position 
before they tell him what to do! 

We went back upstairs to see the doctor.

He took a bit longer to see us,
as he was going over the x-rays.

Needless to say, the 2 rods and 18 pins are not stationery.
They are slipping out of position. 
NOT good!! 

So, in two weeks, Hagan will be going back for spinal surgery.
Our doctor is not sure which of three options he will actually make happen,
and he won't know until he gets in there to see what is going on. 

Option #1:  
Take out the 4 bottom pins,
cut the extra rod and leave the rest of the rods and pins.

Option #2:
Take both rods and all the pins out,
and hope that the year with these in will be enough to keep Hagan's 
back in place. 

Option #3:
Take the rods and pins out,
and replace everything - 
starting at square one! 

Since we don't know what will take place,
we don't know how long we will be in the hospital,
we don't know if he will be in a back brace again or not,
we don't know how long he will be out of school,
or what his activity level will be.

We know and find peace in knowing that God 
already knows what will happen during surgery,
and HE will care for Hagan and for us!

The only things Hagan has requested for this surgery,
so far, are:
 Oatmeal Pie snacks,
his Kindle that he got for Christmas,
and cards from his family and friends.
"cards and flowers make me happy in the hospital."

We would love to knock Hagan's socks off 
and see him receive tons of cards!! 
If you would like to help us cheer him up while recovering,
please either pm me on FB and I'll get you our address 
or email me at 

Thank you so very much!!! 
Thank you for your prayers for our little man!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

6 months home!

6 months ago 
we met this precious little girl for the first time!!!

She walked into the room without a care in the world.

She could barely walk down the stairs in the orphanage.

She came to us willingly,
but had no idea who we were nor what to expect.

We have learned so much from our little girl! 
She is one amazing girl! 

Laynee can do 2-3 three stairs on her own!
Laynee can get in and out of our van without sitting down!
She can buckle and unbuckle her car seat - 
at the appropriate times! (BIG praise!)
Laynee can brush her own teeth! 
Laynee has learned our family routine and thrives on 
a schedule! 
Laynee is still learning how to hug,
but she sure knows how to give kisses!! 

We are so proud of our sweet pea! 
And incredibly blessed to call her daughter! 

wow!!! This boy has come a long way in 6 months!

This is where Miles stood for 4 days,
crying and moaning -
one incredibly scared little boy!! 

this boy has everyone in our household wrapped around his pinkie!!!
Miles brushes his own teeth,
and even lets mom help! 
Miles smiles and is incredibly silly!! 
But mostly he is a stinker!! 

Miles is everything a three year old boy should be!!
Miles loves to play outside with his siblings 
and is sure to tell them when they are doing things
correctly or not! 

Miles loves to be attached to momma at all times,
but is doing better 
and feeling more secure 
that if momma has to leave him-
 she will come back!! 

How we love this boy!! 
Our son and brother and little stinker!!! 

We are so thankful that we took the time it took to bring both of them home 
in this one trip! 
Spreading out, going to two different providences
was completely worth it!!!! 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

sixth but first

Laynee Faith turned 6 years old on Friday,
but this was her first birthday celebrated at home! 

She had a great day at school -
and was the bell of the Ball! 
She may have thought the Fairytale Ball at school 
was all about her -
and of course, we went with that!! 
Every 6 year old little girl should have a fairytale Ball!!

So that we could all be home to celebrate Laynee -
we celebrated on Saturday. 

Friday evening I went to make her cake - 
turned on the oven to pre-heat,
minutes later -
there were flames in the oven! 

Ohhhhh K!
Plan B! 

I have only once bought a store cake for my kids birthdays,
and that was because we were on vacation. 
I like baking cakes for my kids, 
and especially my baby girls first birthday!

Thankfully, Laynee didn't seemed disappointed. 

She had a wonderful birthday and has worn her crown for 3 days!! 

I just love seeing her sweet smile, 
so proud,
so confident!

She feels loved!!! 
I'd say her celebration as a success!!!

Here's to no more birthdays without your family!! 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Fairytale Ball!

Who knew that a fun, simple kindergarten activity 
would bring a momma to tears. 

We had our normal, crazy - get everyone to school on time -
kinda morning...
but thankfully I took a minute to take a photo of 
Griggs and Laynee before we went to school!

They are too cute!!!!

We got everyone to school and to their classes,
Miles and I waited in the hallway 
for the kindergarten Fairytale Parade through the school.

Ohh, how cute!! All of the kiddos felt incredibly special! 

The youngest kids of the school 
marched through the school twice for all of the BIG kids to cheer them on! 
(Laynee was so excited to see her siblings all over the school!!)

Then they went to the gymnasium -
a red carpet and arch of balloons led them to their dance floor!

That is when this momma began to loose her cool!

Today is my baby girls  6th birthday! 
4 1/2 months ago this little girl walked into a little room - 
met Kenzie and I -
she had no idea how her life would change.

We had no idea how she would change our lives!!

Seeing my baby in this beautiful dress with her dance partner, just melted me!
She has a chance at life! 

The princess she is and deserves to be celebrated!
Though the school was playing "Let it Go" 
In my head, I was hearing Steven Curtis Chapman's -  Cinderella.
"She sings and she sways 
to whatever song plays
without a care in the world.
And I'm sitting here with the weight of the world 
on my shoulders."

"Oh I will dance with Cinderella,
I don't want to miss even one song.
"Cause all too soon
the clock will strike midnight... 
and she'll be gone."

Griggy had me in tears too!! 

This amazing boy that no one wanted because of his physical needs.
Nothing will keep him down!! 

A Prince Charming and smooth dancer he is!!! 

These two melt me!! 

Friday, December 4, 2015

ohhhh the holidays... sigh!!

"Your children are so beautiful and so well behaved!'

This is a comment we received this past weekend when we went 
out to dinner for Hagan's birthday.

What they didn't see was that one child was missing.

He was there, but they couldn't see him.

You see, my son was overwhelmed with everything that day.
Actually, for the last few weeks.
Holidays are very hard on many kids from hard places.
Whether it's the inability to celebrate another person
and their successes,
or if it the hustle and bustle of the holiday season,
either way,
it's hard on them.

My son decided that instead of eating at the table with the rest of us,
he sat under the table  -
eating junk from under the table 
and from the floor. 

We often times had our parenting strategies questioned,
"why would you allow your child to do this?"

Well, I'll tell you why. 
It's for the safety of everyone around.
If we had pushed him further he would have had a complete meltdown,
screaming, hitting, kicking, spitting on anyone around.

I know this doesn't make sense to most people.
It didn't make sense to me when I saw things like this 
before I had a son who cannot regulate himself.
This doesn't make him a "bad" kid - but a kid who just can't regulate himself.

In the adoption community we have a phrase called, "cocooning".
Meaning we make our child's world as small as can be 
and keep that child near by.
This is often done early in the adoption process.

(what I would give to go back in time and get to my boy sooner in life!)

But, really with most kids from hard places this needs to happen often.
Because of lack of nutrients, lack of cuddling as an infant, lack of simple needs being met, and stress they experienced in the womb,
their brains are not formed like the average child.
When a child is in fight, flight, or freeze mode there is no moving forward
until they are ready. 
We just have to ride it out and deal with actions after their brains 
are processing the events correctly. 

Believe me, even if it doesn't look like we are being pro-active in our parenting - 
we definitely are!! 
Unfortunately, our parenting looks very different from others parenting.
Our children are hyper-vigilant so we have to be also -
to keep one step a head of them!! 

So, if you see an adoptive family,
not participating in normal activities,
especially this time of the year,
know that they are not all bah humbug -
but just trying to get through the season without too much trauma drama for everyone. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

She WILL conquer her world!

Since we are an open book to our family and friends,
we want to fill you in with what is going on -
and Laynee has a lot of cheerleaders that helped us find her,
and helped us bring her home! 

Here's the deal...

When we first saw Laynee's file,
we knew that she had Hydrocephalus and a shunt,
there were many comments that brought up more questions -
a few were that she
was three years old and couldn't feed herself,
had incontinence,
neither could she walk unassisted.

We were told that she had braces for her legs,
but also told that they didn't help. 

We found our in December 2014 through a video,
that she was indeed walking!! 
Praise God!! 

So, what caused her delay in walking? 

When we met Laynee,
she walked into the room we waited in with a big smile 
and all the confidence in the world. 

I was ready for the shoe to drop.
"These strangers, why are they in this room,
and why I am at this place?"

This went well, as we gave her gifts and blew bubbles with her -
but when it was time to go back to the hotel,
I got a little nervous as this would probably really scare her.

But, she took Kenzie's hand and walked town the stairs with Kenzie and my help,
and into the car -
where she settled in nicely. 

Many of you may think - "adoption from heaven"!! 
But, I thought, "ohhhh no!!! This is a red flag!"
She had been in a foster home for years,
she is in a strange place,
going away with strangers.
She did not have the photos that we sent her,
or any of the gifts that we had sent -
so did she even know we were coming?
Why isn't she scared?

We really didn't know what to think.
Don't get me wrong, it was nice to not feel 
like we were breaking our child's heart by taking her 
from all she has known - but there is also 
a nervous feeling, 
as we were getting to know her.

Fast forward.
For 3 1/2 months of knowing Laynee - this remains the same.
Laynee will go with whomever is willing to take her.
She will hug anyone who is in her reach,
and smiles at her. 
This is all sweet, but it is hard to teach her who is family and
who is a friend or even stranger.

After many, many doctor appointments - 
we have found out that yes, Laynee does indeed have Hydrocephalus -
and a shunt. 
After speculation, the shunt is indeed working. Yeah!

Unfortunately, because her shunt was put in late -
the hydrocephalus has caused major brain damage.

Along with hydrocephalus, 
she has ACC - 
Absence of the Corpus Callosum. 
(which yes, I had to google too! - But, Kenzie knew what it was!)
The Corpus Callosum is the bridge of nerves that 
connects the right and left hemispheres.
ACC makes is more difficult for her brain to transfer
information from one side of the brain to the other.
This is a major answer to our questions with Laynee. 

There is no surgery that can be done to "fix" this, 
we just need to learn how to help her.

The questions in her file make sense now.
And though, she CAN learn, it just takes her much longer to learn.
As I've shared on my FB page,
some cute videos of her working really hard! 

This week we went to the school playground after hours so that I could see 
what she is doing on the playground.  
She got up on one section to climb on,
that I could tell she had never been on -
but Griggs was doing it and well, 
you can tell from her smile that she really wanted to do this!
 (part of her condition is that she copies people,
not understanding dangers or consequences.)

Laynee came to a hurdle that seemed impossible for her to get around,

but I wouldn't allow her too quit.
she was not happy with me -  
but I knew she could do it!! 
(I know I'm a mean mom!)

After about 15 minutes of trying...

she DID IT!!! 
And look at that smile!! 

Medically speaking we do not know what the future holds for our baby,
but this I know this diagnosis won't hold my baby down!! 

She WILL conquer her world!!! 

I am so proud of our baby girl and the work that she puts in every day 
just to physically and mentally keep up with everyone. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

3 months with Laynee Faith

3 months ago this amazing little girl walked into 
a little room in the orphanage with a smile 
on her face,
ready to meet her momma and big sister! 

She came willingly 
and left with us willingly.

God made this day just beautiful!
Not going to lie - 
I was totally nervous! 
Everything we had been told about this treasure was scary.
As the time to meet her drew closer,
I doubted more and more!

But, Laynee put me at ease. 

She was full of giggles 
and ready to embrace her new adventure
and new life!

God had prepared her heart for this crazy change! 

Laynee has taken to her new family with bravery
and excitement!
Trust and peace
that only God could give.

Her smile melts me are reminded me constantly - 
don't take life too seriously! 
Have fun with everything you are given!
And don't let what others say about you -
stop you! 

Laynee's file from China said a lot of things that she could NOT do.

Her file was scary!

But this face - 
is anything but scary! 

As we continue to peel the unknown about Laymen's health
we fall deeper in love with our Laynee Faith!

I sure love my baby girl!!
What a blessing she is!  


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