The one where I tell you all the things (SQT)

It should be really easy to come up with 7 Quick Takes today, since I haven’t blogged in such a long time (Nov 10), so let’s move chronologically and I’ll spill all the beans.  And there are a lot of beans.

1.  We’ll start with a biggie.  On November 15, Ryan and I mailed the last part of our dossier to Ukraine to adopt again!  We decided on October 15, and did the entire process in one month.  Our dossier was submitted to Ukraine on December 4.  We have not had any particular child in mind (unlike last time).  We just felt like we wanted to adopt again while our immigration approvals were still current and we trusted that God would lead us to the child He had in mind.

2.  Speaking of a child God had in mind…  I discovered I was pregnant, also around mid-November!  I wouldn’t expect you all to pick up on this, but this would be my third pregnancy during our third adoption process.  In nearly 10 years of marriage, open to conception the entire time, I have managed to conceive three times, each time while we were adopting.  Adoption people, it’s the new fertility care.

3.  I am officially a “high risk pregnancy.”  Isn’t that a fun label?  And I’m not going to lie, it has felt that way (not fun, high risk.)  Scary complications in the beginning, a couple of ER visits, medicines galore (11 injections a week, and others!), nearly constant nausea and feeling like I got hit by a bus (though that might just be normal pregnancy stuff.)  At 17 weeks I have had 4 ultrasounds and I don’t even know how many doctor visits/exams.  On the plus side, between me and Paul, we will meet our insurance out of pocket max early.  Get ready to pay, health insurance!

4.  Meanwhile… those diligent Ukrainians got busy with our paperwork and invited us to come to see them on January 29.  At the time I was in the throes of some complications.  We have delayed our appointment until sometime on or after March 5, so it will probably be on March 5.  We could use some prayers for guidance because previous miscarriage in Ukraine +  6 weeks of travel in Ukraine by myself during a high risk pregnancy = not my favorite situation.

5.  Backing up for a second.  My family came during a chaotic time in my life but were such an incredible blessing!  I was worried with how crumby I was feeling and all my pregnancy woes that houseguests were not the best idea, but in fact they were the best.  We had a fantastic time with my brother, his wife, and my nieces, as well as my mom.  So much fun playing games, spending time together, going on a sleigh ride, celebrating Christmas morning.  It was just a beautiful holiday!  Ben, nearly 2 months later, is still pretending to go to the airport to go pick up Riley and Livy, then continue on to Nanie’s house to play with trains.  Oh, he loves them all so much!

6.  THEN in January we went to Florida.  To me it was the equivalent of going to Cancun, and I displayed that enthusiasm in my packing.  Turns out the Gulf Coast is really not that warm in January and you can’t exactly go to the beach and swim when it’s 65 degrees out and the water is like 50 degrees, so all the swimsuits and coverups I packed were pretty useless.  But still, it wasn’t a Montana winter- it was sunny, and lovely, and we went fishing on the boat several times.  Just a great reprieve from our normal snowy days.  Though, to be fair, the last week or so here has been between 50 and 60 degrees, sunny, all the snow is melted, and I’ve been having the kids play outside in the backyard, so I really can’t complain!  I guess Montana likes to break the stereotypes.

7.  The boys are thriving in preschool.  Really.  I am so glad that by some miracle they both were enrolled this year.  Paul is seriously so bored at home now because preschool is so fun.  It’s somewhat problematic for me, but I know that ultimately it is good for him, and probably good for me though my nauseated body does not like it at this time.  And Ben is so social and fun, it is really good for him to be with other kids and playing new things, doing artwork, learning songs and skills.  I do spend a lot of time running around, but I like it and it’s a small sacrifice to make for them.  Plus I get a whopping 4 hours of time alone at home each week (well, more like 3.5, but I’ll take it.)

Linking up to SQT at  This Aint the Lyceum

It worked, but the work is not done.

Urgent news came in about a little boy, only 4 years old, who was in danger of being transferred to a horrible mental institution.  His sweet little face was shared all over facebook.  Even the post on this measly blog was shared over a thousand times and seen by over 10,000 people.  Others blogged and shared about Whitaker too.  People rallied for the little boy who faced a dire future.

And you know what?

It worked.

A family already in process to adopt a little boy with Down Syndrome, added Whitaker to their adoption.  This family also came home earlier this year with two other children.

Please pray and, if you can, make a little donation to help this beautiful family as they step out in faith to help these little ones.  Thank you to the Harlin family, for doing what so many had the desire to do, but perhaps weren’t able at this time.

The orphanage director has been notified, and they will keep Whitaker in their care until the Harlin’s arrive.  Pray their process goes quickly and smoothly.

As we breathe a sigh of relief for the little boy with the thick hair and the fair face, please don’t step away, feeling as if the job is all done.  Because for every “Whitaker” we know about, there are thousands of others, in his own country even, let alone all over the world, that need you.  They need you to share the way you did this past week.  They need your heart to be pierced.  They need you to be willing to go to that uncomfortable place where you consider, “Is God asking me to open my heart and my family for this child?”

I remember when God asked me to do that.  Ryan was downstairs in a meeting, and Ben was already asleep in bed.  I sat in our bedroom and prayed because I had felt God prompting me to do something for these children, specifically, a child with Down Syndrome.  But I didn’t know a thing about Down Syndrome.  I had hardly had any interaction with any children or even adults with special needs.  I sat on the bed and cried, and I asked God if this is truly what he was asking of me.  I wrestled with Him because this was not part of my own plan and it was not what I wanted.  No, I didn’t want this.  It wasn’t my dream from childhood, I hadn’t already had a child with a special need like so many of the other adoptive parents, I wasn’t a SN preschool teacher in my professional work.

I was just a woman who loved God and believed that all life had worth and value.

That was enough for God.

Despite my ignorance, my lack of patience, my laziness, my selfishness and my pride, God decided I was enough.

You are enough too.

And it has changed my whole perspective as a parent.  I am a better parent now than I was before.  Even though there are more appointments, more chaos, more messes on the floor, I am more calm and content because when I look at my family I know deep down how much we have compared to so many.  And I don’t mean material things like a home and warm clothes, though those are important.  I mean- my kids are loved and cared for unconditionally.  Paul is loved, and he, in turn, loves.  And that is life.  That’s why I changed this blog’s header from “Team Stout” to “to love and be loved” because since adopting that has been at the heart of our family.  It comes from a quote from Bl Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa):

We have been created for greater things…we have been created to love and to be loved.

Please, remember the orphan.  Whitaker is a real boy, but he also represents thousands of others, many of whom live locked away hardly ever to be seen.  Thousands of others who were created for love, out of love, but know nothing of love.  And we are the ones who can change that.

A Real Boy

I am in awe.  This has truly been beautiful to watch.

And I am wishing I had put more time into the original post!  Because wow.

Over 1000 shares and over 8000 views.  The face and story of this little boy is becoming known.  People are raising funds.  People are praying with the hope that a family will save him from a future of severe neglect and, likely, a very young death.

whitaker

Thank you, a million times, thank you.  And please, don’t let this stop with Whitaker; remember the orphan.  This is the face of a real boy, but it’s also a face that represents thousands of others, many of whom live locked away hardly ever to be seen.

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The hallway in Paul’s orphanage. This was taken in the middle of a nice bright day.

We are their only voice.  So please keep sharing and keep praying- for Whitaker, and for all orphans.

If he were born to you

I have come across a rather urgent situation that I thought I would share with all of you.

Reece’s Rainbow recently received an update on a little boy named Whitaker.  Here he is!

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Cute, right?

He is only 4 years old, but within 2 months, probably more like 1 month, he will be transferred from a pretty good baby house to a really bad mental institution.  We can guess that when he goes to the mental institution, he will be highly medicated (children with seizure disorders are often put on adult dosages of medicine!), left in a crib, neglected, and underfed.

I don’t believe he will survive for very long.  Many children die after they are transferred to these mental institutions.

If he were born to you, it would be easy to love him, wouldn't it?  It can be that way through adoption too.

A photo from when he was a bit younger.

But there is hope!

First, the baby house said that if a family commits to adopting him soon, and they can move quickly, they will try their best to keep him from being transferred.

Second, Whitaker has a big adoption grant.  Right now, he has over $7,000 donated for his adoption, and someone has pledged to donate and raise a significant amount more.  So watch his grant, because some big growth is in the future.

Third, he has us.  We know about him.  There are so many kids who are not known to anyone.  But we know.  And we can’t stand idle, can we?  We must take to our knees and pray.  We must share his face so others can know him too.  And we must look at ourselves and truly discern if we are his family.

If he were born to you, wouldn’t you love him?  Even with his cerebral palsy, his seizure disorder, and whatever else his (probably at least somewhat inaccurate) medical information says, he would be easy to love as your flesh and blood, as a surprise that grew into your family.  And you would take him to all of the appointments he needed, and you would travel to the special doctors, and you would stretch out his muscles so he would feel better and he could have the chance to crawl, and walk, and run, and dance.  It would be hard sometimes, but you wouldn’t hesitate to do it.  He would be a joy for you; he would light up your life, and you wouldn’t be able to imagine your family without him.  Yes, it’d be easy to love him.

And I can tell you, adoption is the same way, it just demands that we choose.  We must choose the hardship and self-sacrifice that comes hand in hand with the joy, the blessing, and the love.  Sort of like how God chose to adopt us, knowing the suffering He would endure, but loving us enough and wanting to share with us that bliss that comes with being His sons and daughters.

I had an endearing naivete about Down Syndrome when we adopted Paul.  I still don’t know all that much.  I know life can be hard.  I know I get frustrated and tired. But I also know that I love Paul just like I love Ben.  And when I look at him I don’t even see Down Syndrome.  I see my son, who is quiet and observant, who takes joy in simple things, who works hard to master skills that come easily to so many others.  Lots of people wouldn’t want Paul, and I tear up just typing that because if he knew, he would be so hurt by that, but the truth is that it’s their loss, because Paul is easy to love.  Whitaker would be too.  Maybe God has him in mind for you.  Please, allow yourself to be uncomfortable. Because I know you have the capacity to love him, and be a good family for him.  That’s really all he needs.

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Customized Christmas Cards!

So, remember when I said that Delmar, for whom I am raising $1000 between now and the end of December, probably wouldn’t get much attention for the next month or so?

Well, I couldn’t let that be the case.  I’m slightly crazy, because I have a really busy month of November, but I decided to launch a project for Delmar and the idea I had -not the weird one involving the fish taco place- has to do with Christmas, so, well, time is of the essence.  Anyways, onto the idea…

Customized Christmas Cards!  I have almost 10 templates for Christmas Cards in the tab at the top of the blog that reads “Designs for Delmar”  I can adjust colors, fonts, some text, and, of course, photos, to your preferences.  You can buy just the digital file to e-mail or print on your own, or you can order prints through me.  I think the prices are reasonable, considering typical prices for this type of thing and the fact that this is a fundraiser for a very worthy cause.

Friends, believe it or not, NOW is the time to start thinking about this.  I am not one of those people who starts decorating for Christmas after Halloween.  I wait until December.  But cards take time to design and print (could be up to 2 weeks), and then you have to address and mail them out, so don’t delay!

If your family sends out cards, please consider shopping here on the blog (or here if you’re a FB type of person).  Helping Delmar be adopted someday is important to me, plus, this will be fun- I love being creative and making sure people receive a design that they love.

So please go take a look!

 

Nov 1- Dec 31

I’ve kind of gotten myself into something here.

It might have been a little impulsive.

About a month ago I signed up to raise $1,000 for a child on Reece’s Rainbow.  My personal circumstances have changed quite a bit since I signed up (which you’ll hear about in probably a month or so) but I’m committed and I want to help this little big guy get home to a family, so here we go!

Today is the official start to the Angel Tree program. You’ll notice a new badge right here —>
It’s where anyone who feels compelled can donate to Delmar.  And if you can’t donate, please pray for him, because the kid could use prayers.

I hope that I can come up with some fun ways to get people to give (gift card giveaway, auction, selling things, affiliate/direct marketing partnerships, who knows!)  To be honest, I will be very busy for the first half of this campaign (goes from now all the way until Dec 31) so sweet Delmar may not have much of my attention.  But hopefully in December I will be more able to get creative.  Oh my gosh, there’s a taco place in town called “Taco DelMar” and my first though after “get creative” was somehow utilizing the taco place that shares the name with my little guy to raise money…I might be insane.

Moving on.

I’m just going to go ahead and give you a little eye candy…

delmarsquishy

Boy has personality, I tell ya.

And seriously, if anyone wants to team up with me to raise money for this guy, that would be amazing!  Even if you don’t want to be heading it up with me, if you could be part of a “share team” or something– so what whatever I come up with reaches new people who might be interested in helping, because you put it out on facebook, blogged about it, or e-mailed your friends.  It would be so helpful.  Oh, and ideas welcome, too!