Adoption journey

Over the past year, the Lord has been growing, teaching, and challenging our family in so many ways! We are responding to the Lord's leading and are expanding our family through the adoption of a precious baby!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A seven year old's love for the Word

I was blown away, challenged and incredibly blessed by prayer time with my boys tonight...

There were only three of us praying together, since one of the babies really needed to get to sleep. My six year old prayed, then my seven year old prayed and I finished in prayer. I noticed my seven year old, Evan, was in a different position from when we started and was laying on the ground. 

After prayer time, Evan said, "I prayed in 3 different ways." He then demonstrated
1. Standing with his hands raised
2. Kneeling with head bowed
3. Face down in prayer

I asked him where he learned those ways. He responded, "I read about it in my Bible."
1. Daniel kneeled down in prayer
2. After Moses was angry with the Israelites, he fell on his face before God
3. Paul told, I think, the Galatians to lift their hands in prayer (actually 1Timothy)

I was blown away, blessed, challenged, and thankful for the love God has given Evan for His Word! I pray God will continue to give him and his younger brothers (and me) a love and hunger for His Word! I pray God will grow our boys and use them mightily for His glory!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Snack time ideas for my house of boys!

A recent topic among several friends has been... Our kiddos are always hungry!! What are healthy foods & snacks that we can feed our growing guys throughout the day?! 
3 out of 4 boys being silly:)
As a mom to 4 growing boys, I feel like I'm constantly cooking trying to keep their bellies full! I love to cook and freezer cooking has greatly helped for dinner, and even some breakfast meals. However, prepping snacks throughout the day for these boys (one with food allergies to dairy, soy and wheat) has been a challenge!! When my older two boys were younger, they often snacked on graham crackers and goldfish. However, we now try to avoid processed food and food dyes, so I'm learning to be creative with snack time! Here are a few of our favorites...

  • All of my boys LOVE my Homemade granola! They eat it plain or with milk (like cereal). My hubby and I eat granola every morning with our homemade yogurt and fruit.
  • Fruits and Veggies! It seems so simple, but here are our favorites...
    • Fruit salad or cut up separately (apples, oranges, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, watermelon)
    • Tangerines, we call them Satsumas:)
    • Carrot sticks
    • Apples or bananas with peanut butter and raisins
    • Peanut banana roll-up (peanut butter & banana rolled up in a tortilla, cut in slices) 
    • Raisins
    • Cherry tomatoes
  • Natural stove popped corn. The boys love it and it fills their bellies until dinner. I've tried a fun variation of Cinnamon Glazed Popcorn that was really yummy too!
  • Pink hummus is a fun snack for Valentine's Day or any day! The secret ingredient is beets:)
  • Fruit smoothies are great for lunch or snack time! There are so many recipes out there, but I really stick to our favorite "shake" smoothie.
  • String cheese
  • Boiled eggs
  • Cashews, pecans
I would love to hear snack ideas from you! 
How you feed your crew healthy snacks/meals!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Open Adoption

Many people that know us and know about our adoption have asked or said to us, 
  • "Did you really want an open adoption?" 
  • "What is the difference between and open and closed adoption"
  • "I think if I ever adopted, I would want a closed adoption."
  • "What exactly does an open adoption look like?" 

To those who have asked... 
I am so glad you did because I enjoy getting to share about the blessing of our open adoption!

Closed adoption is history
Decades ago, closed adoptions were the norm. Adoption agencies encouraged closed adoptions and many people used to hide the fact that children were adopted. In closed adoptions, there was no shared information or history much less contact or relationship between birth parents and adoptive parents. This perspective did not take into account the possibility that birth parents still love their child, or that the child may one day want or need to know their birth parents, biological history and heritage. 
Why Open Adoption?
Thankfully adoption specialists saw the error in this thinking, and open adoption is more of the norm today. There are exceptions, where open adoption is not safe or possible (see disclaimer). Also, sometimes birth mothers choose to have a closed adoption, and then adoptive parents have no choice in the matter (except to pray for her and ask God to grow that relationship in His time). There are also some adoptive parents who think that they want a closed adoption, because they don't want to deal with uncomfortable relationships/conversations or they truly don't understand what an open adoption can mean (for all parties involved). 
Do Your Own Research
As we read many adoption books (Dear Birth Mother, The Connected Child, Whole Life Adoption Book) and had conversations about adoption, the more we realized that an open adoption is the most selfless and beneficial type of adoption for all parties (our child, the birth mother, and us). It is important for the child's well being and we want our son to know where he came from, his biological heritage, as well as our family's heritage. We want him to see who he looks like (because he looks a lot like his birth mother:), to know where he got his love for drawing and art, and to ultimately know his roots. We want him to feel free to ask questions, have correspondence with and someday meet his birth mother, while feeling our full support and encouragement in these endeavors. 
Every open adoption looks different
Many people have questions about open adoption and what that means... keep asking! We'd love to dialogue with you!! Every open adoption is different, and there are several different levels of openness which are determined by adoptive and birth parents in each situation. In open adoptions, some share only first names, some meet only once or twice before birth, others email/text back and forth, and some have ongoing person to person visits. Some open adoptions, where physical contact with a birth parent would be detrimental to child's well being (see disclaimer), may just mean sharing the story and history of their birth parents with the child in an age appropriate manner. One of the beauties of open adoption is that it can be designed to fit each family's specific desires, as well as change and grow as adoptive and birth parents get to know each other. 

Our little sweetie
Our Adoption
We are blessed with an open adoption, and have a great relationship and ministry with our son's birth mother. Our open adoption began with a lunch meeting one month before he was born. We began our emailing relationship and have continued to email and share pictures and stories back and forth. We've even created a special blog for his birth mother to follow along with his growth. His birth mother loves him very much and looks forward to seeing him someday and we hope to have a face-to-face visit with her in the future. As Timothy grows up, I'm so thankful to have a relationship with his birth mother. She is a huge part of his identity, and he looks a lot like her too! I'm thankful that we'll be able to connect him to that part of his history and heritage in the years to come.

*Disclaimer: The majority of this conversation is aimed at private adoption, where birth parents choose an adoption plan. In other adoption cases, where parental rights may have been terminated by the state for the safety of the child, open adoption is either not possible or it takes on a completely different meaning. In instances where birth parents are in prison, no longer living, reside in a foreign country, or are a threat to the child, open adoption may simply mean sharing as much as possible about the child's biological family history and adoption story in an age appropriate manner. 

I LOVE to hear adoption stories!! We are still learning and would love to hear how other adoptive parents relate to and communicate with their child's birth parent(s).

Monday, November 11, 2013

What November 11th means to me

While I am enormously thankful for our Veterans and for all that they sacrificed for our freedom, November 11th has a different meaning for me. In 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in the year 1918 (95 years ago), my Maw Maw was born. This is my first November 11th without Maw Maw here on this earth. I want to remember and honor her on this day, her birthday.

Due to the historical significance of the time and day she was born, she was named Liberia (for Liberty). She was the youngest and only girl who long outlived her 6 older brothers. I always enjoyed hearing her stories from when she was young and about her brothers and Mother. She more recently compared me to her mother, because I have a house full of boys like her mother.

Maw Maw and Paw Paw were always the most incredible examples of love for the Lord, love for each other, and love for others. I remember hearing them call each other the sweetest names and seeing them serve each other so well. They were our prayer warriors; we could trust that every morning Maw Maw was reading God's Word and praying for her little chick-a-dees:) I'm sure her and Paw Paw's prayers are much of the reason we are where we are today! She prayed for our boys and our adoption... I wish she could have met our sweet Timothy, whom she prayed for over many months.

They also loved their families and others so well! I'm thankful for all the Sunday lunches that we shared together at her house when I was a kid, as well as the many other everyday occasions we shared at her house. Whenever we went to their home, we knew we would get a sweet treat or bowl of ice cream:) My memory of Sept, 11, 01, was finding out about the twin towers, seminary classes getting cancelled, then going to pick up salad's from Mr. Ed's and having lunch with my sweet Maw Maw.

Maw Maw supported and served Paw Paw so well and set an example for all of her children and grandchildren. I'm so thankful for my family history and the legacy they left. While we enjoyed hearing stories of our strong Paw Paw once lifting a New Orleans street car back onto its tracks, we also heard numerous stories of Paw Paw sharing the love of Christ with so many while being a city bus driver and street car driver. He loved all people, no matter race/ethnicity. When public transportation began the process of desegregation, unfortunately many people did not comply and agree to work or train people of other races. Paw Paw stood firm in his faith and love for others and was the only one who stepped across racial lines to openly welcome and train people, from other races, in public transportation. What a legacy of love!

Maw Maw and Paw Paw were both incredible grandparents who loved the Lord with all their heart. I'm thankful for their love and example. I miss them dearly, but look forward to worshiping our Lord and King along side them one day!

Happy birthday Maw Maw!! I'm sure you're having a great one this year in heaven!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Creative ways to support Adoption

When we first began our adoption journey, we were a little overwhelmed by the entire process and finances necessary to complete an adoption. Many people asked how they could help, and all we could think to reply was sharing our need for prayer and finances or sending them to my Etsy shop. As we have progressed along through our adoption, we have been amazed and blessed to see all the creative and different ways people have supported and helped us along our adoption journey!

We have been incredibly blessed by:

  • Friends passing along baby supplies, double strollers and clothes for baby and boys.
  • The many boxes of diapers given to us from our Life Group the day we came home from the hospital
  • Church family, friends and my family caring for our 3 boys while we were meeting with birth mother and across the state for Timothy's birth.
  • Breastfeeding moms donating their extra breast milk for our baby (this was by far the most creative and wonderful gift!)
  • Friends and family (near and far) sacrificially sending finances to help fund our adoption.
  • My sweet Granny and aunt crafted, sewed, painted, and made jewelry to sell, to help fund our adoption. 
  • The almost 3 weeks of incredible meals brought to our home from our church family and friends, that tremendously helped in those sleepless crazy days;)
  • Precious friends and church family coming over to hold babies, clean and help around our home.
  • Sweet friends praying over us as we prepared for Timothy's birth. 
We are very thankful for all the ways our family, friends and church have shown us love and support during this exciting time!

If you have friends, family or members of your church going through an adoption, I challenge you to find creative ways to meet their needs and show support of their adoption.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Goat's milk baby formula

As many of you already know...  I am pretty serious about breast feeding... I have totaled 48 months of breast feeding my boys.  I know it's the healthiest choice and I've recently learned breast feeding is also the easiest choice... cleaning, sanitizing, pumping, and mixing formula is extremely time consuming!!

Since I didn't birth our sweet little Timothy (we adopted him) my body has not gotten the memo that I'm nursing a newborn. I have only been able to produce about half of his milk needs. Not being able to provide for my baby's most basic need for milk has been pretty tough. I started to supplement with store bought formula, but his tummy didn't seem to like it. Also, I could get past the #1 ingredient in formula ... Corn syrup!?!? I'm a little weird and like to make all of my family's food from fresh ingredients. We try to stay away from processed foods. I want to give my baby a good start... and corn syrup was just not what I had in mind. I began researching and looking for alternatives. I learned about goat's milk and that it's possible to make your own formula from fresh ingredients!! I have talked with my chiropractor (who is also a nutritionist) and our pediatrician, to ensure my baby's safety. 

A few things you need to consider when using goat's milk formula: 
- Goat's milk does not have the Vitamin B that babies need for development. You must add Vitamin B complex (nutritional yeast or a vitamin supplement) to the formula! (This was my pediatrician's main concern about goat's milk--a Vitamin B deficiency).
- This formula works best when used to supplement while breastfeeding (not being your baby's only food).
- I am not a nutritionist or specialist, please consult your doctor before giving this formula to your baby.

There are several other recipes on Pinterest, but this is the recipe I use:
Goat's Milk Formula
2 cups goats milk  (I've used Meyenberg goat milk from Kroger or goat milk from a local farmer)
1 7/8 cup distilled water (can adjust water from 1 cup to almost 2 cups)
1/4 tsp Acerola powder* (Vitamin C, NOT ascorbic acid
4 Tbsp lactose (Now real food brand) - can get at Amazon, but cheaper at (I go through a bag every 2 weeks)
2 tsp nutritional yeast *
2 tsp gelatin (Bernard Jensen bovine gelatin)*
2 tsp coconut oil* (unrefined organic) Can purchase at Amazon or Sam's, just make sure it's is Unrefined, cold pressed)
1 tsp olive oil (organic unrefined, cold pressed)
~1 tsp Organic Maple Syrup (optional--if not using lactose, up this to 2 tsp)
1-2 tsp blackstrap molasses - Adds iron and helps with constipation (this is not the molasses in the baking isle, make sure it is black strap)
1/2 capsule of fermented cod liver oil/butter oil *(optional-- it's really healthy, but pretty expensive)
Vitamin E (1/4 adult dose) optional
Probiotic powder - I use a half of a capsule

Heat 1 cup of the water and add vitamin c powder, lactose, gelatin, yeast, coconut oil and cod liver oil.  Add remaining 7/8 cup water & ingredients, add milk and probiotics last. Mix well (can use blender) and pour into sterilized container or milk bags. This recipe also freezes well in milk bags.

* You can purchase a lot of ingredients off Amazon.

To read more about the origin of this formula, visit Weston A. Price.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Welcome to the family Timothy Neil!

We want to thank so many of you who have followed, prayed for and supported our adoption journey that began over 2 1/2 years ago. We began with the intention of adopting a baby from Ethiopia, made the switch to domestic adoption about 9 months ago, received a phone call telling us of our referral 1 month ago, and are happy to announce that we brought home our new baby boy one week ago!

The phone call
The way the process normally works, is a family receives an email with a very brief description of birth mother and due date, asking if we want her to look at her profile. Then you hear back in a couple weeks if your family is chosen. Well, we had not gotten an email, but received a phone call Tuesday afternoon (May 14) from a case worker I had never met from across the state. She told us about birth mother, due date and asked if we would be interested. Of course we excitedly said YES, to which she replies, "Good, because she's already seen your profile and chosen you. Baby boy is due in one month!" And so our crazy fast month began!!

Meeting birth mother
Three days after the phone call, we drove 5 hours across the state and met with our birth mother over lunch. Over a 1 1/2 hour lunch, we shared our stories, laughter and tears. In a meeting that can be awkward and difficult, we felt at ease and a strong connection from the beginning. We learned about her story, her history, her gifts, talents and dreams. We heard about her hopes for her son, and her reasoning behind choosing our family. She wanted a Christian family with experience raising boys, as well as big brothers for her son. We feel honored and privileged that she chose our family. After the lunch meeting, we continued to get to know one another via email and discussed our open adoption plans.

It's TIME!!
We knew that she was due on June 14, but you never really know when baby will arrive. We had a false alarm Monday night, June 10th. We had been keeping in touch with birth mother, and recieved a message that she was having contractions and on her way to the hospital! It turned our to be a false alarm. On Wednesday afternoon, June 12, we got a call from our case worker and birth mother telling us she would be induced Friday morning. We began frantically preparing, not only to welcome our new baby, but also lining up preparations for leaving our three sons for a few days as we traveled across the state to meet and bring home our new baby. So thankful for our family who put their lives on hold to come up and take care of our little guys!

We arose early Friday morning and began the drive across the state around 5am, arriving before lunchtime. We spent the afternoon with birth mother, listening, encouraging, and waiting with her. We feel so blessed to have had that time with her to get to know more about the little details of her life. Amid a life of trials and difficulties, she is such a strong and determined woman. We also talked about the details of the birth. I (Kelly, not Josh) was going to get to be in the delivery room with her when he was born. She even asked me if I wanted to cut his umbilical cord! I was floored!!! After, a day of her laboring, I stood next to her holding her hand as she pushed out our little 9lb, 10oz chunk... oh and it only took her 3 pushes and and about 5-10min!! I knew she was strong, but wow!! Over the next hour, she and I both held him, and I was blessed to see her great love and care for Timothy.

Timothy Neil was born on June 14, 2013 -- 9lbs, 10oz and 21.5inches long.
We spent Timothy's first 24 hour in the hospital, enjoying him and visiting with birth mother.  We traveled home with Timothy Saturday evening. Sunday morning (Father's Day) we awoke to three excited little boys--glad to have Mommy & Daddy home, as well as super excited to meet their new baby brother!!
1st snuggles from brothers:)
Timothy Neil --- his name
Since the beginning of our adoption journey, our 2 oldest boys have called our baby Timothy Thomas. Our oldest thought of the name all by himself. When we prayed and talked about baby, he was always called Timothy Thomas:) We wanted to keep Timothy as his first name, because we have prayed for Timothy for over 2 years. Neil is Josh's grandfather's name, and the name Josh always wanted to name his son. We gave him a family name to show he is fully ours and a full heir in our family.

We're a family of SIX!!!
I still have so much more I would like to share... more to come when we're not so sleep deprived;)