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!

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 couldn't 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).
- 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--I only add this if not using Lactose)
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.

UPDATE (April 23, 2015) --- Our little guy is nearing his second birthday and is our healthiest boy yet! He's still drinking this formula daily, has never run a fever, is about 35lbs of pure muscle and is our strong happy, healthy boy! This formula and essential oils have greatly contributed to his incredible health! If you are unable to breastfeed, I highly recommend this recipe, as we've seen great benefits from it!

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;)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Summer bucket list

We're looking forward to a fun filled, busy, adventurous, family filled, exciting summer! These are a few our our plans and adventures for the summer;)
1. Vacation Bible School
2. Day at the Paragould water park
3. Fun at the Georgia Aquarium
4. Day at the beach in Gulf Shores, AL 

5. Swimming at Granny & Grandpa's new pool!
6. Bring home our new baby:)
7. Family reunion
8. Camping in the backyard
9. Slumber party with cousins!
10. Evan's Star Wars 7th birthday celebration!
11. Family Vacation to Mountain Home, AR
12. Celebrate our 10th Wedding Anniversary:)
13. Sports & More Camp
14. Nerf gun war at church
15. Growing a large vegetable garden
16. Make lots of blueberry, strawberry, & muscadine jam
17. Crowley's Ridge Nature Center
18. Many trips to the library
19. Swimming and water games in the backyard
20. Get muddy!!!
21. Sidewalk painting!
22. Lots of fun activities with HDBC Children's Ministry!

What activities are you and your family planning to do this summer?

Baby on the way!!

We want to thank the many of you have followed and supported our adoption journey---the past two and a half years! I posted nine months ago about our switch from International to Domestic Adoption. We want to share our exciting news... we got the call we've been waiting for!!! Baby BOY is due this Friday---June 14!!! If all goes as planned, we will get to be there at the hospital for his arrival and bring him home in the next week or so! Life has been BUSY trying to prepare for baby's arrival... cleaning, organizing, freezer cooking, rearranging bedrooms, nesting;) We covet your prayers over the next couple of weeks!!

Please pray for:

  • Birth mother--for confidence and peace in her decision, for healthy delivery
  • Baby BOY -- his health, and for the 5 hour trip home
  • Big brothers (especially baby Samuel) - adjusting to life with baby brother, and for the few days apart from us while we're in hospital
  • For our hearts, as we prepare to bring another sweet child into our family. And that we would be able to minister to birth mother through this open adoption.
  • The details of paperwork and legal things that go along with adoption.
We'll keep you posted and can't wait to post pictures of our newest little guy!!!!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Little hands painting!!

Evan and Ben have always enjoyed painting... the littlest one is no different! Samuel experienced painting for the first time today and had a blast!!
So excited to paint like big brothers!!
This is so much FUN!

He really knew what he was doing!!
Even used a paint brush!

Can you tell he's having FUN?!

Should I paint myself too?
Painting on paper is fun too!

Really focused on his masterpiece.

Painting belly & paper:)

All of my boys have to paint a goatee like Daddy;)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Springtime beauty and a growing garden

Our family of boys really enjoys getting outdoors; we are blessed to have a beautiful place to play, rest and enjoy each other right here at home! We are very thankful for the beautiful and relaxing setting just outside our back door. The previous owners built a pergola, a swing, and planted numerous beautiful flowers, trees, and a "bamboo forest".

 Our boys love to explore and play in our yard and bamboo forest! Spring is a wonderful time to be outside watching everything grow and bloom. We have decided to grow a few more things in our backyard... a vegetable garden!! We are going full force this year with 4 garden boxes and MANY different types of fruits & veggies! We're hoping for a good crop this year to feed our growing family!

We planted some cooler weather crops a couple months ago, including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, onions, radishes, beets, spinach, lettuce, and sugar snap peas. While we were not typically a radish eating family, all of us really enjoyed the fresh radishes from our garden! Our salad box with spinach and lettuce has been a big producer--we've enjoyed salad from the garden almost every day! However, the biggest hit in the garden has been the sugar snap peas!! The boys love picking them and eating them right off the plant! I envisioned sugar snap peas in salads and stir fry from the abundance our plants have been producing, but the boys are consuming them so quickly the peas have yet to make it back to our kitchen! 

The unusually cold weather this spring delayed the planting of our summer crops.  We were finally able to get our tomatoes, pepper, beans, and okra in the ground 2 weeks ago.
Our family is really ready for garden fresh tomatoes!!
This peaceful setting is just around the corner from our home, and a favorite stop on our neighborhood walks.
We are thankful for the beauty around us this spring! 
Would love to hear about your family's favorite activities and places in the springtime!

Monday, May 13, 2013

My favorite kitchen appliance

As many of you probably know, I love to cook! Out of all of my kitchen gadgets and appliances, I would have to say my bread machine ranks among my favorites! I enjoy making homemade breads and goodies for my boys. My Sunbeam bread machine helps me bake all of these goodies, while saving bundles of time! Several of my favorite recipes for my bread machine are pizza dough, french bread, Italian bread dough, our best sandwich bread, hamburger buns, and yummy cinnamon rolls. Truth: I only use the machine for the dough cycle. I like to bake my bread in the oven and don't like the rectangle shape of the bread from the machine.
best sandwich bread
Our bread machine has also helped with meal planning on a budget. I can whip up a meal based on one of these recipes. Throw some marinara sauce, cheese, possibly a few other toppings, and my boys are happy for pizza night! A loaf of french bread can be a great addition to soup night, or can be the start of a sub sandwich meal.
hamburger buns - I will never eat store bought buns again!
One of our new dinner favorites is making Stromboli with my best sandwich bread recipe. I make the dough, roll the dough out into rectangle, line with ham (or favorite deli meat) and cheese, roll up and place in greased loaf pan. Bake 30 minutes at 350 and you have dinner!

If we manage to still have some of the bread left a few days after baking, I throw together one of my family's favorites... French Toast! My Granny would make french toast for my sister and I when we spent the night at her house as kids... loved her french toast and think of her when I make my own. I dip the bread in a mixture of eggs, almond milk, and a dash of cinnamon. Cook in cast iron skillet with hot coconut oil and serve hot with powdered sugar or syrup---yummy!!!
Check out my Pinterest board for more bread recipes!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Getting messy in a dinosaur swamp!

Want to give little boys an activity full of creative, sensory, messy, imaginative fun?
 Have fun creating this dinosaur swamp for your little guys (or girls). 

You can use items from your kitchen, house and yard. This week I used green spaghetti (spaghetti cooking in water with food coloring), several types of beans/rocks (pinto, lima, lentils, split peas), rice, large rocks, mint leaves, and toy dinosaurs. Sometimes I add a little of the green pasta water to make it extra messy fun!

 Enjoy watching your little guys play and explore... or go work on those 7 loads of laundry;)

Looking for other ideas for creative indoor play? Check out these other blogs:
Indoor Activities for my stir crazy boys
Cooking like Mommy: Pretend cooking with real ingredients

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Indoor activities for my stir crazy boys!

Anyone else super excited about springtime? Even though it is March, this freezing winter weather has made us a little stir crazy and ready to play outside, take walk around the neighborhood, plant our veggie garden, play in the mud, and have lots of fun with our boys OUTSIDE! Here are a few of our fun indoor activities that make these cold indoor day a lot more bearable... even FUN!
Pretend cooking with REAL food is one of the boys favorite messy FUN activities! I blogged about this awhile back, but we enjoyed this great sensory activity this weekend inside with our guys:)

Monster play dough is another great activity for the boys! My 5 and 6 year old guys enjoy creating monsters out of our homemade play dough! I give the boys a mound of play dough, toothpicks, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, buttons, and sit back to watch them create!
I made these felt dress up Mr. Potato Heads for a long road trip last spring, but the boys enjoy playing with these at home too! I glued a solid piece of felt to cardboard and glued the face shape and googly eyes. They each have a bag full of clothes, hats, and facial features to dress up their own Mr. Potato head.
 Dinosaur swap involves some prep by Mom, but is loads of fun!!
Dinosaur swamp

Painting or drawing is always a winner with my creative little guys! 
My boys have such a blast dressing up as one of many superheroes, fireman, soldier, race car driver, Mario & Luigi, and wild animals! I hope the boys never tire of playing dress up! 
And then there is always the option to get outside and build an igloo!! 

How does your family have fun indoors on cold winter days?