Thursday, January 31, 2013

Adoption Adventures: Our Adventure

 I have spoken about adoption on this blog for years! I have shared most of this story in bits and pieces over the years, but here is our whole story in one place! I would love to share other's stories as well!  Just contact me here or on facebook and I would love for you to guest post here on our blog! :)
My dad was adopted, so adoption was never foreign in my life. When I was 18, (fall of 2004), I was at a Steven Curtis Chapman concert. He spoke about his adoptions, and shared how important it was to adopt. From that day forward I knew I would adopt one day. (I even looked into adopting then! Even though I lived with my parents and was a freshman in college! lol)

I met my husband online, (April 06). I saved some of our first conversations, (I.M) and looking back I found out something pretty amazing...

P: what is your out take on adoption

T: actually, I want to have kids of my own and adopt some too. My dad was adopted... but I just really like the cause... I was at a Stephen Curtis Chapman concert last year and he speaks worlds for adoption. He has 3 of his own and he has adopted 3 as well. I think that's awesome... he has a great testimony

P: cool. I always thought that I would adopt even if I was single.. there are a lot of kids that really need a home... the head staff member of Campus Crusade adopted two Russian kids

T: yeah... I know... one of the dads at my work wasn't married at 40, but he wanted a fam so he adopted one, which turned into 3 and he just adopted 4 more... 7 boys... all with behavior problems... from abuse... from 3 diff families.. he is awesome!

P: wow, that's cool. I just figured I would ask, some women don't really go for adoption

T: well I have the "mommy gene" definitely, but I need to first have my own, and adopt as well. I have to experience the whole joy of motherhood.. pregnancy, birth, everything.. then adopt! actually I am very close with a few of my kids and if anything happened to their parents I would adopt them questions asked... I don't care if I am only 19.... I love these kids too much!

Looking back, I love that we talked so early about adoption. As you saw, I desperately wanted birth children first. 
God had other plans.

You see, after we were married I starting ignoring God. I became disobedient to God's leading on that in my life. He wanted total surrender, but that was too hard for me. So, I would surrender a little, "Ok, I'll have all the birth children I want, then I will adopt however many you want to give me... No? Ok, I will have 2 or 3 birth children and adopt the rest.... No? Ok, I will have only one child, then adopt the rest."

See, I never totally submitted to Christ's Call. I did what I felt comfortable with. You see, when it got down to "I'll have only one and adopt the rest," I was really praying, "God, please please please let me have one! I have to have one! How terrible would that be to never have a birth child?!" I knew what God really wanted, but it wasn't easy to swallow.

Then in July 2008, we went to Church camp with the youth, and God spoke to me loud and clear.... so much so that I couldn't pretend to be obedient any longer, total surrender was expected! David Nasser was the speaker, and he said, "there are 200,000,000 orphans in the world, and if only 7% of THE CHURCH would adopt, there would be no need for orphanages!"

At that moment I realized my disobedience, and understood why God had called us to this life of adoption. 7% of a people is not much, and it isn't even 7% of the world! No, it is 7% of the Believers in the world! Wow! That means it won't take that many to wipe out the orphanages! Also, I found a quote: "
1.1% of the population has adopted." WOW! Isn't that terrible, especially in light of the statistic from David Nasser?

I prayed about what God had put on my heart for the next 48 hours. I cried and pleaded and prayed. Am I strong enough to be this obedient? I finally approached my husband and told him what God had said to me.

"I think we need to adopt all of our children. We should not have birth children. I have been feeling God calling me to this for awhile now, but I have been ignoring Him."

I waited, in tears to see how he would react.

"If that is where you see God calling us, then it is fine with me."

All the tears, grief and anxiety left immediately. I was finally at peace since I was finally obedient.

I also told him at that moment to help me out. I knew I would have to go through a grief period, and I would need his understanding through that time.

By the Grace of God I did not have to endure the grief period I imagined. At first I was a little bummed when I saw girls who were unmarried become pregnant.

"Come on God! That is not fair! Why do they get to have birth children, and here I am married, and I don't get to!"

Luckily, any desire to be pregnant was taken from me very quickly. My husband and I were both immediately at peace with never having birth children.

After that summer we began and "on again, off again." relationship with adoption. We were just trying to figure out God's will for us.

That January, we found out about twin boys that would be up for adoption soon through foster care. I spoke with their foster mom, and before we met them she informed me that she had decided to adopt them. We were sad for like 5 seconds, then we were okay because we knew they were her children, not ours.

We always found new children on the TARE website that we considered adopting, and luckily they always got adopted. 

When the earthquake hit Haiti, we had 2 opportunities to take in orphans from the quake, but both fell through.

If you are keeping track, I had desired adoption for 6 years at that point, and we had pursued adoption for 2 1/2 years. We still had not adopted yet. I was emotionally exhausted. I was ready to be a mommy!

March 2010 we FINALLY, officially began the adoption process. We were going through an agency called Arrow that adopts kids out of the foster care system.

That same month we provided respite for 2 foster boys. We fell in love.  
For the next months, we went through the adoption training and spent more and more time with the boys. 
In July they were going to move in with us- termination was imminent
The day before they moved in we got word they were now pursuing reunification with mom. We were heart broken. We welcomed the boys into our home with hopes that mom could still mess up, or at least they wouldn't be going home until about October at the earliest.

One week later we got word that they wanted the boys home by the beginning of school. More heartbreak, but we knew we could at least love them until the end of August.

The following week we got a call, "they are picking them up tomorrow at 9 AM." What!? What we thought would be a very long transition and careful deliberation, turned into 2 weeks. I hate to say that the system failed the boys, but it did.

Now, I know it was God's will for the boys to go home, but they deserved a longer transition. Mom needed to prove herself to be changed, something she had never done. (when you adopt, you have to prove yourself to CPS, so parent's whose children were taken away should be held accountable too, {and they usually are}).

We were told there was a good chance they would end up back in care, so we decided to pursue a baby girl while we waited for their return, (age 0-3 to stay in birth order with the boys).

In August, I
got a phone call from our agency and they said they had a sibling group of 3 for us- all blonde hair, blue eyes, all under the age of 4. Doesn't get more picture perfect than that, huh? Well, to us it wasn't- to the world it was. I agreed to meet them because we did not want to pass up an opportunity, but we were not 100%. {Don't forget we would have had 5 children if the boys came home and we took these kids.}

The next day I received an email from the foster mom of the twins from 2 years earlier. She had a 9 month old baby girl that, "would bless someone someday."

I turned her down because I felt like I was committed to the sibling group or something.

By the Grace of God again, I met with our boys' former foster mom that day. I told her about the sibling group of three and as I was about to leave, I told her about the baby. She told me I was crazy for passing so quickly, and encouraged me to meet her regardless of the other children.

I immediately called her foster mom, praying she hadn't read my email. She had not. I spoke with her for awhile, and I was at total peace. I knew I had found our daughter.

So, I went and met her on a Tuesday. I knew she was mine, and I had to have her.

That Wednesday, I got the call for the sibling group again to set up our meeting time. I had to TURN DOWN 3 CHILDREN. SO HARD! The next day was the day my husband got to meet his little girl and we got to meet her lawyer. When I spoke with her CPS worker that day, she asked if I could take in a sibling group of a 2 year old and 2 month old. I had to SAY NO. AGAIN. SO, in 24 hours, I turned away 5 CHILDREN. You think it is hard passing up puppies on doggie adoption day at Petco? What about not giving an extra dollar to Chili's for St. Jude's? Yeah, try turning away 5 children in 24 hours. NOT EASY.

The day I met our daughter, a little boy at the home caught my eye. He was a month older than her, absolutely gorgeous, and in love with his foster sister. I had to have him too.

Case closed, we were adopting (pretty much), twins.

In October, we were waiting for her placement, and I got a call for a newborn baby girl. I begged and pleaded with my husband. I knew I could handle 3 babies. He said OK. Once again, by the Grace of God, I called her foster mom for advice. She told me that by law I could not have more than 2 kids under 18 months in my home. I once again had to turn down a baby. {Then I came to reality and realized I was insane thinking I could handle 3 babies under a year old. lol}

October 29, 2010 was our Annie's Gothca Day. 
She has Spina Bifida, so no one wanted her. Let me tell you, she is amazing! She is the easiest, happiest baby ever, and she is so funny! If you are hesitant in adopting a child with special needs, please contact me. I would love to talk to you about it! I would never change a thing about her! She is perfect!

December 2, 2010 we got termination for Annie!  
We nicknamed her foster brother Nemo on our blog, because how fun is it to call him, "him," or, "the boy?" We thought he would be placed with us in early November.

It wasn't until February that my prayers were answered. Monday March 14th, Nemo had a court date where they would terminate parental rights. We were finally getting our son!!
I was ecstatic. I starting registering for clothes and a double jogging stroller. I had to practice massive restraint on decorating. I had his room planned since August, but had been waiting since it was so unsure. Even though it was looking definite, I wanted to wait until the 14th.

Then on March 8th, our joy ended. We got word that Nemo, (16 months old), had the brain of a 4 month old and will always have a brain of a 4 month old. We are not shy about special needs children, (our daughter has Spina Bidifa and we thought he had Cerebral Palsy). The issue now was not the special need, it was the severity of his special need. If he was our only... if Annie was older... IF, IF, IF.

In the end we made the heartbreaking decision to pass on Nemo. Heartbreaking is an understatement. We were finally getting our son, and less than a week before termination, we had to decide to pass on him. As painful as it is, I know it is the best thing for him and for Annie.

While we were waiting for Nemo, I knew that even if we never got him, I was meant to want him. You see, he kept me from taking that newborn baby girl. With a baby with SB, there is no way I could also have had a newborn then. Also, in November, I got a call for another newborn, this time a boy. I once again turned him down.

Nemo has kept me on track with Annie, and if that was God's purpose for me loving him then so be it. I still wish he was meant to be my son. God knew better. You see, he has been reunited with his family now. They never terminated, and we would have lost him like our other boys. So in the end, it worked out- trust God!
August 4, 2011, (my 25 birthday), we finalized Annie's adoption! She was officially ours!
Years of yearning, dreaming, praying, and tears came to an end. We were officially a family!  The court room was full with other families that were there for less than exciting circumstances. However, when it was finalized, the whole court room clapped and many people wiped tears. The judge said he wished there were more people like us and that days like that day made his job all worth it! :)

We have had many ups and downs on our adoption adventure, but let me tell you: they are all worth it. Every minute I spend with my Annie is an amazing gift from God.
In 2012, we began training to get Annie a sister. We completed the training and were a month away from finishing everything and getting placement when Annie was hospitalized again. It really made us rethink adopting again, (and honestly we had been rethinking it for months, but the hospitalization and surgery really made me stop thinking and made me talk with my hubs about my feelings). We decided to keep Annie an only child. We have many reasons, and believe it or not, her special needs are not the #1 reason. Not even close! We are just truly content as parents and choosing to adopt for the sake of saving the orphans is not a good enough reason- you need to desire to be parents!
 Now, I am not saying we will never adopt again- we just do not plan to. As you can see through our adventure, God has His hands in it, and if He wants us to adopt again, we certainly will! :)

Also, I hope my story of no birth children is an encouragement to those of you ladies struggling with infertility.

NEVER in my life did I think I could be okay with not having birth children. But, I find my joy In Christ, not in getting pregnant. I am happy to be a mommy, period. Who says being a mommy= pregnancy? There are many women out there that had birth children, but they are terrible mothers. Think of all the children that are beaten across the world. No, blood doesn't mean anything! It is a heart matter! Let me leave you with this, (on this subject): as Christians, we are Brothers and Sisters in Christ. That means that if you have an unbelieving family member, then you are more family to me than you are to them. It is the truth, people. So, in reality, when I said blood doesn't matter, I wasn't entirely correct. Our family blood does not matter... the blood of Christ does!

I hope my story has comforted and maybe even inspired some of you. I am very open to speaking with any of you on this subject.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Walk in the Park

Living in West Texas Rocks!! This is a plateau/mountain in our town that you can drive/walk. It is a great workout because it is uphill, (totally feel the burn! also going downhill is a big workout on your shins! lol). It is so peaceful! I love it so much!
see that lone tall building back there? That is our downtown. :) 

as far as you can see- LAND! Y'all can keep your buildings and concrete- I love this view!
she kept asking me to take her picture. she just got a new stroller and is so proud of it!

"give me land, lots of land..."
"don't fence me in!" (note the windmills in the distance) :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Annie's Gander

We went to feed the ducks the same day we took pics, (from yesterday's post). I cannot tell you how much I love these feathered friends! There has to be a representation of every species of duck and goose out there! Ok, ok, not every, but lots! I think at least 4 species of geese and so many more species of ducks. They are so friendly and come right up to you! I think if I wanted to they would let me hold them! lol Seriously, they come right up to you and are not the least bit scared!

Annie however is scared of them! I have to take pics of them with her in my arms crying. I can't wait to go with Paul so he can keep her happy and I can have one on one time with them to get great shots! (note:she is not terrified, just nervous of the honking. I wouldn't take her if she were truly scared!)

 the honking scared her!
 though she cried she still had fun feeding them!
 Look at that Mohawk! ;)
 these were behind us honking away while we were feeding their friends. "come on, what about US?!" The ducks would catch the bread as it was falling. I would throw it toward the geese and they would let it hit the floor. They expected me to place it in their mouths! Silly princess geese!

 look at these 3 loosey gooseys!

 this is only a fraction of them!
 this guy was a character!

Love birds running off together:

there they go!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Photoshoot Practice

Normally I can get tons of pics of Annie in a shoot that I love. This shoot, only a few. She was uncooperative! :/ But I really wanted to test some backgrounds, so it was ok. :)

She wanted to drive and threw a fit that I wouldn't let her drive home. I told her she could in 13 more years. oh boy!

Sunday, January 27, 2013


When I was 13 I was diagnosed with Blepharospasm. It is spasms in the eyelids. Doesn't sound so bad, right? We all get those tiny spasms in our eyelids from time to time. Well, that is now what Bleparospasm is. Think of when your eyes are dry and you do a long, uncomfortable blink that you hold your eyes closed for few a seconds. When my blepharospasm flairs up, I blink like that all day long. Sometimes blinks will come one after another to the point where I don't open my eyes for over 10 seconds. Not that long you say? Close your eyes for 10 seconds right now, (and remember when I do it I can't open them). Now imagine you are driving your car. 10 seconds is a long time!
In the last 6 years or so I have developed a new issue with it. Blepharospasm can also cause twitching in your nose, (think bunny face). When the nose twitching starts up it affects my breathing. The twitching causes me to blow air out of my nose, which messes up my regular breathing. You begin to feel like you can't breathe.
It is socially embarrassing, dangerous when driving, causes pressure in your head and neck, (which is uncomfortable and causes headaches), and the breathing issues are really uncomfortable as you can imagine.
I've read many different stances that say Blepharospasm can get so bad that you can't open your eyes, like ever. Then I read where it comes on for a few days then goes into remission for awhile.
I am in the second category.
I used to have to get Botox to control it, (side note: Botox was the most painful thing ever, so don't try it. awful!)
A few years back I got off of all medications, including Botox. I learned to control it cognitively- I learned that as long as I got enough sleep, I could keep the spasms at bay. My doctor said that I am extremely lucky and shouldn't be able to control it cognitively. Like I said, the biggest thing to prevent it is to get enough sleep. I can't talk about it without it flaring up, so I try not to talk about it. :) Also, when watching a show or movie where a character makes funny faces I have to look away because my cognitive controls weaken and it will flare up.
For the last 8 days I have been dealing with a flair up. Thankfully, it has only been with my eyes and not my nose, (my nose only occurs when I lose control of a flair up). Controlling flair ups is a little more difficult with Annie because she doesn't let me sleep when I need to. :) It is finally starting to go away now!
I find it crazy that I was diagnosed at 13, which was 13 years ago!
Do you or someone you know suffer with Blepharospasm? Any at home cures/preventions I should know about? :)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Manti Te'o

Don't let Manti Te'o's nightmare story deter you from online dating. Paul and I met online! I realized I have never shared our whole story, and thought this is a perfect time since many people will be wary of online dating now!

Dating is for marriage. There is no point in dating just to date. In 2006, (I was newly 19 years old), and wanted to find my husband. I dated a few guys who did just want to date. This was not working. So, I sucked up my pride and got on Yahoo Personals, (I was too embarrassed to get on a real dating site so I chose Yahoo Personals. Thankfully, at the same time Paul's friend talked him into getting on as well!).
You were matched according to your criteria- you picked 4 of your most important, (mine were: Christian, Conservative, Didn't drink and wanted kids). You had to pay $30/month to talk to people.
Well, I was contacted by many guys, (most of which did not meet my criteria and obviously didn't notice my 4 most important points!), and obviously that was not working.
After a month I canceled my ability to talk, (stopped paying lol), and I decided to start looking. You see, if I got on there to find a husband, I would need to start looking because letting them come to me obviously did not work.
Well the "matching" system was less than stellar. I sat and scrolled through PAGES and PAGES of guys. None caught my eyes. Around page 30 or so, (mind you there were about 30 per page, so this was about guy #900), I found Paul. He had a teenie tiny, out of focus pic. I am not vain, but there does need to be some physical attraction! I almost skipped him because I couldn't really see him! Then something stopped me and I read his profile, (I kick my self for this day for not saving what he had written!!).
He had chosen the same 4 main points as I had. Then I found the "about me" section where you could write anything about yourself. Paul had written on and on about what he was looking for in a wife and his love of God. Though I couldn't really see what he looked like, I knew I HAD to meet him! There were two problems: one was that he was 26 and the youngest age he was ok with dating was a 20 year old, the other was I had stopped paying. I could only send him a "flirt." Basically a prewritten statement to say, "Hey! I'm interested in you!"
The next day Paul sent a flirt back- another problem! It was now obvious that neither of us were paying and so we were not able to exchange email addresses or any other way to contact each other!
Thankfully Paul paid so he could contact me. :)
After a few days of trying to figure out the kinks of online dating- we "met" on April 6, 2006 around 6PM. By 5AM the next morning, (April 7 for those of you keeping track), I KNEW I would marry him.

It was that sudden. That obvious. No questions asked. When you know, you know, (When You Know by Shawn Colvin was played at our wedding for this reason). :)

Fast forward to ONE YEAR later (April 7, 2007), and we were married. People thought we were crazy. They thought I was pregnant. They thought we were stupid. They thought I just wanted to be a bride.

They were all dead wrong.

I would have married him even sooner than that. We live in a society that is so different from what God has intended it to be. We knew we were created to be together. We knew His hands were in on this. Not everyone else did. But we did. :)
Online dating is not always terrible like Manti Te'o or other nightmares. Still be safe! I had a guy contacting me and it just felt weird. Really weird. So I didn't pursue him. When I met Paul I knew he was the one and he was legit. Stay safe, and look for your true love. I found mine! :)
 Our online profile pictures :)
 The weekend we met in person, mid-May 2006
 Our engagement August 21, 2006
Our Wedding April 7, 2007
Our Honeymoon August 2007
Our Second Anniversary April 7, 2009
Our third anniversary April 7, 2010
We didn't take pics on our 4 and 5 anniversaries. :( but here is a picture of Annie on our 4th anniversary, 2011. I dressed her in this lobster outfit because Paul and I are "Lobsters," (remember Phoebe from FRIENDS?) :)