Changes In Our Family (also In Which We See God Is Faithful) part 5

11265629_10205027285494627_176459141662142379_nThrough it all God was and is faithful.  We waited years and years, we went through levels of emotions that we did not expect, we had fears and thoughts that stretched us and drew us to God.  We saw his faithfulness when we took the time to look for it.

G was released from the hospital at 97 days old.  She was released just days before her actual due date.  She came home a whopping 6 lbs and 14 oz.  She was a miracle.  She was not just a miracle she was our miracle!  With every visit back for checks the doctors and nurses are just amazed at her growth, her strength and the things she can do.  Her outcome has surpassed their expectations.

10847876_10203951935211542_4517367397409848396_n4 months old and she has filled a hole in our hearts.
10384521_10204222991467779_5450152127027890138_n5 Months and she smiles for the ones she loves.
11006414_10204415700485384_8430253814648886820_nThis girl is 6 months and is growing both in size and personality.
10985370_10204596255799154_6037183881048190908_nShe is getting stronger and more busy, and a personality all her own.  7 months of love.11165230_10204800086454793_8735431777068825991_n8 months of energy and sweetness.11014272_10204978939886017_3165034530718592800_nCheck out how the princess has grown in her 9 months.  Pink Poodle has not changed, and it is hard to believe that in the beginning pink poodle was bigger than our girl, now she is tossed about, wrestled with, and chewed on.

The whole experience is really more than I can put into words.  It was the hardest, most rewarding thing we have ever experienced.  When I think about the joy of adoption and the words of the judge “as though she came from your body” she is ours.  Everything that we have belongs to her, she has a family history, she has a family name, she has a legacy.  The first few weeks, we held our breath as we learned of the struggle of the bio-mom, and we realized the depth of her gift.  We held our breath as G struggled in the first few days and weeks when she was ours.  We cheered her daily weight measurement as we saw her grow and change. And each new skill is brings our awe and wonder.  She is a mama’s girl, sure she loves her family, but she adores her mama.  She has a bond that will never be unbroken.  Ellen’s adoption journey began 4 years ago, when she presented her idea of adoption to us all.  4 years of uncertainty, 4 years of hoping and praying and waiting.  But G is worth the wait.  We are so in love.11200817_10205028024633105_3352703659022660219_nOne day last month the courts finally recognized what we knew on September 9, or actually on September 5th.  This baby is our baby, this child has our hearts.10982362_10205044258278936_7671181563144385024_nThe Cousins.

The entire court proceedings lasted less than 10 minutes.  GEJ2O had 17 family members at the ceremony.  17 people who have loved her before she was born.  17 people who will be there for her as Beda, and Grandparents,aunts and uncle, and cousins.

I want to encourage you if you are thinking of giving a child up for adoption, that the process is hard, and it is big and it is love.  You are giving a gift to a family that is bigger than imagined.

If you area a family waiting for a baby, know that it really is worth the heart ache, the heart-break.  The love will heal your broken heart.

God has been faithful and we were all given the chance to watch it happen.

Go hug your kids, and wrap your arms around the ones you love!

jen

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Changes In Our Family (also In Which We See God Is Faithful) part 4

The Story is not over, that was only the beginning of her story.

September 9th the sun rose, just as it does every day, the moon disappeared into the horizon and people began going about their morning routine.  As the sun also rose over that great Children’s Hospital that September morning, the nurses began changing shifts, they had no idea the greatness of that day.  They scrubbed in and listened to rounds, they patted bottoms and rubbed heads, they moved wires and silenced alarms.  They hooked up tubes and started their daily routine.

J2 had no idea what our great and mighty God was doing, as her day began, under her blue checkered cover, she lay waiting…

God knew that J2’s story was just getting exciting.

We knew the significance of that day September 9th, an hour and 15 minutes away we all woke with a spring in our step and joy in our hearts we knew what a great and wonderful day that September 9th would be for our family.

Ellen and my mother, left for the longest/shortest ride of their lives to an adoption agency in a city not too far away.

10289975_10203521042479493_1975441076469589627_nFrom the agency to the Children’s Hospital they all went with a rush.  When they sent me this picture I sat on stage, painting again, with tears of joy in my eyes.  My sister was finally getting her dream come true!  She was going to be a mommy.  They sent me pictures of Ellen signing the legal papers, they sent me pictures of Ellen walking the bridge in the hospital, they sent me pictures in the elevator and then they sent me the best pictures of all.

10599606_10203323804708672_5141190815445223063_nThey sent me the picture of the new mommy and her baby girl!
IMG_2529Meet GEJ2O
Ellen’s daughter and my Niece.
Ellen kept the J2 as a way to honor the bio-mom.  A connection to her past and a hope for her future.  The bio-mom made a difficult decision.  She is our hero, she chose to show her baby how very much she loved her.  She chose Ellen for J2’s mommy, she gave J2 the greatest gift of all, she gave her life, and she gave Ellen the best gift ever, she gave her the title mommy.  Ellen has sent pictures to the bio-mom, she will continue as long as the lines of communication are open.  We realize the greatness and solemnness of that gift.  We will speak of the bio-mom with honor for she gave us G.

Ellen was not able to hold G yet because she was so frail, but the sweet nurse let Ellen life her up while they changed her bedding.  G was now a whopping 2lbs and 3oz.

Shortly after they arrived and G was settled in with her new mommy, she choked, alarms went off and in a split second Ellen and Grandma, were moving backwards while a team of nurses and doctors showed up to work on our baby.  It was very traumatic.  The amazing Children’s Hospital took a minute to explain to Ellen, that because she was a micro-preemie that would likely happen a lot, to not be alarmed that the staff was equipped to take care of our baby, but it would happen again.10641244_10203324470765323_4636259022832219510_nAfter the room settled down Grandma took a minute to pray for our GEJ2.  Please notice that my mom’s hand is normal (actually kind of smallish) and it covers the baby.  It is really hard to understand how very small she is.10411048_10203324470525317_8084336293161812653_nSaying Goodnight for the night.
They kept the beds humid and dark, just like a mothers womb.

On September 10th Mommy and Daughter were able to spend some time together.10620737_10203345309886288_2426988359149479356_nShe was so small that baby doll clothes would not fit, her hand could not even wrap around her mommy’s finger. IMG_2532So completely perfect and so precious in God’s Eyes.  A gift that no matter what we could never repay the bio-mom for.  We are forever grateful for this gift of LOVE.10616185_10203330199508538_8973521952090113762_nO and I took a visit to see her that first week. She was so tiny and so beautiful.

The months ahead held many ups and downs, G did have another choking episode, she was on a nasal cannula, she was given puffs of room quality air, at that point she did not require extra saturation oxygen, her lungs were strong enough for room air.  Because she was on the nose cannula she was at risk for an eye disease (ROP) that only happens to premature babies on oxygen, the test was quite traumatic for both baby and mommy’s, one nurse admitted it was one of the hardest parts of her job. G began showing signs of the disease But God…  he protected her, her number remained low and went lower as she grew.  She was tube fed until she was strong enough to suck, she was so small and so frail but the more her mommy held her the faster she grew.  The nurses commented on her growth which we claimed was mother love, prayer, and all the books that she was listening too. Ellen was able to kangaroo care with G for weeks and weeks, the more she held her the faster she grew, the faster she grew the stronger she became, and the more they snuggled the greater the bond between G and Ellen.   Daily Ellen left school at 3:30 and drove miles and miles to spend every minute possible with her baby girl., Saturdays and Sundays Ellen was there too,  On Sunday her grandma went along, she sat next to G and whispered payers and songs, she told her stories and how much she was loved.  Here is another gift from God, Ellen was worried about all the cost of driving and filling her tank.  But God…  God knew that Ellen was going to be going that distance every day for months, and God, who does all things well, provided Ellen with gas.  Money from friends or gift cards from students.  Ellen was given the gift of gas so she could save money.  God was such a provider for Ellen.  On weekends mother went along, she sat next to G and rocked next to Ellen, she graded papers and sang sweetly to baby G.

G was in the NICU at that great Children’s Hospital for 97 days.

IMG_2577Baby G 1 month old.  2 lbs and 9 oz.
So small the preemie onesie did not fit and the sticker was bigger than she was.10702225_10203593294965760_1010521021139057104_nBaby G at 2 months a whopping 4lbs.  Which is so small, but more than doubled her birth weight.10434003_10203770743681867_6037223041454068378_n3 months of perfect sweetness 6lbs and 8oz and 18 inches long.
{The size of a full term baby, only she was 3 months old already}

IMG_2208We took a Saturday and went out to see our new cousin.  R was so eager to hold her and was not willing to let her go when his time was up.  IMG_2209O was just as in love with baby G.  She was quite content to spend time in her cousins arms.  She had no idea what to expect from the rest of her cousins.IMG_2205She fit perfect in my arms and I will admit I was not willing to give her up when my time ran out either.  Oh to get that sweet baby home we were ready!

10802083_10203800916956180_8672946299792835471_nFinally after 97 days in the NICU GEJ2O was able to come home, just in time for Thanksgiving.  We are so thankful for this blessing in our lives.

Go hug your kids, and again look for God’s grace on your life
jen

P.S. I think part 5 will bring us up to date on our sweet G

Changes In Our Family (also In Which We See God is Faithful) part 3

Once again I am going to go back before I move forward. People were still finding our about our failed match, they were still stopping us and talking to us with tears in their eyes, they were showing love to Ellen, they were offering kind words, and sweet words.  Oh, there were a few well-meaning people who made comments that honestly were more offensive than comforting.  I think they were well intended, just offensive.  Please do not make any “well at least…”  or any “good thing…”  comments to an adoptive family who is sad and recovering from a failed match.  I’d like to think you mean well, but it does not go over well, it hurts and stings and the words echo in our head long after you think you offered comfort and left.  Really a simple “I’m so sorry” is enough, actually better than enough, it is perfect.  It shows you really care, and you really wanted things to work out.  {there I feel better}

On Sunday September 7th Ellen’s profile was shown to the bio-mom of the still critical and high risk J2.  We were anxious and we were prayerful, we were filled with nervous energy.

September 8th had us more anxious, surely we would have heard something.  Anything really, we needed an answer.  By this time in the school year we were up on stage painting for Alice In Wonderland, We had finished the garden scene and we were on to painting Wonderland.  The crew of people who work on set, have a close relationship we share each others joy and pain, we listen and we give advice, but mostly we offer friendship.

It was mid morning on September 8th.  The cafeteria was empty, save the lunch room ladies who were eating their lunch before the meal rush, the set crew was on stage working away and my kids were with me.  It was quiet and calm, I was painting and nursing PS, while little A was riding her scooter around the empty cafeteria, the other painting moms were working behind me.

My phone rang.

I looked at caller ID, it was my sister.  I’ll be honest I was afraid to answer, because I was afraid I was going to have to go find her to comfort her.  I suddenly was scared, and I wanted to ignore the phone.

“hello”

“Hi Aunt Jen”

I screamed.

I screamed so loud the lunch ladies jumped, they thought I was hurt, behind me I heard KS say “I bet Ellen is a new mom”

I could not stop the tears, I am not even sure what was said in that conversation on the phone except for Hi Aunt Jen.

After squealing and crying and laughing we hung up.  I turned to my set crew and just nodded my head.  I did not need to share my news, they knew!  I swore them to secrecy,  Ellen came on stage during lunch where we cried and hugged and laughed some more.  September 9th she was going to go in and sign papers.  Just like that I was a new aunt and just like that my mother was a new grandma!

That night we smiled a lot, we grinned and we giggled.  It was a spirit night at Chick-fil-A, while we were there taking up 2 tables, a sweet school mom came to us with tears in her eyes, she had learned of our failed adoption and she was offering comfort and sympathy.  The funny thing is we knew Ellen had a baby, we were about to bubble over in excitement, so with her sympathetic offering Ellen just kept reassuring her “God is good,”  and “it will all be for God’s glory in His perfect time”  That poor mom must have thought we were a little crazy, big grins and weird encouragement back to her.

September 8th was the longest night in Ellen’s memory.  She went to bed as a single woman, with dreams in her head about her future.  She knew in the morning she would be a mommy.  She was so anxious to get the paperwork signed, she could not wait to see her baby.10620644_10203325651674845_5093388012322019625_n

Go hug your kids, and remember the excitement of new love.
jen

 

 

 

Changes In Our Family (also In Which We See God is Faithful) part 2

Before I continue on with her story, let me back track a little bit, then I can move forward.

You see, we were still praying for our baby, our failed match, she was still heavy on our hearts, we wanted to be sure that she was going to be loved, we knew that in all reality clothing brand, or nursery style were not a top priority, but would our baby girl be loved, and comforted, would she be protected, and played with.  We still love our baby girl, and we still pray for her mom, and honestly our hearts still hurts a little bit for her.

But God…

God already knew that, he knew that with the failed match, we would still worry and love from afar, our baby girl, God knew what we were feeling, and thinking and even those last few hurt questions we would have.  {If this is what rejection felt like I cannot imagine the pain we put on Jesus when we reject his free gift of salvation.  He paid the ultimate price for our adoption into God’s family, and yet some people look at that gift, the exchange of His life for our life, and reject Him.  I cannot imagine the heartache that must cause.}  We knew we had to stay out of the “If Only” thought family.  Those are hardly trusting, and they only serve to draw us away from God, away from trust, away from moving forward.  So we marched forward.  We had a farewell lunch for the man-child, we prayed for him, and loved on him and left him in Ky.  We came home, we started school, we moved forward.   Ellen prayed daily for her new bio-mom, my mother prayed daily for comfort for Ellen and for her new grand daughter. We prayed for our niece and cousin and we prayed for her to come quickly.  We all told God we were sad, we all told God we were confused, we all told God we trusted.  We waited we prayed.

But God…

God knew what we did not know.

10410190_10203151713006487_1619532536615604690_nAugust 17th Ellen received this picture.
Not only was our family praying, our friends were praying, and Ellen’s students were praying.  A parent sent Ellen this picture, during Sunday-School the child’s teacher asked them to draw a picture of something they were praying for.  This child was praying for his teacher, and her baby to be.

10650009_10203245004178708_5250224427006463009_nAugust 19 Ellen posted this picture.

August 19th our lives were changing.  We had no idea what God was doing for Ellen.  We had no idea what God was doing for our baby, for our bio-mom, and for our family.

August 19th a bio-mom went into labor.  It was early, it was too early.  She was only 25 weeks, she knew it was early.  We were not there, but I am sure the mood in the delivery room by hospital staff was somber, I am sure the doctors and nurses tried to convey hope with the facts of reality.  I am sure there was a lot of hurried steps, and a lot of quiet conversations between the medical staff.  They realized what gravity they faced, I do not know if the bio-mom knew the gravity of the situation.

August 19th the nurses and doctors delivered twin girls J1 and J2.  They were tiny, they were so tiny that it is hard to believe.  They were beautiful but they were too tiny.  They were rushed from the hospital they were born in, to The Children’s Hospital, the hospital where they were born was not equipped to care for such small, and high risk babies.  They were taken to the best hospital in the area.  They were not given much hope, but the staff of nurses and doctors were the best.  The girls were J2- 1lb 12oz and 13 inches long.  J1 was no longer than a ruler.  A child’s school ruler could measure those precious babies.  There were wires and tubes, there were bells and whistles.  There were alarms and nurses, bright lights and scrubs.  The babies were in the best possible location.  They were getting the best possible care.  J2 was a little bigger than her sister, she was a little stronger, she was a little healthier.  J1 was smaller, she was more frail, and even with all the medical acton, the best doctors could offer J1 was not going to make it.  Then a sweet nurse took the heavy job of loving J1 and snuggling with her, she rocked J1 into Jesus arms.  She gave her warmth, and human touch, she gave her a quiet resting spot as J1 went to see Jesus.  Juliette is now resting in heaven waiting for her family.  She did not suffer and die alone, she was rocked, she was loved and she was cared for.

But God…

God already knew that when we learned this part of our baby’s story, we would hurt and cry for a little lost lamb.

This is not the end of her story J2 was stable, she was holding steady and she was getting the best possible care.  That Children’s Hospital was part of God’s plan for Ellen, for us and for our baby.

Baby J2 continued on steady, she has some ups and some downs, she gained the littlest of weight and grew the smallest amount.  And she waited…

September 5th.  Ellen and our mother decided to forgo the preseason football game in sweltering heat.  They decided to go shopping to finish off baby girl’s closet.  We still had no baby, but we were still trusting that God, who knows all things, had a plan for our lives.  On the way over, mother and Ellen were talking about her baby, and the desires of Ellen’s heart.  She admitted that she did not know if she could ride the pregnancy/adoption roller coaster again.  It was emotionally exhausting and she was not sure she wanted that ride, she would do it all over again and again if that was God’s plan, she was just not sure her heart could handle that again.  What she really wanted was a ‘stork drop’ a baby who was born and then the bio-mom chose adoption.  No holding her breath for months, no worry every time contact was lost, a baby who was already here whose mom knew that she could not parent that baby like the baby deserved.

God was in Ikea when Ellen’s phone rang.  God was with Ellen on a bed in Ikea when she sat down to take that call, the agency wanted to know if she would consider being a mommy to a very critical pre-term baby girl.  Ellen asked them to give her a few minutes.  She called me, I wish I could remember the conversation correctly, but what I do remember is the question she asked me.  There is a pre-term baby girl, she was 25 weeks gestation, should I let them show my profile to the bio-mom.  Oh the joy in my heart.  My answer was an instant YES!  Yes we will take that baby, she is our baby!  I knew in my heart that J2 was our answer to prayer.

Ellen called the agency back, Yes, please show my profile.  I will be J2’s mommy, I do not care what medical needs she might have, I love her already and I am ready for the challenges of being a NICU mommy.

Saturday Sept 6th was a long day…  We waited by our phones, we paced, we prayed, we were not peaceful we were anxious and we kept crying out to God.

Sunday Sept 7th the agency showed the bio-mom Ellen’s profile, but their printer was not working, she was only able to see a few pages of Ellen’s photo album (the agency had an album to show what Ellen’s life was like) they faxed it and not all of it came through.  But God… God knew, and God had a plan.

Sept 8th my phone rang…

Go hug your kids, think about the strong bond of love you share with someone.  Tell them you love them, that they are treasured.

jen

 

Changes in Our Family (also In Which We See God Is Faithful) Part 1

So, like I promised some Changing News.

This is a long one.  It is so long in fact that it will likely be a 2 part or 3 part series.  Just depending on how quiet the girlies are while I write this story.

All set?

Ok, if you will remember last year, March to be exact I announced that a biological mom had chosen my sister to be her child’s ‘forever mom’, do you remember?  I posted our excitement and thankfulness for God’s goodness on our lives.  We were so thankful for this mom and her gift to us.  My sister began putting money to the bio-mom’s account (per the adoption agency policy-lest you think she did anything dishonest) and we all began praying for her, and loving her from afar.  (how can you not love the woman who is going to give you her child?)  As school drew to a close, the bio-mom wanted to meet my sister.  So it was decided that Ellen would drive up to meet her.  (In the beginning the bio-mom lived in a different state, by the time they were going to meet the bio mom had moved to the very farthest corner of our state)  So Ellen, my mother and O went up to meet her, planning on taking her out to lunch, loving her, getting to know her, and then going to the doctor’s office with her to hear our babies heart beating and get any other medical news we would need.  Through a series of unfortunate events, it was determined that the 3 travelers would only get to go to the doctor’s office.  After returning home from the visit, the bio-mom made it increasingly difficult to get in touch.  With 2 days left to her due date the bio-mom texted her agency she changed her mind, she was not going to give Ellen her baby.  She was going to keep our baby girl.  We were left speechless, and dumbfounded.  We were blindsided by this news, and struggled to cope.  We knew God had a plan, we were so sure that baby girl was our plan.  We cried, we sobbed, we got angry (okay I got angry, I was very angry) but strangely enough my sister did not get angry with the bio-mom, she was sad for her and she was scared for baby girl, but she never got angry.  (I did, I was very angry HOW could anyone do THAT to my sister?  What was she thinking? Why had she changed her mind, this was not best for our baby.-I might still be a little bitter)  We all suffered and began the slow process of healing from that loss.  My sister had a brand new room all outfitted for baby girl, she had clean sheets in the crib, and her hospital bag packed and sitting by the door, she had plans drawn up, the car seat was buckled in her car, the stroller was in the trunk.  Now this woman has dealt us a blow that we did not know how to recover, it was like a death to us.  July was an extremely difficult month for us.  Slowly we began to recover, our hearts began to mend.  Through it all we knew that God had a plan, we assumed that baby girl was our plan, we trusted God, but we were confused and hurt. Did you know that you can trust God and still be sad or hurt?  Yes, God knows your emotions and your heart and He is the one who created you and that pile of emotions you have!  God knew best for our lives, we trusted him, but we were so sad, we were surprised at the change of His plans for our families.  July turned to August, which was difficult in a different way, school was starting, at the end of the school year, all of my sisters students, current and former had celebrated her great news, now she would have to share over and over the loss in her life.

But God…

You see this is the happy start of our story .  Or actually the amazing showing of God’s faithfulness in Ellen’s life.

But God…

But God knew what was best for us, God knew Ellen’s needs, God loved my sister more than I did, more than my mom did,  God loved Ellen so much more than we can grasp.  God had a perfect plan for Ellen and her future.10478113_10202860306921517_6834142442920912498_n-1

Soon after school started, August 19th actually, a young woman went into labor…

Go hug your kids, and look for the rest of the story.  While you are waiting, look for some But God… in your life,  Look to see how God shows Himself faithful over and over in your life.

jen

Hello, Is Anyone Out There?

Hello?
Hello, is anyone there?
Hello

Knock-Knock
Hey, I’m back…

Hello?
Anyone?

So I think I have been off blog for most of 2015.  Things happen, both planned and surprises for us.  Some were good, some not so good, but all point to God and His sovereign plan over our lives.  At times it is easy to trust God, and know that before time began He had a perfect plan for our lives and our family, while I like the things I feel are good I have to trust Him during the hard times. 11257675_10207543588894086_901037984_nThe 3 little girls and I took a road trip to go collect the man-child from college.  We were so good at the road trip that we took a 28 hour trip and turned it into 36 hours.  We found this peach orchard along the way.  It has an amazing playground and plenty of picnic area, along with a restaurant (try the peach milkshake or peach bread)11256528_10207543587534052_2034265109_nThis kid is home from college.  And due to some changes he will not be returning to that great college in Ky.  I wish he was going back, I advised him to go back…  But he is not going back, and right now he is not going anywhere.  He will be continuing his education some place I just don’t know where yet.  I am sure I will keep you posted, we all know I love that boy but he has GOT to go away to school.10364506_10207543590774133_750268405_nThis upside down kid is now a middle schooler in 8 more days.
Making changes faster than I can keep up.   11349028_10207543586694031_655761735_nChild #3 is now in braces.  I cannot believe how fast his mouth is changing.  He looks different already.  Much to O’s complaining, R has hardly had any mouth pain, except that his teeth have moved so much the wire has been clipped once and has to be clipped again before his appointment in a few weeks.11334710_10207543577933812_1398912597_nSomeone has been visited by the tooth fairy 3 times already.  How is it possible?!?!  She is changing and growing up right before my eyes.11351527_10207543574853735_583382095_nBig changes are coming for these two best buddies.  In the fall one begins her education, while the other completes her high school career.  I can promise that a lot more of us will be crying this year.  You all know I hate that kind of change!11182280_10205595550662103_891469623891840590_nThe littlest one is now walking, she can walk easily behind the couch but gets stuck when she wants to turn her head.  11329705_10207544067746057_787907084_nI can’t believe how big she is getting.  IMG_2673(Can you see the biggest change we are experiencing?)
In a day or so I will update the big change.

What about you?  How have things changed this year?

Go hug your kids, they need your love
jen