Monday, December 31, 2007

Christmas, CT Scans, Pneumonia - OH MY!

Here's a quick rundown on the holidays and after. Kate currently has pneumonia and is pretty much velcroed to me, so typing time is limited. By the way, the pics are all from Christmastime -- meaning that they might not match the exact date.

CHRISTMAS EVE - Family Church Service that was absolutely incredible.

The Children's Ministry ran the show and it was a show. They had a Johnny Carson style tv show and interviewed key Christmas characters who talked about how their "role" in the holiday was to honor the baby Jesus. Very sweet and well-done. Kate was too young to "get it" but it gave me so many ideas of how to explain things each year.

When Santa showed up, kids stood on their seats and shouted out, "Hey Santa! Hey, hey, it's me." One kid piped up with "I been real good Santa." Too funny!

At the end of the service, all kids were invited up to sing and hold their glow stick candles to represent the gift of Jesus which is the "light in our hearts." Kate threw her glow stick down and picked up the gymnast ribbon that they had used in an earlier performance and communed with Jesus in her own Kate way. Then she picked her nose.


Gifts galore, but the highlight was being with Kate, Scott and my folks. Kate's favorite gift? A singing Eeyore whose batteries we've already had to replace.

My favorite part of the day was enjoying Kate but also thinking about next year, when there would be TWO little kiddos making the holiday merry. Addison even got a t-shirt that says "Little Guy" on it and Scott got one that said "Big Guy." So sweet. Thanks, Mom!

Kate LOVES her cousin, Sebastian! Sebastian loves her too, but is not so into the pda (public displays of affection)....

DEC. 26th
My mom goes into the hospital with atrial fibrillation. She was having some real shortness of breath while she was here, but we all attributed it to the lovely red tide we're experiencing combined with allergies. On Christmas she mentioned that she has what her dog has, which is congestive heart failure. She says it rather tongue-in-cheek, so I was very surprised when she called me from the hospital. Thankfully, she was discharged yesterday and is getting appropriate treatment.

DEC. 27th
Kate goes in for a long-awaited CT scan to make sure that the "growth plates" in her head have not prematurely closed. We also have one vial of bloodwork scheduled whie she's sedated. The CT procedure was no problem. We were done in 35 minutes, including getting Kate sedated. The bloodwork? T-H-R-E-E flippin' hours of us restraining Kate (once the needle went in, the sedation went away), calling in the IV team, using warm compresses. We needed a measley 4 cc's of blood. After three hours, we had 2.5 and called it quits. They sent it in (to test for Fragile X syndrome) but don't think it will be enough. Poor baby is all bruised up.

DEC. 28th
Kate goes in for an EEG to rule out absent seizures. The tech. tries to convince me that she can get Kate to cooperate. I got with the program but thought "are you KIDDING me???" After all, Kate won't let me even put a barrette in her hair and this woman who doesn't know my child thinks she'll tolerate all these leads and wires and goo?
After 30 minutes of coaxing and Kate getting repeatedly anxious, we did it my way: I restrained her and we just got it over with. I will say that when they did the flashing lights that Kate stopped crying and was fascinated. Results on Wednesday!

DEC. 29th
Kate wakes up with a fever that goes to 104. Poor, poor baby.

DEC. 31st
Kate diagnosed with pneumonia, but it did take the pediatrician a while to make that diagnosis because whatever she was trying to hear was very faint. Since Kate hasn't been on antibiotics in nearly a year, I'm really hoping they do the trick quickly.

Despite a crazy week, the holidays were still fantastic as was the entire year. We are blessed beyond measure and hope that 2008 brings you as much joy as 2007 has brought us.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Adoption Ministry Christmas Message

Click on the picture to make it larger (it will appear in a new window).
This is the Christmas message we sent out as part of our
Adoption Ministry program at church.
Enjoy and hug your kiddos tight. We are all blessed.


The paper chase is OVER! We just sent our I-171H to the consulate for authentication and then they'll send it to our agency, who will compile and translate our dossier. We are officially DONE on our end -- woo hoo!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Get Inspired - Signing Time is Going to Ghana

Signing Time has partnered with Signs Of Hope International - they have created internships for Americans who know ASL to go teach the teachers. They also have a teacher incentive program, to encourage the teachers to show up to class and to learn ASL.

Why Ghana?
Ghana is the size of Oregon. They have 13 schools for the deaf. Deaf children start school at the age of 5. Many are dropped off for their 3 month semester and their families never come back to pick them up. A week after the semester ends, an orphanage bus comes to get the children who have been left.

Many of the families cannot afford the tuition $83 per semester. Many families are embarrassed that their child is deaf.

The teachers have no background in Deaf Ed. They finish college and are assigned to teach at a school. Most teachers are unhappy to find they are assigned to a deaf school. They do not know the language and have no proof that these deaf children CAN be taught.

I learned about a student, Silvia that goes to a special school for the deaf in Mampong, Ghana. Apparently, Silvia was born hearing and attended the hearing schools until she was devastated by a sickness that left her deaf. A few short years later another sickness caused her to lose her sight and become blind.

Now without hearing and vision Silvia struggles to learn and progress and wants so much to be in a classroom where she can learn. I feel that Silvia deserves an opportunity to become what she hopes for!

Organizations like Signs of Hope International have found that most teachers are entering the deaf schools without proper sign language education. Because of the lack of suitable resources, deaf children are struggling to learn and progress using sign language to enhance their education.

In Ghana deaf children have extremely limited rights and opportunities compared to deaf children in the United States. Like Silvia, any students at the schools for the deaf in Ghana struggle to receive an education, and it was not too long ago that some headmasters at the high school for the deaf have finally allowed girls to attend too.

When Leah heard this, she was distraught. Her eyes were full of tears and she said, “Mom!! We have to do something!! I’m deaf and I’m a girl and if I was born in Ghana I wouldn’t have a chance!”

Leah’s Wish
While filming the last Signing Time shows we interviewed Leah and I asked her what she wants to be when she grows up. She said, “I want to be a writer and make books or a teacher for the deaf African kids that don’t know sign yet. At these schools the teachers don’t know anything about the deaf and ASL.”

Well, Leah will not have to wait until she has grown up. We have partnered with Signs Of Hope International - they have created internships for Americans who know ASL to go teach the teachers. They also have a teacher incentive program, to encourage the teachers to show up to class and to learn ASL.

We are looking to make this a yearly trip, where we can go inspire, teach and show these children the possibilities for their futures. It is our goal that on our future trips we will not only teach and inspire, but we will be building playgrounds and dormitories at these schools as well.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Adding Addison - Update

Adding Addison to our family is taking longer than we had hoped, but things are moving along. All but one of our dossier documents are at the Chinese Consulate in Houston and then will be sent to our agency. We are waiting on one document to be returned from the secretary of state, which we will then send to the consulate.

We anticipate our dossier being logged in at the CCAA in China by January 15th. From there, the wait will probably look something like this:

Approximately 90 days after our log-in date, we should receive our LOA (Letter of Acceptance) that is China's way to officially match us with Addison.

About 4 - 6 weeks after LOA, we should get TA (travel approval).

We should leave for China about 2 - 4 weeks after TA.

So when do we travel? My sad guess is June, but I'm praying, praying, praying for sooner.

In the meantime, we just sent a Christmas cake to him and his foster family, along with a letter, questions to answer and two disposable cameras. Although Christmas is not celebrated everywhere in China, it is becoming popular and what kid doesn't like cake???

More news about another change in my life soon.... (Hint: I might be waiting for my son, but I'll have about 125 kiddos to call mine in January.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Brittany's Hope Foundation

Brittany's Hope Foundation is a relatively small organization with BIG impact. It seeks to find forever families for children with special needs -- especially children who are considered "difficult to place" for whatever reason.

Addison is the lucky recipient of one of their generous grants -- and it really has made a difference in our ability to adopt him. Adoption is EXPENSIVE, as many of you know, and when we saw that there was a grant attached to him, it made us really consider adopting. Before that, we were thinking about it, but just had NO IDEA how we could manage it. Brittany's Hope is a very real part in making us a family of four.

I hope that you will visit their website and check out all the great work they are doing:
And who knows? You may just look into the eyes of a child there and know that your home is his home or her home. You just never know....

Part of our receiving the grant is "paying it forward" and spreading the word about the great work they do. If you would like to make a donation to the foundation, whose monies go directly to finding homes for children, you can visit this site:

An excerpt from the Brittany's Hope website:
The inspiration behind the foundation
Brittany's Hope Foundation was created in January 2000 for the purpose of advocating for orphaned special needs children who are longing for the love of a family. Our foundation was inspired by our first adopted child, Brittany who we adopted when she was 12 years old.

While Brittany was home for Christmas break in January 1999, during her senior year in college, her life was tragically cut short as a result of a car accident.

She was pursuing a career in social work and hoped to help waiting children find loving families. As we reflected upon the person that Brittany was and the work that she planned to do, we remembered a conversation she shared shortly before her death. She stated she "dreamed of a world where all children know the peace and love only a family can provide."

Although Brittany was unable to pursue her dreams, we wanted to honor her life by beginning the work she intended. As a result, Brittany's Hope Foundation was born. We believe every child deserves to know the love and security only a family can provide; our foundation reflects this passion. Through our work, we advocate for children who would likely spend their lives in an orphanage as a result of a disability or simply because they are older than the more desirable infant.

Sometimes our advocacy means the difference between whether or not the child even survives, such as our heart baby cases. Although we are a small organization, we provide hope and love to children from around the world by helping them find their forever families.

It's a beautiful organization who so freely gives of its time, talent and financial resources to change the lives of children and families. Please keep them in your prayers at the holiday season and always. I'm sure they miss their daughter greatly, especially at this time of the year.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Happy Birthday to My Daddy!

On your birthday, I want to thank you for some of what you have given to me:

Thank you for
Saturday mornings together
Dunkin Donuts
hardware store visits
letting me buy that dolly after I saved my allowance for the whole day
teaching me to ride a bike
showing me how to make a fist
opening the door so I could show that bully my fighting fists
never allowing me to talk disrespectfully about mom
showing me how to pray as a child
always keeping me in your prayers
the dogs
the cats
the lizards
the birds
the endless trips to pet stores
respecting my viewpoints
sticking up for me to your parents
sharing banana splits
watching me walk to school
schooling me in the art of poker
and boxing
and country music
all your stories about life learned the hard way
all your jokes that always made me laugh

Thank you
for your love
unending support.
I am lucky to be your daughter.
I am blessed to be your friend.

You are my first and forever love, Daddy.

Your babydoll,


PS: Can't wait to see you in January!!!! Kate sends birthday wishes to her Opa and Scott sends his birthday wishes too. We all love you!