Hacksaw Ridge

Last night, David and I watched Hacksaw Ridge.  Most of you have probably seen it, or have at least heard of it, but I am a bit behind on movies these days because the need for sleep in my life is a very real thing #lifewith4kidsand3dogs.

I can’t handle watching violence and anything with blood makes me nauseous, so as you can imagine, this movie made me turn my head and cover my eyes quite a few times.  The violence wasn’t unnecessary, it was actually needed to convey the story of war.  I was a history major in college, so movies like this may be hard for me to watch, but my desire to learn more about our American and world story, is strong enough for me to be able to look the other way and trust David to tell me when the worst part is over.

If you don’t know the story of Desmond Doss, I will give you a very brief overview. Desmond signed up to serve in World War II as a medic.  He had spiritual and historical reasons for not believing in holding a gun, but he signed up believing that he could save lives rather than take them.  I don’t know enough about Desmond to know if the quirky character portrayal by Andrew Garfield was accurate, but if it was, you will immediately want to invite Desmond over for milk and cookies.  He is a simple man who stands by what he believes and I just loved him.

Desmond’s unit was assigned to taking on Hacksaw Ridge in Okinawa.  Without going into too much detail, I will just say that it was a horrific battle with many, many casualties.  At the end of one of the days there, the Americans retreated because they were losing men like crazy.  As Desmond sees everyone retreating, he also sees all the men that are still there, hurt and unable to leave on their own.  So he stays.  I don’t want to give away too many spoilers, so I won’t say how he saves so many, but I will say that after he saved a soldier, he would keep praying to God “just one more, let me save just one more”.

At one point, Desmond is all bloody and dodging bullets to save his fellow soldiers and I got a picture in my head of Jesus saving us.  Desmond is out there with no weapons and against an enemy that is coming after him and his fellow soldiers with all that they got.  Doesn’t that remind you of Jesus?  He came down to this bloody, sin filled world all to save us.  He had all the power of God and chose not to use it as he was hanging on the cross.  One word would have ended it all and He chose to lay down His weapons to save us.  He covered Himself in the blood and dirt and filth of this world, just to come down to our level and “save just one more, just one more”. He would have stayed here and done everything He did to save just one of us, just one.

I think this has two lessons for me.  One, of course, is the lesson that I will never be able to comprehend.  How a God that is so much higher than us chose to come down to Earth and be with us, just to save us.  I will never be able to fully understand how He could love us so.  The second lesson for me is what is my “just one more”?  I believe 100% that the only reason Desmond was able to save every person that he did was because he had Divine Protection. God had called him to that and He was faithful in protecting him while he completed his mission at Hacksaw Ridge.  For me, I know that our “just one more” calling was adopting our son.  The orphan crisis seems so insurmountable that adopting just one child out of millions and millions that need families did not seem like I was doing much, but Bennett was our “just one more”.  My question for you is what is your “just one more”?  Is it adopting?  Is it sacrificing something else so that “just one more” is saved?  Is it counseling a single pregnant woman and helping her so that she decides against abortion your “just one more”?  Is it loving someone who makes it difficult your “just one more”?  I think God has given all of us a “just one more”.  I know that Bennett was one of ours, but I believe He has more for us as long as we are willing to say yes. We all have another “just one more” as long as we have breath in our lungs and a heart willing to follow wherever He leads.

A Letter to Bennett’s Birth Mama

The other night as I was snuggling Bennett to sleep, my thoughts kept going to his birth mama.  I kept thinking about how she must be wondering what her baby boy is like, where he is living, and if he is okay.  I thought I would share the letter I wrote to her on here.

Dear Bennett’s Birth Mama,

I imagine that you spend a lot of time thinking about your baby boy and wondering what happened to him.  Before I even start telling you about him, I want to say thank you.  Thank you for choosing life for your baby.  I do not know if you had any other children or if Bennett’s medical need is why you could not raise him, but thank you for choosing life for him.

I don’t know the circumstances surrounding when you left him, but I always picture you leaving him with tears streaming down your cheeks.  You left him in a very busy place, so I know you wanted him to be found.  He was five days old when he was left by you, I imagine that you spent those first five days holding him and praying that somehow things were not as bad as they seemed.  Once he became so sick that you had no other choice, you kissed his sweet cheeks, his dimples, his beautiful eyes and said good bye.  You did not have the money to pay for his surgery, so you left him in hopes that he would receive his surgery because this is the only way in your country.

I want you to know that he was found.  He was in rough shape, but he was found.  He is a miracle.  He was found on Christmas Eve and his life was saved on Christmas Day.  The doctors did it, they saved your little boy’s life!  He had a rough surgery and time in the hospital, but as you know, our boy is strong.  He went to an orphanage from there and he was well loved.  I have walked in the doors of that orphanage and seen the faces of the children in there.  They desperately need families, but they are loved.  About two months after his first surgery, he had to undergo another major surgery.  He was hospitalized for over three weeks again and then went back to the orphanage.  At seven months old, he went to live with his foster grandma.  I never met her, but I have seen her in pictures and have heard about her from our agency.  She spoiled him like any grandma would do.  She loved him well.

On July 19, 2014, I felt a clear tug on my heart from God that it was time to start our adoption process.  That night I saw our boy’s face and I knew he was going to come home to our family.  We loved him from the first second we saw his face.  We faced so many obstacles bringing him home, but God was faithful, and He showed up in ways that only He can.  We pursued Bennett like only a mother and father could because we knew he was going to have a family again.

When we sent the package to Bennett in China, his foster grandma did a great job preparing him to come home.  I wish I could have met her to thank her for this.  She was his caretaker, his embrace to go to when he was sad, the one who rocked him to sleep at night for two years.  I will never be able to thank her enough for how she loved our boy.

Bennett is home now, with his forever family.  I am so sorry that you were not able to raise your son.  He is a gift to us and we will never take that for granted.  He has an older brother, an older sister, and a “twin” sister.  We truly love him just like our biological children and they see him as just as much a sibling as the rest of their siblings.  He has a whole community of people who pulled together to bring him home.  He is loved.  He. is. loved.

I want to tell you about him too.  He is funny and smart and wild and kind and crazy and beautiful.  He is learning english quick and has made communicating with him so much easier than we thought it could possibly be.  He is into everything.  All the time.  He likes to unlock windows, pull things down, leave sinks running, shut doors, turn off lights, empty everything, climb on things, jump on the bed…I think you get the idea.  He makes sure we are exhausted by bed time.  He says “don’t touch” often, so you can imagine what he has to hear from us many times a day.  He can be gentle with our dogs, but we are working on making sure that is the case 100% of the time.  As soon as he hears music, he starts dancing.  He snuggles us to fall asleep at night (and actually just curled up on my lap and fell asleep for his nap as I was typing this!).  He shares a room with his big brother, but if he wakes up in the middle of the night, he knows exactly how to get to our bed.  He played in the snow the other day and only lasted five minutes.  He had high ambitions for the day, but he was not quite a fan.  He loves pizza, peanut butter and jelly, and yogurt.  He is so, so handsome.

He has surgery next week with one of the best colorectal surgeons in the country.  He is going to be in great hands, but we are still scared.  He is going to get all the care he needs here, but I have fallen for that boy so hard, it makes the thought of him going into surgery unbearable.  We promise that we will take good care of him.

We promise to always talk about China with Bennett and to let him know how much you loved him.  You loved him enough to get the medical care he needed to save his life.  We promise that we will always speak of you with love and respect in this house.  We pray that you will come to know Jesus and that you will be able to get to know your son in Heaven one day.

We can not thank you enough for this boy.

Love,

Bennett’s Second Mama

Hey There!

So I have neglected this blog over the past few months.  I have been doing quick updates on our Facebook page because it was the easiest to do when we had so much going on.  I have so many things to write about from our trip to China, but I still have not had the time to mentally process everything.  For now, I wanted to just get on here and give a few quick updates.

*Bennett is doing great.  We certainly have our issues and every day presents a new challenge, but we are also seeing him make progress in areas already.  For example, when we first came home, he was in the refrigerator CONSTANTLY.  I mean all. the time.  We had read that this is common for newly adopted children.  They need to know that they will always have enough food.  So, we let him take food from there as often as he wanted.  We learned quickly to have small sized food available in there as he generally would just take one bite and then feed the dogs.  He was fine with this, the dogs were not.  We have already noticed that he now only gets in the fridge when he is actually hungry.  This is huge progress for just one month.

*He is learning new words every day.  He says “Don’t Touch” a lot, so you can imagine what he hears from us often 🙂  He likes to see how electrical outlets work, need I say more?  We are impressed with how he is picking up language.

*His physical need is more severe than we thought and it looks like he will need surgery soon.  This was of course disappointing to discover, but not totally a surprise.  When you adopt a child, any child, but especially a child with known medical special needs, you have to prepare yourself for things to be worse than you think they can be.  Thankfully, we have an amazing hospital right here in our city, so we know he will be getting awesome care.

*We are feeling relief at being out of the waiting stage for adoption.  Though our journey to Bennett was unbelievable, it feels good to be on the other side.  Now we are in the waiting stages of moving, so that has made some new things for us to have to do and process, but we are hoping that God would allow us to sell our house and move soon.  We really want to be closer to our kids’ school, our church, and so many of the people we do life with.

*The big kids are adjusting well to Bennett.  Brady and Ella get annoyed with having another baby getting into all of their stuff, but they handle it pretty well.  Kinsley is struggling.  She has been not only our baby, but Brady and Ella’s baby for three years.  This is not an exaggeration, Brady has always referred to her as “his baby”.  For her to have another little kid around has been hard.  She still gets plenty of attention, but it is still hard for her.

*David and I just want to sleep!  At one point last night we had all four kids awake and it is really tiring.  We can’t be at our best when we are so stinking tired.  So now, we are just praying that everyone starts sleeping through the night and in their own beds!

Thank you for all of your support!  I will update with more on our China trip soon.

Gifts for Bennett!

We were able to send gifts to our son!

The company we used to send Bennett a package sent us pictures of what he received:

Package 1

The panda backpack has a note on it for his foster parents  It asks them to put any special belongings to Bennett in it so that he can keep them with him.  The disposable camera is for his foster parents to take pictures of him.  The letter is a 400 word letter we wrote to Bennett that was translated.  There is also a fresh cake that will be sent to him and his foster family.

Package 2

The photo album we chose only had six photo sleeves.  We chose to do this over the twenty photo option because we thought that would be overwhelming for him.  We included a picture of each of us and also of Bax, since he is our biggest dog.  Hopefully he will love Bax as much as the other kids!  Bax is huge, but he is actually a really sweet dog.

We spoke with Keely yesterday.  She is one of the volunteers who goes to China every few months to do evaluations on the children in the special needs program.  We were able to give her a list of questions that she is going to do her best to find answers to while there.  We want to know if he has any nicknames that he goes by, how his language development is, how his scar from surgery is healing and if he is having any issues, what foods he likes, what soothes him, how he reacts to strangers, and a few other things.  It is so crazy to think that this boy we love so much and have loved for fourteen months will see us as strangers, but that is the reality of adoption.  Keely is going to deliver the recordable storybook we sent over.  We chose “Goodnight Moon” because it is a favorite at our house.  We decided to just have David and myself reading it because too many voices might have been too much for him.  Keely is going to record him opening it and send us the video!  Most importantly, I asked Keely to hug him for us.  I couldn’t ask her to do this without tearing up on the phone.  I so wish it were us going to see him!

We have almost all of our financial needs met.  We are really, really close.  This community has loved us and our son well.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

He’s Almost Home!!!!

It is September, which means fall is right around the corner (I don’t even want to talk about the 90 degree temperatures we are having now, I decorated the house for fall and bought my pumpkin spice creamer!).  I always love fall the most, but this year, it is the season when we will be bringing our son home!!!!!

So here is an update.  We received our official referral.  It was just as emotional as everyone said it would be.  When I saw our caseworker’s name pop up on my phone, I knew what it meant.  She then sent me the official LSC from China over an email scan (it has since been mailed so that we have the original).  As soon as I opened it, the tears started flowing.  To see our names on the same page as his, was nothing short of a miracle.  This little boy, whose face we saw last July 19th, who we were told we would not be able to adopt, is now ours.  He is our son.

Because Bennett was officially referred to us and we accepted the referral, his foster family is being notified that he is being adopted.  Please pray for them.  They have been his family for over two years.  I can not imagine how hard this must be for them.  We were able to send a package to him.  There are some organizations in China that you can buy packages through and they then deliver the package to your child.  We were able to send photos of all of us (and Bax, we wanted him to see our gigantic dog before he came home).  We were also able to write a letter that they are translating for him.  With him being only 2, we know the letter is pretty much for his foster parents.  We hope that it brings them some comfort knowing who Bennett is coming home to.

Our agency is amazing.  They have a group of volunteers that travel to China about every six months.  These people are occupational therapists and physical therapists, mainly.  They spend countless hours in the orphanages doing evaluations on all of the children with special needs.  This helps them to be able to advocate for the children better and to be able to help out families who are already matched.  We can send questions we have and they will do their best to find the answers we need.  This time we were able to send a gift as well.  They are going to record him receiving it and then send us the video.  We asked if we could send a recordable storybook, so he could hear our voices, and they said they could make it happen!  So, last night, David and I recorded ourselves reading “Goodnight Moon” to him.  It is a favorite book around here, so we hope he likes it too!

Please keep us in your prayers.  We are SO CLOSE!!  It is going to be really hard leaving the girls home for two weeks, but we do know that is best.

Many of you have been asking some of the same questions, so I will answer those here:

  • When can we meet Bennett?  This is a tricky one.  We want to say “right away”!!!  That would not be the best thing for him though.  He is going to be very confused and trying to figure out which of these crazy people are his parents.  He needs to form healthy attachments to us.  When we first bring him home, David and I will be the only ones caring for him.  No one else can give him food, change his diaper, or do any basic care.  This may seem extreme, but we have done our research.  The experts in attachment and adoption, as well as other adoptive parents, have assured us that this is the best way to help him.  Many times, when adoptive children come home, the parents will need to nurture these children in ways that is more common for infants.  We may need to hold Bennett and give him a bottle.  We know he is almost three, but really think about it.  He never had that care when he was an infant.  He most likely had a bottle propped up under his chin.  Those connections were never made.  Now, we don’t know that we will have to do that, but that is just one example.  So….to answer your question, we don’t know.  We hope soon!  We can not wait to introduce him to all of you, but he is our number one concern.  We will make decisions that are best for him and we trust that you will respect that.
  • Okay, can we at least be at the airport when you come home?  Yes!  There will be many people at the airport already because, you know, it is an airport.  We would love to have you there.  We have a friend who has offered to come and film the whole thing.  How fun for Bennett to look back on one day!  However, Ella and Kinsley will be the only ones actually meeting him there.  We will ask everyone else to smile and wave, but that is about it.  Also, we will have been traveling for over a day, so….
  • Can we bring meals to you after he comes home? Yep.  The first two times we had babies, I said no because I felt bad about asking people to help.  My hospitality team blew us away with meals and gift cards after Kinsley was born and it was so incredibly helpful.  We would love to have some meals covered as we will have our hands full.
  • Where are you financially? We are so stinking close!  We are just a few thousand short of having all of our expenses covered.  If you are still interested in donating, please contact me.  We can not even begin to thank everyone enough.  I just start crying when I think about it.

Okay, I am off to snuggle with Kinsley while the big kids are at school.  We love you.

Abundance

God has provided for us financially every single step of the way through our adoption journey.  We have had the money for our expenses right when we needed them. Every single time.  You would think that this far into it, I would know that and have faith that the remaining funds would be there, but that has not been the case.  I still struggle.

I have a little secret.  Most adoptive parents are counting down the days from their LID (log in date) to their LOA (letter of acceptance/also knows as LSC now) because the official referral would be behind that shortly.  Well, I wasn’t.  I was not counting down the days because I knew with our official referral came a bill for $4,250.  The remaining fee we owed to our agency.  Last week I started having some bad anxiety about this because I had no idea how we would pay it.  Our adoption fund well had become dry.  I prayed and prayed about.  I told God that I knew He would provide and that He always has, yet I just did not see where this money would come from.  We have already been blessed so much, I could not see how there was anything left.

And then a few days later, I received an email from a grant we had applied for.  We had been awarded a $5,000 grant and the check had been sent to our agency.  Our bill had been paid before it had even been issued.  And what is more??? Just five days later I received a phone call from another grant that we had applied for and we had been awarded a $2,000 grant from them.  We prayed for $4,250 and God provided us with $7,000.  That is just like God, isn’t it?

Thank you for your prayers. Our God is good, we know He will provide all that we need.

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