Wednesday, September 30, 2009

GLA Fundraiser...

So, most of you know that I am a photographer, but I actually graduated college with a BA in Graphic Design. I just have used my photography WAY MORE than any designing. So, when the opportunity arises to use my design skills, it is always a lot of fun.

So, for the GLA fundraiser, I was in charge of designing the tickets, posters, and postcards for the event. Selah and Avalon will be doing a private concert just to benefit GLA. I LOVE,LOVE, LOVE Selah so I am so pumped to be within driving distance to go to the concert. John and Dixie will be there too, and the next day will be the Haiti gathering. So, it will be a great weekend.

The beautiful subject in the poster is Bo Watson, more than likely. He has an identical twin brother, Noah, but Laurie is pretty sure that this is Bo. They are gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!!!! I took a bunch of pics of them when I went to get Jonas at GLA, and I had to use this one for the poster. There is so much purity and innocence about the photo. No clothes--I LOVE SKIN-- (they had just got done playing in the 'pool'.), just beautiful chocolate brown skin, and amazing facial features!!! I love those boys... they are a hoot!!!

So, if you are anywhere near MI, November 13th, come on out and enjoy a night that will benefit GLA!!!

(Here are a couple other pics of the boys that day...) Just moments before these pics they were all smiles, having a blast in the water. We had to take them out because one of them pooped in the water... so, I was not their favorite person... :-) If you read Laurie's blog at all, you will know that poop has been a theme for them lately...they had A LOT of buggers in their bellies!!!

Friday, September 25, 2009


That's right! 34,000 hits.... That's crazy... So, who are all of you that read my blog???? I would love to know!!!!!!!!!!!! Is there anything you want to know about our crazy brood that I have never shared??? Ask away... :-)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

House Showing...

Pray, Pray, Pray!!!!!!!!! It has been weeks since we showed our house, and our realtor group just called and someone wants to come through it tonight... YIKES!!!!!!!!!! This summer I made sure that our house was in "showing" condition most every day. Well, I have become complacent with the lack of showings. Not that it would take long to get it looking great, but I have 2 kiddos here and 2 more to get off the bus in 20 minutes. Nothing like an adrenaline rush!!!!! :-)
Okay, the realtor just called and they are going to come through the house on Thursday... Whew... :-) I guess you know what I will be doing tonight, and tomorrow.... Getting my house to look like Martha Stewart's... lol...

PLEASE PRAY THAT OUR HOUSE SELLS!!!!! I packed up all of our winter clothes this summer to make our closets really spacious, and I will be so depressed if I have to unpack winter clothes and box up summer clothes...


Here is a visual tour of our house...

Monday, September 14, 2009

3 Posts Yesterday...

I know, it must be a record. Just a FYI if you wanted to read them all. :-)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Why Have We Been Called???

We have been asked multiple times why we would ever adopt special needs children??? I get it, I was once there, and then God BLESSED us with Hannah and Micah and He let us see through His eyes how He loves the world. We feel very privileged to be given Hannah and Micah. Is caring for Jonas an easy task. ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!!!! Would we do it differently if given the chance? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! God has not called us to an easy life. Jonas amazes us every day with his problem solving skills: even if it is how to get into a diaper that is impossible (mom thought) to get in to!!! :-) These are great signs of his brain developing every single day! Even if it does mean a poopy mess. I will show you my new invention, and if he can figure this out, he might be borderline genius!!! :-) (Katie Todd: you are going to be laughing!!!)

Jonas is pretty much potty trained, so if he poops while he is down for his nap, he wants it off... I get that, but it is soooooooo disgusting!!!!!!! So, I have no choice!!!!!!!!! It is my sanity... I can not clean up any more poop on him, in the crib, or on the wall!

The quality of these pics are bad...but you get the point. If he gets through the packaging tape, I will be in tears!!! :-) So far, so good...

But seriously... adopting a special needs child is not easy at all. Especially a child with developmental delays! Am I saying that I don't love him or that we regret adopting him? NO, I am just telling you it is not all roses. It is sooooooo rewarding and amazing to see how much progress he has made in 16 months. (By the way: 16 months marks us as having him the longest in his life. He was with his mom in Haiti for 15 months and she took amazing care of him!!! He was at GLA for almost exactly a year, and Sept. 8 marked our 16 month mark.)

What I am getting to is an article that was linked on The Livesay's blog. It makes me even more sure,not that I need reassurance, that God has called us to adopt children with special needs, because in so many countries they are left to be trash! Could you imagine Hannah being born in Haiti??? Look at how crazy intelligent she is, and she would be put in a room to be retarded!!! Kids only achieve to what degree they are pushed. If she was left to be an animal, she would act like an animal. I have no doubts!!!
Haiti struggles to raise abandoned, disabled babies

Published: September 12, 2009

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Her frail body lies almost motionless inside a rusted metal crib. At 9 months old, she weighs just 5 pounds. The staff inside the Abandoned Baby Unit at the government-run Hospital of the State University of Haiti call her Sarafina. She was dumped on the hospital's front steps: no name, no note.

But doctors know her story all too well -- like the dozens of other special-needs babies crammed inside the unit, she was tossed out by parents who could not deal with her mental retardation.

"We find them on the streets, in the hospitals, in sewers," Dr. Questly Bonne-Anne said amid the wails of children confined two and three to small cribs. "We guess their age, we give them their names."

Sarafina, named after a musical where students struggle against apartheid, is among the lucky ones.

In this grindingly poor country, disabled children seem to disappear, hidden away as burdens in a culture where parents count on their children to someday provide for them. Even the healthiest of kids here face starvation, violence and child trafficking, but getting anyone to pay attention to the plight of those who are disabled has been difficult, child advocates say.

No one knows for certain how many disabled children are abandoned each year in Haiti, but child abandonment is a growing problem, says Mariavittoria Ballotta, child-protection officer with UNICEF-Haiti.

With an estimated 50,000 children living in orphanages throughout Haiti, those with disabilities get lost in the shuffle.

The government's Institute of Social Welfare and Research (IBESR), tasked with ensuring their well-being, is ill-equipped and underfunded. And so, many end up at the public hospital, according to child-care advocates.

The hospital has been plagued by corruption scandals, striking workers and high turnover of administrators.

"Most of the children in the Abandoned Baby Unit are handicapped, mentally challenged, past the legal age of adoption or have terminal illnesses. This makes it nearly impossible for IBESR to find homes in orphanages for these children," said Susie Scott Krabacher, an American philanthropist whose nonprofit Mercy and Sharing Foundation finances the unit.

Two years ago, Haitian President Rene Preval sought to give the plight of the country's disabled greater visibility by creating an office for the integration of people with disabilities. He named a longtime disabilities advocate and university professor to head it.

Michel Pean, who is blind, recently drafted 85 proposals for parliament to adopt. All are aimed at social acceptance, and in the particular case of children, ensuring they have a right to an education despite their limitations. Parliament is expected to receive the proposals soon.

In the past few years, an effort also has been under way to get parents to understand that children with disabilities can succeed.

Recently, Haitian newspapers heralded the story of 23 disabled high school students who sat for national exams, including one girl without arms who uses her toes to write.

"Progress is being made," said Pean, who credits nongovernmental groups and disabilities organizations such as his Haitian Society for the Blind with leading the effort through advocacy, protests and participation in radio programs. "During the past 10 years we have been able to fight for the rights of the handicapped. We've done a lot of work. There is still a long way to go."

Krabacher first learned that unwanted children were being left at the public hospital during a visit 16 years ago. Back then, the unit was a dark, secluded hallway where 17 children, covered in bedsores, slept in cribs with no mattresses.

Eventually, Mercy and Sharing took control of the unit. It expects to spend $55,000 this year buying diapers, medicine and food. It also pays the salaries of the nurses and two doctors. The problem with unwanted disabled children in Haiti stems from a society that stigmatizes parents who give birth to imperfectly formed children, in a place where few women get prenatal care amid an exploding birth rate.

"We have a society that doesn't accept handicapped children," said the Rev. Sadoni Leon, the director of St. Vincent Center for Handicapped Children, Haiti's best-known school for disabled children.

Leon said that while it's hard to understand how a parent can discard their baby, "many parents see the children as a burden they cannot bear, and the only solution is to find a place to abandon them." Even at the school, which has produced some of Haiti's most talented artists, there are disabled students whose parents disappeared after dropping them off.

"For a child that is 10 years old, it's traumatic to know that their parents left him here because the parent doesn't want him, can't take care of him," Leon said.

St. Vincent, one of the few centers that cares for and educates disabled children, was founded in 1945 by the Boston-based Episcopal Order of the Sisters of St. Margaret. Today, its health clinic and school are supported mainly through donations. Parents are asked to pay about $6.25 a month, a fee that is still out of reach for many of the parents of the 350 students from throughout Haiti.

Leon, who is struggling to keep St. Vincent open amid a downturn in donations, says the government must step in financially to support special education so that families of handicapped children can feel they have some assistance. "As a society," he said, "we need to do our part to ensure that these children don't feel like outcasts."

What are you doing to help these children that do not have a voice???


I took Hannah to get her hair cut yesterday and decided that we should get her 8 year pics taken too. They just did school pics at school, but to me they are a ripoff, and they always look terrible. I know I am a professional photographer, but for their yearly pics, I have always taken the kids to JC Penny's. I can get a huge package for all of our relatives for $7.99. I can't get all of those pics for that cheap doing it myself. And this way, I won't procrastinate. So, here she is... (Her face is so much rounder than last year... she is not growing... we go to see the endocrinologist Sept. 28. Her bone x-rays say that she is 6 years old and her pituitary levels are low. I will keep you all updated... Here are some of my favorites...

The inspiring abilities of the disabled...

When your child is disabled, it is very easy to cry over the things you are told that they will probably or possibly never be able to do (and....let's just admit the selfish angle....what you will not be able to do with them). But, just as a disability is not the beginning and end of who a person is -- the loss of what they can't do does not change the value of what they can do.

Sometimes, it's an issue of perspective, even when it comes to a single activity. One of my favorite stories to tell about my son relates to how problem solving skills was one of the only things he did not have a developmental delay in. Back when he was about one and a half, he was getting his preliminary evaluation from Early Intervention. One of the tests that the Developmental Therapist gave him involved a plastic piggy bank toy, through the large slot of which you had to place plastic coins. This was a test of fine motor skills, and at first, the toy was placed so that the slot stretched horizontally, relative to his body. He got that in a few problems at all understanding what to do, or doing it. Since it was clear he had at least that much ability, the DT rotated the toy so that the slot stretched vertically, relative to his body, instead. When it comes to the motor skills needed to align the coin correctly and get it into the slot, it would be harder in this direction. Well, Jamie just looked at the toy. He tilted his head. And then he rotated the toy himself, to the optimal angle for him to put the coins in with the most ease (which was actually friendlier than the original angle, as well). Now see, when it came to the motor skills test, and in a subtler way, the do-what-you're-expected-to-do test, my boy failed that point. On the other hand, what he did was commendable, aside from hilarious, when it comes to the problem-solving skills he already had. Inconvenient -- yeah, a bit -- but commendable. So was his poor performance on that test something negative, or something positive? Well, I don't tell the story because it depresses me!

Still, no one considers themselves to have a special-needs child because of what that child is capable of doing typically or "better"-than-typically. And so, it sometimes helps to remind ourselves of the kinds of things that can be possible, and to remind ourselves to stay open to finding and nurturing them. Thankfully, inspirational stories aren't as hard to come by as it can feel like.

Take Patrick Henry Hughes for example. His could be the story of a young man, severely disabled, in ways of remarkable medical rarity. His could be the story of a family that had so many dreams stripped away as soon as he was born, and did not know how many more they would lose as he grew. In some ways, it is. But, in more important ways, it is not. His is the story of a young man who, despite being born without eyes and unable to fully straighten either his arms or his legs, was a musical prodigy before he was a year old. His is the story of a close-knit, happy family, in which his father works the graveyard shift so that he might sit with his son through every class, and so that Patrick can perform in the University of Louisville Marching Band, as half of a two-person team -- him playing from his wheelchair, while his able-bodied father pushes him through the elaborate routines, in formation with the rest of the group. In fact, Patrick's story, which has inspired a moving music video, involves being a speaker and performer around the country and internationally, winning awards, TV and magazine features, a published book, a released CD , and a fine example of good things happening to good people who need and deserve them. How many people are able to say all that?!

When Ma Li's and Zhai Xiaowei's families dealt with the fact that she was missing an arm and he was missing a leg, do you think they ever expected the two to perform such a stunning dance together? Maybe yes, maybe no....but perhaps they should have. After all, the world is full of such stories that turn "WHY?!" into "WHY NOT?!" I'm not just talking about Fox Network's popular So You Think You Can Dance? program, which gracefully auditioned a blind woman for their 4th season, and a woman with Spinal Thoracic Dysplasia, for their 5th. How about 16 year old Kiera Brinkley, a quadruple amputee who recently performed a dance at Julliard? I begin with these stories of dancers who defy the limitations of their body's movement, because the arts are such a quality-of-life thing, to begin with. Inspiration, however, can be easily found when it comes to many kinds of disabilities and many kinds of triumph...from those related to Cerebral Palsy, to those related to learning disabilities. In fact, if you need some inspiration you can carry with you to places that are, shall we say, technology-handicapped, there's even a Chicken Soup for the Soul book specifically related to special-needs kids!

So, parents, what more can I say? When it comes to our special-needs kids, as, in a way, it does with everyone -- both our kids, and ourselves as parents, deserve to have hopes based on who they are and what they might accomplish with our help and support, not on what they have to work through to get there.

September 4, 10:43 PMNY Special Needs Kids Examiner Leslie O'Donnell

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

More Pics of Our Amazing Girl!!!!

Bethel is awesome!!! I just got these pics few minutes ago... Click on the first pic and you will see that she has a necklace on. I made that for her and it is sooooo surreal to see her wearing something that I had my hands on!!! The charm says "love" in braille. The first pic is my favorite and she is absolutely gorgeous...and loves to be girlie... Hannah is not a huge fan of getting all, I will be so happy for Chun Yan's influence on her in this area... I love to do make-up, hair, and nails!!! Isn't she gorgeous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am not sure what she was being interviewed for: I will have to inquire... not tonight though... I am going to bed, and will dream about our little girl a land away...

Question Of The Day...


So, here it is... Nothing bad is going on at all... We are going through Bethany Christian Services to adopt Jonas. So, naturally when we needed to find a Hague Accredited home study agency in our area (We are going with WACAP for Chun Yan's adoption because they have a lot of financial backing for SN adoptions--but they are in Washington and do not have an agency in Indiana), we automatically contacted Bethany. We had just had our home study addendum done by them, so this should have been a piece of cake. What was I thinking??? NOTHING WITH ADOPTION IS A PIECE OF CAKE!!!

We filled out our preliminary application for Bethany and I think it was even accepted. But, then we were called and told that the National office just made a new policy that they would not be doing any more independent home studies if they offer the same program. Even though we are adopting through them currently, they would not do our home study because they have a China program too and we did not go with them. I am not upset at them at all, it just would have saved us SO MUCH TIME TO USE THEM FOR OUR CHINA HOME STUDY!!!!!!

So, I was on the hunt for another agency. I wanted one that was fast because I already had our dossier finished: China's dossier is a breeze compared to Haiti's!!!
Finally, we decided to go with a cooperating agency, Adoption and Home Study Services, out of Southern Indiana, Louisville, KY. They 'needed everything but our bone marrow' for this home study. More info than what we had to have for our China dossier... So, that took a while to get everything in line and all of this was happening around Micah's Make a Wish and then his upcoming--not planned at all--surgery to de-tether his spinal cord. So, I dropped the ball so to say this summer and got behind on paperwork. Finally in July we got our home study done, and we LOVE OUR SOCIAL WORKER!!! I found out though that none our references, 6 personal and 2 employers, had their letters in. I thought our home study agency sent out the letters after I gave them all of the info, but I was wrong: I was supposed to get everyone the info... oops... So, as of today, we are just waiting on one letter and our home study will be complete!!!!! Yeahhhhhhhhhhhh... because I HATE PAPERWORK!!!!!!!! :-)

So, what is after this??? Once our home study is approved by WACAP, we then submit it with our I-800, get our fingerprints done (we are going to get our 'free' fingerprints re-done for Haiti, so please pray with us that we can use these same fingerprints for our I-800!!! Have any of you ever done that before?) Then, we wait for our I-800 to be approved and then we send everything over to China... One of the last families to adopt from Bethel, got their paperwork over to China in February and traveled in May to get their daughter. I am praying that this is how God moves our paperwork in China to make up for 'my' lost time. I am hoping that we get to travel January/February. Please pray with us for that too!!!! Sooner would be great, but I bet that she would love to spend one more Christmas with her Bethel Family!!!

Once our paperwork gets over to China and starts the process their, we will get to Skype with Chun Yan every week!!!! We can't wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have such a peace about this adoption that I NEVER HAD waiting on Jonas!!!!!!!!! She is in an amazing place, with people that she has been with since she was 2 (she is now 8.5) and she is loving life. Does that replace a mommy and a, but she will be more sad about leaving then she will be happy about coming to our family. I know that sounds weird, and maybe I am wrong, but the kids love it there and if you go and visit their sight, you will see why. The founders had a God vision and they have thought out everything...

So, that is our China adoption in a nutshell. God knew when we started our China adoption, that a crazy judge in Haiti would require all families to come down to Haiti and sign a piece of paper stating, "yes, we do want to adopt our prospective child!" So, if we also had to travel to China this fall, it would have been crazy!!!!!!! We would have done it obviously, but wow!!!!! So, sometime in October Ryan and I will go to Haiti for a few days. We might take a detour and visit Ile a Vache (Island of the Cow) for a couple days and re-group!!!) What the heck, we are probably going to be shelling out over 1k to go to Haiti and sign our name to a blank piece of paper in front of the judge on the side of the rode, what is a couple more hundred to chill out on an amazing Island, just the 2 of us???!!!) I think it is a plan!!!

So, that is that... Oh, I forgot you might be wondering, "Will our adoption in Haiti be complete then???" You funny people, this is Haiti (TIH)!!!! No, all this does is let us get out of courts... :-) We will then go to MOI, MAE, Passport printed some time in here, orphan investigation, Pre-visa, and then the visa gets signed and we all return from Haiti PERMANENT US CITIZENS!!!!!!!! I don't know... maybe spring or summer of 2010??? Can you imagine... Jonas will be 4 1/2............. WOW!!!!!!!!

Thank you God of our blessing of his medical visa and the intervention and treatments and multiple therapies that he is receiving here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Today when I got him off the bus, I got on and said, "Jonas... how was your day??? He smiled his huge famous smile with dimples and said, "Mama!" Melt my heart!!!!!!!!! He is also walking with his walker... I will post some videos soon...

AHHHHHHH, adoption... :-)

Can You See The Pics Now?

Do you see the below pics? some viewers could not see them today. Please let me know... maybe it is blogger? I reloaded them, we'll see...

New Pics of Chun Yan...

Here are some new pics that I just got. I received a news letter for her but I could not pull off the pics. Bethel is great and they sent me the separate pics so I could upload them! Thanks Adi!!! Below is what the news letter said:
Chun Yan hurt her finger when playing with her friends. The doctors
put a splint on her finger that she kept for more than one month
and that we just take off. She was very brave and never complained
about her pain. We gave her less work and we helped her to brush
her teeth and dress. Despite her wound, she was able to go to see
the Great Wall and to go camping in the mountain (see picture on
the right) with her classmate. But unfortunately, she was not able
to swim in the water whereas she usually loves that!

After this accident, we have felt that she has grown up. She has
become wiser and more careful. She wants more to play with adults.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Riding the Bus to School...

Well, I am home ALONE this morning and it really is kind of strange. I am not on HIGH ALERT EVERY SECOND wondering what Luca is doing. Usually Luca and I are not here in the morning, because if you have read my blog for long you know that Luca is a 'hands on' kid, to say the least!!! So, we are usually at the zoo, library, taking walks, or running errands while Jonas is at preschool, so Luca does not get into mischief here at the house.

The below pics have sooooooo much symbolic meaning to me, beyond just 2 cute boys on a bus.

These pics represent diversity, inclusion, victory, developmental milestones, de-segregation, FAPE (Free and Appropriate Education), the gift of adoption...sooo many things!!!! My two babies are riding the school bus together!!!!!!!!!!!! Only in America people is this possible. Jonas is at a developmental preschool with typical developing peers. He receives 4 hours of therapy a week included in his IEP (Individualized Education Plan). The preschool is a private facility and because Turnstone is the most 'appropriate' place to educate Jonas, Fort Wayne Community Schools pays for him to go there!!!!!

Adoption really comes full circle to me when I see Jonas, a visually impaired boy from Haiti, riding a school bus to an amazing preschool establishment, getting the chance to reach all of his milestones. Really people, that in itself is amazing!!!!

(Luca is getting Jonas's walker to the bus...)
(Notice: Jonas is on the right...)
(Notice: Jonas is on the left...Jonas's right arm is his strong arm and is not affected by the CP, so Jonas first just had his hand on Luca's leg, then it went to pulling his hair, and then he whomped him one... :-) So, the bus drive and I thought it would be a good idea to switch them! Brotherly love!!! :-)
(Micah, having to be right in the middle of everything, making sure that everybody is safe and giving his goodbye kisses to the boys...)
(I love this pic...)

(I was scared after all that we have fought through to get Luca to be able to ride the bus with Jonas, that this morning, with my luck Luca would cry and not want to get on the bus... :-) I am thankful that everything went as smooth as possible!!! Thanks for all of your prayers!!!