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Monday, November 6, 2017

Miracle of Adoption Christmas Campaign

  Every November and December, there is a campaign that is run by Reece's Rainbow to help raise awareness for 100 orphans waiting for families. This campaign is called the Miracle of Adoption Christmas Campaign or MACC.  During MACC, individuals chose one child to advocate for and raise grants funds during the winter months in hopes that that child will be seen by their future family and that family will also have a small amount of grant money to help with the adoption process.  All of the MACC kiddos have a special need and are orphans living in another country. 
   
     I have been a Miracle Maker for three seasons now.  My first two kiddos, James and Leigha are unfortunately still waiting, BUT both have some grant money that can be used by whoever the family is that eventually sees them and brings them home! 
     James is a little boy who is the same age as Josie and lives in the same country.  He also has Down syndrome.  There has not been an update on him for a very long time...which is sad.  I'm sure he's grown into an amazing little boy and would be a great son and brother.  His country is fantastic and I'd be happy to answer any questions someone might have about the process there! If you'd like to learn more about James (or think he might be a great addition to your family) you can find more here.
     
     
     Leigha is also from the same country (notice a trend, haha!) and she was my MACC kiddo last Christmas.  Leigha will be four at the beginning of the year.  Leigha's picture and profile break my heart.  There is so little said about her and her picture is so solemn.  She's so young and it would be wonderful for her to find a family and get her into some early intervention therapies asap!  She seems like she'd be such a joy, especially after she's had someone to love her and put a smile on her beautiful face.  Again, I'm always happy to share about her amazing country!  If you'd like to know more about Leigha OR you think she might be the perfect addition to your family, you can find out more here!

    
    This year, I chose a child who touches my heart on many levels.  Jenny.  She is the same age as Josie, 6. (Actually has a birthday in the first half of the year, so almost exactly the same age!)  She also has Down syndrome, just like Josie.  She is in the same country that Josie was born in and just like Josie was, she's a photoless orphan.  This means, her orphanage and agency do not allow a photo of her to be shown while advocating for her family.  You can't see her big beautiful brown eyes, or her sassy little smile.  You can't see the face of a child and fall in love...until you've already fallen in love with the description of who that child actually is.  This makes advocating tough.  It's hard to share a child that no one can see, but it's even harder to BE a child that no one can see!  
    Josie was a photoless orphan.  There was no picture in her profile, just words.  And not very many words.  Someone shared her photoless profile and those few short sentences caught my attention.  There might not have been very many of them, but they said something, they shouted at me..."I'm your daughter".  I know how hard it will be for a family to fundraise and share about their newly found daughter, once they see Jenny.  I know how hard these next couple of months are going to be trying to advocate for her and to raise some grant funds for her.  However, I will never know how hard it was to live for the first 6 years of your life in an orphanage without a family.  And because of that, I will work as hard as I can, as hard as I need too, to raise every last cent and ultimately to find Jenny a family.
    Here are Jenny's words, she has some excellent, positive descriptors in her profile.  'Affectionate', 'calm', 'loves animals and other young children'.  She sounds like such an amazing daughter.  I bet she'd be a great big sister! 

Girl, 6 years old
Down syndrome, CHD (post-op)
CO-5
Listed: June 2017
Jenny is a sweet 6-years-old girl with Down syndrome living in a children’s home. Jenny has been described as an affectionate and calm young girl who enjoys playing games and loves animals and other young children. It has been said that nothing brings a bigger smile to Jenny’s face than being able to play with her musical instruments and having others play along with her!
It is reported that Jenny receives therapies to support her speech and development. As a young child, Jenny underwent corrective surgery for a congenital heart condition and currently takes medication for hyperthyroidism and hypertension.
Jenny is in need of a family that can provide consistency, support, and a lifetime of love.
        Jenny touches my heart because I 'see her' in everything that we do, all day long.  I watch my 6 year old Colombiana with Down syndrome playing on the playground, or reading books in her bedroom, or playing with her babies or learning with her friends at school or coming to her Mama for a hug and a snuggle and I think about another little girl, in a country just a 6 hour plane ride away.  Another little 6 year old Colombiana with Down syndrome who would love to read books in her bedroom, play with her own babies, go to school with her friends and have a Mama to hug and love.  It kills me to think about the 3 1/2 years that Josie spent in an orphanage but Jenny has now spent 6 1/2 years without a family.  Can we make this her LAST year alone?  Can you share her?  Spread her story around the country so her family will find her.  I would love to be able to share pictures of my 7 year old at Thanksgiving next year and have Jenny's family also share pictures of their 7 year old at Thanksgiving next year.  What an amazing Thanksgiving that would be!!

    I will be sharing a few different fundraisers that we are doing for Jenny and if you feel led to donate to her grant, you can click here: Miracle of Adoption Christmas CampaignYou can scroll about 1/2 down and find Jenny to donate (or use ctrl+F to find Jenny). ANY donation helps, but for every $35 donation you get a beautiful MACC ornament that you can hang on your tree to remind you about this beautiful girl that is waiting for her forever family to share a lifetime of love. 

    Also here is an easy way to share Jenny's profile.  This is her link:  https://reecesrainbow.org/119637/jenny   If you copy that link, you can spread her all over Facebook, Instagram, Twitter...you name it.  The more she's shared, the higher the chance that her family will see her!  And that is what needs to happen....they NEED to see her!



Sunday, November 5, 2017

Giving thanks during National Adoption month

   It's been many, many months since I have made a new post to the blog.  I had attempted a new domain and had a few posts there, but that just didn't work for me.  (And now, it's seems I'm not technologically savvy enough to get those few posts back to the old blogpost domain....oops!)  I've come back to the blog to continue to share about my amazing daughter who happens to have a little extra something.  She was blessed with one more chromosome than most and it makes her even more amazing, more loving, more enthusiastic about life, more stubborn, more huggable, more full of sass (or that might be her Colombian blood, the jury's still out there...), more forgiving, more accepting and more courageous than most adults that I know.  She's so phenomenal, I want the world to know her and how wonderful life is with her in it.  AND I want to share about adding such an amazing child to your own family!
   During the month of November we will be celebrating (is that the correct adjective?) Adoption Awareness month.  The hope is, that during this month there will be an increase in awareness of children who need families and families who have room in their homes & hearts to welcome another child.  You can read more about the background behind Adoption Awareness month here. And even more about Orphan Sunday, here.  Today, November 4, is a special day as part of this Adoption Awareness month.  Today is Orphan Sunday. We are called to care for the orphan, and this Sunday is a reminder of that call.  It's a time to look at how that call is being answered.  I am fully aware that not all families are called to adopt.  And if you are not, you should not.  (I'm sure someone will have something negative to say there....)  But many ARE and just haven't had courage to step out in faith and say 'yes'. There are numerous ways you can respond to that call.
   First and foremost, prayer.  Pray for those children without families, pray for them to feel some sort of peace, a tiny glimpse of the love that they should know daily. Pray for their health, that they can survive until their family sees them.  Pray for their hearts to be open to change when a family does come forward. Pray for the adults caring for them while they wait.  Pray for the families that are working as hard and as fast as humanly possible to get to those children and make them part of their family.  Pray for staff that have to complete the physical day to day, ins and outs of the adoption process. (It is insanely frustrating when a clerk is having a bad day and delays stamping the last form you are waiting for to send off to an agency, just because they are tired or grumpy or just don't feel like doing it today or when a notary writes the wrong date and forms have to be re-aquired and re-signed and re-notarized and on and on...)  Pray for the judges who get to unite new families. Pray for the friends of the families to stay supportive, to be accepting.  Pray for those parents to keep moving forward, because their new child is just one more signature, one more home visit, one more airplane ride, away.   Just pray.
    Advocate. There are some great organizations that help share children waiting for families. (This is one of my favorites. https://reecesrainbow.org/ and here is another that is focused on children locally. https://www.adoptuskids.org/) Some that help children in orphanages with extra therapies, additional food options, extra staffing.  There are organizations that raise awareness through photography.  Getting a child's information out to the world is their best chance at a family seeing them and realizing they were meant to be a part of that family.  I saw Josie because someone shared her short little paragraph of a profile and I knew I needed more information.  Advocating could be life saving for these kids. 
   If you feel led, fund-raise or donate.  Adoption is expensive.  There's no way to tiptoe around it, there are A LOT of fees involved in the adoption process and unfortunately no such thing as adoption insurance.  Any family will tell you that you can not put an amount on bringing home a child.  If someone says there's another fee before you can meet your child, you pay that fee.  If there's more money needed because court dates got switched and stays in country lasted longer or extra flights were needed, you find that money and you hand it over.  Most families find themselves learning more new skills throughout an adoption process than ever thought possible.  Want to sell blankets to buy plane tickets, you have to learn to sew (or knit or crochet!) Want to make fudge to finish of that final agency fee, you have to learn to bake.  Want to sell candles to cover court costs, you learn to fill molds.  There is a lot of blood sweat and tears that goes into funding an adoption.  Sometimes giving your tithe for the month to a family waiting to bring home their new son or daughter can be the best gift you could give. 
   And of course, if you feel called, adopt.  Look around your house, your living room, your kitchen table.  Do you have room for one more kiddo?  Could you put bunkbeds in the bedroom for brothers to share?  Could another little body squeeze onto the couch?  Could you fit one more chair at the table?  Maybe your house is filled to every last square inch....but it might be a good time to move?  Would a big sister be the perfect addition to your household?  Maybe a baby brother?  Maybe both!?!  Is fear keeping you from saying yes? And if so, maybe it's time push aside that fear and just say Yes.  There are so many quotes floating around the internet about adoption and so many seem like the perfect thing to say, but there are three, that I'd like to leave you with: 
   "There are no unwanted children; just unfound families".  Maybe you just found a family...yours?
   "Right now, you have the power to say, 'I will not let their story end like this'."  Maybe that's your call to adopt?  Maybe it's your call to advocate?  Maybe it's your call to donate?  How can you be a part of a child's story?
    "I always questioned if I was ready to adopt and then realized no child was ready to be an orphan." This is a current favorite, because so often people use the excuse that 'now is just not a good time'.  And I honestly think that's fear talking, but really, will there EVER be a good time?  Of course, there are roadblocks, yes, homes have to be approved, countries have regulations that have to be met, a family has to meet yearly income requirements but when those pieces are already in place...what's stopping you?  When is the right time?  Could it be now?
 
    Five years ago, I took that terrifying first step.  There was heartache along the way and LOTS of sweat and tears and frustration and joy and excitement. And this beautiful soul has now been home with her family for over three years, because someone advocated for her, because someone fund-raised for her, because someone donated to help cover fees, because someone prayed, and because I said "yes".
                                                                     

   During this month of Adoption Awareness, while you're finding something to be thankful for each day, could you be thankful for an extra plate at the table, an extra little face to kiss goodnight, a new addition to your family?
Are you ready to say yes?


Thursday, June 4, 2015

What a difference a year makes

It has been one entire year from the day I sat in that little room in an orphanage, waiting to meet the most perfect little girl. One year from the day that I walked out of that orphanage with that little girl, my daughter. A year seems like such a short time and at the same time I feel like she has been with me forever. I am amazed at how my girl has grown. How well she has handled the multitude of changes that she has faced. And how sad it makes me when she continues to struggle with some of those changes. Sad to think of what her life must have been like for the 3(+) years she spent without a Mama. Sad to think of what she must have experienced to result in the emotions that still surface from some of those struggles.  Yet, through those struggles she is blossoming into the most amazing little girl!  I still don't know how it is possible to love someone so much. I could not imagine life without her...

When I look at the picture from her referral, the few pictures that were given to me before she became a daughter, she looks like a different child. The eyes of the little girl in those pictures are not the same as the little girl who is looking at the world with such a different perspective now.
 She has a smile that lights up her entire face, that makes those eyes sparkle. Watching her experience life outside of those brick walls is the best experience I could ever have.

She has been adjusting to a new school, teachers, new friends. Playing with friends at church and enjoying the fun of paints, markers, glue & glitter. She LOVES playing in the park and could spend hours swinging back and forth in the swings or hanging out in the playground tunnel.  We spend a lot of time playing 'babies'.  She is such a little Mama... dressing, undressing, wrapping up her babies in blankets, rocking them, feeding them, pushing them in her little stroller, 'singing' them to sleep in her little baby bed.  It's so enjoyable to watch her play.  To watch her show such love and tenderness to those dolls, it gives me hope that she must be aware of how much she is loved and can turn around and express that in her play.
 
 She has progressed beyond expectations with her motor skills.  From first steps over Christmas break to watching 'run, run, run' around the room now. She tries to climb EVERYTHING, not wanting to be left back from any activity.  She watches other kids and tries so hard to mimic their actions and movements.  She, of course still has a lot of progress to make, but I am so impressed with how hard she tries and how far she has come.    
 
 She is so smart.  She picks up new 'habits' on a daily basis...little things that she's seen others do, words that get voiced for the first time, putting signs together to let us know what she wants, how she's feeling, what she's thinking! I love watching her take in her surroundings, knowing that she's taking in so much more than she's given credit for. 
She's such a caring little girl.  She gets very concerned when her friends are upset and she loves to 'pat' and love on babies.  (I've been told repeatedly she needs a baby sibling..haha!) She is also very aware of others when they are hurt or sad and we quite often hear her version of 'Are you okay?'  She is still learning how to  play appropriately with friends and interact socially with her peers but she loves to watch and tries hard to be a part of the group.  It's so fun to watch her chase friends on the playground or request to swing because another friend is swinging.  It's also very heartwarming when her friends follow her around...wanting to climb on the monkey bars because Josie is or reading books because that is what Josie chose to do.  She is quite the social little thing and seems to attract people where ever she goes.  She can't walk down the hallway at school or head out to the playground without numerous kids (and adults) calling to her...'Good morning, Josie', 'Can Josie come swing or slide or play with me?', 'Hi, Josie', 'Bye, Josie', 'Have a great day, Josie'.  
 She's kind of popular and loves it (most of the time)!  And I love that about her.  Not that she's popular, exactly but that she 100% accepting and inviting to ANYONE.  (Yes, we do run into stranger-danger issues, but that's another topic!)  She will wave and say hi to everyone who passes her, no matter what.  She will befriend any child...no matter what.  She fortunately does not see race, religion, ability, size, social class....and on and on.  She greets one of her her best buddies, who happens to use a wheelchair, just the same as she does ANY of the other kids at school or church or at the playground or wandering around at Target.  She has such a big heart...and I LOVE that about her.
 

We have been quite busy over the past year. Starting school, enjoying holidays, doctors appointments, flying on a plane, a couple of vacations, therapies (and LOTS of them!), birthdays, Mother's Day, baptism, moving after only being home for a short time and then, moving again just this past weekend! Our recent move will hopefully allow for even more growth and more opportunities for my little goose. I have not been the best at keeping updated but have thoroughly been enjoying our first year together.  I will really try to do better as I know so many people are curious as to how this sweet girl is doing and now we are farther away from MORE people who have fallen in love with a little Josie Rosie Posie.  
Here is a short recap of our last 12 months and a promise to be more regular with the updates!


June 2014
 We spent about 5 weeks in Colombia, bonding and finishing up the adoption process.




July 2014
We arrived home in the US on July 7, 2014.  We were able to enjoy some time just bonding at home and slowly exploring Josie's new surroundings.





 August 2014
Josie started preschool at Leaps and Bounds. Mama went back to work. We began to get settled into a new 'normal' routine.






September 2014
Josie joined Buddy Ball and we enjoyed the last days of warm weather playing in the pool and at the beach.  This little girl sure loves to swim!




October 2014
National Down Syndrome Awareness Month
Josie celebrated her first Halloween with a dress up day at school, trunk or treat at church, trick or treating through neighborhoods and some pumpkin carving.  Needless to say she enjoyed it all!





November 2014
We took a mini-vacation up to Virginia and Josie got her ears pierced! We went to her first live play...'Click, Clack, Moo' (she has a strange fascination with cows!) and celebrated her first Thanksgiving home.




December 2014 
All things Christmas! She wasn't sure of Santa at first but after seeing him multiple times, she quickly decided she liked the white beard! She also became a professional at opening presents and LOVED all of the lights and decorations.  She was very happy to get to put baby Jesus in the manger Christmas morning and sang Happy Birthday to Him! We took a vacation to Chicago to celebrate Christmas like I did as a child.  Josie loved flying on the airplane!
(And Josie got glasses!)












January 2015
Josie started walking!!! Hooray!!
We enjoyed our first trip to the library...she loves her books! And enjoyed some time outside on a few warm winter days.




 

 February 2015
Josie got invited to another birthday party, she loves cupcakes! She celebrated her first Valentine's Day at school and enjoyed receiving and passing out all of her Valentine's.  Mama ran the bridge again...this time with the little goose waiting at the finish line!






March 2015
Quite the celebratory month! Josie turned FOUR!! She also got baptized ~ on her birthday! Josie took her first trip to the zoo, fed the giraffe and loved playing with the monkey. We celebrated National Down Syndrome Awareness Day (3.21) and really spent most of the month eating cake and cupcakes!
















April 2015
 We celebrated Josie's first Easter at home! She loved coloring eggs and going for egg hunts.  We hunted eggs over and over.  Mama had a birthday and got a new bike and trailer.  Josie LOVES going for bike rides to the park! We took a trip up to Maryland to see our new town before moving. The countdown began for the big move!









May 2015
Josie went on a class field trip to the beach with her teachers and friends.  She loved getting to hang out in one of her favorite places with some of her favorite people. We celebrated our first Mother's Day together.  I love that I get to call this beautiful girl my daughter and that she calls me Mama!  Josie had her last day of school - it was very bitter sweet.  I'm going to miss the relationships she's made and I know she is going to miss her friends and adults that she greatly bonded with~even if she doesn't realize that good-bye on that last day of school, was good-bye for a long time! We finished packing up and at the end of the month, said our good-byes and jumped in the car to head north. 
























June 2015 
 We began our new adventures in Maryland and hope to meet some more amazing people and create some new friendships.


This sweet and beautiful girl has touched so many people in her short little life.  I know she will have a big impact on so many more people and I am so happy to be a part of her life as she blossoms and grows. 
I love her with all of my heart.  She is amazing.

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