Psalm 127:3-5

"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth.

Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!"

Psalm 127:3-5

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Our Adoption Journey

Hindsight is 20/20.  I love to look back at our adoption journey and see how things lined up perfectly.  G - O - D was written all over it!  He prepared us for adoption and was with us every step of the way, sometimes He even carried us.

Nikita Frederick - February 4, 2008 - February 25, 2011

November is National Adoption Awareness Month, so I thought I would review our adoption journey to Sonya and Dusty.  The road was not without it's bumps but it was worth every mile traveled - even half way across the world.  We thought we would be bringing two boys home with us but Nikita is now home in heaven.  If you haven't read our post Nikita Frederick - In The Arms of Jesus then click HERE.  Want to know more about our road to Sonya then click HERE.

Our four ARROWS!
Thinking back... way back... this journey started with my parents.  I grew up in a loving Christian home with two wonderful parents.

My brothers Jeffery & Andrew, Mom and me

My dad worked hard in order that my mom could be at home for my brothers and me.

Me and Dad at the Pittsburg Airport where he worked for so many years!

My parents taught me the importance of faith and family.  I was brought up with the knowledge that children are a precious gift from God and that being a mother is a very important job.

Psalm 127: 3 - 5 "Behold, children are a gift of the LORD;  The fruit of the womb is a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth.  How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." 

When I was little, all I wanted to be when I grew up was  - a wife and a mother.  My mother is an awesome role model.  Not because of "who she is" but because of "whose she is."  She is a child of the Triune God.  She will always remind me "We love because HE first loved us." John 4:19.  I feel very blessed to have my parents so active in my life.   We are together for many holidays, special events and celebrations.  They were both able to be at the hospital for the birth of Johnny and Carolyn.  We so appreciated my mom coming to Ukraine so we could bring Johnny and Carolyn with us to adopt Dusty and Sonya.  (Thanks Dad - for living without Mom for 41 days!  I know you wished you could have come too.)  It was an adventure and we are glad she was along for the ride. 

Mother's Day in Ukraine with my wonderful mother!

Please take another trip down memory lane with me.  Let's go back thirty nine years ago when God put another very special person in my path.  I met Melissa when I was 4 years old.  Melissa is the cute little girl holding a Raggedy Ann doll in the picture below. 

The Munroe Family

We had just moved into our new home and our new next door neighbors were outside playing.  There was a small fence between our houses.  (The people who lived in the house before us had put it up.)  I peeked over the fence and met a few of the kids.  Melissa was one of them.  I don't remember too much - I was only 4 but I do remember telling my mom that Melissa looked different.  My mom told me that she had Down Syndrome.  I had no idea what that meant and it didn't matter.   She was only one year older than me and we had fun playing together.   As for the fence between our houses, well it didn't take long for that fence to come down.

Melissa October 14, 1967 - May 4, 1989

Many fun times were spent together with "Missy" and her loving family.  I am so thankful to God for Melissa.  She taught me so much and was such a blessing to me and to those who knew her.  Missy had a HUGE impact on my life.  I experienced first hand the BLESSINGS that come from a person who has Down Syndrome.  Our adoption happened in part because of knowing and loving Missy.

This summer we were able bring Sonya and Dusty to meet Melissa's Mommy, Mary Louise.  It was a wonderful sight to see our two blessings in her arms!

Sonya never wanted to leave her lap - and I know Mary Louise felt the same way!  

I am sure it brought back many fond memories of her little angel, Melissa, that she held in her arms so many years ago!  I am very happy God made sure we were next door neighbors.   

As I reflect on our adoption journey we need to also step back to 1994 when I married the man of my dreams.  John and I were excited to start a family, but things don't always go as planned.  Remember I mentioned bumps along the way... well, we had infertility issues and our doctor gave us two options:  IVF or adoption.  At that time the desire of my heart was to be pregnant, although IVF was not the direction either of us wanted to go.  John and I believe life begins at conception and we did not want to be faced with the predicament to either freeze or throw away LIFE.  It was not until much prayer and research that we decided to try IVF without compromising any of our morals or values.  Johnny was born in 2006 after our second time with IVF.

It's a BOY and one proud Daddy!

We tried IVF a third time but did not get pregnant.  We starting actively looking into adoption at that point.  We even went to an adoption open house one evening.  We filled out paperwork and there was a box to check if you were interested in a child with special needs.  John asked me if I wanted to check the box.  I remember saying, " I don't know... that's a big commitment."  We ended up not checking that box.  We got busy with life and adoption got put on the back burner.  Then John told me what he wanted for Christmas.  He said, "Let's try IVF one more time - as a Christmas gift to me!"  Because I love my husband I was willing to go through the painful process ONE MORE TIME on Dec. 26, 2008.  Two weeks later we found out we were pregnant.  John got what he wanted for Christmas and so did I.  I love being pregnant!  We were very thankful to God for giving us the desires of our hearts.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:  Matthew 7:7

A friend asked me if I wanted a boy or a girl.  I answered, "Which ever one God wants us to have."  Then I added, "But if it is another boy I want to adopt a girl some day!"

Well, God gave us a GIRL!

It's a GIRL and one happy Momma!

So we had TWO children a BOY and a GIRL!  The perfect family -  no need to adopt, right?!  Click HERE to read a post by my husband John,  Impractical...Imprudent...Ill Advised... It's a "must read."  

Johnny and Carolyn the day of her baptism

We've heard people say, "Two and we're through."  Well to us two is NOT a full quiver and since children are a blessing we didn't want to stop with just two blessings.  

On October 31, 2010 we met Adeye Salem and her beautiful family at a fund raiser for our friends Steve and Carey Schwenzer.

The Salem Family
It was that day that the Schwenzers shared their hearts and talked about the upcoming adoption of their sweet Julia.  Little did we know that six months later we would be in Ukraine adopting from the same orphanage.  Nor did we know that our time in Ukraine would overlap with the Schwenzer's Gotcha Day for Julia and Aaron.

Julia in Carey's arms at the orphanage 4/17/11 taken while we were there visiting Sonya and Dusty 
The Schwenzer's had been introduced to Julia through a blog post by Adeye.  The post was called "the most important post I have ever written" and you can read it HERE. Adeye wrote about Julia who was living surviving in the same orphanage room that her daughter Hailee had come from.
Hailee - 5 years old
Adeye also spoke at the fund raiser.  She talked about her experiences adopting their two daughters Harper and Hailee.   My heart was breaking as I listened to her words about the conditions at the orphanage.

My first time meeting Harper and Hailee (on the right)
I could not believe how tiny her girls were.  Harper was almost three years old and Hailee was five years old and yet they were both as small as my one year old and neither one of them walked!

Our Carolyn (1 year old) getting ready to hug Harper (almost 3 years old)
When I was introduced to Hailee and Harper, I heard without a doubt God's urgent call to "GO!"  Remember that "special needs" box I was afraid to check at the open house?  Well, when God said "GO!" a bible verse came to mind; I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength  Philippians 4:13  I was no longer worried about the "big commitment."

Today, as I reflect back on the day that I saw Harper and Hailee I truly think God was giving me a glimps of our treasures that were waiting on the other side of the ocean for us.  There are just so many similarities between Hailee & Dusty AND Harper & Sonya.  We're not just talking about that wonderful extra chromozone!  I love the way God works!
Dusty and Hailee 10/30/11
Dusty and Hailee are like two peas in a pod.  They are always in search of food!

Harper and Sonya 10/30/11
Harper and Sonya are two social butterflies.  Both of their goals in life are to sit on as many laps as possible.

Our family is so thankful to the Schwenzers and the Salems for opening our eyes and showing us how to trust in our Heavenly Father with reckless abandon for the sake of His orphans!  Here is a picture of six "orphans NO MORE" all from the same orphanage and three very happy mothers.
Carey Schwenzer holding Julia, Adeye Salem holding Harper, Amy Hinz holding Sonya                                       (Bottom L-R) Hailee Salem, Dusty Hinz and Aaron Schwenzer
This summer we were so happy to be able to spend some time with the Lococo family and Molly Conley.  The Lococo family kindly opened their home to us.  My mom, dad and my sister-in-law, Diane, were with us too.  We had a fabulous time together.

I love the way God introduced us.  Tom and Patty had met Sonya and Dusty while adopting their daughter, Julia, who is an "orphan NO MORE."  Dusty and Sonya were in the same orphanage room or "groupa" as their Julia.  Patty held Dusty's frail little hand last December when visiting Julia.  At the time, we were working on our paperwork to adopt Nikita and Dusty.  Another couple that was there adopting, the Winkles, took lots of pictures of Dusty for us.  They never got to see Nikita because was in the hospital - AGAIN.  

Dusty December 2010
During the Lococo's 10 day waiting period they returned home from Ukraine to be with their other five children.  Then Tom and their son, Caleb, returned to get Julia on her Gotcha Day which was December 25th.  Do you notice who watched Julia leave that day?  Sonya is in the crib on the left and Dusty is in the crib in the back of the room on the right.
L - R Sonya, A Nanny, Another Nanny, Julia, Tom and Dusty ( back in the far right crib)
That Christmas Day, Caleb got to play with Sonya as she stood in her crib.  He snapped this beautiful picture of her before leaving the orphanage.  On that Christmas Day she did not have a forever family coming for her.

Sonya captured Caleb's heart and she became his "poster child" for his blog - Speaking for the Silent.  Please visit his blog by clicking HERE.  Many people were praying for Sonya to find a family - including ours!

A few months later Nikita passed away.  We were heart broken yet we knew that Jesus's arms were ultimately better than ours and that God would carry us through this sad time.

We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28

Then God turned our mourning into dancing when we became Sonya's forever family!  We are blessed to call her our daughter!  Caleb's poster child got her family and he would get to see her again as an "orphan NO MORE."
Caleb able to hold Sonya for the first time as an "ORPHAN NO MORE!"

Patty was happy to hold a much healthier and happier Dusty!
Elizabeth, Sonya, Julia, & Dusty
We are so thankful for the Lococo and Winkle families for their encouragement and support during our paperwork chase and through our adoption journey.  Both families had walked down the same orphanage hallway.  Their counsel was so helpful to us!

John and I thank God for making sure we found Reece's Rainbow!  As it says on their website... Because every family DESERVES the BLESSING of a child with Down Syndrome...  We are forever grateful for their ministry.  We are doubly BLESSED with our Dusty and our Sonya!  Thank YOU to all who donated to our adoption through Reece's Rainbow.  YOU were part of our journey too.  As the end of the year approaches please consider donating to another child through Reece's Rainbow.  Your donation will help bring a child home to their forever family!

I appreciate you walking down memory lane with me.  Hope you can see how this journey was lead by God.  He made sure I met some very WONDERFUL people!  I am so happy to have followed His path on our journey to adoption!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"See You In The Funny Papers!"

Today my husband turns the big 5 - 0!  Fifty years ago John came into this world weighing 2 lbs. 13 oz. The doctors were not sure he would live to see another day so he was baptized by his father the day he was born.  He stayed in the ICU for close to a month and a half before going home on Christmas Eve.  In order to help him gain weight he was to be given a bottle every two hours.  His mother recalls that the only problem was that it took two hours for him to finish a bottle.  In those early years everything was tough for John.  I am told that even smiling was an effort for him.

Now fifty years later everyone who knows John knows that smiling is not an effort for him.  He has a great sense of humor and an infectious laugh.  John's favorite thing to say when saying good-bye is, "See you in the funny papers!"  He is a very happy man...

Celebrating 10 years of marriage in Arizona

Birth of Johnny

First Father's Day

Father and Son

John with his dad and brother, Steve

Birth of Carolyn

Graduation of nephew James

Fun with Dinner Club Friends

First time holding Sonya and Dusty

Father's Day 2011

Recognition of baptism for Sonya and Dusty

Recognition of Baptism with both sets of Grandparents

Our family at Snead's Farm

Celebrating John's 50th

John is a very happy man but not because of his family... not because of his friends... not because of his job... not because of the things in this world... but BECAUSE of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who died on the cross in order that our sins could be forgiven.  He is happy because of knowing that someday we will live with Him forever in heaven.  John understands that only true JOY comes from knowing and believing in Jesus.  This JOY never fades!

Today, John celebrates 50 years of life in Christ.  He is a loving husband, patient father, helpful son/ son-in law, wonderful brother/ brother-in-law, fun-loving uncle, humble Godfather,  gracious friend, and a faithful son of God.  

 Thanks for all that you are and all that you do... including changing diapers at age 50!  Thanks for making me SMILE.  I am so proud to be your wife.  I love you!