Tuesday, May 31, 2011

8 things to do if your baby is diagnosed with down syndrome

Hi, Katy fans!

Patti here, from A Perfect Lily, and I'm guest blogging again today for Katy while she's gone. I recently posted on my blog about help that is available for new moms of babies with Down syndrome. While this list certainly isn't comprehensive, it does include some very valuable resources that helped me so much in the first year of Lily's life. I hope you'll click on each one of the links below and check out what each one has to offer. If there's one thing I've learned this past year, it's that there is a vast online community that offers so much support for parents of children with special needs. I've been blessed by every one of the different communities I've listed, and I know you will be too.....

So here are my 8 things to do if your baby has been diagnosed with Down syndrome...


1) Get connected. Join the Down syndrome community on Babycenter.com and meet hundreds of other moms who are blessed to be sharing this journey with you. Ask questions, read other mom's advice, brag, vent, rejoice, connect.


I cannot say enough about this amazing resource for new moms. I so wish I had this when I was pregnant with Lily- it would have completely helped alleviate so many fears and concerns.


3) Read other blogs. There is an extensive list here that is wonderful. Blogs are what gave me a "real life" view of what our future held for Lily. More than any book or packet of information, they helped me process what a diagnosis of Down syndrome would mean.


4) Go to Reece's Rainbow. Learn more about the abandonment of children with Down syndrome in countries abroad, their living and dying conditions in orphanages and mental institutions, and donate for a waiting child’s adoption grant. The things our children face here in the US pale in comparison to what children in other nations are facing- gaining a new perspective on what "suffering" was really was the turning point for me personally as a mom. Involving myself in advocating and fundraising for kids on RR made me realize how blessed we are to be given the gift of Down syndrome.


and speaking of that....

4) There's only two more days left for our Canon Rebel Giveaway. So far $5,516 has been raised for a precious orphan named Albina. An anonymous family is matching donations dollar for dollar up to $5,000...which means that Albina now has over $10,000 in her account! Just leave a comment on the giveaway post saying you donated at least $10 to Albina, and be entered to win a Canon Rebel Digital SLR camera.


and speaking of that...

5)Spread the word that Albina has a huge grant waiting for an adoptive family to help with the cost of her adoption. Spread the word about the giveaway either by blogging or posting on Facebook and leave a comment on the giveaway post saying you did so, to be entered AGAIN to win the Canon Rebel. Become a follower on A Perfect Lily and be entered a third time!


I'm proud to be a member of this organization, and I love their mission statement:

IDSC for Life is dedicated to promoting the dignity and respect for all individuals with Down syndrome, from conception and throughout life. We are a coalition that has worldwide representation. Our mission is to celebrate and enhance the lives of individuals with Down syndrome, as well as to ensure fair and accurate representation in the case of prenatal diagnosis. IDSC for Life will accomplish this mission by educating medical staff and families with a prenatal diagnosis, as well as offering current and up to date information.

If you would like information on IDSC please contact Diane Grover at IDSCforLife@gmail.com.


This is the biggest lesson I've learned this past year. My daughter is capable of far more than I imagined, and I'm not going to settle for old stereotypes of what her diagnosis means.

Who says babies with Down syndrome aren't smart??

7) Read this Mother's Day Message. Over 50 mamas contributed and I guarantee you'll love it. Grab a box of tissues before you go:)


And finally...

8) REJOICE! You are about to embark on one of the most amazing, rewarding, and fulfilling journeys this life has to offer. I say that without hesitation. We've only been on this journey a year, and already Lily has taught us so much about enjoying and celebrating life to the fullest. Each milestone is treasured and valued, and I find myself being truly amazed at what that extra chromosome means. I've made literally hundreds of new friends since Lily's birth, and I am forever grateful for my eyes being opened to other children who share her designer genes. Besides the gift of salvation, Lily is the greatest gift I've been given in life.

Happy Tuesday!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Guest Blogger: Erin

Hi again!  Today I introduce our third guest blogger during my Mozambique mission.  Erin is a dear, dear friend who has moved entirely too far away.  She is a wonderful mom to 2 adorable little boys, and she blogs at The Wonder Years.  Enjoy, & have a great weekend!

Hi everyone! As you know, I’m Erin, a friend of Katy’s from college. You know, way back in the olden years.

I can’t really remember not being friends with Katy, but I vaguely remember how we met (such a ringing endorsement, I know). Our junior years, we happened to live on the same floor in Miller Hall (oh, how this is bringing back memories) across the hall from one another. Since Heidelberg is such a small school, I knew who Katy was, but we hadn’t had any classes together. And then, we began hanging out and talking. We discovered a mutual love of music, worship and singing, specifically, as well as similar experiences in our past, for good and bad. And through our sharing and getting to know each other, God helped us form what has become to me one of the dearest friendships I’ve ever had. And though I don’t get to see her nearly as often as I would like, ours is a friendship that is one of those beautiful ones where you can go a while between catching up, but it’s like time hasn’t stopped. She is truly one of the best friends I could ask for and that she is a sister in Christ just makes me all the more blessed.

Okay, that’s enough of that. :)

When Katy asked me to guest blog during her trip to Mozambique, I was honored that she would want me to share with you all; I’m praying now that she doesn’t lose all of her readers! :)

I’ve been praying about what I should share with you all, and I pray that God will speak through me and maybe touch some of you.

Since I have become a mother, I have struggled to find the balance between keeping our home clean and picked up (what mother hasn’t?) and making sure I’m spending enough time with Levi and Seth. I found myself in a never-ending cycle of guilt at the end of every day. “Oh, I didn’t get the [insert daily household chore here] done today. I guess I spent too much time with the boys.” “Oh, I did too much cleaning/bills/cooking/laundry today...I should have been spending more time interacting with the boys.”

Do you see the pattern? Every day, every day, I would vacillate between guilt over “should haves.” It became a tremendous burden, and there were times that I felt a literal weight on my shoulders. I was not living a victorious life, and I was not honoring God with my time or “accomplishments.” Now, don’t get me wrong, every thing I was doing had a purpose and every minute I spend with my sons is, I believe, furthering the kingdom of God, but my motivation was where I was going astray. I was placing a set of expectations on myself that no one was holding me to but myself! Crazy, isn’t it?

Then, one afternoon, I realized (after a timely conversation) that the “should haves” were killing me and robbing me of joy that I could have every day! From that afternoon till I write this, God has been working in me and releasing me from those expectations that weren’t from Him to begin with. It’s been a long road, and I’m not completely there, but the peace that has come from realizing the freedom I can have (and that God wants me to have) has been life changing.

Proverbs 14:1 says, “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” I believe I was living my life as the foolish woman in this verse. I was so consumed with my house that I was tearing it down by prioritizing things and my home over my husband and children (by being consumed with a false set of expectations, not actual neglect). Now, I’m rebuilding it through the help of the Lord (and a very timely Bible study I can’t recommend enough--‘Breaking Free’ by Beth Moore) and a support system of great friends and my husband.

I encourage you to ask God to reveal any area(s) in which you might be like the foolish woman and tearing down your house. The great thing (well, one of the great things) about our God is that if He shows it to you, He will help you gain freedom from it. I promise.

Blessings and love,


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Guest Blogger: Jamey

Hello friends!  I hope you all enjoyed Patti's post on Tuesday.  Today I am introducing our next guest blogger, Jamey from Zehlahlum Family.  I know Jamey IRL (geek speak for In Real Life), and although I haven't seen her in years, Facebook and Blogger have made us closer than we ever were before.  :-)  Jamey and her husband have 3 children, 1 of whom was adopted from Ethiopia last year.  I love her honesty & transparency... and her willingness to laugh at herself (and her children).  Enjoy!

I get it. You want to ask. I know. I always wanted to ask. I still want to ask. I used to stare. I don't stare anymore because I have to watch my kids...the same ones you're watching. I see it. You see it too. Let's just say it like it is:

My kids are ADORABLE!! It's true and maybe that's even what "you" were thinking, but it's probably not what you were going to say. Let me help you!

Honestly, we haven't really had a problem with people saying awkward/weird/rude things since we've been home. Sure there's been an issue or two, but I haven't even needed to punch anyone in the mouth yet. Another thing that I want to say right off the bat is that I don't mind talking about our adoption with you. It's not a secret or something we're ashamed of that we adopted Boohoo. At this point in her life, she doesn't mind us talking about it so no worries.

Let's say that we're standing next to each other in the grocery store. You notice that my clothing family does not "match " and you want to talk shop about adoption.

Worst: "Is she yours?" Whether you're asking Andrew about me or me about Boohoo I'm going to be upset. You're completely ignoring part of my family and completely objectifying whoever you're talking about. Who do you belong to?

Bad: "Are they all yours?" Well, at least here you've included all of us in your awkward question, but still, this isn't great. Why don't you just ask Andrew, "How much does your wife sleep around, 1 kid worth, 2? All of them? Have you no pride, man?!"

Better: "Was your daughter adopted?" I told you I don't mind talking about this, especially since my daughter is young. If you're being nosy about an older kid you might have to just forget it. What I think makes this okay is that you're acknowledging our relationship--daughter daughter daughter. Don't say 'she', say daughter! Also key, at least to me, was, she was adopted, now she is my daughter. Plus, it's what you want to know so ask it. Probably you're thinking about adopting, or your best friend adopted or you just like adoption. If you don't have a bad attitude I won't either.

Best: "Your children are beautiful." Because that's the truth. But don't just say "your daughter is beautiful" because odds are good that my boys are standing right there too and they are beautiful too.

Worst pt 1: "I could never love somebody else's child." First of all, I hope nothing ever happens to your spouse and you decide to remarry and fall in love with a single dad/mom. Secondly, way to broadcast your shortcomings. Thirdly, she isn't 'someone else's child' your child is someone else's. She is MY child. Fourth, you don't know what you can do until you do it. Put your feet to the street and you might surprise yourself.

Worst pt 2: "You must be such a great/patient person." I'm sorry. Just give me a minute and I will stop rolling around on the floor laughing. I am just a person. I have good points and bad. I have character strengths and character flaws. I'm not anything special. I'm not WonderWoman. I'm "every woman". I can and sometimes do cry myself to sleep at night praying for the patience that my children deserve from me and the grace to bring out the greatness in them. Let me give you my blog url....

Worst pt 3: "She is so lucky." Shoot. This goes right along with the one before this. Lucky is being raised by your parents who have loved you desperately from the time they were dreaming of you until you were placed slippery and squirming into their welcoming arms and every day since then in the country and culture of your birth, healthy and out of reach of poverty. It is not luck that makes lose everything you've ever had and relearn everything you used to know with utter strangers and utter strangeness before your third birthday. If your standard of "luck" is ---hey, she's not dead! then I guess we're all lucky.

Best: "You look like such a great family." That's all you need to say. We are great. And we are a family. Thanks for noticing!

Don't Ask the Following Questions Randomly in Public:

"How old is he/she?" The odds are pretty good that I/other adoptive parents don't know and it involves a long drawn out conversation which while I don't mind explaining will give my children the time to empty every box in the cereal aisle. Instead say, "I have a niece/nephew/godchild/son/daughter that age." Because that's what you're going to say anyway whether my daughter is two or three or four. Besides this just focuses on our common ground and lack of sanity.

"How much did she cost?" Don't say this to me, okay? I might come back and ask you how much the copay on your scheduled unnecessary c-section was and there's no reason for either of us to go there. I can tell you the cost of her ever-expanding collection of shoes and the rising cost of keeping Boohoo in jeans that actually fit her (!), but she did not cost. If you're interested in knowing about the expenses incurred during the legal process of adoption (which is what we did) then you can find that information in about twenty seconds worth of internet research. If you want to talk about those expenses and we're not standing in public and these aren't the first words you utter to me then maybe we can talk about it.

"Did you hear about that mom who sent her kid back?" I did, yes. Did you hear about the 423,773 kids who are in foster care in the States because their parents cannot/will not take care of them? I would be so happy to discuss ethics in adoption and post-adoption resources with you, so happy, but you'd better have some time on your hands. Additionally, I don't want to discuss some things in front of my preschoolers. I know, I'm "sheltering" them, but it's my job as a parent. I won't discuss ways in which adoption isn't permanent in front of my adopted three year old. She knows families don't always mean forever and we're trying our hardest to abate that feeling of uneasiness.

"Why was she given up for adoption?" Let me count the ways that this is not anyone's business. I think that this question still comes up because people don't understand that adoption is built on loss, it's just a big core of loss, wrapped up in loss, covered in more loss, and surrounded by more loss. Maybe when tossed that "ball of loss" landed somewhere nice and comfy, but that doesn't change what it is. If you were standing in line next to a man who was missing a limb would you ask him what happened? Nope. Because you realize that you might get decked, it's none of your business, and it would dredge up intense emotions. Same thing.

I do want to reiterate that I am NOT opposed to talking about adoption, ethics, racial issues, etc. This post might sound defensive, but it's not intended to. I just want people to think before they speak and remember who is listening. There is a lot lot lot more leeway if we are friends or becoming friends, or if we're in a home setting where it's not a creepy thirty second encounter. And then, please remember that my kids are listening and they are smart. I've raised them to believe that adults know how to act respectfully and are smart. Please, don't make a liar out of me!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Katy's Family Forest, Part 7

Geez, I can't believe we're at part 7 already—I didn't even know there were 7 parts to this story! J Actually, that's not true. There's still a lot to come…!

Yes, once my parents had officially adopted me and had been given the she's-fully-your-responsibility-no-matter-what speech, I came down with pneumonia. I was hospitalized and put in a tent where they used cold mist on me. My mom said it was torture to watch, because as a parent you always want to keep your baby dry and warm—this completely went against her instincts! But they survived, and so did I. J

And we also all survived that summer, when I was at a picnic with my family and poured a thermos of hot coffee on myself, prompting another trip to the hospital. Apparently my current state of clumsiness is nothing new.

As for my adoption, I'm a little fuzzy on the timeline of what happened next. But basically… well, first let me give you some background.

My mom (my mom, not my biological mother) was the youngest of six children, and her family lived on a farm in a small Ohio town. Unfortunately, her mother died of complications from childbirth just a few days after my mom was born. Her father suddenly found himself dealing with the loss of a spouse, raising his older five children, raising a newborn, and still trying to maintain the farm to provide for his family. He soon realized that he couldn't do it all, and he asked his sister and her husband to take care of the baby for a few months. A few months turned into years, and my mom never returned to her biological father and siblings. She was raised close to them geographically and knew them, but the people that she called her parents and siblings were biologically her aunt, uncle, and cousins.

Are you confused? J

I believe that her own situation is at least part of the reason my mom had wanted to adopt a child in the first place. And now that she had me, she thought again about her life growing up, and the fact that she had never known her biological mother. She wanted me to have that opportunity.

She called my aunt, the one who had connected my parents with my birth mom in the first place, and asked if my birth mom might be interested in being a part of my life. Up to this point, they had never met—the court hearings, the attorney meetings, even my parents' arrival at the hospital, had all been timed so that my parents and my birth mom didn't ever see each other. But now they were reaching out, willing to meet.

But would she want to meet them? Would she be able to handle seeing this child that she had given up? Could she be a part of her life knowing that she couldn't be the mother she wanted for her child?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What If ?

If you're a loyal reader here on Katy's blog, I just wanted to take a second to introduce myself as her first guest blogger while she's gone. Katy and I became friends through blogging, and I am so thankful for her Godly example as a wife and mother and Christian. She had me hooked from the first moment I started reading here, and I'm so honored that she'd allow me to "fill her shoes" while she's gone. I'm praying for wonderful things to happen for her as she travels to Mozambique!

My name is Patti, and I'm the proud mama of ten wonderful children. Our youngest child, Lily, arrived in life genetically enhanced a year ago last January.

I started a blog about Lily during my pregnancy with her, before we knew she had Down syndrome. What started out as a journal about my feelings and emotions during those early months of her diagnosis, turned into a wonderful platform to advocate for her and for children who share her designer genes.

I truly believe Lily is a gift from God. I don't say that to gloss over the challenges she'll face in life, but because our family has been so blessed since her arrival... there really isn't a better word to describe what she is to us- she is a perfect gift from Heaven.

This week on her blog, A Perfect Lily, we are hosting a giveaway for a little girl named Albina, who lives in an orphanage in Eastern Europe. I am re-posting my giveaway post here today...I hope you'll come enter to win and help save the life of this precious little girl...


What if?

What if by some cruel twist of fate I woke up one morning to find that the tables were turned, and my beautiful and perfect Lily were lying in an orphanage, somewhere in Eastern Europe?


What if she had lived out the past 16 months of her life with no mommy and daddy to love her, no brothers and sisters to dote on her every day?


What if instead, she spent most of her waking hours in a crib, staring at the slats of the bars and playing with only her fingers or feet for comfort? What if she cried herself to sleep at night, because there was nobody who cared or had the time to attend to her when she woke up scared or lonely or sad?

What if she didn't eat when she was hungry, go to sleep with a full belly, or have her basic needs met with loving care?

What if my Lily stayed in that orphanage for many years, never leaving it to see the world around her? What if the only connection she had to the outside world was an occasional trip to the playground on the orphanage grounds...but for the most part she was locked away, an outcast of society?



What if she never received the help she needed through therapy with her beloved Karen, never had the opportunity to develop skills, to grow, to learn...


What if Lily never got the medial attention she needed when she was first born, had attention given to that tiny hole in her heart that doctors watched so carefully...what if she survived simply because she existed, devoid of any quality of life?

What if she were never celebrated for the treasure that she is, never nurtured or praised or adored? What if there were no parties or gifts or songs to commemorate that beautiful day she made her entrance into the world, nothing that distinguished that day from any other day of her secluded and monotonous life?

What if, after being shut away in that orphanage for five years, she woke one morning to find herself being whisked away from the only home she'd ever known- however stark or isolated- to the horror that is the Institution? What if, because of the inability of any five year old, let alone one with cognitive delays, she could not comprehend what had happened to her? What if there were no one to explain to her why her head was being shaved, her tiny arms tied to a crib, or where her friends had gone, and why no one was coming back for her to save her from the nightmare that was now her life?

What if that were my Lily's fate?

What would I do?


In the words of a dear friend.....

I would beg, borrow, and obsess myself to make sure she knew love and felt valued and wanted. If Lily were alone on the other side of the ocean, I would find her and rescue her no matter what the cost or how much dignity needed to be compromised.


Albina is my Lily.

She's no more deserving of the fate that awaits her than my child.

Or yours.

She is a beautiful and precious treasure, waiting for someone to recognize her value.

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1:27

Albina is an orphan in Eastern Europe. Because she was born with Down syndrome, she is considered a burden to her society, an outcast to be hidden away.

An anonymous family has committed to matching dollar for dollar donations for her up to $5,000. So far, through the generosity of so many like-minded people, she now has $2,873 in her grant fund on Reece's Rainbow. If she receives $5,000, her grant fund will be $10,000. Enough to entice a family to step forward to adopt her.

I have a feeling her sweet little face is enough- but due to the nature of international adoptions, it's going to take a pile of money for someone to rescue her.

I don't want money to be the thing that stands in the way of Albina being given a chance at a normal life.

I've seen people respond in monumental ways to the needs of orphans over the past 6 months. Just last week, Kareen met her family for the first time- in large part because of what many of Lily's readers sacrificed and gave for her.

Peter and Olga are going to be rescued soon as well, and their families are deep in the process of adopting them.

I truly believe it's just a matter of time until Albina's family comes forward for her. Maybe they're willing, but not sure they can commit without a large grant fund to help them. Maybe you're that family, and reading these words and looking at her beautiful face is all the convincing you need.

I know that there are those who will gladly give without any added incentive. But I'm so thankful for the generous hearts of those who decided to donate this fabulous prize just to make things fun:)

Canon Rebel Digital SLR camera

EOS Rebel T2i EF-S 18-55mm IS Kit
estimated retail price $799.99
The new flagship of the EOS Rebel line, Canon EOS Rebel T2i brings professional EOS features into an easy to use, lightweight digital SLR that's a joy to use. Featuring a class-leading 18.0 Megapixel CMOS Image Sensor and increased light sensitivity for low light photography, the EOS Rebel T2i also has an advanced HD Movie mode for gorgeous Full HD movies. Able to capture up to 3.7 frames per second, it's ready to go the minute it's picked up. Advanced Live View, a new wide-area screen, plus features like Canon's brilliant Auto Lighting Optimizer and Highlight Tone features ensure brilliant photos and movies, easily. With some of the most advanced features of any digital SLR, it's simply the best Rebel Canon has ever created

The rules are simple.

Donate a minimum of ten dollars to Albina at Reece's Rainbow and leave a comment on this post at A Perfect Lily saying you did so.

Blog or Facebook about this giveaway and leave a comment (on the giveaway post at A Perfect Lily) saying you did so (one comment for blogging, one for FBing).

The giveaway ends June 1st at midnight. Random.org will pick a winner from the comment section, and we will announce that winner Thursday June 2nd.

What if Albina were rescued ....because of you ?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Here we go!!!

Happy Monday, friends!  This will be my last time to talk to you before I leave for Mozambique.  Oh. My. Word.  I cannot believe this is really happening...!!!!  So many parts of my brain are rebelling right now, I am all but speechless.

I am nervous.  I am anxious.  I am sad to leave my family behind.  I am terrified of bugs and spiders.  I do NOT enjoy sleeping in a cot or the type of plumbing (or lack thereof) I will be experiencing for the next two weeks.

I am excited.  I am humbled.  I am amazed at what God has already done to make this trip happen.  I am looking forward to growing friendships among the team.  I am ecstatic to meet and love on these women that I have been hearing about in our two years at our church.  I am hopeful to see God do unbelievable things during our mission there.

See what I mean?  My brain is on overload.

Unfortunately, I will not have internet access while I am in Mozambique.  BUT I have great guest bloggers all lined up, as I mentioned before, and I am taking my laptop with me so that I can record every second of my time there and share it all with you when I get back.

Thank you for all of your prayers & support.  I'll see you in June!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Playing Favorites

Roo has a new obsession, and its name is Big Brother.  No, not the reality TV show.  What kind of mom do you think I am?  (Don't answer that.)  I mean his big brother--Monkey.

We first noticed it on Tuesday night at dinner.  No matter what I tried to feed him, no matter which way we turned his high chair, he would squirm and wriggle until he could see his big brother.

But it hasn't gone away.  When Monkey walks in the room, Roo just LIGHTS UP.  He waves both hands in the air, "Look at me!  Look at me!"  He gets on his hands and knees and throws himself forward.  And when Monkey gets close enough, Roo hugs and kisses him with glee.

It is one of the most heart-warming things I have ever seen.  This complete and total, unadulterated, sincere love for his big brother.

Of course, it does make me feel a little bit bad for Lamb.  She absolutely dotes on him--and will probably drive Mr. Fantastic nuts when I'm away because she will be so motherly--but she is not getting the same special attention.  And I haven't managed to convince her het that the world doesn't revolve around her, so this is a particularly large blow.

But she will get plenty of hugs and kisses from her brother.  He loves her too, of course.

But right now, Roo is playing favorites.  And I'm kind of enjoying it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Katy's Family Forest, Part 6

I am definitely not an expert on domestic adoptions, so I don't really know what the typical one looks like or how or where that first meeting usually takes place. But I know that mine was special.

My parents met me at the hospital, the day after I was born. It was especially memorable for my dad, who hadn't gotten to hold his sons until they were out of the hospital—back in the days when dads were kept at arm's length during the hospital stay. This time, though, not only did he get to hold his newborn baby, but he got to feed her too. In fact, they wouldn't release me until I took a bottle for my parents, so my dad sat down, held me, and said, "I'm your daddy. And you need to drink this bottle." And I did. :-) See, I've always been a Daddy's Girl.

As I mentioned before, my parents had kept this whole adoption a secret, so they had some explaining to do when they got home. My brothers, now 8 and 10, suddenly had a new baby sister to figure out… but even they were easier to convince than our church family. No, they weren't opposed to the idea of my parents adopting a child—they just didn't believe it! About a week after they came home with me, they attended a church picnic. Everyone kept asking, "Whose baby is that?" "She's ours!" my parents would proudly respond. And then they'd hear, "……Nooooo… Whose is she really?" No one could believe that they had kept such a secret or that my parents' hopes of adoption had finally come true. But there I was!

Those of you who are familiar with domestic adoptions know that they aren't finalized overnight. Although my parents had taken me home rather quickly, it was several months before everything was official. In fact, the final adoption hearing wasn't held until February of 1980.

It's important here to remember that we're talking about an adoption that happened over (yikes!) 30 years ago. So before you read this and then e-mail me and say, "That's not right! We did this or know someone who did that or…" whatever, please remember that this was a long time ago. Some things have changed. Are we all on the same page? OK, then keep reading.

On the day of the final hearing, the judge took my parents into his office individually to ask them some questions. Both of them were a little nervous when he started asking about money. "Have you helped the biological mother with her expenses?" he asked. "Medical expenses? Helped her with her rent? Food? Clothing?" They explained that they had wanted to—had offered to—but that she had gotten a job with benefits, so she hadn't needed any help. Apparently a law had been passed during that time that said pregnancy could not be classified as a "pre-existing condition," so she was able to get everything covered. (As an aside, a friend of hers had also basically blackmailed my biological father into helping her financially through her pregnancy, so that helped to cover her non-medical costs.)

The judge continued to press them. "You didn't help the mother of your child at all?" At this point, I think they were more than a little anxious. Was he going to take away their baby because he thought they didn't care enough? Should they have insisted on helping with something—some costs along the way? But then the judge softened. "Good. You see, if you had given her even one cent, this would have been considered a black market adoption, and we would have had to take the baby away." Praise the Lord for working out those details—can you imagine if they had helped her financially, out of the goodness of their hearts, only to have it bite them by having their child taken by the courts?

The rest of the hearing went off without a hitch. And at the end, the judge admonished them that I was now fully theirs. "You are now responsible for her every need," he explained. "If she needs food, you provide it. If she needs clothing, you provide it. If she gets sick as you leave this courthouse, it is your responsibility—she is fully your daughter." They accepted this responsibility and left, now officially a family of five.

And the next week, I came down with pneumonia.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

7 days and counting

Good morning, my dear neglected bloggy friends.  I really need to ignore my children get less sleep neglect the laundry and dishes post more often, I know.  I am astounded at the bloggers who post deep, insightful posts full of pictures that they have taken, edited, and uploaded every day.  I still consider it a victory if I shower most days.

But I felt the need to post today and tell you that one week from now, I will be on a plane.  ONE WEEK from today I will be heading for New York, then Johannesburg, then Maputo, Mozambique.  In SEVEN DAYS I will leave my children in the care of my husband (and mother-in-law and my parents and several very helpful friends--don't you love how many people it takes to fill in for one mom?!? :-) ) and I will head for a land full of bugs & spiders.  OK, I know that there are bugs & spiders here too, but they're not nearly as scary.

Yep, it is just one week until our short-term mission.  If you will notice, the ChipIn on the right is gone.  That is because we have raised every single cent of support we needed--and more!  Each individual on the team was asked to raise $1750 of the $3000 (per person) cost, and thanks to many of you, I was able to raise over $2700!!!  In fact, our entire team is funded beyond what the church had asked, which is a fantastic blessing.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

This week is full of preparations... I am trying to get the house as clean as possible, prepare my lessons, get a few surprises ready for the kids for while I'm gone (including Lamb's birthday, which is two days before I get back!), and do all of the last-minute running.  Not to mention, I'm trying to soak up every minute I can with my family.  Oh my goodness, I am going to miss them.  It is hard to find that balance between telling the kids how much I love and will miss them, and reminding them how important it is that I go on this mission.

Oh, and while I am gone, you will all be very well taken care of, so have no fear.  I am excited to announce that I have some fabulous guest bloggers lined up, including Jamey from Zehlahlum Family, Erin from The Wonder Years, and Patti from A Perfect Lily--and maybe more, if I can get the details worked out by the end of the week.  And of course, I'll still be posting my adoption story as well.  So don't worry, you'll have more to read while I'm gone than you do while I'm here!  lol  :-)

Well, since I'm not in Africa yet, I suppose I should get back to reality and fold some laundry.  Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Weekend Zoo: Photo Session!

Well, after a dreary day yesterday, both inside and out, we were in need of some levity here at the zoo.  Luckily, we had some fun on the schedule for today.  My parents had graciously given us money for pictures as Roo's birthday gift, so today we headed to a local photographer to get some shots of the kiddos.  They took ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY pictures.  That's the ACTUAL number of images on my disc, not just some exaggeration.  And with kids as cute as mine ;-) it was hard to narrow it down, but here are a few of my favorites...  (I don't have a good photo editor on my laptop, so yes, some of them might look better zoomed in or in B&W or something like that, but for now I just need to be quick...)

(I didn't order any of this one above, but I just love the goofy face.  ;-) )

(I got this one with the hat in B&W!)

Yep, I'm pretty sure those are my hands there in the way on that last one, too.  It looks like my chubby fingers...!

So there are my little models.  ;-)  Everyone was well-behaved and Mommy was quite proud of them all.  Now I just need a trip to Kohl's for picture frames--lots & lots of picture frames...

Happy Saturday!

Friday, May 13, 2011

So cliche...

Yes, I know.  Last week I posted almost every day, and this week I've only managed to post once--well, twice, if you count this one.  Believe me, it is not from a lack of material.  And I do find it a bit ironic that there will actually be MORE activity on this blog when I'm gone than now when I'm home... but that's another story.  Stay tuned for more information.  (Don't ya just love how I leave you hanging sometimes?  ;-) )

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.  Over Lamb's spring break, our family took a little daytrip, and at the end we had dinner with some friends we hadn't seen in a while.  The husband of this family has been on multiple missions trips and was asking me about my Mozambique mission (11 days away now!!!).  During the course of the conversation, he stressed to me how important it is to have prayer support--but, he added, not just DURING the trip.  He encouraged me to ask people to pray for me and my family both before and after the trip as well, because the Enemy will attack any attempts he see to further God's kingdom.

I thought that was great advice, and I have been very appreciative of the prayer support I know we are getting.  But I also have been thinking that things really seem to be going pretty well--no attacks, no major blowups, just the standard nerves that I had expected.

But friends... this week has just been... hard.  I'm not going to go into it all here, but... it's been a hard week.  Every time we turn around, something else happens.  And then tonight... well, I think I have told you all before that I am not a fan of cliches.  But tonight we got a very literal feel for the phrase "When it rains, it pours."

It's been a wet spring here as it is.  April was the rainiest one on record for our area, and May hasn't been much dryer.  We finally got a few nice days this week, but today we had some showers off and on again... until about 4:00, when the skies just absolutely opened up and it STORMED.

In the meantime, my dear Mr. Fantastic has had a rough day (the perfect ending to a crummy week), and he decided to stay late at the office to try to catch up on a few things.  My parents had the boys (I don't think I've mentioned this on here, but I have started working for my hubby on Fridays now, so my mom and dad are keeping the boys while Lamb is at school.), so when Lamb got home we went out and decided to stay for the evening.  Around 5:00, he called to tell me that one of our properties was flooded and he was heading out to check on things.  He sounded so... defeated, I almost cried.  He asked me to pray for him, and I did.  Less than 10 minutes later, my mother-in-law (who also works for our company) called and asked if I knew where my husband was.  I told her, and she told me that she was trying to get in touch with him to tell him that another of our properties is flooded as well.  Apparently he wasn't answering his cell phone.  I told her I would let him know if I talked to him first.

The kids and I left my parents' house around 6:30 so that I could get everyone to bed at a decent time, and I decided to call Mr. Fantastic on the way home to see how he was doing.  I asked him what he was up to, and he said that he was currently in the crawl space in another of our properties that is flooded.

Really, Lord?  Three?  Tonight?

When it rains, it pours.  And when it pours, it floods.  And when it floods, people drown.  I feel like I'm drowning, friends.

This too shall pass...


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Katy's Family Forest, Part 5

This is where it gets tricky. Not because it's uncomfortable to share, but just because I don't know where to start! Do I tell you my parents' story as they told it that day, without all of the background? Do I give the background and spoil the ending? Do I tell my birth mom's story first? Do I try to interweave the two????? Well, I don't expect you have the answers to those questions, either, so I might as well just pick a place to start and go with it. :-)

I sat down with my parents that day, expecting them to give me a basic layout of how they got me—maybe what agency they used or what county I was born in (I knew I was born within the state) or… something. I thought they would point me in the general direction of what courthouse was storing my super-secret-biological-records. I thought it would be a 15-minute talk.

I had no idea.

I'll start with some background information on my parents. They had two biological sons, but always wanted to adopt. My mom had been raised by her aunt and uncle after her biological mother died from complications during childbirth. She had five older siblings, and her dad just didn't feel capable of handling a farm, his five older children, and a newborn. She wasn't officially adopted, but her biological aunt and uncle were her real parents, my grandparents. She knew her biological father and siblings, but wasn't really raised with them. She was, for all intents and purposes, adopted, and she knew that she someday wanted to adopt, too.

The fact that they had two biological children made adoption (in the 1970's) difficult. I know that at least one time (maybe twice?) before I came along they actually had a placement, but when it came time for the final adoption hearing the judge overturned the decision, since they already had children. They looked into international adoption, but for whatever reason (I'm sure they told me, but I can't quite remember now… cost, maybe?... or maybe it just wasn't "clicking"…. I just don't remember…) that didn't come to fruition.

By the late 70's, they had all but given up. Then one day my grandma called my parents and said that she had found a bassinet that she wanted them to have—she firmly believed they would one day get the baby they were hoping for. (She was an amazing woman, but I never had the privilege of meeting her—she died about three months before I was born.) And another time, my dad had a dream that he would have a daughter named "Kathryn." They didn't know how realistic it was to hope anymore, but the hope was returning anyway.

And then one day, they got the phone call. My mom's sister was Dean of Women at a small Bible college. She had a student who was pregnant and who wanted to give her baby up for adoption… were they still interested?

I can't even begin to tell you the emotions and excitement and concern and everything else that my parents were going through then, because, well, I wasn't there. I can't even tell you a lot of the details about how it all happened. But I'll tell you as much as I know…

The adoption was handled privately (without an agency). My parents and my birth mom both used the same lawyer, so that everything would go as smoothly as possible. And when it came time to go before the judge, my birth mom specifically told him that she wanted my parents to have her baby because they already had children—she wanted her baby to have siblings. It was all coming together.

Meanwhile, my parents kept this whole situation a secret—not even their parents knew. Only my aunt, who had "introduced" my birth mom and parents (They had actually never met, but you know what I mean...), had any idea. As hopeful as my parents were, they had been burned before and didn't want to start spreading the news too quickly.

And then, it happened. They got the phone call that it was time. Their new baby girl was here—July 13, 1979.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Before & After

It has been one week since our visit with the nutritionist, and Roo has been eating us out of house & home ever since.  While the doctor we had seen before had emphasized increasing Roo's formula/milk intake (which didn't work at all) and adding empty calories to the food he was already eating (which I didn't like), the nutritionist put more importance on the overall balance of Roo's diet and increasing calories in ways that I thought made more sense.  (She also said that Roo's dairy intake should be about what the doctor recommended, but that about half of it could easily come from yogurt, cheese, etc.)

So here's a little before & after look into Roo's diet:

Before -- 12-16 ounces of formula, mixed to 24 calories
After -- 12-16 ounces, a mixture of toddler formula mixed to 24 calories and whole milk

Before -- Baby cereal mixed with fruit, a total of 4 oz
  • 4 oz of baby cereal (mixed with about 2 ounces of whole milk)
  • 4 ounces of applesauce
  • 1 scrambled egg, mixed with whole milk and shredded cheese
Before -- 1 jar of baby food, fruit or vegetable
  • 1-2 jars of baby food
  • Several bites of a banana or a cooked veggie
  • An ounce or two of whatever meat we're having (chicken, ham, tuna, etc)
  • 1/2 - 1 container of yogurt
Before -- 2 jars of baby food (one fruit, one veggie)
  • Remember lunch?  Repeat that, but add to it.
Yeah, I'd say he has increased his caloric intake, wouldn't you?!?  So I decided to do a very scientific experiment... I got on the scale with Roo and then subtracted my weight.  And wouldn't you know it... He weighs SIXTY-FIVE POUNDS now!!!!  Can you believe it?!?  Oh wait... I subtracted what I want my weight to be, not my actual weight.  Let's try that again...

OK, so he actually weighs over 17 pounds now (No doing the math in your head, please.  My current diet plan is to eat nothing but mangos & rice for two weeks in Mozambique... and sweat the rest of the weight off during that time as well...)--which is a gain of more than 1/2 pound in the last WEEK.  And since roughly December, he had been gaining 1/2 - 1 pound per MONTH.  Now that's what I call progress!

And for your viewing pleasure, a few shots of my & my babies on Mother's Day...