Saturday, December 14, 2013

Near and Dear

I don't often write posts about waiting children but, just in case you've been reading the blog and feel a tug at your heart, let me introduce you to some of the kids that are near and dear to my heart.  (All of them happen to be available to single mothers.)  

Boy, born January 2007
Down syndrome, otherwise reported to be healthy
What a handsome young fella!  I adore how he’s standing with his hands in his pockets.  Vaughn is already 6, and at a great age to join his forever family.  This is a great program with a wonderful agency partner.  Hope you will consider Vaughn as your son!
Seriously.  How cute is this little kid with his hands in his pockets?  He's making eye contact with the camera and standing still.  I think those are both really good signs of his development.  There isn't much info on his RR profile but I'm sure the agency has more.  I'd love to see this little guy find a family before he gets any older!  
And, the kicker?  He has $16,360 in his grant!!!  That's more than half of his adoption covered!  (Sara had $0 in her grant when I committed.)  That kind of grant is a huge blessing to his future family!  

Girl, born Feb 2007
Down syndrome, congenital heart disease and hypothyroidism. Mental delays.
Report dated 2010
Kimberley is predominantly cheerful.  In the orphanage the girl is described as a sociable, smiling, loving, quiet girls, who enjoys being with other persons. Her sleep is normal. She enjoys eating pretty food, so the orphanage gives her vegetables, eggs, iron, etc.. However, they still give her vitamins and avoid foods with lactose.
Her communication is usually through gestures, cries and guttural sounds.  General gross motor and fine motor delays, common for a child with Down syndrome.
She participates in group activities and plays in partnership with other children.  She is cautious with strangers but she adjusts quickly to their presence.
This is the little girl that I've been advocating and fund raising for this Christmas season.   I've worked hard to build up her grant.  I plan to continue to do so until her grant has at least $5,000 in it.  Right now, she has $4636.93!  That would be a great start for her future family.  
During the last two months, I've really come to care about this little girl.  My students raised over $1,300 and ask me regularly if she has a family yet.   (I have to find her a family or they are going to drive me crazy!)  

Lene (pronounced like Renee)
Girl, born August 2010
Down syndrome, congenital heart disease, language delay
What a doll baby!  Love her little pigtails!
Lene responds to expressions of affection from other persons. She can adapt to any social environment.
As of February 2012, her report said that the she attends therapy 3 times a week.
This is the little girl that I would go for in a heartbeat if I was in a position to adopt again.  I love this little girl so much!  She's only 3.  She be 4 or 4 1/2 when she came home if a family started right now---the same age as Sara.  I really think she'd grow and thrive in a family the way Sara has done.   I will cry lots of tears of joy when this little girl finds a family.  I just hope it isn't years from now!  
Her grant currently has $5968.75!  

Boy, Born August 2006
Down syndrome
UPDATE Nov 2013:  Mark is doing well, andd his overall health is good!!   
We did not receive any information on the treatment he received for leukemia — but GOOD HEALTH is GREAT news!!
UPDATE December 2012:   It has been determined that sweet Mark is also battling leukemia.  We are waiting for additional medical testing and details, but PLEASE pray for him and help us find his forever family!  THANK GOD for a new photo, he has grown so much!   Trying to get his new photo in a larger size, but SO glad to finally have one!   Mark is up and walking and doing SO well!   Updated info coming soon!
 This gentle boy has smooth, baby soft skin. He has dark skin and dark hair, potentially from an African/black parent. He is just darling, with a round chubby face. He was born on 8/2006. He enjoys playing with toys and with other children. His legs are rather weak so he scoots around quickly to reach his destination. He smiles brightly when he is spoken to. He waits for his loving family because he has Down syndrome. His family will be so lucky to be able to help this angel reach his fullest potential!

This poor little guy has Leukemia.  It will take a very special family to commit to him but he needs a momma so badly!  Can you imagine a poor child battling Leukemia without a mother to hold him?  It's unthinkable.  

Mark currently has a grant of 10,773.40!  A third of his adoption is already paid for.  

Boy, Born May 2011
Sweet baby James!   Healthy besides his Down syndrome, and waiting for his forever family.  Full medical and social history available.
This little guy was in an orphanage that I visited briefly last year.  I didn't get to meet him but just knowing he was there as drawn me to him.  He's so young!  He needs to be getting Early Intervention services to help him reach his potential!  There isn't much information on his profile but I know that his former orphanage would have provided a lot of information about him. 

James currently has $5,398.13 in his grant!  That's a lot of money to get a family started.  

All of these kids deserve and need a family!  All of these kids would make great additions to the right family.  All of these kids have lots of money committed to their adoptions already.  All of these kids have a piece of my heart.  

As we quickly fly into the Christmas season, take some time to sit and think about your family and what it looks like.  Do you have room for one more?  

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Extra Special Doll Giveaway

I'm soooooo excited that my friends Angie and Jason are adopting again.  I had the privilege of getting to know them during my process and spending time with them in Colombia.  They have chosen one of the cutest kids ever to be their new son:  

They are hosting a pretty cool give away to raise some funds to bring this little guy home:

Flash Giveaway for Chance! I have one Extra Special Doll (Formerly Dolls for Downs) (website: up to give away. She is American Girl Size and Quality. Modeled after Aziza the Sweet Warrior Princess who tragically lost her life a year ago (Her Mama's blog

The rules, You get ONE entry for every dollar donated to our FSP: (must send PayPal receipt to to count) and ONE entry for sharing. The Giveaway will go until we reach a total of $250 in donations.

This sweet doll retails for $95 plus shipping.

Let's see those donations. If we can get to $250 total from this giveaway quickly, she can be home in time for Christmas, but that is up to you!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

The snow is falling.  I think the shopping is done.  The presents are waiting to be wrapped.  It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!  

I should write a full-blown update but this is what you're getting tonight.  Fun Christmas/Winter pictures.  

Christmas tree is up!

Thanksgiving dinner with Uncle John and Grace.

She loves her Uncle Bryon.

Hanging out with Grandpa.

Reunited with Claudia.  

She lost her first tooth.  
It was very traumatic for both of us.  

Getting dressed for the ball.  

Princess Ball with Grandpa!  
(They both loved it.  Don't let Grandpa tell you any different.)

Helping teach the Ballroom dancing lessons.

A bit blurry but the girl loves to dance--from the moment she arrives.

The real Santa Sequence

Singing after the ball. 

Carriage ride.

Story time at Gigi's Playhouse.  

Learning to shovel.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


I've been really overwhelmed lately with the thought that this time last year Sara was gearing up for another Christmas in another orphanage.  She was in a nice place so I'm sure they did something for Christmas Day but not to the extent she will celebrate this year.

Sara has been given the opportunity to go to a Princess Ball held at a local hotel and sponsored by the Oak Lawn Children's Museum.  If you know Sara at all, you know that this is a dream come true for her.  She loves all things princess and dressing up.  She loves to eat and dance.  This is pretty much her ideal day.  I'm so honored that she was chosen to go and I know she will love it.  This is what really started me thinking about how much her life has changed.  

Her life has changed not just because she has a mommy who loves her but because she has a whole community of friends and family that love her.  I didn't buy her these tickets.  Someone chose to give them to her.  It's a father/daughter event so I can't go with her.  My father is taking her.  She doesn't have winter dress shoes.  A "fairy godmother" is taking her shopping before the ball.  As much as I want to do it all for her, I just can't.  

I have friends that jump at the chance to help out with her, to watch her, to love on her.  I have a family that can't wait to see her and spend time with her.  I have a church community that has been incredibly accepting.  I have a Gigi's playhouse around the corner where I am simply Sara's mom because it's all about the kids.  

This time last year, I was planning a Thanksgiving Pity Party with my friend Angie because our girls weren't home yet and wouldn't be home for Christmas.  Our girls were unaware of how hard their moms were working to bring them home.  They were celebrating another Christmas without us and we were counting down the days until mid-January.  

This year, we are planning a fun outing with our amazing little princesses.  Both girls are growing and developing and learning so quickly.   Both are girls are loved and accepted in our families, churches, communities and in their schools.  

So, as I stress about packing, work, and my to-do list, I need to take a deep breath and remember that this Thanksgiving is different.  This Thanksgiving I am grateful for the little girl who has forever changed my life.  I am thankful for those who helped her get home.  I am thankful for those in my life who continue to encourage me as I figure out this parenting thing.  I am thankful for people who laugh along side of me at her antics.  I am thankful that I have the privilege of being Sara's mommy.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Find Your Passion

My sister just spent her entire weekend walking.  Literally.  3 days.  60 miles.  For breast cancer.   You see, my sister had a friend that passed away far too young from breast cancer.  Abby was an amazing woman and deserves to have her memory honored.

I am so proud of my sister.  She made a promise to honor Abby in this way and she did it.  Aches and pains and all.

I have to admit, though, that the 3 Day is probably not something I would do.  I haven't been personally affected by breast cancer.  It's not that I don't care about people who have it or worry that I might get it some day.  It's just not on the top of my priority and passion list.

Clearly, my passion is orphan care and adoption.  Now, if I could walk for three days and raise money for a waiting child or adopting family, I would do it in a heart beat. I would probably walk for a month if you could guarantee that one of "my" kids would get a family because of it.

I have probably annoyed some of my Facebook friends with my incessant fundraising posts and events.  I'm ok with that.  You don't have to support my causes or fund raisers.  Really, you don't.

What you do have to do is find your own passion.  Figure out what you do want to support and do something about it.  What makes your blood boil?  What melts your heart?  What changes do you want to see in the world?  Find your passion and act on it.

I have friends that post fund raisers for animal shelters and lost dogs.  

I have friends that post fund raisers for their child's school or organization.  

My brother feels very strongly about helping people find financial security and teaches classes about it.  

I have friends that work at Crisis Pregnancy Centers and post their fund raisers.  

I have friends that are passionate about things that I don't even really agree with.  

None of these people are better or more important than others.  They are all just people doing what they can for a cause they believe in.  None of these causes are less worth supporting than others---even if they are things that I wouldn't personally support.

As we head into the end of the year, people start thinking about the new year and resolutions and changes.  Instead of resolving to lose weight or go to the gym or be nicer, why don't you resolve to do something that will impact the world around you---even if it is in a very small way.  The important thing is that you find something you believe deeply in supporting or changing and act on it.  (Then, you can scroll past my orphan posts without guilt because you are already doing something to improve the world.)

"Be the change you want to see in the world." - Ghandi

"No one can do everything but everyone can do something." 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Letters to My Daughter - Christmas Is Coming


It's kind of funny to me now that I address your letters that way. I don't think I've ever called you that.  I call you lots of things but never that.  Right now, it's usually goofball or chickadee.

This time last year, I was pretty sad and frustrated.  I had finally accepted that you wouldn't be home for Christmas but I was starting to feel like you'd never come home. Now, I can't even remember what life was like before you came!  

Last year, I didn't put up a Christmas tree.  I just didn't want to decorate it myself and then take it down before I went to Colombia.  It just seemed pointless.  This year, I am so very, very excited to put up the tree with you.  We may actually do it this weekend---far sooner than socially acceptable.  I just know that you are going to love it and I'm too excited to wait.

You are so in awe of life right now.  Every new thing you do is the best thing ever.  I think that you will be so overjoyed at the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of Christmas.  You will remind everyone around you of the pure joy of the season.  

I want to soak up every ounce of Christmas and experience all that we can.  (Of course, not too much so you don't get crabby and overwhelmed.  It's such a fine line with you.)  I want to take you to see the mall Santa and pay way too much for a horrible picture.  I want to play in the snow.  I want to ride the Christmas train.  We are going to dinner with Santa at Gigi's playhouse.  We'll do Christmas eve church and sing Silent Night with candles.  (That will be interesting since you are obsessed with blowing out candles.)  We'll do Christmas day with my family.  We'll start our own traditions.  

I want you to hear the Christmas story and love it on whatever level you can.  You love babies and animals so I think you'll like it.  I want you to learn Christmas carols and love them as much as I do.

I want to watch Christmas movies and make cookies.

I want you to wrap presents with me and learn the joy of giving to others.

I want so many things for you this Christmas.  

More than anything, I want you to know that you are loved.  That this Christmas will be different because you have a family to celebrate with.  That you will always be the best gift I have ever received.  

Feliz Navidad, mi chiquita.  
Merry Christmas, my love.  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Facebook Status Update

I've been meaning to update forever.  I'm just tired by the time Sara goes to bed and I've been really busy knitting for Angel Tree.  I just haven't gotten to it.

So, instead of a real update, here are some facebook statuses and pictures from the last week.

Thanks, Mr. Jerry for loaning us Beauty and the Beast. She's watched it twice. She refused to eat dinner. I may never get her to bed. Definitely a hit!

What are all the local Christmas things that I need to do with Sara this year? We are going to experience as much Christmas as we can squeeze in.

Why do people perpetuate the idea that kids with Down syndrome are always happy and loving? I see it all the time and it's just not true. Sara is usually happy and can be incredibly friendly and kind. She is certainly not always that way. She can also be very stubborn, mean, and rude.

Who wants to come pull my child's tooth out? I am so grossed out by this process.

Today Sara:
1. Said "The End" completely unprompted at the end of a book.
2. Repeated and signed an entire sentence (one word at a time). She didn't used to repeat at all. 
3. Took my hand as we were leaving the post office. Usually, I have a death grip on her hand while explaining parking lots and moving cars to her. 
4. Signed two words together completely unprompted. 
This child is seriously changing ever single day.

It looks like "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth" is going to be Sara's theme song soon.

I don't think she's ready for a sibling. She's been yelling at E-ah (Eli) all night.

I could be a professional pacifer-loser. Seriously. Where do they go? (No. Sara doesn't use one but I watch Kate's kids on Tuesday nights.)

Every day I ask Sara how school went. Did she have fun? Did she learn something? All I get is "Yup." Today I asked. She thought about it, made a throwing motion and said "pelota." I looked on her sheet and she had gym class today. She was soooo proud and so was I!

Well now I want to put my tree up tonight.

It hurts a little bit that Sara runs to the end of the driveway alone and climbs on the bus without my help. I'll take this over the days when I had to carry her on to the bus while she tried to scratch my face off. I may never know what really happened at the old school but it has made me so thankful for this one.

I asked Kate to take a picture of her first snow fall. This is what I got.

Sara just licked a snow flake off the car. It might be time for a viewing of A Christmas Story.

So sad to be missing my baby's first snow fall.

There has to be a better way to do mornings. Two non-morning people trying to get out the door by 7:15. It may kill our relationship.

Veggie Tales Live. 

Sara is watching Peter Pan in French. She doesn't seem to notice. It's driving me crazy.

I had this song on repeat when we were in Colombia--especially during our "bonus" week. I clung to the belief that it was true. 

The first Sunday back we sang it in church and I cried knowing it was true. 

This morning Sara started singing it when it came on my ipod and we sang it again in church. Once again, I was brought to tears realizing on a whole different level how true it really is.

You were reaching through the storm
Walking on the water
Even when I could not see
In the middle of it all
When I thought You were a thousand miles away
Not for a moment did You forsake me
Not for a moment did You forsake me

After all You are constant
After all You are only good
After all You are sovereign
Not for a moment will You forsake me
Not for a moment will You forsake me

[Verse 2]
You were singing in the dark
Whispering Your promise
Even when I could not hear
I was held in Your arms
Carried for a thousand miles to show
Not for a moment did You forsake me


And every step every breath you are there
Every tear every cry every prayer
In my hurt at my worst
When my world falls down
Not for a moment will You forsake me
Even in the dark
Even when it's hard
You will never leave me
After all

Not for a moment will You forsake me

Just the tip of the iceberg. There is also a brown corduroy skirt that is way too small. A pink shirt and boots.

If you see us at church, don't judge my child's outfit. She has clothes on. No blood was shed and we are on time. That's enough for today.

Sara stole my ball of yarn and a wrestling match ensued with lots of tickling. All fun and games until she wet her pajamas on my couch. Then, as we were walking up the stairs to change, she puked on them. Maybe the tickling was a little intense but I love her laugh! 

Choosing to believe in second chances. Praying for redemption.

Sara just turned down McDonalds fries. Trying to decide if I should call the pediatrician or take her straight to the ER. Something is clearly wrong.

We haven't even gotten out of the house yet and we set battling. If we had anything in the house to eat, I would put off grocery shopping again. But I'm hungry.

Apparently you need a fancy dress to watch dancing with the stars.

I've been looking for chocolate in Sara's candy bag for several days. I can't find any but she keeps appearing with chocolate kisses. Where is she stashing them?

I've been beyond enamored with my child lately. Tonight, I feel like she is determined to test my patience and sanity. (Let me save you some time, kid. I have neither right now.)

Pretty much sums up her life.

I had the privilege of walking through the adoption process with this couple. We spent a lot of boring hours walking the malls and streets of Bogota. The child they are raising today is not the same child she was 9 months ago. If you think Sara has changed, you should meet Claudia.
9 months. A lot can happen in 9 months. Lives conceived and started. A final year of school. A first year of college or work. The last months of a friend or loved one’s life. New jobs, new houses, new goals, new dreams.
In the last 9 months we’ve seen a Nation that was changed forever in a single day. Seen couples become families. Seen lives changed forever after an encounter with God. Seen the conclusion of lives given in service. So it feels right to me that these past 9 months that have changed our little corner of the World so much, have changed me as well.
I have always been focused on accomplishments and appearances. I want to be the best, so that I can be seen as being the best. I want people, complete strangers, to be impressed by me, and think that I am important. I want to be better than the people around me, and I want them to know it. My ego and arrogance are things that I will always struggle with.
Claudia will, very likely, never achieve any significant thing when compared to what a typical child might. She is four years old and can’t yet speak, read, write, run, jump or even walk very well. Her early life put her at a massive disadvantage, and she is going to fight that, and Down Syndrome, to “catch up” for a very long time, if not her entire life.
There was a time when this would have bothered me greatly. Instead, what I see now is a person who works hard, everyday. A person who will achieve whatever she is able to achieve, and be happier with that than most of us ever will be, regardless of our accomplishments. That the scale of her success is not impacted by the people around her. I see someone who is perfectly content with how God made her, and who already has a greater positive impact on the people around her than I could ever hope to. And she does it naturally.
We should all be so lucky.
I don't see her struggles as tragic anymore, I see them as inspiring. Someone who works hard to achieve their goals is an easy person for me to like, and a privilege to have as a daughter.
Everything else aside, in the last 9 months Claudia has made almost miraculous progress, which seems fitting, considering some of the miracles we experienced in adopting her. In such a short period of time we have seen amazing changes, and have bonded incredibly tightly as a family. I've watched as Angeline taught Claudia to do things that I didn't believe she was ever going to be able to do, and been taught time and time again: the only limitations on Claudia are the ones I put there. Claudia is a different child than the little girl we met 9 months ago, and I can’t wait to see what the next 9 months brings.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Angel Tree Fundraisers

I am working to raise money for Kimberley's grant this Christmas season.  The goal is to raise $1,000!  I will keep this post updated with current fund raisers.  I hope you check back and help out where you can!  I will also keep an updated total of the money raised between November 1 and December 31st.

Current Fundraisers:
October 1-December 31:  Scarves and Skirts for Sara.  So far this has raised $21.50 for Kimberley.  50% of the selling price of each item will be donated to Kimberley's grant.  This includes Buy It Now items and special order items.

November 1-December 31 - Ornaments Available.  Any donation of $35 or more to Kimberley's grant will get you a beautiful Reece's Rainbow ornament with Kimberley's picture on it.

November 1-15:  Online Auction.  I am looking for donations if you have something that you can donate.  Here is a post with the current items.

November 1-27:  Colossal Crossroads Challenge.  This is a local event.  So far this has raised $348 for Kimberley.  

Upcoming Fundraisers:  
November:  Paparazzi Jewelry Sale..   There will be an online sale and a local party.  The local party will be on November 22nd.  The online sale will start shortly after.  (Just in time for Cyber Monday!)

Past Fundraisers:
October 1-12:  Cards for a Cause.  This event raised $261 for Kimberley.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Boo! My Thoughts on Halloween

I don't like Halloween.  At all.  I love fall:  pumpkins, colored leaves, cooler weather, hoodies, harvest.  I do not, however, like Halloween.  I don't even think I really liked it as a kid.  (My sister and brother accuse me of having forgotten most of our childhood.  Maybe I forgot the years I liked trick-or-treating.)

It's not a religious thing like a lot of people might assume.  I just think it's dumb.  I don't understand dressing up and begging for candy from people you don't know.  I just don't get why that's fun.  Don't even get me started on celebrating a holiday that glorifies bats.  

I haven't really had to deal with Halloween much as an adult.  When I lived in apartments, it was easy to just ignore it.  The first year that I was in my house, I thought it would be really fun to have trick-or-treaters.  I bought a TON of candy.  I wanted to talk to the kids and ask about their costumes.  I wanted them to say trick-or-treat.  Very few kids showed up.  The ones that did were not chatty.  And what's with the parents having a bag?  Seriously?   

Last year was my second Halloween in my house.  I went out to dinner and a movie with a friend.  We saw Pitch Perfect and loved it.  There was almost no one in the theater.  It was great!  That's my idea of a fun holiday.

I've been saying since last year that I'm not going to take Sara trick-or-treating.  It doesn't sound like fun to me at all.  And, she doesn't know what it is so she won't know what she's missing.  Growing up, we lived in a  small town and only went to houses of people we knew.  My dad drove us around.  To do that with Sara would take hours.  Our friends are so spread out.  And, it would involve getting in and out of the car seat repeatedly.  (Not any one's idea of a good time.)   I don't know anyone in my neighborhood and the thought of getting food from strangers just makes me really nervous.

Those were my concerns before I knew Sara.  Now I know for a fact that I will not take her trick-or-treating this year.  

Sara is a mooch.  She will be best friends with anyone who has food.  It doesn't matter if she knows them or not.  She cuddles up next to them and is eating their food in no time.  Obviously, this is a major problem and cannot continue.  It's something I am working on constantly.

Sara is also very loving to everyone she meets.  She doesn't know what a stranger is and would go with anyone she met.  This is also a major problem and something I am trying to address.

Do you see why I think trick-or-treating is a bad idea?  Let's ring a door bell and ask a perfect stranger for food!  I can see it now--she will be sitting on someone's couch with their candy bowl in her lap.  And I'll get slapped and bitten when I try to get her to leave.  This is a scene I can live without!  

Maybe next year we'll be ready for trick-or-treating.  This year, she can wear her costume to her new school.  (Yay for a new school!)  On Sunday we are going to a Halloween party at Gigi's Playhouse where she can trick-or-treat and wear her costume.  On Thursday night, we will go out to eat and to the movies.  Maybe I'll even let her wear her costume.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Auction for Kimberley

I am hosting an on-line auction for Kimberley.  It will begin November 1 and end November 15th at 9PM Central time.  Here are some of the items up for bid:

To purchase an item, please visit the Facebook Page.  

To donate an item, leave a comment below.