Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I Feel My Savior's Love

Some of you may know what recently happened in our lives.  It was an experience, like many others we have had, that has changed us.  On Monday December 17th we got the email we had been hoping and waiting to get for 17 months.  An expectant mother had written to us.  She had been considering adoption for her unborn child for months.  She had seen many profiles of couples hoping to adopt and we were the ones she kept coming back to.  She and the expectant father wanted to have an open adoption.  They wanted to be involved in their childs life, but they felt they could not provide the life she needed and deserved.  This is why they had come to choose adoption.  The next day we went to dinner with G, the expectant mother, T, the expectant father, and G's two-year-old daughter R.  We ate and talked for almost two hours.  Mark and I both felt a great connection to them.  They lived about 15 minutes from our home.  Their living situation was bad for several reasons, and they felt they could not care for the child G was carrying.  None of their friends or family knew that she was pregnant.  She had not received any prenatal care, and she had delivered R 5 weeks early by c-section, due to pre-eclamsia.  Getting her in to see a doctor was one of our primary concerns. 

Over the next 5 weeks we spent a great deal of time with G and T getting to know them, helping them find a new place to live, and trying to get medical care.  I won't go into all of the details; they aren't really important.  I'll just say that I did much of what an adoption case worker would normally do.  I was happy to do this.  I wanted to have a close relationship with G and T, as did Mark.  We had them in our home.  We did everything we could to prepare, so the adoption plan that they had made for their child would be successful. 

On Wednesday January 23rd, we were finally able to get G in to see a doctor.  Before they did an exam, they sent her up to have an ultrasound done.  I was with her at the appointment including the ultrasound.  G and T worked together, and because no one knew that she was pregnant, it was important that T go to work as normal.  There wasn't anyone else to be with G, so she had asked me to be with her at the appointment and at the delivery if T was not able.  As the ultrasound was being done they were able to see that it was a girl.  I was so excited.  They also found that there was not enough amniotic fluid around the baby and that she was measuring too small.

We were sent over to the labor and delivery wing of the hospital and G was admitted.  We were a little unclear as to what was going on, because a doctor didn't come in to talk to us for a couple hours.  When the doctor finally came in, she explained what the problem was and that the baby needed to be born.  G choose to have another c-section and we were each prepared.  I was there as that precious, tiny baby girl was brought into this world.  I stayed right with G, holding her hand and telling her what a great job she was doing. 

That night I came in and fed the baby every few hours.  I sat with her and talked to her as G and T slept.  Over the next few days I spent almost all of my time at the hospital.  Mark would go home each night to take care of our two boys as well as R, G's daughter, who was staying with us while she was in the hospital.  Our amazing friends and family took care of the three kids, while we spent time with G and T and the baby.  Again, I won't go into all of the details, but over those three days it became increasingly difficult for G.  By Saturday morning it was evident that she was doubting the plan she had made to place her baby with our family.  T, up to that point had insisted that he was still sure that they should place.  However, on Saturday, he called his mother, who had not been told and had not prepared her heart for adoption.  She and his brother came from Kentucky to Columbus, and in the end they convinced G and T not to follow through on the adoption plan they had made.

Needless to say, we were very saddened by this turn of events.  We spent all day Saturday praying to our Father in Heaven that they would be able to remember why they had chosen adoption and that they would choose to follow through with that plan.  We were joined by so many family and friends in prayer.  Still, we knew that Heavenly Father will not take away a person's agency.  They had the right to choose.  We went home that night deeply saddened, but also anxious to see our two beautiful sons.

Before our oldest was born, we experienced another failed adoption plan.  That experience was devestating for us.  We wanted so badly to be parents, and I'm ashamed to admit, our faith in our Heavenly Father was not very strong.  I was so grateful this time to be able to go home to my wonderful children.  They bring me so much joy and help me each day to be able to see Heavenly Father's love for me and his hand in my life.  This experience has still been very difficult, and not just for us.  Because everything took place so close to home, many of our family and friends were much more involved.  They met G and T.  They helped to care for R.  My mother-in-law and sister-in-law even got to see the baby.  They each had feelings of sadness and even anger of their own. 

I think many people look at what has happened and think, "I wouldn't blame them for being very angry".  Thankfully, that is not what I have been able to focus on.  We are sad.  We wish that they had made the choice to place that amazing baby girl with our family.  I think about her a lot.  I wonder how she is, if she is growing, if she is safe, if she is warm.  I wonder if she will ever know how many people have already loved her in her short life.  I know, though, that we have a Father in Heaven who loves each one of us.  He loves me, and will direct my life for good, if I let him.  He loves that baby and he loves G and T.  I feel my Savior's love for me each day.  I have definately felt that Heavenly Father is happy with the way I have handled this disappointment.  He is pleased with the service we provided for them, and he is happy that I have chosen to not be angry, because it is a choice I have conciously made.  I have the benefit of having seen, first hand, how anger and frustration can turn to joy and love when the atonement is applied in my life.  I have seen Heavenly Father work miracles and I know I will continue to see that in the future.  They are not always the miracles I might hope for, but they are always what I need.

I know many of our friends and family have wondered what they could do for us.  They want to help, but they aren't sure what to say.  They don't want to over step and make us feel worse.  They want to let us grieve.  I want to tell you that your prayers for us mean more than you will ever know.  We have felt your love and we are so grateful.  We need each of you in our lives.  I, personally, feel better as I move forward.  I feel better when my friends let me talk when I want to, and be silent when I can't.  I have been so grateful to my friends who have treated me as they always have, and who have invited me even when they knew I might not want to go.  I don't want to be avoided.

There are definitly things we might do differently in the future.  In so many ways, this was a new experience for us, despite having been through three adoptions prior.  I won't go into all we will do differently, but I will say what we will do the same.  We will still open our hearts.  We will still invite the expectant parents into our lives.  We will still work toward open adoption.  We have seen the amazing blessings that come from having birth families in our lives, and we would not choose differently when it comes to this.  We love our children's birth families and the possibility for pain is worth the joy when an open adoption plan succeeds.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

We are Hoping to Adopt

It's been a few months since I posted the last time about our hopes to adopt.  We are still on the journey to add our next child to our family; a child we are very excited to meet.  We know that Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us and that he is directing the miraculous work of adoption.  If you are interested in learning more about adoption, have any questions about us or adoption in general, or just need someone to connect with please, feel free to email us at markandsarah13@gmail.com.  You can visit our profiles at https://www.itsaboutlove.org/ial/profiles/27073241/ourMessage.jsf or http://www.hopingtoadopt.org/index.php/family/letters/450, and learn a little about us by reading the posts on this blog.  You can also contact our Social Worker, Kimberly Toronto, through LDS Family Services at torontokw@ldsfamilyservice.org or 614-836-2466.  She is amazing and incredibly helpful.  One of the things we love about our agency is that they provide couseling and other services to expectant parents free of charge and without pressure to place the child for adoption.  We recognize that a parenting or adoption plan is personal and there is not one right plan for all people or situations.  That's why it's important to have someone to help find the right choice for you.  Kimberly does an amazing job doing just that.

Thank you for considering our family.  Thank you for considering adoption.  Thank you for giving us hope.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Gone Fishing...again!

Earlier this week, Mark decided that he wanted to go camping (something we love to do).  The only weekend we have available for at least a month is this weekend, so he checked to see if he could get Friday off work and he could.  Unfortunately, the weather in Ohio did not like those plans of ours (big shocker, it got down to 38 degrees and rained ), so we chose not to got camping.  However, yesterday after we had gone swimming at a local indoor pool and the boys were taking naps, Mark decided that he wanted the four of us to go fishing that afternoon despite the fact that we did not have any fishing equipment.  I will spare you most of the rediculous details, but it was a huge fiasko.  We spent an exorbatant amount of time in Walmart and Gander Mountain trying to decide on which equipment to buy, forgot to get the fishing licenses and had to go back, went back home to retrieve water bottles and chairs, and went to the grocery store to buy chicken liver (yes, eww) for bait.  By then it was time for dinner so we got some fast food and headed to Buckeye Lake.  Once we were finally there we started to unpack and realized that the hooks and fishing line had been removed from the van when we stopped by home and had not been put back in, so we could not do any fishing.  We let the boys spend a little time throwing rocks into the lake then went to my mom's house to roast marshmallows instead.

Early this morning it rained and there was threat that it would rain off and on all day.  However, Mark again decided that he wanted to try to go fishing.  Being the agreable wife I am :) we packed up everything as quickly as we could, bundled up ourselves and the boys and headed back to the lake.  My sister, Erin, and her husband, Rony, were also with us.  It was cold and windy, but we had fun.  We had bought Spiderman and Lightning McQueen fishing poles for the boys, and they had a great time carrying them around and "fishing".

Rony and Erin each caught a small fish, but I was able to hook the largest fish of the day.  When I say large I really mean little, probably about 12 or 13 inches, but it was big enough that we took it home and got two small fillets off of it.  We looked it up when we got home and found that it was a Walleye.  It was small enough that we probably would have released it, but without grossing people out, I'll just say that the hook would have caused it to die anyway. 

One thing I realized about myself, and the kind of mother I am and will be as my children grow up, is I am someone who is not afraid to do things like catch a fish and cut it up for food.  I am not afraid to hold a fish, touch a worm (or chicken liver as the case may be), bait a hook, or cut into the dead fish I caught.  In fact, I enjoy most of these things.  I was definately a tom boy when I was younger and those traits are still a big part of me.  Granted, I am much more girly then I used to be.  But, I love doing things like camping, hiking, fishing, and generally enjoying nature, and I love to see my children enjoying these things too.  I not only don't mind it when they get dirty doing these things, I love it!

Tonight after we had cut the fillets off of the fish, I witnessed a trait of my husband's that those who know him will not be surprised by.  Once the meat was off of the fish, I was done, but not Mark.  He wanted to see the other parts of the fish.  He found the heart, a human organ he works with most days, and he watched facinated as it beat involuntarily when he put slight pressure on surrounding tissue.  He speculated about why this happened and what the parts of the heart and around the heart might be ("That would be it's right ventricle and I wonder if this is the aorta").  I have to admit, it was kind of cool, but not something I would have gone looking for.  I love that it is something that he goes looking for.  That's just who he is and I love him.

In the end, we all were glad we went and we hope to be able to do it again soon.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

And it has been a happy one.  We had candy, we had cinnamon rolls, we had hard boiled eggs, and we went to church.  We have spent time as a family, which is the best part of all.  Today when we came home from church I asked Gabriel, as I do every Sunday, "what did you do in primary today?".  He ran off for a second and came back with the cutouts of a "cave", "rock", and "Jesus" and proceded to tell us the story of how "Jesus died and was put in the cave and the rock was put in front of the cave to keep him in, but after three days he came back alive and when they looked for him in the cave he was gone, but then he came back and there were angles and he was alive".  The whole while he was moving the cut outs around to go with the story he was telling.  We could tell that he had closely watched as his wonderful and patient primary teacher had taught him this lesson.  We are so grateful to her for all she teaches him and how lovingly she gives of her time to be with these very young children of our Father in Heaven.  And I am grateful for our son who came home and shared what he had learned about his Savior.

I am so blessed to have such amazing, beautiful spirits placed in my care.  How have I been so blessed?  I know that my Savior and my Father in Heaven love me.  I felt today, as I sat in Church, a need to make my relationship with them so much stronger.  I begin the only place I can and that is the present.  I want my children to learn every day about who they are, why they are here, and where they come from.  I want them to FEEL of their Savior's love for them through me.  I am so glad though that I'm not the only one teaching them.  They have their Dad, who loves us all very much.  They have their grandparents, who have paved the way by sticking to the gospel even when it was hard.  They have Aunts and Uncles and Cousins, who we are blessed to be very close to.  And they have amazing friends and teachers, who are always willing to love my children. 

Yes, it's been a good day.  I know my Savior lives.  I know that he suffered for me and that he died for me.  I know that he lives again and that he is MY advocate to the Father.  I know that he has done this for each one of us and in my small, insufficient way, I am grateful.  I wish you a Happy Easter as well.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mommy, it's snack time!

Today Gabriel got it in his head that he wanted ice cream with sprinkles on it for snack time.  This was around 4:30pm and obviously closer to dinner time than snack time, but he was determined.  I suggested that maybe if he was well behaved that we could have ice cream after dinner.  Immediately after this exchange I went to check my email.  A couple of minutes later Gabriel says to me, "Mommy, I'm all ready for snack time.  See, I got out three bowls and three spoons and the ice cream and the sprinkles" in his cutest little boy voice.  And it was true.  While I was zoned out checking emails he had gotten out all of the things neccesary for he and Eli and myself to have ice cream.  He had even gotten a smaller spoon for Eli.  I couldn't resist.   He had thought this out and was so stinkin cute about it.  So, we had ice cream for "snack".  I actually love when things like this happen.  Don't get me wrong, I would always love for the boys to listen to what I say and follow my instructions (I am a parent after all), but these are the types of moments when I really get to slow down and just enjoy being with my children.  These are the special moments we will remember.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My Little Little

This is our Eli:

With Sarah's sister, Elaine

Every man needs a little light reading material while uses the facilities 

I feel like his older brother gets a lot of face time on our blog, because he is older, talks, and does more independently that I can report on.  So, I wanted to write a post just about my little little, as I like to call him. 

Eli is exactly what we needed to counter balance the very active, independent child who came before him.  I am so grateful for who he is and what he adds to our family.  He is not quite as mild as we thought he would be as a baby, but he is a little boy after all.  He loves to play with his big brother and try just about anything that Gabriel does, which makes me very nervous sometimes, because despite how close he is in height to his big brother, he is not nearly as sturdy.  He starts as many of the wrestling matches as Gabriel does.

He loves to jump or fall head first off of the couch, he loves to stand on things he shouldn't (like his car/scooter he got for Christmas), he loves to climb on things, he loves to reach his little hands up onto my counters and grab whatever he can just because he is able to reach them (needless to say, I have to be very careful about where I leave knives even for a second to turn to get something). 

Eli is also very gentle and cuddly.  He has the most joyous smile; his whole face lights up. 

He also has an ornery smile that I love to see, even if it means he's being well...ornery.  He often gets a very serious face like he's saying, "Mom, don't embarrass me."  He gives the most perfect kisses with the smacking noise and everything.  There is no way to describe how perfect they are or how happy they make us.

He is 19 months old, so, of course, he throws temper tantrums, but they are some of the most mild tantrums you will ever see, and he is easily talked out of them.  He is VERY tall for his age and VERY skinny.  Mark says that someday, when he is a teenager, he will be playing basketball and he'll have a conversation that will go:

teammates: "Dude, who is that short, fat, white guy going crazy in the stands every time you score,"
Eli: "that's my dad," 
Teammates: "No really, who is he," 
Eli:  "No really, that's my dad"

And Mark will be that crazy, super-proud-of-his-kids dad no matter what.  But that's another post about another person I love.

Eli doesn't talk very much at all.  We have started telling him that "ung" is not a word and if he wants something then he needs to use words.  He's not such a fan of this line.  In fact he has taken to sighing at me.  It's a sigh that would make any teenager proud.  He also does this when he is trying to tell me something and I say I don't understand as though he were saying, "if you aren't going to understand then why do I even try".  He thinks that we have known what he wanted up to this point without him talking, so why should that change now.  Mostly we are tired of screaming being a large part of his vocabulary, so we are trying to help him communicate without it.  One thing he did communicate very clearly to me recently was his discomfort with the Gorillas and Polar Bears at the zoo. 

I know this is super blurry, but it pretty accurately shows his opinion on being that close to the gorilla.

Gabriel trying to get Eli to smile for the camera.  He would not be persuaded.

He was not comforted by the thick glass separating him from these large creatures, and did not like it when I tried to get a picture of him in front of them.  I'll admit, I got a little bit of a laugh out of his reaction while still trying to show him I wouldn't let those big animals get him.

 His mommy is still his favorite person and he has just barely started calling daddy "dada" instead of "mama".  I love this!  I love that I'm the person he wants more than anyone or anything else.  I love that I can soothe him and comfort him at any time.  This is not to say that he doesn't love his daddy.  He gets so excited when daddy comes home and I love to see that too.  He also loves his big brother.  We can already tell that his family is very important to him and this brings us a great deal of happiness.  He brings us joy.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

GO BLUE!! (or Red?)

In our home the most important color has been BLUE.  It is my favorite color as well as Mark's, but most importantly it is a way of declaring allegiance for my husband.  For those who don't know, Mark was born in Michigan, and as far as sports go, he is true to his home state.  It is true that he only lived there for the first couple years of his life, but a boy is taught sports by his Father and Mark has not strayed from that teaching.  From a very young age he has tried to instill the importance of rooting for the "right team" in our sons.  GO BLUE!!

Elijah is still too young to vocalize his preferences, but that has never been an issue for Gabriel.  He was vocal very early and definitely knows his own mind.  For a while now he has known that his favorite color is RedEverything should be red in Gabriel's eyes.  When we go somewhere he wants the town, person's home, or store to be red Not too long ago, when Mark was driving in circles waiting for me to come out of a store, Gabriel asked him if the circles they were driving in could be redHe wishes the whole world could be redThis is one of the colors of the "evil rival", so this fasination with all things red has been a bit of a concern for Mark. 


(His facination with the color might have something to do with a certain red race car.  Cachow!)

Recently, Gabriel said to Mark, "Daddy, when I grow up and play football on tv, I will wear red and you can wear red too and cheer for me in red."  At first, Mark's face fell and I could see he was a little sad because of this declaration.  But, my wonderful husband just looked at each of his sons and said, "I will always cheer for you and Eli, no matter what.  Even if you choose to wear red."  Now that's love!