Tuesday, July 27, 2010

1 year ago

A year ago today, Matt and I scooted out of work early and went to our attorney's office filled with hope and fear, trepidation and excitement. After a few words of prayer and conferencing calling with doctors (who could only confirm what we already knew) we took a deep breath, walked into the conference room and met Miss B and Mr. C.

A year ago today; we met a young woman who would change our lives and hearts forever.
A year ago today; we met a young woman who made the most grown-up and selfless decision I can fathom a teenager ever making.

A year ago today; we met a young man who was doing whatever he could do to support his girlfriend.

A year ago today, we met a young man who's selfless decision changed our lives forever.

A year ago today, we saw our first glimpse of Gabriel growing in his birth mothers belly.

A year ago today, I felt hopeful for the first time in a very long time.

A year ago today, God used Miss B to grant our dream of becoming parents.

Miss B,

If I lived to be a hundred I still don't think I'd ever come up with the right words to thank you. Your selflessness, your sacrifice and your immense love answered my prayers. And every day that goes by I am reminded of the amazing gift you gave us each time I see Gabe smile, hear him babble or watch him sleep. Thank you for letting us be Gabriel's Daddy and Mama. You are loved.
In an era where abortions are okay and teenage mother's are glorified by the media you chose life. In a society were people would place judgement on you, you didn't choose the easy way out, you chose life. And by choosing life, you renewed ours. God created all of us in his image and when I look at you; I see not only a selfless young woman who chose life, but a woman made in the image of God who has a heart like Jesus.
We love you Miss B, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Time is running out

The end of July is nearing and that means the end of a few other things is drawing closer.

  • The end of Gaby Baby's first year is almost over. Can you believe Gabe went from looking like this when he sleeps:

to looking for this:

You may not see a huge difference, because he's still cute as pie when he's sleeping... but he's so much bigger and grown-up looking.
  • The end of Matt's crazy busy summer work/school schedule is getting closer to being over. Actually, the end of Matt's work/school schedule is drawing to a close period as he will graduate with his MBA in December. Gabe and I are so very proud of him!
  • And lastly, our 147 Million Orphans t-shirt fundraiser is almost over. A lot of people expressed interest in ordering a shirt but I only have a few actual confirmed orders. So, if you'd like to order a t-shirt from 147 Million Orphans just click here... or here!


Friday, July 23, 2010

I love him!

Don't you think that he's just the cutest, most squeezable baby ever?

Yeah, me too!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I Choose Miracle

Most of the time I used to forget Gabe was considered a special needs baby. Sure, in the aspect of motor skills he's lagging behind but I never gave Gabe much consideration as special needs.

Until now, and I still don't prefer the term 'special needs'. Because everyone is special and each of our needs are differet, so shouldn't we all be considered special needs?

But anyways, until recently I didn't give much thought about Gabe being a 'special needs baby'. But now I can't ignore it, nor should I. In the past few weeks we've left the therapy office with two special pieces of equipment. And while I'm grateful to have these items to help Gabe catch up on his gross motor skills, bringing them home was like a slap in the face.

The first couple of days I felt like the stander or chair were taunting me. Ignorance, whether well-meaning or on accident, is surely not bliss.

You see, I gladly put on Gabe's eye patches to help his eye lid and further develop his sight and wearing his splint and brace didn't seem like a big deal. But having him stand or sit in such medical looking devices broke my heart initially. I would situate him in it and then have to look away or the tears in my eyes would surely hit my cheeks.

Gradually though, I've seen improvements; Gabe is more steady on his feet and even keeps weight on his left leg. His sitting has vastly improved as well and I know that we will soon have an independant sitter on our hands.

And these improvements make my heart happy, even if seeing him in these devices makes me sad. But Gabe loves to sit in his special chair or stand in his stander. He delights in the fact that he's able to sit and reach for things without tumbling over or stand up and have a much more fun perspective on the world around him.

Seeing his excitement and joy in his stander or chair make my heart happy. Because Gabe does not know he's considered 'special needs' and he strives to learn and grow each and every day. Just the fact that he's learning and growing is remarkable. Just a short 11 months or so ago we were unsure if Gabe would live through the birthing process and knew full well he'd be paralyzed on his left side.

Gabe (and God) showed us different. Gabe beat the odds and is to this day a remarkable case of schizencephaly.

All that being said, I still hate the term "special needs" because while I know Gabe is special, we don't want him to feel any different than his buddies Noah and Micah, or his lifegroup friends or his cousins.

So, I'm letting go of the classification of special needs; Gabe's doctors and therapists can define him by anyway they want but not me. I'm choosing to use the word miracle to describe Gabe's prognosis.

Because Gabe just being the happy (and he is the happiest baby ever), sweet little boy that he is, is more than enough for me. Anything else is just icing on the cake!

Gabe in his chair

Gabe in his stander
"It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man." Psalm 118:8

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Passions (Part 1)

Otherwise entitled: Letting God Break My Heart
The past few weeks my soul has felt restless; My prayers have been consumed with asking God to break my heart over the things that break His. God has been pulling at my heartstrings and I'm beginning to truly hear Him.

God has given me many passions. This sweet little boy is one of them:

Being a good steward of our environment is another passion of mine and why you hear me toute the 4 R's often (reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose!)

And I always knew adopting would be one of my passions. When I was younger and my dad would tell stories from his travels in China, I knew one day I would adopt (I just thought it would be a little Chinese girl named Lily). I just never knew that God would turn that passion for adoption into a passion for orphans; to advocating for children that have nothing and routinely being brought to tears when I try to wrap my mind around the insane number of orphans in the world.

I never knew that my passion for adoption would turn into an intense desire to help orphans in Ethiopia.

And then today I read this: Ararat Day - Talk is Sheep and I feel broken. Broken that there are people out there who's lives are valued by no one and even more broken by the fact that right now, there is nothing I can do but pray.

God gave us passions for a reason now I've just got to see where it takes me.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

1 Month to go

I can not, absolutely can NOT believe that Gabe is 11 months old. 11 months ago we fell in love with this sweet smelling, angelic looking miracle of a baby. And 11 months later we are more in love than we could have possible imagined.

Gabriel, in the past 11 months you have taught us more than I ever thought possible. You've taught us to look past the ordinary and marvel in the extraordinary, to not be defined by a medical diagnosis but to look to our great Physician for everything.

Every time you move the left side of your body, we have the privilege of watching a miracle in action. Each physical and occupational therapy appointment you demonstrate perseverance, strength and a never say never type of determination that could propel the Browns to be Super Bowl champions.

You, Gaby Baby are one of life's greatest marvels and one of God's biggest miracles. 11 months ago you entered our lives - you changed us, taught us to live for each day and love a little deeper... and we will never be the same.

Happy 11 Months Gabe!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hands and Feet

Thank you so much to everyone that has bought a t-shirt or coffee from one of our fundraisers. While our Just Love Coffee shop will be opened indefinately, the t-shirt fundraiser will be over at the end of July if you're interested.

Without your love and support we would not be as confident in the place we are on this journey God sent before us. Without you, we could not be His hands and feet. It may sound cliche, but it is the truth.

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hi Daddy!

Gabe loves his daddy! And boy does he miss him during the week when he's away all day at work and most of the evening at school. Did you know that Matt not only works 40+ hours a week at work, he's taking 4 classes this summer? He works (and schools) so hard for our family and I am so grateful for him and all his devotion to making a better life for our family.

Gabe just wanted to say "Hi Daddy, I can't wait till your home for bath time every night! Mama isn't nearly as much fun splashing as you are! Thanks for working so hard for me. I love you"

Monday, July 12, 2010

Crazy Busy Life

I can't believe it's been so between updates but life on Oxford Avenue has been busy! Since the last update Gabe and I took a trip downtown to visit Dr. R. While it was nice to have such a long break between appointments (longest ever!), it was also nice to get Gabe's eyes checked on and see where we go from here. We were certain that surgery would be scheduled at this appointment and I went in emotionally prepared... and came out excited! Excited because the surgery that was imminent and definite has been postponed indefinately. Postponed, you ask. Yes, I said postponed indefinately!!! Because even though Dr. R didn't think it could happen Gabe's vision continues to improve. Can I get a woot, woot? or an Amen!

Gabe sitting in the exam chair

Because of our busy schedule Gabe has acquired the ability to sleep even more places than before... like on the floor. I was washing dishes and he was playing with my phone. After dropping it, in his desire to get it back he worked so hard that he exhausted himself and fell asleep. I of course, left my phone next to him and it rang and woke him up, shortly after I took the pictures.

The same day as Gabe's eye appointment my 3 lovelies and I went to see the midnight release of Eclipse. Yes, we are all in our mid-to-late 20's, yes we are Twi-hards and yes, we did kick the teenager out of the seat that she tried to steal from us!

My lovelies: Sondra, Nicole, Megan and me
(we were there with 3 other, non pictured lovely ladies as well!)

Me and Edward
Yes I love Edward, if it wasn't for being a wife and a mother I would have become a Robert Pattinson stalker (but it's really a Harry Potter/Cedric Diggory thing) And no, Matt won't let me name our next son Cullen.

Gabe and I have also traveled near and far to watch my nephews play baseball. Caleb's games took us from Elyria to Talmadge and lots of places in between. Lots of travel and lots of fun. Caleb was the starting pitcher, their best catcher and pretty good at everything involving baseball. An added bonus was that one of my favorite neighbors, Andrew played as well!
Ethan's games took us to Vermilion and as his first year in pitch baseball, there is a lot of walking, not a lot of action but fun nonetheless.
One of the best parts of going to my nephews games was that Gabe was able to visit with his uncles and aunts! Hanging out with our family is one of our favorite pasttimes!

Ethan, 7, ready to hit

Gabe visiting with his Auntie Annie

Gabe was ready for the 4th of July but ended up with his very first... fever :( It was no fun and left us with a really subdued 4th of July weekend. Matt was off for a few extra days so we took turns making sure Gabe was comfortable and happy. We were able to make it out of the house for a short while to go to a cookout at my brothers but other than that we relaxed at home. It was a little odd not watching fireworks, but it was probably a good thing we skipped fireworks. Loud noises are not one of Gabe's favorite things!

One of the few smiles from baby Gaby on the 4th

We also took some trips to the zoo. Whether its by ourselves, with our usual zoo-goers the Smitleys, or with friends we always have a good time. This time we went with Megan and Steve... and had a blast. Or at least Meg and I did as we laughed uncontrollably at Matt and Steve as they tried to jump as far as a kangaroo.

the Gabe-ster!

Trying to figure out how far a kangaroo jump!

the Gabe-ster and the Meg-ster!

Matt & Steve checking out the dinosaurs

Gabe and Daddy checking out the giraffe's

Along with all of our recent adventures Gabriel continues to grow, change and amaze us every single day. His perseverance and strength humbles me on a daily basis. Like the fact that our Gabe, who "should" be paralyzed on his left side gets closer and closer every day to crawling. See?

And yes those are his fabulously cute, ultra chunky legs!

Do you feel all caught up on our lives? You do? Good! And I promise (well, maybe), I'll never go that long without updating/


Don't forget our 147 Million shirt fundraiser!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Our Ethiopian Adoption Timeline

June Referrals:
1 infant girl, 1 toddler boy, 2 older boys and 3 sibling groups
Estimated Wait List Numbers:
Boys: 38
Girls: 54
Siblings: 19

May Referrals:
3 infant girls, one older boy
Estimated Wait List Numbers:
Boys: 40
Girls: 55
Siblings: 22

May 22, 2013 - No more wait list numbers.  Monthly updates will give referrals by dossier submission dates along with age/gender information of children referred.  T

April Wait List Numbers:
Boys: 42
Girls: 58
Siblings: 24

March Wait List Numbers:
Boys: 43
Girls: 58
Siblings: 22

February Wait List Numbers:
Boy: 45
Girl: 62
Siblings: 24

January Wait List Numbers:
Boy: 46
Girl: 63
Siblings: 25

December Wait List Numbers:
boys: 47
girls: 65
Siblings: 24

December 4,  2012 - We lost Little A's referral.
November 29, 2012 - Referral for Little A

October Wait List Numbers:
Boys: 55
Girls: 71

September Wait List Numbers:
Boys: 55
Girls: 72
Siblings: 26

August Wait List Numbers:
boys: 55
girls: 75
siblings: 27

July Wait List Numbers:
boys: 58
girls: 79
siblings: 27

June Wait List Numbers:
Boys: 69
Girls: 92
Siblings: 35

May Wait List Numbers
Boys: 72
Girls: 96
Siblings: 36

April Wait List Numbers:
Boys: 75
Girls: 98
Siblings: 34

March Wait List Numbers:
Boys: 79
Girls: 100
Siblings: 35

February Wait List Numbers:
Boys: 83
Girls: 106
Siblings: 38

January Wait List Numbers:
Boys: 110
Siblings: 39

December Wait List Numbers:
Boys: 89
Girls: 113
Siblings: 38

November Wait List Numbers:
Boys: 92
Girls: 117
Siblings: 41

October Wait List Numbers:
Boys: 91
Girls: 117
Siblings: 38

September 13, 2011 - On the wait list!!!! 
September Wait List Numbers:
Boys: 97
Girls: 125
Siblings: 45

September 6, 2011 - Recieved Letter of Favorable Determination.

August 5, 2011 - USCIS fingerprint appointment

August 4, 2011 - Mailed in completed dossier

July 27, 2011 - Texas Homestudy Approved

July 25, 2011 - Texas Homestudy Completed

May 21, 2011 - Move to Texas, begin redoing all of our paperwork.

May 4, 2011 - Homestudy Approved

March 19, 2011 - Final Homestudy visit.

November 2, 2010 - Orientation papers and initial fees mailed in, waiting for Homestudy and Dossier papers to begin the 'paper chase'.

September 23, 2010 - AGCI Orientation call

September 13, 2010 - Accepted into AGCI's Ethiopia program

September 9, 2010 - Mailed official application to All God's Children International adoption agency

July 7, 2010 - Filed preapplication via the internet with All God's Children International adoption agency.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

147 Million Orphans

After the outstanding success of our garage sale I hesitated to begin another fundraiser so quickly after. I didn't want to burn people out on our requests to join in our journey but then I read this post by an adoptive mother, someone who's faith and desire to be who God wants her to be is an inspiration to me.

So we are going to continue to jump in feet first, telling God "whatever it takes" we will do to bring home our family. When I think of our child(ren) already alive and waiting in Ethiopia for us to come bring them home, it drives me even more; to work harder, save more and to plan different fundraisers to bring our family home.

Our next fundraiser will run now until the end of July and is brought to us (and you) by the wonderful ladies from 147 Million Orphans.
A little background on 147 Million Orphans: Started by 2 mom's with 13 children and 7 adoptions between the 2 of them; they are working to speak up for orphans everywhere, to give a voice to those who have no voice. Some of the projects that the proceeds from 147 Million Orphans support are Amazima, Project Hopeful, feeding children in Uganda and Haiti (40% of proceeds from each product purchased directly from their website goes to feed hungry children), helping African refugess earn a sustainable income and of course helping adoptive families fundraise.
Now back to the fundraising aspect. For everything we sell from the products listed below we will recieve $10.00. So, if 10 people buy 1 shirt; that's $100! And proceeds are still going to feed children in Africa. How awesome is that?
Now for the shirts for sale:
Men's Shirt #1
Feed 1 Football Tee
Price: 24.95
front back
Sizes: S, M, L, XL, 2XL
Men's Shirt #2
Grey 147 Tee
Price: 19.95
front back
Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL
Women's Shirt #1
Short Sleve Tee
Price: 24.95

front back
Sizes: Small, Medium, Large

Women's T-shirt #2
Project Hopeful Baseball Tee
Price: $34.95

front back front red
Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL

Feed 1
Price: $19.95

front back
Youth Sizes: Small, Medium, Large

Toddler Girl
Hot Pink Feed 1
Price $19.95
front back
Size 2T, 3T, 4T

Toddler Boy
Mint Green Feed 1
Price $19.95

front back
Sizes 2T, 3T, 4T

To avoid paying pay pal to use an account through them(and I'm not ashamed to admit I couldn't figure out how to do it :), we're going to do this fundraiser the old fasion way! If you'd like to buy a shirt to help us fundraise, pick one from the shirts listed above, email me @ meredithalagorga at hotmail (dot) com with the shirt style and size you'd like. I will them email you back with my address to send payment too. On August 1st I will submit our order to 147 Million Orphans, they will mail me all of the shirts and then I will ship the shirt(s) to you or deliver them if you live close.

There's also a slew of other merchandise located here if you'd like to choose something else, just let me know!
So, this fundraiser is officially 'on!' Let us know if you have any questions. If you choose to buy a t-shirt, that's terrific and we thank you. If you choose not to buy one, we thank you for your prayers and support as we work our way to Ethiopia!
God Bless!