Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July Numbers - Oh My!

This was an exciting month of movement for our adoption agency!  While I was in El Salvador many prayers were answered and a flood gate of referrals was opened.  There was so  much movement that we completely skipped over the 60's on the boy referral waiting list and the 80's on the girls referral waiting list.  Seeing our numbers tonight in our monthly update, well, it just rocked my socks off. Better than seeing our numbers go down is knowing that children have now found their forever families.  God is so good.

And without further ado, our July wait list numbers:

boys: 58 (down 13)
girls: 79 (down 17)
siblings: 27 (down 9)

Talk about movement!

Tonight I am thanking God for his faithfulness on this adoption journey.  His mercies, my friends, truly are new every morning.  Or evening. They even display themselves in emails.

God is good.  And if next month our numbers barely move He is still good.  His mercies will still be new every morning.  God will continue to be faithful while we wait.

31; An Unexpected Blessing

A few weeks ago, before life became super crazy, a dear friend (and adoptive mama) offered to host a fundraiser for us.  We were so surprise by Heather's kind offer and humbled and grateful for her generosity to our family and adoption fund. 
I shouldn't have been surprised though.  Being an adoptive mother herself, she knows how quickly the expenses grow during an adoption. Having known Heather since high school where she was always so amazingly supportive on and off the soccer field, well I shouldn't have been surprised by her kind offer because she is just the type of person to help someone else. 

Thank you so much for your support, Heather.

So here's the deal, friends!  From tomorrow August 1st through August 10th Heather has opened a party on her Thirty-One website, to raise money for our adoption fund.  Click on her My Parties tab and then click on our party (LaGorga Thirty-One Fundraiser) and shop away. 

In the past I've been to one thirty-one party before and was pleasantly surprised by their products; the quality is superb, the colors vibrant and the variety of items means their is something for everything.  Numerous friends use the retro metro bag for their diaper bag.

We love the cinch sac for Gabe to take into Children's church with his diapers, wipes and cup or when traveling on an airplane with all the activities he needs to stay busy.
The thermal picnic tote is perfect for picnics and lunch on the go.  When we went to Discovery Green a church friend that went with us brought this and their food was still perfectly cold after a few hours in the Texas heat. 
And the many sizes of the utility totes are perfect for organizing closets, toy rooms or sitting on book cases.  You all know I just love anything that helps orgainzing my crazy life!  Plus, they come in lots of great colors and patterns that are perfect for sitting out! 
                                      
Best of all.... all of the products listed and almost all of the products in their catalog are able to be personalized!  Now how's that for organizational help!  And monograms and personalization are just plain fun!

If you're in need of a purse or diaper bag, a gift for a baby or wedding shower, tools to help you get organized or just want to help us raise funds for our adoption, please check out Heather's thirty-one website, click on her parties link and shop at our adoption fundraiser.  We get all the profits and you get something cute for yourself, your house or to give as a gift!  Win-win!!  

I'll update tomorrow with the permalink to our fundraiser. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Collecting my thoughts

I really want to share  about El Salvador. I assumed I'd do a day by day synopsis as this is not just a way to keep our family and friends informed about our life but also a journal of our family but I'm having trouble putting all of my experiences, thoughts and feelings into words.
Ann Voskamp said it best when she said "Who can expect to make sense of a loud world when they haven’t made quiet space before God?"  So while I struggle to write about El Salvador, I'm finding it easiest to make the most sense of what God showed me, taught me and is working on in me when I'm spending time reading my Bible, praying and just being still... or not so still spending time with Gabe while thinking of the little loves I left behind in La Libretad.
Bear with me, I'll share soon; my first orphanage experience, sharing the gospel in a displaced community, hearing the word of God spoken in Spanish but truly feeling the Holy Spirit there.
Every bit of my experience was unbelievable.  God is so good.  He is doing some wonderfully awesome (massimo!) things in La Libretad and I was able to witness a few of them.

Today

My heart felt a little heavy today.  Despite the fun of taking Gabe to the children's museum and  perusing IKEA with my mom I just couldn't shake the feeling that I was missing something.  Tonight as I was browsing through amazon I realized that today was July 27.
July 27th is a very important day in the LaGorga family.  Just 3 short years ago we walked into our attorney's office nervous, hesitant and afraid of the tiny bit of hope burying itself in our hearts.  After 2 hours of conversation, laughter and a few tears doors were closed and quiet conversations took place.  I don't know what was said behind one of the closed doors.  Behind the second closed door Matt prayed for God's will; for us, our future family and the little boy in the next room yet to be born.  Me?  All that I could do was repeat something along the lines "please, God we already love him so much."  The doors were opened and Miss B asked us to be the parents of the little boy she had already named Gabriel.
 
We left the office filled with hope, joy and a new found love for our soon-to-be-born son. 

Today I am so happy that Gabe's birth parents chose adoption for him and picked us to be his parents.  My life has never been more complete since becoming Gabriel's mother. 

But today I'm also acutely aware of the loss involved in adoption.  Maybe it's because I've been praying a lot for our next little ones birth family or perhaps I'm just more aware of all that adoption entails.  Adoption is wonderful gift from God, it's redemptive qualities are powerful but all adoptions include some loss.  The loss of dreams, hopes, relationships...  adoption is hard, so very worth all the hard parts but hard all the same.   Tonight, I just pray that Miss B and Mr C have peace in their hearts about Gabriel; that they know grateful and humbled we are to be his parents, that he is doing so well and that Gabe will always know his adoption is a story of the sacrificial love of his birth family and the unbelievable love of our God.

LEGACY OF AN ADOPTED CHILD
Once there were two women who never knew each other
One you do not remember, the other you call Mother
Two different lives shaped to make you one
One became your guiding star, the other became your sun
The first one gave you life, and the second taught you to live it
The first gave you a need for love, the second was there to give it
One gave you a nationality, the other gave you a name
One gave you a talent, the other gave you aim
One gave you emotions, the other calmed your fears
One saw your first sweet smile, the other dried you tears
One made an adoption plan, that was all that she could do
The other prayed for a child, and God led her straight to you.

Now, which of these two women, Are you the product of?
Both, my darling, Both, Just two different types of love.
---- Unknown

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Amazing!

El Salvador was absolutely amazing.  We've been super busy since I returned and each spare minute is spent doing one of two things; spending time with Gabe or reflecting on my time in La Libretad.  I can't wait to share what we did, what I saw and the thousands of emotions I felt during my week there.  Suffice it to say, the people of El Salvador and La Grand Commission church rooted themselves deep in the recesses of my heart. 
My view of El Salvador on Friday

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Pile of Boys

 Oldest on bottom. 
Youngest on top. 
Cutest pile of boys I've ever seen.




This makes my heart happy. 
This is what a house full of little boys looks like. 
This is the love between cousins. 
Lots and lots of love.

Friday, July 20, 2012

How to Be The Village

Have you heard of Jen Hatmaker?  Read her blog?  Or maybe her book?

No?  Well, I have [smile].  I read her blog and I'm currently reading one of her books.  This mama really knows how to write.  She doesn't use flowery language or big words that I need to use a thesaurus to understand.  She combines unending wit with facts, adds a bit of snark and some self-deprecating humor and comes up with something that I want to read, enjoy reading and well, let's be honest, it's something that causes me to look beyond myself. 

Last November she wrote a  post that I had a hard time relating too.  While we had encountered some stupid questions (yes, there is a such thing as a stupid question no matter what your 4th grade teacher told you) by this point I never thought about what waiting would feel like 10 months later.  And it's hard.  I know we're waiting for a reason and that when we see that face, hold our child for the first time this wait will be so worth it.  But right now, it stinks.

When we were in Ohio visiting it felt like most people forgot that we're in the middle of an adoption;  that we're at the point where we finally got the positive pregnancy test and our just waiting for our baby to come.  Except there wasn't a pregnancy test, just a lot of paperwork, personal questions and notary stamps.  And more than 10 months later, we don't have a baby bump to show people we are still expecting.

While visiting with a friend she asked about our adoption, what the timeline was looking like and how we were doing during the wait.  She didn't give me any platitudes when I spoke of how my heart was aching to hold our little one, she just listened and then asked what she could do.  Her simple act of kindness filled my heart with peace.  Just knowing she cared and was waiting alongside us made my day so much better.  We began talking about how I felt during the wait and our plans for after we get home.  Transitioning home with another baby or two will be a little different than I expected now that we live in Houston.  There won't be family members to help with Gabe when we're in the middle of cocooning, no friends dropping by to break up the monotony staying home...  it will defititely be different than what we expected.  Different but good.  Oh so fabulously good and wonderful.

Later that night I was thinking of our conversation and Jen's blog post from 8 months ago came to mind.  While it takes a village to raise a child, sometimes it takes a village to help, not hurt, parents as they wait to bring their child home.

Here is her post in it's entirety or just click here to read it.

"How to Be The Village
by Jen Hatmaker on November 2nd, 2011
 
Sometimes being ever-so-slightly in the public eye is rough. With a mouth and discernment problem like mine, you can imagine. I basically offer my life on the altar of criticism daily, then douse the sacrifice with plenty of fuel to make disparagement a lay-up.

For instance, Brandon and I attended a Halloween party last weekend with the theme “Heroes and Super villains.” Our friends came in such costumes as Captain America and the Joker and Kim Possible. They were all very polished and adorable. We came as washed-up, possibly strung out Superman and Supergirl complete with ripped fishnets, smeared makeup, and pistol tattoo drawn with Sharpie. We may or may not have had unlit cigarettes dangling from the corners of our mouths.

These choices are often met with disapproval from the watching masses, as you might well guess. I know you wish I would only dress up as Little Bo Peep or Mary Mother of Jesus, but Brandon and I are very, very silly and immature, and I’ve been trying to tell you people this for some time.

But usually I am grateful for the connection to the greater world, if only through social media and the miracle of emails (plus embarrassing transparency). For example, just a few days ago, I received this email:


Our good friends just returned from Ethiopia last night with their two little boys. Ok, they've had their "airport" moment and we were right there with them. What are some things we can do now to support them in the "real life" journey without overstepping our boundaries? Thank you so much for your transparency and honesty. Everyone can benefit when you share from your heart.

I was so moved by this email. Having benefitted from a community that practically smothered us with support throughout our adoption journey, I am so grateful for all the other good friends out there, loving their people and asking how to help. Since reading this email, I’ve been marinating on her question, and I’ve decided to write this Field Guide to Supporting Adoptive Families. (And it will be brief because I will try to remember that this is a blog and not a manuscript and the rules of blogging include succinctness, so that is exactly how I’ll proceed today, except for the exact opposite of all that.)

Let’s break this down into two categories:

Supporting Families Before the Airport

Your friends are adopting. They’re in the middle of dossiers and home studies, and most of them are somewhere in the middle of Waiting Purgatory. Please let me explain something about WP: It sucks in every way. Oh sure, we try to make it sound better than it feels by using phrases like “We’re trusting in God’s plan” and “God is refining me” and “Sovereignty trumps my feelings” and crazy bidness like that. But we are crying and aching and getting angry and going bonkers when you’re not watching. It’s hard. It hurts. It feels like an eternity even though you can see that it is not. It is harder for us to see that, because many of us have pictures on our refrigerators of these beautiful darlings stuck in an orphanage somewhere while we’re bogged down in bureaucracy and delays.

How can you help? By not saying or doing these things:

1. “God’s timing is perfect!” (Could also insert: “This is all God’s plan!” “God is in charge!”) As exactly true as this may be, when you say it to a waiting parent, we want to scratch your eyebrows off and make you eat them with a spoon. Any trite answer that minimizes the struggle is as welcomed as a sack of dirty diapers. You are voicing something we probably already believe while not acknowledging that we are hurting and that somewhere a child is going to bed without a mother again. Please never say this again. Thank you.

2. “Are you going to have your own kids?” (Also in this category: “You’ll probably get pregnant the minute your adoption clears!” “Since this is so hard, why don’t you just try to have your own kids?” “Well, at least you have your own kids.”) The subtle message here is: You can always have legitimate biological kids if this thing tanks. It places adoption in the Back-up Plan Category, where it does not belong for us. When we flew to Ethiopia with our first travel group from our agency, out of 8 couples, we were the only parents with biological kids. The other 7 couples chose adoption first. Several of them were on birth control. Adoption counts as real parenting, and if you believe stuff Jesus said, it might even be closer to the heart of God than regular old procreation. (Not to mention the couples that grieved through infertility already. So when you say, “Are you going to have your own kids?” to a woman who tried for eight years, then don’t be surprised if she pulls your beating heart out like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.)

3. For those of you in Christian community, it is extremely frustrating to hear: “Don’t give up on God!” or “Don’t lose faith!” It implies that we are one nanosecond away from tossing our entire belief system in the compost pile because we are acting sad or discouraged. It’s condescending and misses the crux of our emotions. I can assure you, at no point in our story did we think about kicking Jesus to the curb, but we still get to cry tears and feel our feelings, folks. Jesus did. And I’m pretty sure he went to heaven when he died.


4. We’re happy to field your questions about becoming a transracial family or adopting a child of another race, but please don’t use this moment to trot out your bigotry. (Cluelessness is a different thing, and we try to shrug that off. Like when someone asked about our Ethiopian kids, “Will they be black?” Aw, sweet little dum-dum.) The most hurtful thing we heard during our wait was from a black pastor who said, “Whatever you do, don’t change their last name to Hatmaker, because they are NOT Hatmakers. They’ll never be Hatmakers. They are African.” What the??? I wonder if he’d launch the same grenade if we adopted white kids from Russia? If you’d like to know what we’re learning about raising children of another race or ask respectful, legitimate questions, by all means, do so. We care about this and take it seriously, and we realize we will traverse racial landmines with our family. You don’t need to point out that we are adopting black kids and we are, in fact, white. We’ve actually already thought of that.

5. Saying nothing is the opposite bad. I realize with blogs like this one, you can get skittish on how to talk to a crazed adopting Mama without getting under her paper-thin skin or inadvertently offending her. I get it. (We try hard not to act so hypersensitive. Just imagine that we are paper-pregnant with similar hormones surging through our bodies making us cry at Subaru commercials just like the 7-month preggo sitting next to us. And look at all this weight we’ve gained. See?) But acting like we’re not adopting or struggling or waiting or hoping or grieving is not helpful either. If I was pregnant with a baby in my belly, and no one ever asked how I was feeling or how much longer or is his nursery ready or can we plan a shower, I would have to audition new friend candidates immediately.

Here’s what we would love to hear Before the Airport:

1. Just kind, normal words of encouragement. Not the kind that assume we are one breath away from atheism. Not the kind that attempt to minimize the difficulties and tidy it all up with catchphrases. We don’t actually need for you to fix our wait. We just want you to be our friend and acknowledge that the process is hard and you care about us while we’re hurting. That is GOLD. I was once having lunch with my friend Lynde when AWAA called with more bad news about Ben’s case, and I laid my head down on the table in the middle of Galaxy CafĂ© and bawled. Having no idea what to do with such a hot mess, she just cried with me. Thank you for being perfect that day, Lynde.

2. Your questions are welcomed! We don’t mind telling you about the court system in Ethiopia or the in-country requirements in Nicaragua or the rules of the foster system. We’re glad to talk about adoption, and we’re thankful you care. I assure you we didn’t enter adoption lightly, so sharing details of this HUGE PIECE OF OUR LIVES is cathartic. Plus, we want you to know more because we’re all secretly hoping you’ll adopt later. (This is not true.) (Yes it is.)

3. When you say you’re praying for us and our waiting children, and you actually really are, not only does that soothe our troubled souls, but according to Scripture, it activates the heavens. So pray on, dear friends. Pray on. That is always the right thing to say. And please actually do it. We need people to stand in the gap for us when we are too tired and discouraged to keep praying the same words another day.

4. If you can, please become telepathic to determine which days we want to talk about adoption and which days we’d rather you just show up on our doorstep with fresh figs from the Farmer’s Market (thanks, Katie) or kidnap us away in the middle of the day to go see Bridesmaids. Sometimes we need you to make us laugh and remember what it feels like to be carefree for a few hours. If you’re not sure which day we’re having, just pre-buy movie tickets and show up with the figs, and when we answer the door, hold them all up and ask, “Would you like to talk for an hour uninterrupted about waiting for a court date?” We’ll respond to whichever one fits.

Supporting Families After the Airport

You went to the airport. The baby came down the escalator to cheers and balloons. The long adoption journey is over and your friends are home with their new baby / toddler / twins / siblings / teenager. Everyone is happy. Maybe Fox News even came out and filmed the big moment and “your friend” babbled like an idiot and didn’t say one constructive word about adoption and also she looked really sweaty during her interview. (Really? That happened to me too. Weird.)

How can you help? By not saying or doing these things:

1. I mean this nicely, but don’t come over for awhile. Most of us are going to hole up in our homes with our little tribe and attempt to create a stable routine without a lot of moving parts. This is not because we hate you; it’s because we are trying to establish the concept of “home” with our newbies, and lots of strangers coming and going makes them super nervous and unsure, especially strangers who are talking crazy language to them and trying to touch their hair.

2. Please do not touch, hug, kiss, or use physical affection with our kids for a few months. We absolutely know your intentions are good, but attachment is super tricky with abandoned kids, and they have had many caregivers, so when multiple adults (including extended family) continue to touch and hold them in their new environment, they become confused about who to bond with. This actually delays healthy attachment egregiously. It also teaches them that any adult or stranger can touch them without their permission, and believe me, many adoptive families are working HARD to undo the damage already done by this position. Thank you so much for respecting these physical boundaries.

3. For the next few months, do not assume the transition is easy. For 95% of us, it so is not. And this isn’t because our family is dysfunctional or our kids are lemons, but because this phase is so very hard on everyone. I can’t tell you how difficult it was to constantly hear: “You must be so happy!” and “Is life just so awesome now that they’re here??” and “Your family seems just perfect now!” I wanted that to be true so deeply, but I had no idea how to tell you that our home was actually a Trauma Center. (I did this in a passive aggressive way by writing
this blog, which was more like “An Open Letter to Everyone Who Knows Us and Keeps Asking Us How Happy We Are.”) Starting with the right posture with your friends – this is hard right now – will totally help you become a safe friend to confide in / break down in front of / draw strength from.

4. Do not act shocked if we tell you how hard the early stages are. Do not assume adoption was a mistake. Do not worry we have ruined our lives. Do not talk behind our backs about how terribly we’re doing and how you’re worried that we are suicidal. Do not ask thinly veiled questions implying that we are obviously doing something very, very wrong. Do not say things like, “I was so afraid it was going to be like this” or “Our other friends didn’t seem to have these issues at all.” Just let us struggle. Be our friends in the mess of it. We’ll get better.

5. If we’ve adopted older kids, please do not ask them if they “love America so much” or are “so happy to live in Texas.” It’s this simple: adoption is born from horrible loss. In an ideal world, there would be no adoption, because our children would be with their birth families, the way God intended. I’ll not win any points here, but I bristle when people say, “Our adopted child was chosen for us by God before the beginning of time.” No he wasn’t. He was destined for his birth family. God did not
create these kids to belong to us. He didn’t decide that they should be born into poverty or disease or abandonment or abuse and despair aaaaaaaall so they could finally make it into our homes, where God intended them to be. No. We are a very distant Plan B. Children are meant for their birth families, same as my biological kids were meant for mine. Adoption is one possible answer to a very real tragedy… after it has already happened, not before as the impetus for abandonment. There is genuine grief and sorrow when your biological family is disrupted by death and poverty, and our kids have endured all this and more. So when you ask my 8-year-old if he is thrilled to be in Texas, please understand that he is not. He misses his country, his language, his food, his family. Our kids came to us in the throes of grief, as well they should. Please don’t make them smile and lie to you about how happy they are to be here.

6. Please do not disappear. If I thought the waiting stage was hard, it does not even hold the barest candle to what comes after the airport. Not. The. Barest. Candle. Never have I felt so isolated and petrified. Never have I been so overwhelmed and exhausted. We need you after the airport way more than we ever needed you before. I know you’re scared of us, what with our dirty hair and wild eyes and mystery children we’re keeping behind closed doors so they don’t freak out more than they already have, but please find ways to stick around. Call. Email. Check in. Post on our Facebook walls. Send us funny cards. Keep this behavior up for longer than six days.

Here’s what we would love to hear or experience After the Airport:

1. Cook for your friends. Put together a meal calendar and recruit every person who even remotely cares about them. We didn’t cook dinners for one solid month, and folks, that may have single handedly saved my sanity. There simply are not words to describe how exhausting and overwhelming those first few weeks are, not to mention the lovely jetlag everyone came home with. And if your friends adopted domestically right up the street, this is all still true, minus the jetlag.

2. If we have them, offer to take our biological kids for an adventure or sleepover. Please believe me: their lives just got WHACKED OUT, and they need a break, but their parents can’t give them one because they are 1.) cleaning up pee and poop all day, 2.) holding screaming children, 3.) spending all their time at doctors’ offices, and 4.) falling asleep in their clothes at 8:15pm. Plus, they are in lockdown mode with the recently adopted, trying to shield them from the trauma that is Walmart.

3. Thank you for getting excited with us over our little victories. I realize it sounds like a very small deal when we tell you our kindergartener is now staying in the same room as the dog, but if you could’ve seen the epic level of freakoutedness this dog caused her for three weeks, you would understand that this is really something. When you encourage us over our incremental progress, it helps. You remind us that we ARE moving forward and these little moments are worth celebrating. If we come to you spazzing out, please remind us where we were a month ago. Force us to acknowledge their gains. Be a cheerleader for the healing process.

4. Come over one night after our kids are asleep and sit with us on our porch. Let me tell you: we are all lonely in those early weeks. We are home, home, home, home, home. Good-bye, date nights. Good-bye, GNO’s. Good-bye, spontaneous anything. Good-bye, church. Good-bye, big public outings. Good-bye, community group. Good-bye, nightlife. So please bring some community to our doorstep. Bring friendship back into our lives. Bring adult conversation and laughter. And bring an expensive bottle of wine.

5. If the shoe fits, tell adopting families how their story is affecting yours. If God has moved in you over the course of our adoption, whether before the airport or after, if you’ve made a change or a decision, if somewhere deep inside a fire was lit, tell us, because it is spiritual water on dry souls. There is nothing more encouraging than finding out God is using our families for greater kingdom work, beautiful things we would never know or see. We gather the holy moments in our hands every day, praying for eyes to see God’s presence, his purposes realized in our story. When you put more holy moments in our hands to meditate on, we are drawn deeper into the Jesus who led us here.

Here’s one last thing: As you watch us struggle and celebrate and cry and flail, we also want you to know that adoption is beautiful, and a thousand times we’ve looked at each other and said, “What if we would’ve said no?” God invited us into something monumental and lovely, and we would’ve missed endless moments of glory had we walked away. We need you during these difficult months of waiting and transitioning, but we also hope you see that we serve a faithful God who heals and actually sets the lonely in families, just like He said He would. And even through the tears and tantrums (ours), we look at our children and marvel that God counted us worthy to raise them. We are humbled. We’ve been gifted with a very holy task, and when you help us rise to the occasion, you have an inheritance in their story; your name will be counted in their legacy.

Because that day you brought us pulled pork tacos was the exact day I needed to skip dinner prep and hold my son on the couch for an hour, talking about Africa and beginning to bind up his emotional wounds. When you kidnapped me for two hours and took me to breakfast, I was at the very, very, absolute end that morning, but I came home renewed, able to greet my children after school with fresh love and patience. When you loved on my big kids and offered them sanctuary for a night, you kept the family rhythm in sync at the end of a hard week.

Thank you for being the village. You are so important.

Adoptive friends, what can you add? What has been helpful or hurtful? How has your community helped you raise your children? What do friends and family need to hear?"
 
Jen get's it.  She's been there. 
 
And if you want to learn to be awesome read Jen's latest post How to be Awesome at Everything.    I took notes [smile].

Thursday, July 19, 2012

This Face

I just love this face. 
This is Gabe's
 mama-has-the-camera-so-I-say-cheese-and-close-my-eyes
face.
And I love it!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

More Ohio Happenings

Carlisle Reservation:



 4th of July Picnic:







 Sunday Baseball Fun:





We were loving every minute of our time in Ohio.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Reunited.

Reunited... and it feels so good! 
One of the best parts of going back to Ohio is watching Gabe with his cousins.  Our sweet little boy has a huge case of hero-worship for his older cousins, which has become even sweeter as he routinely asks for them now by name.  He loves his cousins, and we're fortunate that they love him just as much in return.

The first few days of our trip to Ohio Gabe and I traveled with my mom and nephews Sam and Jake to visit my Aunt in southern Ohio.

No farm is complete without a chicken.



Not only was Gabe able to spend some quality time with his cousins, he was able to visit with lots of extended family members, including GAK.

Technology unites kids everywhere!




It was so hot that I didn't escape outside as planned to practice on my camera.  Their land goes on forever with rolling hills, dirt roads, ram shackled barns and natural life steaming everywhere!  Pictures, at least my pictures, would never do its beauty justice anyways.

Going to the farm, spending countless hours outside and just running around with my cousins just being a kid are some of my favorite childhood memories and I feel so blessed to be able to share them with Gabe. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

El Salvador Here We Come!


Today I leave for El Salvador. 

For the third time this week I will find myself at IAH but for the first time since I became a mother I will be going through security alone.  I'll admit I'm a little nervous.  I am a bit anxious to leave Gabriel. 

But I am so excited.  As I've been preparing myself to go on my first international missions trip, I've been reading my Bible and praying a little more than usual.  As I looked up a different version of a verse I wasn't quite understanding I found this saying:

“God loves us the way we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way.” ~Leighton Ford

I am so grateful for that kind of love; a perfecting kind of love.  The type of love that calls you out of your comfort zone, teaches you about loving other people and instructs you on how to be His hands and feet. 

I can not wait!!  To go.  See. Learn. And love! 

Any and all prayers would be appreciated.  Especially for Gabe and that he's glad to see me when I get back [smile].

Friday, July 13, 2012

10 Months Waiting

We've made it through 10 months on the wait list. 
Waiting. 
My thoughts on waiting vary from day to day. 
Hindsight is certainly 20/20 and now that we know many of the ins and outs of international adoption I don't expect we will ever wait in this manner again. 
Waiting for God's perfect timing?  Yes.
Waiting while their are 1000's of children on photo listings waiting for a family?  No.
But for right now, we wait.
Some days waiting are good and we bask in the knowledge that our family will grow according to God's timing.
Other days, well the other days I forget to trust in God's timing and my human tendencies of anxiousness and impatience come into play.
But for today and hopefully tomorrow I will cling tight to Isaiah 30:21 and know that God has placed us on this path for a reason. 

Whether you turn to the right or to the left,
your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying "this is the way; walk in it." 
-Isaiah 30:21

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Number 3

Not thinking about something doesn't negate the fact that the inevitable will happen. 

Each trip back Ohio includes a trip to the Cleveland  Clinic's Cole Eye Institute.  While we love Gabe's therapists and really like his doctors, Texas Children's ophthalmology appointment just didn't compare to the Cole Eye Institute and Gabe's Dr. R.  We love Dr. R, respect his opinion on Gabe and his eye health and know he always has Gabe's best interest at heart.  So when he said that Gabriel would need another eye surgery, this time on the muscles in his left eye, we knew it was unavoidable. 

Matt and I had already noticed that his eyes we having trouble working together and deep down, I think we both knew that a surgery loomed in the future but we just didn't talk about it.  Or think about it.  That however doesn't change reality.  Reality is that at the end of September, we will travel back to Ohio where Gabe will have his third eye surgery.  With God and Dr. R on our side there's no doubt Gabe will do fine in the surgery, recover well and then have two beautiful blue-green eyes that work together and enable Gabe to see better than ever!

Please, no pictures!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Gabe changes the insurance world, and me.

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"  "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." John 9:1-3

When reading this verse yesterday I couldn't help but think of Gabe.

Now let me explain.  I've never once thought that any of Gabe's needs or different abilities were because of sin but there have been a time or two when I've thought "why Gabriel" or "why don't some things (walking, using his left arm)become easier for him?"  Reading John 9 yesterday reminded me of a belief we've had from the very beginning of Gabe's life; while we may not always understand why, God made Gabriel just the way he is; a perfect little boy made in the image of his heavenly father.

Gabriel's certain challenges, his initial diagnosis and doctors evaluations have showed us many things;  that our hope is not in the medical field but in our Savior, that God is not limited by doctors diagnosis's, miracles do happen and that one little boy can indeed change the world. 

When I think back to the days before Gabriel was born and reading about schizencephaly I can recall the fear of loving this little boy so much and know there was a chance we could lose him;  that his brain defect would be too much for his little body to work past.  I remember the sickness in my stomach after talking to specialists who treat schizencephaly and gave a million different possible predictions to Gabe's futures.  

But now I watch this little boy who despite his inability to walk is a typical, sweet and sassy miraculous little (okay, big) almost 3 year old.  I listen as Gabe's therapists are pleased with his progress and comment on how well he's doing despite his prognosis's and challenges.  Through Gabe his family and friends, people from Ohio to Texas and I see just what a miracle he, his life and his ability to overcome are.  Each and every day Gabe displays the work of God to all those who know him.

After moving to Houston we quickly realized Gabriel's allotted quantities of therapy appointments would quickly be used up.  A short conversation from Matt to his boss resulted in Gabe being granted unlimited therapy appointments.  But Gabriel's influence didn't end there; the corporation that Matt works for re-evaluated their policies and changed them.  Because of Gabriel there are now no limitations placed on quantities of therapy given to an employee or the dependants covered by his insurance policy.  The company Matt works for is big with locations and factories in 4 states and many different countries all over the world.  Gabe changed the insurance policy for all of them.

I love spending my time with Gabe; watching him, playing with him, teaching him, learning from him.  Each passing day I become more and more acutely aware that I am not only blessed to spend my time with one of the coolest kids around but I'm also watching the glory of God and his wonderful works being displayed in Gabriel's life. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

June Numbers

June waitlist numbers are in!
source
This month we went down on all 3 lists.  It did my heart well to see the numbers get a little smaller this month.  It is so discouraging when the numbers get bigger as we wait. 

Boys: 69 (down 3)
Girls: 92 (down 4)
Siblings: 35 (down 1)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Initiation

Twist and Shake was a summertime favorite for me growing up and on Wednesday Gabe was initiated into the ice cream club as well.  His rite of passage included 2 vanilla baby cones and a crazy mama that took approximately 30 photos. 





Summertime is such a fun time for new adventures, fun with cousins and cold ice cream smeared all over your face, hands and clothes.  Not worrying about the mess and enjoying the moments - that is how memories are made!