Tuesday, December 16, 2014

December is different this year

I don't even know if I will adequately be able to put into words all that we are thankful for this year. Last year, the holiday season came around and while it was a bit easier than the previous year, it also came with pain. I wrote last year how December marked my birthday, which for the past 5 years meant that I was another year older and still childless. Then Christmas, where everyone would post pictures on Facebook of their families with little ones experiencing the joy of Christmas through the eyes of a child. It was also a reminder that once again, we had no children to buy gifts for. And then the new year came and once again I was reminded that another year had passed and I was afraid to get my hopes up that this might actually be the year that we would become parents. Little did I know that days later I would get the email that would change our lives forever.

Now this year our lives are completely different. We have moved into a house, that we hope to someday buy, that actually feels like ours. It is small, but it is warm and cozy. It keeps us dry and shelters from all of the elements. It meets more than our basic needs and for us, it is perfect.

We are close to our parents which was a goal to meet before children came into our family, so that our children can know their grandparents the way Elias and I knew our grandparents growing up. It also gives Elias and I a chance to give back to our parents when possible (even though they continue to give us far more than we could ever give back to them).

And of course, we have these two new little lives in our family. Two little boys that have made us more exhausted than we could have ever imagined while filling our days with more joy and happiness than I ever thought possible. Two sweet babies that remind us just how good God is even when we are struggling and that He really does want good things for us, even if we have to wait for them. Two lives that make me more fully understand what it means to surrender my life and how to live more for Christ than for myself. Two little lives that help me better understand just how much God loves me, because I know that He loves me more than I could ever love them. Two little lives that make me feel like I am finally doing what God created me to do...be a mom. What an honor to be trusted to care for these two sweet babies!

With these two little boys, we are also thankful for the extended family we have gained through our birth family. We have another family that loves our boys just as much as we do.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Harder than raising twins

I recently read an article that was titled "Twins are not hard". The woman, a mom of twins, went on to say that one of her friends who very much wanted children ended up dying of cancer before that ever could happen, which put her own challenges of raising twins into perspective.

As I read this article, I couldn't help but think of our journey. It's a poor comparison, but it made me think of the fact that infertility is definitely harder than raising twins.

Infertility is not life threatening, but there are days when the pain feels like it could smother you. It's a dark road with an unknown end. It leaves you emotionally and mentally drained, stealing sleep and replacing it with tears, stealing happiness and leaving depression in it's wake. Allowing for moments of hope only to be dashed with the words "not pregnant".

Raising twins is certainly not easy, especially in the early months. It's physically and mentally exhausting, but the exhaustion is different than that of infertility. It comes with a great amount of joy and happiness that far outweigh the frustration and exhaustion even on the toughest of days. You can be completely drained and think that you have nothing left to give and then your baby smiles at you or giggles when you kiss his belly.

Eventually I was able to find joy, even in the midst of infertility, but the pain was always lying right below the surface, waiting to rear it's ugly head when reading the next pregnancy announcement on Facebook. I still lived in a perpetual state of waiting for the day that it would be our turn and struggling to be content in the present just being the two of us, something that I now see was a true gift.

Now, my heart feels full. I am content and for the past 6 months, I haven't felt like there was a hole in our family. My tears of sorrow have been replaced with tears of joy as I raise our sweet baby boys. I haven't thought of us as being infertile in the last 6 months, now we are just parents. Would I love to sleep through the night every once and awhile? Of course, but really, it's a small price to pay to be "mommy".

Raising twins comes with challenges, but when put into perspective it is not hard, it is a true blessing.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Adoptive Breastfeeding

Oh adoptive breastfeeding. This is a topic I have wanted to write about for a LONG time, but there was always something else on my mind that took precedent. If you are in any way uncomfortable with the topic of breastfeeding, this is not the post for you. First of all, I know many of you are thinking "what? I didn't even know that was possible". Yes, it is possible to induce lactation without ever giving birth, however it is not easy. Long before we knew about the twins, I knew I wanted to breastfeed our adopted child. I joined a Facebook group and began learning about different ways to go about doing this. Some woman took meds, others just pumped and used herbs, some followed a "protocol" that has been written up for this purpose. Some woman induced before being matched with a baby, some started when matched and others waited until they had a baby in their home.

I fell into the third group even though I kind of wanted to fall into the second group, but didn't out of fear and being unsure if I wanted to take meds or not. At the end of the day I started taking meds and herbs and using a Lact-Aid, which is a supplemental nursing system that allows moms to nurse at the breast through a thin tube that runs along the breast and attaches to a bag full of milk. I was so excited to get started, but I had no idea how challenging this would prove to be. Asher had trouble with the Lact-Aid, so we relied on bottles initially for him. Lucas had no problem at all with the Lact-Aid, but for whatever reason, I found it more cumbersome to clean than bottles and often times in my exhaustion and haste, reached for whatever was quickest. I also didn't have a nursing cover and we were around people often enough that I was insecure and once again relied on a bottle. Lastly, if the babies were hungry at the same time and I was alone, I couldn't master nursing Lucas and bottle feeding Asher at the same time, since no baby should be fed laying on his back, but especially not babies with Down syndrome. I began producing drops of milk, but felt discouraged that I wasn't dedicated enough to use the Lact-Aid at nearly every feeding. 

Looking back the ways to remedy this would have been to get 5-6 Lact-Aid trainer systems so that I could prep them ahead of time and wash less frequently and it probably would have been beneficial to work on inducing ahead of time. 

All of that being said, we were incredibly blessed to have not only our boys' Momma Kate pump for us, but we have also had several other amazing women donate breastmilk so that we are still able to give our boys half formula and half breastmilk at every feeding! This may sound crazy to some, but for us, it has been an awesome gift, especially when Lucas couldn't tolerate any formula that we tried. 

In addition, while I may not have been able to give my boys much more than a few ounces of my own milk, I have been able to give them the gift of comfort nursing and that has meant almost as much to me as being able to breastfeed them, and for that, I am incredibly thankful. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Things that are harder with twins vs a singleton

When you have twins, you receive a lot of comments such as "I don't know how you do it", "boy, you have your hands full", etc. I'm not going to lie, having twins can be tough, but as for how we do it? You just figure it out. Two babies need attention at the same time? You figure out how to give it to them. Of course there are also times when one baby just has a to cry for a few minutes while you deal with the other one. It becomes just as natural as taking care of one baby. But there are a few things that are noticeably more difficult with twins.

Grocery shopping. Now I'm not talking about the kind of grocery shopping where you just need to grab a few things, I can handle that. It's the full out grocery shopping for 1-2 weeks that I cannot possibly accomplish alone at this point. Right now, the twins are 4.5 months. Lucas is trying to sit up, but can't sit alone in a shopping cart (I'm honestly not sure how long he would tolerate that even if he could). If I only need a few things, I pop the babies in the snap n go stroller, try to make sure I also have my ergo baby carrier or baby k'tan to prevent meltdowns, and use the basket under the stroller as my cart. The snap n go has an amazingly big basket underneath, unfortunately it's not big enough to hold a whole load of groceries. To get a whole week's worth of groceries, I would have to wear one baby and put the other baby in his carseat, down in the cart. I never put a carseat on top of the cart since it is dangerous and babies have fallen off of the top of a cart and been injured. In case you weren't aware, once you get a carseat down in a cart, you have very little room left for groceries. If only I had been aware of tandem baby wearing with a large woven wrap when the boys were born, I could have potentially mastered this task, but for now, grocery shopping is a family trip with both Elias and I or one of us goes alone.

Bath time/ bed time. Just like most other babies, the twins tend to get fussy in the evening when they are tired. From 7 pm until both babies are asleep it is all hands on deck! One of us bathes, while the other keeps the other baby content and feeds him. Once bath time is done, we work on putting the babies to sleep. Asher is easy, we feed him, get him drowsy, set him in his crib and he usually goes to sleep. Lucas on the other hand fights sleep and only wants mom. He needs to pretty much be asleep before he will go down. If one of us is alone, neither baby gets the attention he wants/needs at bed time.

Walking the dog. This is another easy task with one baby. I would just strap him on in my ergo and off we would go! There likely would be no tears and no fussing and it wouldn't be much different than pre-baby walks. With two however, I have to make sure they are both content long enough to set up the stroller, put their cushions in there, get the dog ready and get both babies out the door and strapped in (p.s., neither child can walk to the stroller ;) )  I also have to make sure I have a pacifier and a baby carrier in case they get fussy or decide that they don't want to ride any longer. Then during the walk I have to keep Scrumpy from walking in front of both the stroller and traffic while also making sure that the stroller is off the road enough when there is oncoming traffic. This task isn't impossible, but just a bit more challenging.

Any sort of housework. If both babies aren't napping at the same time, I might have 5-10 minute increments to accomplish anything. In those times I wash bottles, baby clothes and diapers. You can imagine how the rest of my house looks.

Eating. See reason above.

Monday, August 4, 2014

I've read some stories recently that have made me truly appreciate the blessing that Asher is to us and the fact that God chose Katy as our birthmother. Not all children diagnosed with Down syndrome have such a bright looking future.

I was reading a blog by a woman who has adopted multiple children with special needs from various countries. She and her husband have adopted two little girls from Europe with Down syndrome. One of them was placed in an orphanage where she was put in a separate room for the children with special needs. The only human contact that she experienced was to be changed and fed. When they met her she would wrap her arms around her knees and rock. She also pulled out her hair to name a couple of behaviors she developed from spending her first 5 years confined to a crib. In addition to Down syndrome she was also believed to have institutional autism. She has been in the United States for a few years now, still struggles with some of the behaviors that she developed during this time in her life and is non-verbal possibly due to this time as well. All because she has Down syndrome.

A popular story right now of an Australian couple that hired a surrogate in Thailand. The woman became pregnant with twins and one of them was diagnosed with Down syndrome. The couple asked her to abort the baby late in the pregnancy and she refused. When the babies were born, they took the baby girl back home with them and left the baby boy born with Down syndrome in Thailand. Even though the surrogate carried the babies to better provide for her other children financially, she is now caring for this baby as well that she can't afford. All because he has Down syndrome.

In the United States we have the technology to diagnose Down syndrome prenatally. This results in roughly 93% of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome being aborted, which I find to be tragic, especially when there are waiting lists of people waiting to adopt these babies. All because they have Down syndrome.

I look at Asher and how he cries to have his needs met or even just to ask to be cuddled. I watch him smile and try to giggle when I kiss his face. I watch him develop and grow and imagine what opportunities he will have as he gets older. Thankfully he will never know what it's like to cry and learn that no one will respond to that cry. He will always know that he is loved, chosen and given life despite the fact that he has Down syndrome. He will only know what it's like to be raised in a family that loves him and will fight for him to have every opportunity that he deserves. All because he is a person just like us, who just happens to have Down syndrome.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Yes, it has been about a month since I last posted and that is simply because it is nearly impossible to find the time! That's not to say that I don't have a million things running through my head that I want to write about and that I usually forget by the time I finally have time to write about them. But tonight, both boys were asleep by 7! Apparently I exhausted them today as well as myself since I could go to bed right now (it's 8) and be perfectly content. But since I have this little bit of free time I thought I would catch you all up.

The boys are now 3 months old and so cute! They are chunky, growing, changing and developing every day! In case you don't have Facebook or aren't "friends" with Elias or myself, here is their 3 month picture:

How cute are they?! Lucas actually does smile, but to get them smiling at the same time was impossible.

There is a part of me that wants to keep them tiny forever, but it's so much fun to see them learning and doing new things. Lucas has been in 0-3 month clothes for about a month now and Asher has almost outgrown his newborn clothes.  He's too long for most of the pants and in the past couple of weeks had finally started chunking up because he apparently thinks he's starving and wants to eat every 90 min-2 hours unless he's sleeping. I have no idea what they weigh at this point, but we get to find out next week! Both boys are smiling sweet sweet smiles and love to coo and "talk". We are so in love with them!

So, what is it like parenting children who are adopted and parenting one with special needs? People are often afraid that they couldn't love an adopted child as much as a biological child. I have to say that if I could love a child any more than I love our boys, my heart would burst because it wouldn't be able to contain all of that love! It feels like they have been ours forever and that they were always meant to be ours. Our birth family feels like extended family and that they were always meant to be part of our lives. There is the occasional pang of guilt when we visit them and I'm the one that they call "mom", but I also know that Katy loves watching me be "mom" to our boys and I am honored to carry that title alongside of her. I don't look at our boys and think "they're adopted", I look at them and feel that they are genuinely ours in every way. Do they have our features? No, but it honestly doesn't make a difference, all I see is how cute and amazing they are.

It is the same with having a child with special needs. I never thought I would be a mom to a child with special needs. For a long time I wondered how parents with children with special needs felt and I felt like I couldn't do it. I loved working with children with special needs, but to parent one? I didn't think that I had it in me. Most people don't get a choice in the matter, but we did. It just goes to show how much God was preparing our hearts over the past 5 years. It struck me the other day when I was watching Asher, that he actually has Down syndrome. I know, that sounds crazy, but when I look at him, I don't see Down syndrome, I just see Asher. I know that he has Down syndrome and I've known that from the start, but I just seem him and think of Down syndrome as an additional part of him. I see a baby that is a different person from Lucas, who has a different personality, and develops on his own timeline. Yes he receives speech therapy already, and he is usually a few weeks to a month behind Lucas on developmental milestones, but that doesn't change how I see him or how I love him and it just makes it even more exciting when he starts doing the same things that Lucas has been doing for awhile.

 Sometimes I see his Down syndrome more clearly in a still photo that doesn't do his cuteness justice or if I really examine his facial structure and almond shaped eyes, but Down syndrome doesn't define him, just like adoption won't define them. These things will always be a part of them, but they don't define them. When I look at them, I only see my sons. I see my two adorable babies that are truly miracles (it's actually a miracle they made it through the whole pregnancy) and gifts from God to not only us, but so many that are in our lives, including some that we have never met. Even as I write this, I don't feel like I can fully convey how much I feel like they are wholly and fully ours even though we have the unique situation of also having our birth family that loves them as much as we do. It is all so amazing. To put it simply, they are our children and we are so honored that God chose us to be their parents.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Our children are not our own

I've heard it said that you never really know how selfish you are until you get married. You have to share everything, including things that you want all for yourself! At one point I would have said that was true, but now I fully disagree. I would say that you never know how selfish you are until you share your child with another woman. I know that sounds harsh, which I don't intend it to be, so bear with me.

As an adoptive mom I will forever share our boys with their mommy Kate. She carried them, gave birth to them and then entrusted them to us! I am still in awe of that selfless act and I will forever be thankful for what she has done and her obedience to God. You would think that because of that it would be easy for me to share them, but I am a selfish person and there are occasionally times where I want them all for myself. This doesn't mean that I don't love her in a way that I can only love the woman that gave life to our children. This doesn't mean that I'm full of bitterness and resentment or that I don't enjoy talking to her, visiting her or giving her updates (I really do love open adoption).  It just means that there are days when it feels like it would be "easier" to have them all to myself. But no one said that walking in the will of God would be easy, and if we were looking for easy, adoption was not the path to walk.

Recently I have felt called back to the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel. While going through infertility, I turned to the story of Hannah for hope and comfort. This time, I knew God was calling me there for another reason. As I read Hannah's story, I couldn't help but be amazed at her obedience to hand her son over to God and to allow him to be raised by someone else after waiting so many years to have him. I felt like it correlated so much with adoption. We have waited years for our boys. Our boys that have been shared with us and in return we also share them with their birth family. In every situation, our children are not our own. They are entrusted to us by God for a short time, yet we are selfish and only want to entrust them to God in certain situations where it's "easy" or at least "easier". We'll hand our children over to God when He calls us to raise them knowing Him, but if that means handing them over to someone else to raise them, or maybe take them to the mission field where it's not safe and they could get sick or hurt, we tend to shy away and say that's not God's calling on our lives, that's for someone else.

As I continually learn how to share parenthood, I am reminded that God first shared us with our earthly parents and it is an honor to be chosen to do the same.

Monday, June 2, 2014

A day in the life with twins

In case you were wondering what it's like to have twins, I will take you through a typical day in our house Tues-Fri when I work. The day starts some time between 6-6:30 most mornings. This is usually when Lucas gets up to eat and going back to sleep isn't usually an option. Elias leaves the house around 6:30, so I take mornings. I let Asher sleep as long as possible and in that time I attempt to grab coffee, eat breakfast and somehow get my contacts in, hair in a pony tail (showering the morning is pretty much impossible) and get dressed. I also have to change Lucas, get him dressed for the day, clean and prep bottles if Elias didn't have time to clean them, make sure the diaper bag is fully stocked, if I didn't do that the night before, and then I get Asher up. He eats and then I change him and get him dressed for the day.

We are then out of the house by 8:15 so that they can be to the sitter's by 8:30 and I head to work. I work until 1, pick up the babies around 1:30 and decided if it's a good time to run any errands that need to be run before they want to eat. Otherwise, we come home and usually within 30 minutes, someone is crying to be held, fed or changed and once 3:00 hits, they both prefer not to be set down. Sometimes Lucas has a happy period in the afternoon where he is content to lay on a blanket and just look around, otherwise the fussy time starts and they are both a little angry that mommy doesn't have more than two hands to juggle and soothe babies. This also means that nothing gets done and my mom or mother-in-law usually end up doing our dishes or helping with laundry. I do my best not to call grandma (my mom) the moment she gets out of work at 3:30 to help and wait until Elias gets home between 5:30 and 6:00.

From 4:00 on, the babies are not allowed to sleep other than a short nap so that we can get them in bed by 8:00 or 8:30. Elias gets home, showers and then we take shifts eating supper around holding the babies. Some nights we are able to get bottles clean and prepped for overnight before putting the babies down, otherwise, when they finally are in bed and settled (which sometimes takes 3-4 or more attempts) we do bottles then. Our goal is to get ourselves in bed before 9 so that we can function fairly well the next day. Overnight we take turns getting up with the babies who sometimes sleep 3-4 hours or only go 2. Asher will sometimes sleep through the night, but Lucas is not there yet and Asher is now more apt to wake up when Lucas cries which means we get up at the same time.

We have learned that we DO NOT go out in the evenings with babies if we have to work the next day or if we want to sleep that night. We made that mistake a couple of weeks ago and I did it again last night when Elias was having some guy time and I took the babies to my parent's for supper.

Our life has gone from 0 to 60 overnight, but we wouldn't have it any other way. Please don't mistake this post for complaining. I am NOT complaining, just sharing the craziness that our life is now. It's so much harder than I could have ever imagined, but so much more beautiful as well. I never knew how exhausted a person could be while still having to function. The first few weeks of work were so hard and I was running on fumes all the time, but things are getting easier and I'm feeling so much better than I did the first month. Elias on the other hand is still exhausted. He finished the semester and jumped into working construction full time, so prayer for strength and energy for him are appreciated.

The babies are developing well and growing so fast! Last week at 6 weeks old, Asher weighed 7.14 lbs and Lucas weighed 9.12 lbs. Both are healthy and their personalities come out a little more every day! They are so cute and so much fun even though they are indeed a lot a of work and exhausting. We feel so blessed to that God chose us to be their parents and that their Mommy Kate sought God's will and followed His calling on her. I remember when we were trying IVF and we would transfer two embryos and I would wonder, IF I got pregnant, would there by one or two? I always secretly hoped for twins, but I watched those dreams fade away. Never in my wildest dreams, would I have thought that God did in fact have twins for us in the future and that He would bring them to us via adoption. I feel so honored that He chose us to be their parents.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Redeeming Love

The past 5 1/2 years have been riddled with anger, grief and confusion surrounding our infertility. I let those feelings steal precious time from our marriage and drive a wedge between God and myself that we have had to work at removing. We have to work at removing it so that we can try to get back to the place we were before, but with me having a different and new understanding of who God is. People would tell me that once my child was in my arms, I would know that it was never supposed to be any different, but at the time I had a hard time seeing that and believing it. As the years passed I began to think, "by this point I could have had a biological child AND been on our way to adopting"! I watched couples that got married around the same time as us or even after us have baby 1, 2 and some even 3. I couldn't for the life of me understand why it wasn't our turn. Why God had deemed us "unworthy" or as least less worthy of being parents.

I still don't believe that God has caused our infertility or that He wants to see us struggle and suffer. I don't believe that that kind of suffering is His will, but that we have brought it upon ourselves as a fallen people. If we were not a fallen people there would be no infertility and there would be no need for adoption. All children would have parents that could take care of them and that were always conceived out of love into loving and healthy homes. All couples would be able to have as many children as they pleased, when they pleased. But we are a fallen people and that has resulted in pain and suffering for many children and families.

The great redeeming factor is that God USES pain and suffering to draw us closer to Him and astound us with His blessings! God began healing my heart about a year ago. I still struggled with grief and anger and bitterness, but those feelings were slowly going away and I began to understand that God was not causing this suffering. He was using this time to prepare us for something great, something so much bigger than ourselves and something bigger than we could have ever imagined. I remember watching a Rob Bell video where Rob's son wanted a toy from the mall, but little did he know that his parents were later taking him across the street to get a dodge ball. A dodge ball he had wanted so badly! He just couldn't see what his parents were up to, he couldn't see what good thing they had in store for him. He just saw the present and how badly he thought he wanted this other toy. If his parents had gotten him this other, smaller toy, he probably wouldn't have gotten the dodge ball. Rob correlated this with what God does in our lives and how many times God wants to yell to us all that He has in store, if only we could understand that He has something great for us across the street. And if we knew what was across the street, we wouldn't be asking for the smaller thing.

I look at my boys and I can now see what was across the street. I can see that if we had gotten pregnant, we would not have them. If we had gotten pregnant, Elias may have closed his heart to adoption, or we at least wouldn't have been still pursuing it at this time in our lives. If we had gotten pregnant, we wouldn't have opened our hearts to TWO babies and a baby with Down syndrome that has now become our world. I can finally understand what people say when they say once they are in your arms, you will know it was never meant to be any different. I don't grieve not being pregnant with them, that wasn't my role to play. I'm sure there will be times when the pain of infertility will resurface, I certainly will never forget it, but it will be different because I will have a new understanding of God and how He works through suffering. I will have a new understanding of His love for us. I'm sure I will have times where I am impatient frustrated that I can't see across the street (by the way, 5 years is a long time to wait to cross the street), but I will be reminded of the greatness that can come when it is finally time for us to cross. God truly is good.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mother's Day

Considering this is my first mother's day as a mom to human babies, I feel like I would be doing an injustice to all of my avid readers to not squeeze in time to post this year about how I'm doing, feeling, and if my feelings regarding mother's day have changed. So here it is: this year I have actually looking forward to Mother's Day. I was able to walk through the store and not feel angry, annoyed or saddened by all of the Mother's Day paraphernalia. I have felt no feelings of dread leading up to this weekend, I even have a gift planned to make with the boys to commemorate our first Mother's Day. We are actually planning on making our family debut at church, as long as we can get out of the house on time, and I feel like we could go out and I would feel worthy of being celebrated for the first time. We will celebrate this weekend and feel happy about this new chapter of our lives and the precious gifts that have been entrusted to us.

As I write these things though, I still feel sad for the old me and for all of the individuals who will be hurting tomorrow. I feel sad for every woman who will go to church or walk into a restaurant and face the awkward "do I give her a flower or not" thought process that goes through the flower bearer's mind when all they want is to feel worthy of receiving that flower. They may even play the role of a mother every day that makes them worthy of that flower. I feel sad for the child who never knew his or her mother, or who have been adopted by an amazing family, but will never know his/her birthmother and why they were placed for adoption. I feel sad for every person who has lost a mother or wife, who has no one to buy a gift for, or the mother who has lost her children and has no one to buy her a gift. And of course I feel sad for the birthmother's who have placed a child for adoption that haven't experienced healing while at the same time I think of the one's that have experienced healing and still feel that sting of loss while also celebrating the woman that they chose for their child.

Tomorrow as I celebrate, I will be thinking of the boys' Mommy Kate. How she is an amazing mother to her two children at home, how she will always be a mother to our two boys and how she's a mother to them in way that I can never be. I will think of her selfless act and her obedience to God to give our boys more. I will celebrate her as well as myself tomorrow and we will forever share the gift of motherhood. Today is actually Birthmother's Day. I love that they have their own day, but I don't want them to be forgotten or viewed as unworthy to be celebrated on Mother's Day since they are indeed all mother's.

This weekend, please celebrate the women in your lives whether they have children or not, because they are worthy of being celebrated.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The delivery of Asher James and Lucas John!

Both babies are sleeping so I figured it was time to finally update all of you on all of the amazing details from the arrival of our sweet boys! Their mommy-Kate (what we all their birthmother) was scheduled to be induced on April 13th, Saturday the 12th however, she contacted us and said that she felt like she might be in labor and would feel better if we were there just in case. We rushed around, packed up our last minute items, dropped off Scrumpy and hit the road! We arrived around 10:30 pm to her apartment, sat around a bit, talked and they gifted us with a double snap and go stroller! If you don't know what a snap and go is, it is amazing. It is just a frame that the car seats literally snap into and that's it! It also weighs practically nothing. So far we have used it for walking and doctors appointments and it will be accompanying us many more places!

Her contractions were somewhat steady throughout the day, but settled down once we got there and she could rest a bit more. Around midnight we headed to our hotel and literally 2 min from the hotel our car died. Yes, more car trouble! We all feel that this was the only way that Satan could attack us that would hurt the most so he has done it over and over again! We called AAA and waited for the tow truck. He dropped us off exhausted at the hotel around 2 AM. Katy let us use her car the rest of our time there, which was incredibly helpful (one of the perks of open adoption where you are friends with birth family ;)).

And Lucas is now waking up, so I will be back!

The next day, Sunday, Katy's amazing support person, her significant other who will be the twin's birth father, Bryan, came and picked us up at the hotel along with the twin's big sister, Breanna. They also have a big brother named Christian. We all went back to Katy's place until we headed to eat and meet Katy's mom and sister around 4 pm and to get ready for induction at 6 pm. We then checked into the hospital and were informed that the induction would be thrown off by 6 hours because no one told Katy not to eat 6 hours beforehand! The original plan was to start softening her cervix at 6 pm  and then start Pitocin the next morning if nothing was happening. However, before any of that, they were going to check her to see if she was already dilated and didn't need her cervix softened. Around 9 pm they checked and low and behold she was already 5 cm! Apparently she actually was in labor Saturday and her water broke for Asher that night she but wasn't actually sure that it broke. Around midnight they started the pitocin and Elias and I came into Katy's room to talk with both her and Bryan as we had never really heard Bryan's story. It was a beautiful time of tears, smiles and healing.

At 2:30 Elias and I returned to our hospital room to try and sleep. At 5:30 am Bryan called and said they were prepping Katy for the OR (due to her having twins, the hospital required delivery in the OR). We were originally told that only on person could be in there with her and they agreed to let two in there, but no more. When they brought our clothes for the OR, Katy said that we needed three sets, not two. The nurses and residents spoke with the high risk doctor that would be in the room and he agreed to let all three (Byran, Elias and myself) in the OR for the delivery! They wheeled her down, Elias and I waited by the door, they barely got her set and the doctor asked if she wanted to push. Katy asked if they wanted her to push and the doctor told her if she was ready to go for it. After that first push, one of the staff pulled me over to the table to see our little Asher's head and the next push he was out at 6:04 am! Katy asked me his name then I was asked to cut to the cord and followed him into the little side room where he would get cleaned and weighed. The nurse kept telling me to go out and that his brother was coming, but I knew Elias was there and I didn't want to leave our sweet baby! I did end up taking a few steps back that way to see better, but I could see most of what was going on from where I was. Lucas had decided the day before to flip, so with the help of the high risk doctor his was water broken he was born breech just 4 minutes later at 6:08 am! Elias cut the cord for Lucas. Bryan and Katy held the babies first and then Bryan handed each one of us one of our sons :). Both babies were 6.1 lbs, Lucas was 17 in and Asher was 18 long. We all went to recovery, both boys nursed, we took some pictures and then we gave Katy and Bryan some time with the boys before the rest of her family came over to see them while we went and ate breakfast.

Everything felt surreal and it didn't take long for exhaustion to begin setting in. After a short visit after delivery, Elias and I headed off to find out what was going on with our car and to try and sleep at Katy's place for a bit. We got to the shop and found out that our car was officially dead, which is not what you want to hear when you have to take two babies home and you are running on less than 2 hours of sleep. We cleared the car out, let my parents know and my dad came to the rescue and started looking for places that would buy our car for salvage. We took a quick nap and shower and headed back to the hospital to see how our babies and Katy were doing. Our parents arrived that evening to visit for a bit and enjoy their first grand babies for all of them! The next days went by quickly and were full of sweet time with our new extended family and the twins that will forever tie is all together. The hospital experience was more than we could have asked for. Wednesday was release day and after that we all headed to the chapel for the blessing ceremony that would wrap up the hospital time and be the ceremony to signify the beginning of something beautiful. The ceremony was beautiful beyond words and not really something I can describe, it was an amazing blessing for everyone involved and was full of more smiles, tears and sharing, After that, we said our goodbyes and we headed home with my parents. We only had to stop twice for feedings, take a detour home to avoid the flooding here and we were home in our own house with our new sons!

I could go on, but then this would be the worlds longest blog post so we will save the rest for another day! Thank you for all of your prayers, love, support, gifts, meals and everything else as we begin this new chapter of our lives! Please continue to keep everyone in your prayers as their birth family misses them terribly, but also feels peace that they are where God meant for them to be. Keep the boys in your prayers that they will stay healthy and grow. As of yesterday they both weighed 5.13 lbs and were 18.5 in long. They are so adorable and we are absolutely in love! Lastly keep us in your prayers as we learn how to best parent these sweet boys in the way that God has called us to and that Elias will be able to still focus in school for the next few weeks with very little sleep.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Some thoughts on Down syndrome

I have been very honest about the fact that one of our twins will have Down syndrome (DS). Some of you may wonder why I have been so open about this fact. It's not to evoke pity or convince more people to donate to our cause. In fact I have been pleasantly surprised by the reaction we usually get when we tell people we are adopting twins and that one of the boys will have DS. I honestly expected some looks or comments of pity and there have been a couple, but for the most part everyone has been so supportive and have told us how happy they are for us. We hear stories of the joy that a child with DS brings or we are just told stories that don't even bring in the fact that sweet Baby A will have DS, instead the boys are seen as equals. It has been truly amazing. So why talk about it and be open about it? Mainly because I know that we are going to face the question "did you know before you adopted them?", which I feel like implies "would you have still adopted them if you had known".  If I can reduce the number of times that we are asked this question, it will be better for all of us. We already love both of these babies and the more I learn about DS, the more excited I get for everything the future holds. I want everyone to know that we chose BOTH of these babies to be our sons regardless of the fact that one would have an extra chromosome. I would be lying if I said we didn't have to pray and even question our decision before being asked to be the boys' parents, but even before saying "yes", we knew that if we were chosen, that this was God's plan for us, them and their amazing expectant family. I also want everyone to understand that our expectant mother did not choose adoption because Baby A has DS. In fact, she was asked 5 times if she was going to selectively abort this sweet baby because 92% of children with a prenatal diagnosis of DS are aborted. She choice life for both of them and has now chosen to give them more and we couldn't be more grateful for that decision.

I have been reading a book called "Roadmap to Holland". The woman who wrote this book has twin boys where one has Down syndrome. She didn't know until 5 days after her sons were born that one had DS and she is very honest about her fears and grief as she learned about her son's diagnosis. We didn't grieve necessarily, but we struggled and wondered what this would mean for our future. We struggled with selfish thoughts and feelings and I avoided learning too much too soon out of fear. As I have continued to read this book I have watched her transform. I have watched her thoughts and feelings about DS change and her love for her son grow. The more time I spend learning about DS, the more excited I get and the less fear I feel. The more I learn about having twins, it becomes hard to imagine only having one. As I was reading the other day, I saw the softening that had happened in their family and the joy that both boys brought, where as before it seemed like the diagnosis of DS was like a dark cloud that hung over her family. As I read this, I felt like God was telling me that He was going to transform and soften our family. That He was going to bring us more joy than we could ever imagine through these sweet babies. We are getting so excited to meet these two sweeties and we continue to be blessed by our growing relationship with our expectant family. 

We continue to ask for prayers as the day draws closer for all parties involved. We also want to thank everyone who has supported us financially and continues to do so through our Lilla Rose fundraiser and Thirty One fundraiser, we truly could not have pursued this adoption this without your prayers or financial gifts. Both fundraisers are still open if you feel led to give or you can give a tax deductible donation through the Both Hands Foundation by clicking here

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Catching up

I know I have been MIA for a bit, things have just been super crazy! Since the first week of February we have been cleaning, painting, doing electrical work, replacing ceilings, refinishing floors and everything that goes into preparing a house, that needed some work, before we could move in. We were here every day working to get it ready before the babies came. This past weekend, we officially cleaned out our other house and fully moved into this house that we have been working so hard and so long on! We are now swimming in boxes, but we are moved in and getting settled. In addition to that, we have been working to make sure that we have everything we need for the immediate future. I think the twin's items are the only items that I actually know where everything is!

On March 21st, we were honored to be able to attend our expectant mother's (we will call her K) ultrasound for the twins! Of course, our car broke down 10 miles away and we had to be retrieved from the side of the road, by K's amazing boyfriend and support system, but the office waited for us and we made it! In addition to that, K was backed into outside of the doctor's office while waiting for parking! We all have to laugh because satan has fought this adoption the whole way, which confirms to all of us that we are truly walking in God's will and that He is going to do something amazing! It was awesome to see the babies and it began to really feel real verses just a concept. It was exciting to find out how much they weighed (baby A was 5 lbs 3 oz and baby B was 5 lbs) and to know that everything still looks good for both of them. We also went on the hospital tour and learned more about what to expect and how things will go at the hospital. It was nice to be there as a "team" with the expectant family and have the hospital see all of us together and our relationship with each other. It also helped us feel as though we have a better understanding for what to expect so that there won't be confusion at the time of delivery and postpartum. After all of that, we went back to K's apartment, had lunch, met her boyfriend's children, played a game of scrabble, had some good conversation as well as some mama (both her and I) bonding time and pictures together in the frigid wind.

As for now, we are closing in on about a week an half left before K will be induced if she hasn't gone naturally by that point. As long as everything goes according to plan we will be there for delivery and at least one of us will be able to be in the delivery room for the birth. It would be even better if both of us could be in the delivery room so we are asking for prayers for that. We would also like to ask you to keep praying for everyone involved. The expectant family is amazing and we couldn't be more blessed to have them becoming part of our extended family as well us becoming a part of their's. Please pray that they will continue to feel Jesus with them during this time and that He will grant them peace that can only come from Him! Also, please keep praying for us, that God would shape us into the parents that He has created us to be and called us to be, and that He will prepare us for all that lies ahead through the incredible joys and inevitable challenges of parenthood.

Lastly, I am way behind simply because I haven't had time to update and then we didn't have internet for close to a week, but we have a couple of fundraisers going on! The first is for Lilla Rose Hair Accessories. These are beautiful hair clips and a wonderful adoptive mama has offered to have an online party for us! There is only about a week left on this fundraiser so if you are interested please order soon! The link is here: https://www.lillarose.biz/parties/4082 You can also check out and "share" our Facebook event at this link here: https://www.facebook.com/events/740529069311164/ I made the link public so that hopefully anyone can view it. In addition we have also had another wonderful woman offer to throw an online Thirty-One Party for us which will be running the month of April! You can check out this fundraiser here: mythirtyone.com/288674 and click "my parties" and "shop now" when our names come up. I will be setting up a Facebook event for this party as well, I just haven't had a chance to do so yet.

I think that is all for now and I can't wait to let you all know when our little guys arrive!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Why open adoption?

You may have wondered what we have been up to since finding out that we will be adopting two sweet baby boys in April. Well, let me just tell you, it has been crazy! For a variety of reasons, we decided that we needed to move before the boys were born, so we have been working on getting a house ready since the beginning of February. It has been a ton of work, but we do not want to move after they are born. We are finishing up painting, beginning to take a few boxes over at a time and are so excited to be in a more permanent home. We have also been working on adoption paperwork, gathering baby stuff and just keeping up with life in general. So that is where we are at.

Now for the real post, why choose open adoption? From the outside looking in, without an understanding of adoption, open adoption can look really strange. Some of you are thinking, "I don't even know what an open adoption is". Each adoption is different, but what our open adoption with with birth family of our boys will look like is this: several visits each year, pictures, cards, letters, etc. We will invite them to the boys' birthday parties and we will likely be invited to some of their family events. We have also talked about having a special day just to celebrate the situation. They will become an extension of our family and us, an extension of theirs. We already have a beautiful relationship with them that has come easy to all of us, so we are looking forward to growing that!

Now, I get that some of you are thinking, why would we, as adoptive parents, want this kind of relationship. I have heard a variety of comments that come from a place of not understanding, but that in the future could hurt our children or their birth family so I want to clear some things up. First of all, our amazing expectant mother is choosing to place these babies out of love. I'm not going to tell her story, but I want everyone to understand that fact. She could have chose a different path for herself and these babies, but she didn't. Instead she let God show and lead her in the direction that He was calling her to. I know that might sound confusing without knowing all of the details, but that is all I'm going to say. I also want people to understand that she is not "giving them up", she is placing them in our family and entrusting us to care for them, raise them and love them.

We talk a lot about women having choices in our culture. We are okay with a woman terminating a pregnancy if it is best for her, but we are uncomfortable with the idea of a woman choosing to place her children in another family and wanting to maintain a relationship with them if she feels that is best for her and her children. Why shouldn't she know who they are being raised by, how they are being raised and if they are healthy and happy? This doesn't mean that she wants to micromanage our parenting, but she wants these babies to know where they come from, who their birth family is, who their siblings are and that they are loved. Placing a child for adoption is not a decision that one takes lightly and most birth mothers just want to know how their child is doing and that they made the right choice.

In the past adoptions were closed. Birth families were left wondering how their children were doing and children were left wondering why they were placed for adoption, where their birth families were, if they were alive and well and where/who they came from. With open adoptions, there are answers. Our boys will get to an age where they will be able to decide if they want to continue with this relationship. Our hope is that by being open from the beginning, the relationship with their birth family will feel natural. We aren't pretending that there won't be questions or possibly times when they need space to process emotions, but research has shown that open adoptions are healthy and don't confuse children like many assume.

We are incredibly grateful that our expectant family are the people that they are. We could not have created a better situation if we had tried and we feel honored that they chose us and more importantly, that God chose us. I remember our attorney (who we love) telling us that maybe we shouldn't talk about our faith in our profile since it may cause some people not to choose us. I told here that I would rather leave it in and not be chosen, than for that family to be upset later that their child was being raised in a Christian home. We chose to leave it in and it is one of the reasons that we were chosen for this situation, we love that it is something we all share! God works in amazing ways and we are honored to be a part of his workings.

I know that I shared the last time that we will not be having a shower until after the 30 day revocation period is up, but if you want to get us something before that, we will be using disposable diapers for the first month and then we hope to switch to cloth soon after. Did I mention we will be going through nearly 2 dozen diapers a day in the beginning? Thank you again for loving and supporting us on this journey and please keep praying for everyone involved!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen...

I know that so many of you have been wondering what is going on with the twins and if we have heard anything. For over a month now, I have had very little to report. We knew it was down to us and one other couple and the expectant mother told us that she was still trying to figure some things out. There is so much that goes into this process on all sides and every part needs to make sure that t's are crossed and i's are dotted before too much ground is covered.

So, we waited anxiously and even considered backing out because everything seemed to be going wrong! I truly feel as though this was spiritual attack and Satan was trying his best to get us to back out and not trust in God. To be honest, he almost won. Elias and I were going back and forth on what to do when on Saturday we got the text. The text that asked if we would meet our sweet expectant parents for dinner on Monday night. The text that made my heart race and stomach knot because I knew what they were going to say. I knew that they were going to tell us that they had chosen us to be the parents of these two sweet boys, and I was terrified! Honestly, deep down I have known all along that if we stuck with this, that we were going to be chosen for these babies, which has scared me. This is not the plan that we had for our lives or our family, but God doesn't often call us according to our plans. And often times, his calling is one that is challenging and scary, but so much more rewarding than we could have ever imagined or planned for ourselves.

So last night, we found ourselves nervously traveling to Utica to meet with this couple. After some small talk and chit chat, they got down to it and officially asked us to be the parents to these babies. Elias and I had decided already that if we were asked, that was God telling us to say yes. In that moment, he gave us peace and we said that, yes, we wanted to be their parents. This was followed by some tears, smiles and hugging. Then our expectant mother went and got her two children from the other side of the restaurant for us to meet. They came around with flowers and gifts and were so incredibly sweet! We each received a gift that had a card that said "will you be my dad?" and "will you be my mom?". Then, we were given our first outfits, toys and socks for our sons. Seriously, could we ask for a better birth family?! We spent the next 60-90 minutes eating, talking and feeling my (my?!) babies move inside their birth mama's belly.

The whole thing is still so surreal and a bit unbelievable, but considering they are due in mid-early April (ummm yes, I did say April) there is a lot to do and not much time to wrap our minds around all of this. Most people have about 8 months to prepare once they find out they are expecting, we have roughly 8 weeks, and that's if they don't decide to come early (early-mid April is when our expectant mother would be induced).

I have already been asked if will we have a shower. My answer: not until the 30 day revocation period is up. The 30 day what? In NY, birth parents have 30 days to change their mind when working with an agency. While we feel that our expectant mother is very set in her decision, anything can happen and we need to protect our hearts.

Please keep praying for everyone involved. That we will be prepared for these sweet lives to enter our family, that the expectant family will be at peace with this difficult decision, that our expectant mother will remain healthy, that the boys will be healthy and strong and that the baby with Down's will not develop any heart defects.

Also, if you feel led to contribute financially, you can still do so by sending a tax deductible donation to Lifesong for Orphans. Check can be made out to Lifesong for Orphans with "preference Zehr#3590" in the memo line and mailed to PO Box 40/202 N. Ford St. Gridley, IL 61744 or online at www.bothhands.org/zehradoption by clicking the "donate" button. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

"Everything Happens for a Reason"

Before I get into my main post, I'm sure that many of you are wondering what is going on with the twins situation that I wrote about in my last post. Since writing, Elias and I travelled to visit the birth parents and had a really nice time with them. We felt so comfortable with them and could definitely envision a beautiful adoption relationship with them. We all had a lot in common and the evening just felt natural. Currently they are talking with another couple, they had a few more questions for us and have asked to meet our parents as they are a huge part of our support system! So to wrap everything up, we are still waiting and they are taking their time so that they can make the best decision possible for these two precious babies.

Now onto the post that corresponds with the title. At some point we have all heard the phrase "everything happens for a reason", many of us have probably even said these words.

Today I call bull on that phrase.

This phrase is often said when either things have been tough and seemingly work themselves out or when things are currently tough and we don't have an answer as to why. They are said to either make ourselves feel better or in attempt to make others feel better. Let's face it, when you are going through a tough time, the last thing you want to hear is that it's happening for a "reason". I feel like in the Christian world, we are less likely to say these words and more likely to use something more "holy" like "it's part of God's plan" or "God's in control". While I fully believe that God can and does use hard times to bring good and to grow us, I don't believe that He causes suffering or that suffering is His plan for us. If we truly believe that He is indeed good and is love, He can't cause these things. Bad things and tough times happen because we are a sinful, fallen people. When God gave us free will, He gave up a portion of his control to allow us to make our own choices. Because we are a sinful people, suffering will and does happen.

All this being said, I do believe that God is all powerful and has the power to heal, do miracles and even take suffering away, but He also has the amazing ability to use that time of suffering and bring really good things. We can't say why one person prays and it seems as though their prayers are answered almost instantaneously while another person prays for the same thing and must endure extreme suffering as they feel as though their prayers aren't even being heard.  I can't say why, when one family walks in obedience when being called to adopt, they end up being doubly blessed by a miraculous pregnancy. While another family walks in this same obedience and prays for a miraculous pregnancy, so that they can experience both sides of having children, but never receives one.

The fact of the matter is, not everything happens for a reason. What would the reason be for a husband losing a wife or a parent losing a child? However, God can bring blessings out of suffering. This does not mean that it was part of His "plan" or that there was a "reason" behind it, but that He can take us in our broken state and heal us little by little, making us stronger and transforming us.  Through suffering He may ignite a passion in us or open our hearts to something that we wouldn't have previously considered.

This is how I feel about the twins. We may not be chosen and if we aren't, I'm okay with that, because I know that they will go to another amazing family that will love them dearly. But if we are chosen, it will only be because we had to walk a road of suffering for awhile. Five years ago, we would have never considered adopting a child with special needs. Two years ago when we began fundraising to adopt we would have never considered adopting a child with special needs. But now, after all of this time, we are willing to say "we surrender" and we are willing to take this step. I don't believe that God made us infertile or gave Elias CF or that it was in His "plan" for us to endure the greatest pain of our lives, but I do think that He has taken this time to prepare us for something greater than ourselves and our plans, and to bring us blessings bigger than we could have ever imagined. He could have changed our situation I'm sure of that, but if He had, we would not be sitting here today waiting to find out if we will be chosen as the parents of these precious little ones with hearts open to accept both of them just as they are.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Prayers needed

Chaos has ensued in the Zehr household! After 3 (now 4) rescheduled foster care home visits, we received an unexpected email on Friday. Our agency reached out to us to see if we would consider a situation that they were thinking about taking on, but needed a family to be on board before they did so. They had an expectant mother who is expecting twin boys in April, one of whom will be born with Down Syndrome. Previously this was outside of our comfort zone, but something on that day made us stop and pray about this. We had to run through so many scenarios in our heads regarding how having a child with special needs would change our lives and future. We also had to think about what God was calling us to and if He was calling us to this situation, we had to trust that the blessings would far outweigh the challenges that would be sure to come. We both felt like God was leading us to agree to be presented to this expectant mother despite the fear and uncertainties that we felt. So, we agreed, they (the expectant mother and friend) viewed our profile and they really like us. They sent a list of questions to us as well as 3 other families, so they can get a better feel for who God is leading them to choose for these precious babies.

Since agreeing to being presented to this couple, some new information has surfaced. We would like to proceed and our agency wants us to proceed, but we have to determine whether or not we can afford to proceed. We have been very honest with our agency about the fact that we do not want to enter into a situation that we cannot afford to complete, hence why we had moved onto foster care. They are willing to work with us as much as possible, but there is a certain amount of money that has to go toward paying the workers that will be working on this case. At this point we are asking for payer as we contemplate whether or not we can move forward. Is this what God has been preparing us for for the past 5 years? We have known for awhile that He has been preparing us for something bigger than ourselves, but this type of situation was not even on our radar! Are we supposed to just step out in faith and trust that somehow everything will work itself out? Is this the reason that our foster care home visit keeps being cancelled? To put it simply, our heads are spinning.

As of right now, we are moving forward until the expectant mother makes her decision. If she chooses us, we will need to figure the rest of the details out at that time and probably fill out as many grant applications as we can get our hands on! If she doesn't, we will proceed with becoming foster parents and trust that that is the capacity that God wants to use us in. At this point, we are not rescheduling our home visit until decisions are made with this situation. I have to say, it's reassuring to know that both we and the expectant mother are seeking God in this huge decision, but it's also terrifying to let go and trust that everything will work out if we are chosen! Please pray for us and even more so for the expectant mother as she makes a very difficult decision to determine who she feels God is leading her to choose to parent her children.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 in review

2013 has been a big year of changes for us. I never would have thought at the beginning of the year that I would be sitting where I am today. It has had it's ups and downs and certainly has not turned out the way I expected. To be honest, I truly thought that this was the year we would become parents, but as you know, it wasn't, and I have to be okay with that. So here is our year in review.

We began the year living in Poland, NY. I was working in NY Mills and Barneveld doing massage therapy while coming up to Lowville twice a month to offer massage therapy at Brookside Senior Living Community. Elias had just begun working with his dad in Lowville so that he could return to school full time as a computer network technician.

Around late spring/ early summer, we knew that a change needed to happen. With him being in school, we simply were not making enough money to make ends meet. I had been looking for additional part time work for awhile, but nothing worked with my massage schedule. So, we began talking about our next step needed to be. We had felt as though we were supposed to move back to Lewis County for some time, but we hadn't thought it would be at that soon. However, since nothing was opening up near Poland for me and Elias was already working in Lowville with his dad, we began exploring the possibility of moving back to Lewis County.

One day, I expressed interested in beginning practicing massage in Croghan and I was given the suggestion to contact one of the salons in town. The owner of that salon stated that she didn't have the space, but she recommended another space in town. I contacted the owner of that salon, went to view the space and decided that since the rent was reasonable, that I would take the plunge and begin offering hours there in July. We began looking for places to rent in Lewis County, found a house in Croghan and moved in September.

Around that same time, we completed our final big fundraiser to raise money for our adoption and came to the conclusion that, despite the generous donations from a number of people, there was no way that we could raise enough money for a traditional agency assisted adoption. We then decided that we would begin pursuing opening ourselves up to become foster parents unless a private adoption situation came along, which is something we are still open to in case any of you hear of anything. We began submitting all of our paperwork to Jefferson County DSS while they requested additional paperwork from The House of the Good Shepard in Utica where we took our foster care classes.

While all of this was happening, Elias begin his second semester as a computer network technician, while continuing to work with his dad. My massage business was not growing as quickly as I had hoped and I was blessed to begin working part time in October for a husband and wife company, only 8 minutes from our home, as an office assistant. The hours are very flexible and still allow me to focus time on my own business.

Currently, we are still waiting on becoming open for foster children, but this week we are once again scheduled to have our home visit, then we will need to get physicals and DSS will need to write up our homestudy. At that point, if all is in order, we should be able to be open to foster children!

I'm sure this next year will also be full of ups and downs, but I pray that the downs will grow us more in Christ and that the ups will bless us more than we could ever imagine. Many blessings to all of you this new year!