Sunday, November 22, 2009

Be Where You Are

A friend taught me what this simple phrase means. It means:

When you are in the car with your children, be with your children not with your to do list rattling in your head.

When you are at church, focus on the message being taught.

When you are on date night with hubby, listen to him and enjoy your time together rather than thinking about the bills that still need paid.

I have thought of this simple phrase many times in my life. Sometimes it is a motto that is easy to live by, other times I am easily distracted from what really matters.

In my days before becoming of a mother, I longed for the day that the pitter-patter of little feet would fill my home. But I really tried to focus on the message, "Be where you are." I enjoyed the years that Steve and I had as a couple to enjoy each other and to really work on our relationship. We had a lot of fun. We made sure to plan something we both enjoyed often to distract us from the woes of infertility and childlessness.

Being a mother is wonderful, but it is also difficult. Some days I wonder if I am totally insane to have all these children and sometimes secretly, I wish for more. Some days I look at the mirror I just cleaned that is now smeared with toothpaste and fingerprints and wonder why I work so hard. Sometimes I fantasize about what life would be like if we didn't have any children. In my fantasies, I'm sure we would be rich (living on two incomes, my dream job, my dream house, etc.). I dream of the places in the world where we would vacation. I think of how much less laundry there would be and how the house would always be clean.

But then, I think about how empty the house would be. How unfulfilled my life would be. I would miss out on:

The joy of helping a child with homework and seeing that they get it now.

Arms wrapped tightly around my neck with a sweet little voice saying, "I love you mom."

Hearing my child own up to something they did wrong without being reminded to say "I'm sorry."

Butterfly kisses on my cheek followed by plenty of giggling.

Cuddling a sick child that just needs mommy and a warm blanket.

Reading bedtime stories, even though it is way past bedtime and this is the 5th story we've read.

What good is a clean house if there are no children to fill it? Today, I am grateful to be where I a bit of a messy house, but with 4 beautiful girls and a wonderful, very patient man by my side.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

Our family was featured in our local newspaper for National Adoption Month. A reporter came to our home and interviewed me and Steve, then the photographer came a few days later to take some pictures of our family. Here's the link, if you're interested in reading the article.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Birthday Highlights

Five of the six of us have birthdays falling within 1 month and 3 days of each other. We really get tired of cake in October/November. I made 4 cakes and cheated for my own birthday and bought pie.

(I don't have pictures of Madi's soccer jersey cake because we couldn't find the camera. When I did find it, there were lots of crazy pictures of all four girls.....close ups of their noses, tongues, feet, and silly I know where the camera was! :) I am posting the silly faces to use as blackmail in the future when boys they like show up.

Here are some fun photos of our birthday celebrations. Lilly's party was on Halloween, so I'm including Halloween pics too.

Lilly was Raggedy-Ann, Sierra was a knight, Savannah was a bat girl, and Madi was Coraline.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Here's to the Birth Mothers who have Blessed our Lives

There are 3 very special people we honor in our home. These people came into our lives as children came into our family through adoption. Their names are spoken in our home with respect and awe. Their love for their child(ren) is praised and admired.

We met Amanda, Madison's birth mother 10 years ago when Madison was 19 days old. We met her at LDS Family Services in Illinois. We were all nervous to meet. We wondered what she would think of us and whether she would want to change her mind about placing her daughter with us. She had signed placement papers a few days before and was grieving for the child she hadn't seen in 5 days. We had a very nice meeting with Amanda and her mother. We felt such a mix of emotions that day. We were thrilled to be parents. We were overwhelmed at another woman's grief, and in awe of her love and willingness to do what she felt was in the best interest of this little soul that was just placed in our arms. We left with an increased desire to make Amanda part of our family, if only through sharing our lives through letters and pictures. We felt that someday Madison and Amanda would meet again. Amanda left thinking she would maybe never hear from us again. She had entrusted us with everything yet had no expectations from us in return.

Over the years, we communicated with Amanda through letters. When Madison was 3, we sent her our email address and access to a website where she could view pictures online. When Madison was 5, we visited Amanda in Illinois. We met Madison's birth father and his family as well. When Madison was 7, we met Amanda's father and mother, brother and extended family. They have all made our family part of theirs and we have made them part of ours. There have been other visits and we have enjoyed everyone of them.

Amanda is an amazing person and is such a great advocate for adoption. We love you Amanda and just can't imagine our life without you a part of it.

The twins' birth mother wanted a closed adoption. Since I don't have her permission to blog about her, I will just call her "N". In September 2004, our case worker with LDS Family Services called us and told us about twin girls due in December. Their birth mother was working with a different adoption agency in Utah and this adoption agency didn't have many adoptive families to show the birth mother. She asked if we would be interested. We had had many calls like this before, but things never worked out. We had been waiting to adopt for over 3 years. This time, it just felt right. I didn't want to get my hopes up, but I just had this feeling....

I met with the case workers at Children's Service Society of Utah and filled out some paperwork and gave them a letter for "N" and some pictures of our family. I felt really good when I left and again felt like these babies were meant to come to our family. They told us that "N" was due at Christmas, but would likely deliver early because they were twins. They thought she would deliver by Thanksgiving.

We waited anxiously to hear something about the twins. But we didn't get a call. In November, I finally called CSS of Utah to see if "N" had picked a different family. They told me she still had not chosen, but they would let me know one way or the other when she had. On November 16th, I got a call around noon from a case worker saying that "N" was in labor and would be delivering today. She asked if we would like to come up to the hospital and finish our paper work. We were so excited that "N" had picked our family.

We quickly did some shopping. We bought a necklace to give "N" with the girls' birthstone. We made arrangements for someone to watch Madison and headed up to the hospital. We finished filling out mountains of paper work and finally decided we better eat something. While we were in the cafeteria, we got a call saying they were born at 8:00 PM. We hurried to the nursery, but they weren't in there yet. We waited and watched as they brought in two beautiful babies. We watched through the window for a few moments while the case worker and the hospital staff worked out an agreement to allow us to be in the nursery with them. We went inside and helped weigh them and bathe them. They were so beautiful.

It was about 11:00 PM and we hadn't left yet. The case workers had gone for the night. "N" had indicated that she did not want to meet us. Then a nurse came into the nursery with a young woman in a wheelchair. It was "N". We wondered what we should do. We introduced ourselves and told her how grateful we were to her for choosing our family to adopt these beautiful children. We thanked her for giving them the gift of life. We told her how much each of them weighed and how we could already tell them apart. She told us she was glad we were their mom and dad now and that she would not interfere in their lives. We told her she needed to have time alone with them and we would leave. She told us not to go too far, she didn't want them to be alone after she left, but she would like some time.

The next day, "N" asked the case worker if we could come to her room and have a visit. We were thrilled and cherish the time we spent getting to know her. We asked her if she had any names in mind for the girls. She didn't, but she loved the names we picked, Sierra and Savannah. "N" was a beautiful, strong woman who wanted her children to be in a home where they would have 2 parents and would be loved and well-cared for. We assured her we would do this. We gave her all the pictures we had taken the night before and told her we would write if she wanted us to. We have never heard from "N" since then, but we respect her wishes and hope and pray that she is happy and doing well.

Ruth is Lilly's birth mother. When Lilly was 4 months old, her father died suddenly. Ruth was very young and life if very difficult in Ghana. Ruth cared for Lilly for several years and provided for her the best she could. When Lilly was about 4 or 5, Ruth took her to Luckyhill Children's Home where Lilly would receive regular meals and an education. Ruth visited Lilly nearly every day and when she could spare a bit of money would buy yogurt for her. Ruth's mother works at Luckyhill helping care for the younger children. Lilly's grandmother took good care of her. Ruth is currently working at Luckyhill cooking meals for the children. We are so glad we were able to meet the people who loved and cared for Lilly for so many years. They are very good and generous people. We are able to call Ruth every once in a while and send letters and pictures to her with other families traveling to Ghana. We love them and know that the reason Lilly has adjusted to her new home and family so well is because she was loved before. She doesn't have bonding issues because she was loved and cared for before she came here.

Love Makes a Family.
It's our family motto. It's the love of these birth mothers that built our family and the love we share with one another that makes our family complete.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I wrote this post Oct. 10th, but wanted to wait until November to publish it because it is National Adoption Month.

We would like to express our gratitude to Lois Martino who helped us with our adoption of Lilly. She was recently nominated and won the 2009 Hall of Fame Award for Families Supporting Adoption (FSA). She was so deserving and gave a very humble speech upon accepting the award. She said that she is the lucky one because she knows she is doing what the Lord wants her to do. She is truly amazing.

Adoption touched her life when she adopted her daughter, Lily from Ghana 10 years ago. She has given back 100 fold. She has helped so many children find their families. She has dedicated much of her life, without pay, to help guide families through the adoption process in Ghana. As a result of these adoptions, all of the children at Luckyhill are benefiting with better nutrition, a nearly completed school, dorms, beds, medical care, etc.....things we simply take for granted.

THANK YOU LOIS for bringing "our Lilly" home. We are forever grateful and in your debt.

We would also like to thank Kingsley and Gloria Eshun. They are incredible people who are such great examples of sharing and serving others. They opened a school called King's International school as a business to provide for their family. Many of the children who began attending the school were orphans. So the Eshuns started taking these children into their own home and founded the Luckyhill Children's Home. They house around 20 orphans and have found foster homes for about 60 more within the community.

Kingsley works non-stop helping families facilitate adoptions, running the school, serving in the bishopric, helping anyone who stops by from the community, and I could go on and on and on. Gloria cooks 3 meals a day, including breakfast and lunch for 300 students at the school. She does the laundry, watches the children, does the food shopping, and has dedicated her life to this work as well.

We are so thankful for the kind of care Lilly received while she lived in the Eshun home. She was loved and provided for and this has made her transition into our family much easier for all of us.

THANK YOU KINGSLEY AND GLORIA for everything you do. I know the Lord smiles on your work and will bless you abundantly!!!