Monday, August 28, 2006

Dear Birthparent Letter and Photos

It's done. This emotionally process of pouring out your heart onto a piece of paper that will be shown to total strangers is done. This has been hard, but it's as good as I can get it. I am not an English major - please bear that in mind. :)

Can you imagine, though? Being faced with having to choose a family to raise your tiny baby? And all you have is a bunch of letters and pictures of smiling people that you don't know. How could you ever decide? I am hopeful that these are moments where the Holy Spirit steps in to gently prod and push so that each child is placed with the right family.

My thoughts tonight are with Joy and her birthparents. May God bless us all.

(Note:please forgive the formatting - it won't work on this blog tonight!)

Dear Friends,

We cannot imagine the heartache you must feel to hear that your baby has a diagnosis that was unexpected. Many times we have cried and our hearts have been filled with sorrow as we have imagined a doctor or nurse taking your hand and telling you that this child you have carried for nine months is going to have a very different future than the one you expected. But there is hope. God can turn anything to good. Our family feels inspired to raise and love a child with special needs. We are excited to welcome your sweet baby into our family. We will provide your baby with unconditional love and acceptance of who she is. We will see that her medical and educational needs are met.

Our family’s lives have been richly blessed by adoption. Shelly has two siblings who are adopted from China. We have learned that true love isn’t related to blood or skin color, it comes from the heart. Shelly’s adopted siblings are 28 and 30 years younger than she is, but we have so much fun together. As we tease, tickle, and giggle with them, we definitely act more like brothers and sisters than grownups and children. We all love them!

Your baby will grow up with four big sisters; we call them our “ladybugs.” Our girls are the center of our lives. They are all beautiful and smart (but we aren’t prejudiced at all J ). Their names are Becca, Sammi, Jessi, and Lizzy. Becca is our little mother hen who adores babies! She is 10 and very thoughtful. Sammi is 7 and loves to live. She is very active and adventuresome. Jessi is 5 and our cuddler. She loves people and just wants love and cuddles in return. Lizzy is 3 and our clown. One of her first sentences was “I funny.” She delights us all.

Jason (the Daddy) is a quiet person who has a funny sense of humor. He loves to play jokes on people and to laugh and enjoy life. He loves electronics. We are always teasing him about all his multitude of technological devices that he carries around.

Jason also has a love of learning all the details of history and science. He has a passion for the History Channel and Modern Marvels (a science show). He can be found many a late night, after everyone is fast asleep, up watching a show that is fascinating to him, but that none of the rest of us is interested in.

Jason also has a very high sense for fairness and rules. Do not plan on cheating or making up rules when playing a board game with Jason. Yes, he is one of those who will get out the rule book and read you the applicable rule.

Jason also is involved in the electoral process and the affairs of our nation. He routinely volunteers his time to help run elections as a poll worker and an election judge. He keeps abreast of the current affairs and supports local candidates through their campaigns.

As a youth, Jason performed internationally with a dancing and singing group. He was able to study the dance styles of jazz and ballet. He sang and choreographed routines for the group. Now he just shares those talents with his daughters.

Jason loves to tickle us silly! He adores coming home and all the kids running up to him saying “Daddy’s home!” The biggest thing Shelly loves about Jason is that he loves unconditionally. He is patient, supportive, and loves us all.

Shelly (the Mama) is a quieter person who likes to hang back, watch and learn before barging into something. She is very observant and has a really good memory. She is also a very curious person. She wants to know things – anything. Shelly loves to research and figure things out. She says she doesn’t know how she would live without the internet at her fingertips!

Shelly is what some people would call a home body. She loves to be home and enjoy the comforts there. She finds her inner strength from studying God’s word and from calm, peaceful music.

Shelly loves leaving the world behind by diving in and getting lost in a good book. She enjoys throwing herself into another realm whether it’s a Sherlock Holmes’s mystery or a science fantasy adventure. So if she’s not busy with the kids and normal life, then you’ll find her crawled up in her big, green library chair reading.

Shelly’s absolute weakness in this world is peanut M&M’s. They are the bane of her existence. She cannot eat just one. She’ll make herself sick on those. She tries very hard to avoid them, but she loves chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. This spills over into brownies, cakes and chocolate chip cookies. Her perfect afternoon would be to eat chocolate with the coldest, iciest water and a good book – pure delight – and if Jason is reading on the seat next to her, then that’s pure heaven.

We met at church. Jason needed to see the play, ‘Oliver’ for an English project and Shelly was asked to go along. One thing led to another and two months later Shelly asked him to marry her. A little backward and fast, but he said yes, so it all worked out.

Our marriage works really well for us. Where she is weak, Jason is strong. Where he is weak, Shelly is strong. We compliment each other and we are glad we can hold on to each other through life’s craziness.

Early in our marriage, our precious son passed away. That first year after he died was as close to living in hell as we ever hope to come as we moved through the grieving process. We believe in life after death, but still we wondered what he was doing and if he was happy where he was. Knowing that we would never see him again in this life, our arms ached with emptiness and we felt that life was over and could never go on. We were grateful that we had each other to hold onto during that time. Neither of us has placed a child for adoption, but we imagine that you will similarly wonder what your sweet baby is doing and if she is happy. We invite you to be honest with us and let us know if you would like to visit with our family or what kind of contact you would like with our family. We want you to have the reassurances that you will need that your baby is loved by her new family.

Please know that your baby is wanted, loved deeply, and being prayed for by a Mom and Dad and four sisters who can’t wait to meet her and smother her with love and kisses.

With much love,
Shelly and Jason

Monday, August 21, 2006


Our Social Worker called this morning, can I come over this afternoon to do your home visit? What?!?!? Of course you can.
So we cleaned all day :). My Mom came over and helped me mop and to be an extra set of eyes.

Our Social Worker showed up and Sammi took charge. Sammi read her a poem, dressed up in a chicken costume, and showed her every room in the house - even the linen closet which I was hoping she wouldn't see. :)

The good news is that we passed. We are done. Now the hard part starts, we have to find Joy!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Home Visit

Our white glove home inspection was scheduled for tomorrow. We have been frantically running around moving cleaning products from under sinks, hiding computer cords, generally de-cluttering, and stressing big time. Our yard looks great! Our kids's rooms look not so great - but I still had until 4 PM tomorrow - her scheduled appointment time.
A beautiful baby was born. (Not ours) Our social worker has to go down and do the placement. I am glad for the adoptive couple - what a wonderful day. I am sad for the birth mother - I hope that she can find peace. And I am breathing again because my home visit has been postponed until Wednesday. Yeah! 2 more days to clean. This house is going to look great (I hope!). Can I move into a beautiful, brand new house in that time? :) Jason said that we should give our social worker his parent's address - it would be magazine perfect! (He's kidding!)

It looks like the little girl that we were called about has probably been placed. Truthfully, I am OK with that. I know that Heavenly Father has a child in store for our family. I know she is precious and wonderful and will be a great blessing to our family. Knowing that, I want to make sure that we get the right baby for our family. We want Joy!

Two days ago, I was stressing (anyone noticing a pattern here) and I decided to read my patriarchal blessing. There is a line that talks about my pre-mortal life. It says that I shouted with joy. It's talking about the council in heaven and the plan of salvation being made known to us, but I felt a little warm, tingly feeling as I read it and realized that I probably did indeed shout with Joy in the heavens before this life. We probably knew each other very well. I can't wait to know her here.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Interviews -- Part 2

My interview was second. Julie, our Social Worker, wanted to get to know us more than what is on paper. I was so nervous - I was afraid I was going to throw up everywhere! :)

We survived. We passed the test. She said that she asks the husband and wife the same questions and compares the answers. Our answers matched! Yeah!

We were contacted on Wednesday about a little baby girl born on Monday the 14th, but our homestudy wasn't completed. We don't know whether or not she has been matched with a family yet. Julie is willing to work with us to get our home study finished quickly. She is coming out on Monday to do our home inspection. Of course, I am nervous about that as well. The saga continues....

Interviews -- Part 1


First interview was mine while Shelly waited.

She asked about my childhood and growing up, about my family and what I did as a child, high school, mission, college, and being married. They wanted to know how I feel about our marriage and how strong it is. I don't know that I have ever talked that much about myself. ( I just don't like talking about me.)

It took nearly an hour for my interview and she also wanted to know all about why we decided to adopt and how we feel about it.

I have been very nervous about doing this interview and have been wanting to just get it done and past so we can move on to getting our Joy home.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Interviews set up

I finally connected with our social worker. Our interviews are set up for next Friday, the 18th of August (same day Mandy comes home!!!!). I have to be interviewed alone. Then Jason alone. Then our "marriage" interview. Should be a fun couple of hours - ugh!

I have contacted the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati. They have a waiting list for families who want to adopt children with Down syndrome. All we need is our home study. There is no cost for their services.

Jason says the more lists we can get on, the better. That way, hopefully, we'll find Joy!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Thoughts while we wait

I thought since we are still waiting on the social worker (so, no progress in the home study department), I'd share some reasons we chose to adopt Joy and why "now".

We went to the temple in April. It was the most joyful experience in the temple I have ever had! Joy visited me there. She has the most joyful, happy, and down-right giddy spirit I have ever meet. She made me giddy through the whole session! I loved it! I thought we'll name her Joy.

After the session, I mentioned to Jason the impressions I had just had and asked him how he would feel about adopting a little girl with Down syndrome. (How did I know about her gender? Spirits have gender. She is a girl. How did I know about Down syndrome? There is a young woman in my Mia Maid class with Down syndrome. Without my associations with her, I'm not sure that I would have recognized Joy's diagnosis. ) Jason's answer to the question was that it would be hard. I agreed and thought, "well, maybe I just imagined that whole thing."

As I was changing to leave the temple, I noticed a pillow cushion that someone had taken the time to carefully write J O Y. I thought to myself, "hmm...maybe I'm not crazy."

Then as I was so patiently waiting for my husband to get changed :), I saw a little baby that was going to be sealed to his parents. And I thought, "hmm...maybe I'm not crazy."

Jason thought and prayed about us adopting a wonderful, happy little girl named Joy.

For our fast in May, we fasted about Joy. We wanted to make SURE this was His will and not something we wanted. My answer was such a blessing to me. On my knees in sacred prayer, fasting, I started to ask our Father in Heaven if it was His will that we should adopt a little girl with Down syndrome, Joy. No sooner had I begun to voice my question, then I was overwhelmed with a sweet, burning in my chest that let me know that YES, this was His will for us. I was grateful that Jason was also able to receive a confirmation to his fast.

Monday morning, we called LDSFS to begin our homestudy.

As the weeks passed, I begun to worry where the money was going to come from to pay for the adoption. Back to the temple I went and felt so grateful as Heavenly Father gave me peace and the reassurance that it would all work out. To a God that can make the blind see and the lame walk, what is a few thousand dollars?

As time continued, I became anxious again. This time that things were happening so quickly (as we worked so hard to gather documents, take classes, get 6 people in for physicals). I thought perhaps we just needed to back off a little and slow down. Back to the temple we went. As I was praying/pondering over this time issue, who should walk in, but a member of our Stake who has a child with Down syndrome. President Monson once said that there are no coincedences, only times when God chooses to be anonymous. That was my answer and we kept plugging along trying to obey the voice of the Lord.

I guess that I am slow to process what the Lord has to tell me for Him to have to continually remind me of what I should be doing, but I am grateful that He is so patient and kind with me.

Three Sundays ago, I again began to get worried. Worried that I wouldn't be able to handle the challenges of a special needs baby along with homeschooling my other 4, my church calling, Jason's church calling, our relationships with our children and with each other, and then our extended families. As we were having our morning scripture study, I read a wonderful verse that answered my fears (again!). It was Joshua 1:9
"Have not I commanded thee? (Yes, He has asked us to adopt this sweet little girl)
Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the aLord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." As I read, I felt the warm burning of the witness of the Holy Ghost. How grateful I am that in His grace He sends me so many reasurances so freely.

I can only imagine that Joy must be a wonderful, sweet soul. We can't wait for her to be here in our home and in our arms. We pray and fast for her and her birthparents.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Social Worker update

We are ready, but our social worker is on vacation until August 7th. Then we can begin the grilling and intrusive interviews and white glove inspection of our home!