Monday, February 25, 2013


Good Evening Readers! I hope you are having a wonderful day. Today I read a post written by Julia at Micah Six Eight  You can click the link and be taken right to it and I hope you will. It is truly powerful, honest and real. As someone who is in the middle of their first adoption, this post was sobering and heartbreaking. If you are thinking of adopting someday, this would be a great place to start learning about behaviors you may expect from a previously institutionalized child.
If you are simply a follower who is interested in adoption stories, a fan of our gorgeous girl, or an advocate, this will help you better understand the world of adopted children and their families. If you are a troll who follows my blog for the purpose of being hateful, read it and develop some compassion for the lives of these children. It's that great of a post.

Blessings to you all,

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Q&A Answers!

Hello readers! I hope you are all doing well today. I would like to remind everyone of our Map Fundraiser over at Caring for Carolina  $5 to our FSP and you can have your name put on any state of our puzzle map. The names will be on the front of the map along with the other facts about each state so our little girl can see her new country and all the people who helped bring her here.

Now on to the Q&A

1.) Did you know Carolina was your daughter when you first saw her or did she grow on you?
         Well, a little of both. When I first saw Carolina, I was up late nursing my youngest daughter who was about 4 months old. Immediately, I was drawn to her, but I wasn't looking to adopt. I had seen Reece's Rainbow before and would always participate in Angel Tree donations. That is when I saw her. Angel Tree 2010. She wasn't on the tree, but I stayed up browsing the site for a couple of hours wondering what could be done to help so many needy children who had nobody. I came back to check on Carolina many times, certain she would have a family. To my surprise and bewilderment, she did not.

 My husband and I had discussed the possibility of adopting a child from Reece's Rainbow "someday," possibly when our other four were older. Time passed and in the early spring of 2012 a little boy with Down Syndrome showed up in my Facebook newsfeed. I recognized the advocacy site immediately....Reece's Rainbow. I donated and shared the posting, which caught the attention of a friend, Daneille, from  The Wonder of Boys whom I knew from our local Home School group. I checked out her blog and decided I could certainly do that to help these precious kids. And so, Imagery of My Heart was born! I blogged about Carolina HERE and was again certain that a family would step forward for her. As you can tell by that post, I was clearly falling in love with her, but was convinced that "people like me" couldn't possibly adopt internationally. And then we had a new family move into our was Valerie and family From the Trenches of Adoption  they are an amazing yet completely ordinary, and approachable family with 7 adopted special needs children...and biological triplets. I was beginning to see that perhaps people who adopt were not much different than "people like me." Valerie answered so many questions and her children are just incredible. I was still afraid of the process, of putting my family "out there" to be scrutinized. Are we really good enough?
 We live in a 3 bedroom house and already have 4 workers wouldn't like that....or so I thought. I was speaking with Daneille one day at a park while all the kids played and expressed my fears of what a social worker would think coming into our home. She said something I'd never thought of before, "Well, people who do home studies want kids to be adopted." That had NEVER occurred to me. I know, silly, right? I had this idea in my mind that a home study was like a military inspection where the idea was to find some off the wall reason to "fail" the family. I don't know why I thought that way, but I did. It was later that night that I realized our family met ALL of the requirements to adopt, with room to spare. And we decided we would commit to a child. I knew Carolina would be on our list of children to pray about, but I still figured she'd have a family before we could get to her.  She was always my husband's first choice. And then it happened. I kept getting that calm reassurance, but kept saying, "Are you sure God? Maybe I'm misinterpreting."
Have I mentioned I overthink everything?

So one night after asking yet again for "a strong confirmation of what we should do" I woke up in the middle of the night, heart pounding, with an absolute sense of urgency and her face in my mind. I knew exactly what I needed to do right then. That doesn't mean my fears and reservations weren't still there, but I knew she was the one.
So I contacted Reeces Rainbow and told them I was ready to commit to Carolina.....and got a reply that went something like this: "I'm so sorry, I didn't know who you were considering. There is a family in country now who is trying to add her to their adoption. Until we know what is going on there, we cannot process your commitment."  I felt my heart sink. I was thrilled that Carolina was getting a family, but terribly confused as to how I had managed to misinterpret my promptings. And so I prayed for God's will to be done and for my heart to be open to His will for us. Then I went about my morning. When I came back about an hour later, I had a message telling me the other family was not able to add Carolina as she was not in the region they had hoped.....and that she was being moved to the My Family Found Me page...for us!  And at that moment, I knew. I KNEW that we were doing what our Father in Heaven wanted us to do. I began crying and cheering at the same time. It was one of the most emotional times of my life.
So I suppose I was immediately drawn to her in my heart, but my brain got in the way. That is something I still feel very guilty about. I wish I would have pursued her when I first saw her, but I believe the extra time I had has helped me as well as my entire family to become better prepared for adoption. We are going into this with our eyes wide open.

If the right child came along, would you adopt two?

Well....we are approved for two. We were advised to do this as one never knows what will happen. At this point in time, however, we are only planning to adopt Carolina. If we got over there and found she had a sibling that was available, we would try to adopt him/her as well, but barring that, we only plan on one....for now, but anything is possible.

How did your heart open to adoption?

I've already shared how we came to the decision to adopt this particular child, but we have been open to adoption from the very beginning of our marriage. My husband had thought about it for a long while due to some experiences in his life and decided it was definitely something he could handle. My inlaws adopted his best friend as a teenager, so older child adoption was something he was always comfortable with.  I am paternally adopted, so I have always known that love of a family has nothing to do with DNA. We began considering adoption when we suffered from secondary infertility. We ended up being able to conceive, but when baby #3 wasn't coming along, we again considered adopting. In both of those instances, age and income requirements kept us from being able to pursue adoption. Baby #4 was still very young when the idea came to our hearts again, but that is when it took root and began to grow into a desire that moved us to action.

What do the kids think?

They are all very excited. My 5 year old daughter prays for Carolina multiple times per day and has an obnoxious habit of asking me about 50 times each day, "When will we get Carolina?"  My 2 year old was convinced that Carolina was in the box delivered by the UPS man....that was interesting and quite funny. My 8 year old boy tells people all the time about HIS international adoption, just as though he's the one doing it all. It's quite funny. He seems very excited as well, but he has been begging for us to bring him a little brother too. My oldest is an 11 year old boy and he is surprisingly excited as well. He is very interested in the orphan crisis and gets quite indignant when he hears of children suffering.

How do you deal with negative responses from friends and family?

Probably not as well as I should. I don't have snappy come-back lines. I don't quote scripture. My husband and I just very plainly told people that this is something we are doing. We did not say it is something we are "thinking about doing."  It isn't easy as many people don't realize how hurtful their comments can be. Things such as, "You need to consider your 'real' kids' feelings..."
I always wonder what kind of parents they think we are if they think we could possibly make any decision without thinking of our biological children. I can't make a meal plan without considering each child, so I am certainly not going to fly across the world and adopt without thinking of them. At the same time, I don't know many families who consult their biological children before adding to their family in the traditional way. Adoption is a little different, particularly with an older child, but the amount of say a child has in family planning, should be limited.
What is right for us, may not be right for others and THAT IS FINE. I really wish people would believe that. So often we have had friends pull away thinking that if they agree it is good for us to adopt, that they may be expected to do so as well. That is NOT what we believe. We are all called to different paths and I would never presume to know what is right for another family.
Mainly, people are very supportive. We have been amazed at how many people have been supportive of us and are anxiously waiting our new little girl's arrival. We are incredibly blessed with wonderful family and friends. Those who are not enthused will likely come around when she is home. The idea of change is often worse than the change itself.

Do you ever get crap for adopting from another country when there are so many kids in need here?

Yes, we do. Our response is simply, "Because we were led this way." And it is true. But I think what they are really asking is, "Why did you choose not to adopt from Foster care?" And I do have an answer for that. There are actually several reasons but they get rather complex. But the main reason, the very biggest one, was that with foster children, there is a high risk of them being taken away. So not only would we be parenting very hurt kids, we would always be in transition. My bio kids would bond to their new siblings and then they could be gone. Who knows how many placements we would have before we finally got a child or two that could actually stay? And what about the ones that were taken away? I would be a wreck knowing I had to give kids back to parents or relatives that would continue to traumatize them. It is just not something I am equipped to do right now. Remember, I have the spirit of a warrior. Sending children back into abusive situations goes against the core of my being.
And on another note, kids in U.S. foster care have more aid and assistance than kids overseas in orphanages. Even one day in foster care earns you free tuition to any state college. The status of "orphan" in Eastern Europe allows for discrimination. A disabled orphan's fate is much worse.
                                        (photo from Google Images)
This child probably has Cerebral Palsy or Spina Bifida. Do you see how he (or she, they shave the girls' heads too) is TIED  to the crib? This is how this child will spend his or her life. Starving, unloved, left to waste away. Should his countrymen care? Yes. Do they? Not yet. Change comes slowly in these nations that are still incredibly poor, with inadequate access to medical care. Social change will be slow. Parents will continue to feel their disabled children are "better off" in this sort of environment than at home for many years to come.
Yes, I could foster. I could take in a child or two, and receive a stipend for all their clothing and care. I could adopt those kids and continue to receive state money for them because of their previous life in foster care. That would be a good and righteous thing to do. But how on earth someone could think that taking in a child like this one....a child left to wither away while their body consumes itself....a child whose muscles are contracting, pulling bones from their sockets....a child who is tied to a crib constantly...a child who gets one clean diaper per day if he's could anyone criticize adopting this child simply because he's not American? How could anyone criticize fundraising to get to him?
 I wish that people in these countries would adopt these children, but wishing it won't make it so. For now, there is a great need. Real children live like this. Hundreds of thousands of them live like this. Some people are called to adopt domestically, and others internationally. Criticizing due to nationality is frankly just a way to dehumanize these kids. If we thought of them as being as important as American kids, we'd all be moved to help them or adopt them...and that might make people uncomfortable.

The last question wasn't worded as a question, but it asked that we not let societal pressures force us to adopt a child who is not a good fit for our family.

All I can say is that we know all the directions this can go. We are very optimistic, but I think that every parent is. Until we meet her, I cannot speak of her character and how she fits into our family, but stay tuned as this story is just beginning!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Q & A

I thought it would be fun to involve my readers a little more, so how about a Q&A? 

Any questions you'd like to ask us about our adoption journey? Questions for the other family members? Questions about our life? 

Ask via the comment section and my next post will have all the answers for enquiring minds.
*Details will be within reason, this is the internet after all.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Why Would We Do It?

I hear this question a lot. Let's face it, when anyone is expecting a child, the first thing they want is for him or her to be healthy. When a baby is born healthy and whole, with all ten fingers and ten toes, it is a celebration. And then there are the ones born with an obvious difference. Maybe the child is missing fingers. Maybe he or she has the distinctive almond shaped eyes that mark Down Syndrome. Maybe the child has decreased movement on one side or in the limbs due to cerebral palsy. What then? Immediately, the celebration is dampened. The excitement of a new life is diminished by pity and sadness for the parents whose baby was not "perfect."

So why would we intentionally adopt a child with known special needs? Don't we know what *could* happen? Won't it be hard for us?

Yes. It will be hard.

As an adolescent, when asked, "What are you going to do when you grow up?" One of my favorite replies was, "I'm going to change the world." That got some interesting looks. Some thought me quite arrogant, but I was certain that if I put all of my passion and warrior spirit into something good, it would be a benefit to others. I can still remember the commercials for the Peace Corps in the early 80's. Their slogan was "The toughest job you'll ever love." I was sure at age 4...yes, 4, that I would join the Peace Corps when I grew up.

 Fast forward to age 18. I was graduating high school with two years of college under my belt already. My family had dreams of me earning a masters degree by age 21. I was excited at this prospect, but I did not go on in my education right away. Instead, I joined the Army. What better way to get to see the world and make a difference than by serving in the military!  Well, I saw the southern part of the United States and the California desert, but that was about it. I did, however, come out of the Army with a husband and a child. For the next decade, my life revolved around pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, diapers and potty training as 3 more children joined our family. I think we will have 12 years of continuous diapering by the time the youngest is toilet trained.

I would not change the last eleven years for anything. I have grown as a mother and as a wife and a follower of Christ. I have more compassion and empathy than I could have gained in any other way. Not all of my kids are 100% "typical" in their development, and that has helped me learn more about special needs children. But when it comes down to it, my biological kids can hide their differences. Their special needs do not show on the outside. And so I am spared the looks of pity in public, but they have presented us with challenges that have forced us all to grow in ways that were not always comfortable. I know why I have the soul of a warrior. I have had to be one for my children.

"That must be how you were meant to change the world, by raising your strong children and advocating for them."

This is true. I believe it.....and then I learned about the orphan crisis in the world. I learned how many children are warehoused in deplorable conditions. I learned that many of these children have living family who for one reason or another, could not care for them. I learned what happens to them as they grow up. Those who are healthy and typical may receive job training and may be able to function at least to some degree in their native countries. Those who are not healthy or typical will not. Those children will be warehoused forever in institutions where we Americans would not send our dogs. The injustice of it shook me to my core. HOW? HOW could they do this to children? How can workers honestly believe that a child who weighs 18 pounds as a teenager is acceptable? How can they not see the malnutrition? How can they believe that is due to an extra chromosome or cerebral palsy?

What can be done to help people in these countries to be able to keep their differently-abled children?
Thankfully, there are many organizations working tirelessly in Asia and Eastern Europe to bring reform. They are helping support parents who choose to keep their children who have differences. This is wonderful news! I hope one day that the orphanages in these countries are EMPTY because the children are all in loving home environments.

But change happens slowly. In the mean time, real children wait. Should we leave them there to prove a point? Should we allow them to lay in cribs while their muscles contract and atrophy, pulling their bones from their sockets so that they can remain in their home country? Or so that my life doesn't have to be any harder?  Do we really think that it hurts less when children in poorer countries suffer?

For now, adoption is the most humane and best placement for these precious children. If their countrymen won't adopt them, then others will, and they should be encouraged to do so. Human suffering is human suffering. Nationality does not matter.

No, I never joined the Peace Corps. I never started a charity that aids hundreds or thousands of children. I never found a way to solve the problems faced by their mothers that led to them being relinquished. I never discovered some way to end world hunger and bring world peace. Those things may not be within my ability, but adopting just one child will change HER world. I cannot think of anything more worthy of my time and effort than to rescue a child and bring her into our home where she will have a Mama and Papa who will love her just as fiercely as we do the four homegrown kids. Her disability doesn't matter. She is a human being. She is a child of God. How can I not go to her?

...Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference
                                                                           Robert Frost -

Friday, February 15, 2013

Day 3

Today is the third day of Lent and of the wonderful fundraiser over at Forty Days to Forever 
We were able to raise $161.60 toward our adoption of Carolina on Valentine's Day. Thank you to all who helped us by donating or sharing!

TODAY they are raising money for The Abell Family, adopting Olga

To get in on the fun, share the Giveaway everywhere you can!

You will get 1 entry for sharing on Facebook, 2 entries for sharing on Twitter, and 3 entries for sharing on your blog. You then COMMENT  HERE with where you shared and which giveaway prize you would like to be entered to win. 

*You also receive entries for donating. $2 = 1 entry, $3 = 2 entries, $4 = 3 entries, $5 = 5 entries, 
$10 = 12 entries, $25 = 40 entries, $50 = 100 entries*

I would like to ask all of my readers to consider helping these families. There 39 wonderful prizes to enter to win, but more importantly, you get to help 40 waiting children and families with the funding needed for their adoptions. I cannot think of a better way to honor the season of Lent.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day (and a fun giveaway!)

If you are not following our Facebook page, come on over to Caring for Carolina and Like our page.
Whether you follow on Facebook or not, you can still be entered into our Valentine's day giveaway!
Here's how. Please go to Forty Days to Forever  and read the amazing endeavor that they are doing to benefit 40 waiting children and adoptive families. Please SHARE this opportunity via Facebook, Twitter, Blog, email or any other social media. Then comment HERE on the blog or on Caring for Carolina to let me know where you shared. 


When we reach 25 shares, we will have a drawing for the winner's choice of a $5 Amazon Gift Card, or 400 Microsoft points.

When we reach 50 shares, we will draw for a $10 Amazon Gift Card or 800 Microsoft points.

When we reach 75 shares, we will draw for a $20 Amazon Gift Card or 1600 Microsoft points.

If you share this, you get 1 ENTRY. If you donate, you get 3 ENTRIES.  If you share and donate you get 4 ENTRIES into the drawing. 

I would like to wish all of my readers a very happy, love-filled Valentine's Day. The kids and I will be making a Valentine craft that I found on Pinterest and it's so cute and easy, I thought I would share it here. 

Just a juice box, 1 small box of Nerds candies, 4 starburst, a heart shaped chocolate, some pipe cleaners and 2 googly eyes. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

It's a Sharing Party!

Good evening! I'd like to share with you today an invitation. You are invited to a Sharing Party at Forty to Forever !

All you have to do is click the link and share it via Facebook, Twitter, Blog and/or Email. Each share is worth entries into a drawing. Facebook sharing is worth one entry, Twitter is worth two, Blog is worth three and Email is worth four entries. After you have shared, be sure to comment at Forty to Forever with where you shared, so you are sure to receive your entries. All of the participating families and advocates are ineligible for this, so we need our friends, families and followers to enter for us! On Tuesday, February 12, a winner will be drawn and that person gets to pick one of the participating families or waiting children to receive a $100 donation. Of course, we'd be thrilled if we were chosen, but the real purpose of this is to get the word out on this amazing fundraiser which will be taking place from February 13th until March 31, the entire season of Lent.

The creators of this event have worked tirelessly and created something that not only benefits waiting children and adoptive families, but also has a spiritual component that incorporates prayer and/or fasting. So giving does not have to be monetary. Prayer is needed and felt very much throughout the adoption process.

Stay tuned as tomorrow night I will be announcing a fun, FREE giveaway of our own over at Caring for Carolina  Feel free to head over there and "like" the page. We'd love to have you!

Saturday, February 9, 2013


Hello Blog Readers!  As I've written before, we are blessed to be a part of Forty Days to Forever  which is helping to raise funds for 40 families and waiting children throughout Lent 2013. 

Our family will be featured on Valentine's Day, February 14th. There are 40 prizes in this giveaway and everyone who donates on a given day, is entered into that day's prize drawing and ALL donors for ALL 40 days are entered into the GRAND PRIZE drawing. 

But how about I sweeten the deal further?  If you have not already done so, please "Like" our Facebook page Caring for Carolina  

At midnight (Eastern Standard Time) on February 14, I will announce a giveaway from us to our supporters that is completely FREE to enter. Yes, I said FREE!  So come on over to Caring for Carolina  and join the fun!