Friday, November 6, 2015

Does it matter where they are?

Does it?

I have to vent.

About two months ago, Jimmy ran into someone who's been supportive of our past adoptions. But this time, not so much apparently. Jimmy was asked why we would "go there and save one of their kids again."  My eyes tear up as I type this...excuse me while I catch my breath.


There are over ONE HUNDRED MILLION ORPHANS IN THE WORLD. Why, oh why, does it really matter WHERE they are?

Jimmy hid this conversation from me for obvious reasons...he knew I'd be upset. And I am.

I don't get it. I don't get why there are sides. Jesus--thank God--didn't take sides. He defends ALL OF US. With all of our complete mess and brokenness, he still loves us. He doesn't care what we look like. He doesn't care what color skin we have. And He doesn't care about the map. AT ALL.

Doesn't EVERY KID deserve to be loved, for crying out loud?

Doesn't EVERY KID deserve a family?

I need my tissues.

Jimmy went on to ask this person what they are doing to help the orphan crisis, and there was no answer. And I must include the fact that the person came later to Jimmy and apologized face to face. But I know there's still people out there with this mindset.

Not only do we forgive, but we pray. In this National Adoption Month and Orphan Sunday upon us, we pray for hearts to be stirred for the orphan. It's the Gospel. Because EVERY CHILD MATTERS. Will you please pray for these precious children, too?

Rant over. Thank you to those who have chosen to help us bring our daughter HOME through provision and prayer, regardless of where she was born. We are so grateful for your support...more than you'll ever know.

And for the record, that person had it completely wrong. These kids have saved us...not the other way around.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Seeing the Signs

I found it so funny that when I was praying about this adoption over the Summer, God put an extra child (girl) in our church pew with our family two weeks in a row (one week a friend of Madi's, and the other week, a dear friend's daughter). And one of those times, a woman remarked to Jimmy what a beautiful family we have. I chuckled when I saw that God wink.

Then, on July 12th, there was a traveling priest giving the homily at Mass, whom we'd not seen before at our parish. During his sermon he spoke of Jesus sending out his disciples to do his work with him and on his behalf. At the end of the homily, the priest loudly--and with conviction--said, "If God is calling you to do something, and it is for good, then you must do it!" That's where he ended it. You know how sometimes you feel like God's talking directly to you? Yeah...this was one of those times. I could hardly wait to approach the priest after Mass to thank him and asked him once more about his message. He looked at me and said, "If God has something planned for you, he will make a way for it to happen."

The week leading up to our decision to adopt Lulu, I received a number of what I'm calling "Hearts from Heaven" delivered by hearts here on earth. I received these little confirmations from all over the place that week, mostly from people who didn't know a thing about our adoption plans or about Lulu at all.

The first picture, taken by a dear friend on her honeymoon, was sent to me the day before we needed to give our decision to the agency. Marissa found this heart in the pavement at a place called "Angel's Landing" in Zion National Park. "Angel's Landing" was given it's name originally because it was thought to be so high only angels could touch it. Call me crazy, but that heart felt like it was a confirmation sent straight from our angel, Daniel.

On the same day, my friend, Nikki (who has been extremely connected to Daniel since first reading his story), posted this picture of a heart on Pluto on the With an Open Heart Facebook page.

This is Milo, a little boy who came from the same orphanage (Shanghai) as Charlie. He found this heart in his potato chip bag, and his Mom sent it my way on the day that we gave our decision to the agency to adopt Lulu.

Amanda, Daniel's anesthesiologist, sees and sends hearts all the time. I swear she has a direct line to our son in Heaven! Amanda knew about Lulu's file...she was one of the first, since she's one of our *key* medical file reviewers. Amanda did not know, however, that we were making our decision to adopt Lulu that week, and she sent all three of these our way.


This potato chip heart was posted on Daniel's book page that week by a friend, Jennifer, who we met in China last year while adopting Joseph. She found it in her potato chip bag and thought of us.


Thank you, friends, for being the messengers of these special hearts.
They will always be a part of Lulu's adoption story.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

To Change a Heart

Some of you may be familiar with this verse from Proverbs 24:12, others not. In the adoption community, it is widely known...

"Once our eyes are opened we cannot pretend we do not know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls knows we know and holds us responsible to act." 

I knew we would go back to China. I felt it. I swear I even knew when we were there to adopt Joseph last year. You see, I saw my husband hold babies. I saw the look in his eyes when he peered soulfully into the eyes of children who weren't born from his blood. He loves them all. And loving them for mere moments can bring that strong man down to the brink of tears.

I let it go, though, for months, while listening to him claim "we are done" to others. I shook my head in disbelief because I felt it in my heart. I knew there was more love to give, and somehow I knew we had room for one more.

Time didn't allow me to write much at all during our busy Summer, but I believe God used this season, once again (I swear He calls me out during Summer) to stir my pot more rapidly. We were running short on time to reuse our dossier (you have one year from the time you come home) through Holt, and I knew the time was coming near.

And then, I saw her. It was June 18th, and her face randomly crossed my Facebook feed in the China Waiting Child Advocacy group. Lulu. My heart skipped a beat. I watched as people commented how beautiful she was, and I read the comments about her needs. They seemed so manageable to me. I almost instantly wrote to the Facebook friend who was advocating for her and asked how I could obtain more information. She replied that the agency contact was off to China but that she'd be back the following week and would respond to my request. She also mentioned that other families were interested in pursuing Lulu's file. I wrote back how I trusted wholeheartedly in God's plan, and that if it were meant to work out, it would.

My hopes weren't dashed, but we hadn't used this particular agency before, and let's face it...our comfort level is with Holt, the agency who's delivered our three beautiful boys. But I had a strong feeling, and I quickly filled out the agency's request form for more information.  To my surprise, I heard back from the contact the next day, to say that she was in China meeting some of the children, and Lulu was on her list of children to meet! There were some questions about the accuracy of her file, and her medical condition, but the contact was kind enough to let me know that she'd reach out once she had all the information. That weekend, Joseph opened a fortune that read "A journey must begin with a single step," and, to me, it felt like confirmation of new beginnings. But I knew I needed my husband to feel the same way.

I was amazed at how God paved the way for our date the next week. Grandpa Murphy and Suzanne had swept Madi away on a Disney cruise for five days, Jimmy's sister, Kathy, had given us a voucher for a hotel room night that she'd won in a silent auction, my parents offered to take the boys for a sleepover, and the sweet couple who'd bought our house when we recently moved offered to buy us dinner in exchange for some stereo equipment we'd given them. The way it all came together was so perfect..suffice it to say that I knew the Holy Spirit was giving me the quiet opportunity to talk about Lulu.

"Do you know why I've called you here to this meeting?" I asked Jimmy as we took the first sips of our cocktails. (He always uses that line with the kids at the dinner table.) "No," he replied confused and questioning where I was headed. I nodded my head with all seriousness and said, "Yeah, you do." To which he looked into my eyes, and I knew that he knew. "NO!" he said. "Yes," I retorted, "and let me explain why..."

We spent the next three hours discussing and dreaming after I broke out the pictures of Lulu on my cell phone. The idea became so real, and so feasible. Why not? We have the space in our new home (with a renovation), and we could see how it could positively affect our kids. We pictured Charlie as a nurturing big brother, we could see Madi loving on a little sister, we knew that Joseph would be blessed by goodness, he knew what it was like to be without a family for so long. The more we talked about it, the more we realized that it would be a blessing for all of our take part in putting faith into action and giving this child our love. At the end of the night, Jimmy claimed he was 75%/25% with the 75% being against the idea. But I knew he was full of baloney. He did too. We walked back to the hotel and happened to pass by the bar in the lobby only to find a bartender fumbling with an opened bottle champagne that was bubbling over. When she asked us if we'd like a complimentary glass, how could we say no? After everything that had happened that evening, now the Holy Spirit was giving us a champagne toast. It felt like a celebration.

A couple of weeks passed, and I had reached out to various medical sources for opinions. Jimmy and I hadn't discussed Lulu again since that night, and I was beginning to feel like maybe things were slipping backwards. I called upon a couple of my devout sisters-in-Christ to pray for his change of heart.

On July 15th, I emailed the adoption agency with a question, and received a reply the next morning that stopped me in my tracks. The email was asking where we were in our decision making process. The message wasn't pushy, but rather purely focused on securing a family for Lulu and very understanding if we weren't ready to commit. I completely agreed that we did not want Lulu to have to wait any longer for a family, and asked if we could give them an answer the next morning.

The timing was once again interesting, because Jimmy and I had been on a cleanse for the ten days prior. Not that all of our cobwebs were swept clean, but we were certainly in a state of clarity without alcohol, processed foods, caffeine, and sugar for that time! It was the last day of our cleanse, and they needed an answer the next day. Our social worker, who'd been notified about Lulu, urged us to pray together. Jimmy and I talked and talked. We took time to ourselves, and we prayed and contemplated. By that night at bedtime, Jimmy voiced that he had complete peace about this adoption.

Unexplainable. Complete. Peace.

Proof that God can change hearts. The next morning, I promptly emailed our new agency and gave them the news of our decision to make Lulu our daughter, and we submitted our letter of intent.

Friday, May 29, 2015

These boys.

Charlie and Joseph's preschool graduation ceremonies took place today. To see these boys--dressed in red, white, and blue--in a chorus of patriotic songs, including God Bless America, well, it was quite moving to say the least to hear them singing passionately about the "land that I love," especially Joseph, who has been a U.S. citizen for just eight months. They've come so far to be here in our family. Thank you, Jesus.

Preschool has been a part of our family for such a long stage that it truly is difficult to imagine life without it. And this little gem of a preschool called First United Methodist has been our home for so many years. I simply can't imagine not being there with my kids anymore. The teachers are amazing...the love they give is second to none. They've embraced all of our babes, and now Joseph, with open arms and he has done nothing but thrive in their care. What a treasure; what a blessing.

Among other things, Joseph's teacher, Mrs. Bivins, had this to say about him on his progress report, "Joey has amazed me during the time he has been in my class. He fit in so well like he was meant to be there!"


Charlie's beloved teacher, Mrs. Avogardo, said this, "Charlie is self driven with high goals set by himself. He has wonderful quick thinking cognitive skill. In the past few months, I have watched his confidence grow so much. Charlie is a kind and thoughtful boy, well liked and a wonderful student."


Can you see me glowing over here?? It is such a privilege and a treat to watch our sweet boys come into their own and blossom. I am so proud of both of them. Charlie has such a huge heart, and Joseph's determination is amazing...he's come so far in such a short time.
Miss Gina, Joey's substitute teacher

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Big change.

Every year, Lent seems to bring fascinating change to our lives. This year was no exception. 

Let me start by saying that moving to a new home was never in our plans. We could have been happy in our old house forever. But something changed during Lent. I credit the Holy Spirit.

I guess it started when I called some closet companies for estimates. The kids' bedrooms were in need of some serious storage solutions. Reality smacked me in the face when I watched the closet representative scan the boys closet for a few minutes when he finally said, "There's really nothing I can do to help you here." Boom. Just like that, a seed was planted...these little guys are only going to get bigger.

I began to think about possible solutions for our current issues, and I also began to ponder some of the necessary home improvements coming down the line in the next few years. Of course, I it was worth investing more into a house we are already outgrowing?

Something told me to go onto that night, and I found our house (though I didn't know it quite yet). There was something in the photos that looked and felt familiar, perhaps the color scheme. This house had been waiting for us for almost a full year. I asked Jimmy, since he's a realtor, if we could go take a look. I had been curious about that neighborhood for a while anyways.

My kind husband agreed, in order to appease me. We drove over the next day, and quietly walked through the house together. Neither of us said a word. But in my head, I was already hanging artwork and knew where we would put the Christmas tree! It was Jimmy who finally broke the silence and said, "Wow...I can totally picture us in here." sentiments exactly.

So, just like that, we'd found our dream home, but there was one little hiccup--we needed to sell our house. Jimmy had remembered, from his open houses, a nice young couple who had been looking in the neighborhood for quite a while, almost two years actually. He reached out to their realtor, and they came to take a look that week. They instantly fell in love with our house. How could they not? 


The rest is history. They begin a new chapter, and so do we. It happened so fast that we didn't have much time to process it all. That's probably a good thing. The last week in our house gave me crashing emotions of leaving so much history behind...memories of Jimmy's mom, DANIEL, our two cats, bringing home four beautiful children into that home, and leaving many neighbors and friends whom we love. Needless to say, I shed a river. I am so overjoyed, though, that the sweet kids moving in love our home so much, and we know they will take it to the next level. They can give it everything it needs and more.

Our new home is incredibly perfect for us! We basically traded in yard for house, which is our priority right now. It has four bedrooms, so the boys can still share their room, but now they have a loft area for all of their toys. About two weeks before we moved, Joseph admitted to me that he had been scared in the in the middle of the night, but he was too frightened to come to our room because he had to walk through the living room. I find God's timing amazing, because now our children are just a bedroom away from us, and Joseph is no longer scared.

Madi is thrilled with it all, especially that she has her own sink in their bathroom, and all the kids feel like they hit the lottery by having stairs. As a matter of fact, so do I! I look forward to the built-in workout!

Daddy has his own office, which is huge! Before, he literally had to run out into the backyard to take sales calls just to escape the noise. We are sharing this new office space together in hopes that we can keep each other on task for our businesses.

We love our new community already. It is very safe and family-friendly. It is an extra bonus that we are only five minutes away from our old digs, so the kids will go to the same schools, and we are still close to our friends. It is a complete win-win!

Bring on the next chapter...we are so READY for it. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Joseph's known about Daniel since the beginning. I mean, our house is covered with pictures of him, and he's never far from our discussions and memories. Joseph knew about Daniel's broken heart, and we'd told him that his brother was in Heaven. In the mind of a six year old though? Pretty confusing stuff, I'm sure. We never delved too deep. 

Lent has been, literally, a Godsend. The past couple of weeks have opened up so much discussion about Jesus, about Daniel, about death, and most importantly, about eternal life. Charlie was the one, in typical fashion, who started the questions on our morning commutes to school. But it was Joseph who pushed to know more about Jesus, about Heaven, about angels, about his brother. And this week, he wanted to see Daniel.

It was time.

We picked up Madi from school today, and drove down to the mausoleum. I'm not sure if Joseph thought he would come face to face with his brother, but I don't think so. I think he understood that he wouldn't physically see a little boy. It is so hard for children to comprehend that a body is only a vessel but the soul lives on. And he struggled with wonder about how Daniel fit into that square. I tried to explain cremation to the boys, and Madi helped me immensely so they wouldn't imagine their brother on fire. It almost sounds comical as I type it, but it was quite serious. We wanted them to understand. And we didn't want them to be sad. I was struggling to explain.

It was Madi, of course, who came up with the most brilliant analogy:

"You know a peanut?" she said. 
"Yes," they replied. 
"You know how a peanut has a shell?" she asked. 
"Yes," they replied. 
"Well pretend the peanut went to Heaven and all that was left was an empty shell with nothing inside. It's kinda the same thing."  

I swear that girl's something special. The boys got it. Plain and simple. We drove away with this Mama knowing that more discussions will take place. And they are welcome...they are a gift, especially on Holy Week.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Casting call!

Since the beginning of January, we have been blessed with the most kind and generous physical therapist. Vicki is a personal friend who has been working with Joseph on a weekly basis for the last two months, and her efforts have really made a difference. Several weeks ago, at Vicki's wise suggestion, we reached out to our surgeon at Joe DiMaggio to see if he felt Joseph would be a candidate for serial casting--a process in which his legs and feet are casted in a specific position in order to adjust them. The casts are changed out every two weeks for a total of six to eight weeks. To us, it certainly seemed to be worth a try, since it is less invasive than tenotomy surgery. Dr. C. responded that while he was skeptical about it making a long-term difference, he did not see any harm in trying. We were thrilled!

Last Thursday, we took Joseph to the office to begin the process. They opted to cast both feet because even though he had major correction to his left foot in China, they felt there is still some range to gain. Joseph was quite suspicious of his new accessories at first, but the nurses gave him some great colors to choose from, so that distracted him into loving the idea of Spiderman colors--red and blue. The girls in the office worked their magic, and we were on our way in about an hour. 

Joseph seemed to tolerate it relatively well. He had some discomfort that night, which was expected and alleviated with Advil, and he went to school on Friday without issue wearing homemade cast shoes (constructed of duct tape-covered socks) that I made for him. He wasn't really happy with my creations, so I made a point to locate some *real* cast shoes on Friday, and Jimmy kindly picked them up from the medical supply on Saturday.

Initially, Joey did okay with those, too, and even insisted on riding his bike. But then he cried when he realized that his feet were "too big and slippery." He was clearly beginning to process his new reality. Our son came into the house in tears, having somewhat of a meltdown, and lost his balance in the living room. He tried to correct himself, but kinda fell to the ground. When he did, Jimmy and I both thought we heard an audible crack. His crying escalated, and after that, he refused to bear weight on his right foot at all. He scooted around the house on his rear-end. 

The past few nights were ROUGH for him. He seemed to be in quite a bit of pain, so we gave him pain relievers each night and pulled him into our bed when he needed extra comforting. I'm not gonna sugar coat it was ROUGH for us, too. I must admit that I didn't exactly handle it all gracefully at times. This parenting thing is a hard job, isn't it?? Not knowing what's right and what's wrong, and it figures that these things always seem to happen on a weekend. With a gut feeling that something was not right, I called Joe D. first thing Monday morning, and they didn't like it either. They squeezed us in this morning. 

The nurse removed the casts, and we could see right away that his right ankle was swollen. When asked where it hurt, Joseph poked his ankle and said, "the bone." They ushered us down to x-ray only to confirm that he was right, indeed. Joseph fractured his ankle. So now he's sporting a new green cast (nice pick for St. Patrick's Day!) to immobilize his break, which he will wear for two weeks. And then we will formulate a new plan. 

Jimmy and I are now concerned that maybe his anatomy can't handle the casting, and we may end up listening to the advice of the surgeons and proceed with tenotomy. We will be speaking with the surgeon tomorrow, and we will see. But at least there is peace in knowing that we tried.

It is such a HUGE relief to see him bear weight on his right foot without pain! And even more of a relief to see him happy once again. Fingers crossed that he does okay at school tomorrow. No one saw this one coming, poor kid. 

Welcome to Murphy's Law, son.