Thursday, January 30, 2014

Typing through Tears

I've had some recent events that have allowed me to somewhat suppress my emotions this week. And now, I'm about ready to explode.

On Wednesday we made the bitterly painful decision to set our baby's file free. Even though we've had a while to prepare our hearts for this, we're doing a bit of grieving around here.

I wrote about how we'd fallen in love and submitted our Letter of Intent to adopt her here. And then, out of nowhere, we received a piece of medical information that changed everything. I posted about it here. But Jimmy and I still weren't ready to let go of HOPE for this child in our family. I posted about that here.

As you know from my last post, we paid to have new MRI images taken of her brain, and we have had them in our possession for a couple of weeks. Almost immediately after receiving them, we were able--thanks to the goodness of two radiologist friends--to first confirm that the MRI reports from China are consistent with what's on the actual films. That was a valuable piece of the puzzle, which allowed us to cover more ground with the information we had.

Then there was a silence...a period of time where we began to feel helpless, because it seemed like maybe we were not going to hear back from any of the three pediatric neurologists who we'd sent her file to, and we clearly needed to figure out what the next move was going to be. But even as we waited, we continued to trust God's plan, and with that came a true sense of peace.

Last week, I set my prayer intentions on a sign...for the form of direct answers to help us make our decision.

We received a phone call, on Monday night, from one of the pediatric neurologists who'd received her file. Based on the information he reviewed, he felt certain that we should not adopt this little girl whom we've felt so hopeful about. He listened patiently as I told him all about our journey, and how God had placed her in our hearts for a reason, and how we just needed to know for sure. This kind-hearted man heard the desperation in my voice, and for nothing in return, he said that he would be willing to take a look at the actual films for us.

Jimmy delivered them to his office on Tuesday. It was my birthday, and as I celebrated that day, I hoped for the long-awaited sign that I'd prayed for. Nothing came.

The next day, it was Jimmy who answered the devastating call that came from the doctor. He confirmed his initial findings, and delivered the disappointing message that after seeing the films, he stood by his recommendation not to adopt her. We were both afraid it was coming, and it was the news that neither one of us wanted to hear.  At all.

Shortly thereafter, I received another email from the second pediatric neurologist, who was described, by a nurse and friend, as "one of the most intelligent, wise, compassionate, and kind doctors I know. I think she has been a pediatric neurologist for probably 40 or 50 years, and her patients love her for her knowledge, communication skills and honesty." She, too, recommended that we do not proceed with the adoption.

But couldn't they have it wrong? Because I really want them to be all wrong. With God, aren't all things possible?

Someone reminded me that that means letting go is possible, too, if it's in the best interest of the child.

Deep inside, we knew--for her sake--what we needed to do. I called our agency that day and asked them to release her file. Typing that makes me feel so sad, and sick, but we needed to set her free.

I needed to set her free. 

We still had the option of sending a second round of questions to China about her, but you know what? I totally felt, in my heart, that at this point it would be completely selfish to hang on to her any longer. We began to realize that there isn't anything more we could find out about her that could alleviate the advice of every medical doctor who's reviewed her file for us. And that hurts. Because we simply don't have what it will take to meet this child's needs.

It pains me to say that we don't.

All glory to God, we have been so incredibly blessed by an army of friends, and even strangers, who have come together to help this child whom we had named Olivia Hope.

If there's just one thing that's been crystal clear in this adoption process, it's that God wanted us to have all of the information in our hands.

What we are still unsure why.

Because we still have complete faith that she was placed in our hearts for a reason, I will advocate for this sweet girl and I will find her a family.  We have compiled so much information about her, our precious Olivia Hope, that we have to believe it will help her, and that God's perfect timing will prevail for all involved.

We trust that God knows who our daughter will be. But, for now, we will grieve this loss in our family, this precious baby girl who will be another family's gain as their daughter.

Will you please pray for her? Will you pray that her family finds her soon and gives her all the love she deserves? 

Please, I beg of you, please do.

Typing through tears...

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Celebrating Daniel

I've wanted to make a special video about Daniel for a long time. I just never really thought I'd figure out how. And I certainly didn't know where to begin. 

Recently, when one of "Daniel's angels" invited me to a speaking engagement for the book, I was asked if we had a video to share. That solitary question gave me the motivation to get it done, and somehow, two days later, I had accomplished the task. 

Since then, I've been busy perfecting it so that it could be shared yesterday on the four-year anniversary of our "Gotcha" Day with Daniel. My apologies for the length, but there are so many beautiful photos and memories to squeeze in. 

I hope you enjoy this labor of LOVE!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Our little teacher

Madi was the first student in her second grade class to reach a certain level of Reading Counts points recently. The prize?  She earned the right to be teacher of the day in her classroom. She had been excited about this honor since Christmas break...making her big plans and anticipating the fact that she would even be administering a test to the other students. Ms. Tata allowed Madi to take her test early in preparation.

Her originally appointed shift was on Friday. But as you might have heard on the national news, Delray Beach experienced a freakish amount of rain after midnight on Friday, which resulted in some serious flooding. We received a call at around 5:30 a.m. that school had been cancelled.

As soon as Jimmy hung up that phone, I knew there was gonna be trouble with Little Miss M. When she came into our bedroom fully dressed at 5:45, we broke the news to her. And then she cried...for about an hour. She was disappointed with a capital "D."

We ensured Madi that all would be well and reinforced the life lesson that some things are beyond our control. We knew that she would surely get her chance soon. And Sunday afternoon, I received an email from Madi's teacher that she would be following Friday's lesson plans on Monday, and she was hoping that Madi would be ready to teach!

Of course, Madi was super-excited and up to the task. She busily worked to make her "new student" a folder and packed her own headband for Ms. Tata to wear. Jimmy and I could hardly wait to hear the details this of those times you wish you could be a fly on the wall!

You can only imagine how thrilled I was to read this email that I received this email from her teacher, accompanied by some wonderful photos:

"She did so well and I could tell she had fun! I LOVED that she came prepared with a name tag and folder cover. She thought of everything! She did everything from administering the math test, grading the tests, answering questions, helped me conduct the Reading Running Records while keeping the other students on task, monitoring the lines in the hallways, etc! She has great leadership skills! The other students were so respectful and listened to everything she said. She was also very generous with moving the clips up and rewarding bear paws! At one point she warned me that if I didn't go push in my chair I was going to have to move my clip down!! Don't worry though because I got a bear paw by the end of the day. She even signed all the bear paws "from Miss Murphy". It was such a fun day and I hope she enjoyed it as much as I did!"

Administering a test
Assisting a student
Grading tests
Locking up the classroom
Posing with her favorite teacher student, Marissa.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

God's perfect timing


I can hardly believe it's already been a month since I posted about our little one in China. More so, I can't believe the patience that God has granted me in this process. Honestly, I am not cut from that cloth, so I know that it is He who must be helping us here in the peace department. I felt blessed to have had Christmas in the middle of all of this, so we could keep our eyes focused on Him.

Shortly after my last post, I was approached by a friend (and Christian sister) at preschool. She sat me down and said that she felt the Holy Spirit telling her to deliver me a message. She went on to share an intimate story about her own past, and then revealed the message she'd received, which was to "draw a line in the sand," so to speak, and that would give us the sign that we needed to help us make our decision.

We would feel the Holy Spirit leading us. 

Interesting that Jimmy and I had already, sort of, drawn our line in the sand with our decision that we needed to get that actual MRI in order to even consider moving forward. Every neurologist that we communicated with had requested the images. As I posted earlier, the request was placed. And as of Thursday afternoon, we are finally in possession of the original films from China, which must be returned after we're done reviewing them. Our hope now is to get these films onto disk so that we can get the images into multiple hands at once. We are not sure if this can be accomplished but we will try. 

I am constantly amazed by God's perfect timing. My best friend from high school (who I had the pleasure of seeing again while on vacation) happened to email me Thursday night asking if we'd heard anything. When I told her of our MRI, she wrote back that her brother--who just happens to be a neurological radiologist--was arriving in Delray the very next day and that he would be happy to take a look at the films for us. Wild, huh?

And then, yesterday, I finally connected with a young lady via phone who is in the process of adopting a child from China, too. We had initially corresponded via email about four months ago, but lost track of each other when fall and the holidays set in. It was my pleasure to *meet* her yesterday to share all the beauty and joys of adoption. My sole mission was to encourage her and be a source of support. Well, I nearly fell over when she told me what she does. She's a nurse in pediatric neurology!  Double wow.  She offered to take a look at the file and video in our possession, and I've now emailed her all of the information to see if anyone in her world can help.

And as if there's not enough amazing-ness going on here, I met a wonderful new friend through Facebook several months ago who just happens to be taking a mission trip to our baby's orphanage at the end of this month! She is a very generous and kind person who has offered to check on our designated little one and give her some love on our behalf. She has also devoted herself to a special project--a sensory wall--which she hopes to build in the room where our baby spends her days at the orphanage.

Since my last blog post, the Holy Spirit has connected us with three separate pediatric neurologists who may be willing to look at the MRI scans for us, so hopefully we'll be able to make a decision very soon, since we have now received this crucial piece of the puzzle. For those who might feel as if we are selfishly "holding up" this child's adoption and file, I must say that I, too, felt that way in the beginning. But then I realized that any family who would consider adopting this child would want the same medical information. So we are totally at peace with the fact that every step we are taking is for greater good. And whether this sweet child is meant to be our daughter, or destined to be in another family, we must maintain our faith in His perfect timing and His plan.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Pierced ears

I wasn't allowed to get my ears pierced until I was sixteen. SIXTEEN! It was one of those things that I really wished for as a kid, but my parents were kind of old fashioned and didn't approve of the idea.

When, finally, I turned sixteen and was given the green light, I went to the local mall to get the job done. Unfortunately, the goofy technician who poked my ears missed the mark and messed one up. She pierced it too low and, as a result, I've always had to be cautious which earrings I choose to wear. Yep, on occasion I'd experienced moments of Murphy's Law way before I married a Murphy.

Anyway, I knew that I didn't want Madi to have to wait that long, yet we were really in no rush to pierce her ears. She's mentioned it from time to time, and Jimmy and I always told her maybe when she's ten...or twelve...or thirteen.

When we were on vacation in New Hampshire, there was one day that Jimmy, Madi, and I took a trip to the mall with Andrew and Colleen. The three of us went our own way, and one of the stores Madi wanted to hit was Claire's, a girlie accessory store. 

Well, I don't know what possessed me, (maybe Grandma Pauline? maybe the rare occasion that it was just the three of us?) but right at the front of the store stood a big ear piercing kiosk, and it was totally staring me down kinda like a mirage in the desert. As Madi and Jimmy shopped around, I inquired about their ear piercing special that was plastered everywhere, and it all unfolded very spontaneously right then and there. 

"Madi...would you want to get your ears pierced today?"

Our little beauty smiled widely and--without hesitation--joyfully responded with a resounding "YES!"

It was probably a blessing that it all happened so fast. We could see our daughter's wheels turning about the fact that it might be painful. Of course, my anxious lip biting--as I recalled my own personal experience--probably wasn't helping. I nervously hoped that Madi's technicians had better aim than her mother's did.

Within seconds, two young teenagers worked their magic on either side and (almost) simultaneously used their little stapler-looking gadgets to get the job done. I was so relieved that they both had perfect aim!

There is nothing that could possibly make Madi look any prettier than she already is, but I do think her new little pearls suit her well.


Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Wonderful Christmas

We flew, on Christmas Eve, with my parents up to my brother and family's abode in NH. The travel day, sadly, felt a little short of the Christmas spirit. We couldn't help but notice the lack of joy in the airport shuffle, not to mention an absence of festivity or decoration anywhere. But that's okay, because our family felt the joy inside...we were about to be reunited again!

This was the first time that Jimmy and Charlie have been to Andrew, Colleen & Matthew's home. Madi and I had made a trip together in fall of 2009 before we adopted Daniel. At the time, we had some skymiles to use, and it was a nice Mommy and daughter weekend getaway. It was so special, on Christmas Eve, to see my brother, sister-in-law, and my nephew, Matthew, again on their home turf.

The kids were initially shy, as children tend to be, but that didn't last long at all. Once we arrived back at home, they got right back into the swing of things. Charlie loves Matthew...treats him like a big brother, and Madi always loves being with Matthew, too. We could, right away, sense that it would be a fun-filled trip.  After dinner, we got the kids ready for bed, knowing that Santa would soon be on his way, and we headed to bed early ourselves.

The kids sprung up early the next morning. We had prearranged to assemble around 7 a.m. to see if Santa had been there, and yes indeed, he had!  Madi got the marker maker she wanted, along with a few other unexpected surprises, and Charlie received an elf that was the only item on his list. We're still not sure if it's the elf he expected, but it's the elf that Santa gave to him, so that makes it special.

We attended Mass together on Christmas morning, which was so special. During the Prayers of the Faithful at Mass, I took notice that people from the congregation were voicing prayer intentions out loud, which they do not do at our home parish in FL. Upon a slight pause, I (loudly) blurted out "For the orphans of the world!" but since I've never done that before, I failed to follow up with "we pray to the Lord." There was a few moments (seemed like hours) of silence until everyone in the crowd finally responded with "Lord, hear our prayers." Naturally, my spontaneous outburst embarrassed Madi to no end, and my family got quite a kick out of the awkward moment. Oh's about time I get to start embarrassing my kids a little!

After Mass, we headed back to the house to get into the real gift that Madi's been waiting for...the SNOW!

Even though Madi had ventured in cold territory before, she was very young, and hadn't experienced what she hoped to witness this time around. And her wish came true from every aspect.

On Christmas Day, it was all about enjoying the snow on the ground. Madi and Charlie rolled in it, rolled down it, and even learned how to creatively sled with cardboard!


Day two brought more freezing fun, and the kids thoroughly embraced a good snowball fight with Daddy.


We were also blessed, that day, with the icing on the cake...a fresh snowfall!  Madi loved seeing the snow fall from the sky, and made the most beautiful snow angel ever!


Charlie was having so much fun that we caught him literally freezing his booty off!  And he didn't even care. Nothing was going to stop him!  We did manage to find him a belt, which helped for obvious reasons!

Day four brought a visit from my life long friend, Maureen, and her family. It was so great to have some laughs and catch up. The kids crossed another goal off their list...they built a snowman!


On the fifth day, we visited the horse, Rainbow, that Matthew frequently cares for and rides as a hobby! The kids enjoyed feeding him (and the other horses, including Spirit--Rainbow's son, pictured) apple slices and mint candies. They loved it; although Madi was a bit paranoid about losing a finger and Charlie was most interested in finding a farmer.

We also enjoyed some quiet down time together, and the boys bonded over their LEGO building skills.

Bubba is always the center of attention in the kids' eyes. But it was Jimmy who proved to be champion of entertainment this trip. The kids were constantly running, screaming, chasing, and playing with him. He's so good at being a big kid.


The day before our departure, we celebrated Matthew and Colleen's double birthday. Yes, Matthew was the ultimate birthday gift to his mother eleven years ago!

We made some great memories this Christmas in New Hampshire. Enough to last a lifetime.