Out of surgery…

  
So Canaan is out of the cath lab and is doing well.  We are still in recovery, but we are getting ready to be moved to the room he will stay the night in.  

The doctors were able to get into his pulmonary artery and balloon out the existing structure without having to add anything new.  We just have to try to keep his right leg straight for the next four hours–if you know Canaan, you know that will be easier said than done.

So he’s doing well, but he’s still looking at a road ahead of him.  The doctor’s hope is that this will keep him out of the cath lab for a few years.  At that point, he will need another cath procedure to replace the current stint with one that will last until he’s an adult.  Shortly after that, he will need another surgery to have his pulmonary valve replaced, which is a much bigger deal than what happened today.  So our full of life, energetic, happy little boy still has a tough road ahead of him.  But we hope that between all of those surgeries that he has a happy life full of love and excitement and curiosity and adventure that all of you have helped us provide for him so far.
Some of you might have wondered why we would want to do this to ourselves again.  We want to adopt a little girl, and we are hoping to adopt another baby with some health issues like Canaan.  So why another child with health issues?

Well, first, it’s familiar to us.  We know more about the heart than a lot of other people-the structure, the various defects, the symptoms of child heart problems.  We are by no means experts, but we’ve dedicated time to be familiar with the things that are happening in our son’s body.  We feel like these things will help us in raising another baby with similar issues.  We may not end up with a baby with heart issues, but we are open to a baby with any health issues because of Canaan. 

Second, most people who adopt want a “healthy” baby.  This makes it harder to place babies that have health concerns. We want to open up our hearts and homes to a baby that maybe others don’t feel like they could.  Canaan has made us realize that we can do much harder things than we ever thought possible.  If we were having children biologically, we wouldn’t be guaranteed a completely healthy baby, so why not adopt a child with health issues, we feel like we are well equipped to care for a child like that.

With all of this being said, we aren’t saints or heroes or anything of the sort, so please don’t call us that.  Children are placed for adoption for all sorts of reasons and they all have their own unique story, and their birth mothers have their own stories too.  

We aren’t hoping to rescue a sick kid from a bad situation, we just want to open up our home and hearts to a little girl.  I do want to remind you that we are still applying for grants, saving, and accepting donations for our next adoption, but you can read about that here: Be Part of Our Story.

But for now, know that Canaan is doing well!

Upcoming Surgery

So, we’ve taken a little bit of a break from updating for the holidays.  Leah and I both celebrated our birthdays; that, along with Christmas and New Years, makes for a busy few weeks.  We had a great Christmas, and we hope that you all did as well.

We have  a little bit of news, not about adoption, but about Canaan.  If you have followed us at all, you know that Canaan was born with a congenital heart defect.  The doctors were able to do a whole lot in the weeks after he was born to make him as healthy as possible, but we have been aware that he will need various procedures and surgeries throughout his life.

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Well, when he was six months old, they had to put a stint into his pulmonary artery.  Now that he is 2 and a half, and he has doubled in size, they need to go back in through a heart cath and either increase the size of the stint, or replace it with a new stint.

Our cardiologist, as well as the surgeon in Charlotte, let us know a couple of weeks ago that this needed to be done.  It isn’t an emergency right now, but they want it to be done before it becomes an emergency.

So all that to say, please pray for us on the 14th of January.  We will be in Charlotte where Canaan will be taken into the cath lab.  We know that God is good and that the doctors are skilled, but we still want and need your prayers.

We also want to remind you that we are still doing our Adopt-a-Square fundraiser.  We’ve had several of the lower squares adopted, but we are hoping to start filling up the higher squares.  Thank you all for your support and prayers.

Thanks!

Our Adopt Together Page -for tax deductible donations

Our You Caring Fundraiser -for a quicker, easier donation

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Some things in life can’t be fixed…only carried.

IMG_3626I know that every adoptive mom who blogs has a post like this, so if this is something you’ve heard before or “already know, feel free to tune me out, but it’s something weighing heavy. This picture of my handsome dude is also one of the most beautiful, waiting, hopeful, expectant pictures ever. I had to share!

Most of you who read this follow me on facebook and yesterday I posted this article about how to love someone well through grief, almost a what not to say piece. It really struck a chord with me. So instead of writing my own list or just repeating what someone has already said, go read that, and I’ll just tell my story

We all have stories to tell. Some of us can weave a beautiful narrative, some of us can bring it all back to hope, some of us can Disney/Pixar it…you know when it starts off silly and fun and by the end you’re weeping. Some of us, like me, hold things close to our chest. Isn’t that funny? You’re literally reading about my entire life and yet, I’m telling you that I hold things close to my chest. I let you see a piece of me. I feel I owe it to people to put on a happy face, to put on my “pastor’s kid” face and smile and be who people want me to be. Happy. Fun. Leah. And, I am, that is a big part of me. Silly, fun, a little wild and carefree, creative. But there is this whole other aching, hurting side.  I have a collection of people who I let in to my mess and love and trust and unfortunately for them, I only let out the achey bits, they carry things with me, sometimes for me. They are not as familiar with the “happy, shiny Mrs. Leah”, but they get her too. Exercise makes her come around a little more, you know, endorphines. Alas, this is not the story I’m trying to tell.

This story is one of being broken. This story is one where I can’t fix it. I can’t fix anything. This story is one where I try my best to do it on my own and can’t. I just can’t.

Infertility, infant loss and miscarriage. This is my story. All three. I fit every category of that broad, somewhat all encompassing type. The mourners club, I like to call it. Recently, Ive been having some conversations that I’d like to share with you now. One is a with a friend who I grew up going to the same church with. We haven’t seen each other in quite a while but I’ve always loved her and her family. She recently reached out to me thinking that maybe I could help. I couldn’t. I don’t think she would mind me sharing. My friend’s  convo is in quotations and in blue. Mine is not.

“I have a strange question to ask! I’ve obviously followed your story over the last several years and have been so inspired by how well you have handled these obstacles in your life! I also know that behind closed doors, they must have been so terribly hard for you!! Right now I am struggling with fertility envy! Can you give me any advice on overcoming this emotion?! One of my very good friends called me yesterday to tell me that she was pregnant and I absolutely LOST IT!! I spent the next 14 hours crying and battling a migraine (that I brought on myself) and asking why?! Why is it that people who don’t want a baby can get pregnant but not me, who would love and adore a child?! I WANT to be happy for these ladies and participate in their journey, but I can’t seem to find those emotions and I end up trying to avoid them which is totally not cool!! Any advice you could offer me is so appreciated!”

  • Oh “friend”, I know this. I know this too well. And, I really really REALLY wish that I had some answers. I honestly don’t. I say that because I still have a hard time. I try my best to put on my happy face and talk myself through it but as soon as I stop or have a second to myself, I fall a part. Even “good” Christian sayings don’t help me when I’m feeling like that.

    Here’s what I do know, number 1. It’s totally okay to feel that way. In fact, it just means that you’re an awesome mom and won’t take things for granted with your little man and when there is a new baby for y’all. Number 2. You’re not alone. Infertility/infant loss/miscarriage are so far the loneliest things I’ve ever gone through. And, I think it’s because we don’t talk about it enough or people just want to “fix” it, down play it or shame for you for your grief and struggle because you “already have one” or because they just want to try to make it better. But let me tell you, it is hard. So hard and so heartbreaking. Number 3. And lastly, there is hope. I don’t know your condition, I don’t know how open y’all are to other avenues but there is hope. And that hope is because God made you to be a momma and not just to your son. He gave that desire and whatever it looks like, He will see you through it. And there is hope that He knows this ache, He knows the pain and instead of thinking “why did God make this happen” please know that He is carrying you and holding and whispering how you’ll make it through, it will be okay and how He knows.

    I wish I could help but as we both know, there’s not a lot of help to be done other than just to say “I know”. And believe me, I do.

    Also, I know my boundaries now. I still don’t really do baby showers, I somewhat avoid pregnant ladies and if I’m having a particularly rough time, I hide people and their sonogram pics on Facebook throughout the duration of their pregnancies…especially if they complain…

     No no!! It totally makes sense!! It honestly just makes me feel better knowing I’m not the only one! Knowing that these emotions are legit and I’m not crazy!! I feel so much shame when I can’t muster up so much excitement over someone’s pregnancy announcement ! All I can think of is the pain of the last few years, lost hope, failed treatments and so many tears! People don’t understand and it’s such a “taboo” subject! I think you’re a hero Leah! I know you probably don’t feel that way, but you are!!”this is where that convo ended.

    First off, I AM NOT A HERO. I’m as broken and sad and messy as all of us. I’m also not sharing this to make you feel one way or another, I’m sharing to say that even those of us who have been through this, or are going through it, don’t have anything to say to fix it either. I wish I could. I wish I could fix it for us mommas whose arms are empty. I wish I could fix it for the little people who need homes. I wish I could fix it and make sure that every potential adoptive child would have a forever family when their birth parents sign their rights away, I wish I could fix it when my children grieve their own losses and their birth families. But I can’t. And I won’t try to fix it. I will try, my very best, to carry it.
    My last thought is something else that has been rolling around in my head based on a conversation with some women from my church. TRUST. I’m terrible at this. It is exactly, 100% against my nature to let my guard down and trust. I want to make things happen. I want to work hard and know that I did it. But, I can’t make babies, I can’t carry babies past 18 weeks which is where I was when I labored and we lost Cash. I can’t get pregnant just by trying for few months, I can’t even take meds to help with pregnancy. I am not much of a candidate for a surrogate because my dr’s don’t even think I have many (if any) more eggs. I can’t come up with the crap load of money that it takes to adopt. I can’t “just” figure it out. I can’t make an expectant mom choose us. I can’t make babies just happen for us. My body won’t do it. I also can’t heal my son’s heart. I can’t go in and do the surgery. I can’t say “oo be careful, he’s special, don’t mess up”, even though I do. I can’t control that he will need more surgeries or that I have a sick kid, who, most of the time, you would never know that he has such a serious heart condition. I can’t fix the fact that his Dr. just let us know last week that we are headed back to cath lab for another surgery to stretch out the stint in his artery. I can’t fix it. I can’t control it. All I can do is carry it. But I can carry it. And I know that there is hope and One, in whom I can place my hope. I’m not a very “christianese” person in real life. In fact, I usually turn to my faith as a last resort, it’s a terrible habit that comes when you experience deep losses and have a hard time trusting, I’m working on it.
    I do know that I can hope. I do know that God mends broken hearts. I do know that while it seems dark, while we are waiting, while are hurting, while we are broken, while we are messy, and while we might not even know what we believe, there is hope. There is a great big God who can handle my anger, my tears, my cursing, my messy bits. And then He stills gives a crap about me?! There is always hope. And that, for me, is what does the carrying.
    Last, thing, shameless plug. Please give to our adoption. I can’t make it happen like I said before, but I can do one of the hardest things for me, I can ask for help.

    There are two ways to give, first the tax deductible way www.adopttogether.org/milan,

    Also, if you’re not worried about that, you can always continue to give through our YouCaring site: www.youcaring.com/milan

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New Way to Give

We put our Christmas tree up a few days ago, and every morning since, Canaan has come into the living room and, with wide eyes and a gasp, he has said, “TURN ON THE TRISTMAS TREE!” It’s awesome to see his innocent, childlike perspective on life.

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Our Adopt-A-Square Fundraiser has slowed down just a little bit… we’ve filled up most of our lower numbers… but the higher ones are still available.  So PLEASE help us fill all of our squares!

Now, if you are wanting to make a tax deductible donation, our Adopt Together profile has just been approved.  Adopt Together is a crowd-funding platform specifically for adoption.  The money that you give goes to the Hoping Hearts Foundation, which awards the money to us as a grant.  That money is typically paid directly to the agency or whoever we need to pay, so it makes the whole process a little more secure.

You also will receive a tax receipt for any donation you make through AdoptTogether, because they are a 501c3 charity. 

So, check out our profile here: www.adopttogether.org/milan

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If you want to, you can always continue to give through our YouCaring site: www.youcaring.com/milan

GivingTuesday and Christmas Pictures

So today is giving Tuesday.  I must confess that I wasn’t aware that there was such a thing until this morning.  If you’re late to the game like I am, it was started a few years ago as a response to the consumerism that fills up the days after Thanksgiving, most notably Black Friday and Cyber Monday. There are a whole lot of worthy causes for you to give to, and only you can decide where you think your money should be used, but we would we be forever grateful if you chose to help us with our adoption.

You’ll see below a chart with the numbers 1-150.  The way this works is that you can “adopt” one of the squares as your amount of donation.  In other words, if you want to select the square labeled “135” then you would donate $135, and then we will change the square to your initials (or if you’d rather be anonymous, we would just mark that square out).

The idea is that if 150 people donate, then we will make about a third of our expected adoption cost, and no one is giving more than $150.  If you want to give, just go to our YouCaring site and you can give.

If you want to give more, you are welcome to!  If you would like to give, but need a tax receipt, we are in the process of creating a profile with AdoptTogether.com, a 501c3 charity who will accept a donation on our behalf and then cut a check to our adoption agency.  Hopefully our profile should be up by next week.

Last night, we had some Christmas pictures made by Dwight Schmidt Photography.  Canaan was super cute and incredibly photogenic, like always, so be sure to check below the adopt-a-square to see those pics!
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Help Us Start This Journey

Hopefully, you’ve already read our previous posts about the costs of adoption and why we have chosen private, domestic adoption to grow our family.  If you haven’t, go back and read about our story so far, why are we adopting, and why we are asking for your help.

Now that we are all up to speed, I will show you a picture of Canaan:

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Now, that is what you guys are helping us do… bring home another face like that one that we can love and cherish along with all of you.  All of you who helped us out with Canaan’s adoption mean more to us than I can even begin to describe.  We are hoping that, if you’re able, you will be a part of this new journey as well.  Christmas is the time for giving, and you are helping us give a home to a little sibling for Canaan.

Without further adieu, we are giving you the opportunity to adopt a square to help us adopt a baby.  You’ll see below a chart with the numbers 1-150.  The way this works is that you can “adopt” one of the squares as your amount of donation.  In other words, if you want to select the square labeled “135” then you would donate $135, and then we will change the square to your initials (or if you’d rather be anonymous, we would just mark that square out).

The idea is that if 150 people donate, then we will make about a third of our expected adoption cost, and no one is giving more than $150.

Of course if you want to donate more, then you are more than welcome to. In fact, if you want to make a significant donation, but would like for that donation to be tax deductible, I am working with an adoption charity that would receive tax deductible donations on our behalf, and then pay our adoption agency directly.  Please contact me via facebook or email and let me know if you are interested in that so that I can notify you as soon as it is available.

Of course, if you would like to make a significant donation but aren’t concerned about a tax deduction, then you are welcome to simply make a larger donation through youcaring.

While this fundraiser is nowhere near as urgent as our fundraisers were back when we were adopting Canaan, we are hoping to get to our goal fairly quickly.

Our intention is to raise money over the next several months, but the reality is that our agency (we are planning to use the same agency that we used with Canaan) has already approached us with several different situations.  We didn’t feel like any of those situations were for us, but, once we have the money side of things taken care of, I think it is possible that this adoption will happen soon.

Just to give a quick round up, in case you missed anything, if you want to donate by adopting a square, follow these easy steps:

  1. Look at the chart below and see what squares are available, then choose what square you want to “adopt.”
  2. Follow this link to our youcaring site, click “donate now” and donate the amount in your square.
  3. If you are local and would like to donate via cash or check, just contact us and we can arrange that.
  4. Remember, if you would like to make a donation that could be tax-deductible, contact us so that we will know to notify you as soon as we can offer it.

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