I've never blogged before so bear with me...
I know I've been fascinated by adoption stories so I hope to provide a fascinating story for you to follow as we go down this very exciting road.
I need to start from the beginning so you get the full picture.
We're a pretty average family. Dad-Andy, Mom-Kelly, Derek 27, Austin 25, Abby 22, Quincy-19, Wilson-16, Lewis-13 and Jamison-6. Well, maybe a few more kids than some, a few less than others!
I don't know how long ago I thought of adoption as an option. I feel like it's been forever. We, however have been blessed with our seven biological children and that has kept us plenty busy!
At some point years ago I came across some information that touched my heart. It was a documentary about the many many little girls in orphanages in China. I began to research...What an eye opener! So many beautiful children without the love of a family. I know there are orphans all over the world but China is close to my heart. It always has been. Maybe been asked many times if I have Chinese ancestry?? I can still picture one scene from an orphanage photo...a sea of little bamboo baby walkers with adorable little faces looking up at the camera. I just wanted to hug those little girls. I wanted to give them a home. At that time our youngest child was 3 or 4 years old, Lewis (now 13). Then I discovered Reece's Rainbow, an amazing organization that advocates for orphans around the world with special needs. I was lost on their website many many times, drawn in by the little faces looking for families. Wondering. Could we ever handle a child with special needs? Would Andy ever even consider it? Those sweet little ones looked out at me from across the world and didn't let me forget.
February 10, 2010 our lives changed. We were blessed with an angel. Jamison came into our world about 6 weeks early. So proudly wearing his extra chromosome that the doctor said..."Your little guy looks like he has Trisomy 21, Down Syndrome." While Jamison was whisked away to the NICU with Andy right behind I was left with a very kind nurse smoothing my hair away from my face and drying my tears on the operating room table. "It's going to be ok.." But I didn't know that yet.
As we were absorbing our news we were trying to reach our eldest son, in Australia at the time. We wanted him to know before he heard from friends/family on social media that his youngest brother was born...with Down Syndrome. Through tears I told him of Jamison's early birth, upcoming surgery due to duodenal atresia, how adorable he was, how big he was for being so premature, and finally...that he has Down Syndrome. The words he said brought me such joy and relief. "That's awesome! I can't wait to see him grow up!"
Well, now he's six years old and though he's had some medical struggles and lengthy hospitalizations he is a healthy and happy amazing boy! We love watching him grow up! He has brought such joy into our immediate family, extended family, and pretty much everyone he meets! (I think most of my Facebook friends are really Jamison's friends.) Can we parent a child with special needs? Answer, yes. It's really no different than parenting any other child.
We became of a very special family on that February day. In order to learn as much as I could about Down Syndrome I began to reach out over social media to connect with other parents, get support from them, share stories about our special people, help when needed. I saw a picture of the cutest little boy on one of the Facebook DS pages. A beautiful little Asian boy with blue glasses on his face. He had been adopted by a wonderful family. He had Down Syndrome. I became FB friends with his mom. It was then the seed of Down Syndrome adoption began to grow.
Andy and I began seriously talking about the adoption. Once again I began spending late nights with Reece's Rainbow! Categories...Girls age 4-7 Special need-Down Syndrome. We waited for the time to be right. Andy was laid off and received a year-long severance package from his employer. I set out to find work to fund our adoption. I worked while Andy was home, thankfully able to get a good start on our adoption fund! Finally Andy became re-employed and our search began in earnest.
On September 16 we sent our letter of commitment. We had found our little girl, our daughter! Little "Merryn" on Reece's Rainbow had stolen our hearts. She's 5 years old. She loves music. She likes to play with a stuffed monkey. She is in China. She will be a treasured sister, especially to Abby who waited through four brothers in vain for a sister. :) She will be a friend to Jamison. She will be loved! And we can't wait to meet her!