Famous Last Words

Our Adoption Journey to Haiti

Cry Baby April 30, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rgraham100 @ 4:39 pm

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This is Noah. Many of you already know this as you suffered with us, but Noah spent the first three months of his life crying. He had colic and reflux. And when I say colic, I don’t mean he was fussy between 5pm – 7pm. I mean he cried 18+ hours a day. The nurses in the hospital told us they had never seen a newborn baby cry so much. He barely slept. He was five months old before he slept a four-hour stretch. If he wasn’t eating, he was crying.  He didn’t even like riding in the car-in fact, he would scream in the car. He screamed in his swing, in his bouncer, in front of the television while watching Baby Einstein. He screamed as we tried new formula brands, sitting in his car seat on the dryer, in the bathroom with hot steam from the shower.  I would spend 6-8 hours running the vacuum cleaner in his nursery while rocking him because it was the only thing that would sooth him. I was an expert at the five S’s of soothing according to the Happiest Baby on the Block (swaddle, sway, shush, suck & side lay). Five years later, I am still complaining about it and my shoulders still get tense when I think about those first three months of his life.

We had tons of help. Patrick and I really stuck together- we were a unified team against our raging baby. Our dog Zoe sat in the nursery with me for hours (even though she is terrified of vacuum cleaners). My mom came to help me every week. Even my mom’s friends came to help. Patrick’s mom held him all night long after he came home from the hospital so we could get a little sleep. Our friends made us dinner and a few brave ones even offered to babysit. And I spent a lot of time on my knees praying for grace to endure.

Interesting thing….as part of our Home Study, we are required to take an online class that basically tells you everything you need to know about parenting an adopted child.

While taking the class last night, we learned about a baby’s cycle of needs. Basically, when a baby needs something, they end up in a state of rage (which I thought was a completely appropriate term, given our experience with Noah), which serves as their call for help. In Noah’s case, every time he would rage, Patrick or I would meet his need by either feeding him or standing in the bathroom with the lights off with running water while blaring rock music…you know-whatever works.  We met his need over and over and over again.

And now, Noah is this incredibly trusting, empathetic, loving kid. And part of the reason for this is that he had his needs met as a baby – every single time.

On the flip side, learning about kids who face the cycle of unmet needs is incredibly sad.  Babies whose needs are not met don’t learn to trust or emphasize. It’s brutal to visualize a crying baby and nobody to hold him.

This mental picture is changing my perspective about Noah’s colic. Maybe Noah’s colic was an opportunity for Patrick and me to build trust and confidence in Noah that will be with him for a lifetime. Maybe instead of complaining about it, I should recognize what that experience did for Noah as a healthy person and Patrick and me as parents?

I am not wishing colic on any baby, but learning about the opportunity we as parents have to fill our baby’s needs, it is pretty powerful.  My new perspective (5 years removed) – colic presents parents with more opportunity to build trust and confidence in their kids!

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Bake Sale April 23, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rgraham100 @ 7:14 pm

We’ve always known that adoption is an expensive process. On average, international adoption fees range from $30,000 – $35,000 (yes, that’s in US Dollars). When you break down the actual logistical costs of adoption, it adds up. Travel, adoption agency fees, international fees, translators, medical expenses, immigration services, etc…

We’re holding on to the idea (very tightly) that if we are being called to do this, then somehow the money will follow. Right? That’s at least what other couples have told us that have adopted internationally.

Being a professional fundraiser, one might think I would be completely at ease with raising this kind of money. Nope. I’m not. But being a somewhat obnoxious type A personality, I’ve made our “fundraising plan” for the adoption, which includes saving money, writing grant proposals, and some good old-fashioned grassroots fundraising.

We are starting with a bake sale on Saturday, May 18th. Our dear friends, Rex and Kristie Stover, have graciously invited us to host a bake sale at their community yard sale.

We’re calling all bakers – we’d love to sell your finest cookies, coffee cakes, etc…at our first fundraiser. Let me know if you’re willing to help by donating baked goods!

If you’re not a baker, fret not…we will hit you up later to donate your junk to our garage sale this summer or come and eat good chicken at a chick-fil-A night.

 

Home Study Orientation – Our Story April 15, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rgraham100 @ 6:43 pm

Patrick and I attended our Home Study orientation this weekend. The Home Study serves two purposes – first, it educates and prepares families for adoption; second, it screens our home and family to ensure we are good candidates to adopt. The process typically takes 3-5 months to complete.

The orientation took place at America World Adoption Agency (AWAA) headquarters in McLean, VA and lasted three hours. We attended with six other couples who are in the process of international adoption. Two of the couples have already adopted (more about them later) and are doing it a second time-that’s a good sign that this whole crazy journey is worth it!

We talked quite a bit about legal mumbo jumbo, process, paperwork….details from which I will spare you. I found one of the most interesting topics we discussed was our child’s story.

We all have our story. Patrick (his mama’s 3 ½ lb. baby boy) was born premature and spent a lot of time at Riverside Hospital in Columbus, OH. I was born 11 days past my due date and the doctor was late to deliver me because he was watching Alabama football. Noah’s umbilical cord was wrapped around his ankle and he was delivered via caesarian. Brady was a scheduled caesarean and stopped breathing when he entered into the world. We love to hear our own story. We tell everyone and anyone the story of our children’s birth. It never gets old.

As parents, we all have vivid memories of our child’s birth and the days and weeks that follow. We know every precious (or gory) detail of our child’s first days. They are safe and loved.

As adoptive parents of international children, we aren’t written into our child’s story right away. Who cared for our child? Did anyone pick him up when he cried? Did he feel safe? Was he hugged and kissed every day? I know the realities of adoption, but accepting them emotionally is an entirely different story.

However, remember those two other couples who were at the orientation with us? Well those couples had amazing stories of meeting their child for the first time. They literally had with them their photo brag book (remember carrying those books before we all had iphones?) of their trip to China to pick up their daughter. Their stories, their photos….they were incredibly meaningful and inspired. They gave us peace. Regardless of when our story begins with our child, it is the precise right moment according to His plan.

 

Getline Francius April 11, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rgraham100 @ 4:59 pm

If Brady was a 4-year-old Haitian girl, I think he’d be great friends with Getline Francius. Check her out –

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She has all of the coolness and attitude of our Brady. Getline’s favorite subject in school is Grammar, and she loves to play dolls and jump rope with her best friend Tanya.  Little miss thing is a Haitian orphan that lives in one of the children’s homes supported by Help One Now, a non-profit group that is working around the world to help end extreme poverty, care for orphans, and rescue slaves.

 

Check them out – www.helponenow.org – they are doing great work!

 

Why Haiti? April 5, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rgraham100 @ 3:56 pm

We’ve had a lot of people ask us, Why Haiti? Our top priority when we were first considering adoption was to find a well-respected and trusted adoption agency. We heard positive stories about America World Adoption (AWAA) and their founders attend our church.

Our next step was to have a very honest conversation about what kind of child we want to adopt. Could we adopt an older child? Do we bring home a child with severe or mild special needs? Do we want a girl or another boy? We both decided that it made the most sense for our family to bring home a young, healthy child. We have no gender preference.

We then researched all of AWAA’s international programs. With so many orphans in the world, one would think that you have several choices of where you might adopt. This is just not the case – for several reasons.

AWAA has a few programs that would fit our family’s needs, but Haiti stuck out to me. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with approximately 80% of the population living under the poverty line and more than 50% living in extreme poverty.

Haiti’s children are certainly “the least of these”.  I am struck by Isaiah 1:17 that says to “seek justice; defend the oppressed; and take up the cause of the fatherless”.

Plus, look at these beautiful children –

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Finally, we like the close proximity of Haiti. We imagine our whole family traveling to Haiti for years to come, serving our child’s home country- side by side with the least of these.

 

Big News!! April 3, 2013

Filed under: Adoption — rgraham100 @ 7:28 pm

I just don’t have the heart for adoption”- famous last words by Becky Wickline

I spoke these words to Patrick two years ago while we were at church listening to the testimony of a young couple going through the process of adopting their son from Africa. My husband agreed – we’re just not adoption people…..so we thought.

Fast forward to today. Our hearts are now completely broken for orphans. Those same hearts – the ones that were just not into adoption – are now devoted to bringing one of the world’s 140 million orphans into our family. Specifically, we are so pleased to share with you our exciting news that we are adopting a young child from Haiti.

WHAT????

How did we go from having no heart to wading through thick stacks of notarized documents, background checks, and medical exams required during the international adoption roller coaster?

Two years is really not that long and we sometimes scratch our heads wondering how we got here. This is my best guess:
-We got a little bit uncomfortable with our very comfortable, spacious life. Surely we’re not here just to bless the blessed?
– I got somewhat obsessed with Jen Hatmaker’s book “7” (if you haven’t read it, it’s kind of a game changer, so be prepared)
– And finally through our faith, we felt convicted that God was moving our family in the direction of international adoption. I initially approached Patrick with the idea in August 2012. He immediately got onboard. That’s how my amazing husband rolls. Here he is-

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So here we are today, sharing this news with you, our friends and family. We invite you to join Patrick, Noah, Brady, and me on this journey. We’ve got an amazing network all over the country, from Ohio to Texas to Tennessee to Oklahoma to Illinois to Colorado to California. We ask for your prayers and your encouragement as we go through this process over the next 2-3 years.

Check back often – we will update you on our ride.

 

 
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