Sunday, August 19, 2012

August 17

I originally planned to write and post this yesterday or the day before,  but it didn't happen. Last year, on August 17 I saw the face of my sweet girl for the very first time.  Our agency sent out an e-mail titled new waiting children. They were advocating for two precious children in need of families. Because of their needs and age, the two children did not match the parameters of any families currently on AGCI's waitlist. The first child was a sweet little boy, S. I looked through his pictures, read his story, prayed for him and then I scrolled down to find this little face smiling at me. 
At the time our parameters were healthy female 0-20 months or sibling girls 0-24 months. We were in the process of increasing our parameters to girl 0-3 years. We were also open to the idea of adopting a child with special needs. As I read about sweet 2 year old Mestawet, I wondered if this could be the daughter we were waiting for. I actually said aloud as I read, "is this Mia?" When Justin came home from work I showed him the e-mail and we both agreed to pray that these children's families would find them. We prayed for them with Sawyer and Jax before bed that night.

The next day while the kids were at school and Justin was working, I must have looked at the e-mail a hundred times. I stared at Mestawet's sweet smile and big eyes. Oh, how I longed for this precious child to be in a family and I wondered if we could be her family. By the time Justin got home, I was a mess. Through tears I told him that I could not stop thinking about this little girl. He told me to e-mail our case worker to let her know we were interested in learning more about her. I think I sat down and immediately wrote the e-mail.

The next day our case worker replied and let me know there was already a family who was interested in adopting Mestawet. She said if things did not work out she would let us know, but there were others ahead of us on the wait list who had expressed interest in learning more about her. You see, we were not the only family praying and falling in love with this little sweetie. I was sad that we weren't her family, but I was thankful our prayers for her to find a family were being answered.
Of course that is not the end of the story. On August 30 I got a call that I was not expecting at all. Our case worker wanted to know if we were still interested in learning about this little love.
As I read back over the waiting child e-mail and look at the pictures of our precious girl, I can not help but praise the Lord for the mighty work He has done in her life. We were told she could not yet walk on her own or speak 2 word sentences. She is now running around everywhere and talking constantly. We were told she was shy, reserved, and easily frightened by new people. I almost have to laugh at this now, because if you have ever met my daughter you know this is no longer true. She has really come out of her shell. Even the director of Hannah's Hope told me when we were in Ethiopia that she never would have thought Mestawet would be such a "wild girl". I knew exactly what she meant and we got a good laugh about it. 

I amazed at what the Lord had done in the last year. The precious girl in the picture is not the only one whose life has drastically changed for the better. I am also happy to say that sweet "S" also has a family. He is still in Ethiopia and we continue to pray for him as his family works to bring him home. 

God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. Psalm 68:6

Thursday, August 9, 2012

5 Months Home

Today our beautiful  daughter has been home for five months. I can't say that the last five months have always been the easiest, but they really have been wonderful and filled with many joyful moments.

I feel like we really turned a corner this month in her attachment. Mia did seem to attach to me quickly which we are very thankful for, but she was so afraid to ever let me out of our site. She screamed even if I left her with Justin for a little while. She would get very anxious if she saw me touch my purse or pick up my keys because she was afraid I would leave. Therapy was becoming so difficult, because she would not get out of my arms without throwing a fit. It's pretty much impossible to do physical therapy in mommy's arms. I really didn't know what to do about this except to try to be patient with her. Anytime I had to leave I said "Mommy always comes back." Justin would tell her this as well when I am gone. When I came back I say, "See, Mommy's back. Mommy always comes back." I want her to know that when I leave I will always return.

We ended up making some changes with her therapy and starting over in a new office. We all felt like she may just need to start fresh in a new place. She was very clingy at first, but I stayed by her side the whole time. Now, she loves going to therapy again. Also, as of this week when I leave her with Justin, she gives me a kiss and a hug and says bye, bye Mommy without tears. This is so huge for us!! She finally trusts her Daddy and knows that Mommy will come back.

For the last 3 months or so we have been going to church together. I take her to her Sunday School class and stay with her the whole time. I wanted to help her get used to the class and her friends. Justin works at our church and we spend a lot of our time there, so I really want her to be comfortable with going. Well, two weeks ago I took her and she went right in and started playing. I decided to go ahead and go to church and told the workers to call me if they needed me. They never had to call me. When church was over I went to pick her up and she was so excited to show me what she had done at church. It made me so happy to see how comfortable she was in her class. Of course I reminded her that Mommy always comes back. When we got home, she gave me a hug and said, "Mommy always back." It almost brought tears to my eyes, because I know she isn't just saying the words, but that she is really starting to believe them.

For most kids this may not seem like a big deal, but for our daughter, who has never had the love and consistency of a family, it is huge.
Last week I went back and watched a video of Mia Grace that was taken when she was at her first orphanage. It was the first video we ever saw of her. It was taken about a year ago, so she was almost 2 and a half years old. The video showed her walking holding on to one of her caregivers fingers. She could only take a few steps by herself before she fell down. She wasn't talking in the video, but she did smile one shy little smile. As we watched, we knew that she was behind in many areas, but there was something about her sweet smile that filled us with great hope. I am thankful we let hope win out instead of our fears as we accepted her referral. She now walks, runs, climb stairs, jumps with two feet off the ground, catches and throws (really well, I might add), swims with floaties, jumps off the diving board, and much more. She has come so far in five months and we are so proud of her. 

We had a follow up appointment with her neurologist this month. It was actually yesterday. I won't go into details here, but I left the doctor's office pretty discouraged. We still don't have the answers we have been looking for regarding her seizure activity. Yesterday was a tough day for me as I struggled with worry and doubts. The Lord reminded me again just how far she has come and I am choosing hope yet again. The Lord has been holding our daughter in the palm of His hands from the time of her conception and He is not letting go of her. We will continue to trust, pray, and seek the best care possible for our girl.
She is loved, cherished, and adored by her Heavenly Father and her earthly family. Can you tell by these pictures how much her big brothers love her? Justin took some pictures of the kids and in almost every one the boys are either kissing her, hugging her, or staring at her.

Last week we were riding in the car when Sawyer said out of the blue, "I am so glad God chose Mia for our family." Of course, we all agreed with him.
These past five months have not always been easy, but they have been good and they have been worth it.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Day at the Zoo

One of the highlights from our trip to DFW last week was visiting the Dallas zoo. The boys went once when they were younger, but don't remember it. Mia had never been, so it was a special treat for them all. 
 We started with the Wilds of Africa. We had to take a picture by the "Af-ree-tah" (as Mia calls it) cut out.
 Mia Grace got up close with the South African  penguins. They were so cute!
 I think the highlight of our day was feeding the giraffes. All 3 kids loved it! Mia was so excited to pet the giraffe and she kept saying "Raff, Raff" over and over again.

 After the excitement with the giraffes we got to see the zoo workers train the lions. It was really neat. Here is Mia showing you what the lions did. I have no idea why I am making that face.

 Mia is a big fan of elephants. One day as we were driving through town, she said, "Look, Mommy, look! Elephants!" I hated to tell her they were just horses. So, I was super excited to let her see the big elephants at the zoo. She liked looking at them, but they were pretty far away.
Lucky for us, she was just as happy with the giant statue of an elephant. Actually, all of my kids loved the statues. They wanted to have their pictures taken with almost every statue we saw.  
 Sawyer and a friendly kangaroo.
 Brave Jax on the big elephant.
Ahhh! Jax with his head in the alligator's mouth.
 We were very hot and tired by this point, so we took a ride around the zoo on the monorail.
 Then we visited the children's zoo which was nice and shaded.
 Mia loved running through the water to cool off.

We all had a fun day at the zoo!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

New Friends

Last week we had the pleasure of introducing our daughter to some of our best friends. It brought me so much joy for her to be able to meet some of our dearest friends and their sweet kids. It may have been a little overload as she met several new families, but as usual she loved every minute of it. 

So here is a recap in pictures of last week.

Saturday: The Saturday before last, Mia and I took a little day trip to visit some friends who live about an hour away.  Mia Grace was able to meet two of my best friends from college, Amber and Mia, and their kids. We have 5 girls between the 3 of us. They were busy playing with dolls, dolls, and more dolls, so all I got was this one blurry picture. 
Sunday: We packed up and headed to Texas for a fun-filled week with family and friends.

Monday:  The five of us met my friend Lisa, and her 3 kids at the water park. We spent all day there and it was soo much fun. We also ran into some friends of ours from Louisiana who now live in Tennessee. We did not expect to run into them at a water park in Texas, but I am sure glad we did.
Tuesday: We all went to the zoo with Justin's mom, aka LuLu. Mia Grace loves animals, so she had a blast making lots of new animal friends. We had so much fun at the zoo and got lots of great pics. I will post soon about our trip to the Dallas zoo.
Tuesday evening, our friends Michael and Meg and their two kids, came over for dinner. It was fun catching up with them. We ate and chatted as the kids played in the "pool:".
This is my attempt at a picture of the 5 of them. They were much more interested in what was playing on the television behind me.
Wednesday: We were all pretty worn out from the previous two days, so the boys chilled all morning at LuLu and Happy's house while Mia and I met some new friends for a play date at the park. This was the first time for me to meet Amory, a fellow AGCI mom, and her daughter Aerin. Aerin is also from Ethiopia. The girls had fun eating each others crackers and swinging together.
Thursday:  This was the only day all week, we didn't met any new friends. We played at a local park in the morning and rested all afternoon.

Friday:  We had more fun at the park in the morning. Then Mia and I went to visit one of my best friends, Ashley, and her two sweet children.
Ashley has been one of my dearest friends ever since college and it was such a joy to see our little girls play together. They were instant best friends, just like their mommas. After some play time at their house, we went to Chic-fil-A for a yummy dinner. 
Mia Grace and I were so sad when we had to say goodbye. I hope this is just the first of many play dates for these two sweeties. 
While we were having some girl time, Justin and Austin (Ashley's husband), took the boys to their first
Texas Rangers' baseball game.

They had a great time! I think their favorite part were the snacks and souvenirs. That would have been my favorite part, too.
As you can see, we had an awesome week with our friends.