2008 what a year.....

Ah, another year.  I began Jan. 1 of 2008 with so much excitement!  I felt so "READY for the challenges of 2008.  It did turn out to be a year of firsts and many blessings.  However, with blessings come many challenges, at least with John and I they do.  In our 15 years of marriage (we celebrated 15 years just last Friday) many of our blessings have come with many hardships and challenges.  I suppose that makes the blessing that much sweeter?  

2008 was John's first year as pastor at Community of Christ church.  We experienced and learned many things last year.  Much patience and understanding.  It was, thankfully, a very uneventful year!  I hope his being pastor is 2009 is as uneventful as 2008 (uneventful in a GOOD way)! You pastor's wives know what I mean!  Please Lord!

With the help of YourWebpress I revamped the Adoption Coalition website.  It has proved to be very useful and looks MUCH better.  Check it out www.adoptARkids.org

We found out in Jan. 08 that Elliette has dyslexia.  The doctor recommended homeschooling. After much discussion, John and I decided that Justus and Elliette would benefit from homeschooling and began in August.  I has been the best decision we've EVER made.  It is extremely hard managing household chores and homeschooling.  My house isn't 'company ready' anymore.  I used to take pride in the fact that my house was 'usually' presentable.  Now that we're ALL home it's never all 'company ready'.  When I weigh the priorities of teaching my children vs. vacuuming the schooling wins hands down!  AKA "call before you come" and I can't even then promise the floor will be swept.  The Lord has always found ways to humble me in my pride.  Oh well.

Our work with the Adoption Coalition came to a head in March 2008.  All the reports we had made to the governor, senators and representatives fell no more on deaf ears.  The KAIT report by Diana Davis (which we didn't start BTW) finally shed a little light on the issues we had been hammering.  The piece was quite alarming, check it out:  Adoption Red Tape
We had a meeting with state Arkansas DCFS officials as well as Rep. Cash, Rep. Kidd, Rep. Bookout and KAIT's Tim Ingram and Diana Davis with Will Carter reporting:  Adoption Hearing

Unfortunately, the first young woman ever placed on the Heart Gallery aged out of fostercare without ever being adopted.  She turned 18 years old in December.  We advocated for one family that wanted to adopt her so badly.  We tried for months for dcfs to consider them.  They lived out of state and very rarely do adoptions of non relatives occur out of state.....why.....ICPC!  That's another story I won't go into now!  This family even said that if they weren't able to adopt her out of fostercare that maybe when she turned 18 she could decide for herself.  WOW!  I took for hair/makeup and a photo shoot.  When the photographer sent me her jpeg, I just cried and cried knowing that very photo could change her life forever.  She's always in my thought and prayers!  Children are aging out of fostercare without being adopted at an alarming rate, see this piece:  Children Aging Out of Arkansas' Fostercare System

I was so excited that Adoption was chosen to be May's Occasions Magazine feature story.  The article emphasized the importance of adoption and the Heart Gallery.  I was honored to hold one of our Heart Gallery children on the front cover.  She was placed in her adoptive home the day after the magazine was published.  Now tell me the Heart Gallery and exposure for these kids doesn't work!  Her adoption finalized in December!!  Praise God!  May Occasions Story Here

I was amazed in May at the debate over the location of the proposed King's Ranch Children's Home.  My husband and I unabashedly showed our support of the Cooper's with this letter to the Jonesboro City Council.  Letter to the Council

Unfound Families has been slowly developing over 2008.  Hopefully, it will serve as a hub for adoption attorneys, adoptive families, birthmothers, doctors etc. who are interested in adoption.  Visit Unfound Families for more information!  www.unfoundfamilies.com

The Pregnancy Resource Center realized it's dream in becoming 'Medical'.  They are able to perform 'non diagnostic' ultrasounds to confirm pregnancy in mothers considering abortion.  Read about it here!  

There were many exciting trips in 2008.  Many of them firsts for the kids!
Gulf Shores with the ENTIRE family (if you missed the saga of our trip home....it is a MUST READ!!  Here it is in it's full glory!  Trip Home..Need I Say More

Celebrate Magazine's Most Fascinating People issue came out in July.  I was stunned when they asked me to take part in the issue.  It was lots of fun!  I got my 'made up' for the photo shoot (haven't done that since high school!)  Anyway, I'm not sure what defines 'fascinating' but it was lots of fun!  Check it out:  Celebrate Magazine's July Issue

Elliette Maree was baptized in July!  We had a VERY special service for her!  We called it our 'Crowning Ceremony'.  It was FABULOUS!  Check it out:  Crowning Ceremony

By far, the article written by Mary Pride was the best explanation of how I feel and my desire to have a large family.  If you're a large family and haven't read it......I retyped it because I couldn't find it ANYWHERE to reprint so here it is:  Easier by the Dozen

We added 2 dogs, 3 hermit crabs, 2 water dragons and 6 fish to Team Sawyer!!  We mourned the loss of Iggy our Iguana, 3 fish and 2 hermit crabs.  YES!  I've totally LOST my mind!

In August some of the reality of living in fostercare came out! Five children died in Arkansas fostercare over the summer months.  It boggles the mind that children are taken out of a dangerous situation and put in a home that could possibly be MORE dangerous as the situation they were rescued from AND the home is being paid for by MY tax dollars!  Outrageous!  See these stories:  
Arkansas Law Lets DCFS Stall  (I made the Arkansas Times Magazine....after all that interview that's ALL he printed?!  Figures!!  Oh well....it was true!
Praying for Change  (my letter to the governor)
Betrayal of Trust  (article about how a Bella Vista foster father sexually abused boys in his fosterhome!  He was sentenced fall 2008!)
Foster Mother Charged in Batesville!  Child less than 1 month old may die!

Our Adoption Coalition celebrated November as National Adoption Month by bringing author/ speaker Ashley Rhodes-Courter to Jonesboro.  We had an amazing event!  See the Highlights:

The loss of Michael Keasler was a huge blow this year.  He was Justus age and his death hit home for many of our friends and family.  Final Farewell

Our friend, Jeanne Pasmore, left this world in 2008.  The funeral was beautiful and VERY moving.  The poem 'Go Down Death' by Johnson was so appropriately read.  Read about it here

I have refrained from blogging about an event that occurred in our lives in 2008.  I suppose 'a new year, a new leaf' huh?  Last May John and I decided that we would 'open our minds' to adopting again.  We thought we would be open to a 'hard to place' or 'slight special needs' adoption.  It would be an adoption of a child unable to find a family.  We discussed it one morning in May before John went to work.  His last words were, "You know if we're open to a child with Downs, Club foot or the like' God will set a situation on our doorstep that we can't refuse.  You know one that we think, "Oh yeah!  That nothing compared to special needs....SURE God!"  Well that afternoon we were contacted THAT AFTERNOON about a mother who may be having twins.  She hadn't had an ultrasound so they didn't know for sure.  A friend said that the birthmother wanted ME to call her.  When I called her she had already made up her mind that we were the family she wanted to parent her baby.  She had heard about us through friends.  

I asked her why she thought she was having twins and she said that the nurse had heard 2 heartbeats at her last appt.  (no big deal, that's not for sure??!!)  Then I said, "well you're next appt. is for next Friday huh?" She said, "No, it was today." "ANDDDDD" I said "was it twins?"  "Yeah, a boy and a girl."  I think I pretty much quit breathing! She wanted to meet us that week!  I explained that it was WAY to early to be meeting or even choosing a family.  I tried to explain how much time she had till Nov. but she insisted that she wanted a firm decision in her mind NOW.  I told her that we'd look at our calendars and see when we could meet.

We waited 3 weeks before meeting.  She wanted to meet our children and we wanted to meet her two children ages 2 and 1 as well.  We explained to the kids that we were having a playdate with friends at Chuck E. Cheese.  The attorney told us that he agreed that it was really too early for her to choose a family and that we didn't really need to decide for sure until August or September.  It was June and we decided to go ahead and meet.  I don't think John really thought she'd show up.  I called her when we were about 1 hour away to make sure she would be there.  I offered taxi money for her ride and she just asked that we pick her up on the way!  That's when John had a full blown panic attack.  What he thought we were doing.........I have no idea.  He truly thought we'd get to Chuck E. Cheese and she wouldn't show.....the end.  When he heard that she wanted us to pick her up at her house he lost it.  He figured that if she didn't mind us meeting her mother and family and knowing where she lived....she must be serious!  

That was in June and there were many ups and downs throughout the summer.  She decided to parent in August and we didn't really think any more about it.  She told us in October that she couldn't parent, would we come to the hospital, she wanted us to adopt the babies and be there at the birth.  We had pretty much written off the situation.  We sent her the family profile of some friends of ours that desperately wanted to adopt.  She insisted that she only wanted us, we again pushed for our friends.  We fedexed their family profile to her the day she went into labor.

She had the babies on Friday November 6th. She asked that we come to the hospital and visit.  We went to the hospital on Sunday and held, fed and changed the babies.  They were PRECIOUS!  She was going home to try to parent them and her two other children now 3 and 1years old.  We've talked to her about every other week and she's struggling but making it.  The father of all four of her children has been helping with the children and paying bills.  He wasn't in the picture prior to their birth so that is a positive change.  John and Elliette took her groceries the week of Thanksgiving.  He said that she and the father seemed very happy and all seemed well.

We had assured her throughout the many months that we would be ok no matter what she decided.  We explained that we had 5 children, three by birth and two by adoption and no matter what happened that we would be alright.  She cried many times on the phone saying that she didn't want to hurt us if she decided to parent.  She truthfully told us that she didn't know if she would be able to let them go after she had birthed them.  I truly felt her pain and knew that she honestly had no idea if she would be able to let them go.  I knew that she wanted to place them for adoption in her mind because she knew that it would be so hard to give them what they needed....yet could she do it.  

I learned so much in counseling her those many months.  For some reason God wanted to show me the 'heart of a birthmother'.  He wanted to show me 'her pain.'  I don't know what is in the future but this new knowledge of 'being on the other side of the adoption process' has been eye opening.  I'll never talk, think or work with a birthmother the same again.  We've never had a 'disrupted adoption' before either.  For some reason, God saw fit for us to experience a small portion of the anguish adoptive families feel in a disrupted adoption.  We knew we'd be 'ok' if she decided to parent but had no idea we had gotten as emotionally attached to her and the unborn babies as we had.  We just assumed that God had put us in that situation because the babies were going to be ours.  Our other adoptions had occurred as such and we figured this situation would too.  

There are endless possibilities for 2009.  I hope I'll meet each challenge head on.  I secretly wish it would be a calm and uneventful year but that hasn't happened in quite sometime.  If it were uneventful I'm sure I'd be miserable.  

As in my post on September 30th I hope I choose The Road Less Traveled

1 comment:

Pam said...

Oh Dia! Thanks for the recap and the detail of the adoption experience this year... to say that I understand is an understatement... but you already knew that... just wanted you to know that I was here, I read, and I am amazed at all God has taught you this year... and look forward to walking through 2009 with you dear sister... I've even thought of going to visit a friend in Texas next summer... and wondered if we could possibly meet up along the way! That would be so amazing! I'd like Kiahna to see some of her home state... even though she is young... I think it would be good for her. Much love and blessings to you!