Friday, March 21, 2014

3/21...Down Syndrome Day

It is hard to remember what life was like before it took us down the path of Down Syndrome...
It is a part of our journey together that we never would have chosen for ourselves...
It is a piece of our journey that WE were chosen to be a part of!
Today is a day to honor, respect, love and cherish our children that happen to be enhanced with an extra 21st chromosome!

March 21st, World Down Syndrome Day...why?  Because our amazing kids have 3 copies of the 21st chromosome.

It all started with this little guy...our dear, late son, Caleb Andrew...

When we learned early on that our son would be born with Down Syndrome and two different heart conditions, we chose to give him life, for however long that may be for.  After many days of agonizing over his conditions and the doctors constantly telling us that he would never amount to anything...that his quality of life would be poor, etc, we finally had to quit listening to the doctors and persevere for our son. Persevere through their negative attitudes and know that GOD brought this VERY unexpected gift into our lives for a VERY specific reason.  From day one he brightened our lives, he taught us so much each and every day about ourselves and about how strong one can be even at just a few days, weeks or months old!  We had no idea what the future held for Caleb, but we knew WHO held his future.  As unexpected as Caleb came in to our lives, we certainly never expected him to only be with us for 414 days. 

After losing Caleb, neither of us felt that we were "done" or "complete" as a family.  Maybe just because we were missing a huge piece of our family or maybe because Caleb was in our lives and a part of our journey, to make us fully aware of the fact that we could handle a special needs child.  We felt that God trained us with a special needs child for a reason and we should not let that training go to waste.  So...6 months after Caleb left our earthly family, we came across this special guy on the internet.  He was listed as being available for adoption on a website that specifically posted special needs children...

Thus began our adoption journey to bring THIS amazing little guy home...he needed a home to love him despite his extra chromosome and we just so happened to know of one!  :)
After a home study, Immigration application, paperwork, notary, paperwork, notary, sign, send $, repeat...we were to the point where we just had to wait for Taiwan courts to do their thing.  Taiwan requires 3 court hearings, each with their own time frame and so we wait...and wait.  Finally last spring, we got the call that Kai was officially ours!  Come and get him...come and be blessed!

For the last 10 months, we have enjoyed every moment of having a toddler back in our home!  Kai keeps us VERY busy and never ceases to make us laugh! 
Never forget the fact that EVERY child and person on this earth has a purpose.  Whether it is to be President or just to bring a smile and extra love to our hearts and homes...EVERY one of us has a purpose!  Whether we have an extra chromosome, the inability to focus in crowded/loud situations, the inability to enjoy all foods, a speech delay/disorder, etc...

We can only hope that our situation has helped you or your family enjoy each day to the fullest...
to do a little extra something special for someone who crosses your path...
to see the good in everyone around you...

Happy World Down Syndrome Day!  The day where we all need to take an extra special look around and honor, respect, love and cherish everyone around us.

Thank you for supporting our family during this journey!
Joanna & John

Thursday, September 19, 2013

2 years later...

...well, I guess we get through each day...we are still breathing...yet, we are still missing our precious little boy!  It is so very odd to miss one little guy, while taking care of a different one.

We will always miss our boy, we miss him each and every day.  Yet the memories of him, I feel like they are slowly fading.  It is hard to remember what he smelled like, what it felt like to hold him, rock him, feed him, cuddle him.  What his giggle sounded like, how his toes were always in his mouth...the list could go on and on.  It is hard to not remember Caleb like this...
always in the hospital.  It feels like we spent more time going to and from Fairfax Hospital vs. being home with him, but we didn't.  Not sure why the mind always wants to take one to the "dark" times vs. the good.  It was certainly a VERY difficult path in our lives.  We had to split our time between being with our child at the hospital and being with his siblings at home.  We had to leave a child at the hospital 45 minutes away, to come home and spend a little time with his siblings before they went to bed.  Never was and never will be an easy decision between the two!  Yet, there are so many times, in Caleb's final days that I wish I had stayed at the hospital, by his side, now that I do not have that option any more.

In the end...our faith, our family, our church, our friends are what get us through each and every day!  Through it all, we learned that we have much more in us then we ever imagined we had to give!  If it were not for Caleb showing us that we can truly do it, through his own fight and determination, we would not have Kai.  We would have never pursued a special needs adoption, so Caleb lives on through Kai, through all of us...

Caleb Andrew, we miss you more then we can ever express.  We thank you for showing us how strong we can truly be when the going gets tough!  We hold on to the fact that we will get to see you again someday...

Thursday, June 6, 2013

One month ago...

this precious little boy was placed in our arms after waiting over a year for paperwork, court hearings, etc.!!  There is NO way to describe what it was like to finally see him in person after receiving only photos and videos during the year of waiting.  We watched him grow before our eyes and to actually be able to see him in person, well...you can imagine.  We have had such a huge hole in our lives, in our home and in our hearts that Caleb left and to see a little boy with similar mannerisms as Caleb was just too much for this momma.  I lost it!  So Kai bonded with John as I tried to get myself together.  We had waited for that moment for SO very long.  I could have watched John and Kai together ALL day long.  John had him laughing within the first five minutes of their meeting each other.  Kai remains a "daddy's boy" to this day.  He will take it! :)  Kai is already babbling "Da-da-da".

May 6th, 2013 will be etched in our memories for a VERY long time.  It is the day we drove 2+hours to a different area of Taiwan.  The day we met with Kai's social workers and then went to a baby store to get him a few last minute items.  It is the day that we walked in to his foster mother's home, sat down on her couch and watched as she went into another room and brought him out to meet us. 

It is the day that I saw a daddy go from greatly missing two little boys to missing one.  The day that we walked out of the foster mother's home with him in our arms and we will never let him go.  The day that we returned to the agency in Taiwan in order to meet with his birth family - his mother, his father, a grandmother and his 6 year old sister!  The day we watched him interact with his birth family with no clue that it would be the last time he would see them (well, for a long time anyway).  We certainly know and understand the great sacrifice they have made for their son to have a "better" life.  We can only promise that we will care for him and love him just like they would have.

Monday, April 22, 2013

It's official...

As of Friday, April 19th, 2013, Yu-Kai became our SON!  This has truly been a journey that Caleb started a couple years ago and we finally have Kai to continue it with us.  A LONG journey, but we are just so thankful that it is finally official!  We appreciate prayers for us as we have ALOT of details to get through before we travel to Taiwan.  We also appreciate prayers for Kai's birth parents as they prepare to say "good bye" to their son.  They have made an incredibly difficult decision to let their son be adopted in order for him to receive the therapies, specialists, etc. that Down Syndrome children need.  They have given our family an incredible gift by entrusting us with Kai and his upbringing.  We know their pain, we know how much they will miss their son, but we hope they will always know and see through updates and photos how much he is loved by so many already!  If all plans continue to go smoothly, Kai will be in our arms on May 6th, two weeks from today!  We will update this blog as best we can during our travels and certainly in the days and months following his homecoming.  Look out Kai...your life is about to change drastically...but we hope you can feel our love with you already.  Ryan and Sara cannot wait to get you HOME!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Chinese New Year - 2013

Happy Chinese New Year...the year of the snake!  A year of transition - we certainly believe that.  Bringing our little guy home will certainly be a big transition for ALL of us.

With the Chinese New Year just a couple days away...we will now have to wait out the holiday in Asia in order to hear anything about our 2nd court hearing.  Most things will be closed all next week for their big holiday celebrations, so we will just wait....and wait....like we have been for months. 

Thank you for your continued prayers on our behalf.  We still hold tight to the fact that HE is in control of this process and Kai will be with our family in His perfect timing.  We just wish it was a lot faster then it seems to be going.  We have currently waited 3 months since our first court hearing in Taiwan, which was back in November!

We will certainly let you know as soon as we hear anything about our next court date.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Holiday Greetings 2012

Merry Christmas and Blessed 2013 from our family to yours!

As for 2012, it has certainly kept us busy...with paperwork!
We still miss our precious Caleb each and every day, that will never change...
 We are all eager to fill a small hole of our home and hearts...
2013 will prove to be a wild emotional ride.

We have signed, dated, notarized, copied, stapled, mailed, certified, verified and sent 
or received more papers then we can count!
Why? Because before Caleb, we would never have considered 
ourselves capable of adopting or caring for a "special needs" child. 
There is a little boy overseas that was put up for adoption by a loving family of 3,
because they know they cannot care for a Down Syndrome child in their country.
We sent in a family profile to say that we were willing to adopt this precious boy
and they said "YES".  With this response, we began the tedious task of adopting
this little guy.  We have done all of our part required for this side of the world.
We now wait through Taiwan's lengthy court process...after 3 court hearings, he will
officially be ours.  We will then travel to bring him HOME!

We are currently waiting to hear word of court hearing #2 to take place...
we have NO idea when this will occur...
but in the meantime our little guy has gone from living with his birth family for 16 months
to now living in a foster home.  That major change just occurred last week!  We cannot
imagine what he is going through or feeling at this timeOur hearts break for him
and we cannot wait to finally get all this "process" behind us and be able put our arms
around him and tell him that this is IT - we are taking you HOME, your forever home!  You have a mom and dad who love you and a big brother and sister who cannot
wait to have you home as well.  Clearly his birth parents have made a very difficult decision.
We know their pain...whether you have had to give up your son to heaven or to the U.S. 
in order to have a better life...the pain is deep and we hope to do them proud
by raising their birth son in a loving home. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

One year ago today...straight from your mommy's heart...

...what can a grieving mommy possibly say?  What I would really like to do today is shout from the rooftop "CAN I HAVE HIM BACK NOW?!!!"  There is really no way to "talk" about how much we miss you...there is really no way to describe how much we miss you...yet the images and sounds and events of this past week, as they played out last year...well, they are still so vivid!  On the other hand, what I feel is slipping away is what it felt like to hold you...to rock you to sleep...to give you a bath...to feed you...to have you burp right in our faces after your bottle...to have you blow raspberries at us as we tried to feed you carrots or peas...

I miss this...
the indescribable JOY that you brought to your brother and sister.  You changed their lives, especially Ryan's.  He finally wrote about you in his English class this year...we have been trying to get him to write about you for the last year.  He finally wrote about you as his English teacher asked the class to write about someone they felt was special enough to be on a coin, needless to say, he wrote "my little brother Caleb should be on a coin because he changed my life".  Your brother and sister miss you dearly.  As we all do!  To experience a loss like this is just too much for this momma's heart to handle.  Your daddy and I don't know how to handle it ourselves...let alone how to help your brother and sister handle it.  We can only hold on to the fact that we will see you again.  Which leads me to always ponder what you look like now...how much has Heaven changed you?  Have you grown up or are you still my precious little boy?  Do you still smile as bright as the sun?  Do you still love to put your toes in your mouth?  You were certainly happiest here when your toes were up by your head.  Are you walking?  talking?  I hope your great-grandparents and Jesus are taking good care of you...I hope they are holding you non-stop.  I often pray that you are so loved in Heaven that you do not miss any of us one bit.  I don't want you to feel that emotion at all.  We hold enough of that emotion for you!

Not much has changed around home.  Your room has stayed pretty much the same...your sheet is still on your bed.  Your dirty clothes are still in your laundry basket.  Your clothes still hang in the closet.  Your bouncy seat, bumbo seat, car seat, etc. take up all the space on the floor.  We can't just sell these things and hope the buyer has some idea what they mean...so they sit.  I guess your little brother will be able to use some of them, but at the rate the adoption is going...he will not even be able to wear any of the clothes that I had bought for you to wear last winter.

Thank you for leading us to your little brother.  He will fill a small portion of the hole you have left in this house!  Parents cannot really prepare themselves for having a Down Syndrome child...but you made it so easy!  You were determined to show the doctors how much you could truly fight.  I wish I had the chance to take you back to them to show them just how wrong they were...maybe they would second guess themselves the next time they wanted to tell an expecting mommy that the child they were carrying would not amount to anything...you showed them!  You overcame everything in your first year like a champ.  So we hope you have passed along a little bit of this drive and determination on to your little brother in Taiwan...here's hoping he will be rocking his extra chromosome just like you did!

CALEB ANDREW - We love you and miss you to the moon and back!