Monday, December 19, 2011

Chrisno's Story: The Journey from Haiti to his Forever Family - Part 2

If you missed Part 1 of William and Darlene's adoption story, go back to the post on December 14th to read how Chrisno's journey began.

Even though the size of Chrisno's head did not decrease, as hoped after the surgery and would not get any smaller, Chrisno had improved a lot.  Unfortunately Chrisno’s reunion didn’t go well with his biological parents.  They stated they just could not provide for Chrisno in his condition and they would have to place him in an orphanage. We fell in love with this little boy, cared deeply for him, and didn’t want to see him go to an orphanage.  We explained the situation to our boys and asked them what they thought of us adopting Chrisno and he would become their little brother.  Without hesitation, they said, "Yes"!  We knew that an orphanage could not provide him with the attention he would require with his special needs, physical and mental development delays, and visual impairments.  We had been told that a child like Chrisno would not survive in an orphanage and we knew that we could provide him with a loving family. 

Chrisno stayed with a family in Haiti for four months while we worked on getting the adoption paperwork completed.  Chrisno had to come back to the United States for medical treatment and we were able to be his host family, once again.  During that time, it became evident that the adoption process was going to be very complicated, expensive, and was not guaranteed to bring the end result of Chrisno joining our family.  I began to get very scared and wonder if we were doing the right thing.  I came to the conclusion that I knew God had brought Chrisno here for a reason and we had to do everything possible for him. Around that time, I read this quote:  “Doing what is necessary makes things possible, then you find yourself doing the impossible.  God doesn’t ask us to be successful just faithful.” 

The lawyer who was going to help us pursue the adoption advised us to begin in January of 2010 - then the earthquake hit.  Although Chrisno was safe in the United States, we didn't know if his parents had survived.  We knew they wanted Chrisno to be adopted by our family, but they would need to be found so they could sign their consent.  It wasn't until May that we heard that they had survived the devastation in Haiti and we could move forward and complete the adoption process.

Chrisno has been with us for 3 years except when he went back to Haiti for 4 months.  Chrisno is doing so well and he now attends school in a special education class 4 days a week and receives OT, PT, and ST in addition to the therapy he receives at home.  He can now crawl, pull himself up to a kneeling position and has started to say words and phrases.  We have started him in piano lessons because of his love of music and we feel this is one thing he can excel at.  He wakes every morning about 5:30 a.m. singing, laughing, clapping his hands and cheering for himself - he is full of joy!  My husband and I lie in bed and laugh at him, thinking what a way to start the day.  We're so glad that we listened to God's voice and are so proud of all four of our boys! 

My youngest son and I have written a children’s book telling how Chrisno became part of the family called My Little Brother Chrisno.  The book is for educational purposes teaching children about adoption, bringing awareness to Angel Missions Haiti and their good works, and is to be used as a ministry tool to spread God's Word.  25% of all proceeds from book sales will go to AMH.   

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Chrisno's Story: The Journey from Haiti to his Forever Family - Part 1

I had the opportunity to work with this remarkable adoptive family who opened their hearts and their home to a special little boy from Haiti with significant medical needs.  Adoptive parents, William and Darlene, are the proud parents of four boys and I asked them to share how God showed them that adoption was His plan for their family.

Our family's adoption story began when I was watching a Saturday morning news show and heard Vanessa Carpenter from Angel Missions Haiti (AMH) asking for someone to host a baby from Haiti for 3 to 4 months while he came to the United States for life saving surgery.  Hosting meant taking a baby into your home and caring for the baby as if it is your own child - supplying clothes, food, diapers, and taking the baby to all medical appointments.  All medical care would provided by the charitable acts of a variety of different medical facilities and physicians.  The more I thought about it, I thought my husband and I could do this.  I thought it was a way we could teach our three children a life lesson of helping others and a way for us, as a family, to do the Lord's work.

I called AMH to find out how to apply and discovered that the child's name was Chrisno Jeudi, he was about 20 months old and he had hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain).  The fluid on the brain was causing pressure resulting in headaches and constant pain.  Chrisno could only lie on his back with cushions under him to try to make him comfortable. He was in need of surgery to have a shunt inserted to slowly drain the fluid off his brain. Without the procedure, the fluid would build up and he would die.

After a series of unexpected delays, Chrisno arrived to the United States in September of 2008.  The first time I held him I was so afraid, he was difficult to hold due to the size of his head and I couldn’t cuddle him. Chrisno’s head circumference was almost 30 inches and weighed about 22 pounds and his total body weight was only 27 pounds.  Vanessa had sent me a picture and I knew his head was big but I never could have imagined that it was so big or so heavy. I soon realized that this was going to be along three months and prayed for God to give me the strength to be the best caregiver I could possibly be.

He had his second birthday with us and, at 2 years old, he was unable to hold his own bottle. He had developmental delays and he could not roll over, sit upright or crawl due to the size of his head. His vision also had been affected leaving him visually impaired. We started working with him and before long he was holding his bottle. We could tell after surgery he was feeling much better and he started smiling at us and the boys would make him laugh.  I finally found a song that he liked that seemed to calm him.  It was “I love you, you love me” the Barney song, at least he laughed when I sang it, I don’t know if he liked my singing or he thought it was funny! I started feeling a bond with him and I wanted to protect him and keep him safe.

My heart went out to Chrisno's Mom and Dad, knowing that they had to send their baby to another country to save his life. They couldn’t go with him, be there to hold his little hand and comfort him. The impact of what we were actually doing started to hit me; God had chosen us to do his work. The boys also helped, each in his own way and showed him so much attention and compassion.  The boys would play with Chrisno and make him laugh. Everyone loves to hear Chrisno laugh and it is so contagious. Chrisno loves music and we are a musical family. The 3 months seemed to fly by and Chrisno spent Christmas with us. We had worked with Chrisno and he started holding his own bottle at night and using a sippy cup during the day. We had started feeding him real food and we taught him to feed himself.  We saw huge improvements in his physical and mental development and I was able to help develop a brace to support his head so he could sit in a high chair and stand in a walker.

He went back home to Haiti in January of 2009 and we were happy and sad at the same time. We were going to miss Chrisno but we were so happy and excited for Chrisno’s parents to see all his accomplishments.  
Check back to read Part 2 to hear how Chrisno returned to become a part of this family...forever.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Happy Adoption Day, Aidan!

FLS waiting adoptive parents, Lance & Ragan, opened themselves up to other opportunities while they were in our program and were able to adopt their sweet, baby boy through successfully networking this fall.  Ragan wrote the following to share their family's journey to encourage others.

Our son has arrived, and even though it has been more than 12 weeks, I can still hardly believe that I am a Mommy and that Lance is a Daddy and that Aidan is really ours forever!! God blew my mind with how He built our family. And He knows exactly what I need. He knows I needed a VERY easy and laid back child for my first one, since I am such an infant novice (and am a little high strung at times!). He knew that it would work better if I had ZERO notice about his birth and our being chosen as his parents, so that I would not be anxious and try to control everything! (Imagine a female doing that!) And He knew that He would give me the strength, the mental, emotional and physical capacity to make so much happen in such a short time, including moving to a new home, flying to Florida to meet our new baby, visiting the NICU daily for just under four weeks, and then finally leaving Florida after five weeks, unpacking boxes and cleaning our new home from top to bottom - oh, and did I mention there is taking care of a newborn in all of this?!

Yes, Lance and I are a glorious testimony of the fact that God will build families His way and in the timing that He determines is best - no matter how we prayerfully (and perhaps tearfully) wrestle with Him to do otherwise. That being said, I know that how "God found us for Aidan" was nothing short of a miracle. We had been in the waiting pool only two months (and we debated even getting in the pool because of Lance's upcoming military deployment), feeling strongly led to jump in, although we thought, "What Mom in her right mind, who wants her child to be in a two-parent home, would place her child with a couple who would be separated for nine months and maybe forever with the dangers of combat?!"

Not only this, but we were putting ourselves on hold with FLS on September first, so that we wouldn't lose more time in the pool. And since God loves to come at the 11th hour, He did so with a phone call on the evening of Aug. 29, telling us that Aidan (who we didn't even know was being created!) had been born to a woman in Florida on Saturday the 27th of August. At 5PM on the 30th, we received the call from the case worker that we had been chosen and needed to be on a plane to Florida asap, because Aidan's birthmother wanted to meet us. So, I was on a plane at 11AM on the 31st, while Lance remained behind, because the movers were arriving that day. Throughout the adoption process, I had prayed for an 11 day old baby, because I knew that, in Virginia, the birthmother has ten days to change her mind. And God blew my mind, because He gave us Aidan on day four of his life...this little 4lb 15oz drug-exposed preemie! Only God can do that. He loves to lavish His children with "abundantly more than all we ask or imagine"! And He did so with this one.

Aidan came to us, not through Family Life Services, but because Deanne sent a previous email about twins needing a home asap and letting us know if we were interested to call the agency involved directly. And so, while I was house hunting, I called and sent all of our info immediately to Utah. And for whatever reason (ONLY GOD!!), the adoption staff at the organization loved us. So they presented us to that birth mother. She didn't choose us, so no twins. Then they presented us to another birthmother - she was interested but also didn't choose us. And then Debbie called from the hospital wanting to place her child and asked the agency to choose the adoptive parents. Unanimously, they chose us. And the rest is history...and now our present and future!

So all I can say, being on the other side of the infertility and waiting challenges, is hold on to hope and never stop believing that your child will soon be in your arms. Try everything and don't limit God on His method of putting your family together. God knows...He knows I was not equipped for twins! And He knows that Lance and I really wanted a boy first. So, what may seem like a great loss with disappointment when a birthmother doesn't choose any of us, in reality is a tremendous blessing! He knows how you are equipped as well and what you really want and need. And He is a gracious and abundant Provider.

I pray our story, though rare in so many degrees, will encourage those who have had to wait for their child to arrive and to be chosen as parents and whose trials have been the same as or greater than ours to trust in God and to remain in the Vine, for if you don't, you will feel ashamed of your unbelief when God showers you with His knowing and compassionate love. May God build your family quickly! And may He grant you rich grace and patient understanding if His 'quickly' is not the same as yours. God bless!

Monday, December 5, 2011

FLS: A New Logo & A New Look

It was time for FLS to get a new look - so here's a sneak peak at our new logo and building block for our new design.  A tree signifies the family trees that are touched by adoption (both birth & adoptive) and the reality that they are grafted into one through the overwhelming love that is evident with adoption.  We hope you like it as much as we do!
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