Thursday, October 30, 2008

Four months ago...

Today marks four months since we met Anna Grace for the first time. It is crazy how fast the time has gone, yet it feels like a lifetime ago. She fills our home with smiles and joy. We are so blessed to have her in our family. Her personality has blossomed lately. She steals the hearts of all who meet her. I'm sorry if I'm bragging. We went to the dermatologist today and I wasn't sure if they were going to let us leave. Everyone wanted their turn to hold her. She loved the attention, of course.

She has learned some new tricks recently. She waves "bye-bye" and she does push ups on the floor. I think she is trying to stand up. She pulled up to standing twice but hasn't done it again. She babbles constantly and sounds like she is really saying something. She says "baba" for bottle and "mama" for me. I thought I heard her say "dada" the other morning. She is growing slowly and I am hoping we have the skin issues under control. Anyway, she is definitely changing.

I am so grateful and am trying to enjoy every moment. Since we returned from Vietnam, it seems like the other areas of our life have been so stressful. It has been one thing after another. I am trying so hard to not let it steal my joy but it is hard. I have never been good at that. I find myself longing for our time in Vietnam when it was just us. But life goes on and I have to do the same. I am thankful for my family. These are the people who make it all worth it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Slippery Slope

I am not one to post my opinions about politics or social issues on my blog. To be honest, I believe what I believe and argument for the sake of argument is not my style. I'm all about getting along and focusing on the things we can agree on. However, as I watch all of the election coverage and listen to the pundits discussing all of the "issues", there is one issue that I never seem to hear anyone talking about anymore. I hear all about education, the economy, the war, energy, the list goes on and on and on...

But the one issue that I believe is most important, the issue that I always base my vote on, is hardly ever mentioned. The other issues have their place but what about the life of an unborn baby? Does that not even cross our minds anymore? Have we gone so far down the slippery slope of socialism that no one even discusses the importance of a human life? I find it sad and disturbing.

I did some research and found that over 90% of unborn babies who test positive for Down Syndrome are aborted. 90%! Nine out of ten babies with Down Syndrome are never born. We are systematically removing a whole group of people from our world and no one finds that upsetting? Have we ever heard of Hitler? If you know a person with Down Syndrome, you know that these are people who are intelligent, sensitive, loving individuals. They possess qualities of trust, innocense, and faith that we could only hope to possess.

I don't have any statistics but I do know that "technology" has drastically reduced the number of children with SLO, the genetic syndrome that my daughter, Emma, had. She was part of a study in Maryland that required us to travel there twice a year for testing. I noticed over the years that there were less and less babies part of the study. Most of the kids were Emma's age and over. I asked the doctor about that and he said that there just weren't many born anymore. You see, right after Emma was born they developed a way to test a baby before he/she is born to see if they have this syndrome. I was so sad to hear that. Anyone that knew my Emma, knows that her life was valuable. Her life counted. Her life had a quality that I wish mine had. So many Emmas who were not allowed to be born.

I remember in high school learning about the "slippery slope" we had started down when abortion became legal. It didn't mean much to me then. Now, I see it so clearly. We have gone from playing God with the life of an unborn baby to making decisions for the sick, the elderly, the special needs. We encountered this when Emma was born. She was in the NICU at Pittsburgh Chilren's Hospital for six weeks. It was five days after she was born that we got the diagnosis. The way it was presented to us was dark and ugly. We were told the only humane thing to do was to let nature take its course. They wanted us to let her starve, basically. Since she could not suck a bottle, just let her die. Don't feed her through an NG tube, which they do for preemies every single day. We chose to feed her. We chose to love her. We chose her life over our comfort. She gave us so much. She gave this world so much. I don't regret one single day with her.

We encountered it again the night she died. The doctor on duty asked us a series of questions that were so confusing in the crisis of that moment. We had discussed them together before so we knew our answers but it would have been so easy to be lead down a road we didn't want to travel. Down the slippery slope. Emma died anyway, but I live knowing that it was God's timing. Not mine. And certainly not some doctor who felt sorry for us with the sick child.

It is all around us. The devaluing of life. And we sit by and watch it happen. While we argue about the economy or education or equal rights, babies are being killed. Yet we go on with our discussions about oil or taxes. We are our own worst enemy. We are killing our own. And nobody cares.

What is next on this slippery slope? What if there were a way to test for autism or ADHD or "gayness"? What if I could choose to end my child's life because she might turn out to be a democrat? Who decides which lives have value?

I, for one, am not thrilled with the candidates this election year. But, in the end, there is only one choice for me. I choose life. I choose the candidates who value life. I choose people who will not play God with the lives of our children or our sick or our elderly. I choose to do my best to stop our descent down this slippery slope. I hope and pray we haven't gone so far we can't go back.

This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.
Deuteronomy 30:19

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Goodbye, Abigail

Today I received an email from a friend in PA with the news that another of our SLO friends has gone on to Heaven. Abigail was sixteen years old. We had met her and her family a couple of times while we lived in PA. When Emma received the SLO diagnosis it was Abigail's mom and my other friend, Brenda, who walked me through those first difficult years. They knew the ropes of finding the right doctors, getting the best treatment, and just survivng.

Finding out that Abigail is gone has hit me hard. As I think of what is ahead for her family, I am feeling all of those feelings over again. I remember so well the emptiness and sadness. Life as we knew it stopped. I know people don't mean to but I think they minimize the death of a special needs child because they see it as a blessing. They see the end of a hardship and assume the parents must feel relieved. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings but I know it is true. I could see it in some people's eyes, hear it in their voices.

If I am being totally honest I will admit that there were times in Emma's life when I thought that I might feel a little relieved. When it happened, though, there was no relief. Only loss. Sure, I felt relief for her. For myself, though, I only felt empty. All that I knew was gone. I had been a part of this "club" of special needs moms and I knew how to do that but then I was out of the club and trying to find where I belong. I'm still searching.

Even in their death, our children keep on giving to us. One of Emma's special gifts to me when she was here was the gift of perspective. I could be having a rough day and Emma would come home from school and I would take off all of her braces and just hold her and she would be so happy and grateful and I knew that no accomplishment in this world could compare to that smile she gave me. Nothing else mattered. No one could take that away from me. I miss that so much. But, today. when I read about Abigail and I relived my loss of Emma, for just a little while I got to experience that perspective again. The decisions I am facing, the responsibilities I am overwhelmed with, the people who annoy me... for just a while they disappeared as I looked at them with that eternal perspective. Knowing that the best is yet to come made me smile. Thank you, Emma and Hailey, and now, Abigail. You gave us so many gifts. You are forever missed and never forgotten.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Please pray

I am sending out a request for prayer for my friend, L. I met her here on the computer and she has been such a sweet encourager in my life over the past year or more. We have travelled the adoption journey together and now hers has come to an abrupt end. After suffering the loss of her first son referred to her because of red tape, she learned recently that her second son passed away from pneumonia. They were in the last stage of waiting to go get him.

I am feeling at such a loss. I don't know what to say or do. All I know to do is to pray for her and her family and I am asking you to do the same. Please pray that they will find peace and comfort.

I am looking at our journey to Anna with new eyes today. I am more grateful than ever.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Musical Notes

I absolutely love music and one of the first things I am going to ask God someday is why He chose not to give me talent in that area. When I am down, music can take me someplace else where I forget the things that are bothering me, at least they are put in perspective. The reason I am sharing this is because I wanted to share three of my favorite songs right now. They are the first three in the list on the side and they each have a special meaning.

The first is probably playing right now, if you have the speakers on. It is one I just found by Michael W. Smith called "Anna". I'm sure you can figure out why I like it. It really describes where I am right now in my relationship with my Anna. I am amazed that God has given us this precious gift. She is capturing our hearts in so many ways. To see her personality taking shape is truly a miracle and we are so blessed to be her family. I was looking at the picture on my fridge today of when she was still in the orphanage: and then looking at the baby in my arms and telling myself, "It really happened. You really went half way around the world and brought this little girl home. She is here!". It feels so surreal. It feels so amazing. There are alot of opinions in the adoption world, just as there are everywhere, and I have found that the belief that God has a hand in the adoption process is not popular in some circles. I cannot look at Anna Grace and see the baby that was next on the list when we were next on the list. I look at her and see a beautiful thread in this tapestry that God is weaving together out of all of our lives. I see His hand in our lives. I am so in love with her and the God who created her.

The next song, "She's a Butterfly" by Martina McBride, is one that makes me think of my Emma. She is free and beautiful and singing her heart out. I have a lot of songs that mean so much to me because they bring me comfort. They remind me that God is in control and all of that. This song, though, just celebrates Emma. Who she is now. I can't wait for the day I get to see her running and dancing on those legs of hers and to hear her laugh and sing and say, "I love you, Mommy.". But, for now, I can listen to this song and picture her as my butterfly.

The final song, "Beautiful Flower" by India Arie, is one that makes me think of Allie. Anyone who knows Allie, knows that she has always been wise beyond her years. She has been through more than any adult should have to go through, yet she is strong and courageous. She sees hope and she loves with a passion. She has a tender heart and a strong spirit. She doesn't judge people by how they look or dress, but she sees their character. She makes me so proud and amazed. I am so excited to see what God does with her life. I know He is going to use her in a big way. She has so much life experience already. I will always be cheering her on and praying for her to stay true to who God made her.

So, there you have it. My three favorite songs and my three favorite girls. They bring so much music to my world!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

9 months

Fun at the Zoo:

Anna Grace turned 9 months old today. She is changing and growing so fast! Here are some of the things she is doing at 9 months:

She has three teeth so far.
She loves to dance and seems to have pretty good rhythm.
She can play peek-a-boo.
She still loves her bath time.
She sleeps through the night most nights.
She is eating her food really well and likes pancakes and dumplins.

She loves to bounce when she is excited.

She belly laughs when you kiss her neck and belly.

She is crawling and loves to go on the wood floors.
She loves to take all of her toys out of the basket.
She plays all of her music toys at the same time and dances.
She loves to go outside and swing on the porch swing.

Here is some video of her crawling: (we couldn't get the audio to work)