Faith that Overwhelms Fear

When our family began the journey of adoption 4.5 years ago, we weren’t really sure where the road would take us. We definitely had no idea what our family would look like or all the blessings God would bestow upon us.  It wasn’t a decision we took lightly and it certainly wasn’t without fear that we said Yes to not 1 but 2 children now. Looking back it feels like we’ve come so far just to be standing back in the same place of question, doubt, and worry.

The trip we took to bring Easton home was one of the hardest of my life.  We questioned everything we had done and wondered what God’s plan was for Him to bring us across the world to love a child who wanted nothing to do with us.  We couldn’t see the light! We spent our days crying and praying and trying to get this kid to relax a little! Here we are 2.5 years later and I couldn’t ask for a more perfect fit for our family. Sure we have our rough days but that’s parenting.  Hindsight is 20/20 and I’m soooo thankful Easton is our son, but in those first days together, I wasn’t sure we’d every get to this point.

Here we are again, just days away from traveling and I begin having all of those same emotions again. This time there is more depth because not only am I considering myself and my husband but also my son whom I love dearly.  We are days from meeting our daughter and I tremble at the thought of the grief and loss she’s about to experience. We are ripping her from the only home she’s ever known.  How will she learn to love us?  How will Easton respond to a sibling?  The list goes on and on of the fears I have.

Can I also just say for a moment how thankful I am for our church. God is so good, and his message is always perfect, but none seems more perfect than the series we’ve been in at church than now.  Follow. What does it look like to follow Jesus?  A few years back a couple ladies and I went to a conference and there were many things that resonated with me…but I’m going to list the ones that impacted me the most:

The call of God WILL interrupt you. It is NOT convenient

Being Faithful only means you are more full of faith than you are full of fear…Being Faithful does not equal being Fearless.

Then came the story of Joshua and Caleb in Numbers.  They lived such a different story, a story of Faith. The promise land was waiting and they had been living in the desert for far too long.  When they were sent with the others to survey the land to see if they could take it as their own they said “If God is real then lets Go take this land! Why are we still living in the desert?” There were 3 questions the rest of the spies asked as they proclaimed that they didn’t stand a chance against the giants.   1. Am I Enough  2. Are we going to be safe  3. What will it cost?

I catch myself questioning these same things as we face some pretty scary giants.  Most of the time I don’t feel like enough…the good news is I don’t have to be because God Is.  I fear what all it might cost our family as we bring a 2nd child home….but the more important question is what will it cost us or her if we don’t.  My biggest fear is flying, I typically get sick every single time from nerves, at no point do I feel safe….From the first time I flew I decided, I’d rather be unsafe doing the will of God than avoid any danger and choose myself over Jesus.

Back to our current series at church.Follow. It truly couldn’t have come at a better time for me.  And it hits the premise of all the things I loved about the first If:conference.  As I was overcome with worry about leaving Easton for 3 weeks, flying across the ocean, bringing a new child home, will she love us, can we do this…on and on…I hear my pastor say these words… “Refuse to let your Fear Lead you” “God wants you to have a Faith in Him that overwhelms Fear” “There is a cost to following Jesus” “Choosing to follow Jesus will cost you something, choosing not to will cost you everything.”
I’ve never had words ring so true in my life as these have the past few weeks.  I’m so thankful for this message.

As we prepare to fly around the world for our 2nd adoption, my faith is in God. This is His plan, therefore I refuse to let fear take me over.  When we step on that plane, I say, I am more full of Faith than fear.  We will bring this sweet girl home. And while it may not look perfect, we’ve been there before, and we know there’s beauty on the other side.

We’re going to fight through this. Fight through the fear, the grief, the loss, the confusing, the scary, and the unknown.  It’s my earnest prayer that we are overcome with peace that passes all understanding in the coming weeks.

We are thankful to be on this journey and thankful our daughter is so close to being home with us. Even though we’ve never met, my heart already aches for her.  The journey we are going to take is not easy, in fact in some ways it will be harder than the one we took some years ago. Please pray for her little heart. I have no doubt this will be harder on her than us.  I just pray we can give her some comfort in a time of sorrow.  I want our Faith to show through so strongly that she senses a peace that is beyond understandable.  Only our God can make that happen.

Hold on sweet darling, your world is about to change forever, but we love you more than you might ever realize. We are full of a love that God has given us for you, and a love that will traverse many mountains and valleys. We hope to raise you with a faith that amazes those around you. A light that shines through so strong that everyone knows it’s from the Lord. You are so loved already, not only by us but by the God who created you.  No amount of Fear is going to keep us from you. We’re choosing Faith!  Your precious life hangs in the balance of it, and you my darling, you are worth it!

 

 

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Prayers Please

We are asking for prayers all around for our family!

We received our final USCIS approval on March 30th. Our agency is currently filing our DS260 and once that is filed we will receive our embassy appointment date. Which also means we will have travel dates! We are asking you to specifically pray that we receive those dates this week. We would love to travel before Easton is out of school. 

We also received all of eastons genetics tests and have our appointment scheduled with the doctor who will break everything down for us. Unfortunately it’s the same day we see a developmental pediatrician. It will be a long, busy day, but we are asking you to pray that we will finally have some answers for Easton and start a path to healing for him!

As always we ask for prayer for our daughter so that her heart will be prepared for the events that will soon transpire. We are so ready for her, I just pray she is ready for us!

Homestretch and Other Happenings  

Can I just say how thankful I am that spring is near!! It’s time for baseball, swimming, shorts, and traveling to get our daughter! The last one being the best part of course!

A few updates on our lives around here then an update on our adoption.

Easton just turned 9! To celebrate our sweet boy we took a trip instead of doing a party and gifts. Easton loves to pack a suitcase and just ride. More than that he loves water. We took a short trip to gatlinburg for a weekend and let him swim his heart out. He’s getting pretty good at swimming. We are so excited about summer and being on the swim team.

Here’s a little from our trip…

   
   

  
Speaking of teams…we also signed Easton up for tee ball. Now we really aren’t sure how it’ll go as he’d much rather watch baseball than play it but we figured it’s worth a try. 

Dustin helps coach baseball at our high school so we got to go enjoy the opening game of the season. Easton looooved it and sat attentively for 6 solid innings. I mean that’s basically a miracle!

  
We are also still waiting for all of eastons genetic testing to come back. We have our Courtagen results but not 23&me so we are still waiting for our consultation. By looking at the hits Easton has on his Courtagen test it appears we could be facing some mitochondrial disease but I can’t be certain. We are so anxious to hear from the doctor! Hopefully it will be soon. 

On April 20th we will see a developmental specialist and we were hoping to have had our genetic testing complete by then. Keeping our fingers crossed!
In other news…

WE ARE IN THE HOMESTRETCH!!

We sent off our final I800 package to USCIS Monday. Meaning within the next 2-3 weeks the embassy in our daughters country will have final go ahead to issue a visa based on USCIS approval for her to become a citizen. Once they receive the ok, we will begin planning travel! Agh, we are so excited. Right now I’m guessing we will leave around the 2nd week in May. Obviously that can change but it won’t be too far off we hope. 

May must be our magical month as it’s the month we traveled to meet Easton 3 years ago. 

We are thankful it’ll be warm weather and perhaps we can go outside a lot during our 3 week stay in country. 

Please continue to pray for our daughters heart. She is very connected to her foster mother and this will be a very difficult transition for her. 

We already love her so much and can’t wait to bring her home!

Feeding Therapy

We’ve been going since August. Twice a month because it’s expensive and far away but it’s better than nothing!!

I made myself stick with it even though we feel like we’ve seen little progress. I knew this would be a slow process. Truly we’ve spent months working on Easton biting chewy tubes, desensitizing his mouth, and getting rid of his oral defensiveness that keeps him from eating anything that’s not soft and on a spoon. He still lacks the skills necessary to move food around in his mouth.The past few sessions we’ve been successful in playing with food and even sticking in his mouth but he immediately spits it out. 

Today was supposed to be a session but since we have 14 inches of snow and counting we tried a little at home. Now typically Easton loves cereal bars but they have to be mashed up in milk and eaten with a spoon. Today mom and dad got stubborn and meant business.

Then this happened…   

   
Hooray!!!! Little man a wonderful world of food awaits you!

An Unpaved Path

I think one of the biggest downfalls of social media is our ability to highlight all of the amazing, spectacular areas of our lives and yet we never show the struggles and the really hard days.  I’ve went back and forth several times about actually writing about this, but it’s part of our journey and I think it would only be fair to be open from the beginning.

Easton has blessed our family beyond comprehension. There have been struggles, but nothing we haven’t overcome. Easton attached fairly easily, he’s enjoyable to be around, he gets therapies provided through our states waiver program, he loves being on the farm, he goes to school…nothing about having Easton in our life seems difficult. Adoption isn’t always that way..we are fortunate.

There have been parts however that have been difficult. Easton spent 6 years and 8 months in an orphanage that did him no favors. He came home like an infant that could walk..barely.  He couldn’t chew, talk, wasn’t potty trained, and delayed significantly in all areas. On top of this Easton is a self stimming fool, after laying in a bed for 6 years playing with your hands, you would be too!  He only displayed harmful behaviors a few times (i.e. pulling his hair or scratching) when he got really mad after being told no.  We were able to quickly dissolve those behaviors.  So we don’t see things like head banging, or thrashing into objects. What we do see is some rocking, that has greatly diminished, and some over the top hand flapping/stimming. These behaviors increase when he’s overwhelmed, excited, or anxious. Every physician we have seen basically says we should expect to see this, at least in some form, forever, because by now they are a part of who Easton is.

When school started this year we began seeing a whole new set of behaviors. Running out of the classroom, sitting in the hall refusing to walk, scratching teachers and students, pushing, screaming (ok we’d seen the screaming a lot too), the list goes on.Easton wasn’t doing things for attention or because he was upset…they were all sensory seeking behaviors. The behaviors were not getting better with natural consequences like taking the bus away (kid is obsessed with bus) so we began seeking professional help. And before you even think it…we discipline our son so it’s not that he is just a spoiled brat that needs to learn a lesson or two….trust me!

While our pediatrician admitted she didn’t feel like Easton should be diagnosed with an adhd diagnosis, especially since he had so many developmental delays, she truly felt it was the only way to treat his extreme hyperactivity and impulsivity which ultimately led to all of the above mentioned behaviors. I agreed. After reaching out to our support system of other adoptive mommas who’d traveled this path before us, it had been the answer for many kids. We truly just wanted to give Easton’s body the ability to regulate itself so he could calm down and make it through the day without looking like he could jump out of his own skin.  So this is the path we chose.

We started with a stimulant and after 3 days knew it wasn’t the answer. Easton had horrible tics, he was highly emotional, and behaviors were increased. We stopped. Next (because this process is trial and error) we tried a drug called Intuniv.  To be honest we thought this was our miracle.  It wasn’t a stimulant so we didn’t worry to much about crazy side effects and it truly made E a different kid. He could sit in the classroom and focus in school. He wasn’t being defiant anymore, when you said no or stop he listened.  I felt like he was beginning to learn!  Then came the 6 week mark and after returning to school from Thanksgiving break, a switch flipped and this miracle drug no longer worked. In fact it began having the opposite effect on Easton and he became almost unbearable yet again. Our Pediatrician (who by the way I think is absolutely fabulous!!) consulted a developmental/behavioral pediatrician who had expertise in this area and he said he’d seen this happen in many kids. We should move on to another drug and see if it works.  So with a little hesitancy we did.  This time another stimulant.  We began the drug and took it while taking the Intuniv but we didn’t see much improvement so we began tapering the Intuniv so that the stimulant could work on its own.  Coming off of Intuniv was a nightmare and Easton wasn’t even comfortable in his own skin. He couldn’t find comfort anywhere and was bouncing off of every wall, climbing on tables, and couldn’t put his hands down.  Once those withdrawal symptoms wore off we noticed there was no increase in Easton’s behaviors on the stimulant alone and he was losing weight and becoming anxious about everything…it just wasn’t our happy little guy. I wasn’t willing to give up who my son was for the sake of minor improvements…so we stopped everything.

That was a few weeks ago.  School has been difficult because Easton is extremely hyper and hard to calm down. At home it’s a little better but the environment isn’t as stimulating, so he’s easier to control.

In that moment I knew there had to be a better answer for Easton and I started digging and digging. In fact I even made myself sick looking for an alternative answer for Easton that didn’t include big pharma.  And then I happened across http://www.biomedheals.com .  This momma who refused to take an autism diagnosis for her son and let that be his future, had taken matters into her hands and sought out alternative medicine for her son. She found it in biomed.  I began looking into the same thing.  Knowing what I already know about Easton’s genetic make-up, and the environment he was predisposed to before coming into our family, tells me that it is Highly likely our son suffers from multiple insufficiencies  and maybe has some other systems not working the way they should.  After alot of careful consideration and searching the country for a biomed Dr that could see us via skype, we’ve reached a decision.

This is the path we are going to take for Easton.  Insurance doesn’t cover most of it, and it’s a long road without easy, quick, solutions but within my gut, I feel that it’s what our little guy needs to heal.  I want him to live the best most independent life he can and until we begin to fix the problems going on inside of his little body, the outside isn’t going to function properly either.

I’m fully aware there are parents who have spent thousands going down this road with no result.  But if I didn’t risk it, I would regret it and Easton is worth more to me than that. We’ve already ordered a couple of genetics tests that are on their way to us from 23&me and Courtagen. These will help us more closely analyze just how Easton works and what could be the cause for his delays/behaviors.  We won’t do it alone, we will be under the guidance of Dr. Catanzaro and his team at HealthCoach7 and we couldn’t be more excited.  Most of these tests take a few weeks to get results back so until then we are hanging on and managing Easton the best we know how.  He’s not completely uncontrollable, just way hyper and bouncing off the walls constantly…he keeps me on my toes! We can manage just fine until we can begin with new protocol for him. Our pediatrician is fully aware, on board, and wants to help any way she can (again she’s fabulous).  We all just want what’s best for Easton and this new road is what we’ve decided might hold the answer.

I’m not looking for judgement, especially from those who think we’re crazy (I’ve questioned it myself).  What I want is to share this journey with others who find themselves laying awake at night wondering what they can do to help their child reach their potential.

We still don’t have travel dates for our 2nd adoption and at this point we think it will be pushed back to around April if the process goes as expected.  I’m thankful, hopefully this will give us enough time to get some treatment options started for Easton before we turn his world upside down by bringing a sister home! This will be a long journey but I can’t be more sure and excited to get started. We appreciate your prayers as we tread these uncharted waters!

 

Grand finale

Today was the grand finale 

…at least for our dossier!

We traveled to the state capital and had all 34 documents apostilled! They are now ready to be carefully placed in an envelope and mailed to North Carolina where they will then make their way to our daughters homeland!

  
Now we wait!

I’m certain the holidays will delay things a little but hopefully we will get word of a next step soon! It’s still our hope to travel in the next 2 months but of course anything could happen. 

I’ll keep you posted 🙂

Paper progress

Over the past few weeks we’ve been frantically gathering documents, getting them notarizing and scanning to our agency. Today we had enough of our dossier complete, so everything but 3 documents got sent overseas electronically to start translation! The documents we don’t have yet are Immigration approval, a local police clearance letter and a consent form to share info. We hope to have all of these by the end of the month. Once we do we will make the trip to Frankfort to have our documents Apostilled. At that point our actual documents will go to Eastern Europe and we will wait for permission to file another document that will request permission from the US government to specifically bring our daughter home. That process will take a few weeks then we will wait for travel dates.

We are expecting to travel in January-February! We will stay in country for roughly 3 weeks and after many appointments return home with our sweet little one! 

I can not tell you how excited we are. This process is going much faster than our last one which is exciting because I don’t have as much time to get nervous!  We are preparing our home for a sweet addition and preparing Easton as best as we know how.