Friday, October 15, 2010

Sam is going to be a big brother!

A little over a year ago, we felt God's leading to pursue adding another child to our family. This time around, we decided to try to adopt through the local foster care system. Last fall, we completed 30 hours of required classes, filled out tons of paperwork, and were interviewed for our home study.

We completed everything in March, and began waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Our desire was to adopt a child who had been in foster care, whose parents' rights were terminated, and who was available for adoption.

A few weeks ago, we started discussing the idea of getting licensed as foster parents. We felt God might be leading us in a new direction, and the wait was getting harder.

Four days later, we got a call saying there was a 10-month-old girl available for adoptive placement! We couldn't believe it!

On Monday, our family was officially chosen as her family. And today, we finally got to hold her in our arms for the first time. In some ways, it reminded me of the first time we met Sam. It feels a little like a first date. You don't really know each other, but you know you want to know more. And so you do a little dance to try to figure each other out. But, unlike a first date, we are already committed to this precious little blessing forever!

We took Sam to Build-A-Bear this week, and he made a bear for "Sister" (choosing a new name is something we hope to do SOON!). He is so excited to meet her tomorrow, and bring her the new bear.

I do hope to post more about our journey and her story soon. But I do want to share a few pictures for now. Thanks for joining us on this crazy adventure of trusting God with our family and future!

Our Precious Blessing

With Daddy

With Mommy

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A picture sharing site...for now

This is a picture of our family on the one-year anniversary of our Gotcha Day in Russia! (June 9)

I don't know if anyone even checks this blog anymore, but I am missing it lately. I'd really like to devote more time to chronicling our family's journey--as that was the point of starting to write here from the beginning. I am hoping a bit more margin in my schedule this fall will allow me time to work on scrapbooks and journaling our family history.

In the meantime, I have started a new website strictly for sharing pictures. I want our friends and family who live far away to get to see pictures of Sam more often--and I am terrible at remembering to email or print them. With the other site, I'm hoping I won't feel the pressure to write stories--I can just share the pictures.

I am hoping to return here again in the near future to share fun stories as well. But, if you'd like to get the address for our blog, just send me an email or a facebook message, and I'll give you the address. Thanks for walking with our family!

Monday, March 23, 2009

One year ago (last Thursday)

Last Thursday, March 19, was the anniversary of the first day we met Sam. It is so hard for me to believe that a year has gone by since that day. I have so many clear memories of walking into that Russian hospital, and the surprise we felt to see Sam when we walked into the room (we were told they would be bringing him in later). My heart fell in love with him immediately, and it was so difficult to get back on an airplane, and leave our son in a hospital halfway around the world! Now, he's been home over nine months and we have found our "new normal."

Here are pictures from March 19, 2008 and 2009. The thing I love is the big smile on Sam's face now!

I've been thinking recently about how different things are now than they were on that day a year ago. Here are a few of my thoughts:

Then: After a half-hour of playing, Sam's face lit up when he saw his nurse return to get him. He reached for her immediately. I couldn't wait until Sam felt that way about me. Now: Mama is his favorite person in the world! If he sees me across the room, he calls my name and runs to me. It's a wonderful change!

Then: We really had no idea what to do with him. We read a book and played with some toys, but didn't know what he preferred to do. Now: We have discovered many new fun things to do as a family. We know that he loves music, stars, fire trucks, dogs, the park, Elmo, and too many other things to name. The key here is that we actually know what he loves!

We got to sleep all night through, and sleep in on the weekends. Now: What is sleeping in again? This is one of the changes of parenthood that isn't my favorite, but is still well worth it!

Then: We prayed together every day for God to protect our son and keep him safe until we could return to bring him home forever. Now: We get to pray with Sam every night, and tell him in person how much we love him and how glad we are that he is a part of our forever family.

Of course, there are countless other ways that our lives have changed. I'm so thankful for this amazing child that God brought to our family--hand-picked just for us!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Baby Dedication (and more)

After almost two months of silence on the blogging front, I am shocking the world with pictures that were taken just a few hours ago! This morning at church was Sam's baby dedication. He was the oldest one up there by over a year. :-) It was a blessing to be in front of our church family (and many of our Nav students and staff) to publicly affirm our desire to raise Sam as a man who loves Jesus. We know that this dedication has absolutely nothing to do with his eternal salvation. It is our prayer that one day in the future he will make his own decision to trust and follow Jesus. But for now (and always), we will do our best to tell Sam about how much Jesus loves him and to spend time reading the Bible and praying with him. What a high calling to get to spend time each day with this little man who we pray will one day be a warrior for Christ! Here are a few pics from this morning:

While I have my blogging inspiration going (and while Sam is napping), I'll share a few other recent pics as well:
This is us in Atlanta celebrating Thanksgiving. We are so thankful to be a family of three this year! Ben was growing a beard for No-Shave November with The Navigators (which is another story on its own), but is back to his normal beard-less self now. I did get pretty used to the beard by the end of the month, and told him I wouldn't mind if he grew one again. I don't think he wants to.

What do you get when you cross a little boy tripping over a toy with a metal queen bed frame? A five-hour ER visit and nine stitches! Three of them are underneath holding together the lower layer of skin, and six are on the top. It was a rough afternoon for all of us--the day before we left for a ten-day trip to Wisconsin and Chicago. Sam is healing really well though. It just looks like a scratch now, and we are told that if we use sunscreen every time he goes outside for the next year or so, it should heal so we can hardly see it. Like a friend of ours at church told us, "If a scar's not on your face, it doesn't count!"

The Andersons came to Florida to celebrate a late Christmas over New Year's weekend. Of course, the highlight was watching Sam and his cousin Isaac play together. They did great sharing and having fun together. And they kept each other entertained so the adults could talk without interruption once in awhile. Of couse, we wish they could see each other more, but we made the most of our time together! (Notice how great Sam's scar is already looking!)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cali Pics

Well, we've been back from our trip to California for a little over a week now. We had a great time with the friends and family we visited while we were there. It was wonderful to introduce Sam to so many of his extended family, including his fourth great-grandma. Even though he doesn't understand the idea of family yet, I know that having so many people love on him is good for his soul.

These are our dear friends who work for The Navigators in Riverside. The last time we were all together, none of us had these beautiful children. It was fun to meet Silas and Noelle (and see their parents too!). It was a blessing to spend a couple days with these friends.

We got to celebrate Halloween with some of Ben's cousins and their kids. The older kids were so excited about their candy that they didn't always wait for Sam to keep up, but he had a great time walking up to the door, choosing a piece of candy, and then signing thank you to the people. I was very proud of him! I was also shocked that he kept his costume on all night--including the hat.
Our adorable little lion cub. The only animal sound he does is a dog barking, so we had a barking lion!

The original reason for our trip to California was for Ben's cousin's wedding. Sam was a little too rambunctious to sit through the ceremony, so I sat in the nursery with him. I was able to hear the whole thing through the sound system, and that was nice. After the ceremony, we went out for family pictures. Whew. That was an adventure. What kid likes to stand around all dressed up and not be able to run around? We were able to get a great family picture though. I haven't seen the big group shots yet. With four kids five and under, I'm guessing there's not going to be a "perfect" one!

We recently had a social worker visit our family to complete our six-month post-placement report. Her two-page report, along with eight photos we chose, will be sent to Russia to give them an update on how Sam is doing. Today we have been home from Russia for five months. (The report has to be IN Russia at the six-month mark, so it gets done a little early.) It's amazing to look back on pictures and see how much Sam has grown and changed. We can't believe all that he has learned, and how much we have all grown to love each other. We love being a family, and look forward to the fun adventures ahead. This will be our first holiday season as parents, and I can't wait to start some family traditions for us!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The surgeries are over!

Well, I was just spending a little time reading some other blogs, and realized it's high time for me to update our blog again. Someday I really do hope to get the hang of doing this more often. Otherwise, people are going to quit stopping by to read it!

Sam had his follow-up surgery last Friday. They went in to remove his stent, and then circumcised him. This was mainly to prevent further urinary tract infections, though we were happy to have it done. He was under anesthesia for about 45 minutes. We had been warned that he would be really cranky and in a lot of pain when he came home, but we were shocked to discover that was not the case! He did sleep for about an hour in the hospital before we were released, and also on the whole car ride home from Jax. But then he got home and was playing pretty normally, in his regular happy mood. Amazing! All weekend, the only time he cried was during diaper changes. And now that's down to just a little whimper, so things are looking great. He'll have another ultrasound in a month, and then another three months later. If all looks good, then we are in the clear! Can't wait for that report!

Since Sam's first surgery (almost a month ago), his Papa and Dandie (Ben's dad and stepmom) have visited for a weekend, his uncle Packy and aunt Christina (Ben's brother and his wife) have visited for a weekend, and Sam and I have flown to Minnesota to visit my parents, my brother and his wife, and their son. Whew! That is a lot of visitors and traveling to squeeze into one month--not to mention in between two surgeries!

He enjoys seeing family (though he doesn't get who they are yet, obviously), and loves to be with people who play with him and give him attention. He had a ball with his cousin Isaac in Minnesota. Sam is just two months older than him, but they are almost the same size. They had fun running around together, taking baths, going for a wagon ride with Grandpa, and picking apples in the orchard. I'm looking forward to them seeing each other again right after Christmas.

This is the first meeting of the cousins--at my brother's house in South Dakota.

You can't beat bath time! (Note: Sam fell off the bed right before we left on this trip, so he spent the whole time with a huge scab under his nose. Which he kept picking on. Fun, fun.)

Clues that this wasn't taken in Florida: Sam is wearing a jacket and a warm hat, Emily (my sister-in-law) is wearing a fleece vest, and I am wearing a hoodie under my jean jacket. You can't beat the Midwest for an apple orchard/pumpkin patch outing! It's just not the same in shorts and flip flops.

They LOVED being pulled around by Grandpa in the wagon. (And he loved it too!)

The best part of my trip? As soon as we landed in Gainesville and Sam saw Ben, his eyes lit up and he wanted Daddy to pick him up. After six days of being gone, Ben and I were worried that he might not remember him, or it might take awhile for him to warm up again. Our hearts were thrilled that this was not the case at all. Thank you, Jesus!

We have a big family trip to California in a couple weeks for Ben's cousin's wedding. So I hope to post pics more quickly. We'll see how that goes!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

We're home!

I apologize that we haven't been able to update our blog this week. We were able to get online in the hospital, but weren't able to access sites like our blog or facebook. So thanks to those of you that were faithfully praying and hearing no news from us.

As you can tell by the title of this post, we are indeed back home from the hospital. Sam's surgery took place on Monday morning and lasted about four hours. The surgeon said all went as expected, and it looked good. All day and night on Monday, Sam was pretty out of it. He just laid in his crib and slept. He was in obvious pain, so that was hard to watch as a parent. But the doctors and nurses took great care of him.

Yesterday he was finally able to drink and eat, which was nice. He didn't have much of an appetite, but was happy to be able to drink apple juice again. And by yesterday afternoon, he was sitting up in bed, laughing, smiling, and playing with us. We both got a much better night's sleep in the hospital last night.

His catheter was removed this morning, and once he kept his breakfast down and had two wet diapers, we were able to check out! We got home at lunch, and Sam was able to take his afternoon nap in his own crib. (Ben and I napped on the couches at the same time!)

We still haven't scheduled the follow-up surgery to have his stent removed, but that should happen in early October. Right now Sam is having a little trouble bending over to pick things up from the ground. I'm sure that's a combination of the stent and the incision hurting. But he seems pretty back to normal in every other way. Praise God for His faithfulness in caring for our son during this major surgery!