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Tricks: Self-feeding!

We’ve been working on self feeding around here. E is good with feeding herself chunks of foods but hasn’t used a spoon yet. She doesn’t even really want to touch it. We got a new suction bowl and some handy-dandy “spoons” that don’t need to be oriented a specific way and got to work! Her expressions were priceless.

This was her first time sitting at the table instead of in a high-chair. (We had previously tried it but she leaned too much to be safe there.) These first few pictures are from before I asked her to do anything and I was just feeding her as-per-usual. So far she’s thinking this is fun stuff!

Then we moved on to some tougher stuff.
Me – “Touch the spoon!” (demonstates)
E bravely reaches out to touch the spoon. All is well! Look how easy and fun!

That face! Hahaha!

Ha! This girl is so silly. Today she touched the spoon a few times without being asked to and soon she’ll be grabbing it from me and and feeding herself like it’s old news. Until then, I’ll be enjoying these expressions and watching her experience a whole new world filled with independence and crazy things… like spoons.

This boy is real.

This little boy reminds me so much of E. He is listed so young which usually means he’d be scooped up fairly soon, but his needs are big and can seem scary. He is tiny. He needs heart surgery and intestinal surgery.



E was listed at a young age too. I looked at her fuzzy picture, at her tiny little body in those too big clothes and I knew she needed out, she needed medical care and love. I stared at her picture day after day hoping she would be scooped up, hoping someone would love her.



Of course, I already loved her, but at the time we had just gotten home from adopting Y and it seemed impossible to adopt again. And yet just a few months later, by the grace of God, I was meeting her adorable little self. And you know what? I honestly believe she wouldn’t have survived much longer. Her stomach was distended, her colon was under tons of stress, and she weighed in at a measly 12 lbs at 15 months old. She wore 3 month clothes.



Today, almost a year later, this girl is so loved and so cared for. She has a family that adores her and a team of doctors that support her (and adore her too!) Her care is not really that hard at all and she is the greatest joy we could ever imagine. I am so glad we ran to her, so thankful God allowed us the unbelievable blessing of being her parents.



That brings me back to this boy. He is loved. He has biological parents that know he has no future in his country and they are begging for a home for him. Can you imagine? Can you picture the mom crying at night as she mourns the little boy she gave up in order to save? Can you imagine the dad trying to make the right decision for his son, to give him a chance? My heart cannot imagine such pain.



He needs heart surgery now. He needs intestinal surgery soon. This boy will die without medical care. He cannot wait while we waiver. He doesn’t have time.

Who will go? Who will love that precious face? Who will step up in the wake of a seperation that never should have been? Who will live the words they say they believe? Who will be the hands and feet of God today? Who will answer the calls of parents begging for a forever home for their baby? Is there anyone who will go?

I cannot help but wonder – Where is the church today? Did we forget the Savior we serve? Did we forget He saved us and therefore we have no strength or motivation to save others even in a lesser way? Can we possibly mean what we say about valuing life and yet know about this child who is dying and do nothing? I cannot understand.

This boy is real. Do something.


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These hands are full.

As I walked into the grocery store today, I saw the raised eyebrows. I met her gaze -  a put together woman in her mid-thirties. I saw the look on her face. She was glad she wasn’t me. Her eyes darted from the cart to the children walking behind it. I could practically hear her counting. My two year old (who looks like a 1 year old) was crying in the cart because she hates all baby-moving vehicles. A 5 month old baby was peering out from a baby carrier strapped to my side. Three kids that all look to be about the same age followed along behind with giggles and constant chattering about what kind of cookie they were going to ask for at the bakery. I met her gaze and smiled and she quickly looked away. I wondered what it is about multiple children that people so look down upon? The stares make you feel a little like a crazy old lady with 15 cats. Except I know I’m not crazy and these little people are not cats. (Although, I will say, if you tried to herd them you might find some similarities.) I looked at my children – two planned biological kids, one perfect little surprise, two former orphans now permanently daughters. I can’t imagine life without any of them.

I felt bad for that lady. Sad for how much she is missing. As we wandered the aisles searching for foods that are gluten, dairy, soy, corn, and milk free (um, so basically we buy bananas) I was overwhelmed at the children I’m so blessed to have. Children that call out things like “Hey mom, do pickles have gluten in them??” while they search for foods their sister can eat. Kids that say “I’ll pick you up if you want me to” and then proceed to carry a sibling that is basically the same size as them down several aisles. Kids that stand together while I stop to find paper towels and clean up spit up from their brother. Kids that ask for every treat they see and call out things like “MOM! Water balloons!!!!” as if it’s the best thing in all the world. Kids that make mistakes and kids that love like crazy. Kids that would have spent their lives in a crib. Kids that are only alive by the grace of God. Kids that had nothing, and now ask for things they never could have dreamed of. My heart is overflowing. My life is perfect.

As I walk to the checkout line and hear the inevitable “Wow, your hands are full!” I just smile and say “Yes ma’am” because I’d rather have them full than empty. I don’t know what that lady so full of judgement has. Maybe she has dinner parties and nights out. Maybe she has an actual wardrobe. Maybe she has time for herself. Maybe she has less doctors appointments, less mess to clean up, less meals to cook, less chaos. I don’t know. Obviously, not everyone who has fewer kids has less happiness but in this case, I could tell from the look in her eyes, a look of shock and almost distain, that she has less of this awesome kind of love. And so today I’ve been almost haunted by her face and I hope that one day, her hands can be as full as mine.

Dinosaurs are scary. Down Syndrome isn’t.

I stole that title from a friend. It’s true. Unless you’re my 6 year old. And then it’s not, because dinosaurs aren’t scary either. (Unless we are talking about a t-rex. Obviously.)

There are so many times over the past months that I wished I could somehow let other people know what I know. Those parents sitting in a doctor’s office being told their baby has Down Syndrome. The family praying about adoption and wondering if they could really raise a child with special needs. The woman getting an abortion because of a prenatal diagnosis. I wish they knew.

I wish they knew how fun this is.

I wish they knew how normal this is.

I wish they knew how worth it this is.

I wish they knew how easy this is.

Sure, there are parts that are hard, exhausting, heart-breaking. Same with parenting any other child. You learn to parent and care for this child in the way she needs. You learn medical terms you have never heard of and you aren’t intimidated by them at all. You make therapy part of your day to day life and position your child in strength-building ways without even thinking about it. You live in each moment and celebrate small (huge!) victories. You smile a lot and you cry a lot too. You meet people you never would have known and now can’t imagine what you would do without them. You savor each moment of this awesome life. You notice the little things. And it all becomes your new normal. A better normal because this little person is in it. A normal that you wish everyone could experience.

So you see, this is a lot of things, but this is not so scary when you know what I know.

More Alike Than Different?

More alike than different. That’s the theme of a campaign started by the National Down Syndrome Congress several years ago. I like it. It acts as a reminder that people with Down Syndrome are people, not a diagnosis. It points out some of the reasoning behind people-first language (saying “a child with Down Syndrome” NOT “a Down Syndrome child”). I hope it makes people stop and think that maybe the outward appearance of some differences are small and insignificant. Hopefully it makes people realize that if they took two seconds to be observant, they’d see a person that is just like them. More alike, less different. And if they see that, it will be good. They’ll have seen truth. They’ll have seen a person instead of diagnosis. Win.

There is one small thing that bothers me though. The whole thing implies that being different is not good, that being alike is better. I guess that depends what you’re being the same as, but I do know that being different does not equal being wrong, or less than. I also know that a diagnosis of Down Syndrome truly does not make you that much “different” but, if it did, why would we care? Why should that be bad? It’s cliche but true – this world would be pretty boring if we were all the same.

I have five kids. I can tell you that each one of them is vastly different from the next. I can also tell you that my two children with special needs are just as different from each other as the three typical kids. Never have I though, “wow, she’s different because she has Down Syndrome” or “cerebral palsy sure does make her different.” Sounds silly when you say it like that; right? I never even think about my daughter having Down Syndrome. She’s just E. She’s awesome and giggly and has the best facial expressions. She’s cuddly and sweet and loves to be outside. She’s my easiest child, my best sleeper, and in the words of my 5 year old “our most adorable kid”;). So if this is what “different” looks like or if this is what “alike” looks like, I don’t really care. Just give me more. It rocks.