Friday, December 21, 2012

Good Sign From USCIS

Yesterday we got an email from the USCIS. We were informed that they had received our application and it would be sent on within 7 days. I wasn't sure what to think of it because I didn't receive the notifications on the last adoption. I had no idea the normal time table. I sent it on to our agency just in case they had not received it. Myriam, at Agape Adoptions, replied back with "This is a good sign". She would know. This is what she does all day.

Now we send another check. Normally I would be a little nervous about sending a check this size but I am grateful the money is available and needed so soon.

Learning Logic

Malia, who is 6, came home from school on a 25 degree day. It's been on the cold side here, at least for my liking. With enthusiasm for her new found knowledge she says,

"Mom, if you run really fast at recess you will get warmer."

Me, "That's a great idea".

I love to watch their minds grow!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Crazy Days

I woke up yesterday morning a little concerned about how I was going to juggle appointments for the afternoon. I figured things out knowing that I was on a very tight schedule. At 2:20 the fun began. I put my coat on grabbed my purse and reached for my phone. No phone. I asked  Bria and Hyrum where it was and Hyrum said my phone was in the bathroom. Not a good sign! I went to the bathroom to find a large puddle on the floor with soggy toilet paper everywhere. The toilet was full of toilet paper and I couldn't see anything good in there. I was not about to reach my hand in and find out if the phone was in there either or not. Hyrum still was insistent that my phone was in the bathroom. I ran through the house looking in all the obvious places and couldn't find my phone. My assumption at that moment was that we may have a clogged toilet coming up.

I was now running late and my best laid plans were even tighter than before. I drove to the high school to pick Creed up. He wasn't walking like normal so I drove all the way into the school. Still no Creed. I started to get a little uptight knowing he had a dentist appointment at 3:00 and we still had to check Emma out of school and get to the dentist. By 2:45 I left the school and went back the way I came hoping that I had missed seeing Creed somewhere. He was no where to be seen. It finally occurred to me that someone may have picked him up and given him a ride home. No matter what was going on I now didn't have time to go get him IF he was even at home. I drove a little faster than I should have and made it to Emma's school as she was getting ready to go to the bus. I ran down the halls of the school, that felt good to rebel, and got in the car right at 3:00. Really a miracle to go through all the steps that fast. I think next time I go to the school they will keep a better eye on me.

We got to the dentist 10 minutes late and I still didn't know where Creed was. With great embarrassment I asked if I could use their phone to call home. Pierce answered and said that Creed did make it home but he had left to go find me and had my phone. I said "On foot?" It was about 20 degrees outside. My next thought was, cool my phone isn't in the toilet. I tried to call Creed to find out where he was so I could go get him for the next appointment. I dialed 3 times and got the message the phone was out of order. My first thought was. Maybe it really was in the toilet and it doesn't work anymore. Now I was even more embarrassed and asked if I could call Doug. Hopefully I had forgotten my phone number. The secretary sat me down in the chair behind the desk and let me use the phone as much as I wanted. I called Doug and found out that, Yep, I had forgotten my phone number. I finally got ahold of Creed and told him to turn back to home and I would pick him up. I got back to the dentist within about 10 minutes but now I was late picking up the other kids at school and Emma was sitting in the dentist chair with no family even there for her.  Poor girl. I dropped Creed off with instructions to stay right with Emma and drove over to the school. I got there a few minutes late and Casey jumped in to ask if a friend could come over. What next?!? I tried to say no but he wore me down and I let him and his friend know that we would be at the dentist for about 45 minutes before we got home. The friend still wanted to come over. I parked at the dentist office and gave the kids the option to sit in the freezing van to do homework or go in with me. Only 1 child came in so I didn't worry too much about all the rest of the kids freezing. They would keep each other warm. Besides, they knew how to walk into the office.

I got in the dentist office and the secretary said "I don't know how you do it". I hear that ALL the time and this time I really felt like "Me neither".  We spent the next 45 minutes waiting and talking. Our dentist is a friend so there is always something to talk about. I got back outside and the kids didn't even fight. Miracle!!! We went home and the dominoes continued to keep falling. It is amazing how my time was so precariously booked. No wonder I started to feel some stress that morning for the first time in a few weeks. There was not enough time in a day. I made it through and my 5 loads of laundry got folded and my bathroom even got cleaned. Success!

I Know

I walk in after bringing children to school and notice there is orange juice on the table.

I said "Who had orange juice?"

Hyrum replies "Me".

I said "Daddy loves you".

Hyrum "I know".

Hyrum with a mouth full of cookie. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

O Come, Emmanuel


No words can express my feelings towards my Savior Jesus Christ. He is the reason for my happiness and joy. I wish that I were eloquent and could express my deepest feelings for Him who saves. But I am far from eloquent as you have all noticed. Please enjoy this video as an expression of my testimony of the Savior of the World.




Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Family Nativity In Pictures







Our family Nativity in pictures. 

Cast

Baby Jesus - Doll
Mary - Hannah
Joseph - Clayson
Donkey - Malia
Shephard - Marshall
Sheep - Pierce and Bria
Angel - Niya
Inn Keeper - Hyrum
Wise Men - Creed, Casey, Olivia
Camera Man - Deanne, video that is
Narrator - Doug
Audience - Emma

We had a great time and it will be remembered for years to come.
It's better on film.



Protect The Children, The Time Is Now

I have referenced a talk given in General Conference several times now but this talk comes back to haunt me on a regular basis. I think the Lord is keeping my thoughts and desires where he wants them. At times I feel like I just want to forget all the heart ache and trauma that so many innocent children face on a daily basis. It's not an easy place to be.

Last Friday Doug and I went out to dinner and ended up in a restaurant that had average prices. When I saw the bill I just thought what a waste that money was. Mediocre food and not a great atmosphere. I realized that with that money we could be sponsoring a child that has nothing. Doug and I decided that we were going to alter a date a month and sponsor a child in China instead. On that night every month we will be creative with what we eat and remember why we are doing this. We are going to make it somewhat of a game or adventure.  Tonight we got on the computer and looked at some children from the same healing home as our new son to be. We felt like we wanted to pay it back by supporting that home. There were 5 children that we could sponsor and would get monthly updates and pictures on. It was too hard to choose so we still haven't signed up yet. We will make a decision by the end of the week and start our giving.

Two years ago I was introduced to a child that was in need of a family. At the same time I was also presented with Hyrum. We all know that we chose Hyrum and I would do it all over again. Unfortunately, this other little boy has been left in China with no family. I have followed all the advocating for him and watched for updates. I have a friend that has met him and she has told me some things about this little guy. I have watched with great interest and waited for the announcement that he had a family. Another agency advocating for him came and went and still no family. I emailed my friend and asked if she knew if anyone was looking at him. Just before bed she emailed back and let me know that he is in the hospital. My heart sunk. I didn't sleep much last night because of the worry for him. Leo, as they call him has severe Complex Heart Disease. He doesn't seem to be doing as well as our little guy that is to be rushed home for medical care.

Today I decided to do some digging and see if I could find anymore out about the situation. Leo is in the hospital for pneumonia. Pneumonia is one of the biggest challenges for the orphans. Leo especially is in danger because of the heart issue. One person told me they were praying that he would return back to our Father in Heaven and shed the body he has. I completely understand but I found I couldn't pray for that. My heart kept praying for his health. He deserves a life but is it worth it if he heals, gets surgery and then lives a life as an orphan? Probably not.

Now this brings me to a place that pushes me even further than I have gone before. I need to help find Leo a family or a donor for his adoption and we bring him home. Wow, I said it. I know Leo's life is in the Lord's hands and God has a plan  for Leo. I am very aware that we may not be in that plan as a family but maybe as an advocate. Leo needs surgery now and from what very little knowledge I have it looks like he has hope for a good life. Not like the unknowns of our son in China.

Leo is a sweet little boy that is turning 5 soon. He loves to dance and sing! Leo loves stuffed animals. He is on target with the rest of the children his age in the orphanage, which is a miracle. Heart children are typically behind because of a lack of energy. He is a good helper and all the children in the large orphanage love him. One family adopted two girls from his orphanage last February. The mom sent a Christmas package that didn't make it until after they returned to the states. The girls asked their new mom if the things could be given to Leo because they loved him so much. This little boy is loved because he is good and kind. Do you know anyone that could help? If so please pass the word along. Leo deserves a family and health. He didn't choose to be born in China where his birth family couldn't give him medical care and had to abandon him. He could be any of our children and we would have been able to care for and love him. Leo would have had a family here. Let's give it our all to get Leo to his family.




Now is the time for me to step up my efforts of protecting the children and this is where I start.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Our adoption is Moving Along

We got word today that our homestudy and I800a application have been overnighted to the USCIS. Just to explain, there is a process a family must go through in the US to prove that a family does in fact fit the requirements set forth by our government to adopt a child from overseas. This application goes to the USCIS. The USCIS is the immigration arm. They require a copy of the homestudy and an application along with some other documents. All the paperwork is read over and an appointment to get fingerprinted is issued. If the homestudy has all the information needed and the fingerprints come back clear the family is then issued their approval. That is called the I-171. It is this process that we are now starting. Normally it is taking 6-8 weeks to complete but we are hoping to be done in just a couple of weeks.

We are finally making progress and depending on if the USCIS officer decides that our son's life is in danger or not will determine when we travel and how fast he can be seen by a doctor. Funny that a lay person can make a medical decision. The USCIS sees cases like this daily so we have no idea if we will be expedited or not. At least we are at the next step in the journey.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Concert

Last night we had the opportunity to go see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra with Alfie Boe and Tom Brokaw. It was fantastic!!! Tyler and Jessica were honored to be dancers in it. I think I was the proudest Mama there. Doug and I just smiled the whole time they were on stage. One dance Jessica was right in front but we couldn't see Tyler. That was fine we could watch Jessica the whole time without splitting our attention  She is so graceful and beautiful. We sure love her. Then part way through the song a couple came out dressed in a gold gown and tails. They danced up and down the stairs reminiscent of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. It didn't take long to notice it was Tyler. He was graceful. They danced beautifully!

Seeing Alfie Boe perform was great. He has a beautiful voice and is very unassuming. After his first song he took a couple of minutes to speak. One thing he said was that being there was a dream come true. My heart almost burst for him. I knew that dream and felt such joy for his success. I was happy to be there and participate in making his dream a reality. His performance was magnificent.

Sereen and Jared had saved some seats while we hunted for a parking spot. They didn't know that where we sat would have an impact on me. We sat down  and noticed right in front of us was a mentally disabled young man. He had brought two leading batons with him and had them held tightly in his hand. In different moments of the concert I would notice that this young man would raise his hand high and lead the music. He couldn't stay in his seat when the music came to a climax. He just had to get up and lead. It was clear that he had a talent for music and could feel the natural highs, lows and cuts. I was not distracted in the least because the music was so engrossing. At one point in the concert I began to reflect on my earlier dreams of performing on stage. At that moment this young man caught my attention as he was leading the music. I thought of his talent and unfulfilled dreams of leading the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I recognized that both of us were in the service of our Father in Heaven by accepting the calling on earth that we have and what a valiant son he was for sacrificing so much . Then came a moment of longing,

 "Father, please let me sing in his choir one day".



I found a link to an article with pictures of Tyler and Jessica. Jessica is in several pictures. Scroll through and you will see Jessica wearing the sparkly purple dress. Continue scrolling, Tyler is the first guy on the right with the girl in the gold.

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/55465611-78/concert-alfie-boe-choir.html.csp

Thursday, December 13, 2012

You Can't Get Out


 I heard some very strange noises coming from the direction of Hyrum's room. I couldn't decide if it was someone crying or a cat dying.  I had to investigate and this is what I found. Hyrum barricading Pierce in the cabinet. If I had to barricade someone out I don't think I would use pillows. Pretty smart to start with the truck first.







Cute Conversation

Today Hyrum, Bria and I were in the car when this cute conversation took place. It went something  like this.

Bria, "Hyrum need friend, we need nudder one brudder. We need go Chnia."

Mom, "Well, you need to talk to Dad and Heavenly Father about that. We need money to get another         brother."

Pause..

 Bria, "I got great idea. At dark we tell Jesus we money and get nudder brudder then we be happy."

The faith and innocence of a child.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

You Were Meant To Be and Update


As Clayson, Creed and I all stayed home from church not feeling well, we watched a Veggie Tales movie, "It's a Meaningful Life". This story is a spin off of "It's a Wonderful Life". Of course, the main character goes on a journey to see what his life would have been like if his regrets of life had been avoided. It illustrates the change in who he is and how different his life would be.  The main theme was that God is in charge of our lives and places the people and experiences there for us to grow into who He would have us be.

I still struggle at moments with giving up some dreams I have had over the years but God is mindful of me and has not given up on me yet. He is still teaching me the importance of giving my life for Him and the showing me the blessing that come from it. This song by Steven Curtis Chapman "You Were Meant To Be", is one of those moments that our Father In Heaven reminds us of who we are and that He has a plan for us. I recommend you click the link and watch it.

"For I know the thought that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."

He is in charge and wants only the best for us. He will prosper us if we allow Him to lead the way.


Update on our homestudy. We got word that all the changes are made and our placing agency is waiting to receive the final copy. Once they have it the USCIS application will go out overnight. The agency will then contact USCIS to alert them the application is coming. Because of the delays with the homestudy I have wondered if travel would be delayed past February. Our agency thinks that once we get all the paperwork to China things will go very quickly and she is still planning on February travel.

I hope for several reasons we go in February. My biggest concern right now is Hyrum and Bria. I had a discussion with them the other night about us being gone to China. (They bug me every day about going to get our new boy and Hyrum's friend. Bria is insistent that we need to get two boys this trip and go NOW. That is all in the Lord's hands. We can't even consider it financially.) If we get to travel in February then most of the kids will be off track and Hyrum and Bria will have their support system home while we are gone. They will also have distractions.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Homestudy Woes

We are still waiting on getting our homestudy approved by two different agencies. The homestudy finally made it to the placing agency this week and is now back in the hands of our social worker for some revisions. She has had to put another 4 hours of work into it. It seems the placing agency is being "nit picky". Our social worker isn't too happy about that.

I find it amazing that all the agencies have different requirements for the same country. Our homestudy made it through one China adoption. Why all the changes this time? Every agency says that what they need is required by China but I know for sure that is not the case. Maybe at some point the agencies will realize that we parents talk online and know what is going on in the adoption world. They really make themselves look silly at times.

Hopefully I can write that our USCIS application is submitted soon. It should have been done last week. Oh well, it's all in the Lord's hands.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Perspective


The American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The fisherman replied, only a little while.
The American then asked why didn't he stay out longer and catch more fish.
The Mexican said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs.
The American then asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"
The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life."
The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise."
The Mexican fisherman asked, "But, how long will this all take?"
To which the American replied, "15-20 years."
"But what then?"
The American laughed and said that's the best part. "When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions."
"Millions...Then what?"
The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos." 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rockets

Doug got a rocket from his brother for his birthday a couple months back. We have LOVED it!  I highly recommend this as a Christmas gift if you don't know what to get someone. It's called an Air Burst and not expensive. It uses air pressure to launch the rocket. There are bladders in a tube that  is connected up to a bike pump. You pump the air and pressure builds up behind the bladder. At maximum pressure for that particular bladder it bursts and the rocket takes off. The rocket has a foam tip so when it comes down it bounces on the ground. There are no parachutes to get tangled up or cause it to fly in the wind. It can even go up to 1000 feet.

Our first try at the rocket was at dusk. It started to get to dark too see so we taped a glow stick to it. It worked great so the next time we bought finger lights and taped them to it. That was our favorite. You could see the rocket all the way up and down.

Here are some pictures of the fun.

                                                  


Creed does this funny thing with his shorts. He rolls the waist band up a couple of times so they are short. I hate it! It actually think that's why he does it. Maybe this will embarrass him enough to stop. :)





Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Where The Adoption Is Right Now

The last time we adopted from China I swore I would never do it again unless it was the perfect circumstances. In October we had a post placement visit with our social worker that is required by China. At that time I told her we wouldn't be going back to China because we didn't want to start over with a new social worker. For those of you that have not had to get a homestudy, just know that it is very invasive. The questions asked, information needed and paperwork to be done is outrageous. We are required to allow someone that went to school for 4 years and may have no other experience in life than just that pry into every aspect of our lives so they can decide if we are fit parents and then pay them exorbitant fees for it. Whoever came up with this system in crazy. Anyway, back to the point. China had changed the rules after we were in process of the last adoption. The social workers now have to have a specific license that is very costly. Our social worker does not have that license. Next, I did not want to redo a dossier for China. It is time consuming and costly. I figured all said and done the last dossier cost well over $1,000 to compile and countless hours of work. Last but not least, I knew we could not endure a year of opposition that WILL come while in the process of adopting. Satan can't let these children have homes so he messes with our lives as much as he can so we will quite. Trust me, we almost quite twice last time.

This could be a long story but for times sake I will give highlights. We found an agency that could do our homestudy and get it done in about a month. I figured we would see it mid December. After a lack of communication we laid it on the line and then asked if our current social worker could sign an agreement to do our homestudy under their license. A few days later they confirmed, yes they could do that. We now are just doing an update to what has already been done so we don't have to wait for all the state background clearances and fill out a 1" thick stack of paperwork. We also no longer have to do all the hours of education they wanted us to redo. I got into gear quickly and started ordering birth certificates and making appointments to get the dossier paperwork done. In a record 2 weeks we had all the paperwork in hand and notarized ready to go. That same day I was told by our placing agency, Agape Adoptions, that we were given permission to re use the dossier from our previous adoption. This was a miracle for several reasons. If you want to know just contact me and I can fill you in. With the ability to re use the dossier we now had a reduction in fees from the agency and one of the governments. This will help quite a bit. The agency we chose to use has also been a miracle. We have loved them and at this point will recommend them to everyone. They have done things for our benefit and our sons benefit that is not the most lucrative for them. They are also very humble and professional people. I can't say enough good about them. I think the biggest miracles are still in progress. Every agency has a facilitator in China to do the paperwork on that side. Agape's facilitator happens to be the medical coordinator for the organization that is supporting our son. He knew who the child was and talked with the CCCWA about expediting the process to get him home for immediate medical care. He is sure they will be doing this for us. It is amazing that we have direct access to how our child is doing. Having this connection is nothing short of a miracle. One last miracle to share. We needed a letter from a cardiologist stating that this child needed medical care immediately. This letter is to go to the USCIS as proof of the need to expedite the adoption. We talked with several doctors about the file but didn't really have luck in getting someone to write the letter. One doctor went as far to tell me to leave this child there and get a child that can be fixed and will have a long life. I'll need to expound on that in another post. We have a friend that was a specialist on some equipment used in surgery for a group of Cardiologists. He was able to connect us up with a good friend of his that was very supportive of the adoption and willing to write a letter. We didn't see the letter so after a few days we just decided that if this was supposed to happen it would come in the right time. The day we heard all the good news about the dossier re use, finishing the dossier (getting the doctor letter was a big pain), a reduction of fees and a large reduction in another fee we got the letter we needed in our email. It all fell into place at one time.

There have been so many other evidences of God's hand in this process. Many little ones and numerous large miracles. We have been supported emotionally through the firestorm we have been placed in. Satan started the sifting process even before we knew we would be adopting again. My very valuable time is being increased and I am getting more done than expected. Christmas is almost done and a week ago we hadn't even thought about it. I have no doubt that we will put together a very nice reception without much trouble. Now we just pray to be patient in our Father's timing but if it is His will we would like to go get our boy some time in February. This is a dangerous time of year for these children. He needs to come home.

We are now waiting on the final homestudy so we can submit our I800-A application to the USCIS for approval. We have a direct contact there that is waiting for the package. Hopefully that means they will push it through. As soon as our I800-A goes in I will let everyone know. I am excited to see what comes next.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Introducing the Newest Walker-Another Leap In The Journey Of Life

Not so long ago in a very distant place a baby was born. A sweet little boy that looked perfect. His mother and father were so happy for this precious child. As they cuddled him in their arms and talked about their joy and his future they noticed that his little puckered lips began to turn a blue. This worried them but after a while the color came back and they didn't think much of it. Over the next couple of weeks they learned to feed, bath and love their little boy. They fell more and more in love with him every passing day. This mother and father would notice though, that their sons lips turned blue more and more often and they began to get very concerned. With fear they took him to see the doctor. After a few tests it was determined that this perfect child had a sever heart problem.

With very heavy hearts this mother and father took their little baby home. What were they to do? They had no money to get the help that he would need. It was far too costly and they lived on a meager income as it was. How were they to hide this from their friends, neighbors and more importantly family. If anyone found out they would shun them and ostersize their child for being bad luck. You see, where they lived, if a couple had a child that was not perfect it meant they had done something terribly wrong. No one would accept them anymore. Their mother would pressure them to abandon their new born son so the family could save face. 

The child's difficulties became more and more noticeable. People started to ask questions and the mother and father could do nothing to help their son. They knew the only option they had and could hardly face it. Their son needed medical help that they could not afford and the only way this baby may get it was to turn him over to an orphanage. If anyone were to find out who they were and what they had done they could go to prison for abandoning their son. They had to be very careful.

One dark night the couple took their two month old son on a train. Wrapped in a blanket he slept soundly in his mothers arms. The train ride came to an end and the trio got off. The mother and father walked around the city for a time until they found a spot where they were sure he would be found. The mother kissed his tiny forehead and with tears in her eyes laid the baby down on the sidewalk. They walked away and tried to blend in with the morning crowd. The mother and father watched for a short time until someone picked up their baby and started walking. The mother and father had to turn away as their hearts broke into a million pieces. 

This sweet little boy quickly became a favorite at the orphanage. Though it was a very poor orphanage that had little food and not much heat in the cold winter, he managed to continue to survive. The orphanage had no way to get the medical care this child needed. There was not enough money to feed the children let alone pay for a doctor and hospital. However, this child was not doing well. He didn't grow, wouldn't eat, was lethargic, and turned blue very often. The whole staff was worried about him. Finally, one day the orphanage director called a group that helped children like this and asked if there was anything they could do. The kind people said they would take this baby and care for him and try to get the medical attention he needed. No one knew how severe the situation was with his heart but after one test it was apparent that this baby was lucky to be alive.

Doctors all over the world were contacted. Pediatric Cardiologists gave their advice, which was not comforting to anyone. The group supporting this baby put out a call to anyone that could help find a  hospital in the US that would sponsor this child so he could get a Medical Visa and get the help that he needed.

This is where our story begins......

The call from the group Love Without Boundaries was made in the Spring of 2012. I saw the plea and decided that I could call our local Children's Hospital to see what they could do. They are known for the service they preform. So much so that I found they have a whole department to field all the requests. Through the discussions with them I got a list of info they would need to evaluate the case. I requested the info and waited. A few days came and went and I was informed that this little boy was determined by 5 other doctors to be either inoperable or too risky to operate on. He was not doing well and something needed to be done immediately. I didn't know at the time but the orphanage began the process to have his paperwork done to make him available for adoption. 

At one point I asked a friend what was going on with this child. I hoped that somehow they were able to find  help for him. She is part of the organization of LWB but she didn't know what had happened. A few months later I got an email from my friend asking if I was interested in this boy. I emailed back "Most definitely.  What's going on with him?" I assumed that they had decided to pursue the Medical Visa once again. I called my friend and she let me know that his file was ready for adoption and no one had really looked at it in two months. He needed a family NOW.

From that moment on I was a blubbering mess. I cried or was on the verge of tears at all moments. Doug came home from work for lunch, which is not common. I followed him around and talked about work for a short time. I knew I had to get the guts up to tell him about the phone call I had that morning. I didn't know if this boy was to come to our family nor did I really want to think that. I had made a promise never to ask if we could adopt again and I was not going to break my promise. Doug and I discussed the situation and I expected that would be the end of it. I had made a comment that it would be crazy for someone to pay all that money to go get a child that was just going to die. Doug came out from our bedroom where he had gone for just a couple of minutes and said something like "You would have to know that the money was not yours but God's to adopt this child". That is when I knew this conversation was not just a passing thing. As we said goodbye, Doug hugged me and I couldn't hold on any longer. I sobbed in his arms. I didn't know why and still didn't want to figure it out, I made a promise.

For the rest of that day and through the next I could not get a hold of my emotions. Doug and I were fasting for other things that day and at one point Doug said "It looks like I have something else to fast about". I still didn't want to ask God nor my husband. If this was to be our son Doug had to know first not me. The next day was more of the same. We went to our temple that evening for a previously scheduled visit. I felt it was a good time for me to focus on asking for strength and to clear my head. I was not going to think about this little boy!  Funny, I really didn't until the Holy Ghost spoke to me about him several times. As Doug and I talked that night we both knew with our whole beings that this child was to come to our family. The emotions immediately settled down and I felt peace.

It has been 4 weeks now since that day. We debated on when to tell people and WHAT to tell people. We chose to wait until we had the preliminary approval from China to adopt this boy. We have seen miracles time and time again and had great opposition. I will need to expound on those things in another post on another day. 

The newest Walker (after Jason) will turn 2 in February. The same day as Emma. You would think with as many children as we have we could spread the birthdays out a little better. I guess in the end it will be easier to have a concentration of birthdays and a couple weeks of a break. We don't have a name for him yet so he is referred to as the boy in China. :) Naming him is Doug's privileged this time, so we will wait. His heart is pretty bad. From the little information that we have it looks like he may have half a heart. We really won't know until he gets here and has a very thorough test done. We have a review from a doctor here in the US that sees severe heart cases in his clinic of teens and adults that have never had surgery and will never. They function with the heart the way it is and it could only make things worse if  they intervene in any way. The doctor calls this the perfect storm. Our hope is that  our son will be one of those children. From the pictures we have and the growth chart he is doing very well. He doesn't have consistent blue lips and is starting to walk. He is almost as big as Hyrum was at 4 when we brought him home. All those involved with this child feel strongly that his adoption needs to happen as soon as possible! There must be more than what the papers tell us. 

This is a journey of faith. We fight some fear, worry, sorrow and many other feelings. We may bring this child home to have him die. Or we may be in the hospital far more than we or the children would desire. How do we come up with the money on top of  Christmas and a wedding?  Will our other children be ready for us to leave for almost 2 weeks to go pick him up? I don't know how all this will come together so It all comes down to, we love the Lord and will do all that He asks of us. We know we can do all things with His help and have to exercise that faith daily. Jesus Christ gave his life for me. There is no way to repay Him but we can dedicate our lives to Him.




Part of this story was recreated from knowledge of some situations in his country but some facts are not known.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Then and Now

The changes we have seen in just one year are incredible. Hyrum is now starting to act in a few ways like children his age. We got him and he was developmentally in the young two's. Still far behind in some ways but miraculous growth has taken place. In some ways he is 4 in others he is 3 but he left the two's behind. Bria is now a happy little girl with a bit of spice to her. She now writes her letters and knows the names and sounds to most of them. She has learned this by watching Leap Frog movies. Hyrum too is learning letters. They both are doing great.
Hyrum the week we got back from China.

Hyrum, in October with cousin Jessica.

Bria not wanting to let anyone love her just days after getting home. Malia was trying so hard

One year later on Bria's birthday.

She is feeling happy more and more often. This was pure joy. Thanks Jared.

Remodeling

Though we have a rather large house, there are some areas that were not planned out well for a large family. It kind of surprises me because the family who originally built this house had 8 children. One of the areas that has been lacking is our dinning room. When we first moved in we did some remodeling on the kitchen. We took out the island and made it shorter so we could fit our table. The table we have is pretty narrow as it is so we have no idea what kind of table the previous family had. We knew then that this arrangement would not last forever. We only had 12 kids then with plans of only adding 2 more, HA. We have talked about knocking out a wall between the dinning room and  a room the previous owners used as their school room. We just couldn't decide how to use it so it went through a transformation 3 times in 8 years.

Last Saturday we knocked out the wall. At first I wasn't sure what I thought of it. The house looks even bigger than it did before. We now have a great expanse to fill and no money to fill it with. :) Our plans for this area are to build a larger table top to go over the table we have. That will save us about $3,500. We are going to try putting the TV in that area and adding more seating to the family room. We don't watch a lot of TV and when the kids do they sit so close together that the smaller space will be all they need. Hopefully this will take care of two problems at once. Seating for eating and seating for visiting and being together as a family.

We are still a work in progress. Daily thinking of new ways to organize and where to put things that are now displaced. I don't think I have all the room I need but somehow I will make it work. Hopefully we will get the wood floor installed and some cabinet built before all the kids are grown and gone. (At this rate there will always be kids :))

The best picture I could find of the dinning room. That's it in the background.

All the kids wanted their turn. Trust me using the Sawzall is a much cleaner option.

In process. I don't know how it happens but the kitchen was really clean that morning. It wasn't even lunch time yet.

The boxes on the table are part of the reorganizing. Those boxes are now in  my hallway until I reorganize the  garage.
 It just doesn't end.

This is it.
We will be taking the cabinets out and adding the entertainment center there.  For now we will put a couch and chair from the basement to see what we think and get a feel for what we may want when it's time to furnish this area. It's going to look goofy with the table on the wood and carpet but at least we have more room. Painting will come soon.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Example


"The most powerful teaching of children is by the example of their parents."
—Dallin H. Oaks

This quote is from a talk at the last general conference for our church.
 I recommend everyone read it.
http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/10/protect-the-children?lang=eng

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Engagement!


We are so pleased to announce that Ressa is now engaged to one of the Lord's most valiant. Jason has asked Ressa to marry him and she said YES!

We are beyond thrilled and could not ask for a better man for her. We are honored to have both of them as part of our family.

Jason and Ressa will be married January 25th in the Brigham City Temple and the reception will be held January 26th. Just 2 weeks later they will be traveling to China to teach English for almost 5 months.

We love these two and couldn't be happier. I don't think they could be happier either. :)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday

I love quotes! I love to think deeply and  learn new things.Last week I thought it would be neat to post a thought once a week on the blog. I have a great one just waiting and since the first idea I have now seen many great quotes and thoughts that I would love to share Now I have a way to justify the time to look up quotes. I will use random thoughts, quotes and scripture as it touches me or that I just like. If anyone wants to join me in this I would love to know and link up.  Now for the first Thoughtful Thursday.


"Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think is a much greater hunger.  A much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat."
                                                            Mother Theresa

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Cute and the Not So Cute

Potty training this child was pretty funny we had to get pictures of him.
a picture speaks a thousand words.



SUCCESS!
                             


Now for the not so cute. Helping traumatized children can be a roller coaster ride. They have many ups and downs in the process of healing and growth. Right now we have a few in the challenging stage. It seems like one likes to live his life there but that is a novel that will never be written. How these downs look and act are not so bad, it's just that it gets tiring especially when you live dancing on egg shells. One of the children cries at the top of their lungs when they don't get their way. They will stomp off waving their arms up and down hitting their sides, hides in the corner and cries the cry of a deep mourn or falls asleep. Sadly the falling asleep happens around 5:00pm so that just doesn't work. This happens about 10 times a day.

Another child doesn't like to be corrected even if it's with a smile and loving words. They will fold their arms hard, stomp off to the stairs, sit cross legged, arms folded with head bowed. They will sit there moaning and groaning and work into a cry if we don't notice and interfere. When asked what's wrong they will say that someone is mad at them. That someone is the person that corrected them, with a smile. This too happens many times a day.

Another child is ultra sensitive! I have to watch everything I say and how it is said or offense will be taken and walls will be built.

It is an emotional stew around here. Many emotions being stirred up and swirling around waiting to be served. We get large helpings dished out daily. Many of the children are struggling with one thing or another. One of the kids gets out of the van for school teary most days. You would think we were in the middle of an adoption or something. Maybe we are.

Next post, very great news. More good news to come later. OH, so much happens at our house.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Snow in October!

I woke up this morning to none other than SNOW! I heard a weather report a month or so ago that meteorologists expect it to be a colder than normal fall and warmer than normal winter. Yesterday I looked out at the mountains and was so grateful to see snow. We really need the moisture. But when I saw the snow on my own front lawn and realized the snow was still falling I wasn't as grateful.

I brought Clayson in from catching snow flakes on his tongue and said

"This is incredible."

Clayson responds in awe, "I know, I love the snow".

Not quite what I meant. :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

16 Year Old Boys!

What do 16 year old boys do? Tease their siblings, beg to drive, forget to do their chores and so forth. The best thing 16 year old boys do is gross us out and make us laugh.

Hannah (12) was eating some Skittles and Creed decided he wanted some. She only had 3 and put them all in her mouth.  I heard "Wow Hannah this is a really good Skittle". I assumed he took it out of her hands and I told him not to steal. He said "I didn't steal it out of her hands".  No, it was not out of her hand it was worse. He stole it right out of her mouth.

I really did teach him about germs.

Creed is on the right. Every bit as mischievous as he looks.
Handsome boys.

New Bikes

OK, so I am talking about Hyrum and Bria again. I think it is the same phenomenon as when you have a two year old that shows up in all you pictures because they are so cute and after months and months you realize you have no pictures of your other kids. That is just where I am right now.

Bria's birthday was September 10th. We bought her a tricycle because all she wanted was a bike and a Barbie. The bike we got her was pretty flimsy so a week or so later we took it back and got a new one. At the same time we bought Hyrum a bike for his birthday and were going to save it until November for his birthday. We hid Hyrum's bike in our closet behind some clothes so he wouldn't see. I put Bria's bike together and let Bria have it. She was so excited and loved her bike. She rode her bike for quite a while then got off to do something else. Hyrum was dancing around in excitement because of the new bike. He ran to Bria and asked if he could ride it. Sadly Bria said no. Hyrum was so sad.


Pony tails don't stay in Bria's hair too well. Time to try another hair style.

Hyrum wanted a bike so bad that he walked around the house for the next 30 minutes saying things like "my bike birthday" "I want bike" "Bria no let me ride bike". It was killing me. He was so sad and at the same time there was not expectation that he should have one too. I couldn't take it so I went to the closet pulled out the box and started putting it together. When Hyrum noticed he got so excited knowing this bike was for him.


He jumped right on and rode all around. The smile was always there. Both Bria and Hyrum rode and rode. Oh, they love their bikes. Every family memeber was expected to watch as they rode around. Sereen and Jared come home and they have to stand at the door watching Hyrum ride his bike. Mom must be present or it doesn't count. Of course, Bria has to be there with him. Ressa comes home and the same things happen. It's sort of like Groundhog Day with the bikes. Tyler, Jessica, Britton, cousin Ashton and other favored visitors. If you saw Hyrum and Bria ride their bikes you can be counted as a favorite.


The children insisted we take pictures with the bikes.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"I'm Happy Mom"



This child is so incredibly precious.
I have never experienced a person filled with more gratitude.
Hyrum thanks Doug and I for everything. He thanks me for taking him to the toilet. He thanks me for food. He thanks me for giving him a bath, holding him, reading him a story, watching him on his bike and everything else you could think of. Today he was playing and I walked in the room where he was. He turned to me with a big grin and said "Thank you mom." I asked why he would thank me and he said "Cuz you came by me". These thank yous are not the run of the mill "thank you because I need to be polite". These words are filled with true feeling and sincere smiles. 

For the last two weeks I hear the words "I'm happy" at least 10 times a day. Hyrum is truly happy and you can feel it just by being with him. He attracts people wherever he goes. I am sure his happiness is tied to his sincere gratitude for life and all that he has. Most importantly his family. This boy adores his family!!

Hyrum is teaching me, by example, the true joy that comes from gratitude. I have tried much harder to appreciate all that I have and be happy even with the challenges that are mine. I am eternally blessed by having him. I dont' want to imagine what my life would be without the blessings he brings.


He doesn't do very well trying to be angry.

Not only is he happy but he is incredibly handsome.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Talented Friends and Music Videos

We were invited to record a music video with a family that we know. The took the song "Safe and Sound" from hunger games and redid it as a family project over the summer. The father, 16 year old son and teenage cousin did all the instrumental and the 13 year old daughter sang the song. The 13 year old girl was Pierce's best friend in 6th grade and her 11 year old brother is friends with Casey. I wasn't sure what to expect out of the song but when I heard it I was impressed. They had a movie director hear them sing and wanted to make a music video for the song. This director won a national prize for a film he made last year while at BYU.


We gathered at an apple orchard about an hour away and got to be extras in the end of the video. The video should be ready by the end of October. The kids did great and were well behaved and cooperative. Everyone had a good time even though it was hot and took 2 hours longer than expected. There is something about actors and being on time. It is an age old problem. I am anxious to see the finished product. Sorry to say, I didn't bring the camera but Britt came and took a picture of Bria so I could send it with our post placements to China.

When things were wrapping up I overheard the director and cameraman talking about our family. There were 17 extras there and we were 13 of them. One of them knew we were all one family but when the other found out the conversation became interesting. The funniest thing was the discussion of making a documentary on our family. I have hear that one many times.

Tyler holding Bria while getting her makeup on. They had to look dirty for these shots.

Have You Ever Taken a Shower in the Sewer?

OK, so this may not be coming from a place of charity but sometimes life can be pretty funny. Poor Doug was put in one of those situations that would win the grand prize on America's Funniest Home Videos if only we had a camera going. Who would have thought to have a camera going while working in the sewer, right?

A little background. Most homes have their sewage hooked directly up to pipes that run under the street. Where we live the pipes are too shallow to go directly to the street so we have what is called a sewer pump. There is a big bucket that collects the black water then when the bucket gets full the pump will shoot it up the pipes to go to the street pipes. This is all well and good until the pump breaks down and the alarm quits working. This is what we faced over the last few days.

If you have ever seen a pump function it is pretty cool. We have a water feature in the front yard and when we clean it someone hoses the rocks down to clean the dirt out. The pool at the end collects the water and when it fills up we stick the pump down in the water, turn it on and we have a geyser about 6 feet tall that sprays all the water out of the hole. It is pretty fun to do and watch.  Unfortunately, this same principle applies to sewer pumps even when you don't want it to.:))

There was a musty smell in the house for a couple of weeks that we couldn't determine the source. Saturday, the source became pretty clear as the smell turned from musty to stinky. We started to get whiffs of an outhouse. We knew just where to look. Yes, there was moisture around the base of the bucket that stores the sewer. Just so you aren't grossed out, this bucket doesn't stay very full because at our house it is pumped out numerous times a day. This bucket has a good sealing system but if it overflows there is an escape so we don't have sewage backing up in the whole house. This is where the moisture was coming from.

OK, to make a story that lasts a few days short I will cut to the chase. Doug was down in our crawl space replacing the pump. Our crawl space is very nice and has a thick layer of pea gravel. Things were going rather quick and 20 minutes into the project he was putting in the new pump. One of the kids came running into the kitchen and said "Mom, I think Dad needs help, he's yelling." When Dad needs help I run. It usually means he needs extra hands quick. Creed and I ran down and there he was soaking wet. Yep, wet with sewage dripping down his chin and off his hair!! He decided to test the pump before putting it all together and turned it on. It worked, so without thinking he put it into the bucket, this same bucket that was full of sludge. The next thing he knew there was sewage spewing all over the crawl space and storage area. Thankfully he had emptied the solids before beginning the project but in this situation there was much sludge that comes from the solids sitting long enough to breakdown and turn into a mud type substance. You can picture an outhouse and all that is in there without the solid.

I timidly asked if I could bring the hose in the house because I knew who's job it would be to clean this up. I think Doug was ready to barf and was not a happy camper. Really who would be at this point. The hose came in and the Clorox came out. When the job was done Doug stripped down, the kids herded off and he stepped from one towel to the next as he went to the nearest bathroom to shower. I was a little surprised when he came up for dinner not 10 minutes later. Guarantee, I would have run the water heater out while using a whole bar of soap.

I wasn't the best wife. I stood there in that storage area laughing and joking about the situation. Doug didn't join in but that night he too was laughing. Every time I retell the story I just laugh harder. Who really can say they took a shower in the sewer?


Sorry about the poor quality. I didn't want to take the good camera down into that. Everything that you see is wet from the pump accident. The dark in the hole is the wet gravel that had to be shoveled out and washed down. As it soaked into the rocks there were patties that formed. You know, like a cow patty. We used A LOT of water and didn't care one bit if it hurt the sheet rock. I was a little concerned about the clothes closet on the other side of the wall and the carpet.

See the brown on the wall to the left? Yep, sewer. That is after we wiped some off. The other wall was generously doused as well. It's a good thing all the Christmas stuff was taken out before hand.

Dont' worry we cleaned up very good. We had to have the doors and windows open the rest of that night and through the next day. The smell in the house was a mixture of a swimming pool and an outhouse.

Everything is great now. No smell and the sewer is running perfectly.

Friday, September 28, 2012

It Looks Like I'm back :)

Last night Tyler was showing me a blog he set up and I realized that he was in a place in Blogger that my computer wouldn't let me go. Even last week I couldn't get in. I had gotten to the point that I was going to take my computer to the Geek Squad to see what was wrong. I had pretty much resigned myself to not blogging anymore. I have no idea what happened but I am back.

So much has happened in the last couple of months so I will have to catch up over time. Here are the basics.
Our oldest son got married in the Timpanogos Temple in August to an awesome girl named Jessica.

In the middle of taking pictures we looked down and Hyrum was carrying the train of Jessicas dress. Hyrum had never been to a wedding before and so had not seen this tradition. It was so cute!

All the Walker children so far. What a handsome group this is. 

They really are as cute, awesome and in love as they look.

Here is the link for the wedding pictures. If you need a great photographer here he is. I have never seen better and he will travel the world over. I highly recommend him. He's a great guy too.
http://photos.jarviedigital.com/W/2012-Walker-Utah


We had the reception in our back yard so we did a lot of work to get things ready. We go rid of our two biggest problem areas and things look much better. Now we need another summer to sit and enjoy them. :) Maybe next year. I will post pictures of the projects we did later.

We went to Kentucky for a reception there and stayed for a couple of days. What a beautiful place that is. Some day I want to live where there are trees and green everywhere. If you get to Louisville you need to go down to the river downtown. It was awesome. So many families celebrating and being together. The best part was most of them were black. I long to have more interaction with others of diverse cultures and backgrounds. We'll have to do something about that.

We went to a family reunion in July and caught up with my family in California. It was a fun time and good to see everyone again. The family is getting so big that we had the opportunity to get to know new members of the family. Children and married couples.

We also had the opportunity to help another family through some difficult times. It took a lot of time and caused many tears but through the help of our Savior we were able to have faith and trust in His plan and gain peace. These types of things don't go away quick but they will heal. I leaned a lot about myself and realized that I truly am willing to do whatever the Lord would ask of me (right now) no matter the cost. Hopefully as life brings more challenges I can continue on in the service of my fellow man and not shrink.

Well, that is a quick synopsis. Life has been very busy and I keep waiting for it to slow down. Every week I think this week will be the one to really get in and get some much needed cleaning or organizing done. Hasn't happened yet but I keep hoping. Many birthdays, school, temple sealings,  company, more birthdays, piano, service opportunities, adoption, cars breaking down, more birthdays, doctors, surgeries, dentist, ophthalmologist  orthodontist and more birthdays, and now we are coming up on Christmas. OK, so I really won't get any deep cleaning done or organizing but that really isn't what matters anyway.

 Friends we have know for years and those we still have yet to meet are always welcome!!  Just don't look at the carpet or the base of the toilets and we'll all be OK.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Homecoming

 Britton is home!

We picked up Britt at the airport this morning.  He left Brazil last night, flew for 10 hours, had a layover in Atlanta and flew home at 10:30am. He is doing great and is having a hard time coming home, just like I expected.  His difficulty in letting go of his life serving the Lord full time for the last 2 years is a great sign of his dedication. He is still the same Britt with a greater depth and maturity. He came home a man ready to face whatever the Lord has for him.

I love this man and am glad he is home. I am sad too for the end of this time of service.











We are so honored and blessed to have him as a son!!!