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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Michael's Story, Part 3

For years, I had the dream of adopting from China and their rules on depression treatment are strict, to put it mildly. When I got that message asking me about my depression history, my thoughts immediately went to the worst possible conclusion -- they're not going to let me adopt because of this little blip on the radar.

To explain my history of depression, I need to back up a bit -- to 2009, to be exact.

After a year of debilitating back pain from a herniated disc at L5-S1 and many failed treatment options, my surgeon and I made the decision it was time to pursue back surgery. I'd worked as an orthopedic medical transcriptionist for a couple of years and I knew the ins and outs, and the risks and benefits, of the surgery pretty well. I knew there was a chance it wouldn't help. Still I was not prepared for that possibility.

When you have a discectomy, they tell you in about six months you'll have a pretty good idea of what your new baseline is. At about the six month mark, I went on a trip to Singapore with my family and for much of the trip I was either laid up in bed or struggling to walk.

It was not what I imagined, and I felt like the world was crumbling. I was 27 years old and felt like I was elderly. It wasn't uncommon for me to have to cancel plans or even call into work because I couldn't sit at my desk all day. I was miserable.

After a couple of months of struggling through each day, I reached out to my primary care physician and asked for help.

Toward autumn of 2010, I was feeling much more optimistic about my future. I'd found a new pain management doctor and although my back wasn't perfect, I'd had a handful of helpful epidural steroid injections and things were looking up. I came off the anti-depressant and haven't looked back since.

In 2012, I had my second back surgery, a fusion at L5-S1, which I'm happy to report was successful and I feel like a new woman these days.

So, here we were, in late December 2013, aching to know more about sweet "Mason," and we'd hit another roadblock, but the worker at Bethany messaged once again and said "Okay, that makes sense. Please have your treating physician write a letter in support."

Thank God for the precious doctor who treated me! I'm no longer her patient, as we now live 1,200 miles away, but she spent her New Year's eve writing the best letter of support for our adoption and had it to me within days.

I sent it off in an email to Bethany as soon as it arrived -- and finally, almost two months after I first saw his face, I got this message in my email:

"Dear Daniel and Kelsey,

I just received notification from our Uganda team that your 2nd doctor's letter looks great for Uganda. Heather will be sending you information on Mason shortly."

Glory! Hallelujah! We were approved for Uganda!

The first full-length shot of Michael we ever saw

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Michael's Story, Part 2

Within hours I heard back from our social worker. "Mason" was in Uganda. We had ruled out Uganda in the decision making process due to a couple of factors, including my medical history and the time in-country. We were fairly certain that yes, we did qualify for South Africa, the country we'd decided on, but we probably wouldn't qualify for Uganda. So, with a bit of disappointment, we let it go.

A couple of weeks later, in late November, I got a message from our social worker saying I know you have decided on South Africa, but I took a look back at your application and I think we can approve you for Uganda after we get a letter from your doctor -- Are you still interested in "Mason?"

We tentatively said yes, we're interested, but can we know more about him? And we're met with a surprising, "We can't tell you more until you're approved." So I immediately got on the phone to my spine surgeon, begging for a letter stating that my back problems are essentially resolved as soon as humanly possible.

Many of you will remember how distraught I was about waiting for this letter last year. I'm guessing that's starting to make sense now! We waited and waited and waited. Finally the letter came and it was great. The doctor said he saw no reason I would be unable to parent a child with special needs. I scanned the letter the moment it arrived and sent it off to our social worker.

Christmas morning, waiting to hear about "Mason"

We hoped and prayed we'd hear something by Christmas. But Christmas passed and still no approval for Uganda. Finally, the day after Christmas we heard something -- "Kelsey, the letter from your surgeon looks great, but he mentioned a history of depression. Can you elaborate?"

My heart sank.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Michael's Story, Part 1

10 months ago I saw this picture for the first time:


It was smaller than what you see here, all pixelated and blurry, but something about that little face kept drawing me back over and over. It was just a few days after we submitted our preliminary application to our agency; we hadn't even been approved or signed a contract, but for every day for two weeks I went and looked at this beautiful little boy.

His profile was short with very little detail -- something to the extent of "Mason is an affectionate little boy who thrives on attention from adults. He has the diagnosis of cerebral palsy." That's it. Still, I couldn't get him out of my head.

I messaged my mom one cold November day. I said "Mom, I can't stop going to look at this little boy on Bethany Christian Service's waiting child list. I think he might be our son. Dan's going to kill me."

For those of you don't know my husband personally, I'll tell you this -- He's a planner. At the beginning of this adoption, just two weeks before this message to my mom, we had been thinking the process of adopting for the second time would take two or three years.

Dan had made an outline of how we were going to pay for our adoption, from saving to fundraisers to grants to a loan, and now there I was looking at a child who's waiting for a family. I didn't know a lot about waiting child adoption at that time, but I knew it'd go a lot faster than three years and throw a wrench into Dan's plan.

That afternoon I pulled "Mason's" profile up on my iPad and handed it to Dan and said "I've been thinking a lot about this guy. Would it be okay for me to ask for more info about him? No pressure. No obligation. Just more info." Dan surprised me by immediately saying "OK."

So, on November 25, 2013 I sent this message to our social worker "Is it possible to get any more info on a child on the "Waiting Children" page, such as where they're located, etc? Specifically, I'm wondering about “Mason."

Part 2 coming soon.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Welcome home, Michael Isaiah!

Dear friends and family,

I apologize for being nearly three weeks late with this update. Having two toddlers at home has proved busier than I expected. Yes, you read that right -- Michael is HOME!

Michael and I arrived in Omaha at 7:05 PM on August 28. We were met by my husband, Dan, and our 2-year-old, Max, along with my parents and friends from our church.

Waiting for Mommy and Michael

On Nebraska soil for the first time with my baby boy!

As you can see, mine and Max's reunion was joyous!

Michael and Daddy love

Brothers meeting for the first time

Getting everyone buckled in -- Max and I had to take a minute to play our favorite game, "Oh, no!"

Headed home, two babies in tow. Pure joy.

I want to thank you personally, each and every one of you, for the role you played in bringing Michael home to his family. I never could have imagined 10 months ago how this year would go -- God no doubt orchestrated this adoption from beginning to end. Thank you for being a part of our family's story. We're so grateful.

Michael's adoption story is coming soon. :)

Friday, July 25, 2014

36 hours

I burst into tears this evening while standing in my kitchen washing dishes. I was imagining the moment when I walk off the plane in Omaha with Michael in my arms, trying not to sprint toward the exit where Dan and Max will be waiting for us.

I've known I was going to adopt since I was 8 years old. The dreams have changed over the years; I used to dream of walking off the plane with a beautiful Chinese baby girl in my arms. But I've imagined this moment, in some way, shape or form, for 23 years.

I still can hardly believe God's faithfulness and blessing on us -- just a little over two years ago we didn't know if we'd even ever have children, now here we are completing our second adoption in as many years. I cannot even express the joy and gratitude I feel when I think of these precious little boys I've been entrusted with.

So here we are, 36 hours from our departure to get our second son, who will be joining our family forever on Wednesday, less than nine months after we first began this journey, when I saw his precious face and God spoke to my heart, saying "I have chosen you for this boy."

Please pray for God's continued provision and protection as my friend Ashley and I travel to Uganda and attend appointments. We anticipate being there for the next three to four weeks. Dan will remain in Omaha with Max and Grandma, so that he can continue to work and we can spend time as a family once Michael and I arrive in the States.

Thank you once again for your continued support and encouragement throughout this process.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Adoption update #4 - Uganda, here we come!


I've been waiting seven months to write this post. We got the call last Wednesday morning -- we finally have a court date in Uganda! Dan and I will be headed out Friday afternoon. After a weekend in Kampala, we'll be headed to Michael's hometown to spend time with him and then go to court.

There are a few bits of the process that are very time consuming, so Dan and I will be returning to the States in early July without Michael. If all goes well, we should have a written custody order within a few weeks. Dan will head back to Uganda for embassy stuff, etc., and I'll stay in the States with Max. Toward the tail end of things in Uganda, I'll head out to help Dan on the way home with Michael.

There are some things you can be praying about as we get through the homestretch:
  • Pray for our 2-year-old, Max. He has a lot of separation anxiety, even in just short separations, which in turn makes me anxious. Please pray he and Grandma are patient with each other and that he is at ease.
  • Pray for Dan and I and Michael as we get to know each other. Pray we are all patient as we learn to communicate. Pray we establish trust and begin bonding.
  • Pray for the court process. There is a lot of uncharted territory and things are anything but predictable. Pray things go smoothly. 
  • Pray for funding. Amazingly, every financial need we've had throughout this process has been provided for and we're confident God will provide what we need to complete Michael's adoption. At this point, we are waiting to hear about several grants. Please pray the outcome is favorable.
  • Pray for our hearts. Over the coming weeks and months we will be separated from at least one of our children at all times. This is only going to get harder after we've spent time with Michael and gotten to know him!

A few people have asked if we'll be able to share pictures of Michael from this trip. We won't be posting any of him while we're gone, but as soon as we have our written custody order you better believe I'll be inundating you!

If you have a question I haven't addressed, let me know. I'll do my best to answer!

Thank you all for your love and support on this journey. We are so grateful for y'all. I can't wait to introduce you to our son!

Lots of love,

Saturday, June 7, 2014