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Daddy Post – Don’t Be Discouraged

IMG_8916I remember not to long ago our family was picking up some food at a local Jack In The Box. Our kids noticed a homeless man sitting a block away looking around. Our kids asked if we could buy him some food and give him a cupcake we had picked up at church. We purchased the food and I walked over and handed it to him along with the cupcake. He said thank you and looked in the bag and appeared disappointed but simply smiled. As I drove away I looked in the rear-view mirror and remember watching the man stare at the cupcake and toss it in the bushes, look into the bag of food and simply tossed it aside. I was upset, not simply about the money that was just thrown away but of the mans actions.

One of the reasons why we started our blog was to share our story and hopefully encourage others to look at adoption as an option. Due to special circumstances with our adoption we were not allowed to share personal information or images of Jana until the adoption was officially finalized. We were always hesitant of sharing information, posting pictures etc. I was very cautious as the over-protective daddy that someone would try to take my baby away or the court would change their mind. I was so over protective that people would ask to hold Jana and I would smile, say No and walk away, and this was at church! As time has passed I would like to argue that I have learned to relax about this but I am sure Jen would tell you a different story (shh…. Don’t listen to her). I have always been very cautious about what we post, what images we share, what information we provide about her personal story and our adoption because of my personal paranoia and fear that someone would try to take advantage of that information.

Despite my personal fears we have always prayed that through our story that mothers who are considering an abortion would see that there are alternative options and families that are willing to take in their babies as part of their family and love them unconditionally. We have prayed that families that are unable to have their own children will see that there are plenty of beautiful children simply waiting for someone that is willing to open their home. We have prayed that families would be willing to open their homes to a baby or child born with a disability and experience the love and joy that Jana has brought into our lives.

IMG_8933I share this because this past week we were contacted by one of our followers on Instagram apologizing for not being able make a financial donation to Jana but stating that she would like to donate a few hair-bows. We were very touched by the gesture but also confused because we had not made any requests for donations or money. Although we have faced some health concerns over the last year we have been very blessed to be surrounded by family, friends, amazing church family and Pastor who have been supportive to our family. Nonetheless we were very touched by this offer. As Jen communicated further we realized that although we had not made any request for assistance for Jana, someone else had. Someone else was using our Jana’s images to request financial assistance. We were later notified by others that they had also seen Jana’s pictures and had assumed that she was having more serious health conditions that required financial support. Jen and I were devastated and I was angry. Someone was taking advantage of my baby’s situation for his or her personal gain. Remember that overprotective father who would not allow people to hold her in church, well, he was mad. Jen and I quickly notified our followers in an attempt to clarify any confusion, provide reassurance that Jana was doing well and request additional information about the account or accounts using Jana’s information so that we could have them shut down. To this date we are still waiting further information and clarification so that we can take the proper actions.

As Jen and I discussed this further we came to a realization. Although we have been blessed and have a support system in place to help us, others do not. There are families out there who need the added support, support from extended friends, and use sites like gofundme.com to obtain the necessary support to help pay for treatment and other things. Unfortunately, there are also people out their who are simply looking for another way to make a quick dollar, take advantage of others situations regardless of what emotional pain it may cause.

I started this blog by telling you about our experience providing food to a homeless man for a reason. I am not asking for praise or sympathy. What I learned from that experience is that I am not responsible for the actions of others. I am responsible for my actions. I believe that I have been called to help those in need to the best of my ability and I want to continue to do that as long as I am able. What I am not responsible for is their reaction. If I am able to provide a meal, a few dollars, clothes then I will continue to do so. What that individual chooses to do from there is their choice to make.Image.png

I will continue to share our story with others because I know that just as Jana has touched our lives and affected so many around her she continues to do that through her images and smile (although we are adding a watermark now 🙂).

For those of you who are in a place to help others please do not let a situation like this discourage you. Although there are jerks out their that are willing to take advantage of others. There are also people like Ricky Mena @rickymena www.gofundme.com/spidey4kids or Hannah from @hannahshappybundles http://www.gofundme.com/hannahs-happy-bundles who give of themselves every single day. They use the gifts and talents that God has given them to bring joy to families and children battling for their life and they need our support. Don’t allow something like this to discourage you from sharing and blessing those that are truly in need and need our support. I have been touched and encouraged by many of those families and the stories of those that give of themselves to reach others. I truly believe that they fully understand what scripture means when it tells us that “it is more blessed to give then it is to receive” (Acts 20:35).

Again, to our extended family I say thank you. To those out their giving of themselves daily to bless others I say God Bless you and our prayers are with you.

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Thank You

IMG_1582A quick update on Jana:  She has another upper respiratory infection!  Just got on meds yesterday so I am hoping for a quick recovery.  She has a horrible cough, infected eyes and is very congested.  She is not sleeping very well at night, however none of that stops her from playing with her siblings and trying so hard to figure out this crawling thing 🙂  Recently she started attempting to eat her toes and hates it when I put socks on her feet!

So on to today’s post!  Written by Jana’s Daddy, Juan…you might want to grab a tissue 🙂

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Instantly a Daddy’s Girl!

We will most likely never meet in person but we share one precious gift in common and I wanted to take the time to say Thank You.

Over 1 year ago, you conceived a child and made the decision to give her birth even though you would not be able to raise her. I don’t know what your personal situation was at the time but we are forever grateful that you chose to give that little baby inside of you the gift of life.

I have often laid in bed at night and thought about you, your husband and your family. I have prayed for you and thanked you in my prayers. I don’t know if your decision to place our Jana up for adoption was because of her Down Syndrome or because of your personal circumstances but regardless of the reason I wanted you to know something. That little baby girl that you placed in the arms of God, whether knowingly or un-knowingly, is safe and loved.

I wanted you to know that over 1 year ago my wife began to dream to we would have a baby girl. At the time it didn’t make sense because we already have 3 children and we had made personal and family goals. At the time another baby was not part of our plan. However, we quickly realized that this desire would not go away and that God had a different plan for our family. So we began to pray for this baby wherever she was and we trusted God. We realized that He had a plan so we prayed for His will to be done. So we set out to get licensed and approved to be foster parents. We trusted God and decided that we would take care of things on our end and trust him to take care of the rest. We prayed and honestly, we waited impatiently.

We finally received a call informing us that there was a beautiful baby girl with Down Syndrome that needed an adoptive placement and not a foster home. The moment that she was placed in my arms, I knew that she was the little girl my wife had dreamed about and that we had been praying for over the past year. God had brought our Baby Girl home.

I can not even imagine what led you to make the decision that you made but I want you to know that from the beginning there was a plan in place. God began to prepare a home for your little girl before you even knew that she had been conceived. My family will always be grateful for the choice that you made to give our Jana life. She is loved not only by our family, but by friends, Church Family and the many adoptive family members that embrace her daily as we call her our own.

Again, Thank you. I continue to pray that someone will share or has shared the Love of God with you so that we may one day meet in our Forever Adoptive Home.

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Fost or Adopt?

Day 16 of 21 day challenge…4acd74b487de5c2d8bed5c915066860e

Enjoy today’s blog…written by my hubby, Juan 🙂

Next week Jana will be turning 5 months old and it’s hard to believe how fast time has passed. It was 4 months ago that I held her for the very first time and fell in Love with her immediately and knew that we were doing the right thing, and I was scared.

When Jaylen (our youngest and previously only daughter) was born Jen had to have an emergency C-Section due to series complications. I remember the Dr telling me that the baby was not receiving any oxygen and they rushed Jen down the hall into surgery as the Dr yelled orders to all the nurses. I almost lost my daughter and my wife that day. Jen had an emergency C-Section with no anesthesia (yup, NONE). The two anesthesiologists that were on call were in surgery and the Dr informed Jen that he could not wait or Jaylen would die or have series brain damage due to loss of oxygen. She remembers the pain, the screaming and seeing our daughter before she passed out. The next few days were hazy for her but I will never be able to forget the fear that I felt not knowing what was going on, whether my daughter would live and what Jen was going through. By the grace of God Jaylen was born healthy and without complications although she was tiny at only 4 lbs 12 oz. Jen required a few extra days in ICU and two blood transfusions but she also made a full recovery and we all got to go home. Soon after I had my vasectomy, I did not want to risk loosing my wife again.

Why am I telling you all this? A few years ago Jen started having the desire to have another baby. She kept dreaming about a baby girl. Night after night she would have a dream of her holding a beautiful baby girl. And night after night I felt horrible because I knew that I could not give her that baby girl. So Jen cried and prayed and asked God to take that desire away because she knew that we had made the decision to not have kids anymore and I wasn’t going to try and reverse it J. We couldn’t understand why her desire for this beautiful girl was so strong and why it would not go away. For over a year we prayed together, cried together and asked God for guidance. We felt alone and didn’t know who to talk to. Our closest friends had adopted a beautiful little girl because they were unable to have children of their own and here we were with three healthy kids and a desire for more. We felt like we were being selfish. God had blessed us with 3 kids, why were we complaining that we wanted another one; after all it was our choice to not have anymore.

As time passed out prayers changed. We no longer asked God to take away the desire that we felt. We asked him to work things out according to His will. I realized that if God wanted us to have another child He would make it happen, we just didn’t know how, or when. We started taking the necessary steps to be cleared as foster parents because we knew there were a lot of children without a home that needed a family. We decided that we would do what we could and trust God with the rest and if it was His will then things would happen in his timing.

It wasn’t until we held Jana for the first time that we realized we why were up together crying and praying and not understanding why Jen’s dreams would not stop. God had a plan all along.

I understand that Fostering or Adopting is not for everyone. In fact, when we started our goal was to foster as long as we could and the truth is that has not changed. There are lots of kids that have been removed for no fault of their own and are looking for someone to love them and provide a home and a family. We were simply blessed with a special opportunity to not only foster Jana but to adopt her because of her disability. God has used her to touch our lives and the lives of those around us. She has opened up our eyes to so many new things, new experiences and new relationships with amazing people. I won’t lie, its scary. But being surrounded by people who love our Jana and have supported our decision has strengthened us through the fear and at times, even doubt. So if you have thought about fostering or adopting I pray that you continue to pray and step out and trust God. And if you do not feel that it is for you, then pray for those who do feel called and if you know someone that is fostering or adopting, pray for them. If possible I would encourage you to go one step further and come alongside of them and encourage and support them. Thank you.

P.S. I promised Jana I would tell everyone she is beautiful 🙂

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And Then There Were 4…

Day 9 of 21 Day Challenge…

Yesterday I really loved sharing with you a little from our kids.  I pray you were able to get a sense of our family and how wonderful our 3 “big kids” are 🙂  So today I wanted to give Daddy a chance to share his thoughts as well.  I’m honored to introduce my guest writer today…my awesome hubby…Juan Benito.

Many people have asked me why we chose to adopt a child, especially since we have 3 biological children. And the follow up question was, “Why would you adopt a child with Down Syndrome?” I hope that I can answer some of those questions with this post and provide insight into the process thus far. First I will clarify that initially our goal was to be foster parents and if any of our foster kids ever came up for adoption then we would be willing to adopt.

I honestly believe that a child should always have a home and home should always be a safe place. I also believe that when the Bible says that we should care for orphans in James, that it means exactly that. Just because I believe that it doesn’t mean that it was simply to accept.

Prior to Jana joining our family, Jen and I had talked about foster care and adoption as something that we wanted to do. However, if you know me then you know that I am a very analytical person. I had a ton of fears that kept me from saying yes. I was worried about our finances, transportation, not having a big enough house, etc. How would we make things work? And to be honest I was comfortable with where we were as a family. I had it all planned out. Jaylen would be turning 18 in 10 years and Jen and I would have all our kids working, or in College, and we would be child free. So why would we start all over.

A few months ago our pastor was talking about how we make promises to help and do things for others but yet fail to act on those promises and at times fail to even do anything. So the challenge was simple; instead of promising to do everything, just do something. The next day I found myself talking to a social worker at work about how many local children were being placed out of county because they didn’t have enough homes to place the kids in local Foster homes. I decided then that I would do something! I would trust God! We (our family) would step out in faith and take care of all the things were within our control and get cleared to be Foster Parents and we would let God take care of the rest. I accepted the fact that God would provide and realized that my selfish desires was not a good enough reason to say no.

Our families desire was to provide a home for whatever child God placed in our care and to love them, for however long they were with us. Growing up I was blessed to have my best friends dad in my life. After a very difficult episode in my life I found myself feeling alone and honestly homeless. My best friends dad’s comment is something that I was never able to forget, “I can’t promise you the world but I can promise you a home”. So we set out to do the same thing. To provide a home and love for whatever child God placed with our family.

I will apologize in advance but because of our pending court case I am unable to provide specific details about our process at this point but I will do the best I can.

I was at work when Jen called me to inform me that our social worker had called to let her know that there was a 2 month old baby that needed a home and they felt we would be a good fit. However, there was a catch. Would we be willing to adopt her, and she had Down Syndrome. I can honestly say that my immediate answer was Yes! I don’t know why, it just was. 3 days later I held Jana for the first time and I knew immediately that we had made the right decision.

As I held her nothing else mattered. I didn’t see a foster child, I didn’t see Down Syndrome, I saw my daughter and I immediately fell in Love with her.

We have had Jana for 3 ½ months now and my love has only grown deeper and I have become the most overprotective father ever. Please understand that it has not always been easy. We have faced many obstacles. Some of those obstacles have been financial, personal fears, legal barriers and at times wanting to punch someone for making inappropriate comments. Despite all that we have faced and the unknown to come I would not change a thing. I cannot imagine our family without Jana in it. Jana has helped us to look beyond our self-centered perspective, our narrow view of life around us and she has helped us step out in faith.

Jen and I have gone to bed at times scared and praying about court dates, Dr’s appointments, assessments, transportation and finances. And God has answered and shown Himself to be faithful and true. That doesn’t mean that all of our prayers have been answered but all of our needs have been provided for and we have seen the Love of God through the actions of those around us.

Many have said that Jana is blessed to have us. Although their intentions are good they are so wrong. We have been and are very blessed to have her in our life. Jana has taught us so much about Life, Love and Faith and she has only been with us for 3 months. I am excited about what is to come and I am looking forward to seeing what God has in store for our beautiful baby girl.

In closing I want to say thank you. Thank you to all of you who have supported our family, have lifted us up in prayer and have loved our Jana.

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