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A moment to never forget

2-24-1Ok…I’ve mentioned it before, but truthfully, before Peanut, I was always very uncomfortable around special needs people. Well…sometimes even scared. Today Peanut had therapy at our local Center for Exceptional Children. She was walking down the hall and blocking everyone’s path. This young man was trying to pass by. He was about 18 or 19 and he was special needs. I couldn’t tell you what his disability was, but I can tell you he had a massive smile watching Peanut go. We moved her to the side and his mom went past first. He stopped and held out his hand for me to shake. I smiled and shook his hand, he then raised my hand and kissed the back of it. No words, nothing else. Just another smile and he walked away. Now let me ask you, why in the world was I ever uncomfortable around people like that?!  Yes, special needs individuals are different. But they are different the most amazing ways!!  So full of love, compassion and strength.  Worth so much more respect than the world gives them.

This young man probably won’t remember me.  He probably didn’t even think what he did was a big deal. But I promise I will hold on to that moment.  He made an impact on my life quicker than most people I even have conversations with.  If I didn’t just stop and look at him, and not his disability, I would have missed this opportunity. 63def18c4d59a139e6804055810bff8e

Next time your out, if you do run into a special needs individual, just say hi!  Don’t ignore them or shy away because you are unsure of what to do.  Open your heart to the possibility of something amazing!  I know you wont regret it!!

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Dear Birth Mama

1-28Dear Birth Mama

I want to first and foremost say thank you.  Thank you for giving your sweet baby life, and trusting in God to find her a home.  We will never meet, we will never share stories, but I promise you, you will always have a special place in my family.  Because of you, today we celebrate the one year anniversary of our Jana’s adoption day.  The day that officially changed her name from Baby Girl…to Jana Lynn.  You were not there to witness this event, but I can tell you, it was a day full of love and excitement.  Your baby girl is cherished more than I can ever explain.  Not just by the 5 of us, but by everyone she meets.  She is a beautiful, strong, loving, intelligent girl and I am so honored to be able to watch her grow.

1-28-1I wish there was a way to share my thanks with you.  So many people are confused at how a mother can walk away from her baby.  I try to explain I don’t believe that is what you did.  I want to believe that you were scared, but that you loved this tiny beautiful girl enough to put her needs before your own.  I cannot imagine the pain you must have experienced while making this decision.  I pray for you.  I pray that you somehow know that Jana is OK.  That you have been blessed for the blessing you have given us.  I pray your heart has healed from this amazing sacrifice you’ve made.

Today I just want to tell you that Jana is doing amazing.  She is growing and developing more and more each day.  She is strong-willed and determined and has not let this disability dictate her life.  I can see already that this girl is going to do amazing things in the future!  You would be so proud of who she is, I know because I truly am!

Again, thank you…(that phrase is just too small for the gift you have given us isn’t it?! ) We are forever grateful for your love and sacrifice and I promise I will strive every day to be the mama Jana deserves.

We are all eternally grateful for your special gift.

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Honesty Time…

Ok…I’m going to be perfectly honest with you guys, there are times that I hate Down Syndrome.  Yes, that sounds mean and harsh, but let me explain.

I LOVE every single bit of Jana.  I love who she is because of having Down Syndrome and given I choice I wouldn’t change any bit of her.  But there are things about Down Syndrome I just really dislike.

  1. I hate how hard I have to push her and work with her to accomplish things most kids do without thought.  Everything seems so much harder for her and I just wish she had a break from that once in a while.  I hate that often times when she just wants to play and be a baby, I have to push her to do her therapy.  She gets mad and upset at me, but if we don’t do it, she’ll get even more behind!  I just wish she had a break.  That things could just happen for her naturally like “typical” kids do.  I know that this struggle with make her even stronger, but as a parent, we do try to make life easy for our kids as much as possible.  The world makes it hard enough on them as it is, why add to it!
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  2.    I hate being up with her all night and seeing how exhausted she is, but can’t sleep.  Last night alone she only got 2 hours sleep before 5:30 am.  That’s not good for her!!  That can’t be good for anyone.  But she does it.  Wide awake and happy…but extremely tired.  No matter what I do, I can’t figure out a way to help her sleep better.  Even with the sleep study we have scheduled in November, we still have a chance of being in the exact same situation.  Even though Jana still is decently happy through the day, the lack of sleep is deeply going to affect her overall development.
  3. I hate how people ask me about her milestones and then ask, “Is it normal for them to start doing that so late?”  First of all, THERE IS NO NORMAL!  All kids are different and develop at different times.  There are averages, but those are not set in stone.  Have you ever had anyone ask you if your “typical” kids were normal?  I sure haven’t!  Just like each typical child is different, each child with Down Syndrome is different.  Down Syndrome does not come in levels or degrees.  It just is and it affects each child differently.  Jana is exactly where SHE is suppose to be.  That’s all that is important to me.
  4. Lastly, I hate how I don’t know how to dream for her.  For each of the big kids, I can picture what they will be as adults.  Jojo will graduate from Art school and work at Pixar or Blizzard creating video game art.  Mason will go to some crazy IV League school and major in Mathematics or Engineering.  I still think he would make the perfect Sports Agent.  He loves sport statistics and money…perfect combo!  Jaylen will go to culinary school.  Get a business degree and open up a bakery where she will hire me. (She tells me that all the time)  They will each get married and have kids.  Drop them off to us for the weekend so they can get a break 🙂  Its easy to picture it all.  But how do I dream for Jana?  I can see her grown up, going to school, college maybe, being a beautiful girl.  But I don’t know how to dream big for her!  I want to see her married, having a career, being independent.  However, I’m realistic in knowing, those things just might not happen.  Down Syndrome takes that away.  Instead of pushing her to be independent and growing up to not need us, we have to somewhat teach her that she will always need help.  We will have to help her learn that she might not be able to reach the dreams and goals she has set.  But find new goals and dreams that are suited for her.  One day I might have to explain to her that its not a good idea for her to have children.  That she might not be able to live alone.  That there are just some things she will not be able to do.  Just thinking about those conversations crushes me!  We want our kids to strive to be the very best they can.  To reach for the highest star and not give up!  To tell a child that their dream just isn’t doable…that feels so harsh!

I’m sorry that this post seems negative.  This is suppose to be the place where I open up and share.  So this is what’s been on my mind.  Down Syndrome has opened an amazing world to us.  I wouldn’t change that experience.  But having Down Syndrome takes away so much from Jana too. DownSyndrome.1[6]

 

 

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Unexpected Turns

So.  This past weekend I celebrated my 33rd birthday!  It was a weekend spent with friends and family and nothing dramatic happened.  It was wonderful 🙂  I got to thinking, 10 years ago when I celebrated my 23rd birthday, Jaylen was 2 months old.  I was a mother of 3 and from our plan, done having kids.  See Jaylen had a lot of complications at birth and both her and I almost lost our lives.  Due to this, Juan and I agreed that it was best for us to stop having kiddos and just enjoy the craziness we had already.  We had no idea how many amazing unexpected turns our lives would be taking.  God is good!!

Recently Jana started making such cute faces.  She’s becoming more and more expressive…and so much more adorable!!  One of our favorites is her fishy face!  I always make fish faces to her to try to get a smile.  Last week, she started doing it back!  I’m telling you, its the cutest thing ever!!  I’ve honestly never seen a baby her age do this before!!  Of course she never does anything when I ask her to do it!  But we were able to catch it on video.  It finally happens at the end of the video 🙂

She is also getting stronger and stronger.  She is now army crawling more and more.  Her therapist said now we will start working on crawling on all fours.  When that happens I will definitely have my hands full!!  Just today she discovered she can almost escape her swing. (Yes, she is 1 and still uses a swing!  She’s tiny!!) She thought it was so funny that she was almost able to sit up completely in it.  Guess its time to pack up the swing.  It had a good run 🙂

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One Year Ago…

Exactly one year ago…jeremiah-29-11-white

Monday June 22, 4:10 pm.  I received a call from Maria, our foster care social worker.  She said she had a baby girl for us.  She said she had very little info on her, only that she was roughly 3 months old and had Down Syndrome.  If we agreed to welcome her in, we would also need to be willing to adopt her.  She needed an answer right away.  She told me to call Juan.

4:20 pm. I told Juan what she told me, and didn’t give my opinion at all.  I held my breath as I waited for his response.  He instantly said “YES!  Tell her we’ll take her!”  I hung up and called Maria right back!

4:32 pm.  I finally got a hold of Maria.  She had been contacting Jana’s social worker to try to get more info.  She already told him that she had a family who was interested.  (She knew me well 🙂 ) She found out that this tiny baby  had been living in the orphanage and recently was sent to a foster home.  That family was unable to adopt her so they needed to find a forever home fast.  She was healthy and beautiful…and also nameless.  She told me to start thinking of a name so they can start calling her it immediately.

I told the kids about her.  They were scared but so excited!!

4:50 pm.  Maria calls me back.  She tells me there is possibly another family who might take her.  She tells me she will make sure we get her and will call me back the next day.

I instantly drop to my knees in front of the empty crib we had set up in our room.  I had never met this tiny angel and already I knew she was suppose to be with us!  I begged and pleaded with God to please allow it to happen.  I felt like my heart was being ripped in two.  Like a mother who lost her child.

I walked out to the kids and they knew something was wrong.  I told them we might not get her and they started crying.  They too felt like she was suppose to be theirs and couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t be.

Juan finally arrived home and tried to be positive for me.  He kept reassuring me that if it was meant to be then it will happen.  He tried to help me see that it was out of my hands and I needed to trust God.

The next day comes and I still don’t have an answer.  Maria informs me that the other social worker is speaking with the other family and there is a chance he might give her to them.  I felt like screaming!  I told her to fight for us and she told me she would.  Little did I know that when she wasn’t calling me, she was texting and calling the other social worker constantly telling him why we should get her!  A whole day passed when we had no idea what was going to happen.

Juan spoke to a christian co-worker of his.  Looking for guidance and reassurance that this girl was suppose to be ours.  What did he get?  An honest and truthful answer.  He was told “What makes you think that God can’t do better than you?  How do you know that God doesn’t have a bigger plan in mind for her?”  We were only looking at it like we can be the parents she needed.  We were not allowing God to work out and trust that He had a plan.  Even if it didn’t include us.

By Wednesday afternoon I was an absolute mess.  Trying unsuccessfully to not think of this precious girl.  Trying to come to terms that it wasn’t going to happen.  Doing all I could to not be upset with God.

3:50 pm I receive a call from Maria.  She tells me Jana will be coming home tomorrow morning at 9:00.  Was I ready?  My heart stopped!  I think I asked her a few times if she was sure 🙂  She was laughing and I could hear how happy she was for us.  She told me to get a good night’s sleep because she was told Jana’s days and nights were reversed.  She would see me in the morning.

I called Juan and cried.  It was going to happen!!  Juan however would not allow himself to accept it would until he held her in his arms, but I already knew!  She was ours and no one was going to take her away.

In three days our world got turned upside down!  Without telling any of our friends or family, we deeply longed for this precious girl.  I never knew how deeply I could love someone I never met.  I was a mother who hadn’t held her baby yet.  I didn’t know what to expect when I saw her for the first time.  I didn’t know what color eyes she had or how big she was.  All I knew was that my heart was screaming for her!  I was ready to welcome her home!

 

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Happy Birthday Jana!

Jay & Jana-6432To my precious baby girl,

A year ago today you were born and the world was changed.  I wasn’t there to hear your first tiny cry, to cradle you in my arms and help you go to sleep your first night.  I don’t have your first picture or your first little footprint.  I wasn’t there to watch over you the 5 days you were in the hospital.  Or take that nerve-raking first ride home with you.  I missed so much.

Jay & Jana-5351My dear Jana, I promise you, I will be joyfully celebrating with you each birthday.  I promise that I will be with you as you reach each new milestone and event.  I will one day watch you graduate and possibly even walk down the aisle.  I will cherish every moment I have with you and thank God every day for bringing you to our family.

Jana, you were not of my flesh but I promise you are deeply from my heart.  Daddy and I prayed for you long before we ever knew your beautiful face.  God had a bigger plan than all of us expected and knew you were meant for us.  I am honored to be your mama and I promise I will do my very best to be the mom you deserve.

Jay & Jana-6476

Jay & Jana-6458

Happy birthday my little peanut!!  Thank you for joining our family and making our world so much brighter!!

 

 

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Take the Pledge!

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March 21st is National Down Syndrome Day (3-21…3 copies of the 21st chromosome)  Since it is just around the corner, Ruby’s Rainbow is using this month as a perfect opportunity to allow you to help young adults with Down Syndrome.

Ruby’s Rainbow Mission:
Our mission at Ruby’s Rainbow is to grant scholarships to adults with Down syndrome who are seeking post-secondary education, enrichment or vocational classes. It is our goal to create awareness of the capabilities of these amazing individuals and help them achieve their dreams of higher education.
We not only grant scholarships; we also love keeping track of Ruby’s Rockin’ Recipients throughout their educational programs and beyond. We hope reading about them will inspire others to go for their dreams!

So what’s the pledge?

Step 1 Donate just $21.

Step 2 Pledge to be kind and considerate to peeps of all abilities.

Step 3 Ask three friends to do the same.

That’s it!!  But I’m taking it a step further…I’m not just asking 3 of you to take this pledge, I’m asking all of you!!  Think of how much could be raised if each of you take this pledge and get 3 of your friends to do the same!  How many adults do you think we can help go to college, work toward their dreams, or accomplish their goals!

So please!  Join me in helping dreams come true!  It will just take a moment of you time, but it can change a life forever!

Click HERE to Pledge