Saturday, November 26, 2016

My Final Thoughts

So.....I want to thank you for enduring the month with me regarding adoption posts.  I know, I know, the end of the month isn't really here, but I am concluding this journey this evening unless something bright and new hits me for tomorrow.

I have lots of friends in my life that have adopted.  I seriously am blessed and thankful for those that are in my life.  One cool thing is, adoption is becoming a more accepted option.  I am so glad!  My kids will always grow up knowing all about it.  The good, the bad, the ugly and the fabulous.  There are so many different aspects and angles.  It is glorious.

Be sure to share with your kids.  Let them know how adoption is out there.  Read them books.  There are lots of books out there.  We have many for our kids, but there are also books out there for you to help your biological children to understand about adoption.

Look for ways to help.  Whether that be to encourage families in the wait, help them financially or just to be there to offer free babysitting when momma and daddy need a small breath.  Love on the kiddos.  Being adopted makes them normal.  Normal.  Just because they are adopted doesn't mean they need to be singled out.  It does mean they will deal with some things that biological children don't, but it also means that they will deal with some different situations.  They will be strong.

On adoption I didn't cover much about is International adoption.  Well, basically because I know very little about it.  I have several friends who have adopted internationally, but I don't know much of the insides of it.  I do know it is wonderful.  A great option!

So, I hope that you know.....I love adoption.  I am pro-adoption!  I am a mom thanks to adoption.  I am grateful for adoption and everything about it.

Please, let me know if you have any questions or comments.  I will be happy to answer them!  Thank you all for reading and being a part of this month!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Guest Blogger--Janice!!!!!

God Wants Us to Do Hard Things

We left the hospital feeling like we failed. With an empty car seat behind us, we sat emotionally and physically exhausted as we returned to Houston from St. David’s Hospital in Austin. The next day, we sat around the dinner table with our four kiddos. They ask “where is our baby brother?” ”What happened?” “Why did CPS not let him come home?” Understanding that God is sovereign in all things, our only answer was “God wants us to do hard things.” This is a refrain my children hear often from me, but today as their mom and dad sit with blood shot eyes and no appetite because of stress, they get to see us practice what we preach.

Now, there is no time to describe the roller coaster of our adoption experience. We arrived at the hospital when our son was one day old and from the moment we arrived we experienced one major hurdle after another. “You can only jump one hurdle at a time,” I assured my husband. Since CPS was involved, it made things even more complicated. We had made arrangements with the birth mom to adopt her child privately. Even though (after a bunch of drama!) we got the mother’s termination of rights and a hospital release, CPS still filed for custody. We sat with our son that Monday morning in a hospital room making phone calls, praying and trying to figure out what to do as we had no representation in court that was to meet later that day. Despite our best efforts, at 4:00, we got the news that our son was going into CPS custody.  “Should we just walk away?” my husband rightly asks. We knew that we did not want to work with CPS, for several reasons I won’t go into (not only due to space, but because I don’t want to discourage anyone from working with CPS). Being foster parents was not an option for our family and the possibility of going through up to 6 months of litigation to fight with Austin CPS in court seemed unreasonable. However, as it stood, God had not yet completely shut the door, He just allowed things to be difficult. We knew we were not in sin. God calls us to care for orphans (James 1). We knew were fighting for the future of this child from being at the mercy of a godless government agency. He was worth fighting for and we had to recognize this as a trail that God desired us to walk through. Physically, mentally and emotionally we were exhausted. But spiritually we were solid. While there was chaos all around us, we hung onto the things we did know for sure: God is good. God does not leave us or forsake us. The testing our our faith produces perseverance and hope that does not disappoint us, which is why we can have joy (also James 1…whew, good thing the kids and I memorized that chapter this summer!) We acknowledged that we did not need to fear difficulty and hardships because we knew God ordained them. God wants us to do hard things.

After 2 weeks in foster care, our son was placed in our car seat and we brought him to Houston. A month later CPS created case law in order to turn him over to us for a private adoption (something that truthfully everyone said CPS just doesn’t do!). God placed so many amazing Christian sisters in our lives like our lawyer and case managers who literally dropped everything they were doing to come to our aid. God was so merciful. Next month we return to court to finalize the adoption. Honestly in the back of my mind I expect something else crazy to happen when we arrive in court. But that’s ok. Because God who began this good work will bring it to completion…no matter how tumultuous the path may be.

**I'm thankful to know Janice and her sweet kiddos.  It has been a blessing to watch them go in faith on this journey!*

Janice & her hubby

The sweet kiddos!  All of them! 

Clara is ours!

So, we left the hospital Sept 17, 2013.  Our princess was almost 1 month old.  A couple things I didn't tell you in the last blog.....remember how the Dr's told us that we could expect a long NICU stay?! Well, they continued to tell us that.  Even when she was weaning down on the medication, they continued to remind us that this could be a long process.  Now, I understand that is really what they "need" to tell us, but when it came to the day they released us.....all the Dr could say was TLC goes a long way.  To which I replied, prayers-our God protected her and helped her through.  It was very evident to us.  She was where she was due to the prayers that had been lifted for her for months before she was born & the time she was in the NICU.  We were so thankful.

Home.  It was a ride.  For the first several months this child SCREAMED and I really mean SCREAMED NON STOP for the entire time she would be in the car seat.  Whether it was 2 minutes or 30 minutes, it was crazy.  There were moments I would actually call Dan on the phone (which was blue toothed in the van) just so he could enjoy the moments too.  Yup, I am that wife.  Every night around 6pm, Clara would scream.  Scream for 2 hours straight!  Oh, those were the moments that I lived for.  yeah.  NOOOOO.  However, we made it.  We survived.  She eventually stopped and her withdrawal symptoms became less and less.  Yes, she still had some.  They advised us that she could show signs for up to 18 months.  The cool she grew, the less we knew.  All of the "what ifs" that could've been, were not.  She was fine!  God had truly protected her.  Seriously, that was a miracle we were thankful for.

Our adoption legal process hit many bumps and potholes.  It ended up that we didn't finalize our adoption until June 19, 2015.  It was a glorious day & sooooo worth the wait!  We were complete.  Our family was full.

This was our finalization day!!!!!  

One final thing I will share about our little lady.  Clara Harmony.  I told you how and where Elijah Dylaun got his name.  So, Clara.  Well, there is this lady in our lives that we adore.  I grew up without Grandparents.  My grandparents passed away before I was born & when I was young, so I never knew them.  When I met Dan, there was this lady who loved me as if I was one of her own grandchildren.  I now knew what having the love of a grandparent was.  Grandma Davis was that lady.  Dan always had admired her and loved her.  We knew that if we were ever blessed with a little girl we wanted to name her after Grandma.  Well, Grandma Davis, her name is Clara Mercy, but she was always called Dolly and so.....we originally had planned on naming a little girl Mercy Mae.  Well, when we moved to TX, we have a dear friend who takes a lot of our pictures and her photography business is MercyMae Photography. we talked about our options, of which there were MANY that came through....we decided on Clara.  Even though Grandma never really went by Clara, we knew that we wanted our daughter to have her name.  So, Clara it was.  For the middle name, we had desires, but we asked birthmom if she wanted to have a say in her middle name.  She thanked us, but declined.  So, we went with Harmony, which is my mom's maiden name.  I've always heard a lot about my mom's mom, so it seemed perfect to use my mom's maiden name as Clara's middle name.  So......Clara Harmony it is and we LOVE it and it FITS her perfectly!

So, I will leave you with this....we were blessed to have Mamma-Great (what our kids call Grandma) here with us for a while this summer.  So, I will leave you with some pictures of my 2 Clara's!  

This picture grabs my heart!  

Clara was enjoying some alone time with Mamma-Great!

Our Queen and Princess

Spending time outside together

Something was funny!  Pure love!

-thank you for reading our adoption journeys

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Guest Blogger Shanda!!!!

I asked a friend to do a blog on their journey with Foster Care/Foster to Adopt.  Here is her post!!!!  Thank you so much Shanda!

Shanda and her family (currently)

When I was asked to be a guest blogger my heart raced y’all, I have 5 littles!  My first thought was “How am I going to find the time??” I knew I wanted to share our story. I talk about it with anyone willing to listen, even people in the Walmart check-out line. I want people to care about foster kids, like deeply care. I want people to hurt for them, ache even. Not to the point that they just care with emotions, but with actions. Like give it all to God and live with abandon actions. You see-that’s what we did. Not because we are something amazing (we’re very ordinary), or because we’re rich (people often think it’s expensive, its not!), or because we have so much free time (we’re actually extremely busy), or because we’re great parents (we rely on the Lord to fill in all those many gaps)! There’s nothing different or special about us, except that we chose to follow the Lord’s calling on our life, and boy have we been blessed! 
My husband, Julius, and I always knew we wanted to adopt. We had no idea what that would look like for our family and original plans included having a biological baby and adopting one. The Lord began to speak to me through sermons at church, billboards, radio hosts, He began stirring inside of me this passion for this journey that I never saw coming. We took the leap and went to a CPS informational meeting. It was no commitment, just come hear about it (these meetings can be found here . We went in thinking we would just adopt from CPS and left the meeting feeling the calling for foster care as well. Fast forward almost 4 years later-we have adopted two and have fostered 8 others. Our journey is much too long to share through out a one day blog post and has been such a roller coaster ride. The Lord has worked on my heart, my head, my soul, and every other part of the human body to tear it down and rebuild it up new. To show me to live for his Kingdom, not my own and to rely on his strength, most certainly not the little bit that I thought I had. 
There are so many myths about foster care that I wish I could debunk here. The most common thing I hear is “We thought about fostering, but I couldn’t handle it when they go home. How do you do it?”. Let me just be frank-I want to really scream “HOW DO YOU NOT DO IT?”. We’re talking about kids being abused, homeless, hurt, hungry and traumatized, and you’re asking me about how I do it? How I live my comfortable life with everyday normal problems? I don’t-I invite the hurt inside to my very own home, I pray for strength for healing, for peace, for comfort, to make a difference, to make it through this second or the next, to have a heart like Jesus, to see these kids the way He sees them, to love them despite what it will cost me. DESPITE WHAT IT WILL COST ME. It’s not about me, it’s not about you, it’s about what the Lord has asked of you. If you feel that passion, the stirring, for caring for kids in need. Rather it be for foster care or adoption, get on your knees and pray. Pray that the Lord will show you what He has for you and will lead you down your own unique path according to His will. 

I would love to answer any questions that you may have about fostering or adopting through CPS. I can be reached through FB messenger (Shanda Lewallen Karow) or by email at  If you haven’t seen the news, there is a crisis right now from shortage of homes. I won’t try to convince you that “the time is now” or “get busy today”! When you listen, the Lord will take care of the rest

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Tough Times

That first night, we were all exhausted, we were torn, our hearts wanted to stay in the NICU, but we knew, we needed a good nights rest.  So, we said see you later to our sweet Clara and went home for the night.  

The next day I went back to the hospital right away.  Birthmom and I had some time together and then I spent my day with our princess.  Nurses came in and out to help me feed her, and figure out all the goods.  I did kangaroo care quite a bit.  We knew that attachment issues could arise for several reasons, but especially from the drug addiction.  

Withdrawals.  Probably the most difficult thing EVER that I have gone through.  She was on a detox regiment.  Dr's and nurses were very clear to us that we were in for about 2-3 months.  This was day 1 and I was strong.  I knew this going in, so I had to be ready.

Moments were precious.  Moments with Clara were tough, but so loving.  She started out doing so well.  

On Sunday, birthmom was released from the hospital, but before she left, she signed adoption paperwork.  So that part was completed, but the legal process couldn't begin until Clara was released from the hospital too.  

At one point, the delivering and caring for OBGYN told me that he thought we were brave and he wouldn't have adopted this baby.  I was in shock.  I just replied, we trust that God has protected her and taken good care of her. 

Over the next couple weeks Clara amazed all the Dr's.  By the end of the second week when we were leaving they told us the next morning she would be reduced on her meds.  But, the next morning, we got there and she was back up to a full dose.  What was happening is that every day one or both of us were there and she would do great, then we would leave at night to go home and she would worsen.  It was devastating!  So, that day, I determined that was it.  I was sleeping there.  I wasn't leaving.  

The blessing was this....Dan was able to take time off, which was great because Eli started Kindergarten the Monday after she was born.  So, we would take him to school in the morning and then go see Clara.  We would leave to pick him up and go back to her, or I would stay there and wait for Daddy & Eli to come back.  It was a lot of driving.  But, she was worth it.

It was also a blessing because we had LOTS of visitors at the NICU.  People in our life drove the distance to come and visit with us.  They came and held her and loved on her and we knew we were blessed.

So, by this point Dan was able to be home with Eli & I stayed at the hospital.  I had 2 chairs in our area the I slid together with a foot stool in between and I slept there at night.  The NICU nurses were amazing, but by this point, I was the one taking care of her.  I only called on them if I needed help.  I slept like that for 2 nights.  Then, they allowed me to move into the NICU "next step" room.  It was seriously amazing.  It was like my own hotel room.  I had a shower and bathroom in there, I had a bed (ahhhhhh) and a tv, sink and all I needed for sweet Clara.  

Since staying at the NICU she had been progressing very quickly.  I was with her 24/7 now.  Dan and Eli would come up on the nights they could, but we tried to be smart about the traveling.  Now that I was in the room, they fed me breakfast, lunch and dinner, which was amazing.  I never thought I would get that.  

Sept 16, we got good news.  They were taking her off of all MEDICINE!  WOO HOOO!  They were all shocked at how well she was doing, but we had many people praying for her. The day went great! They told me based on the evening and how it went, she could be sent home the next day.  

Well, September 17, 2013.......we went home!!!!!!!!  YAY!!!!!!!

Enjoy these pictures from that day.  

Her going home outfit.  Had this made and loved it!  

World's Best Big Brother!  He was so proud of his little sister!

Eli was super excited that we were leaving together as a family!

Eli got to push her out of the NICU.  It was a very memorable moment! 

Monday, November 21, 2016

She's Here!!!

The day went slowly.  It was tough.  That little princess was sure being stubborn.  She did not want to come out!  Dan joined us at the hospital for a while, but had to head home early afternoon to be at the meet the teacher night with Eli.  

We had an amazing staff in the hospital.  Our nurses stuck by our side the entire time.  They were amazing.  

By 5pm she was progressing nicely.  Epidural had been given and we were ready to go.  Dan was with Eli.....awaiting updates and I was getting more and more nervous by the minute.  

At 5:24pm our baby girl arrived!  It was amazing.  Witnessing the birth was amazing!  I was seriously blown away!  Birthmomma did an incredible job.  Seriously it was fantastic!  But, as soon as the baby came, they whisked her to the NICU.  She hadn't cried at all.  I texted Dan and said, she is here.  The nurses escorted me to the NICU even though I was torn and was feeling terrible for leaving birthmom.  But, in the NICU, I was sat down and heard the loudest crash of thunder, followed by seeing a bright rainbow.  Seriously, it was so crazy!  I knew that was God's sign telling me "He has it in His control!"  Just then I heard a slight cry, it honestly sounded like a newborn kitten.  It was a sad, quiet cry, but I was jumping for joy inside and crying outside. 

As one set of nurses were taking care of my baby, another was talking with me getting information.  

What is her name? they asked.  Clara Harmony Davis
they continued to get more information from me & gave me all the NICU details.  Clara was here.  She weighed 6lbs 10.7oz *not bad for being a month early* and was 19 1/4" long. 

But, here is where our toughest journey began.  I will share that info tomorrow, but for now, enjoy some pictures from the first night.  

Remember that Big Brother shirt we bought & prayed over?  Well, HERE IT IS!  PERFECT FIT!  Now, THAT is GOD!  ONLY GOD! (He was SOOO proud to wear it!)

After meet the teacher, Daddy & Eli rushed to the hospital.  This is our very first family picture of 4!!!!!  

Eli is the BEST big brother EVER and I seriously mean the BEST.  We couldn't hold Clara the first night, but Eli put his hand up there & she held on to his finger TIGHT!  INSTANT sibling connection.  From 2 birthmoms, yes, but siblings forever yes!!!  Bound in love, built through adoption and Brought together by God....our family!

Our sweet Clara Harmony.  Her beginnings were rough, but God had it all in His control!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Baby Girl

Because birthmom had to spend a night in the hospital due to high blood pressure and she had perinatal diabetes, so we had weekly dr appointments.  She was doing well with her methadone treatments daily and we texted and talked daily.

I will not lie.  There were a LOT of days that were drama filled for various reasons and some of which I will not share on here.  Even though we have a relationship with birthmom, it is not to the point yet where we are open about everything and even though I am not naming her in this blog, I have to respect her and not put everything out there.

So, having said that, we had some rough patches, but I truly loved our birthmom.  I do love her.  Regardless of her choices and whether or not I agree(d) with them, I have to believe that God placed her in my life for a reason.  The truth of the matter is, just because there were drugs, it didn't make her choice to place for adoption any easier.  People have asked me, weren't you mad at her for doing that to your baby?  My answer is short.  No.  I understand addiction more than I care to admit.  I don't understand drug addiction, but I do other addictions.  Here is my take on it....when she found out she was pregnant, she got help with methadone.  She also made a tough choice.  She decided to place.  Yes, most likely the baby would've become a ward of the state & she wouldn't have been able to keep her anyhow, BUT, she chose to place!  That is a praise in my book!  That is something worthy of respecting.  She placed her baby ahead of herself.  She worked with an agency in TX, which meant that she left her home for a few months to come have the baby here.  She had to leave her comforts and all she knew to place the needs of the baby first.

Next appointment went well and we had the next appointment set for Aug 22.  On that date we ended up going straight to be admitted for induction.  Her blood pressure had elevated and they wanted to induce the next morning.

Now, y'all, I had so much going on at this point.  Dan was working in a different part of TX, so I had to call him & have him get home.  Eli was to have a meet the teacher for Kindergarten on the 23rd.  Since birthmom had agreed to allow me in the delivery room with her, I wanted to be there with her!  So, I took her to the hospital, got her taken care of, then I went home to gather some of my stuff.  Dan got home, I grabbed everything I needed and back to the hospital I went.

It was exciting for me.  I got to stay there.  We chatted and then, decided to sleep.  I slept, but I am fairly certain she didn't sleep much.  Of course, there were nurses in and out and a constant monitor on the baby.  *which, I loved, btw*

August 23, 2013...the day started out EARLY.  Pitocin was stated at 5am.  5am!!!!!  Y'all, I DO NOT LIKE 5 am.  But, on this day, I was happy to be up at 5 am.  However, pitocin doesn't make things happen super fast all the time.  So, we waited.