Birth Story of Winston Wade Teeter

I am so thankful to be home with a very precious third son who I was able to have the privilege of birthing. I love all three of my boys and am so happy that I get to raise them and appreciate all of the ways in which God chose to have them in my life.

Due to Gestational Diabetes, and a Positive GBS test the plan was to have Winston come into this world through an induction, the process beginning with cervical gel on the morning of August 31st, and then a full induction on the morning of September 1st.

I arrived at the hospital at 7:30 am on August 31st and had the Cervical "tampon" (as it seemed) placed inside of my cervix at around 9 am. I then had to stay in the hospital for about 2 hours to check that everything was okay prior to me going home. The nurses and Doctor kept telling me that "typically the Cervical Gel alone does not work" and that I would be in tomorrow morning regardless to have the full induction. Not true in my case. I started having notable contractions within an hour (perhaps less). At around 11 am the contractions were regular, but being the stubborn person I am I told them that I felt confident about going home, and that I would be "just fine". Once home (a 5 minute drive mind you) my contractions were about 1.5 minutes apart, and each contraction was lasting about a minute. I wanted to labor at home as long as I could, and since this was my first time I wasn't really aware what was "normal" in regard to contractions.

My mom came to the house and felt that it would be a good idea for me to head back to the hospital, given that my contractions were coming so close together. I was home long enough to sit in the bath for a bit, and bounce on a birthing ball, only to arrive back at the hospital an hour and a half later. When I arrived the contractions were just one after the other, and really not a lot of time inbetween (about 30 seconds). They did a cervical check and found that within that 2 hour span, I had progressed to 5 cm dilated. Woah!

I was brought into the labor room, and proceeded to have back to back contractions (with only 30 seconds to 1 minute in between). They were trying to figure out how to slow down the contractions, without impeding the progress I was having in the labor. Because I was not getting a break between contractions they were worried about the duration I would have to be able to push without having a rest inbetween contractions. They decided to break my water to see how it would affect my contractions. After they broke my water, within 1 hour I went from 5 cm dilated to 8 cm dilated, and was in a lot of pain. My contractions were still shorter and on top of one another, so I was progressing quickly but the duration of contractions were not quality, and I had little rest inbetween them. At that point I was really tired, and was worried about pushing, but I was beyond the point of being able to have an epidural. They decided to give me a spinal tap (which is normally reserved for C-Sections) to see if it would slow down my contractions, and give me rest periods and help make the contractions longer. I was disappointed because the Spinal Tap didn't give me the relief I was hoping for in total, but it did make it so my contractions slowed down, and lessened the back labor pains. The problem is they slowed down too much, and then they had to give me Oxycontin to speed them back up again. I was in the 8-10 cm zone for about 6 hours, including pushing. I do remember having the strong sensation to push at 8cm and the nurses and doctor kept telling me I wasn't allowed to. Having to hold back those instincts to push were probably the hardest part about the whole labor process for me. The pain was so immense, and my body seemed to naturally want to push downwards.

The Spinal Tap wore off after 1 hour, which was a good thing because I was able to push better when it got to that time. 10 cm is where things got comical. I remember yelling at the nurses and Doctors telling them "I refuse to push until you give me either an epidural or a C-Section". Adam kindly let them know I was nuts and not to listen to me. The Doctor reminded me that I no longer could have an epidural and that I just needed to push. I started pushing, and I was amazed at how much better it felt to push the pain away rather than just sitting there having to deal with contractions. The only issue was that the Spinal Tap, even though it had worn off on my back and stomach, managed to keep my legs frozen. It felt very strange to try and push with frozen legs. I pushed for a total 2 hours, and I started feeling like something was wrong. I kept having the sensation of his head sort of coming out, but then going back in again after a push. This sensation went on for about an hour, and I could tell there wasn't a lot of progress happening. I told the Doctor that something wasn't right. She informed me that he wasn't in the right position and that his chin was facing up, not down which was making it hard for me to push him out. At this point I was so tired because of the labor progressing so quickly and my crappy contractions so they called in another Doctor to do a vacuum extraction. This was great because he came out within in three minutes of the vacuum being placed, and 2 pushes on my part.

When he came out I was so overwhelmed by how the pain just seemed to disappear. I just couldn't believe I pushed this baby out, and that he was now in the world for me to take care of. Very hard to describe, but a feeling I will never forget and will always cherish. It took two hours for them to stitch me up.....let me just tell you that everything that could tear did- so you can imagine what recovery will look like.

So overall the labor took about 10 hours, with the majority of that being in the 8-10 cm zone. I did not expect it to happen as quickly, especially since this was my first birth.

(My loving husband taking a selfie of me at 10 cm dilated.....)

I am so elated to have this little miracle here with me. I just can't believe that God blessed us with him. It is such a privilege to have both adopted and birthed children. Each experience is unique, and the love I have is the same for all of them. 

Blessed with 3 Miracles

Adam and I have exciting news to share. First we were blessed with our son Pierce through Public adoption, then we were blessed with our son Isaac through International adoption, and now I am 19 weeks along with our third blessing via the biological root. This miracle comes after 4 heartbreaking miscarriages, and very little hope that this way of having children would be a possibility for me. But we felt like we should keep trying simply because we had a feeling that there was a child that was meant to come to us through this way. In no way does it feel more exciting than adoption, and I am so blessed to have my children in any way God chose to bring them into my family's life. The due date is September 10, but since I will likely be induced (due to being higher risk) I could have another bundle in my arms as soon as the end of August. 

Our pregnancy happened the good ol' fashion way and I am currently not receiving any special care (and I hope it continues to stay that way). I am considered higher risk just because of my history of pregnancy losses, but I continue to pray and hope that God will keep this baby in our lives here on earth. Prayers, however, would be appreciated because I often get anxious and am constantly checking for a heartbeat with my doppler. But God is bigger than my worries and I do my best to rely on Him.  

We will be doing a gender reveal very soon because we do have an idea of what we are carrying and are excited to share it with you all :) Boy or girl, we are very happy to welcome another kiddo into our Circus ;)

A Call To All Parents: Teach Your Kids About Diversity

Hey, you. Yes you. The parent who is turning your head away from the situation that our kids find themselves in, the one where your kid is telling my kid he has a "funny face", and you are too shocked and nervous to do anything about it. You would rather pretend it didn't happen. And maybe you got into your car, and you said a few things about being nice to other kids, and how some kids look "different" and we need to be nice to them anyways. Or maybe it was easier for you to just pretend that it didn't happen. Or maybe you don't really care at all. 

But it did happen. My kid went home feeling like he had little worth because your kid thought making fun of him was a fun game. Did you notice how he hid from your child after that happened? How he hid in the corner and sat for a long time alone, and needed the encouragement to continue to play around your child. 

Hey, you. Yes you. The mom who watched as your children pretended my child was a "monster" and invented their own game running away from him. It seemed like a lot of fun for them. I know deep down you knew your kids shouldn't be doing this, but I suppose your defense mechanism was to laugh it off and pretend it was "cute" behavior. Maybe you were a bit shocked to see your kiddos doing this because 9 times out of 10 they are sweet as pie? Well kids, like all people, aren't perfect. They need help learning right from wrong. It would have been really nice if you had of intervened and stopped them from playing this game rather than smiling it off. This would have been an excellent time for you to teach your kids about diversity and the value of individuals with special needs. But you wasted that moment. You will find another, and hopefully you step up to the plate. 

That night I had to tell my child in the best way that I could that he was not a monster. That he was a wonderful, loving person who deserved to be surrounded by all sorts of people who saw his worth. 

Hey, you. Yes you. The parent who has never talked about special needs with your kids because it just has never been something you thought you needed to talk about, or maybe you think it is the job of the teachers, or you have decided you will cross that bridge if it comes (it will, many times). Or maybe you have had one or two casual conversations about special needs, but it has not gone much further than that. Or maybe you have never even thought about doing it because it isn't something you yourself learned early on. I am here to tell you it matters. It matters that your kids know that being cruel, or viewing someone with special needs as anything other than valuable, wonderfully made, and worthy, is one of the most important things they will ever learn in life. And this lesson needs to be repeated more than once, because, well, they are kids after-all and may not understand a lesson fully the first time around. This lesson will take them very far indeed and open them up to so many rich relationships, and new experiences. It will help them learn empathy, and they will become wonderful advocates, maybe even for their own children with special needs one day. There are consequences if you choose not to teach them these values. You are responsible for them having the knowledge they need to comfortably and confidently interact with every person they come across who is typical, or not typical. 

Like I said, there are consequences to you not being in charge of this learning experience for them. 

Hey, you. Yes you. The mom who is pointing at my son and laughing while your own daughter looks embarrassed beside you. You moved so quickly past us that we didn't have a chance to tell you how sorry we feel for you. You missed an amazing opportunity to meet a wonderful little boy, and the chance to teach your daughter a very good lesson about diversity (although it seems she may be learning something from your bad behavior alone). I am sorry your caregiver did not teach you these values. I imagine you have grown up being angry about, or fearful of differences, and your life could have felt so much more richer and fuller had someone just taught you better. 

But I forgive you, and countless others after you. I will teach my son forgiveness, too, and his brother, and they will grow up knowing that some people just weren't taught the same values they were, and that evil exists in this world, and they will rise above it. I will read them all sorts of books, like "Special People, Special Ways", or "My Friend Isabelle", "A Rainbow of Friends", or maybe "Views from Our Shoes". I will take the time to research as many books as I can, and pick the ones that will best speak to my kiddos about diversity. Because it is my responsibility to teach them about acceptance, appreciation of differences, love and empathy. I will encourage them to be friendly to kiddos who have special needs. I will make a point to have play dates with parents who have kids with special needs, and find ways to break down barriers so that our kids can have a blast with one another. If they have questions about people with special needs, I will answer them, or better yet, I will get them to interact with people who have special needs and can answer those questions better than I can. And if there ever comes the sad day when my children discriminate against another individual, for whatever difference they possess, right then and there they will be taught that that behavior is unacceptable. That behavior will never be acceptable in this household, and it shouldn't be acceptable in yours either. 

So be a better parent. Teach your children about special needs, don't wait. Don't assume one conversation will do it. Be an active participant in your kiddos tapping into that side of themselves that will make it so posts like this never have to be written again. Your kids are too important, this lesson is too important, for you to ignore it. Your kids deserve the opportunity to be friends with wonderful people like my son. They need to be taught that making fun of him, or people who are not typical, is wrong. They likely won't know this lesson on their own. Help them be comfortable with the differences that they see around them. Not just comfortable with these differences, but to celebrate them. 

This is Isaac. 
He has achondroplasia. That means he is shorter than most people. He has a bit of a larger head. His arms and legs are shorter, but his torso is average size. He can do everything that a typical sized person can do. Sometimes he needs to use a stool. Sometimes he needs a bit of help when he walks, or goes up stairs. But don't assume he can't do most things on his own. In fact, he likes to be independent, and prefers not to be treated younger because of his short stature. Isaac is learning to speak English, so he does not talk a lot, but he understands almost everything you are saying to him. People like Isaac prefer to be called a "little person" or "a person with dwarfism". They do not want to be called "a midget". Isaac is a very happy, loving person. He loves reading books, and watching Paw Patrol. If you say "hello" to him, he might be a bit shy, or he will say "hello" back. If you get to know him better he will likely view you as very dear to him, and want to be your friend. Get to know someone like Isaac. You will be happy that you did. 

A Day In The Life of a Family Adopting a Child From An Institution

In the late morning we wake up to a busy bustling street below. This city, although considered country against the metropolis that is Kiev, seems to never sleep. I was up most of the night trying to get my son to sleep, and scrutinizing the happenings of the day. It is exhausting the way I over analyze each small piece of my behaviors as a mother to my sons, one of whom is beside me, kicking me in his sleep, and the other who lives (and sleeps?) in a place that I fear going to. I think about what his night must be like, and I worry, I worry, I worry, all night about him.

The various vendors are setting up their ware as our family pours out from our hotel onto the cobblestone sidewalk. Elderly ladies are filling large buckets with flowers, their arthritic hands aching as they adjust them into place. One of the women gives me a soft smile, the wrinkles on her face speaking to a hard life of work, and one that has softened her soul. She tends to her flowers like small children, and perhaps she hopes I will take one of them home too. Teenagers and children headed to school, laughing and pushing one another and periodically adjusting the sashes that designate them to one institute or another. Men are drinking coffee at one of the hundreds of stores and stalls that are trickled all over the sidewalk. You can still hear the soft hum of espresso machines, under their loud banter. Ukranian women, beautiful and made up, either pushing what look like vintage strollers over the cobblestone, their babies bouncing rhythmically, or they are walking confidently past groups of men who eye them up and down, some whistle in pleasure. I wish I had brought better shoes because these stones make my feet ache.

We stop at the same cafe every morning so that my husband can indulge in his espresso based drink. It is a moment of pride for him to know that he pays only cents for the same drink that costs Canadians several dollars. It is one of the few joys he has on these days, and he slurps it back quickly, but lovingly; it warms his belly. I keep my eyes to the sidewalk and our son. I don't like how he is so dangerously close to the fast moving vehicles. He rides the edge of the sidewalk to see how much it takes to get him in trouble by us. I tell him to come closer to me, he declines. He is testing us a lot these days.

Our entrance into the "other part" of the city where our son's institution is located is sharp. The stores dwindle, there is less hustle and bustle, and what is left is the cobblestone as well as small houses locked behind rod iron gates, and some street dogs hoping that we will feed them. One of them itches themselves so violently that I wish I had packed flea killer. Her nipples suggest a pack of puppies nearby, likely dead judging by how swollen and sore they look. The line of houses stops and the large brick wall that contains my sons "home" sparks my anxiety. I already want to leave, but the joy on my son's face when he sees that we have returned to play with him prompts me forward. I move a little quicker.

We open the large metal doors to the institution and are greeted by a security guard who we do not recognize but he seems to know us very well. "_______? Canada?" he questions and then points us to the direction we need to go, as if it is not already painfully etched into my mind. In the distance we can see several adult orphans pacing back and forth, periodically yelling to the sky, hunched over, or leaning against walls. The more we come to this place the more we see of them. They all know now what we are here for and they want to soak us in, just like our son does. I pass one small forlorn man sitting on the ground. He looks at me and whispers "mama". A child, still, who aches to feel the warm embrace of someone who will love and nurture him and although that person is not me, I want that for him too. I dart my eyes to the broken playground that is central, rusted, dirty, definitely not a centre for play. Too dangerous for any child. More like a graveyard. To my right is a line of portables. Maybe houses? Or classrooms? They all are painted the same institutional grey. I spot the one where our visits always happen and say a little prayer that this time they won't have to "kick out" the other children, my sons housemates, who have very few options for places to play away from the adult orphans who could hurt them. We open the door and a stale air meets us and I see their sad faces. They are still here. This worker, one of few, did not know we were coming. She quickly files them out of the meeting room, hurriedly putting on their jackets and boots, apologetically lowering her head. The smallest of the children starts to cry because he wants to play with us too. All of the children look at us as prized possessions, and there is so much sadness in their eyes that I can barely look at them. I try and rub each of their backs as they are pushed past me. One of them tries his hardest to open my back pack so he can grab something, anything, before the worker grabs his arm and shushes him out of the door. I wish I could bring them all home, but I know I am not their mom, even if I want to be.

Our son waits for us, leaning crookedly on a chair, his smile is so big and earth shattering that I nearly forget where we are. He wiggles his feet up and down, a little happy dance, does his signature laugh of glee, and motions with his hand for us to come and play with him. I notice he is still wearing the same outfit that he has been wearing for a whole week. I cringe at the idea of peeling those dirty clothes off of his body, and am fearful of the condition of his skin underneath. Judging by the large rash that begins on his neck and spreads menacingly down behind his shirt, I know that his first bath with us will be a very difficult one. Bed bugs? His smell suggests other possibilities. We walk across the carpet that has almost certainly never been cleaned, and place our belongings on the familiar wooden bench, our son hobbling behind us, waiting for me to put down my back pack so he can help us set up our first game. He takes out the hot wheels tracks one at a time, eager to put them together, but careful not to drop them. He brings them to the other side of the room grunting and motioning with his hands that he requires my help. I move chairs into place, and help him with each piece. "Dobre ______" I say as he tries to put together some of the pieces on his own. Our son motions for my husband and youngest son to come and play with him, while I work to organize the room for our hour together. An understanding between us became clear early on: he wants me to be like all of the other "mamas" (the female workers) in the facility. I am not the nurturing loving mother figure I want to be, a central player in his emotional core, but someone who merely facilitates and works to meet some of his physical needs. I give him his space and watch lovingly while he enjoys his time with his brother and new Papa. I am happy to take a back seat in his world in these early days getting to know him. My boys laughter is hypnotic.

The "classroom", or at least that is what they call it even though it has nothing in it that makes it that way, smells strongly of piss and mold. There is a table with several small wooden chairs surrounding it. There is a large shelf on one of walls that is covered with stuffed animals and other toys, none of which are played with, or have ever been played with, at least not by these children. I know this because there is an inch of dust on each of them. I note the small airplane we gave our son on the first day we saw him hidden away behind a stuffed toy duck on the top shelf. I picture the children in this room, sitting and looking up at the dusty toys and imagining themselves joyful in play with them. Beside this room is another room lined with small beds. Although the beds seem untouched I know that they are slept in, or have been slept in, because at least one of them smells of urine. Or maybe it is just the whole room, it's hard to tell. During one of my youngest son's many temper tantrums while in this place I was brought to one of these beds because I was trying to seek comfort and soothe him, only to find the urine smell was unbearably strong when I sat. I understand why he is so angry, I am too, and I know that I cannot adequately comfort him here. It will be a long time before he can feel like himself again after what we have chosen to, needed to, put him through because of this adoption.

I watch my other son buckle and fall to the ground, hear him let out a small groan of pain after trying to will his hip into the right position so he can aid the hot wheels car on its decent down the track. Many times before he would persevere through this pain and try to stand up again, but today he is very tired and I almost feel guilty for him having to do these visits, even though I know he is elated to be with us. Lying on the ground he gently pushes the car back and forth, trying to muster up just enough enthusiasm to warrant the sore shock that now radiates from his hip. Time for a new game, I decide. He watches me with a smile on his face as I set up sticker books on the table near him. My youngest son declines the sticker game, and chooses to run around kicking and punching a balloon instead, periodically rolling on the dirty ground only to jump back up again with boundless energy and enthusiasm. My husband gently carries ________ to a chair near his sticker book where he will stay for the remainder of our visit. They begin the repetition of taking a sticker off one page, and placing it on another. I watch my son's tiny chubby fingers expertly smooth down each side of the sticker, only beckoning for another once he is satisfied with the way the previous sticker has been placed. It seems so very important to him that the job is done right. These quiet moments of play seem so luscious to him, and I love watching him drink it in. I wonder if he knows we will come back the next day, and the next, our whole lives, or if he tells himself we won't, and so he must file these feelings of pleasure away somewhere in his heart to recall and get him through the worst of days. But he is tired, and his body aches, and though he wants us to stay so very badly we know he needs to rest. We find the first worker we can and in broken Ukrainian we let her know, with an ache and longing in our hearts that our visit for today must be finished. A sadness sweeps over our son's face briefly, but passes quickly as he stands up to help our first son put on his jacket and boots. He is used to being disappointed. It is a very sweet sight to behold him helping his younger, but taller brother, but I wonder if  he does this out of a distant sense of brotherly affection, or if he feels he needs to help, to work, in order to push down those horrid feelings of abandonment that surely sweep up each time we leave. That feeling is more familiar to him than love is. Or maybe he wants us to leave, because the truth is I really can't know for certain what he wants when he is unable to talk much with us at all. Our first son gives him a hug and their embrace, although brief, tells me that he makes our family complete. After waving goodbye my husband picks up our youngest son and heads towards the door. I hang back with ________ because I desperately want him to know that I do not want to leave him here, but I don't know how to show him that. I bend down to his level, reach out my arms in a hug position and wait.  He waves his hands at me, like a push, telling me he doesn't want my affection. "Goodbye _________" I say and he does several bursts of short waves behind me and looks out the window. I have to leave him once more and my heart nearly bursts into a thousand pieces. I truly feel as if I am leaving a piece of me,  want to leave a piece of me, back with him in that moldy room.

The door to that classroom opens and I welcome the fresh air into my nostrils, breathing deeply, it dries the tears that I did not know were threatening to fall down my cheeks. We walk forward into the many peering eyes of adult orphans. The word had been spread that we were here and they watch us with anticipation. I am beginning to recognize several of them, particularly the one who always comes so close to us, waving some sort of a plastic bag in our faces and asking for money repeatedly. One of the workers shoos him away, and he cowers away from their touch. Several of them mumble to themselves, a few of them giggle and smile at us with mouths fill of browning and missing teeth. One comes up to us confidently and tells us he knows a bit of English. He clearly wants to practice, and we are very impressed with his ability to recall what was likely earlier lessons at another institution. I am amazed by how able he is in comparison to some of the other men, and I am saddened with the knowledge that his skills are not put to better use. He is a ward of the state with no privileges in the outside world. He asks us where we live, what work we do, and whether we like Ukraine. I lie and say we are happy to be here, even though I ache so badly for home with my sons. He asks me the same question that many of the workers here ask, or try to ask: "Is _______ being a good boy for you? Do you like him?". All at once this sick feeling spreads over me, that I am shopping for the children they are selling. As any good salesman would do, he wants to ensure that as a customer I am satisfied with this purchase. I feel sick to my stomach, and want to get outside these walls. I can barely breathe as one of the residents playfully touches my arm, and another yells out "Canada!" in excitement. These are all children who did not get what they deserved, and _______ will never have to endure a cruel fate that locks you behind these walls for your whole life. Wards of the State. Prisoners of the State. A death sentence.

The familiar large brass door comes into view, and as soon as I leave through it I almost immediately want to go back inside. Grief sweeps in so strongly, and I look into my husband's eyes and know he feels it too. How do I leave my heart, my _______, in that place? I look at my youngest son who is crying. "I want to go home" he says, "I want my brother to come home". I remind him that there is a market place just up ahead and he will get to pick whatever treat he wants from it. Wrong or right, my husband and I will also buy ourselves a treat, usually one of the chocolate croissants, to gorge ourselves with once we get back in the hotel. A sweet momentary pleasure to cover up the deep feelings of sadness that will overcome us for the rest of the night.

Once back at the hotel we try to keep our routine as normal as it would have been at home. We make dinner, we bathe our son, we read him books, and we try and help him sleep. "I don't want to be alone, I'm scared" he says, and so we watch a show as a family until he falls asleep. Sometimes we need to give him gravol just to get him to relax. I worry about him. I see a change in him, an unwanted change. I worry that we are making a mistake and that we are breaking his heart and damaging who he would have been without the madness that this adoption has brought. I am reminded of the endearing moments of the day: him hugging his brother, his brother helping him with his boots and zipping up his jacket, the giggles when they play. I envision us as a family at home, eating dinner together, see my boys playing at a park, see them wearing soft pajamas and tucking them into bed. We will build this family together. My sons are stronger than I give them credit, I hope.

Eventually we will go home and ______ will be with us. That thought makes me so happy and terrified at the same time. Can he heal from all of the things he has had to endure at such a young age? Do I have the capabilities as a mother to give him what he needs when home? So many questions...none of which I can answer. Only God can.

God. He is in all of this. I feel wrong throwing God at the end of such a long post, and I will admit that oftentimes He is the last one that I lean on, but I always feel a sense of peace and assurance when I do. I wish I would allow myself to lean on Him more through this process rather than feeling so heavy all of the time. Perhaps that is my prayer, to be with God more. This adoption began over 3 years ago when I told my husband that I felt called to do this. It began with God, as all things do, and I know that it will continue and end with Him. I should be more confident in myself too- know that God must have thought that I was a person who could handle all of this, even though I doubt myself constantly. So we move forward with the process, we survive the hard things, and hope for better things to come, because this choice to bring _____ home is much bigger and more meaningful than the individual parts, my fears and insecurities. 

Finding My Son through Google Maps

I figured out the orphanage that my son is in. I am technically not supposed to know at this point in time (even though we are only weeks away from travelling) because oddly enough that is not a "luxury" that new adoptive mommies and daddies are awarded until they meet their child in person (along with medical history, current photos, or any photos for that matter). But I am sure I am not the first adoptive mother to ask questions, grasp the puzzle pieces that are let out and begin to build and construct a fuller picture of what my child through adoption may be like in person and where they came from. My son currently lives in a very small town. This small town has very few orphanages in it and given the information we know about his medical needs I have concluded that there is really only one orphanage he can be in. And I have sought insight from those who know the area, asked the questions needed to get some clarity of why my child would ever be put in such a place. Because this place is not somewhere he, or any child, or adult for that matter should ever call home. If I am correct (I fear, but know that I am) my 6 year old son resides in an institution for people with "deep and moderate mental retardation" (their words, not mine) and the age range goes from 6 years old to 35 years old. This means that my son is with institutionalized adults older than myself. Just think about this for a moment as we head into the "Back to School" season: What would the impact be to allow a 6 year old to try to learn and thrive alongside 35 year old adults? And this is not just his school but his residence, his home. And the labels my son carries that brought him to this place: "Orphan", "Mentally Retarded", none of which represent who he really is, and yet they dictate his cruel circumstance anyways. I could spend my day worrying about his circumstance. I could, quite literally, curl up into the fetal position and let his reality control how I navigate the very fortunate world that I am in. These worries that I have are only softened through prayer and trust in the bigger plan and the knowledge that God loves him. They are softened by looking into the smiling face of my first son and knowing that there can be a happy life for children who are adopted (even if it does not solve every sorrow).

Google maps is heaven sent. I spent a bittersweet hour scouring the whereabouts of my son's orphanage, the surrounding streets, the "hot-spots" that I am sure we will frequent while living in this small town. I plan for my first son- where we will play, where we will eat, how to fill his day with happiness and healthy challenges. I am unable to plan much for my second son, only look at a single google maps photo of a run-down institution with a very large and decrepit brick wall surrounding it. The reality is that my first son's life is very full. My days are spent just fulfilling all of his desires and needs, and I love every moment of it. My second son's life is so very unfair, painful, and drastically stunted by his circumstance. These two realities come crashing together and I turn to God for understanding and assurance as their mother.

The orphanage/ institution is set apart from what seems to be a small but bustling town. I imagine it would be possible for you to pass the orphanage without knowing exactly what it was for and assume that you had just gone the wrong way. Most would very likely turn around or quickly go in another direction. And when they walked a few blocks up, they would feel a greater sense of safety. They would be able to go to a cafe in fact they would have their choice of several. They would see market places, restaurants and stores to shop in. In the centre of the town there is a very large fountain surrounded by people and children who are smiling and enjoying their day. I detected one little girl skipping while holding her mother's hand. At one of the cafes sits a business man on his cell phone. There, it is full of life, and only a few blocks down where the orphanage is it seems nearly dead. And I would not blame the residents of this town for wanting to keep this orphanage a secret, for appreciating that it was set apart from the general population, we do that here too. The hard stuff seems so easy to push to the side and hide. We all at one point in time choose to squash down our feelings about something that makes us sad or angry, out of fear that if we took the time to acknowledge it we may just have to know the truth and ultimately do something about it. It was only a few short years ago that I myself didn't know that children died at such young ages just for being orphans and it took me all of that time to acknowledge that I should do something about it. And in other avenues of my life where I still squash truths I hope one day to have the strength to do more and that God can help me overcome my selfishness and pride.

Until we leave, I will likely "check in" on this map as means to be close to my son just like I do with the few photos of I have of him. I don't expect that when we adopt him and he is relocated to our home that somehow his circumstances of abandonment, or medical issues, disappear. There is a lot of healing to do, a great amount of it having nothing to do with him moving to another country, although it does help. Very soon I will be walking these streets in person. Very soon my husband, son and I will be on the doorsteps of this orphanage so that we can meet him for the very first time. And for now, I will be thankful for the opportunity to have a small glimpse into his whereabouts and use what I can of this map to be the best mom for him. It's all I have right now- and I am eager to do so much more.   

Travel Date!!!

The call we have been waiting for has FINALLY come :) The Teeter Family will be flying to meet their son on October 9th, with the official meeting on October 11th. We received the news in the middle of the night last night via email and nearly dropped on the floor in excitement and anxiousness. It is really happening. We are on our way to bring our son home. Everything we have set out to do for over a year now is unfolding quickly. And at the end of it all we will have a son, a brother for Pierce and he will have a family and a home.

We have been saving a bottle of ice wine since we were married. It is not anything really special, but the sentiments behind saving it for an important day are. We told ourselves we would not open it until something really amazing happened. We adopted our son Pierce and would have opened it then, but somehow it got lost among all the moving boxes from several moves along the way. But we found it a while ago and knew that it would be opened on a special day during our second adoption. This is that day- it feels rather momentous. We are ecstatic.

So cheers to adoption. Thanks to everyone who has supported us on this journey so far. There is still a lot of work to do, but tonight we celebrate, because not long from now there will be one less orphan.

DIY Therapy Swing

Adam and I have/ will have the privilege of raising two kiddos with special needs. Our son Pierce is a boisterous 2 year old, who has some fun sensory quirks that makes it so he can benefit from the calming motion of a swing like this. Our son who we will be bringing home this year will certainly benefit from this Therapy Swing, so it was a no-brainer to install one. He currently is unable to walk unassisted, talk, and has achondroplasia. He also has been living in an orphanage/ institution for 7 years, so has had very little stimulation to aid in his physical and mental growth. But your child does not need to have special needs for this swing to be something that would benefit them. It is loads of fun for any child to play and release energy on!

We live in a very small house, so space is limited for this sort of set up- so our therapy swing is right in the centre of our living space. It has the option of being taken down when company is over, or the swing is not in use. This DIY Therapy Swing is a very simple project that can be completed within hours. In total this project cost us $13 to do (keeping in mind that we got the hammock for free).

You will need:

-A Fabric Hammock (the conventional hammock that you hang on both sides)
-2 Carabiner Hooks (we bought ones that can hold up to 500 pounds each)
-2 Eye Lag Bolts (we bought ones that can hold up to 300 pounds each)
- Drill

1) Screw the Eye Lag Bolts into door frame (or consider somewhere that there is ample space, and they won't pull out of the ceiling). We screwed them about 40 inches apart, but test out your hammock first and what width would make sense. We wanted more width because we wanted our sons to have the option of using it both as a swing, and lying in it like a more conventional hammock. |
2) Attach the Carabiner Hooks, and give them a little tug to ensure everything is secure.
3) Attach the loops of the Hammock to the Carabiner Hooks. Have an adult take the swing for a test drive before allowing your child to swing on it. In doing so, you ensure that it is completely safe.
4) FLY!