Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Give thanks in all circumstances

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 - Be joyful always;
pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

This verse is so appropriate after we just finished our Thanksgiving Holiday and several fundraisers.  My son, Jack, has spent all month learning about being grateful at church.  Our children's ministry has been singing this beautiful song dedicated to this verse.  

Jeff and I are SO joyful and SO thankful for the support we have received.  Our fundraisers and donations have brought us over $15,000.  The love and gifts you have shown us are incredible.  We thank God every night for you all and the individuals who have organized and planned our fundraisers.

While we cannot name every individual who has donated to our cause, we would like to acknowledge the individuals and businesses who helped organize and support our fundraisers.

The invitation to our pasta fundraiser.

Pasta Fundraiser - September 21, 2014
-Mike & Katie Hendricks - Organizer
-Mitch & Lauren Ward - Organizer
-Brian & JoJo Gleason - Organizer
-Russo's Pizza - Hosted Fundraiser

-Merry June - 'Bring Sam Home' Necklaces

Bowling Fundraiser - October 14, 2014
Bowling Pin Auction items
-Sgt. D's Foundation - A charitable foundation that organized our Bowling Fundraiser
-Fred & Ann Jewell - Fundraiser Organizer
-Jason & Amanda Werbeskas - Fundraiser Organizer
-Cinda DeBolt - Fundraiser Organizer
-Denise Clement - Fundraiser Organizer
-Bree Bode - Fundraiser Organizer
-Travis & Sydney Hancock - Fundraiser Organizer
-Wade & Tammy Hancock - Fundraiser Organizer
-Ellen Scripsema - Silent Auction donations
-Jody Bode - Silent Auction donations
-BC Pizza - donated pizzas to our bowling fundraiser attenders
-Waxology - Bowling Lane Sponsor
-Koeze - lane sponsor / cashews & chocolates donation
-Top of the List - Silent auction items & door prizes
-Grand Die - Bowling Lane Sponsor
-Family Fare - Donation of gift cards and items
-Adventure Seekers Travel - Bowling Lane Sponsor
-Hancock Carpentry - Bowling Lane Sponsor
-The Clique Lanes - Bowling lanes and bartender donation
-Scott Moll Drywall, Inc. - Bowling Lane Sponsor
-Jostens - Bowling Lane Sponsor
-Big Star Lake & Resort - Bowling Lane Sponsor and Silent Auction donations
-Dr. Sam Bander - Bowling Lane Sponsor and Silent Auction donations
-Benepay - Bowling Lane Sponsor 

Premier Jewelry Fundraiser - November 24, 2014
-Kristy Owens, Premier Jewelry Consultant

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Unspoken Grief

I never imagined my blog would bring forth so many questions about infertility.  People have come asking questions about a sister or friend's infertility and how they should support her.  I have had questions about fertility treatments I have gone through.  Others have shared personal struggles and how they are handling it.  I hate this for all of you.  My hearts breaks with you and it is my prayer that the desires of your heart would be heard and answered.

As I mentioned in our first blog post we have tried many times to have a baby of our own.  We even had an amazing friend and member of our church offer to carry a child for us (unfortunately, this ended with no pregnancy).  It was always our prayer to have another child.  People would often say, "Why don't you just adopt?"  While I sincerely appreciated their quick-fix advice my answer was always, "We are not there yet."  

We are not there yet?  What did that mean exactly?  It meant we needed to grieve and accept that we would never have another biological child.  We would never have a sibling for Jack that would look like him or have his mannerisms.  I would not have a biological daughter that might wear glasses in first grade and be called four-eyes (like I did).  We needed to grieve the biological child we would never have - and this was gut-wrenching painful.  

So I will attempt to answer your questions and offer my unsolicited advice...

My first piece of advice for those of you who have a friend or family member struggling with infertility -- Adoption is not a fix for infertility sadness.  Adoption does not make the pain of infertility go away.  It is just another way to complete their family.  By suggesting they should just adopt minimizes their grief and often offends.  Also, sometimes adoption is just not an option for families.  In many cases doing a few rounds of IVF still doesn't equate to the cost of adoption.  

People in my life would often say, "Erica I am so sorry you are going through this.  I don't really know what to say to you except I am sorry."  You know what?  That was exactly what I needed to hear.  Second piece of advice - Don't offer your infertility advice (unless you are an Infertility Doctor).  It is not helpful to hear about your cousin's best friends uncles daughter who struggled with infertility.  It is not helpful to hear how I should just 'relax' and it will happen.

One day while sharing my frustration with my mom she said something I will never forget.  She said, "Erica I am sorry this has happened to you but it has made you a kinder, wiser and more compassionate person."  Final and last advice - Acknowledge my strength.  Recognize that I am walking through a very lonely, vulnerable and sad part of my life.  I am not asking for you to pity me or treat me different just honor my strength.

Lastly, for all of you who cry, beg and plead with God for a child my last piece of advice is for you  -- You will be ok.  This sadness is temporary.  Whether you have a biological child or not, whether you chose to adopt or not, whether you remain childless or not -- You will be ok.  You are strong.  You are a fighter.  You are not alone.  May God bless you.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Gifts from God

James 1:17 ESV - Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights and whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.


Let's be very frank - adoption is not cheap or easy.  I am not complaining, just stating a fact.  We knew it was expensive and labor intensive before we started the process.  We knew that we would be spending money we had set aside for other things on adoption.  We knew that our parents would help us (because we have amazing parents).  We also knew that it would be difficult but we could do it.  And, we knew that God would provide because we felt God was leading us to adopt.  I know, in prayer, I felt God saying "Erica, you will be ok and I will provide for you."

In prayer, we spent countless hours asking God if we should pursue adoption.  We prayed and asked if He was closing this infertility door and asking us to select a different route.  We felt confident that having another biological child was not the plan for us.  We clearly felt God telling us to adopt.  Jeff and I took a huge leap of faith knowing that some of our adoption fund would be dependent on the help of others.  

God has provided!  God has filled our hearts with blessings!  He has gifted us with the financial support of so many.  Friends have setup fundraisers for us without hesitation.  My sister-in-law is selling homemade necklaces (Rainbows for Sam) to help with our cause.  Friends have offered clothing and toys for when Sam comes home.  Friends have provided adoption resources and down syndrome resources to help make this transition easier.  Friends and family have wrote recommendation letters for us.  Friends and family have come forth with words of encouragement and prayers.  

Jeff and I sit in awe of what God has done for us.  We are humbled by our friends, family and church community who have loved on us.  This is what Christ is all about!  This is why God created us - to LOVE one another (Matthew 22:36-40).

Thank you our dear friends.  Thank you for loving on the Bodes!

Monday, July 21, 2014

My Family Found Me

Sam was taken off his adoption websites today!  My heart melted when my sister-in-law informed me that he has been removed to the My Family Found Me page on Reece's Rainbow.  And, he was taken off the Hopscotch Agency page.  

As a family we are blessed to have two amazing agencies that specialize in special needs adoption.  We knew immediately that we wanted a child with Down Syndrome.  The first place we went online to look was Reece's Rainbow.  Reece's Rainbow is not an adoption agency; instead, their mission "is to advocate and find families for orphans with Down Syndrome and other special needs by raising funds for adoption grants and promoting awareness through an online community, medial communications, and other events."  We are so appreciative of Reece's Rainbow and their commitment to these children.

Sam's profile on Reece's Rainbow

We are also excited to start our adoption journey with Hopscotch Adoptions.  Hopscotch has amazing recommendations and review.  My interactions, thus far, have been few but all are very helpful and professional.  We are doing our home study through Child & Parent Services, Inc.  Again, thrilled to be working with them!

We thank God for these agencies and their skills and expertise.  We have no idea what we are doing but are thankful THEY DO!

Monday, July 14, 2014

What I am reading...

While Jeff and I were discussing the possibility of adopting a child with Down Syndrome I immediately began researching.  My point in researching isn't to learn everything there is to know about Down Syndrome (while that is important to me); but my purpose in my research is to see what resources are available to Sam and my family.  

Down Syndrome Parenting 101 by Natalie Hale was recommended on some online list (I can't remember exactly where).  Ms Hale, who has an adult child with Down Syndrome, speaks of her struggles and what she has learned as a parent of a special needs child.  She provides links to local resources, definitions of terms associated with therapy and educational assistance and parenting advice.  

The other book I am reading is so so awesome, Theology and Down Syndrome.  I love that this book even exists!  This book philosophically analyzes Down Syndrome and provides a theological take on individuals with Downs.  Brian Brock, in his review, writes, "his challenging and stimulating look at Down syndrome is a must read for any Christian academic or layperson interested in what it means to be a human being."

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Dreaming of Sam

Jack, Summer 2013
"Mom, I had a dream about Sam last night.  We were outside playing catch.  We were having so much fun."

We did not get the response we imagined when we told Jack he was going to be a big brother.  Jeff and I sat Jack down and relayed the message with enthusiasm and joy.  I had been waiting for years to tell Jack he was finally getting a brother.  I had imagined Jack screaming with excitement and listing all the fun things they would do together.  Instead I got tears...

"But, I don't really want a brother."  What!?  I was so surprised by his response, and if I am being completely honest I was hurt.  

I grew up adoring my younger brother Travis.  Today we are extremely close and do many things together with our families.  Our kids have referred to each other as 'brousins' (brother/cousins).  I had always envisioned Jack having a similar relationship with a sibling.

After having further conversations with Jack he basically shared that he was scared.  He was scared people would make fun of Sam for having down syndrome.  He also was afraid people would make fun of him.  He was afraid that we wouldn't pursue his interests and activities.  But his biggest fear was losing Jeff and me. 

Jack has been an only child for many years.  Our lives and routine has been shaped around him. 

We are continuing this dialog with Jack.  We have shared that things will be different when Sam arrives; but the one thing that will not change is our love for him.  

We also continue to talk about other changes that will occur.  We talk about his specific fears and how he can handle them (with our help).  We talk about bullies and what to do if he or Sam is a target.  We talk about how Jack will still have special time with Daddy and Mommy.  We also talk about the fun things HE CAN do now that he has a brother!

We will continue to talk through our fears and excitements and I will find peace knowing Jack is dreaming of days playing with Sam. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

A chapter closed - a chapter opened

We started a new chapter today.  Our story started in 2007 after our son Jack was born. My son was an infertility baby, born using an IUI procedure (artificial insemination).  Since he was born using assistance we knew having another child would be difficult so we immediately started trying for baby number two...

Five IUI's later...

Five IVF's later...

Three miscarriages later...

Still no baby...

Our hearts were broken and we spent many hours praying, crying, screaming, and bargaining with God.  It has been the most horrible, gut-wrenching, faith-testing, difficult thing my husband and I have ever gone through.  But, like I said, that chapter is done.  We have closed that chapter and started another.  This new chapter is titled "Bringing Sam Home".  

Sam lives in Armenia and is two years old.  He can walk, babble and according to his medical reports loves to dance and eat.  Sam has a full head of beautiful black hair.  Sam is loved by his caregivers (he currently lives in an orphanage) and plays well with the other kids living with him.  The other really cool thing about Sam is that he has Down Syndrome.  

So why adopt a child with down syndrome you ask?  I don't really have a good answer for you.  It was not an easy decision for us - my husband and I had many discussions about this.  What does this mean for our son Jack?  What does this mean for us as we age?  What if Sam can never live on his own and we are caregivers forever?  What if we are not prepared for the challenges of a special needs child?   

Psalm 91:1-2
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress,  my God, in whom I trust."

My answer to those questions... I trust in the Lord.  I trust Him enough to make this leap of faith for my family and for me.  I trust Him enough to give me the strength to care for this child of God.  I trust Him enough to financially help me cover the cost of adoption.  I trust Him enough to help me raise a special needs child.  

I trust in Christ.