Sunday, October 6, 2019

Stories of YES #21 - Miles


We've watched nothing short of a miracle in this sweet boy's life as he's come into the loving care of his family just ten months ago. We've literally watched everything about him transform in the greatest of ways, and we were honored to share his family's message on World Cerebral Palsy Day.

"Miles wants to wish you a happy World Cerebral Palsy Day! This is the face of joy, hope, and worth. Worthy and loved by God and by his family and by each of you,

He survived 16 years laying in a bed with very little food, human touch, or interaction in general. Why? Many reasons, including lack of education, money, resources, and a cultural belief that “sick kids” are best off left alone and secluded.

Adoption matters. Orphans belong in families. God places the lonely in families and calls each one by name." 


- Jackie Askvig

Follow Myles' miracles on Instagram 
💙💙💙

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Stories of YES #20 - Faith + Joy = Sister Love



"I plan to use Down Syndrome awareness month to tell you more about my girls- not necessarily Down syndrome because they are so much more than a chromosome count! I want you to see our life is just as normal as your life!

Edie Joy loves the color pink, high heels, princess dresses, makeup, and just being a fancy girly girl! She is obsessed with anything I am doing, and she is my Velcro baby! She is what we call "sweet & spicy."

Ollie Faith is more into bubbles, sidewalk chalk, the trampoline, golf cart rides, and her favorite shows on the iPad. She tells her Daddy how much she misses him and she loves him every day - but she ignores me.🤣 She LOVES to socialize with everyone who will talk to her. If you engage in conversation, prepare to get a starfish hug, even though we are trying to teach her it’s more appropriate to shake hands with someone you don’t know well!

These girls are 100% opposite personalities - they fight, they slap, they hug...and then they make up. They are true sisters, and they are best friends."

{You can read more about the Reid's adoption journey of their Edie Joy in Chapter Three of the beautiful new book "extraordinary," available on pre-order now at www.extraordinaryadoption.com}

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Stories of Yes #19 - Beautiful Ben

 
 
"His eyes disappear when he laughs and smiles, and it is my favorite. His dark fine hair shimmers in the light and he gets the prettiest most even tan in the summer.
 
I never imagined having a Chinese son; it wasn't in my childhood picture of my future family. For the most part, families "matched" growing up in the 1980's. Even as my own extended family grew in diversity by marriage and adoption, and I began to imagine adopting one day, I still only pictured black/brown and white children in my future family. China was never on my radar. 
 
Thankfully, God has plans we never imagine for ourselves - plans that bless us beyond measure. Our heart has expanded not only for our son and people with Down syndrome, but also for the people of China. I feel tied into their past, present and future. The Church of China is heavy on my heart, and I pray for it's people often. I have been learning that when you love someone so fiercely, their people become your people; their joys become your joys; their pain becomes your pain; their victories become your victories; their struggles become your struggles. You can't understand all of their story, but you can empathize and sit with them in it. 
 
Diversity is a buzz word these days, whether it's diversity in race, gender, ethnicity, disability, economics, religion or education, we are all supposed to want more of it. But just being around people who are different than you won't necessarily change things - you have to invest into relationships. Enter into their life, and they into yours. This is how empathy grows and understanding forms. This is how our hearts change, how prejudice is slowly erased, and the beauty of the human race is fully realized."
- Rachel Baxter 
 
In honor of National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, please take time to view this priceless video, The Archibald Project, about Ben's homecoming to his family. 
 
Follow Rachel on Instagram and on her website.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Stories of YES #18 - A Dad's Perspective

"When my wife Stacy came to me saying she felt God speak to her about adopting a child with Down syndrome, I thought there was absolutely no way. Based on everything I'd always heard, I just didn’t think we could manage this particular special need with our busy lives. We are an older couple with three (adult) biological kids and had already adopted four children from China, all under the age of ten. It felt like we already had our hands quite full.

Hints of Down syndrome kept randomly showing up in our lives though, despite my attempts to pretend I didn’t notice. This went on for about a year, and then one day Stacy saw the face of the little girl she felt God had been calling her to. She showed me the picture of this fragile little one, and I remember commenting that she was already five years old and really needed someone to say "yes" to her.

The biggest question I had was - "Is it supposed to be US?"

We didn’t really even discuss it. It was one of those known, yet “silent” conversations we could have without actually having it. I knew what it meant when she first came to me with a picture. (It meant start packing your bags buddy!) She knew that my silence didn’t mean NO, it just meant that I heard what she was saying - but had serious reservations.

If I’m being completely honest, I was not on board yet, and inside I was hoping that our lack of conversation about it over the next few days meant the topic wasn’t as serious as I had thought. That being said, I began to google everything I could think of regarding Down syndrome though, "just in case." Turns out that few days of silence meant that Stacy had been very busy and had literally finished ALL of the paperwork necessary for another home study in a matter of days. She only needed a few signatures from me along with my physical and biometrics appointments which happened to be scheduled for the coming week. Yes, Stacy's kind of a pro at this paperwork thing now, and she was prepared for me to say "yes" just in case. That’s how sure her YES was that this was our daughter!

Fast forward just seven months later, and we were on a plane headed to China to adopt this little girl whose special need was pushing me FAR beyond my comfort zone. As we boarded the plane I said, “Just so you know, I’m still not sure about this.” Stacy just smiled, shrugged her shoulders, and said “Okay.” She is obviously much better at being obedient than I am, but I’m learning! I remember thinking... IS THAT IT?!? Just a shrug and an "Okay"?! Nothing else was said - just another silent conversation, but this time with God. It was a conversation where she was saying, “God, please prepare Josie for us and guide, guard, and protect us along this journey” while I was saying “Lord, help me! I’m going to need your guidance here because I’m not sure about this!”


A couple days later, the tiniest five-year-old I have ever seen was placed in my arms, and I sat there wondering, "how could I possibly be afraid when this tiny little girl was being so brave?" She looked up at me with the biggest, emptiest eyes and she never shed a tear. Then, a little hand that resembled that of a baby doll, reached out and graciously offered me a bite of her snack.

Three days later, we were in the hotel room watching Josie play in a mirror and I looked at Stacy and said, “I don’t think she has Down syndrome because she doesn’t look like it to me and even her behavior is nothing like I ever imagined it would be.” My wife smiled and said “That’s because now you see your daughter, and not "a child with Down syndrome." Now you see her with your heart and not with your eyes. Your heart sees your precious daughter, Josie.”

She was right...again.

After we'd been home a few weeks, I was watching Josie and thinking about how terrified I was to say "yes" to bring her home. When I look at her now, it’s like - what in the world was I ever afraid of?! She is the most precious little girl, and she is so amazing. She’s not scary at all. In fact, she has been our easiest adoption out of the five! She is beautiful, sweet, smart, and very loving. I can’t imagine anyone ever looking at her (or her picture) and seeing fear like I did at first. She is fully capable of anything she sets her mind to. She has added a new level of joy to our family, and I feel so blessed to be her daddy! There’s a great big world of opportunity waiting for her someday, and I cannot wait to give it to her."

- Jackie Dye


Follow our inspirational "Stories of Yes" series on Facebook and Instagram or through our website. If you would like to contribute a "Story of YES" we can share with our followers, please send us an email at openheartsfororphansorg@gmail.com

Friday, September 20, 2019

Stories of YES #17

 

There's a story of yes right here in this tattered and torn pillow sham - the bedding set a gift from a dear friend when we were waiting to bring our beloved son Daniel home. This pillow sham served its purpose in our blessed "yes" to that boy and was comfortably nestled on his bed for the few months Daniel was home with us.

When our son went to Heaven four months after we'd welcomed him into our family, that pillow sham sat unused for almost a full year, locked away in a room full of sadness, until it became a part of a new chapter of "YES" in the adoption process of another little baby boy - our son Charlie. Well, that baby boy discovered a love for his big brother's pillow sham that we hadn't expected and claimed it as his favorite pillowcase.

For the next eight years, Charlie slept on it each night and loved it so hard that it's now threadbare, practically disintegrating in parts. Whenever I've talked of a replacement, he wouldn't hear of calling it quits with something he's grown so attached to all these years.

For our son's 10th birthday last week, I felt a tugging that it was time, but I knew finding a replacement would be nearly impossible since this set was likely discontinued many years ago. And in my quest, I was drawn to how much beautiful symbolism is sewn right into that piece of fabric that's been here in our home all these years...a ladybug - the universal "sign" for adoptive parents, and an airplane - the giant bird that took us across the globe on a destination of love to be united with our children.

Something told me to type "ladybug" into my Ebay search after I came up empty for twenty minutes or so, and it seemed a small miracle when the exact pillowcase we needed met my eyes on the computer screen. Though I knew our son wouldn't joyfully part with his old one, I didn't hesitate to hit "buy."

I'll preserve Charlie's special "red thread" connection with his big brother - whom he never physically met on earth, and we'll tuck it away for him to treasure someday down the road. And that ragged and well-loved pillow sham will always serve as a reminder of not one - but two precious stories of yes in our family. 


- Lisa Murphy

Monday, September 16, 2019

Stories of YES #15 - Joseph


"Our story of ‘Yes’ is one that changed our hearts and lives forever. It’s a story of love, hope, heartbreak, and faith deeper than we ever thought possible...

“Terminal"
"Dying"
"Aging out”

These were a few of the terms used to describe his dire situation - "Montgomery" needed a family, and he needed it fast. JOSEPH. We knew this boy was our son, and there was no holding us back now.We scrambled. We fought. And we begged God to keep Joseph alive until we could get to him.

After waiting thirteen long years for a family to SEE him, Joseph’s lifelong dream of having a family was finally coming true. We prayed that his very broken heart would hold on during the wait; We prayed for Joseph to be given more time so we could bring him home..

During those crazy three months of fighting to expedite his adoption, Joseph was admitted to the ICU in China and almost lost his life. I remember vividly how our agency suggested we put the adoption ‘on hold’ as it didn’t look like Joseph was going to survive. Call us stubborn, but we didn’t listen. We knew Joseph was going to make it, and we weren’t about to give up on him now.

We prayed more. You prayed alongside us. And - by the grace of God - Joseph became our beloved son on June 5th, 2017 - three short months after we'd returned from China with our daughter Annie. I sat in front of my phone, crying my eyes out as my husband, Justin, and my son, Brian, met Joseph for the first time. I can still feel the goosebumps I felt when his loving Baba (Daddy) took him in his arms for the very first time, reassuring him that Mommy was at home anxiously waiting for him. Our teeny-tiny thirteen-year-old son was - finally - an orphan no more.

Over the next fifteen months, Joseph lived out loud! He laughed, he sang, and he danced. He hugged, he dreamed, and he loved...always with a smile. He overcame countless IVs, blood draws, seizures, strokes, and surgeries. We almost lost him multiple times, but he kept holding on, because his will to live was stronger than his extremely broken body.

Joseph ultimately lost his lifelong battle with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD), but not until he had completed all items on his bucket list - having a family topped his list. When God finally called him home, he didn’t die alone - but as a beloved, treasured son, tightly wrapped in the arms of his Momma. Joseph was prayed for, chosen, cherished...and loved more than anything.

He was - and will always be - our son, and our HERO."
- Maike Doty

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Stories of YES #14 - Held


This post was written same time last year, and it still holds true at our five-year anniversary together with our son.

"HELD - we'd only known each other for half of an hour, maybe more, but he'd been held in my heart so much longer. For half of a year, I'd longed to hold him and feel his skin. We'd traveled far to get to him, and he'd traveled far to get to us, and those first moments seem so far gone, yet only four short years ago, I held a physically drained, emotionally spent, and completely passed out little boy in my arms. He was now our beloved son. Thankfully, we were not unfamiliar with a child's ability to "shut down" as a coping mechanism to sheer exhaustion and mental overload. Oh yes, they see photos of their family coming, and that's a beautiful thing, but think about it for a minute - meeting your new parents (and siblings) who speak another language while preparing to say goodbye to EVERYTHING they've EVER known and not knowing what their future holds? That thought alone makes you bone tired, does it not?

We've always asked you to pray for adoptive families, but on this special day when we reflect on holding our son for the first time, will you remember to pray for the children? For their tender hearts and brave souls as they step into unfamiliar territory? Though it may be the best blessing of their lives, they don't yet know that, for they are the ones giving up everything sight unseen to gain a family. They deserve our fervent prayers as they are held. Happy Held Day, JoJo...always and forever.  Love, Mommy" 
- Lisa Murphy