Friday, June 28, 2013

Happy 11th Birthday!

I am dedicating this post to my sweet daughter Rebecca. Eleven years ago Jeremy and I received terrible news. After my water broke, 6 1/2 weeks early, our sweet daughter was making her arrival loudly.

I was taken by ambulance from our small hospital to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown. It is safe to say that was a horrid ride! Jeremy followed the ambulance in our car and my parents followed him. I guess at one point Jeremy was driving quite fast. My dad, who is a daredevil himself, had to ask my mom to look at his speed. He was too afraid to look away.

Once we arrived, we waited..........and waited.......and waited.

My epidural was incorrectly administered and I went numb from the waist up. 

My blood pressure bottomed out.

The head of the OB department of Ruby came into my room and had a very difficult conversation with us. Our baby was not ready to be born. Her lungs were severely underdeveloped. She was very sick. It was not certain if she would survive. 

We cried. We prayed. We begged the Lord to intervene and heal our baby.
I looked miserable in this above picture. I was!!! I had labored for a little more than 37 hours and the epidural had failed many hours before. We were being taken to the delivery room. They had a team of neonatologists ready and waiting.

Twenty minutes later our baby was born. I barely saw her and she was taken immediately to another room to be worked on. Jeremy was finally allowed to see her and she was not the pretty pink baby for which we had prayed. 

Notice how blue her face was? She was struggling to breathe.
The decision was made to intubate her and help those lungs breathe. That was very difficult to see. I remember standing beside her bed in the NICU and there was a tear that came from her eye and puddled in her ear. However, it was a silent cry......a silent tear. I was an emotional wreck. She was still very sick.
I was told by the NICU nurses that the sickest babies are in the open beds. They are in those beds so they are easy to get to in cases of an emergency. Rebecca was a very sick baby.
Look at this young family! Wow! 
Once she came off the vent she still had tubes, wires, and ivs all over. She had an NG tube for her feeding, cardiac monitor, IVs, temperature monitor, and pulse ox. 
True to the Kaminski name, she needed the bili-light and blanket. All of our kids had trouble with hyperbilirubinemia/jaundice. 
Then I finally got to hold her! All five pounds of her. 
Then Daddy holds her.
All three of my sister drove down to be with us. Notice the extra baby? That was Tammy's little guy who was three weeks older than Rebecca.
Finally, we were able to go home. She was making amazing progress. 
I'm not sure you can see her eyes but they were all bruised from her difficult delivery. We were concerned that there was damage. But she was fine. Just needed to heal.

We had a new family now. One that Micah had a very difficult time accepting. He was only 16 months old. He did not understand why we had left like we did. And why, when we returned, we had a new family member. He had a very difficult transition.
For those of you that know our sweet Rebecca will know that what I'm about to write will not be a surprise. she is the most selfless child I have ever met. This girl is the child who always makes sure I am okay. 

She gives me her favorite piece of chocolate covered caramel just because she knows it is my favorite.

She uses her hard earned money to buy gifts for everyone else. The last time she shopped, she ran out of money for herself because she bought for everyone else. Rebecca could not have been happier. 

Rebecca is a loyal friend.

She loves to help.

She is burdened for orphans.

She cries with compassion when her siblings are hurt. 

She is not particular about her clothes.

She is a wonderful big sister to Mariah!

I thought I'd share some of my favorite photos over the more recent years.
Myrtle Beach trip.
Fun in the pool!
Peeking around a wood pile!
Not really sure why we took this but she sure is a natural beauty!
Enjoys working hard outside.
Becca and me!
The girls outside playing.
Our beautiful blond hair, blue-eyed, sweetie with a heart of gold. One day she will make some man very blessed. Until then, we soak her up!
Happy birthday my sweet Rebecca Rose! 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

One Year Later

I am so full of joy as I sit here and begin this post. One year ago today the Lord gave us our youngest precious child. Jeremy and I hardly slept much the night before. Our temporary home was the Mandarin Garden Hotel in Nanjing, Jiangsu China. The hard beds were not even a thought to us that night.

We arrived early at the Civil Affairs Office in anticipation of our meeting. We were told that the bullet train was running late. We waited what seemed like an eternity. 
Then we saw her for the very first time with our own eyes!

This day is often referred to as Gotcha Day. Our hearts were bursting. We were almost unable to contain ourselves. Jeremy paced the floor. 

When the nanny handed our sweet lovely daughter to us, it was not quite what we had expected. 

Mariah had absolutely no idea what was happening. It broke our hearts. She sobbed. My dad got that first half-hour on video. It is hard to watch. It was the first time this baby girl had experienced the love of a family, and she hated it. 

She grieved. We prayed she would not, yet she certainly did. We were emotionally and physically exhausted. She cried almost the entire first day we had her. She did finally fall asleep in my arms for a nap because she wore herself out.
I gave her what may have been her first tub bath. She hated that as well! Sleep finally came. We laid her in the crib and she never moved all night.
She slept all night without even a peep. I put her in bed with us in the early morning. We were shocked when we were getting ready and Jeremy pointed out to me that we have a thumb-sucker!
I, especially, worked hard. Not that Jeremy did not but Mariah began to reject me. She did not want me anywhere near. She cried for Jeremy to hold her. It took many months of consistency for me to prove to her that I was here to stay. 

One evening while rocking her before bed she looked at me and put her chubby little hand on my chest and said, "Mama". That was the first time she really put it together. When we received her, she called everyone mama. It must have been what she called the nannies. This night was different.

We went through many "firsts" with this one. I treasure that God allowed us to experience those moments with her.

Here are a few of the "firsts" we watched:

*first time to have siblings
*first rain and playing in that rain on our deck
*first time in a high chair
*first time in church
*first time eating a variety of food
*first time in a car
*first time in a car seat
*first blankie (made with much love by Aunt Tina)
*first time walking barefoot in the grass
*first birthday celebration
*first Christmas
*first time sledding
*first wardrobe of her own
*first surgery and hospital stay
*first time swimming
*first Sunday school class
*first pair of glasses

There are many more that I will spare you from reading.

This Gotcha Day anniversary fell on the week that Jeremy and Kyle traveled to Mexico for a mission trip. I wanted to share a few things about our day today. It was a normal day here. I actually babysat a very good friend's little boy. It was neat for me to see Mariah possessive of me. That is healthy! 

We seem to have a future acrobat! How can she sit like this?
Since we are a an abbreviated family for the next couple of days, I just wanted to make our day simple. Mariah was desperate to swim tonight. Rebecca was so sweet to offer to watch her in the pool so I could take pictures!
What a difference this past year has made in her life!

What a bigger difference this past year has made in my life! God has taught me so much through Mariah. He has taught me that being a mom to Mariah is very much the same, yet entirely different than being a mom to our other four children. 

So many people will comment that we saved her. Honestly, we feel that in a way the Lord, through Mariah, saved us. She has helped us to see beyond ourselves. She helped us to love even more with reckless abandon. She has shown us a fraction of how our God loves us. We have experienced so much joy this past year. 

The joy seems so sweet after the difficult process of adoption and waiting. I love all of our children equally. They all bring so much joy. I wanted to just dedicate this particular post to the newest member of our family.

Our family number has increased and will increase again this year, Lord willing! We are excited as we build our family through this miracle of adoption. 

Thank you all for your support and sweet encouragement. We are a blessed family for sure.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Here am I. Send Me!

Two months ago Jeremy and I were asked by another adoptive family to help review the file of a little girl. I spent a few hours on the phone with a dear friend trying to decipher the file that was staring back at me. We decided that this little girl has the same or very similar special need as Mariah.

After speaking with this other family they decided that this little girl was not meant for their family. Please understand when you are active in the adoption community, you see many files and it is very common to turn down a file. In fact, we turned one down when we were given two to review along with Mariah's. As a family you pray about it and pray some more. Then a decision has to be made. This family said they would pray that Jeremy and I would pray about adding this girl to our family.

It took us two seconds and we knew we had to do everything we could to get her home!

As you have guessed, we begin this journey once again. This time it is vastly different. 

Is it scary? You bet! 

Is it hard? Absolutely! 

Are we ready? You're kidding, right?

But we both knew after Mariah we were not finished with our family. 

I will share a little of what we know about this sweet girl. She is thirteen years old. She lives in southern China. She speaks Cantonese and possibly has learned Mandarin in school.

She recently has moved into foster care after living in an orphanage for 12 years. She was abandoned at 6 months old. She is beautiful!!!

It is now a joke in our family that in order to be a Kaminski your birthday has to fall in the months of December or January. Three birthdays are in December. This sweet girl's birthday is January 4th. She will make the third January birthday! Oh my! Then we have one in February and one in June. 

She is only adoptable until the day before she turns 14. We will be running a marathon to get her home. It will certainly be a sprint to the finish line.

Our agency is more than able to do this. It will take cooperation from our home study agency, placing agency, and us. It is entirely possible. Her adoption will be expedited each step of the process. If you remember, there are about 15 bazillion steps!

China truly wants to see these orphans adopted before aging out. Their life after aging out is devastating. China will go above and beyond to help us. In fact, they already have. 

I cannot share her picture until we get Pre-Approval from China to adopt her. That may take a couple of weeks. There is a new data base system that is causing a bit of trouble and they have to get the kinks worked out. I wanted to wait to share this until we had Pre-Approval but we are very limited with time. I could not keep this secret any longer!

We are super excited!!!

We realize that many will not understand why we are doing this since we already have five kids. When God calls, we answer. We love kids. Our hearts are broken for the orphans. He called us to adopt again. We answered with a resounding, YES!

Jeremy and I ask that you pray for our new sweetie. This will be a very scary time for her. She has known China for 13 years. I imagine she will be scared. We pray that the Lord will soften her heart and allow her to begin to understand what a family is. Our hearts break for the fact that she has never had a mom and dad to love her. Thirteen years she has waited. She doesn't even know yet that there is a family in pursuit of her. 

God has already moved a huge mountain for us as we began this process. 

We covet your prayers for our sweet girl. 

Our kids here have also known for two months. Yes, they are great secret-keepers. They are so excited. 

Kyle was all for it. He simply said, "Sure! I think it would be great." 

Micah's words to us that night we asked each of them were, "Mom, I think I'd like to have an older Chinese sister!" That is exactly how he feels. 

Rebecca was amazingly tender-hearted and cried over this new little girl's current life and the possibility of a surgery like Mariah's. 

Ben was super happy. I think is response was, "Becca! Now you will be popular because you will have a Chinese sister your age."  Ummmm......what? I know, an odd response for a nine year old. 

Our kids are really amazing. They will give and give until there is nothing left to give. And be happy about it.

We have a bit of rearranging her in our home too. Our older boys are moving to a bedroom that we have to complete in the basement. Becca and this new Chinese Princess will share the older boys' current bedroom. Ben will have his own room and Mariah will eventually move out of our room to what is currently Rebecca's room.

We have been swamped with paperwork, background checks, applications, and doctor's visits. I knew if I continued to blog as much as I was, I would "spill the beans"!

Please lift our family in prayer as we rush to China to get our sweet girl before it is too late. Her birthday is January 4th. She has to be adopted by January 3rd.

When we said, "Here we are Lord. Send us!" We had no idea where He would send us. I meant it though. Jeremy meant it too. 

We are being sent to China, again!  

Isaiah 6:8      Also I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I,  Here am I; send me.