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Our Adoption Stories

Joshua and Caleb
Our first two adoption journeys were domestic adoptions.  We had just had our fourth child and I was completely overwhelmed with life.  I cried every morning because I was at such a loss on how to do SO much multi-tasking.  I still had quite a bit of "baby weight" to lose and was determined that I was going to get control of my emotions  AND fit back into my  normal clothes.  I decided to start training for a half marathon.  I thought that I would use the training time to pray and have a few hours to myself.  (the weight loss would just be icing on the cake).  I had never run farther than 1 mile, so I was pushing the envelope a little to say the least!  I began praying on my first run "Lord, please,please, train my heart.  Train me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually."  I started saying these words at the beginning of each run.  I had NO IDEA what I was REALLY saying to God! (giggle)  Not long after my training started we were exposed to several children that had been adopted trans racially through the state.  We learned that african american little boys were the last children to be adopted in the US.  We logged online and actually saw agencies that had their costs listed and children of color cost less to adopt than white children.  Our hearts and minds started spinning with anger and hurt.  A series of events happened shortly after that, and Mike and I BOTH felt without doubt, that the Lord was leading us to an african american baby boy.  We went through a christian agency and within three months had Joshua in our arms.  The blinders were INSTANTLY lifted off of our eyes and felt the need to do more.  Two years later, we updated our home study and within three months were holding Caleb.  Because they are both adopted from the US, I am not going to share details of our experiences.   I want to honor their birth mothers and will be FOREVER grateful for the most unselfish act that I have ever seen a person do.  While both of these journeys were the most heartbreaking moments of my life, I have seen a clear picture of the face of Christ each and every day since they were placed in my arms.

Josie Love
Gwen(Oatsvall) and I met Katie(Davis) on one of her visits to the US.  We INSTANTLY became the best of friends and Gwen and I started doing all of her work stateside.  On Katie's first trip to Uganda she served at a baby's home in Jinja.  There was a little baby that had arrived 2 weeks prior to Katie's arrival. her name was Josefine.  The last week of Katie's stay Josefine became extremely ill with malaria and Katie just KNEW that she was going to die.  When Katie decided to go back to Uganda to teach kindergarten the next fall, she couldn't wait to get back to see Josefine.  While she was no longer ill, she was a year old and couldn't sit alone.  She spent many hours caring for her.  She had the tendency to get sick easily and very often.  She always had breathing issues and just never seemed to get ahead in weight or developmentally.  She finally learned to sit alone, and then later crawled.  Katie moved away from the baby's home, but would always return to check in and love on Josefine.  She spoke of Josefine quite often.  She would show Gwen and I pictures of her all of the time, talking about how sweet and loving this little girl was.  Fast forward several months.  Mike and I decided to take our two oldest children to visit Katie in Uganda.  One day while we were there, she took us to meet Josefine.  My oldest daughter, Grace, marched right in, picked the child up and started laughing and talking with her.  I left there that day with my heart broken for Josefine.  She seemed to have MANY special needs, and I was so overwhelmed with where to begin, just by looking at her, I couldn't even BEGIN my "mother's assessment."  Honestly, there was a part of me that left thinking "how can Katie not see all of the needs that this child REALLY has?!?"  We went back several times to visit the baby's home before we headed home. Day 2 Josefine was burning up with a fever, sitting out on the lawn of the baby's home in the African sun.  My heart broke again for her.  Grace had obviously attached to this little girl.  She didn't want to leave her.  We both wept the whole way back to Katie's house.  Grace cried on behalf of Josefine, I wept on behalf of the millions of orphans that were also burning hot with a fever sitting out in the African sun.
Once we were home in Tennessee, Grace started asking if we could go back and get her.  She asked every morning and every night.  She prayed that we would open our hearts to another child...specifically Josefine.  I continued to give her the blanket statement"honey, we already have 6 children.  I don't know how in the world we could care for a child with special needs."  She argued that she wasn't special needs, she was just sick.  Over time, through MUCH prayer, we decided to pursuit this little one.  After the mounds of paperwork, we were on a plane to go get our Josie Love. Upon arrival, we noticed that she had lost a lot of weight and was burning hot with another fever. Through a routine adoption medical exam the doctor explained to us that Josie Love had tested positive for  HIV and TB.  We were STUNNED.  We sat holding her sick, limp, body in our arms with disbelief.  We were faced with an illness that we had NO IDEA the effects that it could have on her life (other than death) or the rest of our family.  Mike spent the next 24 hours making calls to the US and researching HIV.  We learned all of the facts and felt quite sure that while all of this had taken us by surprise it was NO surprise to our heavenly Father.  HE knows us SO well.   HE knew that if we had known about Josie Love's HIV, there is a chance we wouldn't have moved forward with our adoption out of FEAR.  We talked to the infectious disease doctors at Vanderbilt and they assured us that we could get her viral loads down with the right mixture of meds.  They told us that she could live a normal, healthy life just like all the rest of our children.  Mike and I flew home, finished all of the paper work that had to be added to our home study for a child with HIV, and 9 weeks later I flew back and brought her home.  In 9 months of medicine, her viral loads have dropped from 800,000 to 200.  46 is undetectable....you will hear me shout when we reach that number!  After being home for 1 week, Josie started walking.  She is NOW running and her speech is clearing up daily.  She is RARELY sick.  She makes each one of us laugh OUT LOUD every-single-day!  What a sweet, sweet blessing from the Lord. The scales have been lifted from our eyes.   I have been FOREVER changed.

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suzanne
I am a lover of Jesus. I have the most fabulous husband that anyone woman could ask for. The Lord has blessed us with 7 beautiful children. I started this blog so that friends and family could follow our trip to Uganda to visit Katie Davis. I have decided to keep blogging to help bring orphan awareness to the world around me.
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