Two Years Ago…we became a family of four

Two years ago today we were flying home from Hong Kong, exhausted, overwhelmed, a bit scared but very excited.

That means Big Brother has been home for two entire years!  What a wild, crazy adventure it’s been.  Although Big Brother has come so far, he still has so much to overcome.  But we’ll get there.  We couldn’t be more proud of you, Big Brother!

momavi2Mommy and Big Brother, the first day we met (January 10, 2011)

hk15Big Brother and Little Man checking each other out at the orphanage in Hong Kong

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hkcity Beautiful Hong Kong

 

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The Moments that Take Your Breath Away

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When I look back over the past 31 years of my life, the moments that stand out most sharply in my mind all tend to all have one thing in common-they all have that rare ability to make my stomach tumble and steal my very breath.

There are many moments I recall….like jumping into the ocean for my first dive at 12 years old or walking down the aisle to the handsome guy that would soon become my husband.  Spectacular sunsets, walks on the beach and misty, muddy hikes through the woods.  Also those moments when the early morning sun filters through the trees in such a majestic way that it nearly brings tears to your eyes.

Then there are those moments that not only take your breath away but usher in a new chapter of your life–like becoming a mom for the first time as I stood and held Little Man in an orphanage in Vietnam….

first-meeting

And that moment in Hong Kong when Big Brother first looked at me–I mean really looked at me–and smiled….

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And then the surreal moment when I saw a little, tiny heartbeat appear on a monitor as I laid in the doctor’s office, wondering what I did to deserve so many blessings….

babybThese fleeting moments that are forever engraved in my mind seem so simple but yet so profound. I love awaking each day with anticipation that I’ll have a chance for just one more…

Merry Christmas Never Sounded So Sweet

This will be Big Brother’s 2nd Christmas. And even though he is almost 6 years old, this is the first time he has been able to actually sing a Christmas song. Nothing sweeter to my ears than this precious child who we were told would never talk! #miracleshappen

I dare you to watch and not smile…

My Babies, My Life

I’ll admit it.  My blog has been quite boring lately.  I’ve been trying to squeeze out posts that are important to me, but then everything else gets left sitting around in my head, destined to be forgotten in the shuffle of life.  And reading other blogs?  Oh I’m so very, very behind.  I love reading and commenting on other blogs but I’m afraid all of that has taken a back seat to the happenings in my “real life.”

So what exactly have I been doing lately?  Well, I  have begun leading an advocacy group in my community that will work to create social change through interactions with members of congress and the media.  It’s a lot of work, but something I am deeply passionate about.  I’ll have some more exciting details to share about that soon.

But we’re also knee-deep in trauma/adoption/autism issues with Big Brother.  We are finally, however, finding the light at the end of the tunnel and are finally in a good place.  For the last couple of months, things were pretty rough.  Flashbacks, regression and constant violent outbursts dominated our days and nights. I’m not in a place right now to even begin to put my thoughts into words about all that has transpired, but I will at some point in time.

It’s just part of the job.  In fact, here’s a great post by another adoptive mother that sums up my thoughts exactly and might give you some insight into why we keep marching happily along in times of great darkness.

So what exactly am I rambling about today?  Well, I guess I just wanted to a chance to show off my babies.  After all, they are the reason I awake each morning with a smile on my face and the reason I advocate for those around the globe who have no voice.  They put the passion in my heart.  So excuse me while I do the mom thing and drown my blog with their cuteness 🙂

The girl in the picture…from tragedy to hope

Vietnam holds a special place in my heart as it was the birthplace of Little Man. Not only that, we completely fell in love with the nation, its culture and its people during our month long stay.  After all, Vietnam gave us the precious gift of parenthood.

For obvious but vastly different reasons, Vietnam also holds a place in the history of our nation.  I think I could write a novel about my experience in Vietnam, including the time we spent at the war museum in Ho Chi Minh City.  It was a lot to take in and process.  Sometimes I still feel like I’m processing it…

But this isn’t a pro-war/anti-war post.  Far from it, actually.  Just like in adoption, I’ve learned that beautiful things can be made from tragic situations.  I think war at any time, anywhere is a tragedy.  So when I read stories like what I’m about to share, all feels right in the world  again.

You don’t want to miss this.  Please read and see how one life that was tragically affected by war is now helping to pass along hope to others. http://www.joemcnally.com/blog/2012/06/04/on-a-road-40-years-ago/

Party for a Purpose

Are you (or someone you know) adopting? Are you looking for a way to raise funds? I just launched my direct sales business through Trades of Hope, a fair trade company that helps empower women out of poverty by selling their handcrafts. For the month of November only, I am offering to use my business for adoption fundraisers….meaning I will donate all proceeds from your online/catalog party to your adoption fund! Please feel free to share with anyone who might be interested (and please “like” my page, too!) You can learn more athttp://www.facebook.com/LaurenTradesOfHope

It’s time to party for a purpose with gifts that give twice!

The Gift

He had a traumatic and tragic birth history. He spent his first four years of life in two different orphanages.  He was diagnosed as being severely mentally delayed.  He was nonverbal and faced a life of institutionalization.

Flash forward 1 year and 10 months, a new home, a new family….

He is diagnosed with autism. It is found that he possesses a gift.

The gift is numbers–math.  He counts everything.  He can count a collection of hundreds with a single glance.  He can add, subtract, multiply and divide in his head and does so all day long with great joy.  His entire world is a puzzle of numbers.

He is five years old.

He is now being placed in a 4th grade level math class at school.  His verbal skills are at a 3-year-old level and his self-care skills are about the same level or below.

But his gift is amazing.

His story is still unfolding, and how lucky I am to be a part of it. He has taught me a lesson that I very well might have missed out on otherwise.

What would this world be like if we could all see past each others weaknesses and instead only focus on the many gifts around us?

 

 

World Changers: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty in Vietnam (empowering single mothers and their children)

Did you know that in Vietnam, the birth country of Little Man, 50% of the population lives on less than $2/day?

We fell in love with this amazing country and its people when we had the honor of adopting Little Man in 2008.  After a month stay in Vietnam, we knew our hearts would be forever tied to this beautiful land.

Once back in the United States, I sought out organizations that were fighting to empower women, children and families in Vietnam.  One such organization is called Children of Vietnam.

Please take a few moments to watch this video and see how they are breaking the cycle of poverty in Vietnam.  One of their efforts involves empowering single mothers to obtain economic stability so that they can provide for their families and so that their children can receive an education.  Please watch and please consider how you can make a difference.

World Changers–those who change the world for one person at a time.  Pass it on….

The Power of We

Today is Blog Action Day, a time for bloggers from around the globe to unite and join a global discussion about one important topic.

“The purpose of Blog Action Day is to create a positive discussion that enables social good about an important topic. We ask bloggers to take a single day out of their schedule and focus it on an important issue.

By blogging about the same issue, on the same day, from their own perspectives, the blogging community focuses discussion and give their audiences the opportunities to take part in a global conversation, raise awareness or even funds for not-for-profits.”

The topic for today is The Power of We.  I love this topic so much and was really excited to write about it.

the reason I started blogging in the first place…..Little Man and I meeting at the orphanage in Vietnam for the first time

I started blogging in 2007 as a way to chronicle our adoption journey.  At the time, it was just a way for us to keep family and friends updated on the long, complicated journey.  Over time, my blog changed a lot.  I wasn’t sure what to write about or how to use my online presence.  But then slowly, after the adoption of our second child (a special needs, older child adoption) I knew what purpose I wanted my blog to serve.

My blog, you see, became my voice.  A voice to raise awareness on the issues that had affected my life personally: autism, special needs adoption, older child adoption, HIV adoption and the HIV/AIDS orphan crisis and non-profits providing aid to orphanages and children around the world.  I  even found my voice in encouraging others that adventure and the outdooors are for everyone–especially for children and those with special needs.

In 2009, through the power of blogging, I was able to team up with some other adoptive mama’s to start a series of campaigns to raise funds for children and families in Vietnam.  We had never even met in real life, but we had forged a connection through our sons’ shared heritages and our online voices.  We took a small idea and using he Power of We, were able to give life-saving surgeries, meals and other resources to people in need.

In 2012, again through blogging, I was able to connect and meet with the moms involved in the World Moms Blog and was able to spread my voice even further by becoming a contributor to their social good column.

And again in 2012, I was able to join a coalition of moms called the Global Team of 200 in an effort to spread my message of social good far and wide.

I am just beginning to harness the Power of We.  I don’t know where I’m heading, but I know it’s right where I’m supposed to be.  Blogging has not only let me find my voice, but has let me truly discover the amazing Power of We. I am so excited to see where this journey takes me.

Together, our voices united, we can bring about the changes we seek.  I have seen it happen before and I am honored to be a part of the Power of We.

Won’t you join me?

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. ~Margaret Mead 

Love and Hunger: Oxfam USA and World Food Day

Last night as I laid my five year-old son down to sleep, he hugged me and said the following…

“Mommy love you.  Mommy give you food.”

[by “you” he means “me.” ]  Although my son has special needs and cannot speak like a typical 5 year-old child, the above comments still serve as a stark reminder that so many people–so many children–around the globe go to bed hungry each night.

My son spent his first four years of life in an orphanage where going to bed hungry was not an isolated event.  When he came home nearly 2 years ago, he was clearly malnourished and would gorge and hoard food constantly.  His brother, who also spent time in an orphanage, was born malnourished as well.

Hunger is not a new topic in our house.  Our boys associate food with love and it’s kind of a big deal around here. But now that both boys are home and thriving and food is abundant, it is easy to overlook and forget about the fact that hunger is a global reality for so many.

That’s why I support Oxfam America and encourage you to join them on World Food Day (Tuesday, October 16) to get the conversation started about helping people make everyday choices that can improve our global food system.  They have outlined some  principles to help you do it, called the GROW METHOD.

Make sure to visit the link above to download a toolkit to use in your home.

On World Food Day, the boys and I will be visiting a farm as part of a class field trip.  I’m using this perfect opportunity to start the conversation about where our food comes from and how it gets to our table.  For dinner we will talk about the GROW METHOD and what we can do to ensure that no person on this planet has to go to bed hungry.

Startling stats and more info:

•    Our planet produces enough food for everyone, yet nearly one billion of us (1 in every 7 people) still go to bed hungry.

•    About a third of the food produced for our plates ends up lost or wasted between farm and fork.

•    One pound of ground beef for your family uses more than 28,000 cups of water to produce—that’s enough to fill 20 bathtubs to the brim, and then some!

While this may seem overwhelming, there are many ways that we, as individuals, can make simple changes in the way we grow, cook, eat and store our food to be more sustainable.  So, as a special way to celebrate World Food Day, we’re asking people to:

•     Sign up to host a World Food Day dinner discussion. Oxfam has tons of free materials including a discussion guide, placemats, and recipe ideas from acclaimed chefs Jamie Oliver, Mary Sue Milliken, and others. Everything can be found at www.oxfamamerica.org/worldfoodday

•   Share GROW method recipes on Pinterest and we’ll add them to our GROW Method Cook Book (http://pinterest.com/oxfamgrowmethod)! Just tag your pin with #GROWmethod to add it.

•    Snap photos of your World Food Day meal on Instagram and tag them with #WFD2012, then check out our site (www.oxfamamerica.org/worldfoodday) to see photos from all over the world.

So tell me, are you and your family going to participate?  Share your thoughts please!!

 

I wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.

Our Motto: Individually we are all powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.