The Year of the Squish: Our Adoption Story Part 2

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Oh wow, I am lame. I promised Part 2 would be last week and then I just got caught up in stuff and more stuff and deciding last minute that working is not fun and that me and Emmaline should go to the pool instead. You can also blame my brother for getting married on the same day we closed on our new house. It’s pretty funny to sit here and edit his winter wonderland wedding photos while it’s 90 degrees outside. That experience is definitely a whole other blog post! The moving to a new house with a toddler experience should be wiped from my memory and we shall never talk about it henceforth.

Part 2: We meet the Squish.

As you well know from Part 1 (click here to read!) we got THE CALL on a Wednesday and were told that we would get to meet baby girl on Friday. My last day of school (thursday) was a COMPLETE blur and I smiled blankly at all the parents when they asked me if I was teaching the class again next year. (Can I just stop here and talk about how much I love my students’ families? Some of the moms and dads have become dear friends, and they have been so supportive. There is no place like TCK.)  At the end of the day I looked very dramatically at the 3 ladies who knew what was up and then RAN THE HECK OUT OF THERE. I laugh now, because the other teachers were probably super confused about my behavior. Whatever, they love me. If I let them, they would spoil the Squish rotten and ruin my life allowing her to run wild and eat candy and ice cream all day and let her stay up til as late as she wants.

Anyways….

We were told by our case worker that on Friday, we would meet with baby girl’s case worker first, chat with her a bit, and then see if it worked out to go over to the foster family’s house to meet the Squish. No big deal. We were just going to meet our DAUGHTER and somehow convince all these people that they made the right choice in choosing us as her parents.

So on Friday we drove the longest hour of our life to a little town where we would meet “Christina” who had watched over Emmaline since she was born. Our case worker “Fran” was having car trouble, so instead of having Fran with us to tell us WHAT IN THE WORLD WE WERE SUPPOSED TO DO…. we kind of had to fend for ourselves at first. We navigated the perils of the DSS facility and finally somehow made it back to Christina’s office. I liked her immediately, at first glance she was friendly, competent, and passionate about her job. She doesn’t play around, and I loved (and still love) that she was very honest with us in a kind, straightforward way. In so many words, she didn’t mess with our heads or hearts with the typical Southern passive aggressive stuff. I could tell that Emmaline was special to her, and that she was anxious to see her settled in a loving home. She sat us down and started talking to us about Emmaline’s medical conditions.

See, this is where it got complicated. This is where a “normal” adoption placement became a commitment to a child whose health was compromised, and who might spend a ton of time in the ER or admitted to the Children’s Hospital. This was when the words we read on a bewilderingly long profile became more real and more scary. This is the part where I can recall the absolute terror I felt at some points in this process.

Christina explained to us that there were 3 main issues when Emmaline was born. First, she was born at 32 weeks and was considered a preemie. Second, that she was born positive for cocaine, and third, that she was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Beckwith-Weidemann Syndrome. (click here to read about BWS)  The complications resulting from all 3 of these issues meant that even though she was in decent health on a daily basis, she was in danger of having serious health issues-especially as pertained to her lungs and kidneys. She had been admitted a couple times, and had several ER visits in her history when we met her at 5.5 months old.

So, Christina gave us time to ask questions and try to process the new information, and when Fran arrived we made a plan to visit baby girl. We had to wait a while for the foster mom to be home with the kids, so Christina suggested we get lunch.

Get lunch? Get LUNCH? Eat food?

This woman is insane. I’m about to meet my daughter and you want me to eat at Wendy’s for GOODNESS SAKES.

Again, small town…so limited options. Thankfully I like Wendy’s and it was one of those newly renovated ones. We walked in, and we were so giddy and happy and scared. I wanted to stand up and shout DON’T YOU GUYS EVEN KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE??!!

We ate something…I guess. Then we took this picture outside Wendy’s so we would always remember what a weird, funny, scary day it was.

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And then we drove to the foster family’s home.

We pulled up, got out of the car, and the lady who met us cheerfully in the driveway was holding a tiny, squishy little brown-eyed baby girl. She invited us inside, and I suddenly forgot how to walk or put words together. This little baby was looking at us with the BIGGEST EYES EVER and she had the flattest little head. It was so flat you guys. After a million years, the foster mom asked who wanted to hold her and my very own BRIAN HORTON stepped up and grabbed her. (Are we surprised at all that Daddy is a rockstar and it’s all about Daddeee Daddooo Da Da all day long until he comes home from work every day? Now you know why. )

And so we laid eyes on our baby girl for the first time, and Brian held her and looked at her like he had always known she was going to be his Squish. And I looked at them and I was in awe that he was holding our daughter.

Stick around for Part 3!

The Year of the Squish: Our Adoption Story Part 1

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Last night, a very tired and emotional toddler cried her way upstairs to bed after a long day of well…being a toddler. She’s a pretty typical 18 month old with dreams of endless snacks, chasing the dog, and running wild and free across the church gym. She’s our Squish, our Emmi Boo, our Princess Cupcake, our Baby Girl, our Emmaline Jane. Today we celebrate the 1 year anniversary of THE AWESOME PHONE CALL that brought the Squish into our lives. This date marks the beginning of our first Family-Versary celebration, so I thought it was a good time to fulfill my promise to actually sit down and write out the whole crazy story. Some things are left out-things that are for her to tell when or if she wants to. The conversation about how much of our story to tell has been ongoing for the past year. We have finally settled on this one truth: It is God who wrote this story for our family, and ultimately it is for his glory and for our good. We hope it is for your good as well, so here it is!

May 21, 2014

It was the day before the last day of school at the preschool where I taught 2 and 3 year olds. Teachers, you know….you just know. I was ready for school to be over, I loved my kids, and I was ready for summer. I also knew that a really important meeting happened the day before, and I was wondering if maybe we would get word sometime that week about whether we had been chosen or not. We had been waiting 3 years to adopt, and we were tired and discouraged and unsure if we were still on the right path. A couple weeks before, we had been sent a profile of a ridiculously cute baby girl with pages and pages of information about her rare medical condition. We told our case worker that yes, we wanted to be considered as her adoptive family….and also decided that if we were not matched, then we would quit for a while and regroup. (I don’t know how I feel about admitting that we were just DONE…but there it is.) This profile was different though, because unlike the other profiles that came across our screens, this one was really well-written, and ACTUALLY had a date on it telling us when the adoption placement committee was going to meet and choose the family they thought would be the best fit. Often, we would submit our interest, and then never hear word about the kids again. (Let me be clear, this is not the fault of our fantastic, amazing, superhero case worker. It’s just the byproduct of a huge system with lots of work to be done and not enough people to do it.) We were relieved to have a date and a promise that we would get word. It’s hard to explain how much power is in just knowing these kids through their profiles. You wonder if they are your sons and daughters, you read their (often) heartbreaking stories, and you worry about them and whether they are finally in a forever home. And so, this little squishy baby girl with her tongue hanging out and a gigantic goofy grin was on my heart that morning on the day before the last day of school.

I watched my director and friend Amy walk down the hallway with the school phone in her hand and a wide-eyed look. My heart basically jumped out of my chest when she handed it to me and told me that there was a call for me. This was actually kind of weird, because my case worker knew to call my on my cell…but for some reason that day she called the preschool phone instead. I knew it was our case worker before I even spoke to her. I felt the world changing around me already, as I put the phone to my ear and quickly asked Amy to go watch my class. I sat down in a chair, and I heard the voice of my case worker saying “Congratulations! You’ve been chosen!!”

AND THEN I DIED OF HAPPINESS

I have no idea what she said next, I just kept saying “I have to call Brian, I have to call Brian” and I did, and I choked out the words to him as best I could. I told the best guy in the world that we had been matched, FINALLY!

Then, I called my mom and my dad and my sister and brother and my best friend and I choked out the words that finally, FINALLY it was our time. I ran back down to my class and hugged my assistant Rosemary and Amy and told them I would be taking a year off because I had to be a mom. I love that these two special ladies were physically there to share in that moment with me! They are priceless, and they are still here as the best supporters and the biggest fans of the Squish. We told our assistant director Tanya, and then kept it a secret from the rest of the staff.

That. Was. So. Hard.

Sorry guys, I hope you still aren’t mad at me for that. ❤ 

Meanwhile, Brian was at work trying to process it all. (I kind of always dreamed that we would be together when we got the call. Boo.) He put down the phone in shock, turned around and looked at his assistant Leah, and said “That was it, that was the call! We’ve been matched!” He got to share the news with his two awesome coworkers, tried to work a bit, gave up, and then decided to just go home. He got on the phone and called all his family members and shared the news all the way home on his 45 minute commute.

We both got home later that afternoon and finally remembered to call our case worker back at some point! Oops. We got word that we would get to meet Baby Girl just two days later on Friday. TWO. DAYS.

And so we met our daughter two days later. Our daughter. Our Emmaline Jane.

(Stick around for Part 2!)

Now is the Start

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I feel that familiar “I’m such a failure at blogging” feeling as I just looked at my last post from OCTOBER 2014. Granted, there has been tragedy and upheaval and sadness and joy and stress and traveling all stuffed into this 5 month silence. There is a giant lump in my throat as I try to type words about losing both my paternal grandparents 49 days apart. The holidays were tough and joyful and fun and somber all at the same time. We just bought our first house, and I’m literally having regular nightmares about it. My little brother recently got married to his perfect match, and I smile and laugh out loud as I edit those photos. Our little Emmaline Jane is growing and talking and learning and defying the odds every day. YOU GUYS, SHE IS SO HEALTHY! There are more words to say about her, and I am working on writing our story. She needs me to write it, and every day I become more sure that God wants us to be very vulnerable and share the story he wrote for us. The photos above are from Easter Sunday, and like every other poor child in the Southern United States….she was forced to take photos outside instead of being allowed to eat and take a nap. It’s a long and glorious tradition. Look at those curls! We didn’t know they existed until the good old North Carolina humidity set in last week. The dress kills me, and she loves her disco shoes and the way they throw sparkles on everything. She’s a mess. I love every bit of her.

I opened an Etsy shop, and I’m still doing sessions and weddings and events! Running a small business and taking care of a family is a hard balancing act, and I’m ok with working less and pouring energy and creativity and love into fewer sessions and events. Many of the people already on the calendar for 2015 are those who have stayed with me for years! I love getting calls and emails and texts from clients who have become friends. They are the heart of Bonnie B. Photography and I could not stay at home and watch my little girl grow up without their loyalty and support. It’s an honor to watch their children grow up, to document their memories, and to be a tiny part of their family history.

I’m dreaming up new ideas and projects! The need for foster families and adoptive families in the US is so great, and I’m looking for ways to advocate and share and hopefully use my words and any influence I have to encourage families to bring home these sons and daughters. I’m also hoping to branch out and help families preserve their memories by offering a photo archiving service. It’s hearbreaking to sort through a loved one’s belongings and find photos that we will never know the story behind. I would love to help families tell those stories, preserve them, and have a family narrative to treasure and read and look at and show to their children and grandchildren.

Well, that is a random assortment of what I have been up to! How about a song?

This song is one of my favorites from A Fine Frenzy. The lyrics are all about a fresh start and renewal and pushing forward. I love the line that says “Unafraid you can name your scars.” You can watch the video if you want! Thanks for being a pal and reading all this.

Bonnie B.

Stuff I Like or “High Fives”

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I’m terrible at titles, so whatevs. This is STUFF THAT I LIKE and HIGH FIVES TO ALL!

Before we begin, I solemnly swear that this will not turn into a mommy blog. I am a mom, it’s awesome, no denying that. Being a mom is not my one and only. I like stuff that is not baby-related, and apparently even though I was supposed to check my interests at the door when the Squish rolled into my life…I’m a rebel and I refuse. There are some awesome baby-related items that make our lives easier, more colorful, or have helped the Squish so I will feel free to mention and adore them along with my latest food obsession.

 

1.) Audible.com

I love reading, but the days of sitting for hours and devouring a long book are kind of over. It’s all good, because I can now listen to those really long Lord of the Rings-type epic 900 pagers and get to tune out the 12 and a half chapters where they slowly and painfully describe ancient swordmaking. I’m sure there are lots of people out there (cough: Husband) who are spellbound by those descriptions, yet I feel no shame for not listening to the boring parts and swooping back in when the best buddies go out adventuring together and save the world. I’m currently listening to the 3rd book in the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson. Each book is roughly 25 hours long. Yup. That’s twenty-five. Hours. This series is really fun to listen to, and Brian and I actually talk about these books in depth like REAL ADULTS.  (even though he already finished the series on his commute, yet still attempts to talk to me about these books as if he doesn’t know how it ends.)

2.) Skiphop Water Bottle

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BABY ALERT! If you don’t care…just scroll right by. The Squish was taught by our awesome feeding specialist how to drink from a straw at like 7 months old. I then became obsessed with finding her the perfect water bottle with a straw. She loves the hedgehog, they are $6.99 a piece, and you can get them at amazon.com, Target, or Baby’s R Us. It’s possible that we named it “Hedgie” and she does a little dance when we give it to her.

3.) Ipad Mini

The mom in me is like “MAKE ALL THE THINGS ABOUT BABIES” and I’m trying you guys, I’m trying. I need to work sometimes, so maybe sometimes I cue up Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on the Ipad mini, set it somewhere in front of the Squish, and see how much work I can get done in 26 minutes. It’s also awesome for traveling, since I can download The Proposal and watch it in the car and not bother the husband while he drives. This is how we like it. I don’t bother him, he doesn’t mention my slight infatuation with Ryan Reynolds. It also fits in my purse…and NO I haven’t forsaken my purse and thrown all my belongings into the diaper bag. The very idea.

4.) Trader Joe’s Popcorn with Herbs and Spices

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It’s $1.99 for a bag and you can eat it in the car on the way home from TJ’s with zero guilt. Can I make herb popcorn at home? Yes. Does it taste as good as TJ”s? No.

Get some. You won’t regret this decision. Actually, do what I do and just buy 2 or 3 bags.

Apparently they sell it on Amazon now.

Edit, as I was doing my final edit of this post, the Husband brought me a bowl of this delicious snack. Keeper? Yes.

5.) The Honest Co. Diapers

BABY ALERT! If you don’t care…just scroll on by.

We were in a fight with Target diapers. They turned on us. It was not pretty. We had to go out of town unexpectedly, all the cloth diapers were dirty, and the disposables we had were basically toxic to her. I spent the money on a box of the Honest Co.  expensive diapers, hoping they would help the Squish with her ish. They did. The lovely people at Honest sent me a super awesome coupon and I got a bundle of diapers and wipes for suuuuuper cheap. A bundle includes 6 packages of diapers and 4 packages of wipes, and you save over $20 when you subscribe to the bundle. This is a fantastic fit for us, since we cloth diaper at home and use disposables at night and when we go out. These are the gentlest diapers and wipes, and the designs are super freakin’ adorable. This company is for real, and for us it is worth the investment to have products that we know are safe and gentle. If you want to save $10 on your first order, click here! 

6.) Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

I crave this soup. It has a chicken broth and coconut milk base and it tastes way different than you imagine. It almost has a cheesy taste to it, and it’s imperative that you get fresh basil to put on the top. Make a ton, freeze it, and hoard the leftovers. It’s one of those recipes that tastes a million times better the next day, especially when you mix in the leftover rice and just let it sit. I’d imagine that it would pair really well with millet too. We added sausage to the leftovers last week and it was ah-mazing.

 

What are you high-fiving lately?

 

Bonnie B.

Our New Summer Jobs

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We are pleased to announce an addition to our family through the blessing of adoption.

She is coming home next week!

We can’t wait for you to meet the  happiest, squishiest baby ever!

She is a gift.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”

(More details soon!)

Brian, Bonnie, and Lucy

(photo cred goes to the amazing Angey Price, thank you for helping us share the news!)

 

Friday Favorites: Duke/Ogburn Photobooth Fun!

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This past Saturday I had a blast partying with the guests at Ethan and Casey’s wedding reception! I’ve known the bride’s family since I was in high school, so I was so so happy to book this event last-minute and put together a photo booth for their reception! The photo booth remains a fantastic way to keep the party going at your reception, and once you get a couple brave souls to get the fun started at the photobooth….well you end up with delightful images like these! If you were a guest at this wonderful reception, head on over to http://bonniebphotography.smugmug.com/Events/DukeOgburn-Photobooth/ and check out all the images! Use the code DUKE329 to get 15% off your print or digital download order (plus shipping!)

Enjoy.

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Congratulations Ethan and Casey! You are so blessed to be surrounded by friends and family who love and support you.

Bonnie B.

P.S.
Here are some amazing vendors who made the day a success!

Trevor Smith Productions — http://trevorsmithproductions.com/
Lauren Winstead Photography — http://www.laurenwinstead.com/
AAA Entertainment (DJ) — http://www.aaadj.com/

Homemaking and Home-working

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Ever since the new year started, Brian and I have had several conversations (ok some were actually arguments) about what it means to be diligent, efficient, and focused in our tasks.

Look, I know this isn’t the most exciting topic- so just grab a cup of coffee and muse with me for a bit.

I’m one of those fortunate individuals who is wired to create, inspire, daydream, make messes, and be a tad bit absent-minded.

I’m also wired to control, organize, process, and be very task oriented.

It’s crowded in my head and heart as these two parts of me constantly war. Also loud.

The challenge for me is to basically take these things I know about myself and how God pieced me together, and turn them all into strengths that work together to show His fingerprints and His creativity and order.

One thing I know is that I cannot create or be inspired in a messy, unorganized environment. I just can’t. I like a clean desk while I edit photos. I need to know that the bed is made and the laundry is going while I work in the office. I’m a crazy person. It’s one of the best and worst things about one’s home also being one’s workplace. I think it takes a great deal of organization to turn ones’ home into a workspace without losing one’s mind altogether and failing at both homemaking and home-working.

So those are my musings.

I’ve been inspired to take action this year, and to attempt to bring some order, rhythm, and routine to my home and workspace. For instance, the dishes.

I.hate.doing.dishes.

I think it’s the never ending march of dirty dishes, the feeling that it’s never DONE. We eat at home and cook a lot, so with just the two of us, there can be a constant sink full of dishes. Our old housemate T can testify to our complete failure at dishes. Every day he would use his 1 or 2 dishes, move a few dirty pans out of the way, clear a path to the faucet, and wash/dry/put away his dish. Every.Day. Meanwhile, we were watching Netflix. Meanwhile, we were avoiding the dishes. Meanwhile, we were terrible at adulthood.

One of my goals has been to clear the sink of dishes each night before I go to bed, and get the kitchen cleared out and ready for the next day.I found something interesting lately, and that is that the unfinished tasks of yesterday and last week bleed over the next day and the next, until I suddenly realize that I’m moving forward very little each day in my tasks.

By Friday, my to do list was a pile of unfinished tasks from Sunday-Thursday and on top of that I desperately needed a solid 4-5 hrs to edit photos and plan sessions. This one small act of resetting the kitchen each evening has really helped me free up time for the tasks of this day.

So, there is one small victory. Bonus: I will now often find a very handsome man (Brian) in the kitchen cooking and CLEANING AS HE GOES.

Let that soak in. The glory of it.

Tasks. They have to be done. How do you manage yours?

Edit: As I typed this, there was in fact a sink full of dirty dishes from yesterday. Grace abounds.

Bonnie B.

Half Awake

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Today was a rare afternoon with nothing on the calendar and no task that was too important. There was leftover snow and golden sunshine, and the cold was the invigorating kind. I walked Lucy like I always do after I get home from teaching preschool, and I struggled to silence a voice that was calling me outdoors and to create photos ONLY because I felt inspired. I really just wanted to curl up under a blanket and veg out to something on tv. The sun was throwing sparks off the snow though, and I had a fun new camera accessory to try… so instead I silenced the “veg out” voice and spent the afternoon playing outside.

(I’m sure my neighbors had a fun time watching me unsuccessfully take self-portraits in my front yard. It’s way harder than I thought! I’m kind of embarrassed that I didn’t get one portrait of myself that is actually in focus, but I liked this one, so we will call that one a small victory.)

I’ve been reading the personal letters of C.S. Lewis on and off for the past few months. This afternoon made me think of a passage I underlined and read and re-read. In a letter to his close friend, Arthur, he describes how much deeper his enjoyment of the outdoors has become:

The pond a smooth almost black sheet, sprinkled, or rather paved with bright leaves: the little birch wood flaming on the far side, and the hill and fir wood beyond fading into mist. Yes-the weather is alright now and I am getting all those fine feelings of revival-beginning to take longer walks again, remembering how much mere branch and sky and hedge ought to mean to one, and noticing suddenly for how long one has been only half awake. 

Sleepwalking is easy, but living fully awake is so much more satisfying. Thank you Lord for an empty calendar, a quiet yard, and the stirrings of revival.

Hello 2014!

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Really, 2014? I feel like 2014 is a number that makes more sense in some futuristic sci fi movie where everyone wears grey jumpsuits and we all have a flying car and robot butlers. (Pretty sure I just mixed up The Jetsons and that new tv show Almost Human…the one with Eomer from The Lord of the Rings… but now he’s a cop with an android as a partner.)

I watched a ton of Hulu and Amazon Prime shows over break, so anyways…

It’s pretty natural to look a shiny brand new year and either be excited about the possibilities or kind of discouraged about the failures and perceived setbacks of the previous year. I think it’s been a bit of both for me. Instead of jumping on the New Year Resolution bandwagon, I’ve decided to thoughtfully and prayerfully consider some personal and professional goals for the year. I’ve been following these goal setting steps from Lara Casey and I love how the very first step is celebrating victories and what worked in 2013. I was amazed at how this exercise really began to spark visions for this year, and how it gently revealed what has been lacking.

So what can I celebrate?

Giving, sharing, serving others.

What is lacking?

Giving, sharing, serving others.

Hmm.

As I have been working through this process, this is basically what God has been saying to my heart:

Look, look at what I accomplished through you when your eyes were fixed on me and not yourself. Look at friendships that deepened and people who became dear to you. Look at those times when Love demanded more than you thought you could give or even wanted to give. Look at the portraits of clients you truly invested yourself in. Look at your marriage and how I’ve transformed it. Look at those risks you took, sharing when you could have been silent, giving when you knew it might get thrown back in your face, reading stories of orphans and praying over them, knowing that they are lost in a system of bureaucracy and paperwork. Look at what I have done and will do if you will simply let me have your heart.

This sharing thing, it doesn’t come easy to me. There are times of sharing to celebrate, but it is still lacking in my life and work. I think this little blog is a great place to share, so I hope to not only share my photography with you, but also the big and little things that make up my whole crazy life. For instance:

Did you know that I teach preschool part-time during the week? Well I do. I spend most of my time there teaching 2 year olds how to-

Yes, you guessed it…

Share.

I hope you can look back at your 2013 list of Victories and Defeats and see Grace scribbled all over the page. God is so good to give me another year to do the work he has for me. I hope to see all of your beautiful faces in front of my camera, and I’m excited to be a part of your story!

Bonnie B.

“You Don’t Give Up on Love”

I am so very honored to help tell this story of radical love, perseverance, and rescue. Meet the Henson family! I have known Robin  for several years, and this is one amazing family! As Brian and I wait on God to reveal the next chapter of our own adoption story, He placed it on my heart to do what I can to advocate for other adoptive families. The Henson’s adoption journey is unique, as it began with actually meeting their little girl in an orphanage in Mexico. They have been working tirelessly for the past 2 years to bring Andrea home and to make her part of their forever family. Tony and Robin live in Wake Forest with their two sons Gabe and Micah, their dog Pablo, and they have one daughter, Shelby, who attends Liberty University. Read below to find out how you can help them bring Andrea home!

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1.) How did you meet Andrea?

We met Andrea in June 2010 when we were visiting Acuna, MX to do some mission work. We know people affiliated with the shelter she lives in, and they took us to meet the children.

2.) What events led to your decision to pursue adopting her?

Andrea won our hearts. I (Robin) didn’t interact with Andrea on the first day. She stood back while the other children were happy to see us. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how to approach her. This may sound really horrible, but she dug at her head continuously and I thought she had lice. In a sense, I was afraid to get around her. The second day, she did the same. She stayed to herself, still digging at her head, but I couldn’t ignore her. I bent down with my arms stretched out towards her. After a few seconds, she came right to me and I scooped her up onto my lap, but she had wet through her clothes. My immediate reaction (I would have naturally reacted this way to my own children) was to put her down quickly, not thinking at all! When I did, she immediately turned away and sat down in a little space between two bunk beds. She sat in the floor and would pull little strands of yarn out of a plastic container and while she did it, she would occasionally look up at me with the blunt stare. It broke my heart and I knew I had rejected her, at least in her mind. I knew then that I wasn’t leaving until I made things right between us. It took a few tries, but she eventually got up and came to me and I held her until I had to go. She never moved once held her. She laid her head on my shoulder and that was it. She was content. She just wanted to be held. At that point, I thought she was about 18mo-2yrs. We would later find out that she was four. She was just very tiny. From that point on, I wanted her. She was mine. We went back the following year and spent some more time with her. We left there saying, “Yep, she’s our little girl!”

3.) What does the adoption process look like when adopting from Mexico?

The adoption program in MX is still pretty new. We began our adoption process in December 2011, two months after our AZ agency was approved (there are only three agencies in the US approved to adopt in MX). With that being said, we’re kind of like guinea pigs. But, that is okay with us. We knew that going in and knew we had to take whatever steps necessary to get Andrea. I think what is important to point out is that MX is learning right now. They have begun operating under the Hague Convention (this protects everyone and ensures the children are not being trafficked in any way) and there is so much to be learned about the laws, that they are learning as they go. I know this has to be frustrating for them and it takes time.

4.) There was a point in the process where another family was chosen for Andrea, how did those events unfold, and how did you and your family deal with the disappointment?

Yes, when we visited the State DIF (like social services here in the U.S.) in Saltillo last January, the Procuradora (the head attorney) expressed that she was in favor of us having Andrea “if” a Mexican couple didn’t want her. They began circulating her file. I didn’t think anyone would come for her only because she has been in the shelter since she was one. At that time, she was about to turn 7. I felt “safe,” thinking she was ours. A few months later, we got word that a Mexican couple had expressed a desire to adopt Andrea and had begun their bonding visits. I really felt numb. I don’t know how else to describe it. I was afraid to let too much emotion out and was trying not to hurt. We told the kids at the kitchen table and explained to them that the important thing to remember was that Andrea was going to have parents who loved her, and we should try to be very happy for her as sad as it was for us. I also prayed that they were believers and gave it to the Lord. I had to. I was too heartbroken to take all of this on my own. It’s interesting because Tony felt strongly that we needed to wait to make sure Andrea was going to be adopted by this other couple before we pursued another child. He didn’t want to go on just yet. I am so thankful that he was so adamant about it because sure enough, a couple of months later, we found out that the couple had decided not to adopt Andrea because after some tests were run, it was determined that she does have special needs. My heart broke for her, wondering what message this sent to her, but I was so thankful that this led her back to us. I am thankful to my husband for the guidance during that time and most definitely thankful to the Lord.

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5.) How has your heart changed since you met Andrea?

Tony- Even though we don’t really know Andrea yet. We know that we love her like a mother loves her unborn child. It has been a long 2 year pregnancy of a 7 year old. The exception to that is that we have met her and helped her and interacted with her. With every step of completion we have had more and more the feeling that she is a part of our family. You don’t give up on love. We love her and we know that we must persevere.

Robin- My heart has definitely changed in that I know that I have to be an advocate, one who speaks on behalf of orphaned children. I may not be able to adopt another child after Andrea, or may not have tons of money to give for an adoption, but there is something that I can always do. I can spend $5.00 to buy an ornament from a family raising money for their adoption, I can give $10.00 or donate items around my home to a family having a yard sale to help fund their adoption. There is just so much. I can spread the word about adoption. Social media gives me no excuse whatsoever. My heart knows there is work to be done and I will do it, with joy!

6.) What has frustrated you about this process?

Tony- Wow, This has been a PROCESS. If I had to say one thing that is most frustrating in the adoption, it would be the cost. There are lots of other things that are frustrating but most are a necessary evil. The single biggest obstacle we have had to overcome is the cost of adoption. You have a family who is called to adopt and is hindered and sometimes stopped from it because of the cost associated with it. This includes both domestic and international adoption. We are blessed to have had some amazing support along our journey, and God’s hand has been all over this process.

Robin- The frustration for me is that this process takes so long. I keep thinking there has to be a better way. These children are sitting in orphanages/shelters day in and day out needing parents to just wrap their arms around them. Each day that goes by is another day that most of these children go without a hug or a smile, a wink, a word of praise, a day without someone saying, “I love you,” or, “Great job!” They have no one to sing songs to them or tell them Jesus loves them. This is so frustrating to me. Those children (and I am including teenagers) need us. Yes, there has to be a better way. And people must stop being apathetic. We need to face this head-on. There is a problem. Children are parentless and we CAN do something. What people think of as such a small thing that wouldn’t make a difference (a $1.00 donation for instance) can make a huge difference if everyone else would give a dollar. Most people can give a dollar! This seems so easy, but people don’t realize the impact of such a small donation if everyone chipped in. My point is that some aren’t called to adopt, but we are ALL called to help in some way, and we don’t have to be wealthy to help.

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7.) What has amazed you about this process?

Tony- My Wife. She is an amazing godly woman. She has been stretched and grown through this process. I have always know my wife’s passion and love that she has in her heart, but even to a person looking at this from the outside, the love she has in her heart for this little girl, a little girl she barely knows, you see she loves her like she is her own child. You hear stories of how people love adopted children like their own. I have no doubt that Andrea will be loved by us and our family as if she were biologically ours. Another thing that amazes me is the work my wife has put into fundraising.

Robin- Others. I have been amazed and at times absolutely struck speechless by those who have supported us…. By their generosity, by their prayers, by their counsel. There have been many that have helped us that we don’t even know, complete strangers. I have been amazed at many things throughout this adoption. I knew it would be difficult, but the emotional strain has been much, but in that, I have seen my faith grow and I have seen myself persevere because I know the Lord has given me this great passion. It has been amazing to partner with my husband and work together to do something that is so beyond us. We have stepped out of our comfort zone and committed that we will follow the Lord throughout this journey. Our kids have been such a big part of this journey. It has been awesome seeing them get so excited. Our daughter is 18 and we have two sons, 13 and 9. I love hearing them tell about our adoption and Andrea and have been so touched when they sit down wanting to make ornaments to sell and then to see them set out on foot in the neighborhood to raise money are for me, treasurable moments. So, seeing our family come together has been amazing. Also, the people who have come alongside us has been an awesome experience. I think a few times, I just stopped and said, “I never knew those people cared so much about us.” And I didn’t. But then, it really wasn’t about us, it was about answering a call, and I know that’s what these precious people have done. This whole journey, as exhausting as it has been, has grown us together as a couple, as a family, and grown us closer to the Lord. Also, we have seen how the body of Christ works together. I don’t mean that as in just a specific church (though that too is true), but I mean the body of Christ overall. I have been amazed to see the Lord work in the body, not just with our adoption, but with other adoptions as well. It takes all of us helping one another. Prayer, no doubt, has gotten us through. And it will continue to get us through.

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8.) What is the next step in your journey to bring Andrea home?

We’ll leave to visit Andrea November 30 and return home December 7. We will have visitation with her that M-F. Once we return, the formal referral with be written up. At that time, the referral and Andrea’s medical records will be sent to homeland security for approval. After the approval, Mexico will begin the application process for the visa. Once the visa is in, then an application for Andrea’s birth certificate will be processed. Upon receipt of her birth certificate, we can then travel to get her and bring her home. Hopefully, this is about six month from now.

9.) Do you have any encouragement for other families waiting for placement?

First, know that you are not alone! There many right there with you. Some will have the financial means, but know that most don’t. We are not a family of money. When we knew we were being called to adopt, we were a bit confused because we didn’t have any sort of income to support an adoption. But, we have fundraised much of our way through and have had generous people come alongside us financially, whether it was someone giving us 10.00 or $1000.00. Also, we applied for grants and received two! If you know you are being called to adopt, answer that call. Don’t give up. I have cleaned homes since Mar/13’ just specifically to raise money for the adoption. My family and I make ornaments at Christmas and sell them. What I hope for when our adoption is complete is for others in our shoes without a high income to say, if they did it, we can too. We can clothe and feed another child. That isn’t the problem, but coming up with $20,000-30,000 is another story. However, I know that my God is big and He can do great things. He has already and I know He will continue. There are ups and downs. The process is slow and at times, you may grow weary, but just remember, you are answering a call and sometimes the road is bumpy, but I look at it as a way that the Lord is strengthening us on the journey of faith. Perseverance pays off and in the end, you have rescued yet another orphan and been obedient to what the Lord has called you to do.

If you would like to donate to the Henson family to help bring Andrea home, click one of links below. There are two websites where you can give. If you prefer PayPal, please use the Fundrazr site. If you prefer to pay via debit or credit only, please use the Gofundme site. 

Henson Adoption Fund-Fundrazr.com

Henson Adoption Fund-GoFundMe.com

The Hensons also make beautiful pinecone ornaments for Christmas! Click here for more info on how you can purchase one and give to their adoption fund.

Thank you for reading! If you would like to know more about adoption in the US, please visit www.adoptuskids.com If you would like to know more about adopting internationally, please visit http://adoption.state.gov/index.php for more info. 

Bonnie B.