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Friday, October 13, 2017

Blogging Break!

Well sometimes we simply can't do it all ;) We got back from Disney this Monday and we leave today for HAWAII! So that means I had like 3 days to unpack, do laundry, repack, and blog. We are SO appreciative to Aflac for this opportunity. Even though it's a less-than-ideal time to take such a large trip, who could ever say no to FREE HAWAII?

 I'm a tad nervous leaving with Mama E at 36 weeks. She has her big ultrasound today so please say some prayers that all goes well there and that Tab is healthy! We should get the reports next week on that and have a better idea of actual due date too (we aren't sure if it's 11/16 or 12/12!).

I knew this week would be insane and therefore planned a blogging break for next week! No new posts from me during the week of Oct 16th. I'm going to relax and fully enjoy this trip with Zach as a "baby moon" before our life with 4 begins :)

Be sure to follow me on IG as I'll be posting stories about our trip in Hawaii. Also follow me on Facebook where I post lots of articles, shopping deals, and my blog posts.




Thursday, October 12, 2017

An Adoptive Mom's Perspective On 4 Adoption Issues

Today is our Babywise Friendly Blog Network Day! I'm blogging over at Team Cartwright about preparing your children in a time of crisis. Natasha, from Let's Be Brave, is guest posting here. I asked her to write on the topic of adoption. She's guest posted here before and wrote an adoption related post which I LOVED. I know in this process it's hard to fully learn everything and even tougher to try to help others know and understand the process. Natasha's post today should help many people who may have questions regarding certain aspects of the adoption process! 


There are so many hot topic issues when it comes to adoption.  And let me tell you, EVERYONE AND THEIR MOM has an opinion on them, whether they've personally been involved in adoption or not.  And honestly, I'm of the opinion that there's no right way to do this adoption thing.  Adoption begins with brokenness, and while adoption is redemption - a sweet, beautiful way to redeem what has been lost and broken - it isn't the way it was meant to be, so there's issues that arise that there just isn't an ideal solution for or a perfect answer to.

And to clarify, before any adoptive mamas go all "this child was MEANT TO BE in my family" on me - I get that.  What I mean by "meant to be" is that in an ideal, perfect world, birth mamas wouldn't have to give up their babies for any reason at all, which I think we can all agree would be the best case scenario - mamas keeping their babies.

So with that said, I'd like to offer my perspective behind three of these hot topic adoption issues.  I know my perspective and opinion is not everyone's, and that's ok.  These decisions are so personal, and how you handle these issues depends on so many different things.  We all have to make the best decisions for our families, and that will look different for each of us.

open adoption vs. closed adoption

When you adopt a child, you can either have an open adoption (contact with birth parents) or a closed adoption (no contact with birth parents). There are several factors adoptive families consider when choosing which is right for them. You need to consider safety (yours and the child's), how it will affect the child emotionally, whether the parent is mentally stable, whether the parent is actively using drugs, how the parent will respond to your rules and boundaries, the desire your child has or might have in the future to know their birth family, etc.  These things are important to consider, and how much weight you give to each factor will differ depending on what you think is right for your family and your child.

After you decide if you want to have an open or closed adoption, you have to decide what kind of contact you want to have.  You can do cards/pictures/letters, phone contact, FaceTime, or face-to-face contact.  Again, you have to consider all of the factors mentioned above to determine what kind of contact is appropriate.

It's such a personal decision and how you handle it is so specific to your child's situation.  What might be right for your family might be totally wrong for another family.  And even within your family, if you adopt two unrelated children, what's right for one child might be totally wrong for the other child.  It really depends on so many things, and you just have to make the best decision you can.

Personally, we don't have any legal obligation to maintain contact with our kids' birth parents, but they really want to keep in contact with their birth mom, and we want that for them, so we've chosen open adoption.  As long as she is doing well and it's not a detriment for them to have contact with her, we're willing to facilitate phone contact and face-to-face contact between them.  We may be her only connection to Jesus, and we want to take every opportunity that we have to point her to Him.  We also want to promote healing and reconciliation where division and bitterness could so easily grow.

foster care, domestic infant, or international adoption

There are lots of things to consider when choosing which adoption path to pursue.  Foster care is less expensive than domestic or international adoption, however, it can be riskier in a lot of ways.  It's not an easy adoption path, for so many reasons that it could be it's own blog post.  We went the foster care route simply because there is such a high need, and we had no idea we would later struggle with infertility.

With domestic infant adoption and international adoption, you wait to get matched with a child and then, as long as that adoption doesn't fall through for some reason, you adopt that child.  If you want an infant, domestic adoption might be right for you.  You also have to consider the cost of private adoption, which is significantly higher than an adoption through foster care.

There is so much to be said about this choice - the kind of adoption you want to pursue - that I can't even begin to do it justice in this short segment of a blog post.  But just know there are options, and there is a lot to consider when deciding which avenue to pursue!

fundraising

Some people need help to pay for an adoption and others don't.  It's my personal opinion that either way, contributing financially to a family's adoption is a fantastic way to support adoption.  As believers we're all called to take care of orphans, so if you don't feel called to adopt a child, then you need to be taking care of orphans in another way.  Financially supporting someone else's adoption is an easy, helpful way to do that. No one who feels called to adopt should be hindered by the fact that adoption is expensive. I don't believe a family who feels called to adopt should have to scrimp and save every single penny they have to make it happen. That's something that we, the church, can help with, and if we can, we should, even if a family doesn't necessarily "need" the money. Private adoptions are expensive, and few people have that much money at their disposal without saving and setting aside money specifically for adoption.

name changes

Obviously an adopted child's last name gets changed. But what about their first and middle names? You have to decide whether or not you're going to change one or both of those names. You have to consider the child's age, whether to change it for safety reasons, if the child wants his/her name changed, if all your other kids have family names or a name that goes with a theme (like names all start with a certain letter), whether to have the birth family involved in the new names, etc.

When we adopted, we changed our kids' first, middle, and of course, last names.  The oldest two were 5 and 7 when we adopted them so we discussed their name change with them. We were considering just changing their first names and keeping the middle names their birth parents gave them, but they asked for their middle names to be changed as well.  The littlest was only 2 when we adopted him, and we really didn't like his first or middle name, so we were planning on changing both his first and middle name anyways.  So we went ahead and completely changed all of their names.

These are all hot adoption topics and big decisions that an adoptive family has to make.  I know I've already said it many times before, but really it's so true - all of these decisions are so personal and depend so much on the specific situation.  Each family has to use the information that they have and make a wise and loving choice for their family and kids.

Natasha is a work-at-home lawyer and mama to 4 kids acquired through adoption and IVF - Laurel (7), Bennett (5), Christopher (2), and Everly (6 months).  She blogs at Let's Be Brave.


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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Savannah Labor Day Trip: Part 2

You can see Part 1 of our trip here!

Sunday we kicked things off with another morning of a yummy breakfast! 


We went to The Funky Brunch and I can't recommend it enough! Very affordable, very yummy and VERY fun!



You buy pancake batter and toppings and make your own pancakes on a hot top on your table! It was a tad bit high anxiety sitting at a table with a hot top but we have obedient children so we weren't overly concerned that they'd touch it ;) 




All the toppings!!! Once you use up all your batter you pay for refills and it's cheaper than the original price. We used two things of batter for our whole family!


Tess loved picking her toppings ;)




YUM!









Such an AWESOME way to start our fun day!




The kids were alllll about Zach giving us a tour of the town anytime we drove anywhere. It was really cute because after the tour the day prior Britt was all about sharing some Savannah Facts too


Our museum pass was for three locations so we did the children's museum and train museum the first day since they were located close together and then the second day we checked out Old Fort Jackson. We aren't usually suckers for gift shop buys but as we were getting maps and such a man and his wife came back in from the fort and bought bug spray because they said it was AWFUL. And oh my goodness they were right! If you visit the fort BRING BUG SPRAY. We bought some from the gift shop and covered ourselves in it and STILL got bit. It was crazy! 

It was SUCH a pretty view though and a really great fort to visit with kids. Lots to do and see and very interactive which we love! 








We had a bit of time before the first tour so we checked things out! 












They had lots of old tools and such on display



And they had two activities: the kids made their own sandstone and their own gunpowder holders (def not the technical name haha)



Then a "real" soldier told us information about the history of the fort and the area and showed us some of the weapons used during the time of the Civil War. 


Tess was HILARIOUS. As soon as she saw the solider she got SUPER giggly and she thought he was so handsome. Either she likes men in uniform or redheads?


The kids got to participate in musket demonstrations, neither girl wanted to join in but Kye was all about it. 





Here's some videos: 



I love how serious and focused he is about it!











Tessie watching her crush haha


The girls kinda freaked about the musket firing so Zach stayed with them so Kye and I could go watch the cannon firing. They fire off different cannons every hour (we only stayed for one) and we got to see the LITTLEST one be fired. It was neat because while we waited a HUGE boat passed through!





Watching a bit of a movie before heading out


Our stay for this trip was in a loft and it had a long staircase when you entered the bottom floor. It was always bickering every single time over who got to be the "leader" to go up or down the stairs. 


Lunch in the room! This is the LAST time I'm buying any dang lunchables! I buy them on trips to make life easier on me from having to pack a bunch of stuff but the only kid that actually eats them is Kye! The girls just complain the whole time and don't even like any of the ones I've bought. So I'm done! Bring on any simple, easy, quick, good travel food ideas!!!


That afternoon I wanted the kids to get to walk around an old cemetery for a bit. They didn't really fully understand or appreciate it but the cemeteries in Savannah are just so awesome so I'm glad we did it!






Representin' for Gwinnett County ;) 






After our quick stop we headed over to River Street for dinner!






We did a very brief (like 20 min or so) walk down River Street. We got our Christmas ornament and checked out the candy shop then headed to our dinner reservations. I know I always see families with kids walking through shops and browsing but I doubt that is fun for the kids OR the parents? Zach isn't into that sort of thing (if my dad was with us though he'd be all about it) so we never really "shop" as a family. We see the cool sights and then move right along ;) Maybe once the kids are all older we'll do more of that? Or maybe us girls will and the boys will go golf ;)


I regret not buying this for her and saving it for Christmas. This child LOVES some suckers!








Our one MUST DO while on the trip was to eat at The Pirate's House. I ate there in middle school on a chorus trip and Zach and I ate together there when on a Student Center trip in college. We both LOVE it! So much history, such great food, such a fun vibe! The kids loved it too, very family friendly!



So many cute pirates!







Kye was SO INTO IT. Oh my goodness not only did he dress up in all the pirate gear that came with his kids meal menu, he talked in full on pirate. The kids menu lists several pirate terms and what they mean and Kye started using them. It was awesome and epic. When our food came I can't remember the exact term he used but Zach and I were rolling laughing. He makes an awesome pirate!






Oldest house in Georgia!


Our waitress told us some of her ghost sighting experiences (supposedly the restaurant is very haunted). If you ask your waitress or waiter they will tell you their personal experiences but she showed us some pictures which Britt was ALL about. Sometimes Britt randomly surprises me. I expected her to be creeped out by it and possibly dramatic and to have nightmares but instead she wanted to find a ghost haha so we looked and hunted while we went to the bathroom ;) 


This dip y'all. It was AMAZING


So was the shrimp and grits, duh.
(sidenote but dang this is a great pic of Zach...check out those green eyes!)



After we ate we took a tour from a pirate who gave us all the history of the restaurant location!



It's mentioned by name in Treasure Planet (which I've never read)



She wasn't stellar at the tour, wasn't super nice or funny or anything haha but hey we couldn't complain b/c it was free!


TREASURE! 


We hit up the gift shop and Britt wanted to spend her allowance money on a mood ring. Tess doesn't have chores yet so she just lucks out and we buy her a little something when the older two spend their earnings (third kids get lucky sometimes!). She, of course, wanted a mood ring too. And lost it within 24 hours ;) 




Britt was ALL about her mood. ALL. About. It. 




To save money we stopped at the grocery store and bought treats for dessert. This is SUCH a great thing to do on family trips. We've done it before and it's always fun. Because we ALL see the yummy treats at the grocery store yet never buy them and it's a chance to do that. And we only spent $4 total! Boom! 

We had our treats on the patio of the loft and shared our favorite memories from the weekend: Zach, Kye and Britt, Tess and Me!



We truly just had the BEST time. No one was sick. No one was whiney. No one was grumpy. Everyone slept great. Everyone had fun. Everyone was happy. It was just perfection! We all LOVED it and I loved exploring a new place together as a family! It makes me so, so excited to have our family complete and to plan more adventures together as they get older!


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