Operation Olivia: Meet the Smith family

The next several weeks are full of family fundraisers and it makes my heart happy. Each family represents one less orphan.

Our next family is adopting a sweet little girl from China who happens to be a doll baby. This is their second adoption from China! I love two-timers! ;)

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Meet the Smith Family!

Isa and I have known each other for a while now and use the same adoption agency based out of CO.

Here’s her introduction:

A few things about us: We’re the Smith’s, my husband is Wally, we have four children at home, three bio kids and our youngest was adopted from China in 2016. (Julia-16, Aiden-12, Lexie-11, and Gavin-4) Our new daughter is just six months younger than Gavin & is also from Jiangxi. We expect to travel in early November. I’m an ESL teacher/Reading Specialist and my husband has over 20 years of service in the Army & works at the Pentagon. We’ve lived in Northern Virginia since 2015 and have also been stationed in Florida, Kansas, Germany, & The Netherlands. Our new daughter’s name will be Olivia. We’re using the hashtag #OperationOlivia since we’re a military family

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How cute is Operation Olivia? With all fundraisers, the family receives back 20% of all sales supporting their adoption. When checking out, it will ask you if you are buying in support of a family and you can enter Smith Family or “Operation Olivia!” We hope this fundraiser is a sweet way to support the Smith’s and have a special doll that reminds you there’s one less orphan. It takes a village and while everyone isn’t called to adopt, everyone can be part of the village. Shopping smart, especially with the holidays almost here, is a great way to support adoption, adoptive families and receive meaningful, custom gifts.

Please contact me for any special requests: maebesew@gmail.com

Let Operation Olivia begin!! XOXO

Meet our fundraiser family: The Britton's

I am very excited to introduce this week's fundraiser family, The Britton's!

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Stan and Lauren Britton standout with their grace, compassion, and love for others in a BIG way.  I get to watch this upclose as we live in the same community. Our lives have overlapped through the last few years from churches, to preschools, to buying our home, to now China adoption! It was a treat swimming with them this summer and getting a glimpse at what fabulous brothers their four boys will be to Hannah! 

Here's what Lauren has to say about adoption: 

Adoption is a big part of our family. Stan was adopted, our second son was adopted and we have been foster parents. We have asked God for several years to show us when it was time to foster or adopt again. We came across Hannah Joy's picture on an advocacy page for waiting children in China. Through friends who have adopted and adoption advocacy work, we have heard heartbreaking stories of what life is like in an orphanage for these children. We believe that God has brought each family and story into our life, especially in the last year, to draw our hearts toward international adoption. When we saw Hannah's picture for the first time, we just knew we had to go get her. When we read her file, that inkling was confirmed. She possibly has autism, which is a road well traveled for us. We feel that God has equipped our family and our hearts to bring her home, give her the medical care she needs and show her the love of a family. She has the most beautiful smile! We cannot wait to introduce her to all of the people who help us Bring Hannah Home.  #bringhannahhome

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The Britton's were awarded a matching grant through Brittany's Hope so every dollar raised through MaeBeSew will be doubled by this generous organization.  This means a $100 MaeBeSew order will mean $40 for the Britton's. Being an adoptive mother who has done plenty of fundraising, it's an awesome opportunity to shop smart in a very impactful way! When checking out, don't forget to include "Britton Family.". 

So without further ado, let the holiday, baby, birthday, just-because-i-love-you shopping begin! Fundraiser ends Sunday night, September 16th. Please reach out for any questions, concerns, or custom requests! MaeBeSew@gmail.com

 

 

Meet Our Fundraiser Family: The Hilton Family

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After a quiet first half of summer, MaeBeSew is coming back loud and proud to introduce our next fundraising family, the Hiltons.  Amanda Hilton's passion for "bringing little sister home" stood out from the beginning and her sweetness is contagious. I am excited to partner with them and see another deserving child home with their forever family. As my village knows, it takes every one of y'all to make it happen.  Let's show some love to this family and their little sister waiting to come home.  Here's how: shop small and smart: 20% of all sales at MaeBeSew.com supporting "The Hilton Family" will go directly to their adoption.  There are also links at the end of their story to donate directly. 

Here's their story in their own words: 

Amanda and I have always had a special place in our hearts for adoptive families, and have discussed “what could be” since we were dating. We’ve always marveled at the idea of providing love, structure, safety and opportunity for a child whose story may not have involved these precious and sacred things.

When we were pregnant with Jane, our youngest we decided due to Amanda's consistent health related pregnancy difficulties, and the evident worsening circumstances with Jane’s complications, we were done having babies -- we were at peace with this! However, the Lord had other ideas.. Just minutes after Jane was born, as the NICU team was trying to stabilize her, Amanda had the strongest impression that our family simply was not complete. She even partially expressed these thoughts to me, literally as Jane was trying to find her first breaths.

Since that day, we’ve wrestled with the idea of expanding our family. How? ...Amanda’s body cannot hold up? What? ...these promptings and impressions would come and go, but their persistence was ever so consistent. Who? ...we’ve always slightly toyed with the idea of adopting an infant … When? ...we’re getting older, and our lives are hectic!  At long last, we decided this past year that we needed to ponder deeply, pray with great intent, and finally come to a final decision..

In going through this process over several months, we experienced some of the most unforseen experiences that we ever could have imagined. The process began with a half hearted decision to be finished having babies, but it became clear that we needed to put much more effort into finding answers, as we were still emotionally unsettled. As we continued to navigate the pursuit of answers, we were seemingly being blessed with new knowledge and new people in our lives which allowed for broadened perspective and realities.

One experience in particular, was our precious friends for whom Amanda had the opportunity to assist in caring for their special children, and in turn our little family gained a newfound perspective on “what could be”. The kind of “what could be” that allowed for a very clear and sacred knowledge that we have the capacity to love, unconditionally, with all our heart, mind, and soul, regardless of blood, regardless of status, regardless of ability, and regardless of circumstances. In the midst of these experiences, we were seemingly prompted… more so “carried”, nearly immediately, into the opportunity of a lifetime.. Of an eternity..

We are in the process of adopting the most precious little girl. She currently resides (in wait for us) in an orphanage in China. She is 4 years old, and she has Down Syndrome. She was born in June of 2014, and matter of factly, the same month we lost (what would have been) our third child. We committed to her the week of Thanksgiving, and got our Pre-Approval from China to move forward with the adoption on December 1st. We already have a connection with her that is undeniable and quite prominent in our home. We have a goal to bring her home to her forever family before Christmas of 2018 and appreciate everyone's support from the bottom of our hearts!

Without further ado...  meet our sweet “Little Sister”.

{NF for short}

If you were like me, you likely have never heard of Neurofibromatosis.  And don't worry about pronouncing it, NF will do.  NF is a genetic disorder that can cause the uncontrolled growth of tumors inside and outside of the body and is characterized by multiple café au lait (light brown) skin spots, also known as angel kisses in our home.  It is also associated with learning disabilities, high blood pressure, and can affect the development of the brain, cardiovascular system, bones and skin.  NF is more common than cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and Huntington's disease combined. There is no way to predict the severity of the disorder throughout a person's lifetime and there is no cure. (ctf.org and texasnf.org)

Now imagine you were just diagnosed with it.  Or your child.  This is our story.

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Our family fell head over heels in love with our fourth child when we saw her being advocated for on a website in need of a family.  We weren't planning on adopting again, until that moment.  We were out of state, in Baltimore, having surgeries for our youngest daughter who is missing her fibula. When we received more information on this precious 5 year old, we learned we needed a specialized orthopedic surgeon to look over her file.  Boy, we were in luck, face-to-face with one of the country's best. We showed our surgeon x rays of a broken tibia and fibula and he immediately recognized it as Congenital Pseudoarthrosis of the Tibia (CPT).  "We got this."  Then he gave us a heads up that pseudoarthrosis can be associated with Neurofibromatosis. "What? Say that again. Spell it."  After a quick google search, my heart sank.  So against my natural tendencies, I stayed off google and went straight to our Neurofibromatosis Clinic in Dallas.  Dr. Klesse is bragged about often and recognized all over the country. She was kind enough to talk to me personally and her conclusion was she was seeing enough evidence to prepare us for a Neurofibromatosis diagnosis. My heart sank again. Honestly, it still does.  

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Those who are familiar with Lottie knows she underwent an amputation 8 months after we met her and sports a purple prosthesis, but the part of the story I tend to leave out is her NF diagnosis.  While it is scary, I follow Dr. Klesse's original advice two years ago, when we spoke before meeting Lottie, which was "The internet likes to sensationalize NF. Stay off Google."  So I do stay off random internet searches and have stayed private about the diagnosis to keep other people from "googling" my daughter's disorder.  For me, it's a strange and unwelcomed feeling knowing someone may be looking up my daughter's disorder and not being able to filter the sources. I never want NF to define her.  I never want it to change the potential they see in her.  I never want fear to rob the joy.  But the reality is NF is unpredictable and as her mom, I worry.  

I am breaking my silence because worrying isn't helpful, but awareness is.  Research is. Support is. Lottie, along with thousands of others, stand a much better chance if we can discover more about NF, find better treatments and a CURE. It all starts with awareness.  May is NF awareness month and it starts with me, now.  I will not be silent.  

The NF community has been a refreshing and enlightening source of encouragement and education. Dr. Klesse now oversees Lottie's care and we always look forward to our visits and her time.  We also value Children's Tumor Foundation and Texas Neurofibromatosis Foundation for the commitment to NF.

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This month, 20% of all MaeBeSew sales will be given directly to Neurofibromatosis research, unless designated to an adopting family:  www.maebesew.com/shop

To give directly to Neurofibromatosis research, click here. 

To support Lottie, spread awareness & support research, consider buying  "I know a NF fighter" shirt here

While this is a very small snapshot of our story and Lottie's diagnosis of NF Type 1, I hope it's valuable in opening the doors for more support in finding a cure and better treatment.  Lottie doesn't let anything steal her joy and it's my hope that will never change. Keep shining on Lottie girl. Momma loves you.

#endNF #NFawareness 

My Papa

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This week my Papa passed away.  I find myself reluctant to do the social media post with a picture and caption about it all. I really can’t explain why. Maybe it just doesn’t seem adequate in regards to all of my emotions and love. I have carefully shared lots of areas of my life, particularly adoption, so I found it conflicting some, however the key word is carefully.  I keep much of it private.  My extended family have shared beautiful posts and I truly enjoy seeing all the pictures of him, some I have never seen before.  I love hearing their words on what a wonderful man he was and smile because it’s all really true. They seem to give such honor and love in what's just a snapshot of their emotions.  There’s no forgetting the bad and only speaking of the good here.  He was good.  I spoke to my Meme today and fought back tears as I stood in the middle of open gym today with all 4 kids, my sister and two extra kids. I have created a beautiful life with Clay, one that I dreamed about as a little girl.  Clay is my rock.  I just adore him.  We have so much life ahead of us. I can’t imagine losing him.  And I also can’t imagine being with him over 6 decades and then no longer having him.  I grieve for Meme.  I know sadness must flood her heart.  As Christians, it seems Heaven should be a great sense of comfort, but as Meme said, selfishly his presence is missed.  I grieve for my dad who watched his dad decline in health and tried to make sense of it all.  I watched him love from afar and from close up.  And now I watch him grieve.  I also watch my mother balance loving and grieving to a family she's been with since she was a kid. I grieve as a daughter, as a wife, as a mother and as a granddaughter.  

I have slept a lot.  I wondered if it’s a form of grief.  I have been having dreams about Papa meeting Lottie or me explaining to others how he really wanted to.  My Papa and Meme were such big supporters, cheerleaders and encouragers when it came to both of our adoptions.  Lottie is the only great grandchild he didn’t meet.  It saddens me more than I can express that he didn’t meet her.  I know he badly wanted to.  He would have loved her even more upon meeting her.  She’s so sweet and full of smiles and giggles. I feel like he would have nodded his head in a job well done. I feel like he would have understood why we adopted again, why we couldn’t leave her behind.  I regret that it didn’t happen for both of them. 

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I love how everyone goes back to Papa being a Godly man and I go back to picturing him walking into his kitchen with a KFC bag in his hands just for me.  I can smell the instant mashed potatoes and brown gravy now.  He knew it was my favorite as a kid. Papa was a wonderful grandfather in both the little details and big. Too bad I couldn't say how that small tub of potatoes ended up feeding the entire city of Little Rock?  ;)  However if someone besides Jesus could do it, it might have just been my Papa. 

He also gave me one of my greatest gifts, my dad.  Without Papa, my dad wouldn’t exist, but that’s not what I even mean exactly.  He did something really right.  My dad is unique.  He invests in people. He gives generously.  He’s very humble.  He’s smart. He’s active. And he’s an amazing dad.  I appreciate Papa for so many reasons, but the way he raised my dad and the example he set, may be the top of my list.      

In the last decade, I hadn’t spent much time with my Papa.  He became less mobile and I became a mom of 4. A couple weeks ago, I spent an hour on the phone with my Meme and was reminded how much I enjoyed her when I was little and how relatable she is.  I wish we had lived closer over the last couple decades.  Papa will be missed and he loved so many and was loved by so many. I couldn’t be more proud to call him Papa. I’d like to think he’s watching Lottie now and smiling down on all the generations after him. May we make him proud.