Comptons '16

Comptons '16

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Holy Place



On July 4 we walked this hallway marking the end of one journey and the beginning of another. Nine other families were with us to claim twelve children as sons and daughters. The room we entered to meet our children has been described by others as "a holy place". Not because of the bricks and mortar but because of the transforming of lives. In the middle of the chaos and excitement it's easy to miss the magnitude of the moment. It's a moment of redemption. Now as I look back 6 months I see it clearly.

There are several photos taken that morning that now take my breath away. This is one:



The woman who had cared for JiaXuan for two years held him for one final moment. She silently stared at his face as if to impart a lifetime of memories, hope and love.

When she handed him to me he became Arthur. I was overjoyed but heartbroken for her.



Then there was this.



The moment Alyssa understood that this was the same love and pain that existed the day she became ours. She saw it. Now she gets it. She knows she was, and will forever be, loved this same way.

Guang Qing arrived in that room and in an act that was as emotion filled as a Wal-Mart transaction he was handed over and became our Philip. He was limp, pale, pasty, full of worms, covered in bites and bruises and completely beautiful because he was ours. The photo that stands out to me for him is this:


Absolutely starving and too weak to hold his own bottle but safely in the lap of one of his forever people. We will never see him in such a state again, praise God!

That morning the events in that room allowed Arthur's daily life to change from this:




 
To this
 

 
 
And Philip's world changed from this one:
 

 
 
 
To this one
 


 
 
That room is a holy place. A redemption spot. Praise the Lord!
 
Six months home and they are gaining health, strength, confidence and love. They are absolutely thriving! We are surrounded by supportive family and friends who will never know how grateful we are. We love you!
 
 
 
 
 
 


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Faith Over Fear

 
 


We are coming full circle. Our journey to China began this time last year. On Orphan Sunday the kids were scheduled to perform at Project Yesu's annual luncheon.  As always- we prayed together in the car on the way there. On our way to wedding performances we always pray for blessings on the couple and that they would have a strong marriage focused on serving the Lord. On our way to adoption events we always pray that someone would be inspired to adopt.

Be careful what you pray for!



Following last year's orphan luncheon I began thinking more and more about adopting again. We had always said we would do it again if we felt called but were fairly certain that we were a one-and-done type of adoptive family. I found myself unable to escape the nagging thoughts of desperate children waiting for families. My brain knew that we were not in a position to adopt but my heart kept relentlessly whispering about the children. As I prepared to have the "honey I know we have 10 kids already but I think we should adopt again" talk with Aaron, I felt relief knowing that he would patiently listen to me and then gently say no. He would tell me that our plate was already fuller than full and that even if we somehow found the time we couldn't possibly afford it. I would agree with him and that would be the end of that.

I was wrong.

I talked and he listened patiently. Then he was quiet for a while. After a bit he said "I've been thinking about it too." As busy as we were, as impossible as it seemed, as crazy as it sounded, we found ourselves on the path to China. We took the first step and made a phone call. Our lives will never be the same, and blessedly so.



Philip and Arthur have been home for 4 months now. In many ways it's as if they have always been here. Their transition from orphanage life to family life was nearly seamless. They are learning, growing and thriving. Our previously busy life is even more busy. Daily life is hard work but the best work. Our calendar is filled with medical appointments and therapy sessions but our hearts are filled with gratitude and joy.

 
 



It shouldn't surprise us (but somehow it does) to look back and see how God, in His infinite wisdom, had already placed people in our lives to fill the gaps that we couldn't. Our logistical worries have been put to rest by our maturing children who are always happy to help and also by our secret weapon- grandparents. My mom and step-dad have been absolute unsung heroes.








Our church continues to play a major part in keeping us encouraged and covered in prayer.

We have been blessed far beyond what we deserve by generous friends who are STILL bringing us meals and sending unexpected deliveries of diapers and gifts to our front door.








As for the boys, they are both undeniable miracles to everyone who meets them.



Philip is Mr.Personality Plus. It is rare to see him without a smile. Remember Mr. Sad? (click HERE)
Mr. Sad was a pitiful product of an overcrowded institution. Philip left Mr.Sad in China and is now full of life and surrounded by love. He is receiving therapy to help overcome delays. He wears an eye patch for half of each day to help one eye become stronger. He is scheduled for surgery to place tubes in his ears to relieve the build up of fluid from 4 years of untreated infections. He eats anything and sleeps soundly every night in a room with his brothers. He says "Hi" "Wow" "Mama" and "Please". He is climbing stairs and walking holding on to hands. He is AMAZING!



And then there is Arthur.

There is much to say about him but first I have a confession. When we initially received Arthur's medical file it was overwhelming. We had just committed to Philip who by all appearances seemed to be a child with life-long needs that would make him unable to care for himself. Arthur's information was very limited but the things that were there were just plain scary. I told Aaron that I thought we should say no to Arthur. I was afraid that we were taking on too much. To be brutally honest I also didn't know if we wanted to commit to such a huge responsibility. "No" was the easy way out. Aaron's suggestion was that we should pray, take our time considering and at least have a doctor review the information. Arthur's life was saved by Aaron's answer. I quickly realized that fear was not from the Lord and that He had obviously put Arthur in our path for a purpose. We both wholeheartedly committed to our second son and never doubted the decision.



Arthur has done well since coming home and has made continual progress. We have witnessed him transition from a terrified little boy in the shell of a helpless newborn to a smiling son and brother who can sit up, roll over, army crawl and flash the brightest smiles we have ever seen. At the suggestion of his feeding therapists we scheduled Arthur for a routine swallow study just a few weeks ago. He was quickly learning how to eat almost everything we did but his swallow was a bit noisy. They wanted to be sure he was swallowing safely. The test was performed by placing him in front of a video x-ray machine and then feeding him food mixed with barium. They were able to track the food as it went down and the results were terrifying. Every time Arthur swallowed he was silently but literally drowning. There were zero outward signs of coughing or choking. He was diagnosed with severe to profound dysphagia and immediately put on "NPO" orders, meaning nothing by mouth.



Within a couple hours he had a nasal feeding tube in place and we were taught how to feed him. The flow of doctors, nurses and med students that came through his room all shared the same message: he shouldn't be here. There was no medical explanation as to why he had not had a fatal choking episode or infection before now. The next day we found ourselves back at home accepting a truckload of medical supplies while trying to figure out what just happened.



Is this permanent?
Where do we go from here?
How do we eat in front of him?
Can he taste the liquid in his tube?
Does he feel it going in?
Can I feed him? :)


We have some answers now but not all. Arthur's swallowing difficulties are likely related to his brain and delayed development. There is no quick fix surgery or medication to solve it. With time we hope that he will grow stronger and develop the proper mechanics to swallow safely but that may take years- if at all. 





His nasal tube has now been replaced surgically by a g-tube which is basically an Arthur fuel door. Five times a day we open the fuel button on his belly and fill him up. We can't tell if he feels it or tastes it but he becomes very chatty and silly at the end of a feeding so it can't be all that bad. The kids all love to be a part of it and take turns helping out. We learned the hard way to clamp the extension tube after feeding. ALWAYS clamp the tube.



I am so grateful that the Lord protected Arthur for 2 long years until he was able to get the care he needed and deserved. His future is very bright whether he eats with a fork or a tube. We feel extremely blessed to have him but I find myself haunted by my initial knee-jerk reaction of saying "no". It's been a bit of an George Bailey (It's A Wonderful Life) epiphany where I've been given the gift of seeing what the alternative would have been. My fear and unbelief nearly cost Arthur his life.

It turns out that even in our crazy overflowing home- we do have time, space, energy and plenty of love to share. I wonder how many others find themselves saying no to a child because from the outside it looks scary and impossible. If so, please heed the wise words of my husband and take your time. Pray. Consider. Ask the questions.

Adoption will always cost you something,
but for the children told no it could very likely cost them everything.

Don't let fear overcome your faith. You won't regret it.



Tuesday, October 25, 2016

So- who's responsible for all the babies?

Recently my Facebook newsfeed has been full of shared articles and memes accusing pro-lifers of being imposters. Most accusations are regarding adoption, foster care, food stamps and welfare. The gist of it is: if you aren't adopting, fostering and voting in favor of government programs to help families, then you are a pro-life phony.


(source:babble.com)
These articles have launched discussions that have brought about much self-examination. Am I really doing enough? Could I be doing more? My own personal answer is: no, I'm not doing enough and yes, I could be doing more. Many of my beautifully honest friends are coming to the same conclusion. We can do better.

But here's the rub.

If a pro-lifer is simply pro-birth because they don't do anything to support those who chose life;
wouldn't a pro-choicer simply be pro-abortion if they aren't also supporting those who chose life?

From my perspective the pro-choice crowd does a great job at vocalizing their opinions on the matter of abortion. They are up front and unashamed of their views. I respect this. If you believe in something then own it. Stand up for it. What's missing though is an equal acceptance of responsibility toward those who chose life. Pro-choicers have made it well known that they support women who chose abortion. But what about those who chose life? Do you support them equally? What about their babies? Are you willing to help shoulder the burden of caring for them? Are you willing to go beyond voting for higher taxes and actually get involved in the nitty-gritty by offering your blood, sweat and tears for their care? If the answer if yes then you may indeed be pro-choice. If not, you are simply pro-abortion.

I'm not saying this to be offensive. My hope is that we can all do a little heart searching and realize we can ALL do better.



In many ways pro-choicers and pro-lifers should be indistinguishable. Because both groups support those who chose life we should be in foster care and adoption support groups together. We should find ourselves elbow to elbow at the homeless soup kitchen. We should be skipping our foo-foo lattes and instead using the money to sponsor a child's education. We should be realizing that there's more that unites us than divides us.

I'll leave it at this.

Are you pro-life or pro-birth?  Pro-choice or pro-abortion?

Either way...

Prove it!



Thursday, October 20, 2016

I'm selfish. And cruel.

It's election season and emotions are high all around. My preference is to keep my views to myself but there is one issue that I can not be silent about. It is the greatest human rights issue of our time. It involves discrimination, injustice and brutal violence against the most defenseless portion of our population. To do nothing, to say nothing is to be a part of the problem. I refuse to do nothing.




I recently joined an online discussion about abortion. Overall the discussion was surprisingly civil which is unusual but ought not be. One woman explained to me that she did not believe in late term abortions but thought it would be acceptable (admirable even) if the child was diagnosed with a defect. She continued on to say "I think it is cruel and selfish to allow a child to be born when they have a medical condition. It's selfish to give birth to a child who will suffer simply because one thinks it's a noble thing to do."

Well in that case...

I admit it. I'm a cruel, selfish woman and I will never change.

Meet my act of supreme selfishness:


Fifteen years ago we were expecting our third child. We were thrilled to learn that we were having another son. The day after our 20 week ultrasound we received a phone call. The doctor wanted both my husband and myself on the line. That is never good. She explained that our baby showed multiple markers for Trisomy 18. At first we thought she meant Down Syndrome and then she explained that we were looking at something much more severe. There was a chance our baby would not even survive the pregnancy. Baby boys with T18 are more likely to be stillborn than girls. Best case scenario would be dying sometime in the first year.

We were given an appointment with a genetic counselor who offered us:
A. an abortion
B. an amniocentesis
C. time to think

We left that appointment solidified in our decision that we wanted our son no matter what. We also did not want to put him at further risk by doing an amnio. We decided that our only choice was to pray, wait and be grateful for each day we had with him.

We prayed. Our family prayed. Our friends and friends of friends prayed. In November 2001 our son was born a tiny tongue tied peanut with one small kidney but overall healthy!  We had prepared for the worst but were given the precious gift of our son's life and a new perspective on what truly matters.

The months of waiting and worry were the hardest trial we have ever faced. In the middle of a crisis you can never see the good that is to come. It takes everything within you to get out of bed each day and face the world. It's infuriating to watch people going on with their lives as if nothing is happening until you realize that for them- nothing is. Then the loneliness sets in and you hold the tears inside. It hurts beyond description.

Looking back though, those agonizing months were a gift. Our faith grew more during that time than any other period in our lives. We realized that the only thing that truly holds value on this earth is life. Life is precious, priceless and relentlessly passing. We determined to spend our years here investing in life rather than in things that will wither away.

I know that we were one of the "lucky" ones. Our son was not born with Trisomy 18 but at the time we had no way to see into the future. We had to make a literal life or death decision based on only the information we had. We chose life and will never regret it.




 
 

 
 


I do understand that others who are in the same situation sometimes chose to abort in effort to prevent their child from suffering. Faith and philosophy aside, I can appreciate those thoughts and see how that conclusion could be made. A parent with true love for their child should always put their child's best interest first. Unfortunately though this is idealistic and incompatible with reality. The honest truth is that in cases like these there will be suffering. Pain and grief are an unavoidable certainty. There is no gentle way to abort a baby. Abortion is always barbarically violent even though the intent may come from a place of compassion.

Our son knows his story. He knows what we were told. He knows that his life was one mere signature on a dotted line away from being ended. He knows that he is a walking testimony of God's mercy.


I talked to him recently about the fact that there are people who think it's best to abort children with the diagnosis he was given. I asked him if he thought we were selfish to keep him. He laughed and wouldn't even consider it. I asked him if he would feel different if the diagnosis was correct and he would have lived a very short painful life.

His answer:

If I only had one breath to take I would have wanted that one breath.

 
 
If erring on the side of life makes a person selfish then it is a crown I will proudly wear.





Friday, September 9, 2016

Status Quo

The past 10 weeks have gone by in a flash but have been well spent. We've muddled through even more paperwork and appointments and evaluations. We are almost to the point of beginning therapy for both boys... I think. Learning "the system" has been a challenge but we are about there. In a way I'm glad that there have been delays because it has given us more time to settle in and get to know each other. The therapies are going to put a big demand on our time schedule but I know Philip and Arthur will both just take off with the help they need.

Look how far we've come on our own! Arthur was only on formula and gagged on anything more than a puree just one month ago. We were prepared to spoon feed him for life if needed but he has made huge progress! He can now chew fruit, bread, pizza, hot dogs or almost anything we put in his mouth! He is admittedly a very slow eater but we can handle that. We have learned to start feeding him about 30 minutes before everyone else. Our biggest challenge now is self feeding. He has a hard time picking up food and getting it all the way to his mouth but he CAN do it.


I can't wait to watch this again in a year and see where we are then!



Philip also is continually progressing. We all laugh now when we think of his description of being introverted. He has earned his nickname of "the mayor" by being an absolute ham and waving to everyone he meets. Physically he is packing on the pounds and now weighs more than Caroline, our youngest. He is getting so much stronger and can even climb the stairs.



In the video you can see him hesitate, look back and then reach for the other kids to come get him. He fusses a bit as he climbs. This is another area of challenge we are reaching. Both boys are enjoying being held, fed, carried around and babied. All of their needs (and wants) are being met for them. At this point Arthur would rather have someone else feed him and Philip would rather be carried up the stairs. Our foundation of comfort, security and dependence has been established. This is what we wanted and worked for. Trust is a good thing but we are at the point where we need to start having them do things for themselves because that will be best for them in the long run. Now it's time to move ahead and begin to build their independent abilities. Because we love them we are beginning to say "no".


Speaking of saying no... meet Caroline if you haven't already.



She is 1 1/2 and busy, busy busy. She ate a red crayon yesterday. I didn't see her eat it. Want to know how I know? Nevermind. Aaron keeps telling me how easy the two boys are compared to the one Caroline. He says we could adopt 10 more and they still would be easier. He's right.



Caroline sees Arthur as her baby and Philip as her faithful henchman.



She is often found loving on Arthur and then leading Philip into a special-ops mission of destruction. The two of them can completely unpack a purse, backpack or briefcase in 60 seconds. (Consider yourself warned if you stop by.) They know where the candy drawer is and can silently, on tip toe pull out an item to share. My Tupperware cabinet will never be the same.




Fortunately I have back up. Bennett (9) recently built this rig and can keep both busy bodies occupied outside for a good stretch of time. Sweet relief.



I love watching their sibling relationships grow. Even with all the busyness we know that these are the days we will remember as our best days. The days we will want back when they are grown and our house is quiet. The chaos is messy and loud and exhausting, but it's also hysterical and beautiful and fleeting. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Planned Parenthood is still killing babies and we are still paying for it.

Last summer my family was suddenly jolted awake out of our pro-life apathy by the undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood doctors discussing the dismembering of living children and selling their organs for profit. Week after week new videos were released, each one worse than the last. Initially PP claimed the videos were "highly edited".  The media latched on to this mantra and neglected to correct their stories even after forensic analysis by an independent firm concluded that the videos were “authentic and showed no evidence of manipulation or editing.” (LINK here) An attempt was then made to charge David Daleidon, the video maker, with tampering with government records. On July 26, 2016 Daleiden was cleared of wrongdoing and all charges were dismissed. PP, however, remains under Congressional investigation.

The videos were too much. They were disgusting and horrifying. The graphic images kept me awake at night. It was awful. At the same time it was exactly what I needed. It was exactly what my family needed. We realized that saying we were pro-life and sharing inspirational memes was no longer enough. We needed to DO something.

Our family, along with friends decided to join the nation wide day of protesting Planned Parenthood scheduled for August 22. We are not the protesting type and it was scary. We assumed our two families would be the only ones there but we felt we had to be a voice for the innocent children who could not speak for themselves. We also wanted to show our children that it is important to stand against injustice and teach them the correct way to do it.

As first time protesters and first time protest leaders we had no idea what to expect. We made signs, bought some balloons and showed up on that Saturday morning.

 
 


What unfolded in front of our eyes was a testimony to God's desire to turn even the smallest effort into something great. A trickle of individuals became a flood. Over 500 people gathered in Nashville to say, "enough is enough"! Nationwide over 78,000 Americans raised their voices against Planned Parenthood that day.

 
 
 
 

The people who came out to protest were concerned women, men, mothers, fathers, grandparents and children from all backgrounds. The intention was to show love to all. There was no yelling, screaming or even anger. We accomplished our goal of peacefully making a stand for LIFE.

Collectively, Americans made a lot of political noise and it was enough that PP made an announcement that they would no longer be selling the organs of the babies they had killed. Which was interesting because they were never selling baby parts to begin with, right PP? (wink ,wink) LINK here.

Over the last several months the controversy has quieted some. PP hasn't stopped aborting babies nor has Congress defunded them as we asked. The atrocities are still happening but there became Christmas shopping to do... and homework piled up again... and the election heated up... and... what were we protesting again? Oh yeah.

The babies.

The BABIES.

The MILLIONS of  babies.

Don't tell me tax dollars aren't being used for abortions. They are. Money is fungible = simple economics.

Don't tell my husband and sons they don't get a say. They do. Every aborted child has a father.

Don't tell me PP does good in other ways. There is no amount of overpriced pills, pregnancy tests or pap smears that can justify the life of even one child. Better and more affordable care is available at places that don't kill babies.

Don't tell me that I have to be willing to adopt all the babies headed for abortion in order to be pro-life because- guess what? I will. I will take every last one of them. I just have to get in line behind the 36 other couples already waiting for each baby put up for adoption in the U.S.

Let's be real here. Everybody knows that abortion is murder. Some have just found a way to soothe their conscience by justifying it one way or another. I can't look the other way. I won't look the other way. I hope you won't either.

There are many ways to BE pro-life:

  • Pray
  • Protest
  • Vote
  • Volunteer
  • Support
  • Donate
  • Foster/Adopt

The upcoming election is so very important when it comes to this issue. Please know where each candidate stands before voting and then please vote!

Pray! The next 40 Days For Life Campaign begins nationwide on September 28. Find locations here and join. We were so blessed by this group last year and will definitely be joining again.

Support, volunteer, donate! For the women who bravely chose life we need to be there to support them. Find a local crisis pregnancy center and ask how you can help. Get involved in being a part of the answer.

Foster and adopt. There is a world wide orphan crisis. Abortion is never the answer. Open your heart and your home to a child who needs a family.