OUR LITTLE NOODLES: The Stever Family Adoption

Welcome to our adoption journey. We are so blessed with our five daughters. Now we embark on the worldwide journey of a lifetime - adopting a special needs child. Please join us for this adventure!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Still On Our Journey

We are still still on our adoption journey! Now that Braylon has been placed with us since October, we are in the process of finalizing his adoption - making it legal. Our family has settled in to doctor appointments, therapy appointments, feeding issues, medical equipment, and changing personalities. We are all doing a good job in my opinion. It is not what we expected really, but we had no idea what to expect, so.........

The beginning of our time together consisted mainly of caretaking. I think that was harder on me as a mother than it was for my husband. He opened my eyes one day by telling me, "Welcome to a father's world honey!" And he could not have been more right! Coming from a first-time adoptive mother who already had five biological daughters, this was a totally new experience. I am having to CREATE a bond with my new son. This has not been a simple task, especially with Braylon's special needs. He has Retinopathy of Prematurity (vision loss) and Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia (chronic lung disease). (Braylon was born very premature.) So our bonding does not particularly involve sight. We must find other ways to form attachments.

The wonderful part is that this is going so well. We are blessed to have great resources to tap into here in Alabama. The Institute for the Deaf and Blind has been key in providing us with the tools to help Braylon achieve everything he possibly can in life. The PT has also been wonderful to work with so far. Our Children's Hospital in Birmingham has a phenomenal clinic that has been instrumental in giving our son the best care available. We have also found some wonderful friends in our area (even down the street!) who have children with similar needs.

After having our first post placement visit, we are feeling pretty good about things. We have a wonderful, supportive social worker who has been so good to us. She continues to help us with every step along the way. Overall, this experience has been like no other. Adoption has felt this way to me: very unnatural sometimes but in the very best way. I know that sounds crazy or even negative, but I do not mean it that way at all. It is truly the work of God. Simply that. No way around it. We would not trade one day during this journey. We have grown closer to each other as a family and closer to God. We are so grateful and honored that He blessed us with Braylon.

On a final note to this post, we wanted to share another miracle and blessing that God has chosen to bestow on our family during this Christmas season. We are expecting a new baby in June of 2011. We are so happy that God has graciously blessed us with another child. We are joining the elite club of the "large family" quickly! A club we have prayed to be a part of since we married. Thank you for continuing to pray for us. We know that our lives will not be without hardship and trials, but we would not trade it for the world.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Wishes

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Stever Family!

We are so very blessed. Thank you to all of the people who have supported us and loved us. We are grateful for all of you!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Journey to Our Son - Part II

When does a mother of six who also works outside of the home full-time find time to blog? I want a solution! And it cannot involve staying up until 2:00 am to write!

This will be yet another part of our adoption story in a nutshell. We finally completed our home study and were planning on forwarding it to two different organizations who helped children with special needs find families. One even specifically works with children with Down Syndrome. We actually thought that we were specifically being called to adopt a child with Down Syndrome. We began to plan more fundraisers while we waited for a while (a year or more) to be contacted. We knew that we were approved to adopt a child with minimum / mild needs.

Our home study agency primarily works with international adoptions and domestic infant adoptions for infertile couples. They really do not have a "special needs adoption" program to speak of. They do have children become available from time to time who have very severe needs, but these children are usually cared for by experienced parents who have adopted before.

This is when we believe (including our wonderful social worker and staff) that God had His hands all over this adoption from the beginning! A child became available that was 18 months old with fairly manageable special needs. We were all very shocked, excited and cautious. Everything began to happen in a whirlwind! We met with this little boy and his foster mother at our agency. We read all of his medical and history that we could. We were counseled by our social worker and went home to talk together and pray for guidance.

We researched hundreds of websites, organizations, blogs, and resources which had information about his needs. Finally, my husband calmly and quietly stated this to me one day, "I just do not see one single reason that we should not adopt this child. I am strangely at peace after meeting him, discussing his needs and background, and praying about this. I think this is what we are meant to do." It was exactly what I was feeling.

So, we signed a mound of paperwork and received a mound of blessed information from his foster family, and we took our son home! We are in the process of finalizing his adoption. And.....this journey is far from over. I will chronicle some of the many challenges we have faced so far. These are not "negatives" by any means. But - I would like to say that there are many challenges and obstacles and a range of emotions that we never expected. I believe that the adoption of a special needs child is so unique. You can never really plan or prepare yourself for all that will happen or for all the things you will feel. I have experienced the birth of five children but am still amazed at the new, wonderful, blessed, painful, challenging things that I am experiencing. It is a journey like no other I have ever travelled.

God has been so good to our family. I am still so humbled and thankful to Him for all of my children. My husband and my children are truly the greatest people in my life. They are what makes me rich - rich in heritage, glory, and love. They are why I strive every day to become a little bit better. Thank you for following along with us. Part III is coming as soon as I can find time and words to write.