Children of Resilience

      Over the past few months, we have been able to spend some time with true miracles from God... children. The more I know about the birth process, the more I understand that each and every life is a miracle. It is impossible for me to sit in an anatomy class and not leave in true awe and wonder at the Creator of our bodies. I often have nursing teachers say we don't why and how this works; it just does. And every time, I whisper JESUS under my breath. These next 3 stories give a small picture of the power of prayer and the resilience of children... I have a thing or two to learn from these little ones....  I hope their stories bless your life as much as they have blessed mine.

This is the story of Josie Love (Copied from her mommy's blog)

"Gwen and I met Katie on one of her visits to the US.  We INSTANTLY became the best of friends and Gwen and I started doing all of her work stateside.  On Katie's first trip to Uganda she served at a baby's home in Jinja.  There was a little baby that had arrived 2 weeks prior to Katie's arrival. her name was Josefine.  The last week of Katie's stay Josefine became extremely ill with malaria and Katie just KNEW that she was going to die.  When Katie decided to go back to Uganda to teach kindergarten the next fall, she couldn't wait to get back to see Josefine.  While she was no longer ill, she was a year old and couldn't sit alone.  She spent many hours caring for her.  She had the tendency to get sick easily and very often.  She always had breathing issues and just never seemed to get ahead in weight or developmentally.  She finally learned to sit alone, and then later crawled.  Katie moved away from the baby's home, but would always return to check in and love on Josefine.  She spoke of Josefine quite often.  She would show Gwen and I pictures of her all of the time, talking about how sweet and loving this little girl was.  Fast forward several months.  Mike and I decided to take our two oldest children to visit Katie in Uganda.  One day while we were there, she took us to meet Josefine.  My oldest daughter, Grace, marched right in, picked the child up and started laughing and talking with her.  I left there that day with my heart broken for Josefine.  She seemed to have MANY special needs, and I was so overwhelmed with where to begin, just by looking at her, I couldn't even BEGIN my "mother's assessment."  Honestly, there was a part of me that left thinking "how can Katie not see all of the needs that this child REALLY has?!?"  We went back several times to visit the baby's home before we headed home. Day 2 Josefine was burning up with a fever, sitting out on the lawn of the baby's home in the African sun.  My heart broke again for her.  Grace had obviously attached to this little girl.  She didn't want to leave her.  We both wept the whole way back to Katie's house.  Grace cried on behalf of Josefine, I wept on behalf of the millions of orphans that were also burning hot with a fever sitting out in the African sun.
       Once we were home in Tennessee, Grace started asking if we could go back and get her.  She asked every morning and every night.  She prayed that we would open our hearts to another child...specifically Josefine.  I continued to give her the blanket statement"honey, we already have 6 children.  I don't know how in the world we could care for a child with special needs."  She argued that she wasn't special needs, she was just sick.  Over time, through MUCH prayer, we decided to pursuit this little one.  After the mounds of paperwork, we were on a plane to go get our Josie Love. Upon arrival, we noticed that she had lost a lot of weight and was burning hot with another fever. Through a routine adoption medical exam the doctor explained to us that Josie Love had tested positive for  HIV and TB.  We were STUNNED.  We sat holding her sick, limp, body in our arms with disbelief.  We were faced with an illness that we had NO IDEA the effects that it could have on her life (other than death) or the rest of our family.  Mike spent the next 24 hours making calls to the US and researching HIV.  We learned all of the facts and felt quite sure that while all of this had taken us by surprise it was NO surprise to our heavenly Father.  HE knows us SO well.   HE knew that if we had known about Josie Love's HIV, there is a chance we wouldn't have moved forward with our adoption out of FEAR.  We talked to the infectious disease doctors at Vanderbilt and they assured us that we could get her viral loads down with the right mixture of meds.  They told us that she could live a normal, healthy life just like all the rest of our children.  Mike and I flew home, finished all of the paper work that had to be added to our home study for a child with HIV, and 9 weeks later I flew back and brought her home.  In 9 months of medicine, her viral loads have dropped from 800,000 to 200.  46 is will hear me shout when we reach that number!  After being home for 1 week, Josie started walking.  She is NOW running and her speech is clearing up daily.  She is RARELY sick.  She makes each one of us laugh OUT LOUD every-single-day!  What a sweet, sweet blessing from the Lord. The scales have been lifted from our eyes.   I have been FOREVER changed." - Suzanne

 **I texted Suzanne to see what Josie's viral loads were today and they are 55!! If that doesn't get you excited, I don't know what will! :)

 This 2nd little angel's name is Maggie.
 This is an excerpt from her momma's blog on her story....
"As I began to talk to Scott about adopting again, he was less than enthusiastic ... He said our plates were full and we had done our part ... Now we were suppose to share our story and encourage others ... I of course could clearly hear the Father’s Voice sending us back to China and this time it would be a Special Needs angel ... I knew God was calling us deeper and He was asking us to have faith and trust in HIM in a new way this time ... Scott was still not convinced and I always encourage wives, whose husbands are on board to respect the fears and doubts their husbands have ... Talk about them together ... God created men and women differently for a reason ... Work through it together and be prepared to walk the journey together ... 
     Scott and I decided to take 90 days and pray.   We were not going to discuss, talk about with others, or make any reference about adoption for 90 days ... I decided that during the 90 days I would make a list of all the reasons WHY WE SHOULD ADOPT and WHY WE SHOULDN’T ADOPT ... I had about 100 reasons WHY and 3 WHY NOT ... I gave Scott my notebook after the 90 days and 12 days later we were starting the paper work to bring home our next angel ... 
      The process at the time to apply for a special needs child was that you received a list each month of available special needs children and you put in request for them ... We were applying for about 3-6 girls each month and it was a difficult process ... Being rejected, talking with doctors about different needs, and just trying to wade through where God was leading us ... I will say that our list of special needs was pretty short in the beginning and then God opened our eyes to HIS CHILDREN and how amazingly special they each were and that the journey we were on was not about what WE could handle, but WHAT we could handle with His strength ... OH BOY WAS HE RIGHT !!!
     We were matched with Maggie 6 months after our dossier arrived in China ... We were told she had a burn and would need some hair replacement ... Sounds simple, right ??? Well when I arrived I could immediately tell the situation was much worse medically and mentally than we thought ... She was missing part of her skull plate, she had been bound, neglected, and abused in many ways ... She spent 6 months in the hospital alone and trusted NO ONE ... We came home and faced 11 of the hardest and darkest months in our family’s life ... Maggie wouldn’t look you in the eyes, she wouldn’t speak to you, she bit, scratched, and slapped us all ... She sleep less than 5 hours a day and screamed many of the others ... I watched my baby girl literally scream as if she was no longer in her body for hours ... To say I would sit on the edge of her bed and beg God to help her is an understatement ... I felt helpless and each night God would whisper in my ear - “Will you do this for me.” ... The answer was always YES !!! God was using our family to heal Maggie ... She needed God’s love shown to her before she could understand what a family was ... Jeremiah, Elijah, and Emily were amazing to their sister ... They gave her the space and love she needed ... They never turned their back on her and Jeremiah was especially protective of her when we would leave the house ... 
    Looking back now I can see all the big and small miracles of Maggie’s journey ... We have had 4 surgeries already and visit Vanderbilt Children’s hospital 1-2 times a week ... IT IS ALL WORTH IT ... 11 months after Maggie came home we were walking in Walmart when Maggie looked up at me for the first time and said, “I LUFFA YOU MOMMY.”   I cried and praised Jesus that she finally understand - LOVE ... I called Scott and we rejoiced together ..." - Gwen

     Maggie  had her most recent surgery at Vanderbilt on November 24, 2010. In this surgery they removed her skin graph from China, took out her expanders, and stretched her scalp over her burn . The pictures above were taken ONE week after Maggie's surgery. To say she is a trooper would be an understatement. Maggie is truly filled with joy. Please join us in prayer for no infection and that her scalp will stay expanded  and produce hair. They really need the skin to stay thick and healthy so that in 3-6 months they can go back in and re-shape her skull and put in an artificial skull piece. Maggie's story has encouraged more than she will ever know. Please continue to pray for miracles in this little one. 

Meet handsome Mark!
    Mark was born at 23 weeks and 4 days. He weight 1 lb and 7 oz. at birth. He is now 4 years old and walking on his own. For those of you who may not know, a full term pregnancy is ~40 weeks. Mark's life is a true miracle and a testament to His heavenly FATHER! Mark was left in the NICU without a mommy and daddy. He was placed on the prayer list of an adoption agency. The doctor discouraged the agency from finding him a forever family because his prognosis was very poor and they didn't know if he would make it to the next day. His mommy and daddy prayed for Mark and decided that no matter the outcome of Mark's life; the Lord intended for him to have parents who loved him dearly. Mark has five other adopted siblings and he is loving life. If you can't tell from the pictures, he loved Jeremy. At one point, he pushed me away and told me to leave so he could have Jer to himself :)

 All three of these children have been adopted into their forever family here on earth but have also been introduced to adoption by our Heavenly Father :) There is no greater gift.
Kristin & Jeremy  
 p.s. please keep us in your prayers as we prepare for Ghana in 22 days :)!


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