Saturday, December 12, 2009

We're Expecting...

...a toddler!

Anyone who knows us will not be particularly surprised to learn that we are adding once again to our family, even though we thought that Bridget would be our last. We really were not looking to grow our already fairly large family--but then a little girl came into our view and into our hearts, and changed all of that.

Just over a week ago, I visited the website for Reece's Rainbow (an organization which promotes the international adoption of children with Down syndrome) via a link on another blog. I had no idea at the time that the click of a button would change the course of our lives forever.

Chris and I had been talking with the kids about charitable giving and had decided to donate to Reece's Rainbow through the Angel Tree fundraiser. We love that all donations go directly to a particular child's adoption fund, thereby increasing the chances that he or she will be adopted.

(Unfortunately, in many parts of the world, orphans with Down syndrome are living on borrowed time. Between the ages of three to five, the paperwork is started and they are soon transferred to an institution, where care is very poor and chance of survival past one year is slim.)

While all of the children on the site pulled at our heartstrings, we could not stop thinking about one little girl in particular. Her name is Alina, and she is about nine months younger than Bridget. (She looks quite a bit like Bridget from the one picture we have seen of her.) The picture on the Reece's Rainbow website is not great, though. Her head is shaved (which apparently is common practice during the warmer months in many orphanages) and her little lips are chapped. She is not looking at the camera in the grainy photo.

Still, we see a beautiful little girl with great potential, and much to offer--who needs a family willing to love her, care for her and give her a chance at life. Chris and I did not decide immediately to adopt her ourselves, but agreed that we would help to raise money for her adoption fund.

We barely spoke about Alina after that first night, but she weighed heavily on our hearts for the next several days. Though busy with the details of everyday life, we could think of little else. Finally, one morning when the kids were all at school, I approached Chris--although to hear him tell it, I "ambushed" him :).

That little girl...is there any way..., I began. I couldn't even get the words out.

He paused briefly (though I think he knew the question was coming, so much for his ambush theory). It wouldn't be easy, he started. He was nodding yes, but not making any sound.

We both knew we needed some time to process what was happening. Were we making the decision to pursue adopting her? We both knew the answer was yes, if the kids were on board.

That night at dinner we talked with our children about Alina, her need for a family and how they would feel about bringing her here. We had our laptop at the kitchen table with her picture pulled up. I asked Bridget, What do you think about this baby? Looking at the picture on the computer screen, she signed and said, Baby. Sad.

Do you want to bring her to our house?, I asked. DO!, she said (which means yes).

We asked for a show of hands, Who would like to make Alina part of our family? Hands shot up quickly (even Bridget). Emmy was the only one who wasn't teary-eyed at this point. She looked up from her plate, then side-to-side. Wait, we're talking about ADOPTING A BABY?

Yes, Emmy, said Chris. How do you feel about that?

As long as she doesn't wake me up at night
...

Kyle jumped in, Geez, Emmy! Emmy mouthed (with a grin), What?!

We should adopt her because she needs love and support to have a better future, said Brian.

We would be giving her a chance at life, added Sara.

Bridget was saying and signing, Mommy. Daddy. Baby. Mommy. Daddy. Baby. (We're not exactly sure why, but she must have had an idea of what we were talking about.)

Do you all realize that Alina has Down syndrome? asked Chris. It would mean that you would have two little sisters with Down syndrome.

That would be good, Kyle offered. I love Bridget and I like having lots of siblings. I think it would be good for Bridget, too. Alina needs a family and we are the perfect family for her.

One by one, the kids left the table to finish homework or to get ready for bed until just Chris and I were left at the table with Bridget. We sat across from one another, teary-eyed and tired, but feeling incredibly blessed and completely at peace with our decision and our new journey.

So within a week of seeing Alina's picture, we went from hoping to raise money for her adoption fund, to making a commitment to be her forever family. The decision wasn't really a tough one. We know there will be challenges, but we also know there will be untold rewards.

We move forward with hope and joyful anticipation of Alina's arrival (this summer, if all goes as planned).

Please keep us in your thoughts. Prayers and good wishes are welcome and appreciated for Alina: for her continued health, safety and comfort; and for us: for energy as we work through the details of her adoption, and for patience in waiting to bring her home.

We invite you to follow along and share in our joy as we become a family of eight:

Loving Alina

43 comments:

  1. OH, Lisa, what an amazing post! You and your husband are amazing souls, too, for opening your hearts and homes to a little girl on the other side of the world who in our society's eyes is less than perfect. Your Kyle sounds amazing, too. I have an "Emmy" but once she falls in love with Alina, I'll bet she'll be amazing, too. Change is hard on some of us (me, included!) We're adding to our family, but in the more traditional sense of the word. Lots of change this coming year... and lots of blessings all around. {{{HUGS}}} and thanks for the happy tears :-)

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  2. I don't even know you, and I'm in tears. So happy for Alina and for all of you.

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  3. OMG...this is such amazing news!! I am in awe of you and your family. So amazing! It is actually a big dream of mine to do the same...adopt a little girl for our family of boys so I will definitely be following you in this journey!

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  4. This is so amazing. I gto goosebumps reading this. What a blessing your family is for this little girl.

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  5. I've been checking all day to see if you wrote about Alina. I ran in to tell Toby last night after I had suspicions you were adopting her once I saw she had found her "Forever Family" on Reece's Rainbow and you confirmed them...I had tears in my eyes as I was telling him. I can see the beauty in her too Lisa and I am so happy that she is coming home to you!! Lisa, you are an amazing family and have so much to give to her!!!

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  6. Yay ... I'm so excited you announced it! I had chills reading this entire post, and then tears welling up in my eyes as I read what your kids said. Wow, what an amazing group of kids, Lisa!! Soo excited for you!

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  7. Congratulations!! I am so excited for y'all! Amazing.

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  8. You will be in our thoughts and prayers as you embark on this special journey.

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  9. Wow, this is amazing. You and your family will surely be blessed. You will be in our thoughts and prayers. Alena

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  10. My heart is so full of joy knowing that another little Angel is getting to come home to her forever family.....and to think that your sweet girl is with my Christmas Wish.

    All of our love and many Blessings as you travel the journey to bring the newest member of your family home.

    Peace and love, Tara Marie

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  11. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! So excited for you!!!

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  12. Your family is amazing - Alina will be blessed to be a part of it. I don't know you, but will keep you family in my prayers. I have a 6 month old daughter with DS and I have enjoyed reading your blog, it gives me a little glimpse of what the future might hold for us and our little Emily (http://livinglifewithes.blogspot.com)

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  13. Congratulations! I'm so happy for you and your family! I was in tears reading your post, and am happy that your family is so open and ready dor this little girl!

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  14. What a post. What a family. So happy for you all!

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  15. :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

    I just can't stop smiling :-)

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  16. Amazing! I cried as I read through your post. Your family is amazing and Alina will be a great addition. Congratulations! I can't wait to meet her!

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  17. WOW! I am so very happy for your family and for Alina. I look forward to following the journey with your family!

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  18. there are just no words.
    no words, lisa!
    ONLY TEARS!!!

    i'm so excited for you, for your family, for your children, for bridget, for alina. this is such a magical post. please keep us posted. i must have been feeling some strong vibes from you lately--i knew i had to send you an email--but the timing is so crazy ironic, isn't it??!!

    sending much love (and many happy tears--yes, i'm still crying!),
    amy

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  19. I too am in awe of your family as so many others have stated here. I just shared your news with my husband and he said, "What better family to take care of this little girl." I couldn't agree more. You are all such an inspiration to me and you're in my thoughts, including little Alina.

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  20. What an amazing story. I'm so happy for you guys! Yay!!!

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  21. This is Joyce, Such wonderful news!!! I just read on Alina's blog that you and your husband met at Ohio State, somehow I missed that before. We will so look forward to hearing about your journey to bring Alina to her forever home.

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  22. What a blessing...for her, and for your family!

    xo

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  23. To the Peele family....Thank you for being you

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  24. Congratulations!! I can't wait to see her come home. Someday I hope I can do the same thing.

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  25. When our son with Down syndrome was about 8, my wife was helping some friends find a girl with Ds to adopt. The agency sent information to her as well.

    My wife and kids were all drawn to one of the boys - a 5 year old in Korea. They put the idea to me of bringing him into our home. I was a little stunned for a day.

    We had a family prayer in which I intended to put the Lord on notice that we were going to take the matter under consideration. All that came out was help us bring this boy into our home.

    Good luck as you go through this process (which is by no means easy). Here are so of my thoughts on adopting our children (#'s 6 & 7).

    http://nutsandboldts.typepad.com/chromosomes_cancer_kids/2009/03/the-2nd-time-around.html

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  26. Wonderful! Congratulations!!!

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  27. Wow! Whata touching story about how your came to your decision and your children's reactions. Congratulations to you grwoing family! I'll certainly be following your journey to bringing Alina home and sending parayers and good wishes your way.

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  28. What wonderful news. Congratulations!!! Where does Alina live?

    We have two children we adopted from Haiti.
    What a powerful experience this will be for all of your children. Look forward to hearing more!!

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  29. I loved you then and I love you now. You Peele's are AMAZING! Love ya, Beth Shipley Hays

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  30. Congratulations! I am tearfully happy for you! I love how you wrote about talking to the family about adopting and their opinions. what a wnderful Christmas present!

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  31. Congratulations Lisa!! I will have you all in thoughts as you embark on this special journey...
    ((Hugs))

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  32. Wonderful, Lisa. Simply wonderful. I am so thrilled for you and your family... especially for Alina!

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  33. I am sooo happy! Congrats on the new addition!

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  34. Oh Huge congratulations and big hugs! I'm so very excited for your family and sweet Alina- will be following along your new adventure!

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  35. That is really beautiful. I hope your journey moves quickly in bringing Alina home!

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  36. Hey Lisa!
    I can't email from outlook, so I had to reply here, sorry.

    You should ask Andrea about sending things to the orphanage, I plan to take the shoes and other donations with me.

    How quickly do you think you will be ready to go? We are hoping to travel in March, after submitting in February. If you are planning to send something for Alina, I wouldn't...as there is no guarantee that she will get what you send. If we get there before you, however, I will be glad to try to see her and get pix for ya!

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  37. VIctoria, David and LucasMonday, December 21, 2009

    We love your story, and we are so happy for you to be adding to your beautiful family...and that little Alina will be blessed with such a wonderful family to be a part of. Congratulations and God Bless!

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  38. WOW. I am tearing up. My husband and I can't even decide on a third, and look at you. I am going to show him this post, maybe it will push us over the edge. We're so hesitant to forge ahead because of Max's needs, but you make me think of course we can do it.

    I hope you and your family had a beautiful Christmas.

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  39. I am so happy for your family and Alina! I can't wait to hear all about the adoption and follow your story. What an amazing adventure for your family! Congrats!!!

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  40. You know when you come across a blog that makes your heart just want to explode. Yep. That's what yours has done to me. Seriously. Your beautiful Bridget, the rest of your simply gorgeous family, the wonderful news about Alina and the amazing compassion that comes through in all your delightful posts... all did it for me. Thankyou :). And looking forward to hearing all about Alina's journey to her forever family x

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