Category Archives: Adoption

Hope

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Hope perches in the soul

When we began our journey of adopting, after the grueling process of fertility treatments, I had no idea how tough the adoption process would be.  Somewhere during that journey I came across a quote on a sugar packet and it gave me some encouragement.  I kept that empty sugar packet on my desk all through the process and reflected on it off and on.  It is kind of a corny quote and somewhat cheesy but I like it, it feels JUST personal enough to comfort the frustrated heart.

In clearing out my desk I could not bear throwing the packet away before capturing it here.  Thank you Emily Dickinson and thanks to sugar 🙂

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And baby makes 3

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Grace Khethiwe McDowell is home!  We couldn’t be more proud.  Both Momma and Dadda are doing fabulously and Gracie is flourishing.

It’s so hard to think back to the day we got her – it feels like a lifetime ago, when it was only 3 months ago.  2 April 2013 came with such excitement!  Here we are, all packed up with my “momma bag” and ready to meet our wee lass and bring her home.  My parents came through for a few days to help us out.

Going to fetch Grace - 2 April 2013.

Going to fetch Grace – 2 April 2013.

Excuse the squinting but it was a REALLY HOT and sunny day.  The orange packet over Gary’s shoulder was a bunch of toys we sifted out from donations from family and friends to give to the home – a nice gesture we hoped in return for our baba.  We went in two cars, my parents following.  We picked our social worker up and headed for the Children’s Home.  Here’s our bundle of joy with our social worker…

With Aunty Annemarie - our Social Worker.

With Aunty Annemarie – our Social Worker.

And with my parents – her Nana and Grandpa…

Meeting her Nana and Grandpa for the 1st time.

Meeting her Nana and Grandpa for the 1st time.

And with us – yay!

She's really going to be ours...fetching Grace.

She’s really going to be ours…fetching Grace.

We changed her quickly – we had brought a little outfit for her so as not to take any clothing away that would be needed by the home for their other babies – and headed for Children’s Court for approval of guardianship pending adoption (technically called change of place of safety, pending adoption).

Did we mention it was HOT?!  It was also a typical government, administrative nightmare.  The Magistrate had not arrived that day and so another one had to be called in.  We sat with our wee lass that was new to us and us to her and had to try and figure out (in a cramped waiting room) how to best care for her as new parents.

With Dadda at Children's Court - 2 April 2013.

With Dadda at Children’s Court – 2 April 2013.

Gracie also had a bad cold we discovered and coughed up a storm!  EVERYBODY was telling us how best to help her, one lady even marched me down a corridor to get water for her, never mind that I had been giving her a week rooibos-water mix, NO, I had to do what she said.  *sigh*. 

With Momma at Children's Court.

With Momma at Children’s Court.

A few hours later, though, we had the paperwork to take her home – what joy! 

Gracie settled in VERY quickly and was happy to adjust to our routines.  I won’t lie, in our second week we had three days of her testing the routines and screaming up a storm but we kept at it and she settled down again and has been a dream since.  She sleeps twelve hours straight at night making it very easy to still have adult time.  We are blessed. 

Content, sleepy baba.

Content, sleepy baba.

She’s been a sheer joy.  She is such a happy chappy, a social bunny that is more than happy to be passed around and loved by anyone. 

Gracie's first week home, happiness.

Gracie’s first week home, happiness.

She loves to be busy and stimulated, so much so, that we got her into playschool sooner than we thought we would.  In her second month with us, she started going half-day and took to it like a duck to water.  After a couple of weeks, I had informed work that our cherub would be going full-time to playschool in June thus freeing me up to come back to work one month early, if they were okay with that – they were eager to oblige. 

Our little drool-bug.

Our little drool-bug.

Our babs has been at playschool full day for one month now and is flourishing in the stimulating environment.  She comes home so happy and beautifully tired that we know she’s in the right place during the day.  It is a home-based school that has been around for 22 years.  Being a home based school is reassuring – say if something happens that makes it impossible for us to get to her normal time she can be cared for by the owner there.  She is very popular at the school with her sunny and easy-going nature and is often seen in the arms of some of the older children who attend after-school care there.  She is also learning Zulu there with the black carers which is something we really wanted for her.

Just some more brag pictures from the past couple of months…

Photo0154

Photo0195

Grace was also baptised recently and we were so blessed by the support from so many people – family, friends and fellow parishioners.  My dad is a minister so he conducted the service and baptised her at his church in Margate – what a special moment.  Here we are, all together as a family on the day –

Family portrait - day of Grace's baptism.

Family portrait – day of Grace’s baptism.

She was loved up by all…

With Aunty Lyn.

With Aunty Lyn.

With Nini and Laura – well taken care of.

With Mrs Coetzee.

With Mrs Coetzee.

Gracie also got to meet her God-father, my cousin Ryan.

With her cool Uncle Ryan - her God-father.

With her cool Uncle Ryan – her God-father.

My Mum made her a BEAUTIFUL white and yellow dress that I unfortunately don’t have a picture of her in 😦  We changed her into her red and white mini mouse outfit that afternoon as it was more comfortable for her.

During my maternity leave, we were given the increadible blessing of meeting the Doctors who attended to Grace the moment she was abandoned.  It was an amazing God-incidence, we were told more about the day she was abandoned and her first few weeks spent in their care.  We were even given photos and clothing of hers from when she was in their care at only two weeks of age – I will post about this soon, promise.  Here’s a sneaky peak though of Grace at 2 weeks old …

Grace at hospital, two weeks old.

Grace at hospital, two weeks old.

So that’s where we are at.  Gracie turns the big 1 (already?!?!) this next month on 2 August 2013. And the final adoption should come through in August – we can’t wait.

My hoodie-girl.

My hoodie-girl.

And baby makes three!

MATERNITY LEAVE

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Well, I’m off!

There were times where I didn’t believe I would be able to say that I am going on maternity.  Today is the glorious day that I put my Out of Office auto assistant on my emails and my telephone at work and am heading off.

It’s confirmed.  We collect our wee Grace on Tuesday morning and head for court at 10am to change legal guardianship from the Safe House to us.  The whole adoption process follows in the months thereafter and hopefully soon she will be a McDowell.

We aren’t hooked up to the internet at home so I will try log on at an Internet Cafe from time to time to give you pics of our precious tot and to update you along the way of our first 3 months with her.

God is GRACIOUS!  And we can’t wait to experience His Grace in person.

xxx

We’re adopting!!!

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Angels are serenading us it dawns on us that we’re about to become a Daddy and Mommy!  Yip, we’ve found our little lass and have started the process of adoption.  Her given name is Grace (a name we will keep).  She’s 7 months old (yesterday was her month-a-birthday), robust and healthy and with a smile the size of Africa 🙂

We met her on Saturday.  On Thursday we had a call from our Social Worker to say that our chance encounter had yielded an appointment to meet two adoptable babies at a safe house nearby.  We were thrilled and keen to let everyone know but we were also hesitant to do this as we knew it could also possibly turn out to be disappointing.  So instead, we waited the two days out before our appointment, before telling everyone, we only told our immediate family and friends.

Saturday dawned and I honestly couldn’t make simple decisions.  I second guessed all my choices on what to wear and more, thinking it may affect the way the babies responded to me.  For instance, what should I wear?  It must be casual – jeans, and cheerful – pink scarf – check.  How much perfume to apply?  It must be just a drop instead of the usual misting, nothing too overpowering – check.  What jewellery or do I go without – babies love to pull on necklaces so maybe just earrings and a ring – check.  What scent of body lotion should I put on – I opted for vanilla for a home baked Mommy smell – check.  It’s crazy what went through my head but I guess it helped me know that I did my best.

While driving there I told Gary how I had prayed that IF one of these babies was for us, that something in her name would tell us – perhaps her name would start with an M so that it could team up with Molly as a middle name.  What I did not expect was God to entertain this silly hope of mine… Grace was a name we had chosen almost 5 years ago as a middle name for our future baby.  I swear my heart skipped a beat when they introduced Grace.

The other wee baba was Okuhle.  A cute 6 month old with sad eyes, we just knew she was not our little tot.  I held both Okuhle and Grace, and a couple other babas that clambered onto my lap.  But we only had eyes for Grace.  Grace is a happy baby.  She has BIG eyes and smile that reaches your soul.  You just look at her and she graces you with a smile.  When she smiles, nothing else matters.  She took to Gary like a fish to water, even serenading him on his lap.  She’s bright too, copying me when I tapped her with one finger (she tapped me back with one of her fingers) and when I clapped her feet together, she did it on her own afterwards – making me so proud already.

We tried hard to sleep on the decision of whether or not she was for us, but to be honest, I think we’d made up our minds to adopt her the moment we put her down to walk out the door.  We couldn’t wait till Monday to let our Social Worker know our decision – we sms-ed her on Sunday! 

It appears that all should go smoothly as Grace is fully adoptable, i.e. no birth-mom to change her mind and no same-race family to adopt her – this is a huge weight off our minds!  Our Social Worker is aiming to have Grace with us by the first week of April, two weeks’ time.  So I’ve given notice to my work and they seem happy to oblige me with a standard 3 month maternity.  It’s been a whirlwind since we met Grace – the future grandparents are planning shopping sprees for the new granddaughter, our church gave thanks on Sunday and prayed blessings over us, and my work has already started a collection for us!

We’re revelling in the madness – we have two weeks to get all in order – mostly we’d like to get the nursery set-up and get as much sleep as possible!  We’re praying the adoption paperwork is easy and that the process is quick – Grace will effectively be in our foster care pending adoption which can take a few weeks or months (not sure really).  We’re simply focusing right now on giving huge thanks and praise to our Lord above – along with buying diapers and other necessities 🙂

A chance encounter

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Sunday saw a wonderful chance encounter for us. 

We went to our local grocery store to pick up some supplies for our depleted pantry and no sooner had we hit the bakery when we spotted a man with a pram with a gorgeous, little, lass inside.  It had to be an adoption (we reckoned) as he was white and the wee tot was either coloured or black.  We both stared for a reasonable amount of time (before risking appearing psychotic) and then Gary and I smiled a smile of “maybe one day” to each other.  We had just turned our attention back to the bakery counter when we heard a shout of “Daddy, Daddy”, so we whipped back around and saw the most wonderful display of bouncing brown curls on a little girl running towards the man-with-a-pram.  My heart did flick-flacks as she was so adorable – she was coloured and entirely edible, I swear.

I couldn’t keep my eyes off of them.  Every isle we sailed down had us passing by them and they must have thought me crazy, staring at their wee lasses at every turn.  Eventually, I decided we had to ask, so I approached them to ask if they had adopted and through who. To our delight they were more than happy to share and we discovered that although their eldest was adopted through a private organisation in Johannesburg, their tiny-pram-bound-tot was through the local Child Welfare.  Even more delightful was the discovery that their Social Worker for the adoption was our Social Worker …. AND … this Mommy is the Director of the local Child Welfare!!!

Turns out, they are battling to find adoptive parents for the babies at Child Welfare and there are a couple of babies (she suspects 3) that are adoptable at present – well I began waving my arms in the air like a real crazed Momma say “here we are! Pick us! Pick us!”  Thankfully they laughed and agreed to help.  They suggested our Social Worker contact them and we’ll go from there.

Haaaaaaalelujaaaaaaah!

So, we’ve given the message to our Social Worker and wait with baited breath.  We have only one more screening appointment and then we’ll, hopefully, be approved as Adoptive Parents opening the door to adoption.  This is the first time in quite some weeks where we feel hope, especially after the negative responses we’ve had from the agency handling little Lou (Lindelwe).

So, as always, we simply trust and obey our Lord and hope that meeting this fab couple was a God-incidence and not a dead-end coincidence.

Lindelwe (Lou) – letting go

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Last week, I contacted the agency handling little Lou’s (Lindelwe) adoption procedures.  I wanted to inform them that we had 2 screening sessions left and then we would be approved (hopefully) as adoptive parents.  I wanted to ask what they would need from our Social Worker in order consider us as parents for Lou, as and when she becomes adoptable. 

I had barely said “hi” when I was interrupted and told to rather be in contact with head office (I had phoned their local social worker who is directly handling Lou’s file).  I sensed that this was not a good sign.  I replied that I had been in touch with the Cape Town office and not heard much back.  I apologised for calling her, said I didn’t realise I had to go through Head Office and explained (very quickly) where we were at in our screening and our desire to still pursue Lou.  I can’t recall very well what her response was but it was not great, beating round the bush and always suggesting we speak to Head Office.  I do recall her saying that because we haven’t been screened by her she doesn’t know us so would need some kind of report from our Social Worker but really we should have been screened by them.  In chatting to our Social Worker about this it seems that they are earmarking their own lists of adoptive parents over us and we are really doubtful that they will consider us.  At every turn, it feels as if they are trying to put us off 😦

I hate uncomfortable situations like that – I wanted to scream down the telephone line that we are a great couple, a healthy, happy, Christian couple who will provide a great home to this child!  Instead I simply said sweetly “ok” at the appropriate moments and “goodbye” at the end of the call (which did not last long). 

So for now, we feel we must let go of this child.  I still dream about that sweet face and just pray that the Lord has a glorious future lined up for her.  If for no other reason, I met her to pray for her.

Lindelwe (Lou) update

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We’ve been advised not to visit little Lindelwe (or Lou as she is referred to at the Safe House) until she is adoptable.  We’ve honoured this and kept our distance.  I feel blessed though to have the owners of her Safe House keep us a somewhat updated on what’s happening with her.

We heard on Monday that she was booked for her blood tests Tuesday.  This is the biggest set of blood tests she will undergo, they determine results for a myriad of illnesses including HIV/Aids.  All of Tuesday I thought of the little tot and her tests.  It is rather an ordeal for the wee ones as the nurses draw blood from the heel which is painful and the babies cry hard.  Sometimes not enough blood can be drawn and the baby has to go back at a later stage for more.  I prayed all of this week that it went well for Lou, that they drew enough blood, that she didn’t hurt too much.  I also prayed that the results will be positive and healthy.

We are not sure when the results will come in or if we’ll even find out about them before she becomes adoptable.  Lou is our wild card you could say – we are not sure even IF she will become adoptable (her Mother or her Mother’s family may still decide to take her back).  But if she does become adoptable … we want in!  So we carry on with our screening and pray for God to guide her Social Workers.  We pray for her safety and that the Lord is doing the best he can for her.  That he will put her into the loving arms of the parents he’s chosen for her (even if this is not us).

Keep safe, little Lou, may our Lord keep you warm and snug under his wings. xx