Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Reasons to Celebrate

On November 20, 2010, I wrote Lee a letter revealing to him that I was pregnant with our first child. I still remember the look on his face as he read the letter. Excitement. Amazement. Pure Joy.

On July 30th, 2011, Miller Lee Blackburn took his first breath.
I love this picture because it was taken as we were revealing Miller's name to our families!
Excuse how horrible I look in this picture :)

July 30th, 2012 - Life change. Sleepless nights. Extra love and laughter. Blessings beyond what we deserve. And one little blue helmet later..... the child I scribbled about on a piece of paper in 2010 turned ONE!!

Miller and his daddy!

We seriously cannot believe we have a one year old running around!! Time flies! His birthday party is not until this coming Saturday, which is why there are no pics of cake on this blog :)

My best friend Keri had her first child, Asher Grace Pickle, late friday night (27th). Look at that sweet thing with all that hair!

Miller had an appointment with the specialist today (the doctor who initially decided Miller needed the helmet). We haven't seen him in 2 months (since before the helmet), so I was very nervous going into the appointment. I didn't really have a reason to be nervous, but all I could think was last time I left that office I was crying :) Today was a much different experience! It was short and sweet. The doctor said Miller's head looks great.... to keep wearing the helmet until he outgrows it, just to get the maximum benefit out of it.... and that he anticipates that Miller will outgrow it soon (less than 2 months).
So in 7 weeks... we have gone from talking about Miller being in the helmet for 6 months... to now... the doctor said today, "the biggest thing you have to do is figure out how to fit this helmet into his baby book!" :)  God is good!

This is a picture of Miller waiting at the doctor's office today. They were WAY behind so we had to wait for a while... which turned into exhaustion playtime for mama and Miller. Of course, there were tons of other people in the waiting room with us. Miller's helmet never fails to spark up some interesting conversations - serious and comical.

On the serious side... there was one mother in particular who inquired about Miller's helmet and after I shared his story, she began to tell me about her two children. I will not share the details of her story, but congenital issues and traumatic experiences have left her in and out of hospitals with her sweet boys. I felt shallow while talking with her. It's crazy how quickly and easily I get wrapped up in my own life and begin to feel sorry for myself.... I am thankful the Lord gave me a wake-up call today!

On the comical side... There was a lady sitting 2 chairs down from us. I heard her ask outloud, "did SHE have to have surgery?" I wasn't sure if she was talking to me or not.... surgery? SHE? ... So as politely as I could, I looked at her and said, "who?" She pointed to Miller and said, "her!" I just smiled and said, "oh, no. He didn't have to have surgery. He just had a flat spot on his head and it's correcting his skull." She said, "oh.. HE? I thought he was a girl." I laughed and said, "with a blue helmet?" She laughed then said, "oh.. well he would make a pretty girl."

I will say it again... I am honestly never surprised when it comes to public conversations!

Court closures for the rainy season will not affect our Dossier submission to Ethiopia! Yay! If you don't quite understand that... just know it is a reason to celebrate!
We are still waiting on our approval from USCIS - the last piece of paperwork before Dossier submission. No need to worry... I am stalking the mail :) It's kind of a problem. I was in the house the other day, with the T.V. blaring and other daily noises such as Miller talking, and I could HEAR the mailman drive by. His vehicle sounds different than others... I guess the way it stops and goes. I immediately walked outside to check the mail... I let him get to the next house before I made it to the mailbox! No letter from USCIS :(
Keep praying!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fingerprints Completed!

Yay! So happy to finally get to type this blog! We completed our fingerprints for USCIS today :) I was so nervous about completing the fingerprints (just stuff like finding the building, being on time, leaving/returning to work, and having Miller with us) but we were prayed up and the Lord answered. Everything went so smooth and the fingerprint lady was super sweet! So now, we wait :) We are waiting on our USCIS approval. Please pray for a swift approval!

My favorite statement during fingerprinting was at the end when she stamped my sheet with a big red stamp and said "this is your receipt."
:) mmmm I love completion of steps!

Miller man made his appearance :)
Don't be fooled by that sweet, precious, innocent face! That little man can carry a serious virus and isn't afraid to share it :)) a.k.a. the culprit for recent sickness!! 
He was perfect as always though!

Not our best picture, but we are trying to be conscious about capturing steps of the journey. :)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Commonly Asked Questions

I have compiled a short list of some commonly asked questions regarding our adoption process. I am sorry if I have and continue to do a poor job of communicating the adoption process. It is quite complex.

1) Do you already know the little boy you will adopt?
No. We do not know anything about him except that he will be a male child, from Ethiopia, between the age of 0-24 months old. Our agency doesn't know him yet either. Once we send our dossier to Ethiopia, we will be placed on a "waiting list." We will tick down the waiting list (moving spots as other families ahead of us are matched with their children). Once we are first in line to receive a referral (being matched with our son), and a child enters the orphanage that matches our criteria - male between 0-24 mos, our agency will call us! More on referral later. Again, answer to this question is that as of right now - the only person who knows where Malachi is is the Lord.

2) If you don't know him, then how did he get the name Malachi?
The name Malachi is not his birth name. It is the name that we have chosen to give him. We have decided to keep his birth name as his middle name (although we don't know what that name is yet). The legal name change will take place sometime during the adoption process.

3) What is this Dossier you keep talking about?
First of all, don't you hate reading a word that you aren't even sure you can pronounce? I read the word dossier on others adoption blogs for a long time before I learned how to correctly say it. So here is a link to here it properly pronounced :) just click the little megaphone and it will say it.


Back to the question. By definition, a Dossier is a file that contains detailed information about a person. So ALL of the paperwork, including our home study, that we have been gathering for the past 6 months will be compiled into a file - our dossier. Our entire lives and everything the Ethiopian government wants to know about us will be jam packed into one little file.

4) What's the rush to get the Dossier over to Ethiopia?
Because like I said earlier, once our dossier is sent to Ethiopia, we are OFFICIALLY on a waiting list for a baby!

5) Once you send your Dossier to Ethiopia, how long until you receive a referral?
Right now, the wait time is 18-24 months, meaning that this is the time frame that couples who have recently received referrals have waited. The time frames are always subject to change - either direction :-/ We are praying that the wait times will decrease.

6) What exactly is a "referral?"
A referral happens when our agency matches us with a child. Again, for this to happen we have to be near the top of the waiting list. Once we are next in line, or near next in line, to receive a referral and a little boy who meets our criteria is in the orphanage - they will match us.
They will give us a call! We will get in front of a computer while on the phone with them and we will see our first picture of him!! They will go through as much social and medical history of the child as they have, which can sometimes be limited. Then they will give us the option (over the span of several days I think) to accept or deny the referral. If we accept the referral, our files are matched and we will be scheduled a court date in Ethiopia for adoption! That will be when we take our first trip!! If we deny the referral, we will be placed back on the waiting list. Not at the end of the line, but I'm not real sure where :)

I know there are tons more questions and I hope I can get to them soon! But I figured this was enough for now! So please keep praying we can get our Dossier to Ethiopia ASAP so we can officially get on the waiting list!

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, July 13, 2012

Dropping like flies

I actually looked up the phrase "dropping like flies" and by definition it means, "falling down ill or dead in large numbers." That pretty much defines our household this past week, although 3 isn't a huge number. Miller got sick first. He politely passed it on to his father, who then generously passed it on to me. We aren't sure exactly what this "bug" is we are carrying around but we know it is vicious! It is attacking our throats, muscles, heads, sinuses and is jam packed full of fever. My parents came into town on Wednesday (Lee's first sick day) for the coaches clinic. We love the Lord's provision! Mom ended up being full time caregiver for all of us Miller as I began to get sick Wednesday night and we were both terribly sick on Thursday. Miller went home with my parents on Thursday (which was pre-planned) but such perfect timing for our sickness. We were in the bed at 5:30. Lee and I have both said that we take our health for granted. We know people who function while being sick day in and day out. Great respect for those people!
Notice I said Miller's going out of town was pre-planned? Lee and I were excited to plan a date night for tonight since Miller wouldn't be here. We literally started planning at the beginning of the week. Nice restaurant. Fancy dinner. Catch a movie too! Yeah.. Well.. That "date night" got watered down to grabbing some fast food and a red box movie. :)) gotta love it.

Oh... And... People who have been sick, with countless hours of sleep, and who have basically been in a cave the past 2 days should probably not drive. Yes. That is our mailbox. I hit it in the car on my only attempt out of the house to deposit a check. In my defense... It was raining and I needed to check the mail... I got a little too close.

Text conversation:
Abby: "hey. Don't be mad. I just knocked the mailbox down."

Lee: "Abby how did you do that!!??"

Abby: "Just the box fell off. I know you can fix it! :-)"

Lee: "you never cease to amaze me."

Abby: "It must have been loose cause I barely hit it. Promise."

Lee: "haha ok"

I am so blessed with a husband that constantly offers grace to me for my mistakes!

This week we get our fingerprints done! Please pray for a quick turn-around time!! While watching the movie tonight, which happened to be about Africa, we day dreamed about future family movie nights with everyone snuggled together. I know... I am day dreaming! 2 boys actually calming down long enough to snuggle with parents and watch a movie is probably not a reality... snuggling long enough for a commercial - probably more like it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

a SWEET day

   I was coming home from Miller's helmet appointment today and saw a package on my front porch. I wasn't expecting anything, so this meant that whatever was in the package was a surprise! I LOVE a surprise! And oh my goodness what a sweet surprise it was!! Cookies!! Not just any cookies.. Miller and Malachi cookies :))  Y'all just don't even know how big my heart smiled when I saw them! Truly a "sweet kiss" for the day. I later learned that the cookies were from a sweet blog follower, Rhiannon Bethea, who said that she read my post about our paperwork at USCIS being all messed up. She prayed for us that night and then the cookie idea came to her the next morning. When I sent her a facebook message, she was so humble and said that God was just using her to make me smile :) and oh did it work! Seriously... that is the sweetest thing. I am thankful that the Lord pricked her heart to use her talent to make a difference in my day! He cares about the details ! I have so much joy from the thought of that! People... THAT is being the hands and feet of Christ. Simple. Love God. Love People. Be open to be used by HIM. Thank you so so much Rhiannon! The memory of these cookies will last forever :))

I mean just look at how cute these are!

She is SO talented! I have been "researching" aka Facebook and blog stalking her cookies this afternoon. They are so adorable!! Check them out on her blog HERE at ColorMeCookie

The other part of my "sweet day" was Miller's helmet appointment! Today marked 4 WEEKS since we got the helmet! We received another good report today!! Miller's head continues to grow and it is becoming more and more symmetrical! Yay! BASICALLY.... When we first began this journey, Miller's head was asymmetrical by 3/8 of an inch. After two weeks... he had shifted towards symmetry by 1/4 inch (2/8 for those of you like me who don't understand measurements)! That was the OH MY GOSH I can't believe it shifted so much visit!! Now... 2 weeks later, his whole head has continued to grow and he shifted more toward symmetry by 1/16 inch. Leaving a GRAND TOTAL of 1/16 left to go!! NOT VERY MUCH for those of you attempting to figure out how much that is :))) Don't feel bad... I confess I had to get my ruler out! So what does that mean?? It means that my baby's head looks GOOD!! :)
The short term goal is to achieve complete symmetry - to close in that 1/16th difference.
We are HOPING that will happen within the next few weeks. There is no way to tell for sure. I asked his Prosthetist today how long he will have to continue wearing the helmet and he said that ultimately Miller's Specialist would make that call. We have a follow up with the Specialist in August. After talking today, we concluded that Miller would continue wearing the helmet for at least 2 to 4 more weeks... then after that... we could possibly be done!! I honestly can't believe I just typed that! After all the commotion... fear... tears... At 4 weeks post helmet we are already discussing the day when we will discontinue the helmet!
I have 3 words! GOD IS GOOD!
Thank you for praying and please continue praying for his sweet little head!
This is a picture of him waiting for his visit today! Look at those eyes :)

I may actually miss the helmet

Monday, July 9, 2012

Baby Excitement

We "hospital hopped" this past weekend... From Hattiesburg to Mobile back to Hattiesburg! One thing I learned... I WILL get lost in a hospital without my husband's guidance! And yes, I work in the biggest hospital in the state and still get lost in hospitals.

Baby News:
My brother and sister-in-law welcomed their new baby girl into the world on Saturday.

Raelyn Alise Miller 

My sweet friend Danielle had her little boy Saturday night.

Harper Cole Whittington

Those were the sweet babies we were visiting this weekend! We are very excited about watching them grow!

As for my two babies...
We are one small step closer to Malachi! We officially received our fingerprint appointments in the mail today! Yay! Scheduled for July 19th. I admit... I have been slightly stalking the mailbox. As soon as I saw the mailman drive by I darted out the door to check it. :))
I'm okay with that :)

And for my sweet Miller! He is getting ready to walk y'all! He has been cruising along the couch and pushing stuff while walking for a long time. This weekend he discovered he could stand without holding onto something.

In this video with Rosalie and Jax, he discovers he can stand! Look at that proud little face!

THEN... Tonight he discovered that he just might be able to let go and take a step!! Eeeekkk!!! My baby is growing up!

So... The story behind the following video is that Sha, Ty and myself realized that Miller was about to try to take his first steps! Picture all of us saying "oh my gosh... He's gonna let go! Hurry up. Get your phone. Etc." So... OF COURSE I grab my phone as quick as I can and attempt to turn on the video camera! I'm thinking.. "score" gonna get to video his first steps!! In slow-mo... Miller let's go of the couch... I hit the camera... It takes a PICTURE!! What?? A dang picture! No, no... Hurry... I need VIDEO PLEEEZZE!! By now he's attempting his first steps... So I do what ANY good mother would do! I scream... and yell at him to WAIT and SIT DOWN! This video is the aftermath!

FINALLY... Daddy got home!! Miller was so excited (as always)!  In this video he just shows you his potential :)

Thanks for journeying!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Just gotta talk to the RIGHT person

On my last blog entry, I told you about the USCIS process. Our A and B were not together and our C hadn't even been born yet :) I have good news! Things have changed :)
I called USCIS again today and the lady on the other end of the line was not the same lady I spoke with last time. I explained my case to this lady and she said, "hmm.. It looks like "A" is in (or was in Dallas) and "B" is here in Missouri. I "huffed" inside :) She followed with, "and no your fingerprints (C) haven't been scheduled yet." By now I am not surprised. However, the conversation took a positive spin when she began checking into things and she decided to take action. She said a bunch of words like correspondents, files, coordinators, matching, etc that made about as much sense to me as they do to you. I did what any mom would do and I faked it, "sure. Okay. Sounds good. Thanks so much. That would be great." All I understood was she asked for my number to call me back, so I considered that a positive and moved on :) I changed my prayer to, "Lord, it's not looking like the fingerprint scheduling will take place this week so please, please next week."
(I'm kinda pathetic - i didn't even keep praying the bold prayer of getting it all straightened out this week - after all... It's Thursday AFTERNOON... We are kinda running out of days here.)

So, I was pleasantly surprised when I listened to my voicemail from this lady late this afternoon.

(blog slang inserted)

Mrs Blackburn... I just wanted you to know that I located "A" and "B" and I matched them together for you in one file. They are now in line to be reviewed for "golden ticket" approval. Also, I got your fingerprints "C" scheduled and you will receive that notice in the mail in a few days. I think they're scheduled for the 19th.

What?? Yay!! I'm smiling! Not only did just ONE thing get cleared up, but they ALL did! Thank you Mrs USCIS lady!! Where were you last week and the week before?? I called the SAME number and gave the SAME story. Only one answer- divine timing! Knowing that is what is keeping me "patient." Like I said earlier, I was kinda pathetic to give up on my prayer so quickly!!

Thanks for bearing through all that with me :))) less jargon next blog post!

BIG weekend for us! My sister-in-law is having a baby. Surprise... Boy or girl!! She gets induced in the a.m. I am thinking BOY. Lee thinks GIRL.

And one of my best friends, Danielle, is having a baby tomorrow as well!! Harper Cole. Sweet little boy. Gonna be Miller's buddy!!

Love me some babies!! Praying for these families!

Sent from my iPhone