Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Meet my overweight friend, her cancer husband and their lice infested child.

Did you know that October is Down syndrome awareness month? I would like to take this opportunity to make you aware of a little thing we like to call .....

We would never say:

"This is my overweight friend Janet"
"Her cancer husband Bob is nice"

So then why would we say:

"Jenny just adopted a Down syndrome baby"
"He has an HIV+ daughter"

I see well meaning articles all the time with titles like these:

Coach makes special needs students feel like part of the team

Parents of Down Syndrome kids cherish special moments

Commercial features Down syndrome child

The Blessing of a Down Syndrome Child

Down Syndrome cheerleader she's liability

Do you see the difference? When we say "Jenny adopted a baby who has Down syndrome" it shows that we realize first and foremost that he is a baby. He is a person. He is not Down syndrome. It doesn't define who he is!

Here is the bottom line: we aren't going to all get it right every time. Let's all have some grace for each other, because I don't even get this right all the time! It is a learning process to re-train your brain. But people are important, and we should have respect for the fact that each and every one of us is a fearfully and wonderfully made child of the KING!



Monday, October 14, 2013

Jojo's Story Part 3: Our Texas Family

{click here for Part 1 of Jojo's story}  
{click here for Part 2 of Jojo's story

We packed up all of our belongings in our rental car and went to visit Jojo. Then I plugged the address into my GPS, and headed for Houston. I had spoken to Lisa on the phone once ever in my entire life, the day before. My mom was pushing it to get to the airport on time, so she literally dumped us and all our stuff off at their doorstep and took off. I now had no rental car, no mom to help me and no idea how staying with complete strangers with my big kids and one in the NICU 30 minutes away was going to go.

I have to be honest, when I saw the giant paper mache robot in the corner of the dining room, I was a little concerned. A couple of hours later when I had to rescue Lisa's dog from the death grip of her newly adopted "older" cat, I was a little more concerned. When Lisa took said dog to the vet to make sure her almost ripped out eyeballs were ok, and came back with a picture on her phone of the gas pump she has just ripped apart by driving off with it still attached to her car......concerned.

But, our kids hit it off right away, and we were able to laugh at all of the drama that night as we waited for Tesney to arrive. Tesney and Lisa had been friends for a long time, but had never met in person. You can read more about their connection (it is a really AMAZING story) here. Once Tesney and her kids arrived, the real adventure began.

We had 6 kids between us at the house (1/3 of which have Down syndrome), one husband (bless him) and a baby at the NICU. The next week was filled with fun but also drama and stress for me as I tried to balance time at the hospital and time with my friends and big kids. That week was awesome, but unfortunately Tesney and her boys had to leave to head back home. We all hoped that Jojo would get to come home while Tesney was still there, but the stars just did not align to make that happen. The time with all of us together was WAY too short, but it was a sweet sweet time that I will never forget.

I won't bore you with the details of all the fun we had, because it will just make you jealous. So I will just post a whole mess of pictures to tell the story. 

First dinner out.
Pool time!



Lisa meets Jojo
Tesney meets Jojo
Children's Museum

Me about to get new ink!

After Tesney left, we waited another WHOLE WEEK before Jojo was able to come HOME! Waiting is hard. We had a big celebration for the 4th of July....... aka our last day as a family of 3!

On July 5th Jojo was all set to be RELEASED! Of course, it took half of a day to get all the paperwork done and the ducks all in nice little rows. The whole crew came up to the hospital ......it really was surreal
 walking out of that place with him. 

Ready to get JOJO!!

Let's go HOME!


When we got home I was surprised with signs, gifts balloons and even flowers from my Texas husband Joey : ). 

When you live with people, especially people you have never met before in real life, it forms an amazing bond between you. Yes, Lisa was a hot mess on the first day when we showed up and moved in with them for an indefinite amount of time, but we quickly moved past that and truly became the best of friends. Aidan and I had a stomach virus while we were there and she took care of us. Our kids became BFF's. Aidan was able to interact with Archie and Kirill and that was a HUGE thing for him. He is very analytical, and that time answered a lot of questions I think he had swirling around in his head about having a brother with Down syndrome. Ella Mae lost a tooth and got her ears pierced. Jojo came home from the hospital to their house.......wow. We spent our first night as a family of 4 there. He had his first bath in their sink. We did normal life together.
Jojo....with the robot :)

First sleep at home

First bath

First dinner out with Jojo
We consider them family. And always will. we have already met in the middle (Biloxi Mississippi) once for a long weekend because we couldn't stand to be so far away from each other. They are coming to Alabama to see us this weekend.....eeeek! Sorry Eichers......you are stuck with us forever...like it or not! We love you so much we can hardly stand it and Jojo's story just would not have been the same without you.


jennymo, aidan, ella mae and jojo