Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Merry Christmas update from our little family

I have never done a Christmas newsletter, blog, update etc....but I had the bright idea to make my bigs write an update about their year and it turned out to be pretty adorable (complete with their own fonts, colors and formatting which is making me a wee bit cray but they insisted I leave it)! Plus, we added a whole new person to the family so I figured lots of people would get our Christmas card and think...what!?!?!? So, here it goes!



I had a good year in 2014. I fell like I showed respect to other people and got more in to football. I felt good about getting baptized and how Christ became my savior. It took me along time to decide if I should get baptized or not. The two foster kids we had were pretty fun and happy. I made the competitive soccer league and my dad posted it to over 3,000 people on twitter. I had good grades this year in school. My whole life changed to a better life.


(you can see the video of his baptism here )

 MY YEAR IN 2014

Ella MAE:

I have 3 brothrs. Aidan is 10, Jojo is 18 months and Baby Zee is 11 months. I also have 2 pets. One is a dog named Zachy and one is a cat named Fudge. We used to have 2 foster kids at our house and that made 5 kids in our house. And 1 mom. The foster kids were 5 and 9. They went to live with another family because Baby Zee was coming home. :-(
I am in 2nd grade now and I am 7. I love Science, Art and Music. I love to help my mom with the babies.  


Oh my goodness this baby. How could he have turned ONE this year?? He is spoiled ROTTEN (I solely blame his Papa). He has finally given up the army crawl and now switches back and forth from one knee and one foot, to normal crawling on all fours. He had some trouble with trying and actually consuming new solid foods, but we worked hard on that and now he eats like a little piggy. Just don't give him more than one thing at a time or he will throw all but one in the floor! He is ALMOST ready to out world!

Baby Zee

This guy.....he has literally turned our house upside down this year! Shortly after Jojo's 1st birthday, I felt like the Lord was leading me to finish up my foster care licensing (which was originally interrupted by Jojo's adoption!) JUST IN CASE there was ever a child locally that had special needs and was therefor difficult to place. JUST IN CASE. Well, I have learned about God and His sense of humor so I should have know that this wasn't a "just in case" situation!

I finalized my licensing on a Friday, and got "the call" about Baby Zee the following Monday! He was 8 months old at the time and has Down syndrome, along with a whole bunch of medical issues including being on a trach and a ventilator. I met him in late July and committed to bring him home when he was ready. The original plan was that he would be weaned off the ventilator before he came home, but he had some complications and that was no longer possible. As my parents and I began to think through the reality that we were bringing home a medically fragile child who would require quite a lot of machines and constant monitoring, we realized that it wasn't really going to work out for him to sleep upstairs where the kids and I have always been. SO, we decided to finish off the basement! My parents now have their own bedroom and living room downstairs, and Zee and I have taken over their room.

I can't say enough about how great my parents have been through all of this. My mom and I went through 4 weeks of training at the hospital to learn how to care for Zee. Not to mention the cost of the re-model, Papa having to pick up our slack at work etc....I am so blessed and LITERALLY could not do any of this without them!

Zee is doing so well at home! He is getting stronger and happier each day. The plan at this point is for him to have heart surgery at 18 months and hopefully then we will be able to wean him off the vent. Please pray for his health and for all of us as we adjust to this new normal!


This year has been awesomely crazy! Between the time I committed to Zee and the time he came home, we had 2 other boys (ages 5 and 9) who stayed with us for about 10 weeks. It was our first foster care placement, and God taught us all a lot during that time! Those sweet boys have moved on to a more permanent home, but we still get to see them often and they will always hold a special place in my heart!

So, I have spent this year doing what I always wanted to do....being a mommy. Most days I lay my head down totally worn slap out, but in a totally good, God you have me right where you want me and this is what I was always meant to do, kind of way.

Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

Jenny and kids 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Jojo's 1st year. There are some things you need to know....

Jojo had an amazing year!

We have said time and again that we can't remember a time when he was not a part of our family. He just fits and we are all so in love with him!

Expecting a baby with Down syndrome? 

One of the biggest challenges of having a baby with Down syndrome is working with them to meet their milestones. Things that "typical" babies do naturally don't happen as easily for our babies. We have to work for them. So, for those expecting a baby with Down syndrome, or thinking of adopting, I thought I would share some of Jojo's first year milestones with you.

9 weeks- rolls over
3 months-bringing hands to mid line
4 months-ate first solid food and started sleeping through the night
6 months- started sitting up in a propped position and learned to hold his own bottle
7 months- sitting up without being propped
10 months- started pulling up
10 1/2 month- finally figured out how to crawl!
1 year- army crawling all over the house!

Of course those are just the broad strokes, and every baby is different, but you may notice that he really isn't behind at all! That is because we go to therapy twice a week, and work on his goals at home. Another contributing factor is that he hasn't had any major health problems, which does set many babies back.

Considering adopting a child with special needs domestically?

These are the things "they" don't tell you.

They may not sound like a big deal to some people, but to me they were HUGE so I wanted to share just in case it could help someone else.

I was actually in the process of finishing my foster care licensing when I got chosen to be Jojo's mom. I had only 2 months to get my home study done, lots of paperwork filled out, and lots of money raised! So I really didn't have time to ask a lot of questions. But, if I had been in a position where I was considering adopting a child with special needs from the US, these are the things I would have wanted someone to tell me:

-If you are a foster parent to a child, and that child cannot be re-united with family, you can adopt them. And it is FREE. Free. (this goes for non special needs kids too)

-When you adopt a child with any special need (emotional, behavioral, physical etc) from the US, you qualify for an adoption subsidy from your State. You can learn more about what your state offers here. Let me be clear, this amount of money will not make you rich lol but it is helpful when paying for therapies etc.

-Adopted children who have special needs and many kids who are adopted from foster care get FREE insurance. Like as in I pay nothing for Jojo's health care. Free.

*Disclaimer: this is clearly not an exhaustive list of all the things you should know. I am also NOT suggesting that these things should motivate anyone to pursue adopting a child with special needs. That would be cray. No representation is made that the quality of adoption advice by me is better than the quality of adoption advice from others. Some exclusions may apply. Tax, title and tag not included. 

This I know to be true: Jojo has forever changed us all. He blesses people in ways I would have never imagined. People tell me ALL THE TIME that just seeing pictures of him makes their day. He it truly a blessing to many!!

This kid is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

If you are considering adoption or just want to have your day made, watch this video. It will shed some light on what "special needs" REALLY means when it comes to adoption! I am proud to have had a part in making it, my kids are in it, and Aidan is the narrator!



Project Hopeful: Adoption is Redemption from Lantern Vision on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Dear Birth Mom, Happy Mothers Day.

I am the one who changes his diapers.

I take him to therapy,
to help him build his strength.

I wipe his snotty nose and take
him to the doctor when he is sick.

I get up with him in the middle of the night.

I make the bottles, wash the bottles
and repeat over and over again.

I have the distinct privilege of watching him
grow every single day.

I will love him all the days of my life.

But you.....

You gave him life.

You made a choice that many
would never be brave enough to make.

You made a choice that many do not make.

You gave him life.

You made the most selfless sacrifice
that any person can make.

You chose him above yourself.

For that I will be eternally grateful.

You are a hero in my eyes and in the eyes
of everyone who meets him.

He is a little world changer, and that would not
be possible without you.

I pray every day that my life, your life, and his
life will bring Glory to God.

You made a difference.

You gave him life!

Happy Mothers Day!


Jenny and Jojo


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mercedes Marathon Weekend: From the other side.

We are no strangers to the Mercedes Marathon weekend.

Aidan in Kindergarten. He had strep throat but I made him run anyway....for some reason he hasn't wanted to do it since......

Ella Mae in Kindergarten! (I don't know why I look so mad in that pic)

I even ran the 5K last year....just for fun. Hmmmm.

Little did I know that one day, this weekend would mean so much more to me. I had no idea that one day I would not only be a Bell Runner, but a Bell Center parent!

It hit me like a ton of bricks on Sunday while waiting at my relay exchange point.

All of the Bell Runners (people who sign up to run for a specific child and raise funds for the Bell Center) wear the picture of "their" Bell Center child on their backs.

But I was wearing a picture of MY child on my back. 

Not a child I am running for but MY child.

One dad tweeted this after the race: 

Oh my heart. 

The very idea that not only my team members, but so many other runners participated to help MY CHILD. The Mercedes Marathon is the biggest fundraiser of the year for The Bell Center and because of the funds that were raised (and continue to be raised), my son has learned to sit up almost totally on his own, is almost crawling, and will eventually learn to walk. He is able to hold his own bottle, communicate (mostly babbling but that is age appropriate), eat baby food with no problems. These are things that as a parent of a typical child, I used to take for granted. Now, as a parent of a child with Down syndrome, each and every milestone is celebrated. Simple things that most kids do on their own, many kids with Down syndrome and other special needs have a hard time accomplishing. Without Early Intervention help, many kids fall way behind in their development..... BUT, because of the Bell Center and our wonderful team, Jojo is right on track and doing EVERYTHING he should be for his age. 

So enjoy some pictures from this years race weekend! Thank you SO MUCH to all who donated, thank you to my amazing team, and to my mom for helping me navigate the insanity with 3 kids!

Oh, and if you want to pitch in and be part of helping Jojo and so many others reach their potential, there is still time....just click the link below.

They have capes for all the kids! So cute....ready to run!
Aidan and Ella Mae pushing Jojo in the Bell Kids run

Bell Center graduates and siblings race. Call me cray but pretty sure Aidan won!

Jojo biting his medal to make sure it is real.

Ella Mae and I ready to run her mile in the 1st grade kids race.

Finish line!

She did it!

Team JOJO!!!!!



Thursday, February 20, 2014

Birmingham Parent Magazine Article

This is the article that ran in Birmingham Parent Magazine in November! As long as the link stays live you can view it here.....but I wanted to post it on my blog too so I wouldn't ever lose it!


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

It is FINISHED. An update on Jojo!

Time flies.

I cannot BELIEVE he is almost 8 months old!

Jojo and I went back to Texas in January to finalize his adoption and to celebrate Lili's birthday in January. We ran in to one MINOR snafoo when we realized at the last minute that the finalization would happen in Forth Worth, which happens to not so much be the same, or even remotely close to Houston. Woopsie.

We had a great visit anyway and were able to finalize over the phone, so all is well that ends well!

After mountains of paperwork (this is domestic, imagine what International looks like), many prayers, 3+ weeks spent in Texas, lots of money (mostly donated by many of you) and tons of TRUST that God would work out all the details it is finally finished!

 "As if the child had been born to the Petitioner" (that's me). Be still my heart.

We had a celebratory dinner at the same place we went for Jojo's first night out. Of course we had to recreate the pic. Lili has that face DOWN. ; - )

I do hear from "T" (Jojo's birth mom) from time to time. She has a new job and seems to be doing well so that is a huge blessing!

Jojo is having early intervention therapy at The Bell Center here in Birmingham and it has been AMAZING. He is hitting all of his goals like a champ! We are currently working on crawling, and he can prop to sit up! We just finished the Mercedes Marathon this past weekend to raise money for The Bell Center....update on that coming soon!

Aside from that Jojo is just like any other baby but we love him like he hung the moon! If you want to see pics (pretty much daily lol) of Jojo, follow us on Instagram (link on top right of this page)!

We are so blessed to watch this sweet boy grow.....and grow...and grow!