Monday, November 14, 2011

Happy Birthday Titus - You're 4!

My son turns 4 years old today. This is a great accomplishment and I'm so proud of my son for his strenght, endurance, and will to live.

It's been 4 years . . .
48 months . . .
1461 days and (many sleepless) nights . . .

I lost count of the number of days Titus has spent in the hospital, the number of procedures, and there are days, I don't think I remember the long list of challenges that Titus' face.

The day Titus was born, and we saw that he could not breathe, we lived in a bubble that surgery would correct his jaw to improve his breathing and then everything we would be fine. And we stood by helplessly as they strapped him down in the transport pod to take him to Medical City Dallas. Neither one of us got to hold him that first day.

The next day, when the doctor met with us to let us know the results of all they had discovered - hemi-vertebrae in the spine, full cleft palate, horshoe-shaped kidney, not-quite-club foot, dandy-walker variant(cyst at the base of the brain) along with the noticiable micronagthia (recessed chin) - we just stood there in shock.

A few weeks later, we learned Titus needed a g-tube so they could continue to feed you and we sent Titus off for his first surgery.

A few weeks more passed, and they did an advanced hearing test since the first results were inconclusive. I watched the nurse as she ran the test. I watched her face . . . I watched the machine . . . and before she ever said a word, I knew the results. Titus could not hear - not a sound in either ear.

Before Christmas, we sent Titus back into surgery to have his jaw broken and reset with pins/screws. His soft baby skin was punctured with a hideous looking screw coming out behind your ears. Each day, I turned the screws to push his jaw out one small millimeter at a time.

In February, Titus came home after 62 days. I was as nervous as a first time dad having him in the house. But his brothers smothered him with hugs and kisses. It was the first time they really got to hold Titus without all the wires and machines. But 8 days later, the ambulance came to take Titus back since he was struggling to breathe. And we spent another 2 months in the NICU - 2 more months where we couldn't hold him and he was hooked up to a ventilator. He was so heavily sedated with painkillers, they had to treat him with methadone before he could come home to wean him off (baby rehab is what I called it).

And then we learned of the congential glaucoma and his eyesight would be limited if there was any at all. And a trip to Houston ended up being another 10 days in the hospital.

But Titus did come home, and we did settle into a routine of learning how to care for such a fragile child. And how to work with nurses and therapists in the home. And how to manage all the doctor's appointments, all the diagnosis, all the paperwork, all the referrals, all the questions.

After Titus turned one, he received his cochlear implant. And over the months, we experienced a thrill to see how Titus react when his cochlear was activated. It has given him the chance to hear and now we are watching him work with the therapist to mimic sounds.

When Titus was two, it seemed like we searched for a lot of answers - many that were answered in our trip to Cincinnati Children's Hospital. It was then we learned the conditions of his lungs - and were faced with a choice: A choice to trach and vent for the rest of your life, or a choice to live on oxygen and therapy. Either way, we were told at that point that Titus' life would not be as long as we would wish, but something that would be the hands of God.

When Titus was three, he started school. And has gone from going 3 days a week to 5 days a week. It is so much fun to see the little items Titus comes home with - and see the pictures of him finger-painting or going down the slide with his teacher.

And now he's 4 . . . wow.

My little hero has taught me a lot over the last 4 years. He has shown me life is meant to be lived and enjoyed. He has taught me that a blessing can come in a disguise. He has taught me that God's provision is greater than I ever could have imagined.

Happy Birthday Titus - I love you dearly.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Orphan Sunday

Orphan Sunday Fixed from FBCMcKinney on Vimeo.

Today is Orphan Sunday - and like many churches around the nation, we celebrated, informed, and prayed for orphans around the world.

Our church has an incredible adoption ministry called The Journey - and it's such an appropriate name since adoption is a journey of faith, journey of ups and down, and ultimately, a journey to your child. It was a great honor to stand with the other families in our church (many of which are on this video) and show others what adoption looks like.

I have often said, DNA does not make a family - God does. And God forms families in all shapes, sizes, and colors. When people look at us, I want them to see us as ONE family: a family of sons born from the heart.

I want everyone to know that anyone can take part in adoption. You may have the resources to sponsor a child at an orphanage. Our church has 3 families working in orphanages in Boliva, Zambia, and Sierra Leone. Our goal is to have every child at each of these orphanages sponsored.

You may have the resources to help a family with their adoption expenses. We shared this morning the adoption fund just for that purposes.

And you may have the calling on your heart to  bring a child into your home - through foster care or adoption. We would love to share with your our story and point you into the direction of several agencies that can help you pursue that call. I will echo your thoughts "it's scary to think about bringing a child into your home". But I will also tell you, when God calls, God Provides. And God is pleased when we are obedient to his call. It could be the greatest journey of faith you may ever walk. And please know, we will support and pray you through it.

I love my boys. I love looking in the eyes of Aidan and seeing his mother's smile. I love looking in the eyes of Noah and seeing that he has his fathers grin/dimples. I love looking into Tucker and Cade's eyes and know that they have learned the love of father by being in our family. I love looking at Titus and see that he has his mother's beautiful hands. And I love my wife who loves her husband and boys with an unconditional love.

For those of you who receive the blog through the email feed, the video may not come through - but you can view it on the blog at

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Our Adoption Story

Tomorrow is Orphan Sunday. We are excited to be part of the story tomorrow at our church and to be able to stand together with other families to show what adoption looks like.

But in the process, we wrote out our full adoption story. And while some of you may know/remember all this because you walked through it with us, it's always good to look back and remember all that God has done.

This is our story.

Becky and I were married in 1994. Aidan came along in 1997 and Noah followed 17 months later. After a few years, we wanted to expand our family, but experienced a series of losses and complications.

In October, 2003, Becky and I completed our last round of infertility. After two years of riding the infertility treatment roller-coaster, we had determined that if this last round was not successful, we would explore other options. A few weeks later, we found out that we were not pregnant, and decided at that time to spend some time in prayer seeking the Lord's direction. We knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Lord had called us to having a larger family and we knew that when the Lord calls, the Lord provides.

In January, 2004, we began the adoption process with Dillon International and chose South Korea as the country where we would adopt. We were a little taken aback by the cost for the adoption, but again, we knew that God would provide and as we began the application process and made our initial payments, the money was there. During 2004, international adoptions were moving smoothly and quickly, and we were told that we could have a referral as soon as 4-6 months after we completed our homestudy. We completed all the paperwork, medical work, and homestudy as quickly as we could so we could get on the referral list for a little boy.

At the time, I was a consultant for software company. I absolutely loved my job - It was my dream job. But as the economy began to slow in 2004, the sales pipeline for our business grew to a halt. On June 4, 2004, I received the call that I was laid off with just a few weeks severance. One of my first thoughts was how would this affect our adoption. We were about to hit that window of time when we would be receiving a referral, and along with the referral would be a large payment due towards the adoption. Plus, due to all the processes of adoption, I had to show that I was employed to complete an adoption. I was fearful that the money we had saved up for the adoption would have to be used for living expenses. And, I was worried that the loss of job could postpone the entire adoption for an indefinite period of time.
Two weeks after being laid off, I received a call from a former co-worker to work as a project manager for an implementation project for the summer. I didn't have the specific qualifications for the job, but this man was assured that I had the skills to complete the job. He asked me to come in for interview, but also told me to be prepared to stay the day and start work. I drove downtown the following Monday unsure that I could handle this job, but also knowing that I would never know what I could do if I didn't take a few risks and take a step of faith.

I accepted the position and began work immediately for the next 12 weeks. During that time, God provided abundantly. On the 2nd to last day of the contract job, we received a phone call from the adoption agency asking us to consider the referral of a little 6-wk old boy who had been born a few weeks premature. We knew immediately upon reviewing the paperwork that this was our son and the next morning we accepted the referral and received an email with his pictures attached. This was the first time we saw our Tucker Paul.


And, here's the "rest of the story" . . . not only did we have all the money we needed to finish paying off the adoption, but I had made enough money during those 12 weeks to pay ALL of our adoption expenses (including all the money we had already paid) and pay all our living expenses at the time.
What an opportunity we had to teach Aidan and Noah Psalm 37:25 “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” and Phil 4:19 “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” For us, it was a living testimony that when God calls, God Provides.
Through a series of changes in policy and timing, it was 6 months before we could bring Tucker home (at the time, children were coming home 6-8 weeks after the referral). Those were the longest 6 months - everyday was an anticipation of "could this be the day we get our travel call". Finally, 28 weeks after our referral, we got the call that we could travel to Seoul to pick up Tucker. We finalized our trip plans quickly and left within a few days for Seoul, Korea. Becky and I were able to visit Tucker the day after we arrived. We couldn't keep our hands off of him - he was a promise fulfilled, a living, breathing, healthy, baby boy that our hearts had ached for - and he really didn't want to have anything to do with us. The night we received him, he cried (more like wailed) for over 2 hours. He cried, Becky cried, I cried - all I could think was this was going to be a very long flight home. But he had to learn to trust us, and we had to learn all about this little bundle of boy.
As soon as we finalized Tucker's adoption, we began the process to adopt a little girl from China (because Becky was still after a little girl). As I was viewing our agencies website, a picture of a little boy listed as a waiting child appeared after a few months. His eyes haunted me and I kept going back to his picture day after day. I asked Becky to review - she let me know there was no need - we were getting a girl from China. I was persistent week after week, and Becky finally agreed to review his medical records. This little boy was a waiting child due to medical issues - and issues that could become larger problems as the child grew older. We had several doctors review and we all prayed diligently and knew that this little boy was indeed going to be a "Daily boy". He would only be 4 months younger than Tucker, meaning we were going to have "virtual twins". So 14 months after traveling to Korea to get Tucker, we found ourselves back in Seoul to pick up Cade.

We met with Cade everyday we were in Korea. He was 19 months old at the time and absolutely refused to let us have anything to do with him. He would not let us hold him, would not sit on our lap, would not play with us, and would scream and cry if we were left alone with him. The day we left Korea with Cade, he kicked, screamed, bit, yelled and basically fought us as hard as he can. Cade's transition was more difficult, but we grew to love him, and he grew to love us.

We know and acknowledge that we are a conspicuous family. We know people look at us and point. We are different: we have 5 boys, we have two boys adopted from South Korea, we have a boy with special needs. But we want people to know that families come in all shapes in sizes. It's not DNA that makes a family - and nowhere does it state in the Bible that families must look alike (As I tell my boys, I don't look anything like their mother). And it's a joy and privilege to see how my "Daily boys" love each other, cheer each other on, and are each other's best friends. It's amazing to see how God can put a family together. It's not what I expected when I married Becky. I never dreamed we would have 5 children and still want more, but God moves in mysterious ways.
When we adopted Tucker and Cade, I learned the love of an adoptive father - to love a child not of my blood, but of my heart; to love a child that didn't immediately love me back; to love a child that was chosen to be part of my family. And, as I stood in front of the judge the day we finalized their adoption, and the judge asked me "will you love this child forever - because what you are doing is irrevocable", I realized that yes, I will love this child forever - and the same goes with God's love. His love for me is irrevocable and He promises to love me forever. It's been over 6 years since we started our adoption journey. I can honestly tell you when I look at my family, I see my boys. I do not see the color of the skin or their eyes, I do not see what makes each one different, but I see what makes us all one. We are FAMILY - they are my Daily boys.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Coming Home Tonight

Titus should be coming home in the next hour. They have been turning his oxygen over the last 24 hours and getting him back to acceptable levels - and the rocephin and steriods seem to have taken care of the infection.

We are constantly amazed and thankful for friends and family who immediately surround us during these times and help keep our household going (especially since Paul was in Atlanta). We are blessed. Blessed with family, blessed with friends, blessed with a praying church, blessed with Aidan, blessed with Noah, blessed with Tucker, blessed with Cade, and blessed with Titus.

As Paul states in Romans 1:8 "I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you . . . "

Also, this weekend is Orphan Sunday. I plan on sharing our adoption story on the blog in the next few days. We will also be standing together as family on Sunday to show the world what adoption looks like. So keep checking back.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

In for a Tuneup

For those that follow Becky and I on FaceBook, you know we posted last night that Titus is went to the hospital yesterday.

Titus received his flu shot last month, but had a reaction a few days later. The doctor put him on a heavy duty antibiotic for a couple of weeks. During that time, Titus has also been teething with some of his molars coming in. And as you know, with new teeth, comes lots of secretions and sometimes fever (and very funny poo). But as Titus finished the antibiotic, his fevers were still there and his breathing was becoming more and more labored. We kept turning his oxygen, but as we have noticed in the past, once we get to a certain point, it's just time to go to the hospital since it generally means there's an underlying issue that needs to be resolved.

When I left for Atlanta yesterday, Titus was "ok", but not stellar. He didn't have a great night and had a small fever. Becky took him to the doctor that morning to have him checked out and they had him go to the lab for blood to be drawn to see what his numbers looked like.

That afternoon, before the labs came back, Becky decided to go ahead and take him down to Medical City - all the signs were there that he needed to be in the hospital. And, the beauty of Medical City is that since we have spent so much time there, they immediately took him back to a room in the ER, and then started working on getting him checked into a room on the Peds floor. With a few hours, Titus was in a room, had an IV going with some antibiotics and steriods, and was settling in. He had a good night (but his oxygen is also turned up to 2 liters), and we anticipate he will be there for a few days.

The ironic thing is, he's still such a happy child. Except for a little crankiness, you wouldn't know he's sick.

As in the past, our family and friends have kicked in to care for the boys and keep things running smoothly since I'm in Atlanta till Thursday (although I'm not sure who is feeding Quita).

BTW, we had a fun time this weekend. We have a great neighborhood and had a block party this weekend.
Here's some pics from the weekend. And Cade celebrated his 7th birthday last week.