Today was our first fun family outing that we have braved since coming home with Avery. We have been trying to keep Avery home as much as possible or only going out on errands where I take only her with me, one on one! She is unpredictable, curious, handsy, ventures away from us VERY quickly, cries inexplicably, and is unaware of danger and personal boundaries with strangers.
We have made a major decision to put Avery in school. Though we homeschool our other children, it has been a humbling experience for me to realize that I am not qualified to educate Avery. We have also been looking at sending Julia to school, but don't yet feel its the right time for her. Currently, we are looking at the possibility of next year, after another year of various therapies are under her belt. But at this point with Avery, we all (doctors, therapists, teachers, us) agree that she is functioning at about a 2 year old level, is non-verbal, and needs one on one, intensive language immersion/therapy. They predict she is going to continually FLY passed her goals FAST : ) The speech therapist believes that she will be able to talk in full sentences within months! This was incredibly encouraging to hear. She has been picking up sign language with us very quickly, but through evaluations we believe that this method of communication will most likely only be used until she can communicate verbally. They have noticed, as have we, that she is a sponge....wanting to learn so much. She simply needs to be in the right environment to do so. Our county has a great special education program and over several meetings it has been heartwarming to see how delighted the staff is to have her. It's been a wonderful experience working with them and we are so excited to see all that Avery is capable of. Tomorrow is her first day and we will be starting with a half day. We are not anticipating any apprehension on her part. During our visits to the school, she has seemed very comfortable with the environment and the teachers. We pray this will be the case during her adjustment this week.
On another note, in these pictures you will notice another adorable little girl amongst our crew. Her name is Rachael and she is now living with our family. We have petitioned to have joint custody of her, shared with her grandparents (a church family we have known for 14 years), who currently have sole custody of her. The circumstances surrounding why and how long she will be living with us is something we will not be sharing here on our public blog. She is a beautiful, sweet, helpful, and smart 8 year old girl. We have known her since she was a baby. She has always had a special place in our hearts and she is welcome to live in our home and be a part of our family for as long as God has planned.
In the winter of 2005 we met the Robbins family who had recently started worshiping at our church. Ruth and I very quickly became great friends. In a short time, it seemed like we had known each other forever. Ruth's husband, Chris was in the Marine Corp and they had just moved to Virginia from Hawaii. At the time, they had one little boy Ty, who was the same age as our son Ethan. Both were born in September of 2004 and so we had an instant connection having 4 month old baby boys. Ethan and Ty would grow up together from this time on and are best buddies to this day.
Ruth and Chris Robbins
This was the beginning of a strong friendship between our families. It is a friendship that I believe is an immense blessing for both of our families as we have intimately been there for each other through the trials and tribulations of child rearing, the painful experiences of multiple miscarriages for both Ruth and I, the uncertainties that come with being a military family, the tragedy of the loss of a close family member, and many other everyday struggles and joys in marriage, family, and life.
Today, Ruth and Chris have three adorable boys. Ty is 7, Levi is 3, and little Seth is 1. Our children have spent so much time together. We have many sleepovers, often swapping children around between our two households. We have included each other on family vacations and many birthdays and holidays are sure to involve our families being together.
Ty, Seth, and Levi
While some thought we were crazy when we initially committed to adopt Julia and shortly thereafter, Aaron, the Robbins family were one of our first and biggest supporters. I remember the morning after I had read this post where I first learned about Julia, I could not stop crying. Everything in me ached to go get this little girl. I had never experienced anything like this before. I was overwhelmed in reading about Julia's conditions and completely convicted that this little girl needed to be rescued by us. And my husband was just as quickly moved that this was something we had to do.
It was a very scary experience and it happened so fast. Instantly we knew our lives were never going to be the same. I was on the phone with Ruth, sobbing, trying to make sense of it all. Were we crazy? How were we going to do this? What was everyone else going to think and say? Should we care? Were we really supposed to do this? Were we being rational? Were we hearing God right? I was all over the map. But Ruth is a mighty prayer warrior and my rock of sanity and truth, God's truth. I always know I can rely on words of wisdom from her. And on this day, she cried with me, prayed with me, and gave me the hope and strength to know that THIS WAS GOD!
Now today, I am thrilled to announce that they are embarking on their own adoption journey. We rejoice and praise God that He has led them to a beautiful boy named "Walter, " listed on Reece's Rainbow. They have recently learned that their church is hosting a fellowship dinner event on Monday, October 22 to help raise funds for this adoption. To learn more about this event, how their journey led them to Walter, and follow their adoption story, I encourage you to visit their blog here. So far they have raised $2629! At this point, they anticipate needing $6000 before traveling, which should be sometime before the end of the year. They need $3371 more. Please prayerfully consider joining their church family in reaching this goal and bringing little Walter home to his forever family!