Thursday, September 26, 2013

Family Is Deeper Than Blood

Brandon is my nephew.  He is also my buddy.  Thank you for recognizing, understanding and recording what really matters.

 Love, Aunt Stefani

Thursday, September 12, 2013


To all of you who have ever donated to Make A Wish Foundation or will in the future, we give you our deepest thanks.   Hearty thumbs up to our local Lin's Market for giving the community an opportunity to grant wishes to Utah children.

The FAIRIES have landed and bestowed a wish to Meisyn and our family.  We will leave from Las Vegas to WALT DISNEY WORLD on November 6, and stay until November 12, 2013. We will visit Disneyworld to fly with the fairies, Sea World to play with Meisyn's favorite animal (dolphin) and then on to Universal Studios.

We will stay at Give the Kids the World Village where I hear you can order ICE CREAM for BREAKFAST at the especially kid friendly restaurant.  Oh my!  Close to Heaven.
We will swim in the pool, ride the train and spend 5 days concentrating on childhood and the dreams and wishes that its brings, even to children who have grown up kind of worries.

We are ecstatic to know we will be Making Meisyn's Wish at the VERY SAME TIME as Finnley Smith and her family make their wish.  She is another CHI China child who came home just after Meisyn and who has also unexpectedly tested positive for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).  We will be taking 13 children and they will be taking their 14 children and together we will turn central Florida on its head.
We have also learned that our dear friends the Millenders will be at Disneyworld too this very same time.  Won't it be amazing to get us all together??  How can the Happiest Place On Earth have so much joy awaiting us?  We can't wait to find out.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Because You Never Know...and You Deserve to

Do more than you think you can. Be stronger than you think you are. Because you never know. However, YOU DESERVE to know and so do THEY. Who is better from the adoption? Meisyn? Me? Every person who meets her? No answer necessary. So glad WE KNOW.

Because You Never Know

Why should you reach out to those who are less fortunate you? Why should you sacrifice and give to others? Why should you let go of the things you enjoy so that you can give more of yourself and time and money to those without?
Because you never know.
I have heard a well known preacher say over and over again that you simply don’t know what hangs in the balance. The decisions we make and the good we try to do seem insignificant. Maybe even pointless.
His point is that the surface we can see may not be the limit of our words and actions. Even the smallest sacrifices can have a huge influence. The smallest bit of good we do may end up having an effect well beyond ourselves.
When my wife and I chose to adopt our son, it didn’t seem like a simple one. I now know that it is. The question of “Why would we do this?” easily turned into, “Why wouldn’t we do this?”
A simple act, but one that carried more consequence than we could have imagined.
Knowing what I know now, I would do it a thousand times over. I would do it as much I could. I would do it until there was nothing left of me.
My son. Two days after we met him. Before we knew.
My son. Two days after we met him. Before we knew.

What We Did Know

Before we adopted him we knew that he had some health issues. This is the reason he was an orphan. We believe he was abandoned because his parents did not have the resources to get him the medical care he needed.
This is the reason we get to be his parents.
Once we arrived home we began the process of doctor visits and diagnostic tests and decision making. Last December he underwent a surgery to correct and repair. To restore.
During the surgery tissue was removed. Tissue that wasn’t necessarily abnormal, but wasn’t necessarily okay. There was no immediate concern, just precaution. As a routine process, the tissue was sent to the pathologist. We received the final report 2 weeks after the surgery.
It was cancer.
Nobody knew or suspected he had cancer. Yes, the doctors told us it was possible, but we also felt it was unlikely. When the surgeon skillfully used his scalpel to remove it, he did not necessarily suspect it. He was as surprised by the outcome as us.
I’ve written about the adoption process, specifically our struggles to adjust, with vulnerability and openness. But I have yet to tell you about our son’s cancer because I didn’t know what to say. At times it is too much to process.
His prognosis is excellent. All of the cancer, as far as modern medical science can tell, was completely removed. There is no further need for surgery or chemotherapy or radiation. The plan is to obtain yearly tumor marker studies. A simple blood test.
Our doctors reassure us that there is no reason to think the cancer will ever come back.

What If?

I can’t help but think through all of the things that happened and all of the decisions that were made that could have led to a different outcome.
What if he hadn’t had an obvious medical problem? Would he have been abandoned? Did his biologic parents realize they weren’t simply getting him medical care, but saving his life?
What if the best surgeon in the world for his kind of problem didn’t work two hours away? Would we have gotten such excellent, experienced care? Would the cancer have even been discovered?
What if the surgeon had decided that the tissue looked okay and left it?
What if there had been a delay? What if he hadn’t been adopted until he was four or five? Would the cancer have started spreading?
What if we had been scared away by what we did know? What if we had felt his medical problems were too much and we had passed on adopting him?

What I Didn’t Know

There is another question I ask myself, one that hits me hard in the very core of my being about who I am and what is important in life.
What if I had kept saying no to adoption?
Because initially I did.
When my wife first proposed the idea I did say no. I resisted. I avoided the subject. I came up with reasons why it should be somebody else. Smart, careful, reasons. Ones full of discretion and sound logic and wisdom.
I came up with reasons why I could never do that.
We already had four kids. More interfere with our ability to parent them. We were already busy. How much more could we do?
When we adopted we were only beginning to get to a place in life that was a little easier for us. Our children were getting bigger and less demanding of our time and energy. My job was beginning to pay better and give me more free time.
And I kept saying no to adoption because I knew it would ruin what was beginning to be good. I knew adoption would be messy. I knew it would make life harder. I knew it would force me to put things I wanted on hold for a time, if not forever.
I knew adoption would hurt, but I didn’t know how much. It is easily the hardest thing I have done.
And I almost let what I knew prevent me from doing something good.
Of course if I had known about Jude’s cancer, I would have said yes immediately. If I had now how incredible he would be, I would have raced to be the first in line. If I had known how much I love him, I would have done everything.
But I didn’t know.
And because I didn’t know, I tried my hardest to say no. And we almost didn’t get to his parents. And we almost didn’t get to be a part of his story and his life. A story of an orphan who now has a family. A story of a child who is cured of cancer.

Because You Never Know

You don’t know either. None of us do. No one can predict what will happen. No one can understand the potential consequences of their decisions.
  • Why should you do hard things?
  • Why should you sacrifice?
  • Why should you give your life to something good, even when you know it will come at a cost?
  • Why should you love?
Because you never know.