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Every persons life is but a fairytale written by God's own hands
Hans Christian Andersen


Breathtaking

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Have you ever had a moment where you were rendered breathless?

Last night while cleaning up the kitchen I went over and hit the refresh button. For all of you AP's out there, you certainly know the refresh button .It is a love hate relationship that you develop during the wait between you, the computer and the refresh button .
SIGH!
I hit it and something stopped me dead in my tracks ...an email with photos attached. You see I knew last week was Caden's birthday and I hoped and prayed that I would get something , anything.
So, when I opened the email and saw this


 he literally took my breath away



As I studied each and ever detail of these photos, I am amazed how much he has changed. He has gone from a baby to a little man in a blink of an eye.That little baby has been replaced by a chubby cheeked, beautiful, little boy.

Caden is totally taken with that cookie

 Do not get me wrong, I am so excited to see these pictures! But I am reminded today how much I am missing : (


"Give me the cookie already people!!!!!!!!!"

So for just a moment, I got a glimpse of my little guy in all of his birthday glory.Seeing just a small blink of  his first birthday refuels this waiting mommy's heart.
 
 I hope and pray that when he closes his eyes tonight his dreams are filled with memories of an extra special day shared with precious friends and lots of sweet sugar cookies!

I know my dreams will be of a precious little boy that I have never held in my arms or even kissed but love with every bit of my heart and soul.

And that my friends is the beauty of adoption.


Happy birthday sweet baby boy !
We love you beyond words

 


Caden's 1st birthday

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Christmas holidays blew by fast this year! I have to honestly say I was glad and excited to get started moving on into the new year . When you have someone with a smile like this


and like this

waiting on you ... need I saw more!

So this past week my sweet baby boy celebrated his first birthday. And me being the over planning,over thinking  highly organized person that I am, started putting together a care package weeks ago.A box full of goodies and all the makings of a great birthday party.

 Well, the longer the box sat in the house the bigger it grew


and grew :)
For Caden and his peeps :)

 In fact, I was stressed about going to the post office to mail it! I figured it was going to cost a pretty penny to ship it! But it was not that bad :) I mean how can you put a price on your little boys first birthday.
So, I sent it on to  Sherri's care package business to forward to the SWI.

January 11th came and all I could do is hope and pray that he had a great party with all of his friends at the orphanage. Ava being the  party for every occasion kind of gal that she is, insisted that we have a birthday party of our own.
.


Our guest list was small and intimate



                                                                        Make a wish!


                                                     Caden, your big sis really enjoyed your cake:)

                                                            Happy Birthday Baby Boy!


,

 


About Me

My name is Nicole and I consider myself a Texan at heart! I have been married for 21 years to my wonderful husband. I have been a makeup artist for 25 years and have traded my brush in for days filled with giggles and tutus! My new tag is momma to many...five to be exact !

 Our two boys, Nick and Jake , are our biological sons. All of the" Little's" (Ava, Peyton and Caden)  became our children by way of adoption. We choose this road less traveled to build our family. I often hear how lucky these children are. I can honestly say that we are the lucky ones.

After traveling to Russia to adopt Ava, my eyes had been opened and my life forever changed. The children that  were left behind were forever etched in my heart and mind. My passion has become advocating for those who wait ,dream and long for a family of their very own.

If I had to choose a quote that I would claim as my very own it would be this:

" Life is a gift from God ,how you live your life is God's greatest gift"
                                                                                   unknown

I am always glad to answer any questions about adoption ,share any resources and any experiences with the special needs that we parent. Feel free to contact me : nmsettle@yahoo.com. or leave a comment .
Also, be sure to stop by  my prayer blog for waiting children  here.

Thank you for joining us on our latest journey to get Baby Caden home! And do not be shy, be sure to sign in as a follower on the home page !



 


Our Russian Princess

Friday, January 13, 2012

In March of 2002 ,we heard the words that any young married couple was hoping to hear  ...a new baby was coming. After a great pregnancy and what seemed like an eternity, I was scheduled for an induction. So on December 9th, I walked into that hospital for a routine delivery that turned out to be anything but routine. After delivering Jake, I developed complications that resulted in an emergency hysterectomy. The last thing I remember was going into shock and being wheeled into surgery. As I closed my eyes, I really thought my life was over. By the grace of God, I survived and left that hospital with a healthy baby boy. I was grateful to be alive and did not mourn the fact that I would not be able to have any more children. I knew that God had just closed that chapter in our lives because he had already written a new one.

In 2007, we began researching international adoption. We had narrowed it down to Vietnam, SN China,Guatemala and Russia. As we were waiting to begin our home study, Vietnam and Guatemala were beginning to shut down. After much discussion were decided the Russian program was a great fit for us.
So on July 5th,2008, we boarded a flight for Moscow. We had no information prior to travelling other than there was a little girl on the other side of the world waiting on a family. Two days later we met Ava. She was a tiny baby girl who was being "housed" most of her life in an hospital waiting for a crib to open up at the orphanage. I kept a journal of our journey to Ava . This is the entry from the day we met.


 .

The Day We Met


We went to the MOE today to get our official referral. We waited for a couple of hours in a long hallway for our turn to be called in. We waited with two other American couples. One of the families were with CSS and shared their knowledge of the IA process.Our translator Violet left us with Svetelana as we waiting for our invitation to go in the back.Finally, we were all called back to a small room. There was a round table in the center of the room and we all took a seat. On both sides of the room were four ladies working on computers.We sat in silence for what seemed like an eternity. It was the most nervous silence that I have ever experienced. A lady entered the room with two large files in her hands. She sat them on the table and began speaking Russian to S asking which family would be going first. S pointed at us. I glanced down at the file but I did not see a photo on the front. She opened the file and took out a sheet of paper with a lot of data and at the top left hand corner was a small black and white photo.She then turned the paper around and started reading the data in Russian.They all kinda sounded like Charlie Brown's teacher! S was translating but I was focused on that little photo.I recognized you from the database. It was the same photo that I had seen everyday for months.


Referral Photo


 I was totally shocked that you were so young and blond/light eyed. We were open any ethnicity and up to 24 months. We expected a brown-eyed beauty that was at the top end of our age bracket.This was definitely proof that God has a sense of humor! Always remember EVERYTHING IS ON HIS TIME AND IT IS HIS PLAN!
We were then given all the basic info about you .Then they asked if we would like to met you . Bret said I yelled out "Yes" before they could finish the question.We then drove to Podolsk. We arrived at the gates of the baby home located in the middle of the town of Podolsk.Violet took us inside past the guard. When you walked into the yard there was colorful murals painted on the walls and play ground equipment scattered throughout the grounds.In the backdrop was a large two story building.When entering the building we could not help but notice the silence. Violet took us straight to the directors office where we learned you were taken to the hospital due to a fever and exposure to the chicken pox.Violet was determined we were going to see you today so after much persuasion the clinic granted us permission to visit you. So we were back in the car and heading to the hospital.When we arrived we were shocked to see the conditions of the hospital.We went to the last building in the back where they kept the children. We rang the door bell and Violet worked her magic. We were asked to wait in the hallway while they went in in the back to get you. We had hired Dr. M to come and evaluate your medicals. I have to say I was scared to death!I managed to maintain that "deer in the headlights" look all day!


Minutes passed and this doctor that was no taller than 4'6 comes walking out with something that looks half her size wrapped in many blankets.She laid you on a table in the hallway and began unwrapping you. Layer by layer whatever was in there was getting smaller and smaller. Then there were two big beautiful grey eyes just sizing up each of us.I was shocked to see how tiny you were. You were one week shy of your first b-day and weighted what your brothers weighted at 3-4 months.We studied each other for a few minutes and then I scooped you up.You did not cry at all.They explained that you had been there for 21 days in the "box".I think you were glad for the human attention and change of scenery. Dr. M evaluated you as we helped and watched.We were amazed at how bright and alert you were. We would give you our fingers and you would pull yourself up. Small but very mighty! You made excellent eye contact and studied every detail of our faces. But you were completely silent and had a frown on your face.



 Dr. M talked to us about your medical report.You had a lengthy list on your medical: PFO(small hole in between atrium's of the heart) ,rickets ,pulmonary stenosis, premature at 36 wks , 4.4 lbs at birth, delay about 3-4 months,angel kiss on your forehead and large stork bite at the base of your neck! Dr. M felt the hole was closed because he could not detect a murmur and all of you other issues would resolve with good nutrition and the love of a family.Before we knew it ,it was time for your nap . I walked out of that building in a daze. Where was my sign . I just knew that God was going to give me a sign that you were our daughter.I had seen your picture on the database countless times but I would always just pass it over. When we got in the car Violet asked what we thought of the baby. Daddy jumped in and said "When can we take her home". Well, that was my sign ! This man was terrified of a baby with a heart condition.He walked out of that building and knew without any doubt that you were our daughter. You managed to wrap that man around your finger in two short hours. You definitely beat my time! I leave there with so much on my mind it is difficult to process it all.All that I know is that I have just met my little girl!

Today , Ava is  a spunky, energetic, loving little girl.She has overcome all of  the obstacles that were placed before her. She loves life and her family with all of her heart! She has taught us so much about life. An unlikely little professor she is !


Through Ava's adoption we had learned that all of these children have some sort of "special need" . Most of these precious kids have emotional needs and some have physical  needs but through Ava, we had learned that special needs adoption is not "scary". These children are not defined by this label.
God knew what He was doing when He placed this sweet girl in our arms. Through Ava's adoption ,it opened our eyes and paved the way into China's special needs program.


Our Little Emperor

Thursday, January 12, 2012


We are just your average family of six. We have bills ,cars, a house,pets and kids ,four to be exact. I really used to think that four children was a lot but now that I am the mother of 4 it is merely a number.What makes us unique is how we came to build our family. We chose a road that is often less travelled and I have to say that road has lead us to unmeasurable blessings, the blessing of adoption.


People often think that it is for the super rich, trust me it is not.

People often think that it is never been the right time for them but it is not about our timing but His.

 People often say we thought about it but our lives are just to crazy, I can not help but think I really need to invite them over for dinner one night :)

Bret and I knew that we would adopt again ,that was a given.  We had decided that Peyton would be the baby ,always. We also had decided that the next child would be an older girl. I pictured her with dark almond shaped eyes and raven hair. We had already had it all planned out.
So now what ?
 Well we will wait for our plan to be put into action when the time is right ...for us.

On November 6th we attended  an amazing Orphan Sunday service at our church. As we sat holding our two beautiful adopted daughters, we listened to many families stories of how there lives had been changed. But one speaker got up there and gave his testimony of their journey to adopt their son and daughter from Africa. As Jay described his home it mirrored ours. The "chaos" that centers around bath time and the dinner hour I could swear that  he had been to my house before! But beyond that, he described a loving family whose  lives had been forever changed.As he spoke I thought of our dinner table. When I purchased this nine foot table I imagined that it would be perfect for our family. But there are many empty seats at this table.Even more than the room at our table or extra space in our home, I am reminded that there is always room in our hearts for another child to love.
We left there with our hearts full of hope for the many children that are waiting around the world to be loved ,cherished and treasured.
I received an email two days later that caught me completely off guard. An email about a little boy in China that needs a family.I had placed this baby boy on my prayer site just last week. I am looking at his photo  saying he is one of the most beautiful baby boys I have ever seen but he is completely opposite of who I pictured . This light eyed ,light haired beautiful child will never be excepted in his society. He would be an outcast based on the image that he was created in. I find that hard to wrap my head around in this day and time but it is reality.


I had a  quick interruption that reminded me of what the date was. Today was November 8th. This was the same day exactly two years ago that we listened to Pastor Gregg speak of how true journey's of faith often have limited sight. On this same day two years ago, we first laid eyes on our daughter ,Pei.

I have to admit this got my attention.

As I read about how this giggling baby has learned to tightly grab on to the nannies shirts when they go to place him back into his crib at the orphanage. For him, this ensures that he could be held a little longer. I went to bed that night with the image of that etched in my head.The image of this 9 month old baby desperately longing for the touch of another human being.





God spoke straight to my heart with that simple image.

It was as if that baby boy had taken those same tiny fingers and wrapped them around mine. As I looked at his picture I saw a beautiful baby with Ava's eye and hair color, Pei's beautiful almond shaped eyes and Chinese heritage and all of the blessings that each of my son's have brought to our lives.


So over the course of the next couple of days we let go of what our image was and realized that God's image was much better. .


 Caden Ryker Han Le Wen
Xuzhou,China
God has blessed us with a child that is a combination of the best qualities of each and every one of my children. He has showed us yet again that everything good comes in his plans for us not ours and always on his time.
We can not wait to get our beautiful son home and hold him in our arms.
Forever.




Our Empress Ladybug



We were a family of four before we traveled to Russia in July of 2008 to meet a little girl who needed a family. We had no information about this child prior to travel so this was a true journey of faith for us. I had prayed that God would make this easy and give me the signs that we needed. After meeting this tiny baby with a sketchy medical report, we left the hospital where she was housed. When asked what we thought of this child my husband said "when can we take her home". My husband was the logical one, the designated red flag seeker. Well, I said there is my sign and we brought that beautiful child home. Today, Ava is one of the greatest loves of my life.

We once again felt drawn to adopt.We began researching China's special needs program. This process is a bit different. You are sent children's files with special needs that you have preselected. So we did a great deal of research and sent our list of needs that would be a great fit in our family. We found this process a bit more difficult. There are so many children waiting for families. So, I prayed that God would once again carry the burden and send us a sign about what to do.

We watched a sermon one Sunday morning on-line. The words of that sermon continued to ring in my ears all day long.

"Journeys of Faith Have Times of Limited Sight"

So, when we returned from the grocery store that evening and saw that our adoption agency had called and I knew that meant only one thing. So, I threw down the groceries and ran to the computer. They had sent us the medical file of a beautiful little girl not yet two years old. When I saw her face my heart literally skipped a beat.







Her special needs where not on our list. In fact, we had never even heard of microtia with facial palsy. But once again those words from the sermon replayed in my mind. So we researched all aspects of microtia but did not find much info about the facial palsy. I was a bit concerned if this affected her chewing or talking. With each special need I think it is important to ask if you are prepared for the worst case scenario. A wonderful family stepped forward and shared their experience with this exact need and within hours we submitted our LOI for this beautiful child.

We knew that God had sent his message loud and clear. This little girl was the child he had chosen for us and we were the family he had chosen for her.

We have been home now since August 2010 with our sweet girl, Pei. She is an amazing little girl with a forgiving little soul. We find Pei's special need so manageable. It has not affected our daily life one bit! And the facial palsy that I was worried about is nothing! It does not affect her speech or eating. You only notice the weakness when she smiles or laughs. In fact, I do not even notice it anymore. I have grown to love her little half smile that can just light up a room like no other! She is picking up the English language really fast and is developmentally above her age group in all areas!

I have to say I would totally adopt another sweet child with microtia in a heart beat! If I can help anyone who is considering a child with microtia you can Peyton's  story here. I would be happy to answer any questions!







I have once again been blessed to be called momma by a little angel that is truly heaven sent. And blessed to have yet another great love in my life.


"I'm Special"


On my way from Heaven,
God delayed my trip that day.
He said that I was special,
and then sent me on my way.
But not before he kissed me,
Right upon my ear
He left his blessed mark
to carry with me here.
He whispered in my ear right then,
that He loved me without doubt,
and then He closed my ear up tight,
so the whisper won't get out.
He told me both my legs were strong
and would help me stand up tall.
He told me both my arms would work
to catch me if I fall.
My eyes would catch my memories
to store within the pages of my mind,
My heart would fill with all the things I would love,
so many things, I would find.
He told me I could fall asleep
to my Daddy's bedtime tales,
and listen while my Mother sings
of seas and boats with sails.
One ear, He told me, could hear the sounds
that little birdies make.
The other ear was His gift to me,
a blessing for my sake.
For when I'm feeling sad, He said,
my other ear would hear,
His whispered words of eternal love,
left waiting for me there.
(Author Unknown)