Thursday, March 25, 2010

Can you imagine what it is like to throw up seven times a day and lose 25 pounds in only 5 months? I can. I did it three times. For me, it is called "pregnancy". Pregnancy is a bit uncomfortable for some, the greatest time in the lives of others, but for me, it is pure misery.

Chappy and I already had three wonderful children: Caleb, Lydia, and Natalie. We had a perfectly happy home. However, inside, we longed for another child. We knew the consequences.....I would be sick for 9 months, but violently sick for 5 months. We decided it was worth it.

In January of 2005, we found out we were expecting. Thrilled doesn't adequately describe our emotions. Three weeks from the day our pregnancy test came back positive, true to form, I became bed-ridden for five months and lost my typical 25 pounds.....weighing in at 105 lbs. on the scales and wearing a size 1. Most pregnant moms, five months along are in maternity clothes by this time, but I looked like a super-skinny teeny-bopper. Go figure.

Time for the ultrasound.

Ultrasound shows a heart defect.

My first thoughts, admittedly, were: "I went through all of this sickness and the baby is going to have a heart defect?"



Time for the next ultrasound, one month later.

Ultrasound still shows a heart defect, but also shows a stomach defect and brain lesions.

Pushed to abort.


Scooted off to get further testing which shows a diagnosis of Down Syndrome on top of all the other defects. Doctors are unsure the baby will live to be born.

My thoughts: "I sacrificed five months of my life in a bed-ridden state to lose this baby?"

Time for Hope to be born.

Both Hope and I almost die during child birth. Many complications.

Hope has surgery at five days of age to repair her stomach defect. I go into a state of such deep depression, it still frightens me today to think about it.

To help me cope with the depression, Chappy moves our family into an apartment next to the hospital.....Hope remains in the hospital for the first month of her life.

Three months of age: Hope has her first open-heart surgery. I am still fighting depression and panic attacks....wondering if I will ever see daylight with my heart again.

Life continues to move forward.....since then, Hope has had two more open-heart surgeries and even an eye surgery. We have added to our family....little red-headed Charlie with his extra-chromosome. And I, after twelve months, conquered the depression and learned to embrace each day with Hopey as a gift from the Father. Not understanding, but trusting.

Hope's last open heart surgery was in October 2009. The members of the cardiac team, both cardiologists and heart surgeons, were mixed on Hope's diagnosis. The aneurysm they hoped to remove from her heart could not be found during surgery, so it remains in her heart. Some on the team feel she is in great danger right now, that it could burst and cause sudden death. Others believe it will remain stable for a while. And still others believe it very well could burst, but we would have time to get her to the hopsital for a life-saving procedure. One cardiologist in particular, did not think I should take Hope from the hospital after her last surgery. She believed we should deal with the aneurysm then.

Throughout the remainder of October, through November, December, and even January....I chose NOT to think about Hope's aneurysm. That doesn't mean I didn't think of her heart. Do you know I have never looked at my baby and not thought of her heart? Never. What I mean is that I chose NOT to think about another surgery. It was too overwhelming for me, so I think my mind just shut it out as a protective mechanism.

Toward the middle of January, I started to become more and more serious about getting all of my paperwork together to adopt Darya. Chappy and I went to get our medicals, we filed with USCIS, we completed a criminal background check, met for our homestudy update, and filled out all of the paperwork for our dossier.

Paperwork step, travel plans.

This is where the road to Darya became tricky. The Ukraine requires a 5-6 week in-country stay. It can be broken into two 3 week trips or it can be completed in one long trip.

The cardiologists are split on whether it would be safe to travel that far, and for that long, with Hope. So, the decision is made, to be completely safe with her we would have to travel without her.

OK, I can do this. I repeat this many, many, many times.

Panic attacks start creeping in again: "What if Hope's aneurysm bursts when I am in the Ukraine?"..... "What if Hope dies when I am in the Ukraine?"

I imagine there are some who read my blog and really understand what my relationship with Hope is like. The bond that is there. To carry a child you know you might lose before birth, and then to almost lose your own life along with hers during birth...... to have to "give her up and hold her tight one last time" before watching her be taken off to open-heart surgery three different times........ to be told too many times that her life will be a shortened one.....oh my goodness, it causes a mom to dig in deep and hold that child more desperately than is probably normal or healthy.

Each and every time I have looked at that round face of hers, I have ached deep inside.....knowing at some point, I am going to have to let her go. I have begged the Father to heal just hasn't been His plan. I have learned, through this, that FAITH is truly an action and a decision to love God and accept His ways even when they make no sense at all. Jacob wrestled with God for a night, and I have wrestled Him for nearly five years. As a result, I have a limp too......a brokeness that wasn't there before.....a realization that our God's ways are so much higher than our own. We can fight Him, we can hate Him, we can turn our backs on Him, but He is still God....unchangeable God. My temper-tantrums don't move Him. My giving up and letting Him be God moves Him....not to heal Hope's heart, but to teach and heal my heart.

Chappy and I have talked with our children at length, and have decided we will not travel to the Ukraine and will not adopt Darya. We would LOVE to have Darya in our home, we would LOVE to make her our daughter, but we can not leave Hopey. The timing is just all wrong. I know, if I am already having panic attacks just thinking about leaving Hope, when I landed in the Ukraine, I would turn right around on the first available airplane and come back home. For us to give up six weeks of precious time with Hopey is too much.

The generosity of so many toward Darya has been incredible. We are sending every penny you gave to Reece's Rainbow to be used for Darya's adoption. Your gifts were meant to save Darya, we just weren't meant to be her family. I will be anxious to see who her forever family is and would count it the greatest privilege to meet them in person (I know Lydia would love to meet Darya).

As for our family.....we still have a completed homestudy, and all of our adoption paperwork. Our family is still not complete, and we will pursue another adoption. God has definitely called us to adoption again. It will be an in-country domestic adoption that requires very little travel (if any) and no panic-attacks. We will wait on the Lord's timing and our next child.

I know I will receive many negative reactions from this post. I expect it, because I know it is impossible to empathize with my situation unless you have lived it. I would caution you, though, because if you judge too harshly, God may put you into a situation where you find yourself in my shoes. And daily facing the mortality of your child is not a pleasant place to be; I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

A very wise friend said something to me recently about her own situation. She didn't realize God was speaking HIS WORDS to me through her. She has three adopted children, all from Russia, and here is what she said:

"For me, obeying God might mean for me to NOT adopt again. I would adopt a houseful of kids, adopting more children is an easy thing for me, because adoption is my heart. But for me to look at my family, the special needs of _____(one of her children), and realize my family is complete would be obedience to God on my part."

After she spoke those words, I knew. Not adopting Darya was obedience. God's plan was for Lydia to raise the money for Darya so another family, possibly one who couldn't afford an international adoption on their own, could adopt her. This was His plan all along; I just had to stop being so prideful and accept it. My pride kept telling me I had to follow through and travel to the Ukraine, because it would be too embarrassing to admit my struggles and weakness with Hope's situation. Once I put my pride down, however, and made the decision Chappy had already made when he first realized we were going to have to leave Hope behind for six weeks (which he couldn't handle either).....we experienced peace again. God's will.


  1. Though you are not going to the Ukraine and it all seems a bit futile to some people... I do not count myself in that group. God worked through you. Thank you! We are grateful for you - your heart for adoption and for the 'Thanksgiving challenge'. It had an influence on us. We ARE going to the Ukraine -we ARE going to be adopting and you have played a part in that decison. Thank you. Feel free to pray for us as we are desperate for prayers for our journey to Aaron. YOu have our 100% support in the decision you have made. We will pray that someone will come along to adopt Darya....

  2. I know what you feel with Hope, altough our's was not a pregnancy it was an adoption journey. We recieved our first referral from Ethiopia 5 years ago, two weeks later she died from undiagnosed heart problems, we then recieved a referral for a little boy two weeks later, and he died of a brain aneurysm.

    We then recieved a referral for a one month old girl. She had a liver problem and limb deformities and for some reason there was paperwork issues with her file. During the extra 11 month wait she almost died 2 times. After she almost died the 2nd time, I moved to Ethiopia. We have had a special bond since then.

    Six months ago she went to have surgery to remove her "tosies" (the two toes on her deformed leg. Before the surgery they had to check her liver function and discovered that the spot on it was missing.

  3. No criticism here. I know this was a very difficult decision, not one made lightly. You are following God's leading. And already, the journey to Darya has taught your family (and us, through them) so much. Like Abraham sacrificing Isaac, sometimes it's about the learning experience, not the actual destination or goal. Poor analogy, but it's the best I could come up with. Thank you for your transparency and honesty and willingness to follow God, even when that doesn't necessarily lead where you thought it did. God has used your story to teach me about trusting Him and believing in Him in a BIG way.

  4. I think you have made the most courageous decision!!! As soon as you said that Hope's condition was so unstable and unknown, I knew that it wouldn't be right for you to leave her for that long. I feel badly for your family (especially Lydia) as I know you had your hearts set on her joining your family. You have made a bigger sacrifice than I can imagine. There is nothing to be embarrassed about at all because I truly believe that you did this out of love for all. Someone who has been wanting to adopt internationally but can't afford it will step up immediately because you guys are handing all of the money over to RR for her. You did the right trusted in God!!! I pray that your family continues to find peace with this decision. Thanks for sharing this with us as you know we all have been walking this journey with you.

  5. YOU ARE LOVED. PERIOD. Let the nay-sayers say what they will. It doesn't matter. Your family follows the heart of God and its foolishness to the world.

    Those who might try to condemn your actions only show that they have no understand of what a fierce motherly love really is.

    Darya will have a family in a matter of days, I could almost guarentee it. Hope only has one Mommy and one Daddy and she NEEDS them to be there right now.

    Much much love and many hugs to you.

  6. I'm proud of you and believe that God will honor this tough decision!

  7. What I read in this blog post is obedience to God! If we do not obey or do something that isn't His will it might not be too pretty. I am speaking from experience and I am thankful for families that listen to Him.

  8. This post has touched me so deeply. I know that your decision could only come from complete obedience to God and trust in His will, because I know nothing other than that could persuade you to let her go. I applaud you for your courageous decision, and know that both your family and Darya's will be blessed beyond all measure from your decision. I will be praying for you all too, because I know this was not an easy decision. I will pray for Darya daily, that God will lead her family to her, and to you. I am so inspired by you all's complete faith in God's will. Thank you for showing the world what that looks like.

  9. Melanie, PLEASE EMAIL ME! kpmomof7 @

  10. Good for you making a hard decision that you know (and God knows) is right. Praying for your family, and for Darya's family that's going to bring her home soon. God bless you!

  11. I absolutely understand because I have a son who is medically fragile, as well.

    Many prayers for you, dear Melanie. My heart is broken for your family tonight.

  12. Thinking of you, Melanie.

    You and your family have touched so many lives! Thanks be to God for using Hope, and Darya, and Lydia, and you, and your whole family for such GOOD! We're praying for you all!

    We think you're an amazing person!


  13. Not a single spot of criticsm. Not one. The well-being of our entire family always has to be considered carefully before God before adding another child to our family. We have several children with special needs, and have had to reluctantly conclude that God's plan for us right now does *not* include adopting more. Not saying it won't again possibly later on, but not for now. There are other ways for us to help orphans in addition to adoption, so we are seeking out and following God in obedience in those other areas. God bless you all . . . . my heart aches with you but understands.

  14. As a parent of 2 on earth and 2 in heaven who wants to badly to adopt, I thank you. My husband and I could never afford to adopt a child like sweet Darya though we would love to open our home to her today. What your family is doing is giving a tremendous gift to another family. You are unselfishly sharing the blessing of Darya. So on behalf of families everywhere, thank you for being willing to walk the road of obedience even when it is difficult.

  15. This only makes me respect you even more. We are called to obedience. Not just when it feels good or is convenient. Your story has touched many people- us included. Another poster was so correct in saying that its the process not what you thought was the end of the journey that is important. We have been waiting so long for our approval in Ecuador and have learned so much in the waiting place! It wasnt just about adopting our little girl.... its about so much more!

  16. Melanie, I have the utmost respect for your family in making such a difficult decision. I won't pretend to know that I understand what you're going through. I am continuing to pray for you all that the Lord will fill you all with His perfect peace. What a blessing and inspiration you have been and continue to be to many! I have been following your blog since November and am amazed at how God has worked through your family. Would you please email me at Thank you!

  17. "I would caution you, though, because if you judge too harshly, God may put you into a situation where you find yourself in my shoes. And daily facing the mortality of your child is not a pleasant place to be; I wouldn't wish it on anyone."


  18. Bless your heart. May the Comforter bring your family peace about this decision. Of course, you need no confirmation but that of our Lord, but for the record, I support your decision 100%. Your family has inspired us to look into Reece's Rainbow for our adoption. Thank you so much for sharing your journey!

  19. I can only imagine what a hard decision this must have been for your whole family. I know that God is fully aware of who Darya's forever family is and that Lydia may very well have been a piece of the puzzle to finding that family. We are in the process of adopting Alyona through RR and your Lydia has played a big part in our decision to step out in faith and commit to adopting a little one with DS. Your family has been such an inspiration not only to me, but to countless other families. I have contacted Andrea @ RR to see if logistically it is possible for our family to adopt Darya in addition to Alyona. We will be praying for your family, Darya, and her forever family whoever that may be.

  20. We are so in the same boat. Feel the call, ready to proceed, then dealing with serious illness with N over the last week and more hospital. Not sure I can leave her, wish I could take her with us and praying for direction. Hope we can get together soon to talk about this more...We love you guys and know God has a plan to give you a hope and a future! E-mail me about next week, maybe we can do dinner.

  21. Melanie...I've been following your blog since Lydia began fundraising for Darya and our children even contributed a bit to the effort. Where your family goes is definatly between you and God. But, please know what was done to raise those funds and bring attention to adopting children with DS has impacted our family greatly- and I suspect many other families as well. We are now in process of bringing home a child who was listed on RR with DS, and soon another little face will be placed next to his on our RR sponsorship page. It is in part because of Lydia and you sharing the story on this blog. Right now I have two 11 yr olds by birth, the other by adoption. When I feel anxious about the money, I am quickly reminded of this story. I suspect the impact of your story is wider then you or any of us could imagine. My prayers will continue for you and your family. God bless, Jennifer

  22. I haven't experienced anything close to what you have, but I do think I'm able to empathize. I sobbed reading this entire post and I think you are so wise and courageous! I find it so difficult to think I'm going to zig, only to have God say, "Zag." It is humbling. But, I believe you are doing what is good and what is RIGHT, and the Lord will richly reward you for it. We know He has a plan for Daria, as well, and I'm anxious to watch it unfold. Blessings to you!

  23. I wanted to let you know that we have been trying to adopt here in the states for a while. For the same reason you have chosen not to get Daria, our son is medically fragile and I don't know if I could leave him for that long. He would need nursing care. but so many people want DS kids in the US that its hard to come by. I was on RR the other day and saw Daria, I thought she looked a lot like my son, and that she would fit perfectly into our family! I emailed Andrea about her, haven't heard back yet. Then a friend told me that she thought someone was already taking her and thats how I found your blog. I know many people may try to get her now that you can't. but I'm hoping it will turn out in our favor and we can finally add a little girl to our clan! I don't blame you one bit for your decisions. People without medically fragile children just don't understand.

  24. We are sorry to hear about what anquish you have been going through and pray that God will give you comfort and peace. We too have been impacted by your family's heart for adoption and raising funds for Daria...
    now we are in the process of going back to the orphanage we adopted our son inorder to adopt the little girl we had tried to before (but her paperwork wasn't ready then) At that time we didn't think we'd ever go back and God used your testimony to remind us how He can provide if it is His will, so we are seeking to bring her home and praying for His provisions. I also sympathize--I have a baby I can't imagine leaving and he doesn't have a serious medical condition like in your situation. God bless you and keep you...He alone knows His good will and what He wants for your family and Daria too. We will pray for you! love in Christ, the Adamsons

  25. I just don't understand how you could have the faith to trust God to bring in the money before Thanksgiving (and he did) but you can't trust him to protect Hope while you are in Ukraine. Please don't take this as criticism I'm just trying to understand.


    They were shown one to have another. :)

  27. One more thing, when I recently found out I was pregnant, the only thing that upset me was the idea of leaving my two year old and home with the rest of our family while I recovered in the hospital for at least a week. When I miscarried, I was relieved. I don't feel bad that I was relieved because my husband and I knew that the timing was not right. Others may say otherwise, but they are not the ones bringing another child into their home with the exact same circumstances. I mean really now, people question you not wanting to leave Hope? It wouldn't matter if she was completely 'healthy' it would be incredibly hard to leave her. But just think for a moment about Hope's understanding. What if she thought her family left her because she did something wrong. What if she thought she was abandoned? No one knows how a child internalizes their parents leaving. So let the nay-sayers say what they want. The Lord knows your heart. God Bless you, your family, Hope and Darya.

  28. praying for you and your family as you deal with the many thoughts and comments thrown your way... I am just reminded of the verse... Man may make his plans, but the Lord will bring them to pass (sallee version!).... if only we could see the BIG picture of our lives and understand His perfect plan for us! I so enjoy reading your posts, as you are honest and upfront... May the Lord bless you and comfort you as only HE can as you start a new 'journey' of life.

  29. I completely understand your decision. I don't have special needs children, but I do have 3 little girls and I really wanted to adopt from Ethiopia, but I just cannot leave my girls behind. I think sometimes that panic is not from being afraid or in fear or not trusting, but it is the holy spirit prompting us that it's not the right decision. Once you feel that peace again, you know it's the Lord's will. What your family has done for Darya is beautiful. God knew Darya would be taken care of because of that and now He has prepared another child for your family. It takes alot of courage, with all the publicity you've gotten, to be honest and do what you know the Lord is telling you to do. Alot of people would've felt they had to go through with it, no matter if they knew it wasn't right, just because of the press, so I admire you so much for making the choice you have. Not only that, but your family has inspired so many by giving God the glory for how fast those funds were raised. It just shows that anything can be accomplished if it's God's will!!

  30. I just found your blog from a link on Gwen Oatsvall's page. I have only read this entry, and you have me in tears. My life is a mess right now, but I have three healthy children. I am so impressed with your honesty. You only have to answer to One and His is the only thoughts that matter. You have to do what you feel He is leading you to do. I have a hard time understanding how someone can judge you without walking in your shoes.

    Your kids are gorgeous. Pink is definitely Hope's color!

    I will add Hope and your family to our prayer list.
    Thank you for sharing.

  31. I have been following your blog since learning of Lydia's miracle fundraiser. My husband and I are looking into adoption.
    I don't have a sick child (yet, we may adopt a child with special needs) but I wouldn't want to try to fathom the heart ache you have had in all of this, for Hope and for Darya. I don't think I could travel in your situation, either. I will pray for your family and for little Hope, that she will be touched by God and healed. He is still in the miracle business!
    You and your family are the first of many miracles for Darya. God has His hand on her.

  32. Thank you for sharing your story so candidly. I'm on my own adoption roller coaster at the moment, and you're right---it isn't about US, it's about His will, it's about saving His children. Darya will have a family---because of your family's selfless obedience to His call. Blessings!

  33. Thank you Melanie for sharing your story. I cannot imagine leaving my child for that long either if they had such a serious health concern. God did use Lydia in so many ways. Not only did he use her to raise money for Darya's adoption but he also used her as example to the rest of us and to show us what he is capable of doing for his children. Your family is such an inspiration!! God bless you all, Traci

    p.s. could you email me please? traciwilli2

  34. Oh I'm so sorry you won't be able to bring her home. But, I completely and totally understand where you are coming from.

  35. Melanie,
    I just wanted to let you know that I completely understand your not being able to travel to the Ukraine and be away from Hope for so long. I want you to know that your story and Lydia's faith in God made so many families aware of the desperate need for so many DS children in other countries to be adopted. I know that Darya's family will find her if they haven't already because of YOU!:)
    Barbie Huff and family:)