Thursday, April 21, 2016

Birthday wishes

Our first child is now 12 years old!  He may not be the oldest due to Christina and Joshua having been so much older when we adopted them, but he will always be the first, the one that made me a mommy.  Happy birthday, Caleb!

People often talk about the effects of adoption on biological children.  As the only biological child out of all our kids Caleb's life has certainly been affected by all our adoptions.  We always focus on the positives - the companionship his siblings bring him, the skills he learns in caring for them, the compassion he gains in learning about people with special needs, the greater worldview he has by learning about not only the culture of the countries they come from but also about the issues that contribute to the orphan crisis worldwide, etc.  

There are negatives too though.  First, and most significantly, kids with difficult backgrounds are difficult to parent.  That makes them hard on siblings too, something Caleb has dealt with since he was a baby.  As hard as it is to have a sibling with a difficult background (especially multiple ones!), that's not the only way adoptions can negatively affect biological children.  

The average adoption costs around $30,000.  Most of our adoptions we paid for entirely on our own.  Needless to say our adoptions have seriously affected our finances!  The "luxuries" that are standard in many families (e.g. birthday parties and presents, tooth fairy money, extracurricular activities, special outings, etc.) just haven't been possible in ours with so much of our money going towards adoption expenses, especially with the added cost of the medical expenses that result from their special needs.  Caleb has no memories of ever taking a family vacation.  There have been many local attractions he has wanted to go to which we never could afford.  When we drove all the way to New York City to adopt Elianna we didn't get to do any sightseeing, not even the basics like Times Square or the Statue of Liberty.  We even moved to a smaller, older home because of our adoptions!

Were it not for our adoptions Caleb's life would be really different, but he has never complained.  In fact, he has always welcomed his new siblings with great love and joy.  We'd love to be able to do something special for Caleb to celebrate his 12th birthday, but once again we simply can't afford it.  However, as always, he doesn't complain.  Instead he talks excitedly about the upcoming arrival of his new little brother.

This sweet boy deserves more than we can give him, but all he wants is for his new little brother to come home.  Would you be willing to help make that happen?  Would you give just $12 in honor of Caleb's 12th birthday to help Jacob come home?  Caleb has been through so much lately with his health issues, with us knowing something is wrong with him but not knowing what it is.  It would mean so much to him to have people donate in his honor to help get Jacob home!  

To make a tax-deductible donation please click here.  
Caleb with his younger siblings (his older ones weren't with us) on a hike in the Smoky Mountains.
Caleb always stays with Jonah when we are hiking.  Jonah is super slow and sometimes just refuses to walk, but Caleb is always patient and gentle with him.  
Yes, there is a hiking trail in the Smoky Mountains that runs along the "road to nowhere" complete with a real tunnel.  The kids loved it!  For those who don't know, entrance into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is completely FREE for everyone!  We are eligible for free entrance to all national parks through both a military pass and a disability pass, but in the Smoky Mountains no pass is needed.  This is because when Tennessee turned over land to the federal government for the creation of the national park they imposed a restriction that no entrance fees ever be charged.  My husband was shocked the first time we drove into the Smokies that there was no entrance fee.  I was shocked to learn that there actually was an entrance fee to other national parks.  Obviously I'm the one who grew up here in eastern Tennessee.  :)
Another day of hiking in the Smoky Mountains.
Caleb is such a wonderful big brother to Jonah.  He told us that when he gets married one day his wife will have to accept Jonah because he plans to take care of him once we are no longer able to care for him ourselves.  He is adamant that he will not marry a woman who has a problem with him caring for Jonah!
This was a snowy hike in the Smoky Mountains.  Caleb had to work hard at keeping Jonah safe because he kept wanting to run in the snow, and Caleb was making sure he didn't slip or fall off the trail (it wasn't a dangerous trail, but there were a couple of places he could have fallen into water if he had slipped and started rolling).
Normally the 3 little ones don't get to play in the creek, but one day towards the end of last summer when the water was low Caleb really wanted to let them play.  He was so excited to let them experience the fun of playing in a creek and was happy to watch over them to ensure their safety.
Malachi and Micaelyn wanted to play, but Caleb wouldn't move out of arm's reach of the little ones!
Elianna was the first one to get in the water.  She was really excited!
Caleb keeping a close hand on Jonah
Even in the snow Caleb watches over his younger siblings.  
Taking Elianna for a ride on the sled
My sweet, sweet little boy.  No matter how big he gets he will always be my baby!  Happy birthday, dear son!

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