Wednesday, September 25, 2013


One year ago today we saw this precious face for the first time.  

On September 25, 2012 we fell in love with our newest daughter and little sister.  

 In one year, how far she has come!

We love you and all of your craziness Olivia Tinsman Sund. You were created to be ours and for that we are thankful.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Real Special Need

When we decided to adopt we looked into all avenues to bringing home our child until we finally settled on the one that God was leading us to.  First we looked into foster care, then domestic adoption and finally sorted through various countries that were open to international adoption.  After much research and prayer, our hearts felt at peace with the Country of China.  It was there that we truly believed our daughter lived.  However, I will admit what was scary is that the only way to bring a child home from China in a relatively short period of time is through China's Special Needs program.

I am a pediatric Occupational Therapist.  I know about special needs.  I see the heart ache on parents' faces when their child is not able to keep with his or her peers.  I see the struggles a child faces, the pain they endure when their bodies don't work the way God intended.  I see marriages broken and siblings affected.  But, we trusted that this was the path we were supposed to go down.

The next step was going through our agency's check list of acceptable special needs.  I must say that this was one of the most humbling tasks we completed through the adoption process.  How can you decide what diagnosis you can handle and what you can't?  How can you decide what child is worthy of a family and what isn't?  Basically, we filled out what we could but, decided to allow the Lord to guide us to our child.

Well, just 9 days short of a year ago today we were emailed a file from our agency.  The file contained the most beautiful face with a diagnosis we had never heard of (and don't remember checking off on that dreaded checklist). 

Unilateral Microtia and Atresia
In short, as I have mentioned on here before, Olivia has a smaller right ear and no ear canal on that side.  This results in conductive hearing loss.  Yes, I was scared, yes, there were questions that we sent to specialists.  But, what I didn't realize is that her special need would be a non-issue for us.  I didn't realize that her resilient little body knew nothing different and that she would compensate completely for her loss.  Yes, we have more doctors appointments and yes she is in speech therapy but, her diagnosis is not her need.

What truly breaks my heart is that we have had to teach our daughter to cry when she has a boo boo and to come to mommy or daddy when she is hungry.  Just this week she was terribly sick.  So sick she ended up dehydrated and in the emergency room.  Poor girl was running around the cul de sac with friends when she happened to open her mouth wide enough that I saw sores.  I brought her inside to find she had almost a 104 degree fever.  But, no one has ever cared!  No one was there to comfort her, rock her and tend to her when she didn't feel well.  So this week, I taught my almost 2 year old what it means to have a mommy to hold you when you are sick. 
 We had lots of snuggles in bed together

Playing in the hospital

First meal in 6 days and the one that got her sprung from the ER.

Neglect and a broken heart.  That is our daughter's special need.  That is the special need of all orphans.  Every child deserves a family.  Every child deserves a mommy to hold her when she is sick, to kiss her boo boos and hug her when she is sad.  No child should have to be taught these basic survival skills.  I am completely humbled and blessed that God called me to be her mommy and the one who has the honor of caring for all of her very special needs.
"God Sets the Lonely in Families" -Psalm 68:6

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Our Village

Over the Labor Day weekend we took our annual beach trip with our church Life Group.  This group started over 8 years ago and there was only one child in the group.  To say the group has multiplied is an understatement. (This photo is missing 7 more children that belong to the group)

Older kids 2006-2008
Younger Kids 2009-2012

These friends are ones who truly "do life together".  We have been hand in hand through some of life's highest and lowest moments. 

Despite having 14 adults and 16 kids under one roof we enjoyed some relaxation, lots of tasty food and plenty of laughs.
 Kyrie and Lila enjoying the sunset

Sweet Hali was Olivia's unofficial babysitter
 Some of my favorites of the kids on the beach


Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Kids are so resilient.  Today Brooks started his first day of 3's preschool.  Well, technically it wasn't his first day because he was in the 3's class last year at FHPS but, because of his birthday he was made to be in the 3's again in his new school.  Yes, we had yet another change in our family.  Brooks started at a brand new school today. 

This was his first time going any where without his big sis as his security blanket.  We had meet the teacher last night and both Brooks and I left full of anxiety.  After Brooks was in bed I looked at Brad and said, "You better come to drop off because I don't think I will have the strength to make him stay".  I went to bed and prayed for peace for both of us.

Thankfully, Brooks woke up happy and ready to go.  I unfortunately still felt unsettled.  Well, my resilient boy walked into school with a smile on his face and hardly kissed me good bye.  At pick up, I went through the carpool line and found him chatting with friends and he greeted me begging to go back.

So so proud of this boy who rose above all of our expectations.

Couldn't choose which pic.  He is just too cute.