Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Yes, we made it

It's been a year of a day. But we made it. Today our world went from exciting and happy to fearful and stressed. But God doesn't intend it that way. Don't get me wrong, He intends for us to be on our knees, in tears, and broken for His children. Especially those that are orphans. Especially those that are facing situations that no child shoulld ever even know possible. But fear is NOT from God. His hand is on our family, is on Aleksa, and is leading the way. Gently. But his grip is strengthening as we petition His throne, and that is exactly what we intend to do. We have done so daily, but admittedly not with nearly the gusto that we have had renewed today. That has changed. The floodgates are opened.

Thank you everyone that is lifting up our family in prayer. God hears each and every one. Today we grieved. Tomorrow we plan. The next day... well, let's just take it a day at a time, shall we? My prayer tonight is that God will bless each one that has come to the Father for us today. May you be blessed as much as He has blessed us and abundantly more.

A day with lots of tears. Prayers Needed!

About 2 hours ago our plans changed. We found out that Aleksa has been transferred from the "baby house" (orphanage) to a mental institution. These places are AWFUL and just writing this has once again started the tears running down my face. I cannot imagine at 4 years old being put into one of these places. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE pray for Aleksa! Pray that she will be healthy, that she will have enough to eat, that she will be treated with care, and that she will be comforted by the Ultimate Comforter! Please pray that our process will be expedited even more! We know that we 'could' get there by February, but that is the quickest we see possible at the moment. Now we are praying that God will work things out to get us there even sooner. We need whomever has our paperwork at the USCIS to quickly approve us. We pray that our dossier will be able to be submitted immediately (sometimes it takes weeks to submit even after it's in country). We also pray that the SDA overseas will give us an UNUSUALLY quick appointment. God is still in the miracle business and we need one right now!

Please continue to pray for our family as well because there is no way that we will be making two trips and leaving Aleksa in the institution between times. Which means that I will be in country for approximately 8 weeks. This is very different from our original plans of one 2-3 week trip with Mike and I, a month at home, then a second trip of 4-6 days by myself. Please please please pray! We are very committed to getting Aleksa home, my heart is just heavy with grief at the things she must endure before we can get to her.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

adopt(ed)- A challenge for my friends

WOW! Mike and I listened to this last night and were overwhelmed by the words of this minister. He speaks to the church about orphans and adoption. What a powerful truth that he preaches so much from his heart!

We've only listened to the first one, but I can promise you that we'll be listening to the others soon! The first one was 1 hour(ok, it was shorter, but the MESSAGE was 30 minutes, but don't stop before the end... It's SO worth it!).

So, I want to challenge those of you that consider yourselves (or would like to :) ) among our close friends and family (yep, that includes my online buddies!)to take the time to listen to one of these messages each week for the next 4 weeks. Thirty minutes, that's what I'm asking for. And you'll be changed. And our relationship will be changed.

Please, if you take this challenge will you tell be about it as you go? I've made a button with the logo for the sermon series. And I'll remind you each week with a link so you can take this journey with us.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Our 2nd Buddy Walk!

First I have to say that God heard Kristopher's little prayer when he asked for the rains to stop and to stay away because it rained until 5 minutes before the walk and picked up right at 12 when we were leaving! This is the 5th Buddy Walk that our association has ever done and it was a great turnout! Over 500 people walked and they raised over $30,000!!! What a WONDERFUL morning!

Here is our team that walked with Brianna's Buddies this year.
From left to right it's Chris and her daughter Becky, Michael, Me with Kristopher, Liz is in front, then my Mom and Dad with Brianna on the wall. She was too interested in drinking to care about having her picture taken ;)

Brianna with Grandaddy

Brianna with Aunt Liz

Kristopher and Daddy playing with a violin

Kristopher and Grandmommy making bubbles

A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone that contributed to the FEDS of Brevard and to Brianna's Buddies!

A sweet treat

Christina over at Kwisteena's Kwaziness nominated me for this sweet treat award! My first award :)

Thanks Christina! She has a great blog about raising her two daughters, the older of which has Down syndrome. Go take a peek!

I'd like to nominate Charissa over at A Day in the Life of the Urbans who is also blogging about her upcoming adoption!

Both Christina and Charissa's blogs are surely sweet treats!

Friday, October 26, 2007


Almost 10 years ago

6 years ago in July

This kind of got to me today. I don't generally post when I'm agitated, but today is going to be the exception. Because I feel like this agitation is very valid, and that I'm really feeling like this agitation of mine stems from something that seems unhealthy in others. So here's my soap box...

It happened today, and not for the first time. I was talking to someone who mentioned a special date on November 15th. It must be a great day for things to happen because as I said, this isn't the first time this conversation has happened. You'll understand that in just a minute. So when this person mentioned their 'special November 15th' I gave the appropriate celebratory congratulations and then when 'he' said he was going away for the occasion I wondered at it because this year we, too, will celebrate November 15th with a little weekend get-away. When asked of my DH's and my own reason for celebrating I said without hesitation that it is the 10th anniversary of when we began dating.

Here's where the agitation comes in... This person looked at me with a look of both confusion and belittlement. Dating? You're celebrating when you started DATING? Isn't that a little Juvenile? Granted this person is significantly older than I am and much closer to my parents' age than my own, but this is the age-group that I spend the most time with.

Juvenile? Not at all. In fact, it makes me so sorry for this person that he doesn't celebrate more with his spouse. Yes, they've seen 25 years together. They've been married longer than I have been alive. They have celebrated many anniversaries of marriage... so why would they celebrate having dated??

Well, I hold a different view. It's not that I've only spent 6 years with my wonderful husband in marriage. It's not that I'm aching for another reason to get out of town. It's not that I'm stuck in the ways of a teenager that the 15th of every month I giggle and coo and wait to see if he remembers that another month has gone and we were still together.

It's that I'm happy. Genuinely happy.

Does Mike feel an obligation to remember yet another date on the calendar? No way. In fact, most years it goes by and a few weeks before or after it may get mentioned in passing that it's coming or has gone, and another year is ticked off in our minds. But this year, when the year becomes 10, we will celebrate.

And why not? We have so much to be thankful for, so much to be happy about, and so much to celebrate. We have two beautiful children who are happy, healthy, and loved beyond measure. This time last year we were celebrating the successful open heart surgery our daughter had just undergone. The success of her feeding tube insertion. The thriving that she was having while getting supplemental feedings which we labored over all night every night. We were celebrating our son, who had held up with grandparents during our long departure. He had grown in wisdom and stature as he does every year. We were celebrating him. But we weren't going anywhere. We didn't 'celebrate' the anniversary of our first date.

This year... we will celebrate. No matter whether people think we're "reaching for a reason" or that we're juvenile in our reasons to spend quality time APART from our kids for a day or two. In fact, I hope those that have laughed in our faces at the mere mention of this 'anniversary' of sorts might think back and remember their first date, their first kiss, and celebrate that that day marked the beginning of what is today.

It was the beginning of our dating- yes, we're still 'dating' today. That day we became 'boyfriend and girlfriend.' A few years later, 'husband and wife.' And a few more years brought 'mother and father.'

Oh, and before I'm off my soap box, I'll also say that this year will be even more special of a time with just the two of us because once again we are 'expecting' and once again we will soon have our 'baby' on our hip. We didn't know that when we first began planning this trip, but that's how wonderful our Creator is in planning things out in advance. And, just like the first two children, we won't be having our newest addition out of our sight for quite some time after her arrival. So this is the perfect opportunity to get away, just the two of us, and celebrate the ten years that God has given us since our very first date.

Cherish. Just that.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

One day at a time

Here's the montage of our first year of our journey with Brianna. It was such a roller coaster of emotions, love, and trials that first year. And then to think another year has almost passed! So... before this montage is officially out of date I thought I'd share it with those of you who are following our family's journey with us. Don't worry- there will be a new one for the second year soon :) And the third year-- Yep, it'll be another FIRST :)

View this montage created at One True Media
Our Journey 2006

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Trust and Obey

Seems like this should just be the theme song for life, but we all know that it's so hard to do sometimes. This week we've spent a lot of time trying to figure out exactly what we're going to do financially in order to pay for the remainder of the costs for the adoption. We took the first $1,500 out of our saving's account and the next $1,000 we were able to spend without touching savings just by scrimping on other day to day things. Now we're hoping to send our dossier off in the next couple of months which will cost about $550 including the translation fees. So where is that coming from? Well, I've now had donations worth about half of that by making monkeys :) There's still a ways to go on this specific expense, but God is providing just as we need it. We just have to Trust and Obey.

We were also blessed today by our local Down syndrome support group called F.E.D.S. of Brevard (Families Experiencing Down Syndrome, www.fedsofbrevard.org). I'm not very involved with this group simply because they meet during a time I can't make it and it's a good 40 minutes away from here. But we are fundraising for them a little and will take part in the Buddy Walk next weekend. I had e-mailed the group just to say that we'll be participating in the Buddy Walk and to let them know that we're adding Aleksa to our family soon. When I heard back from them today I was told that they shared our adoption with the group at the meeting and that they would like to purchase one of our plane tickets when we go to get her!

Trust and Obey... There really IS no other way. Just be Happy in Jesus, and to Trust and Obey...

Saturday, October 20, 2007


How many holidays can we pack back to back into a few months?
November- 22nd, Thanksgiving
December- 25th, Christmas (and Aleksa's birthday, but we don't know what day)
January- 3rd, Brianna's birthday 22nd, Meredith's birthday
February- 24th, Kristopher's birthday
March or April- Aleksa comes home

Most of these celebrations will include gifts for the kids (all but Thanksgiving). All of them are wonderful reasons to celebrate and there are things that the kids need or we'd like to get them that will fit in with these holidays and celebrations. But wow, those are all VERY close together! So today I sorted through what I've bought already (yes, I love to shop early!) and what things would be best for Christmas, birthdays, or are better to save for when Aleksa is home since we have one for each of the kids. Fun stuff ;) I love holidays, I really do... but it's also difficult to find that happy medium between being so excited about our kids' reaction to their gifts, and keeping the main focus on the celebration and the reason for it and NOT on just the gifts!

I'm sure this year will be one of the hardest yet.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Monkey Business

I'll post details soon, but I'm going to be making some stuffed animals to raise money for our adoption fund. At the moment I'm working on some sock monkeys and will see about Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls soon. I'll post pic's and details soon, but here's the head's up that it's coming! A great idea for Christmas gifts and I'll probably include a homemade ornament that can be kept or given with the monkey as a thank-you for helping bring Aleksa home!

Keep checking...

Friday, October 12, 2007

10 things I wish I could ask someone about Aleksa

  1. What day is her birthday?
  2. Is she really happy?
  3. Is she healthy?
  4. Does she like princesses or cowboys? Dollls or cars?
  5. What is her favorite color?
  6. What are her favorite things to do?
  7. Does she like to play outside?
  8. Does she interact well with other children?
  9. Does she know that we love her?
  10. Can we go get her NOW??

10 things I know about Aleksa

My post for.. um... yesterday... (THANKS to Donna for all the info!)
  1. She has light brown hair kept in a short cut
  2. She has green eyes (just like Michael!)
  3. She is 4 1/2 years old
  4. Her birthday is in December
  5. She is very tiny for her age
  6. She has Trisomy 21 (aka Down syndrome)
  7. She is in an orphanage with typical and special needs children
  8. She is likely day-time potty trained
  9. She can feed herself
  10. She is described as 'happy and eager to please'

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

What led us to where we are today (part VII- last one!)

Brianna was rolling back to front from 4 months, front to back around 8 months, sat independently at 11 months, bore weight on her legs at 13 months, and most recently has begun the 'stepping' motion with support at 21 months! She wins us over daily with her sweet disposition and her toothy grin. Oh yes- and she got her first tooth at 16 1/2 months! She holds the record for her pediatrician's office as the oldest to cut her first tooth :).

We have recently been blessed beyond anything we could hope for when my parents offerred to sell us their house. The home I was raised in. My parents purchased a smaller house in town and since we only 5 minutes away so we quickly packed up and moved over! We are in the process of selling our other house (know anyone that wants a Florida house??) and are thoroughly enjoying the 'new' house! It has a large Florida room that is our playroom/eating area, 4 bedrooms and an office, and the best part this summer has been the pool! The kids have enjoyed it (and so have we!) and it has been a great therapy tool for Brianna.

And all of that leads us to where we are today. Two beautiful children that are 3 1/2 and 21 months. A 5 year old on the way. A son with a caring heart, a kind disposition, and a smile that will never make you question whether he's up to something! A daughter whose laughter is contagious, snuggly spirit is healing, and her potential is endless. And another daughter soon to be home who for now is filling our hearts in anticipation of getting to know whether she is shy or spunky, whether she is snugly or energetic, and what wonderful characteristics Christ has filled her with!

Monday, October 08, 2007

What led us to where we are today (part VI)

Our house got very busy quickly with a 2 month old, a 14 month old, and a 25 month old. The following Monday my nephew was placed in daycare via my parents' kind offer to pay the bill. He was at our house evenings and weekends and that was honestly all I could handle. I felt like I was in some sort of dream or trance for those few weeks. It was as if every moment was busy and in the mean time my head and heart were spinning with emotion and fears about Brianna.
My nephew stayed with us for 5 weeks then returned home to his mom and his new baby sister.

In retrospect the busy household probably did me a world of good because in those first weeks after Brianna's diagnosis I didn't have the time to sit and research, to work up my fears, or to do anything else that would hinder my relationship with my daughter. She continued to nurse and now the weight gain (or lack there of) was easily explained by her major heart defect. That was another weight off my shoulders. Her sleep patterns were also explained by the heart defect since her body was working overtime as if she was running a marathon every day. Slowly the fear of the unknown became the driver for educating ourselves on what was to come.

At 5 months old we reached the time for Brianna's open heart surgery. We traveled 3 hours west to St. Petersburg and met the surgeon and cardiology team, then spent the next day in pre-op. Day 3 was the big day and she went in for her 4 hour corrective surgery. Her AV Canal along with a large VSD and a ASD were closed up and she was back in her room on ROOM AIR (no ventilator)! She healed well but then caught a virus. She had a reaction to the antibiotic and we were glad to find out that it wasn't bacterial after all. It was 2 weeks (and MANY sleepless nights) later that we made the decision to put in a g-tube since she still wasn't gaining weight. I had been coming up at all hours of the night and in the end was spending the night with her (even though that wasn't *allowed*) to nurse her every hour again. We came home in 19 days and have had a HEALTHY, HAPPY, ALERT, AWARE, CURIOUS baby girl ever since!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

What led us to where we are today (part V)

Although the news was still difficult to take, we were surprised at our own reaction of joy. Tears came, don't get me wrong. We were still hopeful that there would be nothing wrong and our perfect little baby girl was just fine. But the reality was... SHE IS. For days, weeks, months, and can I say years if she's still not yet 2 years old? I teared up when telling someone special to me that Brianna has Down syndrome. But the hardest part.. and really most likely the part that gave all the tears... was that we were to go immediately to the hosptial for an echocardiogram. The doctor heard the faintest of murmur on her and heart defects appear in about 50% (maybe more) of children with Down syndrome.

Two days later the call came through- Brianna had a major heart defect called an AV Canal and would need it surgically repaired around 6 months of age. I quickly grabbed the closest writing tablet- a new journal that had been given to me for my birthday in January- and wrote down all the information I was given. When I closed the journal I looked at the outside and smiled. It had a baby on the front with angel wings and the entire journal was a soft pink. My angel baby's new journal. And so began the visits with our cardiologist every few weeks.

The same day that we received the cardiac diagnosis another piece of our lives changed. My 14 month old nephew (my adopted sister's biological sister's baby, if that makes any sense) was delivered to my house by my mother and three of her siblings. I had offerred to take him for his mother when she went in to have her new baby since she lives over an hour away and had noone else to take him, and of course the offer still stood. Brianna was still the same baby she had been for the previous 8 weeks and to be honest she was easier to care for than Kristopher had been! Also, that weekend marked my mom's 50th birthday and her siblings had traveled from across the country to spend the weekend with her.

Saturday, October 06, 2007


Today I took the kids and went to garage sales with my parents. Although I'd planned to let Aleksa be in the toddler bed when she arrives (since it's similar to what she's been sleeping in), I went ahead and bought a twin and we'll decide which bed gets stored. It's a light-maple daybed that has sleigh type sides on it. It matchs the crib, toddler bed, and changing table that we already have. Since Brianna and Aleksa will be sharing a room all their furniture will match! And what's somewhat ironic is that even though the house we bought it at is nowhere I've been before, my MIL and FIL were running the garage sale (he's a Realtor and listing the house) and the bed we bought previously belonged to Mike's Aunt L. and her daughter!

Then at Wal-Mart on clearance was a plain pink sheet set which of course called my name! And Kristopher picked out a lunchbox on clearance that has Backyardigans on it and said he wanted to buy it for Aleksa. So I conceded (after all, he wanted it for someone else! LOL) and Aleksa now has a new lunch box as well.

Twin Daybed: $25
Pink Sheets: $11
Backyardigans Lunch Box: $4
The glow on K's face when he chose something for his new sister: Priceless

What led us to where we are today (part IV)

Our pediatrician visits were pretty normal the first time or two but then became more frequent because Brianna wasn't gaining weight very well. She had had a little trouble learning to latch on while in the hospital, but quickly got the hang of it and was doing well. We were told that we needed to consider supplementing with formula soon because she wasn't getting adequate nutrition. I refused. I knew I had plenty of milk and that she just wasn't drinking enough. She slept all the time and it seemed that only a few minutes after latching on she would fall asleep.

So I spent a week agonizing over her weight gain and our next checkup showed she had gained the 5 oz that the doctor had 'required' of her! She continued nursing but her growth was still slow. At 5 weeks old her ped (whom I LOVE!) very delicately told me that he has suspected a problem with Brianna since birth but had been unable to identify it. He wanted to run a chromosome analysis because the only thing he could find (albeit a bit of a far guess) was Turner Syndrome (a single x instead of xx or xy). We agonized once home but had her blood drawn and began researching this syndrome. We told family and friends that blood tests were being performed but never mentioned the suggested diagnosis. Mike and I both felt strongly that we wanted to KNOW what was going on before we shared every hunch of the doctor with everyone.

Three weeks later when Brianna was 8 weeks old the pediatrician called us in for an appointment. He first examined Brianna head to toe, snuggling her along the way. He looked at her hands, her feet, her belly, her neck... "We have a problem with little Brianna" I remember him saying. I can visualize exactly where I was standing and where Michael was sitting and exactly how his face looked when he told us. Michael and I just nodded, having come to terms that if he invited us into the office for the results that they were most likely positive. "Brianna has Down Syndrome," he said with his Puerto Rican accent. Mike and I just looked at each other with a surprised smile on each of our faces. Down syndrome. NOT what we were expecting. SO MUCH BETTER!

Friday, October 05, 2007

What led us to where we are today (part III)

The doctors decided that our baby girl's heartbeat was very strong and she wasn't showing any signs of distress, so we would be monitored over the next 3 days and would be induced the following Monday (oh- did I mention that this was a Thursday and Sunday was New Year's Day??). So off we went with a list of appointments for the next few days. Each appointment checked out fine, monitoring went well. I had a few contractions (random ones) while hooked up and most of the time the baby reacted just as expected. Then we got another change of plans. They wouldn't induce on Monday because it was a low staff day for the holiday weekend! "Just in case," they wanted an OR team on site and they wouldn't be there on Monday. So... Tuesday, January 3rd, we arrived bright and early at the hospital to be induced.They started an IV and antibiotics (because of my heart murmur) but were waiting on the doctors to start the pitocin. They decided that was the best way to induce so that they could stop it at any time if necessary.

They had us in triage this whole time but triage quickly filled so they moved me in to a birthing suite since it was guaranteed that I wasn't going home. After the move the nurses had a hard time finding the baby's heartbeat. They immediately put me on oxygen and after a minute she found the beat again. A few minutes later Mike poked his head out the door after I'd adjusted positions and said the monitors were beeping again. The nurse ran in and when she did find the heartbeat it was 70. A normal infant heartbeat is around 130 or so. This time both of the OB's in my practice stood over my bed and started at the chart, stared at me, and it happened again. No movement on my part, and no heartbeat on hers.With this new development we were VERY glad that the pitocin hadn't been started and the wait for Tuesday became a huge blessing. 15 minutes later I heard our new daughter's first little 'mews' as she was born via emergency c-section. At 5lbs and 2 oz (Kristopher had been a whopping 7 lbs, 1 oz and we thought HE was tiny!) and only 18" long she was quite a peanut! We bonded instantly with our Brianna Elizabeth, she checked out wonderfully from the doctors and after only 48 hours in the hospital we were able to take our 4 lb, 14 oz tiny baby girl home!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

What led us to where we are today (part II)

During those first busy months as new parents we also decided to sell our 2 bedroom townhouse and purchased a small 4 bedroom house in a nice little subdivision. After a few major home renovations (including making it into a 3 bedroom house) I became pregnant with our second child. We were thrilled to find that the ultrasound showed that this baby was a girl at just 17 weeks! I have to admit I was somewhat skeptical to paint the room pin and buy little girl clothes because of all of the 'what ifs' that I had heard. So we waited to prepare the nursery but told Kristopher about the impending birth of his new sister. At about 30 weeks the doctors mentioned that I was measuring pretty small but nothing of concern since I was small with Kristopher too. But at 32 weeks they decided to go ahead and order an ultrasound just to be sure. We were calm knowing that we had a peace about our baby and were excited to just know whether this baby in fact was a 'she'! Our 33 week ultrasound checked out ok with just a little lower fluid. They scheduled another for 4 weeks later just to be sure. At the 37 week ultrasound the tech gave us the news that he would not be allowing us to go home until we were able to be seen by the OB. The fluid around the baby was very low and the baby had not had any significant growth since the 33 week ultrasound. As luck (is there REALLY a such thing as luck??) would have it our OB was upstairs in the maternity ward and asked us to come up and be checked out. At this point we were a little more prepared to panic since we were expecting the baby to be late (like Kristopher) and not at all thinking she might come early. The bedroom was still not painted, the bassinet lay in a box, and her baby clothes (although they'd been sorted a few times ;) ) were in a bin since there was no dresser. We weren't ready to bring a baby home!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A little something to think on

Found this tonight and thought I'd share it.

Advocacy is not an option
It is essential
As vital as drawing breath
It affets your life
your future
your friendship
your finances
your decisions
your family
Advocacy is not something that requires anything of you
Advocacy is a passion for a group
a cause
a child
for MY child
Advocacy is LOVE

What led us to where we are today (part 1)

Here's the Reader's Digest version of the Cornish family :) I'll post it over this month so that it's not just overwhelmingly long!

Michael and I (Meredith) met in junior high school and were acquaintances for quite some time before beginning to date in November of 1997 (10th grade!). This November we plan to take a weekend get-away to celebrate 10 years together! That's hard to believe! We are both committed, born-again Christians and our personal relationships with Christ are definitely a sustaining factor in our relationship. Soon after high school graduation Michael proposed (Aug 1, 2000) and we were married the following July 14th! Michael and I were both attending the University of Central Florida. He was getting a business degree in Human Resource Management and I was working on my degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Psychology. I graduated with my BS in December of 2003, our son Kristopher was born in February of 2004, and Michael received his BA in May of 2004. During this time Michael worked in the Youth ministry at Park Avenue Baptist church and after our first year of marriage I worked in Children's ministry at Park Avenue.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

On the road to learning- bonding

I really enjoyed the bonding advice that I recently read on a blog and decided to start seeking out a bit of my own. Here are some online articles about bonding that I found informative. I hope they will help someone else as well!

This is a whole list of articles from the Rainbow Kids website about attachment, bonding, and even suggestions for overcoming things like RAD :) There is a LOT of info on there! Happy surfing! http://www.rainbowkids.com/ExpertAreaMain.aspx?id=1&cat=Attachment%20&%20Bonding&scat=Attachment%20Disorder,%20Bonding%20with%20Toddler,%20Facilitating%20Attachment,%20General,%20Grief%20and%20Loss,%20Infants,%20Issues%20and%20Advice,%20Older%20Children