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I have to share this with you because we didn’t tell you what God was doing in our lives during his adoption. In December, when we were hoping to pick up Samuel the first time, God let me know on the second or third night in Calgary that both birth parents, my husband, Samuel and myself would go through a small trial unity. The odd thing was that Samuel was “bigger than I thought.” As you know, we didn’t bring Samuel back home and the door eventually closed. I didn’t fully realize what God meant, but as the months passed, I started to realize what his intentions were. God had never spoken to me like that before, but he spoke to me several times about Samuel. So, a couple of months later when the second phase of Samuel’s adoption was underway, God let me know he was going to come home with us! Boy, I felt like the apostle Peter stepping out into the raging water with Jesus. I knew what God was doing, but it was still hard! No wonder Peter began to sink a bit...that was me. I still don’t fully understand the extent of his plans in all of Samuel’s adoption process, but we have been able to see some of it unfold, and we know it was supposed to happen that complicated way for a reason. When Samuel wasn’t placed with us in December, it left a mark on our hearts and we decided that we would keep praying daily for him and his birth parents for years to come. We prayed for his adoptive parents that they would be Christians and that they would bond with him quickly, we prayed that he would be a joy to his parents, a happy baby and a good sleeper. Well, it’s funny to us how the Lord answered all those requests. Samuel is a joy to us, a happy baby and a great sleeper! He just turned 10 months a few days ago and he’s busy crawling around the house, pulling himself up on couches and talking up a storm. He finally figured out more sounds than just “Gee” and “Gaga.” We heard him say “mama” a few times and “dada” although there’s no word correlation yet. So of course, we’re proud parents! We just did the ASQs we received from Children and Family Services, and it was nice to see him doing well with his physical and cognitive development. We keep in regular contact with Samuel’s birth parents, his grandmother on his mom’s side, and his grandfather on his dad’s side. I send longer monthly updates to all our family, so I also send them to his grandparents. I also send pictures and small updates to everyone weekly along with the rest of our family. We went down in June to visit Samuel’s birth parents and I asked her how she felt about the weekly/bi-weekly pictures. It’s really easy for me to send pictures because I have group settings on my phone, but the last thing I want to do is hurt her. She is such a sweetheart and we love and respect her so much. She told me that it’s such a joy or her to watch my husband and I have so much joy raising Samuel. She says she feels like an aunt to me, or I’m like a little sister. For her, receiving pictures are sometimes the only thing that brings her joy in “her dark world,” and they are helping her with healing. She encourages us that we’re doing a great job etc...isn’t that heartwarming! God brought our paths together for a special reason. Every few weeks, we ask each other how we’re doing, and I ask how we can pray or them. They’re still struggling, but we’re still praying they both get help soon. They are our extended family. Samuel’s grandmother has welcomed us as her own adopted children, and I believe we all have healthy boundaries we are comfortable with. We’re hoping to go down again in November for a visit. Last time, we got to meet Samuel’s uncle, his wife and their infant daughter, so maybe we’ll get to see some more family. Honestly, Samuel’s family have graciously welcomed us with warm arms into their entire family. We feel like we’ve gained such precious gifts because of God placing adoption in our lives.

In the spring of 2018, after about a year of paperwork, Raymond and I, along with our biological children, Katie and Ezra, travelled to Ukraine to meet our son for the first time. In a small cramped room in the back of an office building, we were presented with the file of a 20-month-old little boy, who happened to have Down Syndrome. Our intent was always to adopt a child with Down Syndrome. We had our home study written specifically for this need and were thrilled to find out this beautiful boy was available to be adopted! Our family spent the next six weeks in Ukraine visiting him twice daily at his orphanage. On April 20, we officially passed court and became parents to our second son, Asher John. We flew back to Canada for the post-court mandatory waiting period and 5 weeks later I flew back to Ukraine to pick Asher up, wait for his passport, and finally bring home to Canada. Since arriving home our sweet Asher has blossomed in so many ways. From a quiet, sad toddler to a lively, energetic, tiny tornado of a little boy! He brings so much light and joy to our home and we truly could not imagine life without him. Down Syndrome has been the greatest blessing for our family. What once seemed intimidating, or even scary, has turned out to be exactly what we never knew we needed. We look forward to growing together as a family of 5 and are forever grateful to all those who played a part in helping us get our little Ukrainian home!