Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Lizzie - Holiday Update

Time seems to rush by much faster than ever before. It seems only last week that I first laid eyes on my beautiful daughter. But the calendar says that it has been three months. When I think back on the child that came home with us on Labor Day I remember all my fears about what the future held. Would she be the defiant, spiteful, terror of a child her mother described? Would Ashley and I be able to take on the challenge? Were we destined to fail? Thankfully none of my fears have come to pass. I have often wondered why Lizzie's old parents have such a different perception of Lizzie than Ashley and I. Regardless of why, we both have a new appreciation of the meaning of Thanksgiving. The blessings that have been bestowed upon this entire family this year have been phenomenal. The love and care we have seen from God, our families, and our friends continue to overwhelm us. This is the best Thanksgiving ever and one that will always have special meaning and significance to each of us. Ashley and I both feel that our entire lives have been a prep course for the wonderful gift of Lizzie.

As always, many of you have already heard most of this but even now, three months after I first sent one of these updates, I still have people come up and ask when the next Lizzie update comes out. In my last update I mentioned that Lizzie was to have her second cousin, Clancy come for a sleep over. As we expected Lizzie and Clancy had a grand time. We attended the Fall Festival at our church, Dayspring. We arrived right as the event started and stayed until they shut the place down. Lizzie and Clancy enjoyed the games of skill and the candy. They ran from inflatable to inflatable and had a blast. That night after we returned home, as Clancy was getting ready for bed he asked me when we were going back to "that place." I had an idea what he was talking about but asked him what place and he said "that place we just left" meaning the church Fall Festival. Just a day or two before, we had gotten an invitation in the mail to visit the Fall Festival at Springhill Baptist Church which was scheduled for the very next day. We called Clancy's parents and instead of taking him home the next day we met them at Springhill Baptist and let the kids play at their Fall Festival. Both Lizzie and Clancy had a great time.

I have a number of people wanting to know if Lizzie and Schaefer ever got to play together, to remind everyone, Schaefer is Lizzie's friend from her old school that we ran into at the fair. Unfortunately we still have not been able to get together. Lizzie was invited to attend the Fall Festival at her old school in Daphne by Schaefer's mother, but at the last minute we found out that Schaefer would not be able to attend so we cancelled. We still want to get them together for a play day very soon but the busy holiday schedule makes it difficult to find open days on both our and Schaefer's families calendars. At the very least we will be sending an invitation to Schaefer to attend Lizzie's birthday party in February.

Lizzie had a wonderful Halloween. She dressed as Tinkerbell and visited her Mimi and Pop's (Ashley's parents) neighborhood. It was some pretty exclusive trick-or-treating. We only saw one other group going door to door on their street but a lot of their neighbors were aware that Lizzie was going to be on their street and had special treats for her. Ashley commented that earlier in the day Lizzie had been given safety tips in class that included, do not go inside when trick-or-treating, even if you are invited in. Well that was thoroughly trounced. At about a half dozen of the houses we visited Lizzie was greeted by, "You must be Lizzie, I have wanted to meet you. I have something special for you. Come on in." The first couple of times she looked at us to make sure it was OK. Later on she did not even wait for the invite. We had to have a little talk about that. She is the only child I know who got Barbie dolls, DVD's and other similar toys while trick-or-treating. A couple of folks on the street had giant Halloween gift bags for her. Boy is she going to be disappointed next year. We ended the night by visiting a couple of other folks and letting them see Lizzie in her costume and then visiting the Christ United Methodist Church Trunk-or-treat. We still have a giant bowl of Halloween candy left.

We attended the Renaissance Faire in November with Lizzie and her second cousin Clancy. She enjoyed seeing the fire eater/breather, the sword swallower, the blacksmith, the King and Queen, the falconers, the sword fighting, jousting and all the costumes. The next day I got a call for my nephew Tony, He records the local news each night and when he was watching it back he saw a story on the Renaissance Faire and right in the middle of the story was a couple of shots of Lizzie. I still have not seen it but he is saving it for me.

Ashley and I discussed it and we decided to start seeing a family therapist because we still do not know how the sudden changing of families will affect Lizzie emotionally. The first visit Lizzie stayed with Mimi and Pop and only Ashley and I visited. The second visit we brought Lizzie and the therapist and Lizzie talked and played. Lizzie drew a couple of pictures of our family at the request of the therapist and then they played with a doll house. Afterwards the therapist said that Lizzie was adjusting well and happy with no huge load of emotional baggage but she suggested that we continue the therapy on a monthly basis because she felt that at some point in the future, the rejection she has experienced will surface and she will need to talk about them. The thinking is that it will be easier on Lizzie if she is in the habit of going to the therapist rather than start her when these things rear their ugly head. We agreed and have decided to continue the visits monthly for the time being.

For Thanksgiving we first visited with Ashley's side of the family and had Thanksgiving lunch with them. Then that evening we went to my mother’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. At my mom's house Lizzie had five second cousins present and she just played and played with them. As the evening ended, three of her second cousins were going to go home and spend the night with their "Granma and Pop," my brother and sister-in-law. After saying bye to them and going back into the house, Mom was saying that they had debated on whether or not to ask Lizzie to spend the night also but had decided against asking because they did not know if Ashley and I were ready to be away for Lizzie. Usually after Lizzie plays with any child for any amount of time she becomes depressed and cries saying "I miss 'fill in the blank here.'" Well, after everyone left and it was just Ashley, Lizzie, Mom and me at mom's house I could tell she was already getting that way, so when Mom told me about my brother not knowing if they should ask Lizzie to stay or not, I asked Lizzie if she would like to spend the night with her cousins at their grandparents house. She said yes and then asked when. I told her "tonight" and I thought the child was going to burst. She started hopping up and down and saying "yes, yes". I called my brother and asked if I would be okay and the answer was yes. He said they would pull over and wait on us. I told Lizzie we had to hurry and get things together so we could go and not keep them waiting. I cannot remember ever seeing Lizzie get ready to leave so fast. She was rushing Ashley and me. As we drove to meet them all she could do was ask how much farther and when we would get there. When I told her we were almost there she made her little hands into fists and put them beside her face and literally shook with excitement and let out a little piercing squeal like a dolphin.

Lizzie called the next morning and said, "I want to stay till this afternoon." I said OK and she said "bye" and hung up the phone. Later she called again and said "Daddy, I love you. I can do a head stand. Bye." and in the background I could hear her saying "how do you hang this up." I am sorry to say but I don't think she was having any separation anxiety. We were told that right after they all made it home Lizzie cried for about two minutes saying she missed her Momma. In the three months Lizzie has been with us she has never cried or asked for her old family. As a matter of fact, just the opposite is true. Several times she has asked if she ever had to go back to her old family and indicated that she did not want to go back to them or that she missed them at all.

Lizzie has a friend named Sadiqa who told her about Santa sending an elf to stay with her and her family through Christmas. Lizzie loved the idea so much that she wrote her own letter to Santa to see if there might be another elf available to stay with her until Christmas. Lizzie was in luck, Santa sent an elf named Emma who had finished all her work at the North Pole early. Emma can only stay until Christmas Eve when she will go back to the North Pole with Santa on his sleigh. Emma looks like a little doll but each night after Lizzie puts Emma in her special bed and sprinkles her with magic snow and after everyone in the house is asleep Emma comes to life. Emma is kind of mischievous. The first night she stayed with us she got into a basket of clean laundry and flung underwear and towels all over the house. Emma put a pair of Lizzie's panties on the head of Lizzie's stuffed camel, a gift from Sadiqa, and dumped all the laundry out of the laundry basket and proceeded to fall asleep in the laundry. On other nights she has taken a roll of toilet paper and unrolled it all over the house. She had it over the light fixtures and around furniture, even behind the blinds. She was one busy elf that night, another night Emma got into Lizzie's candy and chips, some of my sodas and proceeded to sit up all night watching cartoons throwing her wrappers all over the room. But Emma is not all bad, one night she wrote Lizzie a very sweet note and left her an early Christmas present that she could use to keep her amused while we waited to see the judge. Which leads us to...

This past Friday, November 30th was our hearing in juvenile Court to change our Temporary Emergency Custody to Permanent Custody. The judge has approved the change and began dictating the order as we were leaving the court room. Once our attorney gets a copy of the order, in about two weeks according to the judge, we can begin the next phase of legal proceedings in the process of make Lizzie our "legal" child. I said legal because she is already my baby in every way but legally. Now remember, Ashley and I are not Lizzie's parents yet, we just have legal custody of Lizzie. Depending on the amount of or lack of cooperation we receive from Lizzie's current parents the time frame to complete the adoption could be as short as thirty days or, if her current parents do not help us and decide to do nothing, which is what that have done so far, the process could take another four months or so as we terminate their parental rights or worse case, if they decide to fight us on the adoption it could take considerably longer. However, the judge did give us an early Christmas present by taking some actions that could give Lizzie's current parents a huge incentive to cooperate. In all, things are progressing just as we want, just not fast enough. Lizzie asks us all the time when she will be a Smith. It cannot happen fast enough to suit Ashley, Lizzie and I.

Lizzie has asked for very little from Santa this year. She has three things on her Christmas list and about three nights ago we were asking her some questions to get some ideas of other things she might like for Christmas. We asked her if she had any toys at her old home that she missed and she said the only toy she had at home she liked was her Noah's Ark and she had it. I asked her what about other toys she had and she said she did not really have any. I asked her what Santa had brought her in the past and she said "rocks." She had told us before that she had gotten rocks for Christmas but each time I tried to question her more about the rocks she would clam up or want to change the subject. This time she was willing to answer more questions. I asked her if "rocks" was some type of toy or game and she said "no." I told her that some people call jewelry "rocks" and asked her if it was jewelry or pretty rocks or maybe some type of candy or food and she again said no. I asked her where she kept her rocks and she said in a box. I asked her if she played with them and she said no. I asked her what type of rocks they were and she said "like the ones at the end of the driveway" which are limestone rocks. Incredulous at all this and finding it hard to understand I asked why Santa would bring her "rocks" and she said that her old mommy told Santa to bring them. I asked Lizzie what else Santa brought her and she said that Santa did bring one other thing but it was a gift to both her and her sister which I suspect was a gift to her sister and she was told it was to both of them when she got a box of rocks from Santa.

Now I know some of you find this story hard to believe and at first I did too, but this makes the fourth time Lizzie has told us about getting rocks for Christmas. She has been consistent and does not embellish the story like someone telling a lie and trying to make the story better. I will not swear that this story is the truth because I have a hard time fathoming someone who will give a beautiful child like Lizzie or any child for that matter a box of rocks for Christmas but I really do believe that Lizzie got a box of rocks for Christmas. I can guarantee that Santa is bringing her some things other than rocks this year. The small amount of items she has on her Christmas list, just three things that all together can be purchased for about forty dollars, makes me think that she is asking for only a few small things with the hope of not being disappointed as she may have been in the past. Believe me; if that is the case, my baby girl is not going to be disappointed this year. She still does not comprehend the love we have for her or how secure she is with us. It is my life work to make her understand how much she is loved.

As usual, there are some things that I just cannot put in these updates, mainly because they get forwarded to so many people. For example, a couple of weeks ago we attended Ashley's old church where her parents still go. I had one lady (person A) come up to me who had gotten the update newsletters from a lady with whom I used to work (person B) but is not on the distribution list so she had to get it forwarded to her from person C. And each of these three people may have forwarded the update to more people. There are around 80 people on the initial distribution right now but I have given up at trying to estimate how many people get and read this update. After each update I always have two or three requests from people who have received the update via forwarding and who would like to be added to the list to get their own copy. To make things easier I have created a way in which you can add yourself to the list.

If you received this Lizzie Update as a forward and would like to start getting your own copy then send an email to and you will be automatically added to the distribution list.

If you are receiving these Lizzie Updates as a forward and want to stop receiving them then you need to tell whoever is forwarding them to you. I cannot do anything about that. However if you are receiving these Lizzie Updates from me and you do not want to continue receiving them, then send me an e-mail at and let me know you want to be removed.

Photos of Lizzie at the Renaissance Faire and the Fall Festival can be viewed at

More photos of Lizzie are viewable at Ashley’s Web Album located

Information about Holiday Elves like the one Lizzie has can be found at

Well, that should catch everyone up for now. Of course I will try to get another update out between Christmas and New Years. Until then, Happy Holidays and in the words of Dickens’s Tiny Tim, God Bless us everyone. Amen.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Once more with Feeling!

Well, here we are, seven weeks into the greatest adventure of our lives. Everyday brings new surprises and joys. Life with Lizzie just keeps getting better and I cannot imagine life without her. Nearly all of our initial concerns have vanished. After a slow start at school and nightly attempts to be stubborn about homework, Lizzie has now evolved into a little sponge. She brought home her first report card yesterday and she had all A's. I was bowled over. Ashley and I had already begun talking about letting Lizzie repeat kindergarten but now, after seeing how fast she has caught up with the rest of her class we are talking about how we can continue to challenge her. After just two months Lizzie has gone from not knowing her letters or letter sounds to actually reading stories to Ashley and I. Of course the books are pretty simple but still I am just amazed at how far she has come in such a short time.

We took Lizzie to the fair this weekend. I did not know if she would even consider getting on any rides. Well she wanted to ride everything. She went on all the kiddie rides and when we started down the midway she wanted to ride every big kid ride she saw. She wanted to ride the Mega Drop, which is the one that takes you up about 100 feet and then drops you in a free fall. She was 4 inches too short to ride it. She also wanted to ride the Super Loop, the Fire Ball and a bunch more but she did not meet the height requirements. About half way down the midway, Ashley asked Lizzie if she wanted to ride the Ferris Wheel and she said yes, then she saw the giant Ferris Wheel at the end of the midway and said "I want to ride that one." Lizzie and I rode the Giant Ferris Wheel and the Tilt-A-Whirl, which I always called the Spin-n-Puke. Lizzie also rode the Yo-Yo which is where you sit in a swing seat and get spun around. It started raining while we were on the Giant Ferris Wheel and we decided it was time to leave. Given more time I think she would have rode every ride she could get on. She is an adrenaline junkie. We have not mentioned to her that the Fair is still going on. We are considering taking her back for a second visit. We left so fast I did not even get to give Lizzie any Fair food. How can you go to the Fair and not eat a corn dog or funnel cake?

Nearly every day when we first became a family, Lizzie would ask for her friend Schaefer. Even as recently as last week she would say "I miss Schaefer." As we were walking around the kiddie rides Lizzie suddenly reached out and grabbed a little boy who was running by and said "Hey!" He stopped, looked at her and then said, "Hey Mom, look, it's Lizzie." Well at that point I figured out that she knew him so I knelt down and said, "and what's your name?" When he told me his name was Schaefer I about fell out. I quickly stood up and told his mom how happy I was that we ran into each other. I told her how Lizzie always asked for Schaefer and she said that Schaefer always asked about Lizzie and that he prays for Lizzie each night. Schaefer worried about Lizzie so much that his mom went to school to ask about Lizzie. The teacher told her that Lizzie had moved to another school. She had no idea that Lizzie had been adopted out by her old parents. I did not have anything to write on so I gave her one of my business cards and told her to call or e-mail me and we would get Lizzie and Schaefer together for a "play day." Lizzie asked today if Schaefer's mom had called yet. I hope she still has my card and calls or e-mails soon.

We have developed a routine where Lizzie and I watch Johnny Quest, an old cartoon from my youth that I still enjoy, each evening before dinner. We turn the TV off during dinner and have the best conversations. She eats very well and will try anything. Tonight we had Pork Chops, Sweet Potatoes, Squash and stuffing. She asked what the Sweet Potatoes and Squash were and I think the names turned her off but we encouraged her to try both and when she did she ate all her Sweet Potatoes and most of her Squash. She said she was full and looking at her nearly clean plate I told her that she had eaten plenty and did not have to eat the last little bit of pork chop and squash. Then when she got down she asked if she could have a piece of candy, the girl is a chocoholic. Ashley and I both said at the same time, "If there is room for candy there is room for pork chop and squash." She got this cute little smile on her face because she knew that we had her and she dutifully got back in her chair and started eating again. In reality, she had eaten a very good dinner and I told her to eat two more bites of pork chop and two more bites of squash and she could have a piece of candy. I could not be more pleased with Lizzie, she will go far in life with her attitude, her willingness to try new things, and her ability to make new friends. She is a very special little girl.

Although we have not talked about it in a couple of weeks, Lizzie is supposed to have a sleep over friend this weekend, her second-cousin Clancy. We will be going to the Fall Festival at Dayspring Church on Cody road this Saturday. I am sure both Lizzie and Clancy will have a great time. By the way, if you have children and want a safe fun environment for them, you cannot do any better than the Dayspring Fall Festival this Saturday from 4 to 7.

We are still hoping that Lizzie's old family will have a moment of compassion and contact the attorney about signing the adoption papers. Otherwise we have a date with the judge on November, 30th. Keep us in your prayers and ask that God will work on this woman's heart and spare us and Lizzie the uncertainty and expense of going to court.

Other than that, everything is settling down to a real nice routine. It is all pretty boring but in a way that makes me the happiest man on earth. I will send another update when something worth telling you about happens. Until then, may God Bless us everyone.

Reggie, Ashley and Lizzie.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Still More Lizzie News

Welcome to another Lizzie update. I have had a plethora of requests for another update. It has now been almost six weeks since Lizzie came into our lives and changed them forever. I find it hard to believe myself but I love Lizzie more each day that passes and cannot imagine life without her. Ashley and I want to thank everyone who has shared in our joy and for the outpouring of love we have experienced. Lizzie has enjoyed a month long birthday party. Each week brings more gifts for her. We have been a little tardy in getting thank you cards out but they are coming. Really, they are.

Let me see if I can catch everyone up in as short of an email as possible. First, try to buy school uniforms six weeks after school starts if you want an exercise in frustration. We are living proof that it can be done but it is not easy. Lizzie is in school again and adjusting great. She loves her teacher and is making new friends. She is still a little behind where she should be at this point in the school year but she is rapidly catching up with the rest of the class. She enjoys being read to and now she is starting to enjoy reading to us. We found out the hard way that young children require more sleep than we thought. She now gets between 9 and 10 hours of sleep each night and her capacity to learn has grown. Lizzie makes friends with everyone very quickly and loves to give hugs and kisses. She enjoys dress up and is a little clothes horse.

Lizzie has still only mentioned her old family a few times and she has never become home sick or asked to visit or speak to her old family. A couple of weeks ago Ashley was taking Lizzie through the Springhill section of town on the way home when Lizzie noticed some of the older homes in the area. She asked if the homes were "condos." Ashley replied that they were not but that people lived in them. Lizzie said that she thought they were condos because she had stayed in one at the beach and they had "lots of boats." Ashley said, "I bet that was fun" to which Lizzie replied "Not really." After a few moments of silence she asked Ashley if she ever had to go back to her old family. Ashley said that she didn't to which Lizzie said, "Good. I'm glad we found each other." It melts my heart.

We are letting Lizzie's hair grow out. Lizzie asked to have longer hair because she does not like to be mistaken for a boy. It has finally grown out enough that we can get a bow to stay in her hair. Lizzie enjoys going to Sunday School and Praise Workshop, a type of children's church for 4 and 5 year old children. She loves the dogs and cat and says a "God Bless" for each dog and the cat when she says her bedtime prayers. The cat really loves Lizzie because she is so gentle with the cat and will just pet the cat for days. I have never seen a cat not run from a 5 year old.

Lizzie continues to be very independent, the one thing I hear over and over is "I can do it." Lizzie is very clean and neat and is good about picking up her toys with out complaining. She also listens to reason most of the time. She is totally mesmerized by Sesame Street and of course her favorite TV show is Spongebob Squarepants.

We still need to add some flooring to the attic to make room in the closets. Things have now overflown out of the closets and onto the floor but we will get to it soon. A little over two weeks ago I developed a rather large pain in a very tender place. I had surgery on September 26th and have just in recent days been able to sit for an extended time with out having to spend time soaking in a tub. Let me tell you that the type of surgery I had is the most painful and uncomfortable thing I have ever experienced. But things are much better now. Although it was a big pain in the rear, it seems my troubles are behind me now.

Ashley and I are ready to move ahead with the adoption and have been for weeks. However, Lizzie's old parents are not responding to phone calls, voice mails or e-mails. If her old parents would sign the "consent to adopt" paperwork we could move forward quicker. Without the consent forms we have to wait of our November 30th court date where we expect to be given permanent custody of Lizzie. Once we have permanent custody of Lizzie we can consent to her being adopted, by us. However we then have to serve her old parents with papers showing our intent to adopt Lizzie. After being served, Lizzie's old parents have 30 days to hire an attorney and contest the adoption. We expect that they will not contest the adoption. After that it is just the adoption itself. That sounds like a long process and it is. Everything could be done a lot faster (and cheaper) if her old parents would just answer the phone or reply to e-mail.

The PE teacher at school today commented on how fast Lizzie can run. The PE teacher said that when the class runs laps that Lizzie never looks back and just hauls butt. She said that Lizzie is very competitive about it and leaves the rest of the class in her dust. Maybe we have a budding track star.

I have a few more photos on my Picasa Photo Site. Here is the Link.

Well that is about it. Take care everyone and thanks for all the support and prayers. We love you all.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

More about Lizzie

Hey everyone,

Sorry it has been so long since we have updated everyone but we are back to work and school now and wow that makes for a full day. Oh by the way this is Ashley doing the e-mail so I just wanted to let everyone know that it won't be a tear jerker or as funny as Reggie's.

Lizzie started at Council with me on Monday the 10th. Give her another week and she will be running the place. She has adjusted very well. For those that are not familiar Council is a magnet school and we have speciall enrichment classes every day. (Library, Counseling, Science Lab, Art, Spanish Lab, Spanish class) also she has to change clothes/dress out for PE which means two uniforms a day. That is a lot for a 5 year old but Lizzie loves it and is doing wonderful. She is behind in letter recognition and letter sounds but we play letter games everyday afterschool in my classroom while I keep the 5th grade after school kids. I am seeing progress everyday. The hard part is she is tired in the afternoon so we have to work in small segments. She has sleep in the car on the way home just about everyday.

She is such a loving child she has to hug everyone she sees. It takes us 10 minutes to leave after school care because she has to make her rounds giving hugs to everyone. It is so sweet to see her.

Yesterday I had a hair cut appointment at 5:00 so we had a little time to kill between school and the appointment so we stopped for ice cream at Old Dutch. We get out of the car and she walks up flings the door open and announces, "Hi I am Lizzie Smith and I am new to this family." My heart just melts. Later when leaving from getting my haircut we go to get in the car and Lizzie says, Mommie I am glad you found me I was waiting a long time." We are just falling in love with her more everyday not sure how that is possible. She is a great kid.

As I am typing this she is playing with her play kitchen. She has a wonderful imagination. Just a second ago she came in looking for people to come to her party and I started name stuffed animals she runs off to her and yells hold that thought.

Well I have been invited to a picnic with teddy and bunny I need to attend before bedtime story and night night. Tomorrow is school picture day. WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE I am tired this mommie thing is fun but 5 year old picnics after a day of teaching first graders wears you out.

Good night

Friday, September 7, 2007

Lizzie: Day Three

OK, I am sure you can tell that I am taking short cuts here. All these posts about Lizzie are e-mails that I have sent out to about 70 friends and family concerning our life changing event called Lizzie. The response has been incredible. I have had several dozen people e-mail me and say that as they read the story of how our new life with Lizzie is going, they became so blessed that they have forwarded the e-mails on to other people. People I don't even know are e-mailing me with words of encouragement, their own adoption stories or special messages about how Lizzie's story has touched their heart. I have been encouraged to continue the updates and I find it good to put down in a lasting form the journey we are on with Lizzie for future reference when Lizzie asks how we came to be a family. What follows is the body of e-mail update number three.


The last couple of days have been a blur. It is 1:40 Thursday morning as I begin this. The Lord must be giving me the strength because it sure ain't coming from sleep. I just finished going through all the emails Ashley and I have been receiving concerning Lizzie. It has been so many that I had not even been able to open the 2000 Viagra e-mails I have received.

Seriously, the expressions of love and support has been phenomenal. Phone calls and e-mails continue to pour in. As much as I would love to respond to each e-mail and voice mail there is just not enough time in the day. Please do not think that your messages are not read, appreciated and cherished. Some of them Ashley and I have read over and over but all have been read. I have had so many responses saying to continue the updates that I have decided that this is the most efficient way to address all the questions, comments and just general requests wanting to know what is going on. For some of you this will be a repeat of stuff you have already heard but I did not want to exclude anyone. I re-read the last update I sent out, has it really been two days since I updated everyone? Well here goes...

Monday night after Lizzie went to bed, Ashley and I heard a noise, I was in the kitchen getting some water and Ashley was reading e-mails. I thought it was something on the TV, which we had on to make some noise in the house. When I returned to the computer room Ashely asked "what was that noise?" I told her that I thought it was on the TV and she said she thought it was me, neither of us thought it could be Lizzie because we did not hear any crying. A few minutes later Ashley decided to check on our angel, which has become our favorite pastime. She came rushing back into the computer room and said that Lizzie was not in the bed and she could not find her because she did not want to turn on the light. Well I did not have a problem turning on the light. Lizzie was on the floor curled up in the fetal position in the corner of the bed room sound asleep. I picked her up and laid her back in the middle of the bed, she stirred some but as soon as, and I mean immediately after her head hit the pillow, she rolled over and went back into a dead sleep. The next morning she did not even remember the incident but she now sleeps surrounded by pillows that Ashley or I arrange around her. We have now had two nights without another incident.

Later that morning, Tuesday, the TV in our bedroom kicked on. We use it as an alarm clock, it turns on at 6 AM very loud and I had forgotten to turn the timer off. Before either of us could get up and turn it off Lizzie was right there beside the bed. Now remember this was only about 14 hours after I first saw Lizzie with my own eyes. I can only compare how I felt that morning to being six again and waking up Christmas morning, knowing Santa had come. There was no way Ashley nor I could go back to sleep. We were ready to start our first full day with our daughter. Lizzy is the best present I will ever have.

We moved to the den and Lizzie wanted to watch a movie. Can you guess what it was, yup, "High School Musical." After breakfast we all began getting ready for our picnic. When we got to the park she did not seem to be too interested in playing on the playground or with any of the other kids. When other folks started arriving she was very good about giving hugs to everyone and she thought it was her birthday because she received many nice gifts, both toys and clothes. i will not take the time to list all the people who came by, you know who you are, but i wanted to thank everyone for all the nice gifts and for sharing in the moment and making Lizzie's first lunch with us so special. God bless each of you. Lizzie never showed an interest in playing with any children at the park or even going back into the playground. Although she gave hugs and kisses to each adult she met, she seemed a little melancholy. In hind site, I am certain it had something to do with her old Mommy taking her to the park and leaving her with Donna Ames. I do not think I told the story in the previous e-mails but when the bit... er... her old mommy met the attorney at the park to give sweet Lizzie away, she was in a big rush and only stayed long enough to sign some paperwork. Lizzie was playing in another part of the park while all this went on and after old mommy left and Lizzie got in the car with the attorney Lizzie commented that "She didn't even say good bye." We left the park and returned home where I had hopes that Lizzie might take a quick nap, I know I could have used one. No naps were to be had.

Around 4:30 PM we left to go by the bank and then to a meeting of "Circle of Love", a support group for adoptive parents that Ashley and I belong to and dearly love. Miracles happen in this group. The group members had forwarded my previous updates around and were excited for us and Lizzie. The group had gotten a "Welcome Lizzie" cake and ice cream. Once again Lizzie thought it was her birthday. The web site for "Circle of Love" says they have 38 families as members but I know I saw more than that. Lizzie was again standoffish to the other children but dutifully gave hugs to any adult requesting one. Let me take a moment to say thanks to everyone in the "Circle of Love" for the gifts and the outpouring of love. I know that a few of the folks on this list have been forwarding these updates on to others, some that do not even know Ashley, Me or Lizzie, because we have gotten e-mails that have said, "I do not know you but I just had to write with support... etc. etc. The words of encouragement from folks we do not even know has blown us away. I am including the web site for the "Circle of Love" and I encourage anyone who is interested in adoption to contact the group. Here is the web address Use the web site to contact the group. This is the main informational web site but the group also has a members discussion board that is fantastic. If you are reading this and you are interested in adoption or know someone interested in adoption or who has already adopted and could use a good support group, forward this on to them. You will be doing them a great service.

We made it home late and Lizzie got into bed about 11 PM. Ashley and I were wore out and went to bed about 1 AM.

The next morning, Wednesday, I awoke at about 6:45 to the sight of an angel. Lizzy was standing beside the bed calling my new name, Daddy. We got up, had breakfast, watched some cartoons, played with the dogs, and watched more cartoons. Ashley went to withdraw Lizzie from her current school and to begin getting Lizzie enrolled in her new school. I took Lizzie with me to my office and introduced her to some of the people with which I work. Once again the words of encouragement and welcomes to Lizzie were fantastic. One comment I have to share. When I walked into one area of the office I was carrying Lizzie and I asked her if it was OK to put her down for a minute because Daddy was getting tired. My comment to Lizzie was overheard and shortly one gentleman I work with related a story to me. He said that his oldest son is now in fourth grade and he will not hold his hand when he walks him into school anymore because it is not "cool." He then said, "Hold her while you can." I now think of any request to carry Lizzie as an answered prayer and she now seems light as a feather.

When we left work I asked Lizzie if she wanted to feed the ducks and she said yes. We stopped at the store to get bread but when we stopped she asked where the ducks were. I explained to Lizzie that we were going to buy some bread and that the ducks were at the park. It did not hit me then but she suddenly changed her mind and did not want to go to the park anymore. Only now is it starting to make sense that bad things happen when you go to the park. That is where her old mother gave her to the attorney. That is why she was not herself at the picnic in the park the day before and why she suddenly did not want to feed the ducks. I guess we will wait until Lizzie asks to go to the park before that gets brought up again.

When the feeding the ducks plan changed I asked Lizzy about lunch and she choose McDonald's. We went to McDonald's and played on the playground. When we got home I fielded several phone calls while Lizzie played with the dogs and her new toys. Ashley was taking her time returning and Lizzie told me she wanted to call her Mommy. Well on the first night we became a family one of the toys Lizzie got was a toy cell phone. She has made numerous pretend phone calls to mommy while we were with her so I can only assume he is calling her previous adoptive mom. So when she told me she wanted to call her Mommy I asked her which one and she said, "the one that looks like you." referring to Ashley because we are both persons of size. Well I showed Lizzie how to dial the phone and let her call Ashley. Ashley was quite surprised to get a call from Lizzie but even more surprised to find out that I did not put her up to calling.

When Ashley arrived we immediately loaded up and tore out to my brothers house so Lizzie could meet some more of her cousins. For the first time I saw her really playing with another child. She wore herself down playing hard for about 4 hours with a short break to eat. That child laughed and shouted and played until she was ringing wet with sweat. I was delighted to see her open up and begin bonding with other children. She had a blast playing with her boy cousin Clancy. I think we may have a tomboy on our hands, which I have no problem with. One thing that Ashley said that Lizzie's school councilor said was that her mother made her keep her hair short and she was frequently mistook for a boy and this is a sore subject with Lizzy.

When we got home she wanted to watch TV but we told her that she needed to take a bath first and then we would only watch one short five minute cartoon. I dug out an old Mickey Mouse with Donald Duck and after it was over she was content to go to bed and have a story read to her.

It has taken me until 1 PM on Thursday to complete this letter. Of course I slept some and have been playing with my daughter and fielding phone calls but this letter is a labor of love.

Now here are some observations.

It seems like anytime we get in the car, Lizzie complains of a "headache." Ashley and I think this may be because bad things happen when she take trips, such as she gets in trouble or gets given to someone new like happened to her on Monday. Once we get there she never mentions her headache again.

Just last evening, at my brothers, she begin trying to remember names. We think she may have been trying to build a "wall" or not trying because she has been given to new families before, at least once before about a year ago, and she did not think she would be seeing these people again. Now she is beginning to remember names and ask who people are that she has met.

Lizzie has been worried that she might not get to come back home with us when we leave the house. To begin with she wanted to bring all her toys each time but now she is content to bring just one. When we told her that we were going to my brothers and that he had lots of toys to play with and other children would be there she said, "but I am coming home with you?"

Her previous mother spelled Lizzie's name "Lizzy" which we took as the spelling. Yet she has corrected both Ashley and I that her name does not end with a "Y" but with an "I-E." When Ashley picked up some of Lizzie's school work Wednesday her name was spelled "Lizzie" on all her paperwork so we are going to spell it as Lizzie wants, not as her previous mother spelled it.

So many people have asked her clothing size or other things that we/she needs I am going to respond to it here.

She wears a 5 in clothes, she can were a 6 in shirts or pajamas. Her shoe size is 11.

As far as other needs...

The support from family, friends, co-workers, our church, new friends and people I have never met has been fantastic. Our biggest need now comes as a result of everyones generosity. The closet in Lizzie's room is full, along with every other closet in the house. (They were full before Lizzie arrived with our junk.) We have had to take the vacant bed room and make it a catch all area to make room for Lizzie's stuff in her room. If anyone can help me in getting some flooring in the attic it would be fantastic. I can fix computers and figure out most anything electronic but a handyman I am not.

We are also in need of...
Child size towels and wash cloths sets
Hooded towels for a toddler
A stand for Lizzie's room to hold Lizzie's 20" TV and DVD Player which she already has.
Plastic Toy Bins from Dollar General
Educational games for teaching letters and numbers
Bath Toys (Foam Bath Letters)
Small child's fleece throw/blanket
Child size chair Lizzie can curl up in
Toy Kitchen
A riding toy that will run on grass
Favorite color: Purple
Favorite things: Disney Princesses and Dora

I feel awkward listing all these things but we have received numerous requests for a list of things that we could use. Please nobody feel obligated. The Lord has provided Lizzie, Ashley and I will provide the love and everything else will take care of itself.

God bless all. I will update everyone again soon.

Reggie, Ashley and Lizzie.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

An Adoption Story Pt II

An angel has fallen to Earth and landed at the Smith house.

It has been such a wild day, I do not know where to start. We received a call from our attorney, Donna Ames, at about 8 o'clock this morning. Donna said that she had an appointment to meet Lizzy's adoptive parents at 1:00 PM this afternoon (Labor Day) to get Lizzy. It all seemed so surreal. Donna called us around 2:00, she was at McDonald's in Daphne getting Lizzy some lunch. We met Donna at her house around 3:30 and met Lizzy for the first time. After just a few minutes all my worries and concerns were gone. I knew that Lizzy was meant to be my child.

It took some time to get all the paperwork together. We actually have Lizzy under an Emergency Temporary Custody order but will begin the adoption process within the next week or two. We have everything we need to withdraw Lizzy from the school she is enrolled in now and to get her enrolled in a Mobile County Public School. We have the paperwork to get her covered on our insurance, to get her medical records and several other boring things.

When we left we took Lizzy by Toys-R-Us to get her something to remember the day by. She was an absolute joy to shop with. I have often said I wish I could see the world through a child's eyes again, and today I had that opportunity by seeing the world through Lizzy's eyes.

When we got home I took the box of Lizzy's belongings which her previous adoptive parents sent with her and sneaked them into Lizzy's room. I thought if I went ahead and unpacked her stuff and put it in the dresser and closet that when she first went into the room it would seem like it was hers. I almost cried when I saw the pitiful collection of belongings that she had. Lizzy had about 10 outfits, three pair of shoes, one of which was a totally wore out pair or Crocs, a Fisher Price Noah's Ark, a puzzle toy that is missing half the pieces and a box of flash cards. How can any person adopt a child and have her for three years and that is all the personal stuff she has. I started thinking about it, no bike, no radio or CD player, no stuffed animals, no books, no crayons, no purse or barrettes or ribbons. She has totally latched onto a small white teddy bear that somehow got left out of my bag of Mardi Gras throws this year. She is actually sleeping with it even though it is only about 5 inches high. When we were at Toys-R-Us the first thing Lizzy picked up and asked for was a purple comb. I had to get it for her, how can you deny such a beautiful child a comb. It breaks my heart just writing this. Right now, Lizzy cannot comprehend the changes in her life she is about to experience. Ashley and I are already beginning to shower this little angle with the attention and love that she so deeply deserves.

My life is totally changing too, earlier tonight I watched High School Musical for the first of what I am sure will be dozens if not hundreds of times. Around 9:15 Lizzy said "I think I am going to bed now." She gave hugs and kisses and Ashely read her a bed time story, Since then she has slept the sleep of someone with a very clear conscience. We have checked on her over and over and she is a very deep sleeper, but she does move around a lot in the bed. We may have to get bed rails for her.

One thing Lizzy has asked for and seems to want to do is have a picnic. Ashely and I plan on packing a light lunch, some juice boxes and chips and taking her to Cottage Hill Park tomorrow (Tuesday) around 11 AM. Afterwards we are going to turn her loose on the playground until she is ready to go. I know most of you will be working tomorrow or have other obligations but anyone who would like to meet Lizzy is welcome to join our picnic. It is BYOS (Bring Your Own Sandwich). Please, nobody feel obligated but just know you are welcome. Tomorrow night we have our Adoptive Parents Support Group meeting, the group is planning a "Welcome Home" party for Lizzy with cake and ice cream. The support group is fantastic.

Well, it is late and I have to get up early for a picnic with a beautiful little girl in a few hours so I am signing off now. We had so much going on that I did not even think to take any photos until Lizzy was already in her new Princess Nightshirt but enjoy anyway. I'll take more. So ends day one with Lizzy.

Monday, September 3, 2007

An Adoption Story

Wow! What a weekend! Saturday, Ashley and I met with an adoption attorney for just a preliminary consultation. During the meeting she asked how we felt about an older child. Although Ashley and I made a decision to share our journey with our friends and family, we have not communicated all of our adventures to everyone. A few months ago we were made aware of a little boy, four years old, who was living with his grandmother. The Grandmother was struggling with putting the child up for adoption. Ashley and I discussed the possibility of adopting an older child and found that we were both open to the prospect. Although the little boy did not work out for us, the experience allowed Ashley and I to realize that an infant is not the only option open.

So Saturday, when the attorney asked us how we felt about an older child we were able to answer quickly that we were indeed interested. The attorney went on to tell us about a 5 year old girl named Lizzy that would be becoming available immediately. We were shown a photo of Lizzy. She is a beautiful little girl adopted from a Russian orphanage in 2004. When you see the photo you will say "Russian?" "She looks Asian." We looked up the orphanage and it is on the Russia / China border. Ashley and I have a lot of love in our hearts for children and this one seems special to us. We feel the hand of God in this chance encounter and the timing.

We expressed interest in adopting Lizzy to the attorney during our meeting Saturday. The next day we were at a nieces birthday party. As we were getting ready to leave the party my cell phone rang. It was the attorney saying that the home situation for Lizzy was deteriorating quickly and that she that she was available for a trial adoption as soon as today. Needless to say the next few hours were a whirlwind of phone calls and conversations as we talked to both our
families and with each other. Right now, about 11:15 AM on Labor Day it looks like we will be getting Lizzy late this afternoon. Ashley and I are both planning to take off of work for the rest of the week as we withdraw Lizzy from her current school and get her enrolled in a school here. We also have to figure out things like health insurance and other items Lizzy will need right away such as school uniforms and a booster seat to name just two.

Sorry for the impersonal nature of a letter, an e-mail letter at that, but we have much to do and little time in which to get it done. I will try to fire off another missive tomorrow to keep everyone informed on how things are going.