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.