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.


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