Sunday, October 19, 2014


While in Haiti, Wilson, Sally and I attended the church service at COTP. Dan Willis, one of the house parents there, preached a sermon from James 1:2-4 about the things we learn from trials during our lives. 

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.    James 1:2-4 (NIV)
Sheila, Carla and Christina sang "Blessed Be Your Name"--a song that had brought me to tears many times during the wait. A song that speaks about praising God even during...especially during...the times that are difficult.

It was powerful given the two years of working, crying and waiting we had just been through to get to that place. It was a service that I will probably never forget. 

This morning, one year later, the pastor at our church (also named Dan) preached almost the exact same service but used a different passage. 

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33 (NIV)

At the end of the service this morning, the band played a song they have never played before--a song that the boys and I sang often in our car while we waited and prayed for Wilson to join our family.

It has been an emotional few days remembering back to the week that Wilson Manno and I finally became a family. It has been a difficult year in many ways but we are all stronger for the things we have been through so far. We have grown in many ways and when things become difficult in the day-to-day of our lives, it is good to remember the lessons I learned during the wait and to hang on to the promises that we are not alone in any of this. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014


One year ago, this sweet boy and I stopped waiting for each other and started being a family. 

Sally and I boarded a very tiny plane on October 17th and then hung out with Jenn and Amy at Second Mile Haiti for the night. 

The next morning, we were picked up and driven to the care center where this happened. Finally.

After that, it was several fun-filled days of hanging out and spending as much time together as we could (minus the 18 hours that I had the flu).

Saturday, September 27, 2014


Isn't he cute? 
He is. 
You know it. I know it. And he knows it. 

That smile and those sparkly eyes can charm you out of (or into) just about anything. This is the face that most of you see because this is the face he wants you to see---the face that has and will continue to get him what he wants: attention, snacks, treats, and his version of love. It is the face that controls the outcome of his interactions with you. 

What you don't see in this picture and what we are struggling with right now is fear. Wilson is afraid of being left alone. He is afraid I will die. He talks about it a lot. He asks when I will die and asks what will happen to him. He tells me that when I die, he wants to go with me. 
I know this is typical for children---this phase of understanding death and knowing that some day they will be separated from the people they love. But it's different for Wilson because this isn't his first experience with separation and loss. He knows more than most adults about what it feels like to lose people you love. He lived in a care center for 3 years after losing his first family. Kids, staff and volunteers came and went...and he was still there; waiting for a family. Waiting for someone who wouldn't leave; someone who would be his forever. 
When I arrived in Haiti, he willingly left with me and never looked back. He quickly gave up speaking any Kreyol and 'forgot' the names of most of his nannies, staff and friends. He rarely talks about them with the exception of a chosen few. 
He only wanted us and his attachment seemed relatively easy. 
And now we have reached a very difficult phase. Wilson is petrified that I will leave him. The easiest way for him to gain control of this situation is to leave me first---to tell me that he doesn't want me and to begin to 'shop' for my replacement. 
It is hard to explain what this looks like in our home without betraying him and his struggles. Our close friends have seen glimpses of it and have listened to me as I try to work through the hard parts. 

I am speaking out about this because I need you to trust me when you see me interacting with him. I need you to follow my lead and help me do what is best for him. For now, that means that all help, hugs and assistance must come from, or through, me. Interrupting adults, incessant chatter and steering the conversation are all ways that he maintains control over the people around him. Please do not allow this anymore than you would with my other children (or yours). Please do not allow him to sit on your lap or throw himself into your arms. Please refrain from picking him up or playing with him in a physical way, for now. 

This is a small bump in the road for us and we can move past it more smoothly and quickly with your help. 

Once Wilson learns that he is safe, Mommy is in control and that he is loved NO MATTER WHAT, he will be able to rest in the happiness of being part of a family rather than living with the stress and fear of what will happen when we leave him. 

Thank you for wanting to shower him with attention and affection---you will get a chance to do that again. Thank you for caring and praying for us. And thank you, in advance, for helping me to help Wilson find the love and safety his little heart has been longing for. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Soccer Mom

It's official. We are a soccer family, which I guess makes me a soccer mom.  I'll be honest; I don't hate it. The boys had their first practices and games this week and to say they loved it would be an understatement. They are counting down the days, hours, minutes until their next practice. The best part was seeing that they all have some skills. They don't completely understand the game but they'll get there. For now, they are having a great time, getting some good exercise and learning to play on a team.  

Daniel completely surprised me. He was upset that he *only* played for 1/2 the game. He ran his little heart out and loved every part of it. He is probably the most excited to get back out on the field. He talks about soccer constantly now.

Wilson loved it too. After the first few minutes, I had to pull him to the side and explain that this was not 'care center soccer'. He was running up and down the field knocking kids down in order to the get the ball. Once he understood that he could not push the other kids, he settled in and played well. 

And then he found his dream job.....goal keeper.
He got to wear a cool shirt.
He didn't have to run.
And he got to grab the ball when no one else was allowed to. 

Within minutes, he had two saves!

Andrew's game was at the same time as Daniel and Wilson's so Jill offered to take him. She even took pictures of him. 

I was so excited when we found out that his soccer jersey was Guatemala blue and white. (everyone calls that color Guatemala blue, right?)

He had a great time and Jill's boys were impressed with how well he played. 

I'm kind of excited for next Saturday. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Readoption and Name Change

Today, we stood in front of a Cook County judge to officially change Wilson's name and 'readopt' him in Illinois. This will provide him with an Illinois birth certificate so that he will easily be able to get a copy when he needs one. We were so fortunate that our friend, Jill, who was there at the very beginning of this adoption, is learning readoption law. We were her very first clients. :)  She also loves to take pictures so it was a package deal for us. 

This was taken in the family waiting room. Cook County does not allow cameras inside the court room so there are no pictures with the judge. 
(don't mind Daniel. He was having a moment)

The boys loved looking down on the view from inside the courthouse.

Better lighting and backdrop outside of the Daley Center building.

During our walk back to the parking ramp, we stopped at Corner Bakery for a celebratory snack: monster cookies.

After all three boys napped in the car, we went out for rice and beans. 

The paperwork will not be final until early October but our part is over. So glad to have one more step completed.

Monday, July 28, 2014


The boys and I are visiting our friends, the Cash family, and are having a BLAST. Kelly and I are getting time to talk in person and the boys are running WILD.  Today, they set up the slip-n-slide and the kids had a great time. Daniel's entire stomach and chest are covered in grass cuts but it would not stop him from going again if given the chance.

Kolton showed them how it was done...

Two of these three had no fear. The other one is just like his mom.

Sweet Kemry--I wish we lived closer to this family for many reasons and Kemry is at the top of that list.