A Tradition

Our family seems to have inadvertently started a tradition.  At both of our girls’ 1st birthday / baby dedication celebrations, we made a big announcement…
In September 2011, at Eden’s celebration, we announced that we were pregnant with Callie!

In April 2013, at Callie’s celebration, we announced that we were adopting our 3 sons from the Ukraine!
Not sure if we can keep up the tradition or not, but it’s been fun how the timing worked out perfectly both of these times!

Our 3 Sons

Team Huss is growing again!  
Eden and Callie are getting 3 big brothers! 
And we are going to be teen parents (yipes!)!
Now let me back up and explain…
We are pursuing the adoption of a sibling group of 3 boys from the Ukraine!  They are handsome, blonde-haired boys and we can’t wait to squeeze them!  Val is 14, Vlad is 12, and Vik is 9 (these are nicknames--it's super-cute to hear Eden say their real names!).  We can’t show their pictures on our public blog, but if we see you in person, we would love to show you their sweet faces!  With the timeframe we’ve been given, it looks like we could have them home by this Fall!
Our story of finding them is a cool one with God’s hand all over it!
Doubting and Wrestling
In February, we got word from the agency of Nathan (the little boy from China who we were pursuing) that it is their policy to NOT place children out of birth order (different from what we originally were told).  Since our oldest child is only 2 ½, Nathan (being 5 years old) would “trump” her spot as the oldest and they typically do not do this.  They told us that they would still consider us, but that their policy is against it.  While this wasn’t a completely closed door, it was obviously disappointing and it got us thinking and questioning if he was meant to be our son.
We wrestled with what we were meant to do for the next 2 months, and our home had a sad and unsettled vibe to it.  It didn’t sit well with us that we knew we were meant to adopt again, but that we were just sitting idle with our paperwork.  We were searching for answers and kept praying that God would give us peace about what to do.
We attended a luncheon in mid-March to learn more about the 4,000 waiting children in the Texas foster system.  We left feeling very confused about what God was leading us to.  Ben felt physically ill.  We both felt like we were meant to adopt older (teenage, middle school) children.  Ben felt specifically that we were meant to adopt brothers.
She Found Them For Us!
In the meantime, one of my best friends from growing up (from the same small town, went to high school and college together, still talk to each other on the phone every Wednesday) has a huge heart for the orphan and had recently signed up to be a “Family in the Gap” (or FIG).  The purpose of the FIG is “to provide safety and security for the orphan by bridging the gap between where the child is [an orphanage] and where the child yearns to be [in a family].  Each FIG member will cover their child in prayer, advocate for a permanent family, and raise funds to help make it possible.” 
When she was having the tough task of selecting an orphan to stand in the gap for, she prayed that God would lead her to the right orphan and He spoke a word to her that she should select based on what her family looks like.  She has 3 sons, so when she saw the picture of 3 boys in the Ukraine, she immediately knew that these were the ones!
Getting straight to the punch line…those are our boys!
At the end of March, we went to our family farm in north Louisiana to spend time with family.  It was a very refreshing time!  That trip also “just happened” to coincide with the first fundraiser that Mindy was doing for her FIG boys, a Noonday jewelry party.   My mom, little sister, and I “shopped for a cause” and first saw a teeny tiny photo of the boys.  I also had a great conversation with Emily (the Noonday Ambassador) about how we were confused and searching for direction on our current adoption.  At that time, I didn’t feel any particular “tug” toward the boys.  My mom noted as we drove away how sad it was to not know whether or not these boys would end up in a family.
“Do whatever He tells you”
The last week of March, we were really wrestling with what to do, but not talking about it together.  It was a busy week with family in town and our church doing a large Easter service.  On March 28th, I sent Ben a text with an excerpt from my morning devotional that I felt directly related to our adoption dilemma with Nathan: “When I have to weigh the pros and cons, and doubt and debate come in, I am bringing an element that is not of God.  Loyalty to Jesus means I have to step out where I do not see anything.  Faith is not intelligent understanding, faith is deliberate commitment to a Person where I see now way….Do whatever He tells you.”
Dreams and Practicality
On April 1st, when our house was quiet after the girls went to sleep, I finally asked Ben to tell me what he was thinking in regards to our adoption.  It was really killing me that we were just sitting idle.  I had to know where he stood.  And that is when the cool stuff went down…
Ben admitted that he had been scared to tell me about a recurring dream he had been having for the last month or so.  He dreamt of 3 blonde boys who were not American.  He said they were our sons, not just friends.  We were playing outside with them on a swingset and in a wooded area.  I was excited to hear this, but was very practical and said “well, don’t you think you were dreaming about them because you recently read about them on Mindy’s blog and I talked about them last weekend?”  In typical guy form, he admitted that he didn’t read the blog post I sent him and he didn’t know what I meant about the jewelry party raising funds for them.  He had listened when I had told him about Mindy being a FIG and about a jewelry party, but hadn’t put all of it together.  
That got me excited because I realized he was having these dreams on his own—not thoughts that had been “planted” there from previous conversations!  So I immediately texted Mindy (at 10:35pm) and asked her to send me the photo of her FIG boys the following day.  She was awake and responded that she’d do that and told me how much the jewelry party made for the boys’ adoption fund. 
After that, we were laying there in silence and Ben suggested that we pray.  Great idea!  He asked if I would open and he’d close—I said no, that I wanted him to pray (I’m sure it sounded kind of rude at the time, but I simply wanted to hear what he was talking through with God—I didn’t want to sway him at all!).  He prayed aloud for several minutes.  Toward the end, he boldly asked for God to give us a clear answer on which direction to take for our adoption—by Friday.  I loved his boldness, but also giggled at the fact that we had been clueless for the last 2 months, and that we were asking for an answer in a week! 
I drifted off to sleep while thinking through how cool it is that we have two separate friends selling items (bunkbed and dining room table, which we had already “claimed” prior to this conversation about the boys) that would be perfect for adding 3 boys to our family!  I love how God is in the details!  
Confirmation and Craziness
The following day (April 2nd) was when God confirmed everything for us—these are most certainly our sons!  The confirmations came throughout the day as we learned more about the boys and were connected to a mom (Kristen) who recently brought home their 2 sons from the same orphanage of our sons.  Her oldest is best friends with our oldest, so they had spent a lot of time with our boys while they were in the Ukraine for their adoption (last August-October).  She was able to provide a TON of information and pictures for us!  
When I sent Ben a text with some detailed information about the boys (their story, their personalities, etc.) along with the photos, he simply replied “Let’s do it.”  It floored me that he was so confident, but it was reassuring at the same time…because I was feeling confident about them, too!  Ben later explained the background of why he sent that text.  He said that he asked his driver (at work) something along the lines of “how crazy would it be if I adopted 3 boys from Eastern Europe, and 1 of them was a teenager?” and the driver’s response was “definitely crazy, I wouldn’t do it if I were you.”  That confirmed with Ben that we should do it, and he sent me the “Let’s do it” text.  
You see, Ben had felt confident that we (Ben & Lauren Huss) have been called to adopt kiddos who others won’t adopt.  So if someone (or everyone) thinks we’re crazy, then we must be doing the right thing!  Love him and his crazy heart!
A “wink” from God
Mindy had directed me to Kristen’s blog on April 2nd, saying that her story sounded just like ours.  I honestly didn’t think much of it—how could her story possibly include going from a little boy in China to domestic teenagers to brothers in the Ukraine?!  Plus, I spent most of the day looking at the information she was sending via texts.  It wasn’t until the next day that I read the “Beginnings” post on Kristen’s blog and was almost in tears over how similar our stories are!  It was SO refreshing to see that another adoptive couple struggled with similar things and ultimately landed in the same place as us!  I
 also pieced together that her sons’ names are Benjamin and Michael…which is Ben’s name.  While that isn’t anything terribly significant to our sons’ story, it’s what I like to call a “wink” from God.
Car Wreck = More Time to Chat
In the early afternoon of April 3rd, Ben was involved in an accident at work (an SUV didn’t yield to their emergency vehicle with lights and sirens blaring and slammed into Ben’s side of the vehicle—luckily, only minor bumps and bruises and an injured Achilles for Ben).  It ended up meaning that he was home that evening, and Grandma and Grandpa came over to watch the girls like they do every Wednesday night, so we went and grabbed a bite to eat and called Kristen. 
The conversation was SO good and SO informative!  We learned about the process of adopting from our boys’ home country, which actually sounds like it will suit us perfectly!  We also found out a bit more about our boys’ personalities—again, sounds like a perfect fit for our family!
Awesome words from Ukraine
On April 4th, Kristen sent an introduction email to the agency director (Victoria) and country contact (Olga) for us—so sweet of her!  We immediately received replies back from both Victoria and Olga!  Olga’s words meant the world to us!  She expressed her excitement and noted that she visited our boys 2 days prior because she had other matters at their orphanage.  Her words: The boys are super! They DREAM about living in a family!”
Those words were like a soothing balm to our hearts!

Making it Official
We have now officially contracted with the agency (after confirming that they have no issues with the boys being older than our girls) and are well on our way to getting our dossier completed!  Our first letter is on its way to the Ukraine stating that we want to adopt our 3 boys.  We have also finished our home study documents and sent those to our home study agency.  It’s amazing how fast we’re moving on things now that we have complete confidence that these are our sons!  Such a difference when we’re on the same page with each other and with God! 

We realize this probably leaves you with some questions (about their ages, the timeframe of bringing them home, are they definitely ours yet, what about Nathan, will you fundraise, etc.), so we’ll do another post soon with the answers…

Callie Jeanne – the first year

Rather than feeling guilty for not documenting anything besides Callie’s delivery, I’m just going to move forward and talk about the highlights of our sweet girl’s first year of life…

sweet baby girl...

Some physical characteristics
- You are a petite little “jelly bean” (one of our many nicknames for you)
- You were born at 7 lbs 1 ounce (35th percentile) and 19 inches long (50th percentile)
- You now weigh 17 lbs (6th percentile) and are around 27 inches long (30th percentile)
- Your hands and feet are tiny (you get it honest—from Mommy)
- You have smooth, fair skin and black, curly hair (some have mentioned resemblance to Snow White)
- You have NO teeth, but that doesn’t stop you from eating everything that we eat
- And have I mentioned all of your hair??  And your beautiful curls??


Such a sweet temperament
- You have the sweetest, softest voice
- You give away smiles freely
- You point and smile when Mommy comes in the room
- You wave and say “hi” (2 syllables; in your whispery voice) to everyone
- You give the best kisses
- You say “nigh-nigh” (in your whispery voice) before bed—it’s terribly cute!

Smart & Sassy
- You are very curious
- You do this cute thing with your mouth/voice—mainly in the mornings—where you do kind of a cross between a whistle and a “shh” while looking around the room and inspecting things (and you’ll note “uh-oh” and point if you see something out of place)
- You love to explore and learn (your Uncle Adam says that you’re always planning or scheming)
- You move faster (rather than stopping) when you hear us tell you “no” or “stop”(little rebel sassy-pants)
- You love playing peek-a-boo (“where’s Callie?”) and will hide behind your hands for an unusually long time before revealing (“there she is!”)


Exploring the tupperware cabinet a little closer...

Using "the force" to read books

You made this face (along with a funny sound) a lot when you were 6-7 months old

Specific things you LOVE
- Music: we sing a lot in our house (we make up songs to just about anything), and you love it!  When you hear a song, you immediately smile and begin bobbing up and down / back and forth and clapping.

- Baths: when you know you’re headed to take a bath, you start kicking your feet and smiling.  When the water comes on, you squeal and kick.  You love to play and splash and blow bubbles with your sissy.

- Greeting “sissy” in the mornings: whether it's in your room or hers, you love seeing Eden in the mornings.  You greet each other with big smiles and lots of hugs, then you play on the bed together for a little while.

- Tags and Rugs: your “lovie” is a hippo-blanket thing, but it’s not really the blanket that you cling to—it’s the silky tag.  And when you are playing with your toys downstairs, you’ll just randomly stop and lay flat on your belly with your cheek to our soft rug.

- Balls and Books: your Daddy is SO happy that you love playing with sports balls!  And you already have a better arm than your big sister. J  You also love books.  Specifically, tiny books that you can hold in your hand.  You always have something in your grasp—and it’s usually a ball or a book! 

Milestones that we actually documented
- You lost your umbilical cord at 12 days old (obviously I documented this "milestone" way back when I thought I'd be on top of things...)

- You slept on your tummy for the first time at 13 days old (yes, we went against mainstream advice—but hey, it’s the only way you would sleep—and you still sleep on your tummy!)

sweet girl sleeping (no, this was not at 13 days old; this was at 11 months old)

- You took your first trip to the zoo at 17 days old (we HAD to get out of the house!)

you (thankfully) slept almost the entire time in the sling!

- You first slept in your crib (rather than the bassinet in our room) at 1 month old

- You went to church for the first time at 1 month old

- You took your first trip to the beach at 2 months old

beach beauty!

- You first rolled over from belly to back at 4 ½ months old

- You got your first taste of food (avocado) at 6 months old

yummy!  yes, you liked it!

- You crawled at 7 ½ months old (while Daddy was on a mission trip in Haiti)

so proud of yourself!

- You easily transitioned from nursing (birth-6 months) to bottles (7 months-11 months) to straw cups

one of your last "bah-bah's" around 11 months old

one of your first tastes of milk around 11 1/2 months old

While Mommy Works
Our family is blessed that Mommy only works 3 days a week, and it’s all done from home.  When you were 4 months old, you first went to Primrose for daycare.  Your main caretaker was Marta, and even though you were only there for 3 months, she developed a strong connection with you.  She keeps up with your development (and pictures) via email and our blog.  After Primrose, we were blessed again to find Jessie to care for you at our house for 3 ½ months.  Jessie spent a lot of one-on-one time with you and helped with your development.  She read a lot of books, played music for you, and helped you learn to crawl.  After Jessie, we were blessed again to have Aimee care for you and Eden at her house.  You love going over there to play with Britain (and Eden), and I know Miss Aimee and Mr. John have a special place in their heart for Sweet Callie.

The early days we’d rather forget
As an infant, you weren’t exactly the easiest baby.  You cried.  A lot.  Mommy and Daddy felt so bad that we couldn’t figure out what you needed.  And we stressed out over all of the crying.  Supposedly Daddy was just like that when he was a baby, so I guess you got that honest, too.  Your crying mostly happened in the evenings and into the night.  It was like you were so tired you didn’t know how to stop crying and just fall asleep.  We tried all kinds of things to make it better.  Some worked (Mommy stopped eating all dairy products so your tummy felt better, you got tubes in your ears so you didn’t have earaches anymore).  Some didn’t (a product called “colic calm,” acid reflux medicine, etc.).  Luckily, you kind of just grew out of it and became the easiest baby!

Poor baby had jaundice and had to be in the NICU for 24 hours...

Poor baby had to get tubes in your ears at 9 months old...

Some snapshots of the early days that we want to remember forever!


Sweet sisters with such a special bond!

Sweet Callie Jeanne - you DID smile and laugh a lot--even in the early days!

Some highlights of the holidays...

Sweet Cal, Callie Jeanne, Cal-Cal – we can honestly say that our lives are more joy-filled because of you.  We love you and are so thankful that God blessed our family with you!