{Brianna Heldt} a big, huge, unexpected, forever sort of way

Brianna is a friend in real life.  Except that instead of living 5 miles from me, she up and moved to stinky Denver.  And that’s just poopy.

Brianna and Kevin were the *first* people I had ever really come into contact with who were adopting.  Weird, huh?

I was so uneducated and naive about the orphan crisis.

And I completely cringe when I think back to some of the questions I asked her when I first found out they were adopting their boys.

Downright embarrassing.  Dumb questions.  Some of them likely insulting.

But the truth is, I had always considered adoption to be a last resort.  You know, what you did because you couldn’t have “your own” kids.

I really knew NOTHING about adoption.  Nada.  Zip.  Zilch.

And they had Anna.  So, getting pregnant wasn’t an issue. What gives?

But, getting to know their family, and watching these two boys melt seamlessly into their lives…with Andy and I falling in love with their sweet smiles ourselves…our eyes were opened to a whole new world.

So, if I haven’t said it before: Brianna…thanks for living your life out loud and I’m sorry for the ridiculous questions I asked…I’m quite chagrined.  :)

And bonus for you, dear reader, because Brianna also happens to be a great writer and her heart shines through every post.

Enjoy.  You’ll love this.

* * * *

When Jeannett first invited me to be a guest blogger at Life Rearranged, I felt honored.  Excited.  And a little intimidated, too!

Because a lot is at stake here.  We have this huge goal to raise money for Cliff’s adoption fund.  And this fund is critical for Cliff finding a home.

How blessed are we, to get to play a role in this sweet boy’s beautiful, magnificent story?

And I’m so excited to tell you that not only is adoption near and dear to my heart (I’ve been an adoptive mom for nearly five years now)…but my life has also recently been touched by Down syndrome.  In a big, huge, unexpected, forever sort of way.

You see, my  husband and I are waiting to bring home two more children from Ethiopia.  Two sweet, precious, completely darling little girls.  To round out this crazy brood of kids.  :)

They are four years old and eighteen months old, respectively.

And, both of our soon-to-be-daughters were born with Down syndrome.

The adoption still seems so very surreal to my husband and me, although clearly our other children are already head-over-heels-in-love.  As evidenced by the above family portrait my oldest drew.  Everyone is there and labeled, including our new girls.

And also evidenced by my children hugging and kissing the girls on the waiting child video.

Be still my heart.

The really crazy thing is, up until several months ago, the 21st chromsome was scarcely on my radar screen.  At all.  I had volunteered for the Special Olympics as a teenager (SO wonderful!), and yes I consider myself an advocate for children with special needs.  However, Down syndrome itself was not something I thought much about.

Until I discovered Adeye’s blog.  Until I read Nella’s story.  Until I found Reece’s Rainbow.


My heart was gone.  Melted.  Tears filled my eyes as I saw photos of Hailey and Harper, became captivated by Nella’s birth, and viewed profiles of waiting children with Down syndrome.

I’ve been passionate about adoption ever since we brought our sons home from Ethiopia nearly five years ago.  And I’m on staff with an organization that helps to pave a way home for HIV+ orphans.  But I hadn’t realized how many orphaned children, just like Cliff, were waiting for families around the world, all on account of being born with an extra chromsome. It is staggering.  My heart hurts just thinking about it.  Because, you see, it just shouldn’t be that way. These are children.  Precious in Jesus’ sight.  Created to be raised in a family, not in an orphanage.

Needless to say, it wasn’t long before my husand and I found ourselves signing paperwork to adopt two cuties from Ethiopia.  We’d already begun the adoption process, and it turned out these two children had been waiting awhile for a family.  I feel so blessed that their family will be US!

This will, of course, be new territory for us, as parents.

Because not only are we receiving the gift of two more beautiful children, we are also plunging head-first into the world of special needs adoption.  Medical care and therapies and lots of unknowns.  I’d be lying if I told you I’m not nervous, or even fearful at times.  I’m only human.

But I have come to see that life is simply one big unknown.  In order to experience joy and wonder and beauty, well, you have to take risks.  You have to look life and all its messiness and perfection-in-imperfection square in the face.  Not to mention, these girls will be our DAUGHTERS.  They are no more defined by their number of chromosomes, or by how soon they walk or talk, than they are by anything else.  They are just as they should be.

I honestly don’t know what life will look like with seven children.  Or with two daughters who have some special needs.  I DO know that God created my daughters just the way He wanted them to be.  I believe they are meant to be in our family, and I know they will be SUCH a joy to Kevin and I.  And to our other children, too.  (Did you SEE the photos??!!)

Adoption is really, really beautiful.  It is one of the awe-inspiring pictures God gives us of redemption here on Earth.  Bringing beauty out of tragedy, out of loss.  And there is something extra sweet, extra profound, about a waiting child, like Cliff, finding a family.  A child who is every bit as deserving of a home as anyone else.

My husband told me recently that he has never, EVER seen so many modern-day miracles as he has since becoming involved in adoption, and in the adoption community.  And it’s true.  We have seen such healing, blessing, and provision amongst our friends and their families.

NOT that it’s ever easy.  Nope.  Not easy at all.  Messy, hard, and heart-wrenching much of the time.  But blessed and good just the same.

When I see that sweet photo of baby Cliff, I dream of him finding a family.  Of having a mommy and a daddy, and maybe some brothers and sisters.  I think about how that family will forever alter the course of their lives AND Cliff’s life, in a super-good-beyond-your-wildest-dreams way.  I think about how raising children comes with sacrifice, and how it is so incredibly worth it.  Cliff is so incredibly worth it.

As we speak, God is in the midst of writing Cliff’s story.  And your story.  We don’t know how it will all turn out, but He does.  And God loves a good ending. I am amazed every.single.time. I think about how you and I can use our stories to bring REDEMPTION and HOPE to a child who otherwise has none.

And we all know that adoption is costly.  Every dollar that we give makes it that much more likely that sweet Cliff will have a family.  It’s the least we can do.

As for me, I get SO incredibly excited every time I think about how I am a soon-to-be-mama to two little ones who happen to have been born with Down syndrome.  My life has been forever changed–for the better–by the sweet children who wait.  And yet I am convinced that they should not have to wait.  My girls, who I am falling in love with more and more each day even though we’ve never met, have found a family…and I want to help Cliff find his.

So I’m blogging, and I’m chipping in.  For Cliff.

Who’s with me?

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I'm a mom to four. A wife to one. I believe in story. I love telling you about mine and would love to hear yours. There's really no sense in wasting our suffering and not sharing in each other's joy. We're all in this together...even if it doesn't always feel like it.

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  1. 1

    Congrats on the coming adoptions! My 15 year old brother has down syndrome and he has been such a joy and a blessing in our lives! He never ceases to crack us up and entertain us.

    He was number 13 of my parents 14 children and from day one was never treated any differently than the rest of us. That is the best thing we as a family have done for him. He loves to read, is so into animals and science. Loves watching movies and learning random facts.

    He thinks he’s going to be a veterinarian when he grows up and get married when he’s 40. We love this kid like crazy!

  2. 2

    I love, love, love the family portrait. That is amazing and so adorable. She worked hard on those proportions and I just want to send her a hug! I am also sending a hug and prayer for little Cliff and his waiting family.

  3. 3

    I have a little blessing with Down Syndrome, my 4 month old Fiona Hope. And she is exactly that, a blessing. Not that you need anyone to tell you, but you will find a new love in the world with these two lucky little girls you are welcoming to your family. My husband and I hope someday to add another special needs child to our family by means of adoption, if God and finances allow. Having children with Down Syndrome may be a lot of time spent at the doctors,I feel I practically live at the childrens hospital, and I pray that this will not be the case for your two girls. But how blessed are they that they are going to have a momma and daddy there to hold there hand through it all if thats the case! Thoughts and prayers with your family
    Shannon´s last blog post ..Marlena

  4. 4

    I love this…
    My husband told me recently that he has never, EVER seen so many modern-day miracles as he has since becoming involved in adoption, and in the adoption community. And it’s true. We have seen such healing, blessing, and provision amongst our friends and their families.