Here is the letter I wrote:
I am very excited that our family was nominated. We would absolutely be able to attend the events if selected. We love to travel and have always wanted to take the boys to Washington, DC.
I am going to do my very best to keep my answers brief, but as you know that can be hard for a mom to do when talking about her family.
Josh and I were college sweethearts. After college, we got married, bought a house and always thought that children and likely adoption would be part of the equation. Shortly before our first anniversary, we learned that I was pregnant with our son, Bit. Nine weeks into our pregnancy, I started having complications. I was hospitalized and in and out of a drug induced coma the entire pregnancy. Finally, after a lot of hard work by a team of high risk doctors, Bit was born at 33 weeks gestation. He was put in NICU and had a few preemie medical problems, but over all was a happy healthy child.
When Bit was a year old, we felt in our hearts that our family wasn't complete. We were advised by medical professionals not to attempt another pregnancy, so we knew that were were going to have to grow our family in an alternative way. Together, we researched adoption and we decided to pursue a foster/adoption. After speaking with a representative from foster agencies, we learned that we would likely be taking an at risk foster placement. This meant that which ever child we chose to take, we would agree to parent until permanency occurred. Permanency could mean that he went back to his biological parents or that he was adopted by our family. We had to be prepared, as a family, for things to go either way.
Once all of the training was completed and the home visits were done, we waited. Finally, one day, we got the call. A 6 week old baby had been released from the hospital and needed a placement that night. The placement agency said he was a "healthy, white, baby boy." He had adoption as one of the goals on his permanency plan and, of course, we said, "yes!" That night we met Biscuit.
He came to our home with only the clothes he was wearing, a donated car seat and nothing else. We didn't care. He needed us and our family was there for him until permanency happened- whatever that meant. We were his and he was ours, for as long as he needed it.
The next few days were filled with many doctors' appointments and lots of shopping. We learned that Biscuit was born in a home that didn't meet codes, in less than ideal circumstances. At birth, he tested positive for Opiates, Cocaine, Marijuana and Benzodiazipines. He was angel flighted to Vanderbilt. We also learned that he had been on ECMO. ECMO is the most aggressive form of life support that is used.
Biscuit's entire life has been filled with over 100 nights in Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. He has had countless surgeries and procedures. At times, it seemed that he received a new diagnosis every week. At one time, he had a hospital bracelet for every month of his life from a hospital admission. He has died in my arms 3 times. He has had at least 3-4 therapy appointments per week since he was brought to our home. Either his father or I have attended every appointment with him. He has never spent a night in a hospital alone. When Biscuit was 11 months old he had a G-tube placed. During that time, I used FMLA so I was able to stay with him during his extended hospital stay. My husband and I have learned to everything necessary to care for his medical needs and provided him everything necessary to thrive. Often, that meant paying for items and medications that insurance would not pay for out of pocket. Our life had turned upside down.
During the entire two year process, we were asked several times if we wanted to continue the placement. With a foster adoption -preadoptive placement, the foster family also has the opportunity disrupt the placement if they feel that the child is not a good match for their family. The DCS workers and his guardian at litem were compelled to ask because Biscuit's care was so involved. Each time, we declined the offer to disrupt the placement. It is our belief that a family does not get to pick the child that God gives them. If a family grows through birth or adoption, you just aren't meant to pick. We were given the baby that we were meant to have and we would see things through until permanency.
Which we did. Biscuit's adoption was finalized on November 2, 2011. Only a few weeks before he turned 2 years old.
Fast forward to today. Biscuit is 3 years old and Bit is 7. Biscuit continues to be very medically involved. He has a private nurse at our home 60 hours per week; while I work as a Social Worker for Jimmy John's sub shack and his Father works as an Insurance Adjuster for Elmo. We continue to take him to therapy and all of his doctor's appointments and he continues to grow and surpass all of the expectations that doctors have provided. A child that has half of a working vocal cord can talk. He has a diagnosis of hemiparesis and can walk and run. We will never let him be just a diagnosis.
Biscuit can make a person smile on their worst day. He has taught us about perspective and what family really means. His placement has not only blessed our family beyond measure, but other families as well. In June of 2012, my husband was blessed to be able to donate a kidney to one of Biscuit's friends from Vanderbilt. Today, she is 4 and thriving.
So, that is a little about our little family. I hope this provides you with the information that you need. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I look forward to hearing back from you and I am excited at the prospect of participating in this event.