Baby Ava

Ava_Collage

One the same day that I got my ring back, I received another ring as well. It was a phone call from my good friend Vicki in Boston. Her and her husband had just been asked to “adopt” a friends child. The birth mother has a special bond with Vicki and knew that she would provide the perfect home for the sweet little girl who would be arriving in just three weeks.

Vicki talked to her husband and after their discussion, they knew this was God’s plan for their family. Baby Ava would make #5 for them. They have two twenty-something daughters, an eighteen-year-old son and an eleven-year-old. When she called me, she asked if we would be willing to let her and the newborn stay at our house while the paperwork was being drawn.

Without hesitation, or consulting my husband (oops), the answer was yes!

In my last blog, I talked about paying it forward. This is a prime example. What an opportunity to serve others and do what we are all supposed to do in this world. After discussing the situation with Vicki, we didn’t know what documentation would be required for the baby to leave Ohio, or how long they would need to stay with us.

Unknowns aplenty. But that didn’t deter us.

Vicki and I started our game plan. We asked to borrow baby items from the neighbors (thanks to Tony and Laura). We asked our favorite Goodwill shoppers to be on the lookout for clothes and blankets (thanks to JoAnn and Katie). I reached out to our church for diapers and formula (thanks to New Life Chapel). We started a Go Fund Me account and accepted cash donations to help pay the legal fees (thanks to all who contributed). We were on a mission. By the time Vicki arrived at our house on Sunday the 15th, baby Ava had 90% of what she needed.

Ahh, the power of community.

Baby Ava made her arrival into this world on March 17th. She was our little St. Patty’s Day good luck charm! She also now shares a birthday with my niece, Kendall. It was a perfect day. She was a perfectly healthy baby. And, we all fell in love with her immediately.

Watching the birth mother hand over her child over was incredible. While it’s hard to imagine how that would feel, it’s really commendable what she did. What a mature girl to recognize that she didn’t have the resources to give Ava the life that she deserves. What a strong girl not to abort, but rather seek out the perfect environment for her child to grow.

Talk about making the best of a challenging situation.

Being at the hospital and witnessing the emotions in the room was very hard. I met the birth mother an hour before she delivered. She was amazing. She welcomed me with open arms, gave me time with Ava, and didn’t think twice about letting me spend hours at the hospital with them. Being so close to Vicki and this process, I can’t express how much that meant to me.

After leaving the hospital, Vicki and Ava made their way to our home. There we all fell in love with Ava. She ate. She slept. She dirtied her diapers. She made us all smile. She really is the best baby!

The next day Vicki’s husband, Jeff, and their youngest son, Chase, arrived planning to stay until the guardianship hearing. We went through the weekend, hoping that Monday would deliver a court day. Another day passed, and no word. While we waited, we made the best of our days. Jeff made breakfast in the mornings and kept himself busy by hanging the artwork in our new home. Not complaining! Vicki and I kept busy feeding, changing diapers, attempting photo sessions and even shopping with Ava. Chase played video games and attended Ty’s baseball games so that he could visit with his old teammates. Being together and caring for one another helped us through the uncertainty.

Finally, on Tuesday they were told that the court date was set for May 8th. They were hoping for an emergency hearing due to the circumstances but, well … welcome to the court systems. While there are still hurdles ahead, they knew it wouldn’t help them to stay any longer. So, last night they started their journey back to Boston.

It was so hard to see them go. Throughout the process we’ve shared many words, many prayers and many tears. As I watched them pull out of our driveway, my tears reached a whole new level. I was sad to see my friend, her family and her beautiful new baby leave. I was also very happy for all of them. After all they are off to start something new. How lucky are they?

Just four weeks ago I would have never imagined hosting another family for an extended period of time, or having a newborn under our roof once again. But, I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. It was remarkable. And for those of you asking, never say never, but another child is not in our plans. That said, this story sheds light on the fact that God has the ultimate plans and in our family we will go where He leads us.

Wishing Baby Ava and her new family all the best. Please keep them on your prayer list and embrace those opportunities to pay it forward, come together and spread the love. After having experienced it first hand, I can truly say …

Nothing feels better.

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Pay It Forward

PayItForwardTwo Saturdays ago Mark and I attended a bowling fundraiser and afterwards, we decided to venture downtown with a group of other couples. After some discussion we agreed to make our way to the Old Bourbon Bar and Strauss Haus in Newport, KY. The evening was a complete blast, until I learned that …

I lost my engagement ring.

Saturday night was a typical winter evening in Ohio. It was very cold and snow dusted the night sky. That said, it was a date night so I didn’t let the weather stop me from dressing up, ditching the bulky winter jacket and breaking out those super attractive, but not-entirely-functional high heels.

While I was still looking great by the time we left the bar, I slipped on the ice on my way into the cab and down I went. No biggie, I brushed myself and we were on our way. The problem being, when I looked at my ring finger the next morning, my engagement ring was nowhere to be found.

Enter panic mode. That darn icy fall kept replaying in my head. It must have happened then. We scoured the streets, I checked every pocket of my purse, and we begged the staff at the bar to check, just one more time. Nothing surfaced. Maybe I didn’t wear it?

Wrong. When I got home, it wasn’t there either. How I got to sleep that evening, I have no idea, but when I woke the next morning I hit the phones. I called everyone that I knew in the area to see if they had any clues.

Still nothing.

At this point it came time to embrace the modern world. At 8:30PM on Sunday night I turned to Facebook and posted a call for help. By Monday the photo of my ring had been shared over 300 times. I couldn’t believe it! And then, at 9AM, I received a text. My ring had been found.

In the bathroom at the Strauss Haus.

I must have been cold enough in my cute date night outfit for my fingers to shrink. My only guess is that it fell off while I was washing my hands. Can I blame Mother Winter? Regardless of why, when I heard from Katie there was only one thing to be.

Grateful.

The whole situation restored my faith in humanity. While the whole fiasco lasted only 24 hours, there were so many generous, honest people that came out of the woodwork. John Clinton, the bar owner who was so patient and helpful. Big J, the owner of the cab company who offered his assistance. Graphic designers who reached out to help me make flyers. A chiropractor two doors down from the bar who took time to look for the ring himself. And, finally Katie. The honest stranger who ultimately returned the ring to me.

I’m happy to report that my ring is back on my finger and has since been resized. I didn’t think it was possible, but I appreciate it now more than I ever have. I am also so thankful for everyone who offered their help, their time and their social networks. You better believe that I will be paying the kindness forward.