Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Having Tyce Home

Sorry it's been so long since I lasted posted about Tyce... Where to begin??? There's so much to cover - I'll try to be brief. Well after going out to see him initially, we were able to arrange for someone from our family to be with him in Columbus for most of his stay in the NICU. Between the two of us and our parents, we were collectively able to fly out to visit him about 6 or 7 times. Praise God for providing the means and the time to do that! And thank you to our friends who generously donated their Southwest frequent flyer miles to us -- we couldn't have done it without you! It was pretty amazing to see how much our boy had grown every time we went out to see him. A couple weeks after we went out to meet him for the first time, the doctor called to tell me that Tyce had pulled the oxygen cannula out of his nose during the night without the nurses noticing and had done just fine without it. His oxygen saturation had stayed up in the 90's where it needed to be all night long, so the doctor decided to give him a trial run without the oxygen... and, guess what?? He never needed it again! It was pretty amazing to everyone (including the staff at the hospital) that he was off of oxygen completely at 29 weeks gestation -- a full 2 months before he was even supposed to be born! He continued to grow and gain weight, and I was even able to give him his first bottle. He was 33 weeks, and I asked if we could try bottle feeding, even though I knew it was a little early. The doctor gave me the go-ahead, although he was pessimistic and told me not to expect him to take it, as they usually don't even try to bottle feed a preemie until they are 35 weeks. In true Tyce fashion, he beat all odds and chugged his very first bottle!! Finally, after what seemed like forever, we were able to bring him home on Valentine's Day, a full month before his due date. What a special day that was. Gabi was beyond thrilled to finally meet her baby brother.

Since then, we've been trucking along and getting used to life with two kids. Tyce has done amazingly well, and Gabi can't get enough of her brother. That being said, it definitely hasn't been easy. Although Tyce had very few "preemie issues," he still requires extra time and care. As is common with most preemies, his muscles and joints are a little bit stiff, so we have an occupational therapist come to the house twice a month to work with him and show me stretches and massage techniques to help him loosen up. Also, he has had appointments with the ophthalmologist every 2 weeks since we brought him home to make sure his mild retinopathy of prematurity is resolving. Praise God that he had his last appointment a few days ago, and the doctor said that his eyes are healing beautifully and that he expects him to develop good vision and have no future complications from it. It's been pretty obvious that God has had His hand on Tyce and caused his body to heal and develop wonderfully!

For those of you who aren't on Facebook and don't get to see pictures or hear about how Tyce is doing now, let me tell you a little bit about him. His corrected age is almost 2 months old, and he pretty much acts just like a normal 2 month old. He is very content when he is awake and just likes to look around. It's amazing how well he focuses on our faces and how he studies new people. He recently started smiling and cooing at us, which has been incredibly exciting and rewarding. He has rolled over from his tummy to his back a handful of times and can sit for a few minutes in the Bumbo seat by himself. I'm guessing he weighs about 10 or 11 pounds now and is slowing chunking up. Can't wait to see how his little personality continues to develop!

Lastly, as for the puzzle, it has been completed! I just need to glue it and write everyone's names on the back, and I promise to post a picture when I'm done. It's pretty cool how PERFECTLY God provided the funds for this adoption. The combination of our personal savings, the adoption tax credit, and the puzzle donations covered the adoption costs exactly - no more, no less. What an amazing provider our God is! A huge THANK YOU to all who donated money for our adoption. Most importantly, we are immensely thankful for all of your prayers for us and for Tyce. God blessed us through each of you, and we are forever grateful!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Another Puzzle Pic

A HUGE thanks again to those of you who are praying for us and to those who have donated to the puzzle! We are making quite a bit of progress, as you can see. Thank you, Jesus!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Puzzle Progress

I promised a puzzle picture soon, so here it is!! We've obviously had more pieces "purchased" than we have been able to put together, but here's what we have thus far. A HUGE thanks to my sister, Jessica, for tackling this puzzle since Jotham and I haven't had too much free time lately. ;) Jess is a puzzle fiend!

I know we've said it numerous times, but, to each and every one of you who have purchased pieces, we can't tell you enough how much we appreciate it. God is using you all to answer our prayers for His provision. THANK YOU!!

                            The puzzle's beginnings and the puzzle now. :)

Friday, December 31, 2010

Adoption Update... Meet Our Son!!!

We are thrilled to announce the adoption of our son, Tyce David Michnovicz! He was born on December 10, 2010 and adopted by us on December 30, 2010. Long story short… He was born prematurely at 27 weeks and is currently 2 lbs 5 oz, about 14 inches long, and is doing very well! However, because of his prematurity, he will have to stay in the NICU in Ohio until March, at which point we will be able to bring our little man home!

For those of you who have asked how you can help us during this busy time, thank you!! Here are some ways you can help:
1)      Please pray for him and us. We will have to be away from him the majority of the time while he’s in the NICU, and we probably won’t be able to bring him home until March. We’re praying that his little body will continue to develop correctly, that he will know that he has a family that loves him, and that God will bind our hearts together fully and quickly.
2)      Pray that God will provide the means and the funds for us and our family to travel up here to be with him as much as possible until he comes home. Since this adoption is different from most domestic adoptions in that he must stay in Ohio until he’s discharged from the NICU, we will need to fly out there to visit him a couple more times, and travel expenses have the potential of getting pretty high.
3)      Any financial help would be appreciated as well. If you're interested, we are still “selling” puzzle pieces (“donate” button at the top right of page). We’ve sold almost half of the puzzle pieces so far, and we’ll post a picture of the puzzle’s progress soon. If you’ve already donated, THANK YOU SO MUCH! God has used you as an answer to prayer. You have been a part of making this adoption possible!

Now, for those of you who have been patiently waiting to hear the story of this adoption or are just curious and are willing to read a few pages, here’s the unabridged version of the story. J
So.... where to begin? I guess I'll start by saying that we've been praying for a baby ever since we started this adoption process, and lately, we've been praying that it would happen soon. We had tried to work with an agency in Alabama but God closed the door there, which was pretty disappointing at first. However, we had recently found a Christian agency in Florida that we started to work with – we had all our paperwork and profile turned in and were just waiting on final approval. We were excited to work with this agency and were hopeful, but apparently God had other plans. So here it goes….
On December 17th, our church had its Women’s' Christmas Dinner, where we all heard a great message about Christmas and then were supposed to go to three different prayer stations to pray for different things. At each station, there was a slip of paper with a list of things to pray for and a verse. I picked up the first piece of paper and tried to start praying for the things on the paper... but couldn't. Instead, I felt this overwhelming burden to pray for our kid. Didn't know why, or where, or when, or how. Just KNEW I needed to pray. So I did. I prayed and prayed and prayed. Then, I moved on to the next station and thought, “Okay, now I can pray for what I'm supposed to pray for...” But as I began to read the slip, I could hardly concentrate or read the words. Something was prompting me to pray for my baby. So, again, I prayed. I thought, “God, I don't know if this baby is in the womb still, or being born right now, or maybe he or she has already been born and is struggling... I don't know, but I'll pray.” When I got home from the party, I told Jotham about my experience, and we both just kind of wondered what it meant...
Skip ahead to Wednesday night, December 22nd. We were braving the craziness of the River of Lights parking, and I just started thinking about how much I love Gabi and began to pray that God would give us another child soon. And as soon as I said the word “soon,” I heard a voice say, “Soon? Really? Because I'll answer your prayers.” I was immediately taken aback and thought, “What was THAT?” I actually started to get a little nervous, because I started thinking, “Okay, maybe I'm not ready quite yet... Maybe I need more time!!...” But in my heart, I knew it was too late. God had heard me and was in the process of answering my prayer. Fast forward 2 hours. We are waiting in line for the bathrooms at the River of Lights, and I see that I have a message from Heather (our social worker) on my phone. I nervously dial my voice mail and hear Heather say, “Kara, it's Heather. I think I might have a possible baby for you.... Give me a call as soon as you can...” I told Jotham about the message and then about my prayer a couple hours earlier. We both were just speechless. In total shock. Could this really be happening? After getting back to our car, I called Heather, and she explained to me that there was a little baby boy born prematurely at 27 weeks in Ohio, and he needed a family. She didn't know many details at that point, but briefly explained the situation and said that she would call back the next day with more details. So, Jotham and I talked, prayed, and thought through what had just happened. Initially, we were totally open to the fact that this might be our baby, but it was just hard for us to know anything before we knew more details. We talked and prayed as much as we could and anxiously awaited more info the next day. As I waited though, I just kept thinking that this probably wasn't a black baby, and we had felt SO strongly that we were called to adopt a black baby. I kept asking God, “God, if this is our baby, please let him be black.” I probably said that same prayer 10 times that night and the next morning, but I couldn't help thinking that this little boy probably wasn't black. I thought, “So if he's not black, should we wait for another baby? Or should we set aside our desires for this baby?” Sounds weird, but despite the prematurity, my biggest concern was his ethnicity.
So, the next day, Heather called me around noon and said that she had more information... She started off by saying that the adoption agency wanted this baby to have a home and a family so bad that they sat down the night before and got rid of every possible fee they could, so that they wouldn't make any money off of the adoption. She told me that they basically cut the fees to about half of their original quote! Next, she said, “So this little boy is full African-American.... He's the race you wanted!!!” I said, “Heather, you have no idea how happy you just made me!” God had answered my prayer! She began to give me some more details about the birth mom and the situation surrounding this baby, including the birth mom's drug usage and the circumstances surrounding his premature birth. She also told me that the doctors and nurses had deemed this little baby “the miracle baby” because he was doing so well in the NICU so far. He only had to be on a vent for 4 days, was tolerating feedings well, peeing and pooping, and his intestines seemed to be functioning normally. The only complications this baby had were a couple of mild brain bleeds (which are not uncommon in preemies). The first brain bleed was a grade I, which is the least severe, and the second brain bleed was a grade II. They are graded I-IV, from mildest to most severe. Heather said that these brain bleeds hadn't seemed to cause any secondary problems thus far, which was good news. After getting some more details from Heather, I got off the phone and shared the story with Jotham. We both felt like this still might be our baby but just weren't completely sure. We needed more confirmation from God. Ever since I’d heard about this baby, I had been praying, “God, if this is our baby, please let me find something significant that happened on the 17th as I look through his medical records.” (Reminder: December 17th was the day of the Christmas party when I felt so compelled to pray for our child.) So, I continued to pray that prayer. That evening, the baby's medical records were sent to me, and I reviewed them quickly and was pleasantly surprised to see how well he seemed to be doing. Later that night, I was looking at them in more detail, and I came to this entry: 12/17/10: Grade II IVH (IVH stands for inter-ventricular hemorrhage, aka brain bleed). This meant that the most concerning medical issue this baby had experienced to date happened on the 17th!! This is why I needed to pray that night! Seeing God’s obvious hand in this immediately brought me to tears, and I just knew that this was our child! Praise God for his faithfulness in answering my VERY specific prayer!
But…. believe it or not, over the next few days, both Jotham and I started to experience doubts and have concerns (which I now know is NOT uncommon for people to experience when they’re about to adopt a baby). J I thought I was so strange for having doubts after God had showed me so clearly that this was our baby. So I asked Him for even MORE confirmation and assurance. And, as always, God is a loving Father who gives us good gifts, and He provided more confirmation. My main fear was that I wouldn’t be equipped or strong enough to handle a preemie baby or the problems he might face later in life. I was also just worried about the fragility of this baby. I kept hoping that God would show me a verse in the Bible that would comfort me when I was feeling scared or having doubts. One day, I was praying for this, and the verse that popped into my head was this, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9). Here I was - feeling like I might not be sufficient for the needs of this child, but God's grace IS sufficient. And, God's power is made perfect in WEAKNESS (the fragility of a newborn baby). Thank you, Lord, for constant reminders of your grace!
Now, it was time to tell our families. I had been a bit anxious about telling them, and I wasn’t really sure why… I think I was nervous because this all happened so unexpectedly, and I was also afraid to tell them about the birth mom’s drug usage. However, we told Jotham’s parents, and they were immediately supportive and encouraging. The next day, we told my family, and they had the same response. My mom immediately started bawling… tears of joy! When I told them that we were going to have to leave the baby in Ohio until he was discharged from the NICU in March, my mom said, “Oh Kara, I’ll go stay with him!” Hearing her say this was just so reassuring! Jotham and I had thought that if anyone was going to try to dissuade us from adopting this baby, it would be our parents, because they love us and want to protect us from potential hardship, pain, or sadness. So, when both of our families were immediately supportive (and excited!) about us adopting this baby, we felt like this was another way that God was reassuring us that we should move forward with this adoption. J
As if we hadn’t had enough confirmation already, God continued to show us signs of His favor throughout the next few days. We continually (I mean, like once an hour) got phone calls or texts or emails  from friends or family telling us that they were praying or even that they felt like God was showing them that this baby was ours. My sister called one night to tell us that she felt like God was prompting her to share with us that sometimes obeying God is really scary… BUT, the thought of not obeying God (when He has clearly showed you His will for you) is even scarier. Both Jotham and I had been apprehensive about adopting this baby, but we had been feeling even more apprehensive about not following where God seemed to be leading us. My sister encouraged us to take this step of faith and trust God. Then, Jotham’s mom called to encourage us with Psalm 11. We had been feeling like Satan wanted this baby, and that God wanted to use us to save this baby. Psalm 11 says, “…the wicked bend the bow… to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart.” But later in the chapter it says, “… the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.” God continued to use our friends and family to encourage us – Jotham was able to talk to his dad a few times, who always gave him Godly advice and shared his wisdom. Jotham was also able to be encouraged by a few friends who’ve recently adopted. And, as if we still weren’t receiving enough confirmation from the Lord, we went to our Christmas Eve service on Friday night, and the service was all about ADOPTION. When we finally felt like we were ready to move forward with this adoption and make this baby a part of our family, I called Heather to let her know our decision. When I told her how God had made it so clear to us what we should do, she told me, “Kara, I’m so glad to hear you say all this because, when I heard about this baby, God was pretty clear about who I should call.” Yet more confirmation!!!
So, we booked our flights to Ohio and showed up in Columbus on Wednesday, the 29th. During the flight, I was reading through the Psalms and found these verses, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but you, oh Lord, are the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26). The other verse was, “Show me a sign of your favor so that those who hate me may see and be put to shame because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.” (Psalm 86:17).I quickly memorized both verses, shared them with Jotham, and just kept repeating them in my head like a broken record. When we finally arrived in Columbus, let me tell you, we were a ball of nerves, to say the least. I think Satan was trying to keep this good thing from happening as he planted doubts and worries in our minds. Honestly, that first night, we were ready to quit. Give up and go home. We prayed and prayed and prayed that God would close a huge, obvious door if this wasn’t His will for us. We called people hoping they’d tell us they didn’t think this was a good idea. But God did not close any door, and everyone we called told us to step out in faith and trust in our Father. We kept thinking, “Okay. [deep breath] Okay, Lord. You’re moving this forward whether we like it or not, so we’re just going to follow along until you close a door or give us a son.” We prayed and prayed and prayed…again… for God to close a door or speak to us clearly and give us more confirmation that this was His will.
The next morning, we drove over to the agency, signed papers to become the parents of this little boy we hadn’t ever seen or met, and all the while, we were thinking, “We are absolutely crazy. What are we doing?” But still, no closed door. In fact, everything was going as smoothly as it possibly could. After signing the papers, we went over to the hospital to wait for the social worker, who was going to take us to “our baby. “ After waiting about an hour, she took us up to the nursery and we laid eyes on this cute, tiny, precious baby boy. We have a SON. Seeing him was our final confirmation from God.

Our first morning here, the doctor came in to give us an overview on his health and answer any questions we might have. Though there are some possible developmental problems (ranging from mild to severe) that could potentially result from his intrauterine drug exposure and pre-term birth, the doctor told us that he has been doing as well as any other preemie of his age. So far there aren’t any negative signs, and his progress has been very encouraging. The doctor also confirmed our feelings that the “good news and bad news is that he’s a preemie.” The fact that he was born before the last trimester means that he wasn’t exposed to harmful drugs during the most critical phase of brain development. God knows what he’s doing and is at work every step of the way!
 And as I sit here writing this with my son sleeping ever so peacefully on my chest, I can’t help but think, “THIS is why God never closed a door. THIS is why he brought us here. THIS is why He spoke to us so clearly. God knew all along that THIS boy was our son.” All glory to God!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Help Us Build Our Adoption Puzzle!!

We wanted to create an opportunity for many of you to share in the joy of bringing Baby Michnovicz #2 home. This beautiful painting was created for us by Jared Michnovicz and Eric Lamb and has been turned into a puzzle. Each piece of the puzzle will represent a partner who has donated to our adoption. There are 1,000 pieces to the puzzle, and each piece will be $10.00. The name of each donor will be written on the back of a puzzle piece or pieces. We will eventually frame the completed puzzle with a double sided frame so that someday our child will be able to see the names of so many that were a part of him/her coming home. Please consider how you might be a part of this adoption journey. If you'd like to purchase a puzzle piece, you can click on the "Donate" icon to the right. Whether it's one piece or many, we are so thankful for your generosity. Our goal is to “sell” every one of the thousand pieces, and we believe that God will make this possible! To Him be the glory!

We asked Eric and Jared to paint a "reflection" image because we want our adoption to reflect God's adoption of us into His family. Could we have been given a greater gift? :) "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves." Ephesians 1:3-6

Our Adoption Story
Ever since we've been married, we've known we wanted to adopt a child at some point in our lives. We did not know where that child would come from or when God would bring us that child, however. Two years ago, God gave us one of the most wonderful gifts we could ever imagine in the form of our daughter Gabriella. We LOVE being parents and feel that it is one of our responsibilities to take children under our care (biological or adopted) and raise them up in the way they should go, according to God's Word. In April of this year, we figured we'd “just start the adoption process,” knowing that sometimes the process can take years and figuring we'd have one or two more biological children before we completed the process and were ready to adopt. As we started the paperwork, we began praying that God would lead us and give us clear direction as to the timing and details of our adoption. After about 3 months of praying and working through the adoption paperwork, God gave me this crazy, undeniable peace and joy and EXCITEMENT(!) about adopting a child now. I've never felt God's leading so clearly. And, as always, God is faithful, and gave Jotham the same peace and eagerness to adopt a child around the same time. After more prayers and discussion over the next couple months, we felt confident that we should go with God's leading that our next child would be adopted! What joy we felt in making that decision! Much to our surprise, the adoption paperwork and home study went far more quickly than either of us thought it would, and here we are........ paperwork and home study done!
You may be wondering where our child will come from... Well, originally we hoped to adopt a child from Mexico, as my sister lives and runs and orphanage there. However, we quickly found out that this wasn't legally possible at this point in time due to different laws and regulations, etc. So then, we thought that if we couldn't adopt from Mexico, why not adopt from New Mexico, where there is a large hispanic population? We pursued this for a while, and then, in our adoption training, we heard that there are many more families waiting to adopt in NM than there are babies placed for adoption.... BUT, they told us that if we were willing, there was a huge need for African-American babies to be adopted from some of the other states in the U.S. After some discussion and prayer, we decided that we just didn't feel right about waiting around for a baby that might look like us when there was such a huge need elsewhere. There was no other choice for us. We wanted God to use us to meet the greatest need. 

Now, on to how you can help bring our little one home! We estimate that the total cost of the adoption will be anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000, and our goal is to raise as much of that as we can.... Which brings us to the puzzle. The details of the puzzle project are outlined above. If God has prompted your heart to donate, we are SO thankful. God is using you for His Kingdom and His plan. We believe that God only needs our willingness to carry out His purposes, not the resources. He'll provide.
And as we wait for Him to provide the resources, we pray. We pray that He gets all the glory. We pray for His guidance and direction – in our lives and in the lives of the birth mothers looking at our profile. We pray for wisdom and understanding as we raise a child of a different racial background than our own. We pray that God would give us more than enough love to love Gabi AND this new child. We pray that God would knit our hearts together with the heart of our future son or daughter, just as He knit Gabi together in my womb. We pray that our future child will, most importantly, be a child of God's Kingdom and will grow up to love and serve the Lord.
Please pray with us.
Much love and thanks,
Jotham, Kara, and Gabriella