Berry Happy
I loved celbrating Easter with the whole family this year!  Alex and Jill were here and my dad and Clark's mom were able to join us as well.  It was such a joy to have all of our kids with us in church celebrating Jesus. 

We have had many interesting things happen during the month of May. Alex has had his Eagle project approved and is almost complete with the project itself.  Jill has become a protestor.  She along with 21 other classmates protested against thier science teacher and had a sit out in the office.  Luckily she wasn't in trouble.  The principal sympathized!   Ariana's first shots (not awesome!) and her first go at sitting in her Bumbo seat.  They are all doing so well. 

Clark was hired by Florida Virtual School as an IL (principal) and will be starting on June 6th.  We are all so excited about this opportunity for him.  He will not have the night activities etc that he had before and will be part of an organization that truly appreciates its employees. 

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Everyone talks about how they feel this instant bond with a child when they know that they are pregnant.   It's a love that you can't even describe other than unconditional.  

I felt love for Ariana the day that we got the call that we had a match and she would be ours.  We spent months driving up for Dr. visits and seeing her on that little monitor.  Then she was finally here.  I have loved her since October, but was so guarded with my heart.  Everyday until we were on our way home, I knew that our dream could be shattered at any moment.  I thought it would get better when we got home and I could relax, but then there are the social worker visits and you constantly being reminded that she isn't "officially yours" until you are in court and the judge bangs his little gavel.  

We have had so many heartbreaks that I was terrified.  I told Clark that I felt like a bad mom because I felt like she was my stepchild.  I LOVE Alex and Jill, but I am always reminded that I don't get to be the mom in their lives.  I am the person that loves them like my own, would give anything for them but then I have to send them back to their mom's house.  I have been so worried that something would happen where Ariana would be taken back too. (The birthfather's rights aren't being officially terminated until the first part of May.  Our paperwork even says "High Risk Adoption".)

I realized last weekend, after our 2nd social worker visit, everything was going to be fine.  I realized it at about 3 a.m. while holding this beautiful little girl in my arms.  I was trying to get her back to sleep, but all she was interested in was smiling and making her own noises.  It was looking into her eyes at that moment that I realized I had fallen in love with MY child.  She is ours.  She is the one that God had for us all along.  

I know that I am really bad at keeping up, but a little birdie (Kerry) reminded me to get on the ball and update this blog! 

Our bundle of joy arrived on March 2nd!  What an exciting 6 weeks it has been.  Ariana is such a joy.  She is beautiful inside and out.  To truly appreciate what it means to adopt, you have to know the story of the adoption process.  I explained what a wonderful experience we had in getting our match, but there is so much more that comes after that.  I had no idea!!!!!

So, let me back up just a little to Feb. 24th.  I got a call from the birth mother telling us that she had a Dr. appointment the next Wednesday and that she though that they were going to go ahead and complete the c-section.  We found out after we got there that it was more her wishful thinking.  There had been no plan to go ahead and deliver at that time, but when she told the Dr. that she wasn't feeling Ariana move he asked her to go ahead an go to the hospital so they could monitor her more closely for a period of time.  She decided to go ahead and tell the Dr. that she had previously had a still birth and that was why she was so concerned.  That was the game changer!

Within 30 minutes of her telling the Dr. this little piece of information, she was on the schedule for a c-section just 2 hours from then.  When they came in to tell us, I yelled so loud that the nurse spun around a looked at me like I was crazy. Then I started crying...naturally. 

I felt like I was on Grey's Anatomy (with out all of the sex going on).  I watched them stick a HUGE needle in her back for the epidural, begin cutting into her abdomen, and then finally I watched as they reached inside of her to pull out this beautiful baby girl.  I literally saw her come into this world.  She was 7 lbs. 9 oz. 20 1/2 inches of absolute beautiful! 

Then came the exhausting 4 days after the delivery.  The hospital wouldn't allow us to be in a regular room with Ariana, only what they call the "Parent Room."  This room is just off of the nursery and is about 6x6 and has no windows, radio, TV, or any  other form of entertainment.  It was so tiny that Clark and I were tripping over each other while trying to change a diaper.  We spent 12-15 hours a day in that little room with our baby girl.  Her birth mother would occaisionally ask to see her, but for the most part she left us to bond with the baby.  She said that it really meant a lot to her that we trusted her and her decision enough to allow ourselves to bond with Ariana. 

At 48 hours, she signed her consents (terminating her perental rights), but asked that the baby not be discharged until she was on Sunday (4 days after delivery).  It was such a relief to know that the papers were signed under Florida law and could not be revoked...under GA law, she would have 10 days to change her mind.  I felt like I could finally breathe and just enjoy my new daughter. 

Sunday finally came.  We got to the hospital around 9:00 am and went to the nursery.  Ariana was being checked over by the pediatrician and the nurse said that she would bring the baby to us when they were finished.  We waited...and waited...and waited and then finally went back over to see what was going on.  She wasn't in the nursery.  The nurse told us that the birthmother had requested time with her and asked that we not come into her room.  I was feeling extremely frustrated so we went down to the cafeteria to get some lunch.  Clark was standing in the line paying for our food at McDonald's when my phone rang.  It was our attorney.  She was calling to let us know that the birthmother was trying to change her mind about the adoption.  The hospital didn't know what to do, so they just didn't speak to us.  For about 6 hours we weren't allowed to see our daughter.  We were told to wait in the room until our attorney arrived.  When she came in, she was accompanied by Ariana, a nurse, and a tall slender black woman who introduced herself as the birthmother's aunt.  I wasn't sure how to react until she gave us a huge hug and said that she felt that the mother had made the right choice in the begining when she chose us to raise her daughter.  She prayed with us and then went to talk with her niece.  About 30 minutes later, the birthmother came to see us.  She apologized for her actions and explained that she was just having trouble letting go.  She asked the hospital staff to get the discharge papers ready so that Ariana could go home with her parents. 

I can't tell you the relief that came over me when we had our baby girl strapped into her carseat and watched the hospital fade into our rearview mirror!
I have been terrible about keeping up with the blog through the last couple of months.  Things in the Berry family have been so hectic and yet SO exciting!!!!

For anyone that hasn't hear (although I'm not sure if that is possible because I can't stop talking about it) we got a match for our adoption in October. 

It was such an amazing thing.  Our match came through an agency that we weren't even "affiliated" with.  I contacted them in September with little luck/interest.  They wanted quite a bit of money up front and so we decided that they weren't going to be the right fit for us.  About a month later, on a Tuesday morning they contacted me out of the blue.  They said that they had a woman that they thought would be a perfect fit for us and us for her.  I scanned and emailed our adoption portfolio that morning and by the afternoon I was talking with and making plans to meet the woman that would give us the most amazing gift in the world. 

We drove to GA that weeekend to meet her.  She is such a sweet woman.  It was instant love!  We have gone once a month since October to be involved in Dr. appointments etc.  Our baby girl will be born in March.  Miss Ariana Grace will be a very welcomed addition to the Berry family. 

Alex is doing well.  He just got his SAT results back- 1170 on his first attempt in the fall of his junior year!  Not too shabby.  Can we say "scholarships!"

Jill is going through middle school so quickly.  She will be a freshman next year and is doing so well.  She has lots of friends and does great in school.

Clark will be taking on a different position within his school system.  He has been asked to run an elementary school while also opening a school for 16-24 year old students that have dropped out of school.  They would be working on earning a GED as well as getting on the job training in the construction field.  He will also be working to get a K-12 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) program going.  He is just AMAZING!!!!
So...I have totally been slacking on the blog lately.  So much has happend in the last month.  After the death of a friend (Susan Griffies) whom I worked with at FLVS, then the death of a friend's husband, and then another close friend's father was diagnosed with bladder and prostate cancer I have been completely consumed by thoughts of how much I love my family and how blessed I am.

Reasons to be thankful for each one of them:

Clark:  He is the most amazing husband that anyone could ever ask for.  I love the way that he leaves me a love note every morning.  I love the way he smiles.  I love that he loves the Lord and is a great example to live by.  I love the way he loves being around the kids. I love that he is extremely smart and loves his students and school.  I love his butt!!!  HEHE.  :-)

Alex:  I love that he is so anything that he does.  I love that he is respectful to anyone he meets. I love that he loves the Lord and really shows it in his everyday life.  I love that he isn't afraid to try something new..even if it's going to be hard. 

Jill:  I love her sense of humor.  I love the way she loves life.  I love her smile and laugh.  I love the way that she brightens a room.  I love the way she that she has a tender heart (even though she tries not to let you see it).  I love that the word "can't" isn't in her vocabulary.  I love that people say that we are alike even though she isn't "mine"...per se.      :-)
What a great way to start Labor Day weekend...we put down sod in our side yard this weekend.  :-)  The frost settled on one side of our yard and it just didn't stand a chance this winter.  We kept hoping it was going to come back (yeah right!).

The kids were such an amazing help.  They helped out in such a HUGE way.  They were both helping shovel through the old dead grass (and weeds), pulling the remaining weeds, leveling out the soil and carrying sod all over the place.  I don't think Clark and I could have done it without them.  What a team!!!!
As much as I didn't want to hear those words...she called to say them.  "I'm sorry Mrs. Berry, but the birth mother has chosen another family."   I feel like my heart was ripped out in just a matter of seconds.  After days of being excited, so sure that this was the one, it is a huge let down. 

I think that this is the worst let down since the March of this year when our final infertitlity treatment failed.  I had already started picking out cute Halloween costumes for him and been thinking about how wonderful Christmas morning was going to be with our family together.  I keep reminding myself that it is all in God's timing.
I think I am going to go nuts waiting for Wendesday to get here!  I am so excited that I had to take meds just to sleep last night (haven't hardly slept since last Thursday night)! 

It is so exciting to think that after almost 3 years of trying to have a might be within reach. 

The message in church yesterday was about being adopted into God's family.  How amazing to hear that while waiting on an adoption! I told Clark I didn't want to sound hokey and say it was a sign, but it sure felt like God was speaking to our hearts. 

Child of my Heart

Oh my child, child of my heart.
There is so much to tell you, where shall I start?
I know you're out there, maybe even now.
I know that God will lead you to me, someway somehow.

I may never feel you kick or hear your heart beat for that first time.
But, from the moment that I hold you, there will be no doubt that you are mine.

Maybe even now, your birth mom is considering what to do.
I can only imagine what she is going through.
Maybe she is a child herself, with dreams yet to fulfill.
Maybe she is not ready for a little one, but I know she loves you still.
I know her heart must be breaking, and at night she cannot sleep.
I know if it were possible, it's you she'd want to keep.

 On the other side, I am waiting here.
I can sense her love for you and also her fear.
I wish that I could tell her of all the sleepless nights,
of all the tests and procedures and the prayers that this time just maybe it would be right.

I could tell her of all the tears, of all the prayers I've had.
Of the times that I felt so lost, of all the times I've been sad.

I can offer a Mom to kiss away the hurt and tuck you in at night,
I can offer a Dad to teach you to play ball and how to fly a kite.
I can offer a home and a family complete with Aunts, Uncles,Cousins,Granny and Grandpa.
They are all waiting for you, and loving you from afar.

I will share my love with you each and every day.
I will tell you of the woman who loved you in every single way.

I will make sure that you know just the sacrifice she made.
And if you someday want to meet her,
I will never try to dissuade.

For without this special woman,
I would have never had the chance to love you.
My dream of being a Mom, would have never come true.

So, please if you are out there.
Please know I care.
I know what a sacrifice you are making and I would never judge you, that would be unfair.

I am praying for you even now and please know from the very start.
This child will always be a part of you and a child
of my "heart".
Found out on Friday that we may have a possible match for our adoption.  We will find out a definate answer on Wednesday.  I don't think that it can get here fast enough.  We know that the mother is due November 6th with a little boy.  I have already started immagining what he would look like. 

I can't wait to find out if he is the little boy that will be our little Jack. 
I am just starting this blog so that our family and friends can keep up with all of the fun and interesting stuff that is going on with the Berry family. 

Thus far....this month! :-)

Alex passed his driving test last week.  He is the proud new owner of a driver's license.  He has been quite excited to drive to school every morning.  We have been excited that he can drive home after football practice (no more waiting in the parking lot for an hour at a time!!!)  It seems like yesterday his interests were Pokemon and Boy Scouts.  Now he is interested in the Sports Illustrated swim suit edition and facebook.  He is still in Boy Scouts-  working on his Eagle project! He is an amazing young man that is excited about all of the college brochures that he has been getting in the mail.

Jill started 8th grade!  I can't believe that cute little girl with the long blonde hair has grown up so much.  She is almost as tall as I am!  She still loves her sports but is totally about the fashion sense!  :-)  She is counting down the time until she gets to drive like big brother. 

Clark had a wonderful opening of the school year.  Very busy, but everything has gone smoothly thus far.  We are going to the first LWHS football game tonight!