Love Makes Families

Love Makes Families
A family of 7 due to the blessing of adoption!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

I remember

I remember seeing this picture of you.

I remember knowing that you were meant to be my son. I had stopped following all adoption blogs and deleted most of my adoption friends because I just knew that we were not going to be able to adopt. I couldn't stop following Katie's story though. I could not believe that I lived in a World that would allow a 9 year old little girl to be so small. Then I saw you. God led me to you. I had so many plans for you. I knew you would achieve great things. I fought for you. I wanted to pick up and move to Bulgaria just to be close to you. Leaving you behind was the hardest thing I had done in my life, and I had done some hard things. I was so thankful to have you home. I told everyone how happy I was that I would never have to say goodbye to you again. I barely left your side. I would panic if I was more than a room away from you. I left you with Poppy and Grandma a couple of times, but I refused to be more than 10 mins away. Even leaving the hospital when daddy was with you a couple times felt like torture. I didn't understand. I had never really been the overbearing type, but I needed to be with you probably more than you needed me there. I remember having gone to get food one time while you were in the hospital. I came back and you were crying. As soon as I said your name, you stopped and smiled up at me. I still treasure those moments. God was so kind to me and gave me an angel on Earth. I thought life could not get any better. Then you got so sick. I had this horrible feeling that I was going to have to send you home. Everyone else did not believe me. They kept saying everything would be fine. After a while, though, God made it clear. He was asking me to say goodbye to you again. I didn't want to do it. I couldn't imagine not holding you in my arms. I couldn't imagine not seeing your smile each morning and hearing the music of your laugh each day. I had perfection at my finger tips and God wanted me to "give it back." I didn't think I was strong enough. I know I wasn't. God gave me strength and he gave you the strength. I remember one night, God gave me the most amazing gift. He allowed us to communicate. You used the words yes and no to answer questions for me. I remember asking you (not expecting an answer) Adam, are you going to stay with mama? You said no. I asked you if you wanted to be with Jesus and you said Yes. I asked if you wanted me to take you back to the doctors so they could make you better and you said no. I asked you if you were done fighting and you said yes. I asked if you wanted me to let you go and you said yes. I thought I was imagining this whole conversation so I asked all the questions multiple times and in multiple ways and each time the answers were the same. Your time on Earth was done, and you knew it. You used your last bit of strength to tell me that it would be ok. To let me know that you needed to return home. You comforted me. I promised you then that I would hold you until your last breathe. I never left your side. I stopped sleeping for fear that you would die alone. I still don't sleep baby boy. I miss you too much.

Thursday, October 1, 2015


I carry a pain with me each and every day that nobody can truly understand. To be honest, I do not understand it myself. Some days, I feel happy, motivated and capable. Other days I feel empty, lost and defeated. I will probably never know in this life why I was asked to fight so hard for my son, hold him for 9 months then return him home to God. I will never be the same again. This is both a good and a bad thing.... I would not change it for anything..... as crazy as that may sound. If I would have known that Adam was going to die, would I have still brought him home? I get asked that a lot. Despite the pain that losing him has caused, I can say without a doubt that adopting "MY SON" was one of (if not 'the') best things I have done in my life. The love that child gave of so freely was what I imagine the love of Jesus to be like. The joy he had (in spite of the massive pain and suffering he endured daily) taught so many people a valuable lesson. I wish that there were more "Adams" on this Earth because I am telling you, that you could not be in his presence and not smile. He exuded pure joy, happiness and love. I often miss that presence in my home......

This picture was taken exactly 2 weeks before he passed. You would never know that he was in excruciating pain. The type of pain that could bring the strongest of men to their knees begging for relief. Yet he smiled.  You would never know that his brain was bleeding so badly that it was exiting his skull and pooling in his throat and chest just under the skin. Because he chose to smile. You taught me so much baby boy. You didn't need to talk, see, hold your own head up, walk, stand or anything else to convey God's message. You were God's message!!! I miss you!!!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A letter to my children

Dear Children,

I hope I am teaching you to be selfless, responisble, respectful, and honest individuals. I hope I teach you to be a leader, but not the type of leader who puts themself ahead of others. I hope I teach you to serve others. I hope I teach you that no matter what you will always have me by your side. I hope I teach you that I love you more than you can ever truly comprehend until you become a parent, but I will never be able to love you as much as God does. I will never be able to offer you a gift as valuable as the gift your brother Jesus Christ gave you. I hope you know that I do not love you in spite of your difference. I love you because of your differences. I do not and never will love you all the same. I love you all in a unique way because our relationship is unique just as each of us are unique.

I have high expectations from you. I expect you to learn from your mistakes and grow from them. I expect you to give 100% in all you do. I expect you to exceed the expectations of the World because the World has continued to lower their standards. I expect you to continue to be accepting of all people. I expect you to help others as often as possible. I expect you to give to others. I expect you to be a graceful loser and a humble winner. I expect you to show respect for people and property at all times. I expect you to be honest at all times. I expect you to try your best to be like Christ in the way you love and care for others. I expect you to live in a way that makes you worthy to live with God again. I do not expect perfection though.... just 100% effort.

I will do my best to teach you these things by example. I promise to not be a "do as I say not as I do" type of parent. I promise to listen to you. I promise to have fun with you. I promise to do my best to find appropriate consequences that will help you learn rather than to "punish" you. I promise to be fair. I promise to respect you as an individual, but that doesn't mean that you do not have to earn it. I promise to support you in all your endeavors. I promise to love you unconditionally. I hope you know by now that a promise means a lot to me. I hope you trust it to be true when I make you a promise.

I love you always and forever,

Sunday, June 28, 2015

How do we teach our children the principles of Liberty and Patriotism in the home?

Hello Brothers and Sisters. For those who do not know me (which is just about every one of you) I am Jaclyn Mitchell. We moved into the ward 2 weeks ago. My husband Kevin and I have been married for 14 years and have known each other for 20 years. We have 5 beautiful children. Kaitlyn just turned 10, Brittany is about to turn 9 next month, Matthias turned 8 this past January, Our Angel baby Adam would have been 8 last month, but, being too perfect for this World, returned to be with our Father in Heaven last summer, and our baby Alyssa turned 6 last month. I will save myself some time later in the hallway from those who were listening..... How is it possible to have 3 8 year olds at the same time. Our 2 boys were adopted from Bulgaria, and we brought them home when they were 6 years old. Our son Matthias is deaf, although he has cochlear implants, he does not speak, understand speech or sign. He does not walk on his own and he is dependant on us for all his day to day needs. As was our sweet Adam. 

Well, moving right along..... Brother Batemen stopped by our home on Friday evening. He asked me to speak on how we teach our children the principles of Liberty and Patriotism in the home. I agreed then later questioned my ability to do this topic justice. Afterall, what is Patriotism? Webster says it is "Love for or devotion to one's Country". Ok.... so what is Liberty? Wester says it is the state or condition of people who are able to act and speak freely: the power to do or choose what you want to: a political right.

Ok so basically what I gather from this is that we need to be teaching our children in the home to be thankful that we live in a land where we have the legal right to utilize our God given gift of free agency, and to honor that land, but how do we teach this?

I ran across a talk on from 1976. Called Declaration of Dependence: Teaching patriotism in the home by  Robert K. Thomas and Shirley Wilkes Thomas
They say " The heart of patriotism, however, lies in attitudes that are rooted in family relationships, for the family unit, in microcosm, undergoes most of the stresses which test the larger societies that make up a nation. The qualities that distinguish patriotism are all of the “homely” variety: respect, integrity, loyalty, self-sacrifice, consideration, fairness, appreciation, and devotion. "
If we are teaching our children these "basic" atributes at home then they will naturally apply them in society. When tested outside of the home, they will fall back on what they have always done. 

I happen to have a child who is on the autism spectrum. She is very intelligent and high functioning, but she does not see anything in grey. It is either black or white. We recently had several friends who made promises they did not keep, who said they would do things then didn't follow through or other such things that we, as humans, do. This has lead her to question the things that I have taught her. Regardless of what our friends, or society as a whole may be doing, it is our job to be the best we can be both within our home and in honoring our Country. I have lovingly explained to my daughter that "In this house, we will continue to be honest, loyal, keep our promises, say only what we mean (without being mean of course) and be the best "Citizens" we can be. While this may be confusing to my children, I refuse to "slack off" when it comes to teaching "homely values". 

While we live in "Perilous times" as Boyd K Paker called them back in 2008, where many of our freedoms are being "tested", we must continue to stand by what we believe and teach our children these beliefs. As Boyd K Paker discussed the saints reaction to finally being free from persecution he replays the following events from history "Now on this 24th of July in 1849, free at last from the mobbings, they planned to celebrate. 8
Everything the Saints owned would come across a thousand miles (1,600 km) of desert by handcart or covered wagon. It would be 20 more years before the railroad came as far as Salt Lake City. With almost nothing to work with, they determined that the celebration would be a grand expression of their feelings.
They built a bowery on Temple Square. They erected a flagpole 104 feet (32 m) tall. They made an enormous national flag 65 feet (20 m) in length and unfurled it at the top of this liberty pole.
It may seem puzzling, incredible almost beyond belief, that for the theme of this first celebration they chose patriotism and loyalty to that same government which had rejected and failed to assist them. What could they have been thinking of? If you can understand why, you will understand the power of the teachings of Christ.
Their brass band played as President Brigham Young led a grand procession to Temple Square. He was followed by the Twelve Apostles and the Seventy.
Then followed 24 young men dressed in white pants; black coats; white scarves on their right shoulders; coronets, or crowns, on their heads; and a sheathed sword at their left sides. In their right hand, of all things, each carried a copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. The Declaration of Independence was read by one of those young men.
Next came 24 young women dressed in white, blue scarves on their right shoulders and white roses on their heads. Each carried a Bible and a Book of Mormon.
Almost but not quite as amazing as their choice of patriotism for a theme was what came next: 24 aged sires (as they were called) led by patriarch Isaac Morley. They were known as the Silver Greys—all 60 years of age or older. Each carried a staff painted red with white ribbon floating at the top. One carried the Stars and Stripes. These men were a symbol of the priesthood, which was “from the beginning before the world was” 9and had been restored in this dispensation.
The Saints knew that the Lord had told them to be “subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” 10 That commandment, revealed then, is true now of our members in every nation. We are to be law-abiding, worthy citizens.
The Lord told them, “I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose.” “… As we have inherited the spirit of liberty and the fire of patriotism from our fathers, so let them descend [unchanged] to our posterity.”11  Elder Phineas Richards
I love how the word "unchanged" is highlighted in this quote. Although things around us are changing, our love for our Country, Our desire to continue to fight for our freedoms, Our appreciation for our freedoms is something we shall continue to teach our chilren to appreciate. Having been born into the United States, many of us take these things for Granted. 

I remember at one point during our adoption process we were filling our paperwork which said to state our religion. I didn't even think twice before writing LDS. Sadly, within seconds, my paper was returned and I was told to "re-think" that answer. I was advised that since we were adopting from a foreign Country without as many freedoms it might be wise to be "less specific". I altered the form to say simply "Christian". I later questioned "what could they do anyways?" It was explained to me that many times paperwork for LDS people came up missing. Their adoptions were denied or other similar things. Other Countries are not blessed with the same freedoms we are. My children have learned a lot about appreciation for what we have after having witnessed what little kids from other Countries truly have. The Thomas' mention in their 1976 talk that "the child who equates freedom with indulgence may never understand the consideration for others that is fundamental to a workable democracy" 
My children watched as their brothers came home tiny and barely even knowing how to eat. Not knowing how to play with toys because they never had any. Not knowing how to walk, talk or communicate because their "rights" were taken from them because they were different. I think it was at that point that my children learned to love and respect this Country in a whole new way. It is imperative that we teach our not only to appreciate freedom, but not to take it for granted. To continue to fight for it and to honor those that fight on our behalf. As parents, as saints, as citizens it is our duty to teach patriotism and liberty to our children, our friends, our fellow citizens. It is a commandment of God.

I want to talk a second to thankmy father, Gordon, who served 20 years serving our Country, fighting for our freedom and instilling in me Love and Respect for My Country.

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Monday, February 2, 2015


It seems that often times in life we are faced with trials that we just do not understand. The loss of Adam is right at the top of my list of hardest trials. I experienced a huge range of emotion with Anger rating highest on that list. While I had always known God had a plan, at that point in my life, I just could not see it. In my mind, I still believed it was true, but my heart was too broken to see reason!! After 8 months, I am started to accept that God's plan is perfect even though I am still in pain. I feel honored to have been chosed to be the Mom of a PERFECT ANGEL here on Earth, and guess what?!?! He is mine FOREVER. While I should have been thankful that Adam was not forced to endure more pain and misery in this life, I was so focused on Anger and Questioning.... WHY ME?!?!? If asked again this very minute to endure the pain of losing Adam again 1 million times just to have a few more moments of time with him, I would not hesitate. The joy he brought into this World was something so beautiful, I wish I could have shared him with EVERYONE!!! Do not get me wrong, I miss him something fierce, I cry often and still sometimes wonder why, but I also know that it is not mine to know at this time. I need to trust God's plan!
The difference 9 months made is AMAZING!!!

 Adam before

Adam after 9 months home

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Matthias' kinda first word

Matthas has been doing surprisingly well since they activated his cochlear implants.
He is currently on his 5th map (program). We will go in on Monday to add 2-3 more.

Here are some videos from when he heard the first time.

On the 2nd day, he was loving sounds. He was even looking for where it was coming from.

We are 1 weeks shy of one month hearing and he has already learned sooo much. He is making new sounds all the time. 

Less than 24 hours activated he started to say the mmmm sound and make some other non distinct new noises.

Last night he was making 2 new sounds. The t sound (although he makes it by popping his toungue) and the sh sound. As you can imagine I was one very proud mama.....
Well, until he put the 2 sounds together. He would make the shhh sound then pop out a t sound. At first I did not think anything of it, but after about 10 minutes of this "pattern" it started to sound like a word.... Just think about it for a minute....

Yeah, I do not think I am putting that as his first word in his baby book LOL

We do not use that word, so I know it was just a fluke that he put the 2 together.... Wonder how the school will enjoy his new sounds :)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

How does a Cochlear implant work?

Since Matthias' C.I. (Cochlear implant) surgery last week, I realized that many people actually have no idea what a cochlear implant does. 

The first step in getting a cochlear implant is surgery.
Basically, during the surgery, a device is place under the skin (The white #3 in this pic). There is a string of electrodes that is connected to this device which is fed through the cochlea. The cochlea is blue in this picture. That white sting is what is inserted. 

This might surprise you (it did me), but this surgery takes about 2 hours per ear. A lot of times, doctors only do one ear at a time. If they do not work, they want to preserve hearing in at least one ear. Once a cochlear implant is placed, you cannot go back to a hearing aid.

Matthias did not have any hearing to preserve, so we did both ears.
This is what the bandage looks like after surgery.
 After 24 hours, you remove the bandages, and there are steri strips underneath.

A lot of people assume that at this point a person can hear.
That is not the case. At this point, you must allow the body to heal.
They used to wait 4-6 weeks, but now they only wait 2 weeks.

2 weeks after surgery, after the surgeon has agreed, you meet with you audiologist to get "activated".
These "processors" are actually what helps the person the hear.
The one on the left is worn behind the ear. The one on the right can be clipped on clothing, arm bands, head bands etc. The one on the right can also be made water proof.
 This is a picture of a child wearing the water proof one.
 This is a picture of a child wearing the behind the ear one.

Matthias will be getting both types for each ear. So, he can wear either kind.

Now how do these processors help a person with cochlear implants hear?

  1. A sound processor worn behind the ear or on the body, captures sound and turns it into digital code. The sound processor has a battery that powers the entire system.
  2. The sound processor transmits the digitally-coded sound through the coil on the outside of your head to the implant.
  3. The cochlear implant converts the digitally-coded sound into electrical impulses and sends them along the electrode array placed in the cochlea (the inner ear).
  4. The implant's electrodes stimulate the cochlea's hearing nerve, which then sends the impulses to the brain where they are interpreted as sound.
So, will Matthias hear instantly once they turn the processor on?

In theory, yes, he will, BUT there is a catch. The brain still has to interpret what is being heard. This means a path from the auditory nerve to the part of the brain that interprets sound must be formed. For a person who has already heard before, the path is mainly formed. They just need to build a small bridge from "normal hearing" to what is called "bionic hearing". For someone like Matthias, however, this process is much more challenging.

I like to use metaphors, so here it goes.....
Imagine you are standing in this field. Where you are standing is where the sound enters the brain. See that tree over there? Far in the distance. Imagine that is the part of the brain that interprets sound. You have to find a way to build a path to get from point a to point b.
Some people make this seem simple because they may have a piece of heavy equipment to clear the path. 
With a machine like that, you could clear a path large enough for a semi truck in no time flat.

Other people may have something like a tiller to create their path.
With this machine, you could still build a decent path, and you could do it rather quickly, but there is no way a semi truck would fit through the first time you went through. Plus it would take a bit more effort to clear the path.

While other still have a small and simple weed eater to create their path with.
With this simple hand held tool, you can still clear the field, but it will not be an easy task. After a short time, you could walk through or maybe even ride a bike, but there would be no semi trucks riding through any time soon.

Why do I mention a semi truck?
Well, here is your answer. The more complex a sound, the larger path it needs to get through. A horn honking, something breaking, etc may be equivalent to a bike going through the field. Meanwhile, a more complex sound like a instrument or tune may be something like a car traveling through the field. Something super complex like language is equivalent to a semi truck driving though the field. Depending on the "tool" you are using (how quickly your brain adapts), and on how quickly your brain becomes exhausted will make a huge difference in determining how long it takes for a person to know what they are hearing. It can also make a huge difference in whether or not a person will understand speech and how long that will take. 

Some people may never be able to make a complete path. There may be a river, road block or something in the way. They may be able to get by on foot (meaning they can hear simple non complex sounds), but their semi truck (language) may never make it through (they may never develop language). 

The older a person is when they start communicating has a major effect on which tool they are using and their likeness of having a major road block. 

Doctors on not optimistic that Matthias will ever speak and understand language.
He does not have any communication yet, and he is almost 8 years old.

In the case of cochlear implants and forming the path of communication, Matthias' delays in development could benefit him. Because he is still learning things that 1-2 year olds are learning, his brain may pick up and interpret sound easier than a "typical developing" child his age. There is only one way to find out..... Trial.

I will keep you all posted on Matthias' progress.

His activation date is November 10th