March 26, 2013 – The Day we told the World!

The day we told “the world” about our precious little Mace was an incredible day for both Luke and I. We had already shared the news with our family and closest friends, but had waited until some paperwork formalities where completed before telling the world!

We told everyone via our Like Father, Like Son Post  on the Ours to Love blog! Our amazing friend, and family photographer, Krystle Sommers ,took a few TOMs Shoes images for us to make the announcement.

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The day we told “the world” was a Tuesday and both Luke and I were at the office that day. My parents sent us blue flowers and balloons to celebrate our official referral and he was a boy!! Though Luke and I did not specify the gender of our child in our adoption paperwork I think we both secretly thought it was going to be a boy, so we were thrilled!

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It’s so hard to believe that it has been over a year since we told everyone about our little Mace! In many ways it seems like he has been a part of all of our lives forever!

March 19, 2013 – Transfer Day!

On March 19, 2013 very little was happening in the US regarding our adoption journey, but A LOT was happening in Uganda and Mace was experiencing a lot of firsts and fun adventures.

This was the day that Mace said “good bye” to the precious nannies at the Ibanda Babies Home, who had cared for him for the first 8 months of his life. He then made the 4 hour journey from the only home he had ever known to the foster home in Kampala, Uganda. Mace got to experience this journey with his friend Ben (who is now home with his forever family and lives about 1 hour from us here in the Sunshine State) and Jane (an 8 year old little girl who when we left Uganda was still waiting for a forever family), along with Jeremy (an incredible employee of our Ugandan lawyer). They told us that Mace did great on the journey and did a lot of smiling and a lot of sleeping! Sounds about right to us, based on the Mace we know and love today!

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Mace with the main nanny who cared for him throughout the first months of his life! Taken on the day he left the orphanage. 

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And just for fun, Mace with that same precious nanny 2 months later when we all returned to visit the orphanage. 

They arrived at Ms Elizabeth’s house late at night, where he spent the next 8 weeks until we arrived in Uganda. It was such a comfort to us during the time that we waited for our court date to know that Mace was in the care of this incredible foster home and that he was loved and being well taken care of! Ms Elizabeth is truly one of the most incredible people we have ever met!

We loved receiving these blurry cell phone pictures from Uganda, as we were able to see our boys precious smile and some of the people who were caring for him in our absence! As an adoptive parent you live for pictures during the wait! Any glimpse (not matter how small or blurry) you can get of your child is something you hold on to like a priceless treasure.

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March 1, 2013

“Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

The morning of March 1, 2013 brought more joy than Luke and I could ever contain! After a hard (and tearful) February 28th, where we knew we had missed the phone call that would change our lives forever, we were on high alert when my phone rang at 5:54am on Friday March 1, 2013 and the same 225 number appeared on the screen!

I grabbed the phone said “Luke, it’s her!” We both sat straight up in the bed, answered the phone and put it on speaker phone. It was indeed Sharon on the other end with the greatest news of our lives.  With hands trembling and voice shaking we sat together on our bed, as Sharon told us about a 7 month old little boy that she had met while visiting Ibanda Babies Home. He was perfectly healthy and according to her a happy and pretty well adjusted little guy. He was found as a newborn in a banana plantation and had lived at the Ibanda Babies home for the last 7 months. She and another adopting family had the opportunity to spend about an hour with him and had taken lots of pictures that she wanted to send over to us.

But before we got off the phone so she could email the pics she asked “Do you want to know what his name is? It’s a good one.” “His name is Emmanuel Manige.” Emmanuel… God with us. His name was a promise from God that He had been with Mace all of his life. From the banana plantation to the orphanage God had never once left him alone.

In all of this God had also fulfilled a desire of my heart, which was to get a younger baby. On our specifications for a child we had said male or female, 18 months and younger. But God always goes above and beyond to give us the desires of our heart and he fulfilled one of mine by giving us a baby under the age of one.

So as we said our goodbyes and hung up the phone we continued to cling to that iPhone waiting for the first picture to come thru. We quickly received an email from Sharon that was titled  “Here He Is” with the picture below attached.
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Our baby!!!! Our son!!! It was the first time we laid eyes on our precious boy and we were in LOVE! Lots of tears of joy were shed as we studied every aspect of him. From his sweet smile to his squishy nose to his BIG hands and feet! We enlarged that picture and poured over it like every new parent does the first time they see their baby! Sharon had forewarned us that he would be in a dress (This Is Africa!) and even told us that for the first few minutes after she had met him she was unsure if he was a boy or a girl. The nannies at the orphanage called him Emma (short for Emmanuel), he had on a blue dress, and he was so darn pretty!

Sharon had to quickly leave for the airport, and being Africa with slow internet she wasn’t able to send more pics. However, the other adopting family who had gone to Ibanda with her was still at the guesthouse and so all throughout the morning they continued to send us precious pics of our little Mace! With each picture that rolled in when fell more and more in love with our son!

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Of course one of the most fun aspects of this day was sharing our good news with our friends and family. Soon after we got off the phone with Sharon we called our parents and told them about their newest grand baby over the phone (good thing they are early risers because at this point it in time it was still well before 7am :) And then we started texting our siblings and best friends!

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Later that night we had a coaches meeting scheduled, so we got to tell all of our ACME coaches at one time, in one place! March 1, 2013 will go down forever as one of the greatest days in our lives! A day were we watched God fulfill a dream and a promise that he had planted in both of our hearts from the time we were kids, and the day we laid eyes on the boy who was destined to be our son from the foundation of the world!

February 28, 2013

Over the next 6 months I will be blogging about the details of our journey to adopt Mace. I will be chronicling the details of what happened in our world on that day, one year earlier.

February 28, 2013… “The day we missed the most important phone call of our lives… twice!!” Yes, the phone call we had been waiting for since November 7, 2013 (when our dossier left America via Fedex on it’s way to Uganda), the phone call every adopting parents dreams of getting… we missed it! Our adoption agent had been in Uganda to visit several of the orphanages that our agency works with, and to take care of business there. She was scheduled to return to the states several days later, and honestly we didn’t expect to hear anything from her (even if she did find out some good news while in Uganda) until she returned.

So we proceeded with our day just like any other Thursday morning. Luke and I were both up and getting ready for work in our bathroom, with the door shut, and music playing. All the while my phone was sitting on my nightstand in our bedroom… ringing.

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We missed 2 calls and a voicemail, that said this:

“Hey April, this is Sharon Bradshaw from Florida Home Studies and Adoptions calling. Umm, I would love to speak to you and Luke as soon as possible. You might not have recognized this number so maybe you didn’t pick up. So I will try you back in about five minutes and hopefully you will be available to chat. Ok thanks. Bye.”

Aaaahhhh!!! We were pretty sure we knew what she was calling about :) We tried calling her back and got no answer. We totally understood because she was in Uganda and there was an 8 hour time difference, as well as the fact that she had lots to accomplish on her trip, which was quickly coming to a close.

Luke and I were both pretty bummed, but went on to work and carried on like any other normal Thursday. Well, somewhat normal. We kept my phone on our body at all times with the ringer up LOUD!

When Luke and I pulled into the parking lot at work he handed me this beautifully wrapped box and said “I’ve been saving this for the day we got our referral call, and I guess technically we got the call today.” That boy! He hit this one out of the park!

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Well needless to say we went to bed that night without ever hearing back from Sharon and we were both pretty bummed :( However, the story doesn’t end there, it’s only beginning! Stay tuned tomorrow for

March 1, 2013 “the day we got the greatest phone call of our lives!”

Mace: 18 months

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Profile of an 18 Month Old Mace- 25lbs (41%) , 34 in. tall (88%), head 19″ in circumference (61%)
  • Interests: Swords and ninjas are still 2 of his favorites, but he also has a new found love for dinosaurs!
  • Enjoys: Playing in the water! We have been to both the pool and the beach this week and Mace LOVED both of them! We see  lots of swimming going on this summer and swimming lessons starting ASAP! He loves Rage (our dog) and enjoys talking about him and of course antagonizing Rage with a sword :) 
  • Turn offs: When we have to take something away from him (like when it’s time for bed or he is being disobedient in regards to the item he is playing with). He really loves to play with our phones, though that has pretty much been a “no-no” since day one. So he is pretty unhappy when we take the phone from him. I (April) was home with Mace the entire month of January, so he is now pretty unhappy when we drop him off in his classroom at church, or when both Luke and I leave at the same time :( 
  • Vices: Running from mommy and daddy. This is a big “no go” in our world, so we are working hard on this one right now, and explaining how unsafe it is to run from mom and dad. 
  • Strengths: He is a super smart kid and is picking up new things every day! He is learning our routines pretty well and is starting to do parts of them without us having to remind him. 
Favorites of a 15 month old Mace:
  • Foods: Yogurt, blueberries, popcorn.
  • Songs: This little light of mine, The wheels on the bus. 
  • Shows: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is still a favorite, and he has recently gotten into The Ninja Turtles!
  • Books: The Little Blue Truck
  • Toys: Swords and dinosaurs are the 2 things in looks for first in the morning.  
  • Activities:  Playing with his dinosaurs (he makes them interact and fight), playing swords with daddy, playing at the park (his can climb up and down the steps by himself and loves to slide, both head first and feet first, but always laying down :) taking a bath, and playing in the water (pool or beach)
Words:
This month he has added a few new words to his vocabulary and he has started saying a few 2 word phrases… 
Two (when we count he holds 1 finger up for 1, but says the word two :) 
Poor Rae Rae (hysterical!!)
Cup
Uganda (aka… Gogogo)
Africa (aka.. Ka)
Poppa
Night Night 
No No
Bye (said with the sweetest southern accent you have EVER heard!)
Hi – yah (while doing a ninja move :) 
Waahhh (Also, accompanied by a ninja move (this is something he picked up from the Scripture Ninja)
Stomp
“Ice” (which is really Yes. Mace was saying “ay” for yeah when we asked him questions. We began instructing him to say Yes, which came out as “Ay…ssss”)
 
How 18 month old Mace is like his…
Mama- Mace LOVES to be outside and loves the beach and pool. This is definitely like his mama, as daddy is not a huge fan of being hot/outside, or the beach.
Daddy-  He LOVES watching Ninja Turtles and lots of other cartoons. This is something he and Luke do together and is a dream come true for this toy loving/cartoon watching daddy!
 
Treasuring 18 month old Mace bits & details…
When you ask Mace to say Grammie he says “Poppa” instead. He won’t say Grammie yet but he knows Grammie and Poppa go together. 
Mace has really started mimicking the Scripture Ninja more. When watching the Scripture Ninja he will actually do the moves a step before the ninja does! He also does the moves to several of the Scripture Ninja Bible verses (Ephesians 3:20 & 21, Ephesians 5:1, John 3:30, Matthew 19:26)
When you say to Mace “let’s pray Mace” he immediately puts his little hands together in a praying position. 
Every night while I am rocking Mace to sleep I ask “Can I pray for you Mace?” and he always answers “Ice” (Yes). 
Mace babbles All.The.Time! And in all of his babbling you often hear “Rae Rae” A LOT!! : ) 

Mace: 15 months

So my sisters do this with type of blogpost with their kids every few months and I thought it was an awesome way to document how our little Mace is growing!
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Profile of a 15 Month Old Mace- 23lbs (90%) , 32 in. tall (80%)
  • Interests: Swords and Ninjas!  This kid really is Luke Graham’s son. He loves swords, ninjas, and doing ninja moves which is mostly influenced by watching The Scripture Ninja. 
  • Enjoys: giving hugs (to anything… Rage, the ball, the couch, mom and dad), going for rides (in stroller, shopping cart, on his Thomas car), swinging at the park.
  • Turn offs: Being told No, or that an episode of Scripture Ninja is over.
  • Vices: A little whining has started but we are working thru that. 
  • Strengths: He loves to mimic anything he sees Luke or I do. He has picked up baby sign very quickly and is able to use correctly it in different context. 
Favorites of a 15 month old Mace
  • Foods: There aren’t many things he turns down. But some of this favs are oatmeal, sweet potatoes, apples, grapes, puffs, cheddar bunnies, broccoli
  • Songs: Gigglebellies Train, Pattycake Praise
  • Shows: He LOVES TV, but his favorites are Scripture Ninja, Miss Pattycake, Gigglebellies, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
  • Books: I love you through and through, and Curious George.
  • Toys: Swords and lightsabers, Mr Monk (his lovey) is his BFF! 
  • Activities:  sword fighting and spinning his sword, blowing bubbles, riding in anything that moves (his car, stroller, shopping cart)
Words:
He goes in and out of stages of saying certain words. Currently his favs are…
Dada
Rae Rae
Bubbles
Go
Balloon
Blue
How 15 month old Mace is like his…
Mama- He loves to be around people. He’s a really social guy. The more people around the happier he is.
Daddy-  He loves to entertain and make people laugh.
Treasuring 15 month old Mace bits & details…
Mace is all boy and loves to tackle and wrestle. If you are sitting on the floor he will come and climb on your back or try and tackle you. He also tackles his Wampa rug ALL. DAY. LONG.

When we pray for Mace at night he always sits really still and quiet and when we say “Amen” he looks up at us and smiles so big :) 

Mace is one social kid! He loves to be center of attention and will talk to almost anyone he encounters. He’s the most fun kid to go to the grocery store with because he waves like he’s in a parade at EVERYONE as I push him around the store! 

Mace now knows  4 baby signs… More, Please, All Done, and Milk (which we use for drink) and he can identify his head, nose, mouth, ears, and belly when asked where they are. 

Mace is a ridiculously good sleeper! He goes to bed between 8pm and 9pm each night and usually doesn’t wake up until about 9am!! It’s amazing! He also takes 1 nap a day that ranges from 1.5 – 2 hours! Lately when Mace wakes up in the morning he will stay in his bed and play with Mr Monk for about 15 minutes before he wants us to get him out. It’s super precious to watch him on monitor cuddling with his monkey :) 

Uganda Update – June 22, 2013

Hey guys,

So sorry I didn’t get an email out to you yesterday, but we had no internet… TIA :)
It’s hard to believe that in about 12 hours from now we will be boarding a plane at Entebbe airport headed for Amsterdam and then home! We are almost all packed up and heading out soon to run a few last minute errands and to have lunch with AC and Jane.
We will be arriving in Tampa around 4:45pm on Sunday afternoon. We would love to see as many of you who can possibly make it to the airport. We have missed you guys so much over the last 6 weeks and we can’t wait for you to see Mace!!
Our flight info is below… If we get delayed we will try and update via Facebook, and Kellie Reith will be tracking the flight and updating people as well so keep an eye out for her emails and Facebook posts.
We will see you guys in America!!
SERVICE               DATE  FROM           TO             DEPART  ARRIVE

DELTA AIR LINES       22JUN ENTEBBE        AMSTERDAM      1130P   645A
DL 9318            SATURDAY ENTEBBE INTL   SCHIPHOL AIRPO         23JUN
K ECONOMY                   AIRCRAFT:      AIRBUS INDUSTRIE A330-200
 KL 0537                    FLIGHT OPERATED BY  KL KLM ROYAL DUTCH AIRLIN

DELTA AIR LINES       23JUN AMSTERDAM      DETROIT MI     815A    1035A
DL 251               SUNDAY SCHIPHOL AIRPO DETROIT METRO
K ECONOMY                   AIRCRAFT:      AIRBUS INDUSTRIE A330-300
                            SEAT 31C CONFIRMED

DELTA AIR LINES       23JUN DETROIT MI     TAMPA FL       205P    445P
DL 1421              SUNDAY DETROIT METRO  TAMPA INTL
K ECONOMY                   AIRCRAFT:      BOEING (DOUGLAS) MD-88
Love,
Luke, April, & Mace