Saturday, November 26, 2011

a GREAT Christmas gift idea

My bloggy friend Erin is making these super-cute necklaces.  She intially started making them as part of their fundraiser to bring home their little boy.
Her son, Sterling, is now home and her fundraising efforts are to raise money for a Waiting Child.  She is Yegor's Christmas Warrior and her goal is to raise $1,000 for his adoption grant by December 31.  Hop over to her blog... if you donate to Yegor, she'll make you the necklace of your choosing (see her blog for specifics about $ amount to donate).  Additionally, if you donate $35 or more to a Reece's Rainbow Waiting Child, you'll receive a Christmas ornament with his/her photo on it (see the Reece's Rainbow page for details).

What would be even greater than Yegor getting $1,000 added to his fund is if his family found him this Christmas.  This little guy needs a family soon.  He's almost 5yo and could be facing transfer out of the baby house-- to an adult mental institution-- very soon.

These necklaces make great gifts... check them out.
And if you see me, be sure to ask to see my necklace with a photo of our Little Dude!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What's happening now?

As soon as the final background check comes in, our Home Study will be complete.  (One from each state in which you've resided since age 18 is required.)  It's been somewhat of a restful time knowing there is nothing more I can do until the HS is finished.  Today, however, I feel the urge to get our documents in order so that they're "ready and waiting" for our trip to the Notary the minute our last clearance arrives.  I'm also exploring Adoption Grant options since most of them require us to have a valid HS at the time of application.

As we approach Thanksgiving Day, I'm thankful that our credit union offers Notary service at no additional charge to us, and for Kathy, the International Program Assistant at our HS agency, who's been doing her best to track down and speed along our background checks.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

For such a time as this

This subject is something that rolls around in my mind from time to time.  While it doesn't have its roots in our adoption, it seems to creep into many areas of my life-- including this adoption.  Most of the time it'll surface in my thoughts then be crammed back into the recesses because 'I just don't get it'.

Why have I been brought to this place in my life?  What have I done to receive such a blessing?  Haven't there been so many more deserving people come before me?  And yet God's chosen me.  He's chosen me to be Mommy to a little boy from EE... all 47 chromosomes of him.

My four years of parenthood has taught me more about God's nature than all of my previous years of Sunday School, VBS, and Bible Studies combined.  It's offered a glimpse into how God must feel.  There are days that parenting toddlers is downright tough.  Yet despite their disobedience, there is never a time where I want to withhold my love or remove my hand of protection from those 2 little boys.  Is there correction and punishment?  Sure.  However, I'm continually seeking ways to shower them with blessings because they're my sons.

So maybe four years into this parenthood gig I'm starting to 'get it'  a little bit.  This blessing of our little guy is not about anything I have done... It's my loving Father showering me with His very best despite all of my shortcomings.  And for that, I am thankful.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Never far from our thoughts

As is the case with most moms, my children are never far from my thoughts.  Even when I go somewhere without them, I'll catch my eyes darting around the room to check on their whereabouts before remembering I'm traveling solo.

The same is with our newest little dude.  He is constantly on my mind and his absense weighs on my heart.  That was the case this morning.  I was thinking about our little guy while driving to Pre-School when  I heard the impassioned plea of our 4yo... "Mommy, can you go get _______?"  (insert his name in the blank)

If a heart breaking was audible, you'd have heard mine.  I choked out an answer as best I could.  How do I explain in toddler terms all has to be accomplished in order for his brother to come home?  These are children whose concept of time is defined by the 'number of sleeps' until an event occurs. 

While I have faith that we one day will bring our little guy home, I am keenly aware that each of those 'sleeps' until then I will only be able to kiss 2 of my 3 boys goodnight.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Heart's Desire & Lips' Request

This morning I had somewhat of a revelation.  It happened in the space between the time when I start to gain consciousness and my feet actually hitting the floor.
Over the past few days Psalm 21:2 has been rolling around in my head.  "You have granted him the desire of his heart and have not withheld the request of his lips." 

In some ways I think the journey to our little guy began 30 years ago.  I was in 7th and 8th grade when I read the National Inquirer  during "free reading time" in Language Arts class.  (Right now some of you are thinking "What?!?  Your teacher had National Inquirer  in her classroom for free reading?"  There are others of you who also had 'Mother Rupert' as a teacher and it makes perfect sense.  But I digress.)  Each issue had two small photos of adoptable Special Needs children.  I remember praying that God would give me one of them because I'd want and love him/her despite the challenges.

That prayer, while sincere, was soon forgotten.  I moved on to the "more important" things in the life of an 80's teen... like Jordache jeans and BIG hair.  Though I forgot, God did not.

Eastern Europe is not a region I had ever wished to adopt from.  My heart was moved for Haiti, Kenya, and China.  There were things about each of these places that made perfect sense to me... we had friends there, we had traveled there, we knew some of the culture, and so on.

While competing in Summer Biathlon in the 90's, I had an opportunity to travel to Northern and Eastern Europe.  It was an amazing trip and I hoped to one day return.  To date, that has not happened.  And with the birth of our babies, I figured it would be quite a few years before it did.

That's where my 'revelation' from this morning comes in... not only has God granted me the desire of my heart in adopting a child with Ds, He is also fulfilling the request of my lips to one day return to EE.

This journey is amazing and the things God has orchestrated to get us to this exact time in our lives blows me away.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My friends rock!

Proverbs 31:13-- She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.

Yesterday was a great day.  I was a reminded of how wonderful my friends are.  Being an avid knitter, the plan was to gather my knitting/crocheting friends for a whole day of knitting.  The goal was to craft hats for my friend Robyn to take to her daughter's orphanage when she travels to bring her home in a few weeks. 

Shortly after 8am, my first friend arrived with her yarn, crochet hook, and son.  Quickly, our home began to overflow with yarn, knitting needles, and children.  The kids had a great time playing while the Mommies worked and talked. 

This continued throughout the day and after a short break around supper time, the 'night owls' arrived.  It was close to 11pm before the yarn and needles were packed up for the night.

Here's our basket at day's end:
(Several hats were made prior to our get-together yesterday and there are a few more still "on the needles".)

I am so blessed to call this group of ladies my friends. 

P.S.  Don't put your needles away too soon... I'm going to call on your skills again when it's our turn to travel!   :o)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Please Pray

Since having my heart opened to Special Needs adoption (and particularly Down syndrome), I've read many amazing stories of God placing orphans in families.  One such story is unfolding even as I type.  A Mommy and Daddy left Pennsylvania yesterday to fly halfway around the world and bring their daughter home.  Here is a link to their blog and a photo of little Katie.  One bit of information you won't gather without digging deeper into their journey is that Katie is actually 9 years old and weighs just 11 pounds.  That is not a typo, it's a sad reality... 11 pounds at 9 years old.

This is a family who gives God all of the glory.  Please lift them up in prayer as they perform the final steps in receiving custody of Katie, the transition, and their subsequent return to the United States with a medically fragile child. 

God places the lonely in families;
He sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.
                                                                      --Psalm 68:6

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

For the Curious

More than one person has asked about the vest that I said I was knitting.  Here is the finished product:
This photo isn't the best for giving the color or detail of the cable.  The cable I chose is the Hugs & Kisses/XOXO cable. 

I think it'll be big on our little guy.  I tried it on our bio 4yo (who's small for his age) and there's definitely room to grow.  Having spent his first 4 years in an orphanage, we're fully expecting our little guy to be on the small side when he first comes home.

The one thing knitting this did for me is to set in my mind how big he actually is.  We have one photo and I'm guessing he's no more than 2yo in it.  It's hard to picture him any different size/age than that.

My brain has already been planning the color scheme for his next vest.  I'm hoping to do one a size smaller before our first trip... and maybe hats to match.

a GREAT day

As we greet a cold rainy day here in the Midwest, halfway around the world a Mommy is getting ready to rock her little boy to sleep for the first time.  Today was Gotcha Day  for the Gibson Family.  Little Carter exited the gates of the orphanage, never to return again.  Hop over to their blog to see the photos and read the entire story.

Congratulations Ashley and Jake.
Sweet dreams Carter Benjamin.

Monday, November 7, 2011

What's happening now?

We've had some questions about where we're at in the process, so I thought I should give that update.
We're in the last stages of our Home Study.  Today will be the last of what we need to do on our end.  Physicals and drug screens will be complete.  If all of our state clearance are back (one from each state we've lived in since age 18) and personal references have been completed/returned, then our Home Study will be complete.  This allows us to submit our pre-file documents to our little guy's country.  They will need apostilled before being sent, but hopefully they'll be on their way to EE within the next 2 weeks.

We've completed all of our education requirements.  There was some carry-over from our stint in the domestic program, but also some additional requirements including Hague classes.  The adoption classes are great.  Not only are they informational, but they also provide an environment where you can meet other families on the same journey.

Once we have our Home Study in hand, we can submit our documents to US Immigration.  This step gets us the okay to bring a child to the US as well as schedules us for our digital fingerprints.

The past week or so I've felt like I haven't had much to do (adoption-wise).  I keep thinking I should be working on some paperwork.  The crazy thing with adoption is that things have to be completed in a certain order.  Right now, everything on our To Do list has to be dated/notarized after our Home Study is complete.  Once our pre-file documents are submitted (sent to EE, translated, and delivered to the Minister of Education), the real 'work' begins.  There are tons and tons of documents that become our dossier.  They have to be collected, notarized, and apostilled.  However, these are also time-sensitive.  They have to be dated within 3 months of our court date.  If we were to gather them too early, we'd risk them not being valid for our hearing.

One area of prayer is that everything can be accomplished quickly.  We're getting to the time of the year where there are many holidays approaching... Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years.  Government offices will be shutting down and workers will be taking vacations both here and in EE.  The paper progression will slow.

On a fun note, I've started my first knitting project for our little guy.  I know several of 'my knitting friends' can't read that statement without wondering what it is.  It's the Milo vest.  I've heard that children in EE tend to be dressed more warmly than we do here in the States.  I've also seen photos of the children in EE orphanages dressed in layers-- one of which is a vest.  I'm planning on taking it on our first trip.  I'm hopeful they'll wear it on him while he waits for our return to bring him home.  I'm also hoping the orphanage will then keep it to be used for the kids left behind.  Afterall, our little guy will have a Mommy who can knit for him the rest of her life.

So that's where things currently stand in our paperchase.  I'm off to get in a little bit more knitting before we head to the last of the doctors' appointments.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

'Mourning' Sickness

I've heard the adoption process referred to as a "paper pregnancy".  Along with a pregnancy often comes Morning Sickness.  I was one of the fortunate ones who had wonderful pregnancies and never a minute of nausea.  This 'pregnancy' is different.  Nausea abounds.  I am sickened by what I now know.

This Mourning Sickness comes from my loss... namely, the loss of my ignorance.
My eyes have been opened.  Opened to the tens of thousands of 'waiting' children worldwide.  Opened to the less than ideal conditions which these children endure.  Opened to the fact that most will never know life outside an institution if we are not moved to act.  Opened to the loss of hope that someone will ever view them as valueable and wanted.  Opened to an even more horrific future these kids will face if they are turned onto the streets when they reach the age of majority.

Sitting here in my middle class American life, it can become too easy to place the blame on the caregivers and governments of the countries where these conditions exist.  However, in my mind that is hypocrisy.  Yes, we no longer see Special Needs individuals as only worthy of institutionalization... we're almost a whole century removed from that mentality.  Conversely, we perform prenatal testing and abortions all in the name of healthcare.  One only has to look at the 90% abortion rate after a positive Down syndrome test to understand that we are not unlike the rest of the world in our view of Special Needs.

These are individuals.  These are children.  They are created in God's image.  They are fearfully and wonderfully made.  And as my friend pointed out today, Our God Doesn't Make Mistakes.  They are a sea of faces.  Faces and names I know from scouring the pages of Reece's Rainbow and family blogs.  Faces of wanted children set in families.

Yes, this preparation for bringing home our little boy brings great joy.  But it is tempered by the fact that I can no longer stick my head in the sand and plead ignorance.  My eyes are opened.