Sunday, November 18, 2012

Our Hardest Part of Post-Adoption

As part of the adoption of Little Dude, we promised to file post-adoption reports for the next three years.  Over that span of time, a Social Worker will visit our home 6 times (2 down, 4 to go!).  Each visit lasts about an hour as she poses questions about Little Dude, his health, his adjustment, and our adjustment as a family.  The report then remains on file with said agency, our placing agency, and Little Dude's birth country.  Each time our Social Worker leaves our home, she takes with her duplicate copies of 14 photographs of Little Dude~ one of which must be a family photo.  This, my friends, has been our biggest post-adoption challenge.  I'm not sure we've yet gotten a family photo where all 3 boys are looking at the camera.
[notice the boys sporting their Russia t-shirts and Moscow hats and Daddy & Mommy their Adoption Bug t-shirts]
 
And more often than not, any attempt at a photo session quickly dissolves into a wrestling match...
 
Please bear this in mind as you open our Christmas card this year, because chances are that those photo attempts won't go any better.

 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

You've Come a Long Way, Little Dude

Three months.  Just 90 days and yet a lifetime ago.  As I lay in bed last night my mind floated back to a fun-filled day in July.  We arrived in our Little Dude's region bright and early on Monday morning.  The day was filled with exploring and shopping in the city where he was born... the city where his birth family still resides.  This was our last chance to gather photos and tuck away memories to share with him as he grows and begins to ask questions about his heritage, for tomorrow we would become a family of 5 and begin our journey home.

One of the most exciting things that day was when Katie gave us our Little Dude's passport, complete with his photo and new name.  For me, that was a moment when all of this became so much more real.

After an amazing dinner of take-out from Katie's restaurant, a trip to the roof to see the sun setting over the Volga River, and visiting into the wee hours of the morning with Denis, Katie, and Anya (Denis' sister), we headed to bed in anticipation of all July 10 would bring.

As I sit at the computer 3 months removed from that day, my only question is "What took us so long?".  I'm not referring to the adoption process  as, at times, international adoption moves slower than molasses in January.  I'm questioning what took us so long to pursue adoption... and specifically adoption of a toddler with Down syndrome.  Yeah, yeah, I know it was (is) all God's timing and His fingerprints are all over not only our Little Dude but our entire process.  Perhaps it's more of a rhetorical question in which I'm trying to relay the wonder of it all.  I'm pretty sure I can't adequately describe the blessings wrapped up in the third copy of a 21st chromosome.

Okay.  I've waxed nostalgic for long enough.  On to some of the changes in our Little Dude over the past 3 months...

First of all, he's growing like a weed.  He was 23 lbs when we brought him home and I'm sure he'll be close to 30 lbs at his doctor's appointment next week.  The boy hasn't met a food he doesn't like.  There are foods he might not prefer  but when he realizes that's what's for dinner, he always chooses to eat.  Initially he didn't like anything cold (and probably had never had anything cold at the orphanage), but now he'll even eat a popcicle.  He's definitely getting taller.  He was a wiggleworm when trying to get his height at the doctor, so I'm not sure how accurate any measurements will be.  He's outgrown any 18 month clothes he was wearing when we brought him home, the 24 month onesies are getting too short, and he's starting to fill out 2T. 

He didn't have his upper eye teeth when we got him in July.  One is fully in and the other is on it's way.  We're still waiting for his lower lateral incisors to pop through.

He started walking in May and now has several speeds.  His base of support has greatly narrowed and he can step backward, sideways, and carry objects while walking.  He's independent creeping up/down stairs.  He climbs like a champ.

Little Dude is very vocal  but not overly verbal  at this point.  It doesn't, however, limit his ability of making his needs known.  He continues to use a few Russian words (primarily for "potty"), is occassionally making some English-sounding words, and has about a dozen signs he'll use consistantly.  He's started stringing together signs such as "more-eat" and "sit-eat".

Since he is 4 years old, he no longer qualifies for Birth-to-Three.  Any services provided must be done through the school system.  The Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Speech Therapist, and Early Childhood Special Needs teacher have all been to our home for evaluations.  Last evening we met to work on Little Dude's IEP (Individualize Education Program).  We're fortunate to have an amazing group of ladies in our school system and I anticipate them being a huge asset to Little Dude's progress and development.  We're all in agreement that at this point the main focus needs to be on getting Little Dude strongly attached to Dave and me.  Dave and I will discuss what will work best for our family at this point and then utilize the appropriate services.  It seems the main goal of all involved is to use these next several months to establish a strong foundation upon which we can build next school year.

There have been a string of doctors' visits since Little Dude's homecoming.  In addition to the Pediatrician, he's been to Childrens' Hospital for Cardiology and ENT consults.  He passed his EKG and ECG with flying colors, so he does not need to return.  Little Dude has some fluid behind his eardrums (not uncommon with Ds) and this will be watched.  We still need to get a valid hearing test to determine if his hearing (and possibly speech) is being affected by the fluid.  We have an amazing Pediatric Opthomologist who determined his need for glasses.  We also had a "New Parent Consult" at the Down Syndrome Clinic. 

So that's where we're at right now.  Life is rarely dull (or quiet) with two 4 year olds and a 3 year old, but I wouldn't trade it for the world!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Trip #3... Gotcha !

I guess it's time for my long overdue post... or posts... However many it takes to fill in the gaps.

Seven weeks ago today, our plane touched down in Moscow for what would be the culmination of this "paper pregnancy".  Saturday, July 7 we boarded a plane headed for EE.  This trip was different from our first two in many ways besides the obvious fact we would return with our son.

This time, our family came to us to care for our bio boys.  The 2 previous times we had stopped in PA during our flight east to leave them with my family.  This trip was a patchwork of relatives caring for the boys.  They had an amazing time with Aunt Kris (Dave's sister), Dave's parents, and my parents (who were already headed this way for my cousin's wedding).

We deplaned about 9am local time on Sunday, July 8.  There were at least 2 other adoptive families on their final trip on our flight... one family I knew of through Reece's Rainbow and the other I just took a wild guess seeing as how they were carrying a diaper bag without  a kid.  Call me Sherlock Holmes.

Dima met us at the airport and kept our bags for the day while we went sightseeing and shopping.  He dropped us at a metro station and we planned to meet about 7pm so he could take us to the train station. 

The bulk of our day was spent between Izmaylovo Market and Red Square.  Izmaylovo Market is a HUGE outdoor shopping area.  It's a combination of souvenir stands and a flea market.  Prior to meeting Dima, we ate dinner and bought a few necessities like bottled water.  We fired off a few quick emails, sent some postcards, and headed to the train.

Our cabin was similar to the two previous trips, however it was more of a family car than business class.  Each of the other times, the passengers were primarily businessmen in suits.  This time, there were families with children and instead of just two beds, our cabin was equipped for 4 (including 2 bunks).  This change was due to the fact we'd be making the return trip with our Little Dude.

Our ride was uneventful and we both slept well with the gentle pitch and roll of the train.  We arrived about 9am and went to Katie's apartment (where we would be staying).  Nadia, whom we stayed with on our first two trips, was visiting her family in Ukraine.  Katie served as our interpreter and representative on past visits and her husband Denis had driven us to the orphanage.  Katie and Denis have 2 boys similar in ages to our bio boys.  A fun little fact is that Katie spent 5 months working in the Dells during a college exchange program.

Katie had planned on spending the day showing us around Little Dude's region's capital city.  However, she owns a restaurant and had an emergency come up.  Denis and his sister (Anna) served as our tour guides.  Anna currently lives in the US and is fluent in English.  During our travels, we ate at Katie's restaurant.  It was amazing.  We also had take-out from there Monday night and Little Dude's first restaurant meal there on the way to the train Tuesday.
                                                     Katie and Denis's restaurant:  USSR Cafe
 
I can now say that I've eaten Cotton Candy on three continents!
 
Monday evening we visited our friend Loudmila.  Luda served as our interpreter during court.  We had the opportunity to not only meet her son, daugher-in-law, and mother, we also got to pray, sing, and read the Bible with them.
  
We returned to Katie's about 9pm, ate a late dinner, then went up on the roof.  Her apartment has an amazing view of the Volga River.  Katie returned about 11pm and we visited for awhile before heading to bed.
 
After breakfast Tuesday morning, we began our trek to the orphanage.  As I've mentioned before, it's about a 3 hour drive from the region's capital.  Denis drove and Katie was serving as our interpreter.

Shortly after noon on Tuesday, July 10, 2012, we exited the orphange with our son.
 
Our Little Dude did great during our 3-hour drive... until we pulled into the parking lot at Katie's restaurant where he puked all over himself and the carseat.  Thankfully, as the parents of 2 little boys, this was a non-event for Katie and Denis.

Katie and Loudmila saw us off at the train station.
 
Little Dude had a great trip to Moscow.  While most of the sleep he had that night would be considered napping, he did so either on top or or curled up next to one of us.  We were all able to rest up for the great paper chase that lay ahead.

Upon our early Wednesday morning arrival in Moscow, we were ushered to our hotel where Little Dude's physical would occur and we'd complete the paperwork necessary for the US Embassy and Russian Consulate.  Although we had booked a room for a 7am check-in, none were available upon our arrival.  This meant the doctor would perform Little Dude's physical in the lobby of the hotel.  It really wasn't a problem since the exam is extremely cursory.  Then Inna (on staff with our adoption agency) arrived to complete our paperwork.  This needed to be filed at the US Embassy by 11am in order for us to get an appointment for our interview on Thursday morning and fly home Friday.

After checking in at the hotel, a bath for Little Dude, showers for Dave & I, and resting a bit, we headed to Red Square.  We took the requisite photo in front of St. Basil's then had dinner at Sbarro with Jonas and his Mommy (a third RR family who was in Moscow while we were).
 
 
We all slept well in big, comfy beds.

A bonus of not being able to check in at 7am as planned on Wednesday is that the hotel comp'd us with their breakfast buffet on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings.  So after strapping on the feed bag Thursday morning, Dima picked us up for our US Embassy appointment.

Upon arrival at the Embassy and going through security, we headed upstairs for our "interview".  There were two other families, both with little boys also.  One was the diaper bag carrying family from our flight.  While at JFK, I had noticed the dad was wearing a Penn State ballcap.  As it would end up, he grew up about 30 minutes from me.  We were sworn in as a group and the agent explained a few procedural things, what to expect at immigration, etc.  We were then called to the window and asked a few questions.  Basically, all it was was confirming spellings on names, etc.  We received our sealed packet (do not, I repeat DO NOT, open it or allow anyone else to under any circumstance).  It must be sealed with the original seal when you hand it to the Department of Homeland Security upon entering the USA (otherwise you risk being turned away).  Little Dude's Russian passport was given an immigrant visa and since his adoption was finalized in-country, he would become an American Citizen as soon as our plane touched US soil.
We also completed the paperwork necessary for Russian Consular Registration before returning to our hotel.
 
We opted for a quiet evening which included pizza at the hotel restaurant.  Inna returned Little Dude's passport about 11pm (as it was needed for Consular registration).

Bright and early Friday morning, we headed to the airport to begin our flight home.  As Little Dude is 4yo, he had his own seat for the flight.  Let's just say that having that extra room was awesome.  Yet again, he proved to be a real trooper and great travel companion.  A few minutes before noon on Friday, July 13, 2012 we hit the tarmac of JFK International Airport and our Little Dude became a US Citizen.

We received a 'fast pass' (or a name something like that) at immigration that allowed us to go to a short/special line.  We buzzed through immigration in record time and went to the gate for our connecting flight.  Anyone who has traveled through JFK knows that there are many terminals and you must enter each one through security.  Again, since we were traveling with a child with special needs, we were accomodated and able to pass through (relatively) quickly.  I will say that during our wait in line, Little Dude was busy high-fiving everyone and trying to help with their luggage.

A neat little God-thing was the Starbucks next to our gate.  While I'm not a huge coffee drinker, God knew I was looking forward to a frappuccino once back in the states.  On top of the blessing of Starbucks being right there, He not only provided one, but TWO frappuccinos!  (The kid making mine initially made the wrong thing and gave me both mine and the mistake.)  Woo Hoo!!!
 
We had 2 more flights before arriving home.  Both flights and our layover at DTW went well.  Stay tuned for subsequent posts about Little Dude's welcome home and adjustment to family life.

 











Thursday, July 19, 2012

Scotty

I've spent chunks of today writing this post in my mind.  However, now that 3 little boys are asleep and I can finally sit down at the computer, the words escape me.  Today began as many do with me scanning the online obituaries in both my local and hometown newspapers.  [Say what you will and laugh if you must, but 9 chances out of 10, the day will come when you will do the same.]

The name and face staring back at me was that of a man I haven't seen for at least 25 years... a man of few words... and yet a man who's boyhood has no doubt impacted where I am today.

Scott, who was always "Scotty" to me, was born 47 years ago with a little something extra.  I've never heard his birthstory, but I'm pretty sure his diagnosis of Down syndrome came as a surprise to first-time parents, Patti & Jerry.  Subsequently, 3 more boys joined their family, one of which was my classmate and friend Kenny.

I'm not sure how our families first became friends.  Perhaps it was because we attended the same church, or maybe it was just due to 'small town Central Pennsylvania'.  Either way, I have many childhood memories of Saturday evenings spent with Scotty's family.  Often, our parents would play Uno  while we kids entertained ourselves with whatever kids did in the 70's.

There was the time that the snow on their lane was so deep that we had to park on the main road and Jerry had to come get us on the snowmobile.  I'm not sure that evening would be so memorable were it not for the fact that Jerry and my mom did a loop through the field and tipped the snowmobile.  I remember making homemade icecream in their basement and Pepsi, poured from a glass bottle.

My most vivid memory of Scotty is with his Matchbox cars.  That boy had a collection to end all collections.  He spent hours upon hours lining them up in perfectly straight rows.  Don't touch them or he'd know!

While I can't say that Scotty and I ever interacted much during those years, he definitely impacted my views and subsequently, my life.  You see, Scotty was my first exposure to Down syndrome.  I had no understanding of 21st chromosomes or Simian creases.  I knew Scotty was different than I, yes.  But more than that, I knew Scott was just... well... Scotty.  Ds has never been 'scarey' to me.  It's been Scotty, our neighbor Mike, and campers Michael P., Mark, & Marshall... but never scarey.  I know each of these relationships has, in some way, opened my eyes and my heart.  Today, I celebrate Scotty's influence.

And tonight, as I kiss my own almond-eyed little boy goodnight, I can say I've experienced just a taste of what Patti and Jerry have known for 47 years... the blessings wrapped in that extra 21st chromosome are beyond measure.

Please keep Scotty's family in your prayers. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Mall, Aldi, and a Big White Van

A trip to my favorite grocery store has me once again thinking...

Our town has the benefit of a wonderful 'Day Program' for adults with mental and physical disabilites.  It's not unusual to pull into the parking lot of a local business and see a handicap accessible van.  It's common to see men and women walk or roll their way around our tiny mall, getting their daily exercise.  Often they are checking items off of their grocery list as they fill their cart and learn the Life Skills of budgeting and nutrition.

These men and women go about their daily tasks much like anyone else... save for one thing.  In an attempt to not make these individuals feel "different" or call attention to them, we have, in fact, alienated them.

Have we really tipped the scales the other way?

There are no stares... but neither is there the eye contact and friendly "Hello" so often exchanged in our small town.
I think, perhaps, these individuals have come to accept this as the norm.  For years I've tried to at least acknowledge if not engage them when our paths cross.  And you know what?... it's difficult.  Rarely do I find a man or woman who looks to me expecting this type of common courtesy.

So the next time you see a RCS van unloading, please do this Mommy a favor.  Make eye contact.  Offer a warm hello and a smile.  Because one day, the young man getting out of the van just might be my son.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Our Posse

I want to tell you about a group of friends.  They've affectionately become known as "Our Posse" (Dave's doing).  I was really torn about publicly sharing about these friends before now, but since Dave outted them Sunday evening at our church's Body Life Update, I guess I'll blog.

[On a side note, our church has semi-annual Body Life Updates.  During this time, people are asked to share how God's been working and how they have been ministered to within our church body.  Pastor Jon asked us to share and we agreed that we would be remiss if we didn't take time to publicly acknowledge God working and ministering to us via Our Posse.]

My reluctance in sharing before now has to do with this.  I have treasured the intimacy with this group and tucked it's richness into the depths of my heart, only to pull it out and remember at "just the right times".

So here's the deal:
The Thursday before we left for court, a group friends-- those closest to us as we wade through the adoption waters-- gathered for pizza and prayer at our friends Marc and Kim's house.
I struggle to put that evening into words... sweet. intimate. deep.  These friends prayed with far more insight and awareness than I thought possible.  At the time, we had no idea the far-reaching effects of their petitions.  That is, until we walked into court one week later...

On Thursday, May 24, we stepped into the courtroom with the full confidence we had been not only been covered, but saturated with prayer.  As the judge took his seat at the bench, I had to supress a smile; I had visions the judge sitting there, surrounded by Our Posse.

"Our Posse"

This group... this menagerie of friends... all united in praying home one very special little boy... our boy... our son.  As I look at this photo and reflect on each one present, the tears flow freely.  God, in His sovereignty, has woven together the details.  Our paths and lives that have intersected "for such a time as this".  How?  I don't know.  My only answer:  But God... 


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

An Ironman for Orphans

There's this guy.  I'll call him Brady.  Brady just hauled his butt 140 miles to hear what every triathlete dreams of hearing... those 6 magical words...

"Brady Murray, YOU are an Ironman !"

Now is your chance to support him.  Brady is racing to raise awareness for Reece's Rainbow and Orphans with Down syndrome.  By voting for his video, you can give him the chance to race the Ironman World Championship on October 13, 2012 in Hawaii.
Hop over to his video.  Take a minute and a half of your time to watch his story and vote.  Round 1 voting continues through June 18.  Vote as many times as you'd like (just click the 'refresh' button and vote again!).
This guy is swimming, biking, and running countless miles each week as he trains.  Surely you can click your mouse a few times and help punch his ticket to Kona.  Thanks.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Connecting the Dots and Coloring Outside the Lines

This life we live is interesting; this God we serve, amazing.  So often our days are filled with what we deem as random moments.  Even with a keen awareness that God is at work, rarely are we given the 'big picture' from the beginning.  Instead, it's dispensed bit by bit from the hands of a God who exists outside of space and time... a God who is not constrained by human parameters... a God whose names are El Shaddai  (God Almighty), Jehovah-Jireh   (the Lord will Provide), and El Roi  (the God who sees).  Last Wednesday, we stepped from the train and into a time of some of the richest blessings imaginable.  We had front row seats as this mighty, all-seeing God provided.

A very dear friend emailed me the following as we were in the midst of our two days of the court hearing.
"Some day, when we're in the presence of Jesus, it's gonna be fascinating to see how God orchestrated everything ... maneuvering circumstances, softening hearts, placing new desires, supplying finances, giving new passions ... all to bring a very special boy to a very special family on the other side the world. Talk about an awesome God!"

The following is my account of these seemingly random bits being woven together by a great God.

The Thursday before court, a group of our friends gathered to pray for us.  It was an amazingly sweet time.  (Dave has since named them "Our Posse".)  Being covered with the prayers of "Our Posse" and many others, we began this journey with an overwhelming sense of peace.  We knew nothing would touch us that had not first passed through God's hands.  As the hearing began on Thursday morning, I looked at the judge and couldn't help but think "You (judge) have absolutely NO idea how many people are praying for you right now".

Until the day we arrived in the region, we were under the impression that the judge hearing our petition was a female.  I had spoken with another adoptive mom who had gone before that judge.  She was the one we were mentally prepared for.  This change, however, did not upset us.  We knew God was in control but did not realize how much of the following two days would hinge on him being on the bench for our hearing.

We were told by our facilitator that Judge Nikolai was tough and thorough, but that we would like him because "he is the best".  He is known for his attention to detail.  We previously were prepared to begin with a brief introduction of ourselves, our life, and our reason for wishing to adopt Little Dude, followed by questioning.  This judge, however, preferred as much information as possible to be packed into our narrative.  The ball was in our court and we had the burden of proving why we are suitable parents for this child.

Let me back up and lay some groundwork for those of you unfamiliar with our Little Dude's birth country.  While it is an amazing country that we've grown to love, there is very little understanding of Special Needs and Down syndrome.  Parents just don't take such babies  home from the hospital let alone choose to adopt them.  Special Olympics, Birth-to-Three, Easter Seals, mainstreaming, IEPs, etc. don't exist in their culture, so all of our answers had to be framed in a way to give understanding of all of the services and opportunites that exist in America.
Additionally, this country has a history of being closed to anything except what we Americans might consider a state religion.  However, we were not told to speak in broad 'religious' terms, but to tell the truth. 

We were given carte blanche to speak openly about our faith in this courtroom.  I think both Dave and I tested the waters a little with some more generally accepted 'religious' terminology before jumping in.  The judge asked Dave if we attended church, the name of our church, and the denomination.  He seemed to have very little understanding of anything except the state religion and Catholicism, but was not hostile toward Dave's responses.

All told, Dave spent between 60 and 90 minutes speaking and fielding questions Thursday morning.  Then it was my turn.  The remainder of the morning was filled with tales of our homelife, marriage, and services available to help us care for a Ds child.

We obviously had a translator during the entire process.  I cannot begin to tell you what a blessing she was.  During our lunch break, Dave and I discussed that we were pretty sure she is a Christian.  That was later confirmed in speaking with her more directly.  I can't be sure, but I think she was as amazed as we were at the opportunites to speak of God, His faithfulness, and His provision during our hearing.

After lunch, I returned to the podium.  I began by saying that we realize it's hard to understand why we'd choose a child with Ds, but that we have been incredibly blessed both as individuals and as a family.  It is out of those blessings and our faith that we feel called to care for the less fortunate... the orphan and the widow.
I explained how we've been afforded many opportunities to do this during short-term mission trips and yet each time return home feeling like we were the ones receiving the blessings.  He questioned us on specifics of those trips... when?... where?... what did you do?... who payed for it?... did you receive financial compensation?... etc.

After our narratives, we moved to the portion of the hearing where the judge would ask to hear from the Prosecuter, our agency representative, the orphanage director, and the Social Worker.  [The Prosecuter is not a "prosecuter" as we think of in criminal trials.  He can best be compared to the Guardian Ad Litum in domestic adoptions.  He is there to act in the best interest of a minor (aka. Little Dude).]  Each one affirmed their recommendation that we would, indeed, be good parents for our Little Dude.  They fielded questions about how they reached that decision.

Lastly, we began the review of the court documents.  Remember that dossier I've mentioned?  Well, it's bound into a file 2-3 inches thick and we were going to review each item.
The judge began with our petition to the Supreme Court of       [the region]     , moved through all of our supporting documents (medical exams, finances, home study, etc.) and ended with our Little Dude's medical records.  That's where we hit a God-appointed speed bump.  There was a discrepancy in his birthcertificate, hospital record, and refusal letter.  ["refusal letter" is their terminology for what we think of Termination of Parental Rights.  It sounds offensive, but don't let it be... it's just their word choice for the very difficult decision birthparents must make.]

The question at hand?... Were Little Dude's parents married at the time of his birth.  To me, it didn't seem like a huge issue.  I was sure it was either a clerical error or that his birthmom was choosing to not name the father so that he wouldn't have to sign the refusal papers.  Besides, in the beginning of May the Social Worker had visited Little Dude's birth family to make them aware that he was being adopted as well as make sure that neither they nor any of their family intended to parent this child.  They had both signed the paper consenting to our adoption.  To me, it seemed as simple as granting our petition and issuing a birth certificate naming us as parents so we could return to our happy little life in America.  To the judge, however, it was a big issue.

And this is where we witnessed God's hand in all of His majesty.

The judge would not rule... we would resume the hearing Friday morning... and in the meantime, the Social Worker was to contact Little Dude's birthparents and ask them to appear to reconcile the error.  The judge had spoken.

WHAT?!?!? 

In the land of closed (and quite secretive) adoptions we just might meet our Little Dude's birthparents!

Dave and I left the courtroom with an overwhelming sense of peace.  We weren't sure what God was up to, but we knew it would be an experience like no other.

Friday morning dawned clear and bright.  We arrived at the courthouse to see Little Dude's birthparents and the Social Worker waiting outside.  Once inside the building, introductions were made.  We were asked to share a little about our family.  We took some photographs together and exchanged email addresses.  They explained that in their culture there was no way they were able to care for our Little Dude.  There are not the resources and programs available that we have in America.  We were able to tell them that we love their son, that we cannot wait to bring him home, and that his brothers are ecstatic about his adoption.  We were able to tell them that we don't place blame for their decision.  We said that each birthday, Mother's Day, and Father's Day we will remember and honor their sacrifice.  They said that our Little Dude was loved and wanted.  They had every intention of taking him home and parenting him.  It was not until the day of discharge that the doctors approached them and told of his diagnosis.  Until this point, the birthparents had absolutely no idea that this little guy was blessed with an extra chromosome.  (The prenatal testing that should  have occurred was 'overlooked' due to the birthmom being in the midst of moving and switching physicians.  We cannot say for sure what the outcome would have been had this testing been done, but we see God's hand in this 'error'.)  The doctors told the parents how difficult it would be to parent a child with Ds and the difficult decision was made.  They would sign the refusal paper and leave the maternity hospital with empty arms, our Little Dude would be taken to an orphanage, and little known to us, our journey to Bringing Home Our Little Dude would begin.  Surprisingly, through all of this, I was able to maintain my composure.  If that doesn't speak to God's power, nothing does!

We entered the courtroom and the hearing resumed.
In about 45 minutes, it was determined that his birthparents were indeed married at the time of Little Dude's birth and that there was never any intention to deceive.  Birthmom, just days after the delivery of her little boy, was not only racked with the typical post-partum hormonal craziness but also the broken dreams of what might have been for this little guy she carried for 9 months.  She did as she was told.  She signed the paperwork, never knowing that there was a discrepancy.  This error would likely have gone unnoticed for the rest of Little Dude's life had an American family not fallen in love with him.

We then offered our closing statements.  We were able to reitterate that we know our decision to adopt a child with Special Needs is not understood and that we realize Ds is "not cureable".   We said we are totally committed to him, love him unconditionally, and-- with God's help-- will do everything we can to help him achieve his maximum potential.  We reassured the birthparents that we do not place blame but are forever grateful for their sacrifice.  I can't be sure, but at one point I think I saw a glisten in this otherwise stoic judge's eye.

As per the country's adoption law, the judge retreated to his chamber to make his decision.  He returned 10 minutes later to issue the adoption decree.  Dave and I were named Little Dude's parents and may return in 35 days to bring him home.

In the hallway was when the tears finally came.  His birthmom and I clung to each other while silent tears streamed down her beautiful cheeks and I looked like a hot mess.  His birthfather said that they don't have the words to adequately relay their gratitude.  God was redeeming the time... He was giving beauty for ashes... a Hope and a Future for two families brought together by one very special little boy.

As we step back from these seemingly random occurrences that have taken place over the past weeks, months, and years, we see God's orchestration.  HE connected the dots.  HE colored outside the lines.  And what we are left with is a masterpiece more beautiful than we could have ever hoped or imagined.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

...and Little Dude makes 5 !

It's been a whirlwind of a week.  Last Saturday we left home and dropped off our boys at Grandma & Pappy's house before beginning our trek to EE.  Sunday morning we boarded the first of what would be many planes, trains, and automobiles.

Blogging the whole experience deserves much more time and attention than I have the energy for right now.  Let's just suffice it to say that I have never seen or felt God move quite like I did this week.  Re-entry can be hard.  Right now I need some sleep and time to process the experience.  The details will come, I just don't know when.

For those of you who haven't yet heard, on Friday, May 25, 2012, we were named the parents of a very special little boy.


And now this travel-weary and incredibly blessed Mommy is headed to bed with the knowledge that There's One Less Orphan in the World tonight.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Pondering... and cutting loose

"Mary kept all of these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself.  The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen.  It turned out exactly the way they'd been told!"  -- Luke 2:19-20 the Message


I'm torn.  I've been feeling that I should update our blog... that I should give you a window to what's happening.  It's been more than getting visas, purchasing tickets, and packing suitcases.  To tell the truth, these past few weeks have been amazing.  God has given me some wonderful moments of intimacy and prayer.  I've experienced the sweetness of bearing others' burdens and of them helping carry mine.  I've seen God's Word with new eyes; I've listened to sermons with new ears.  I've watched how He has intricately woven the smallest of details together.  And yet I am torn...
          
 ... torn between being a sheepherder and Mary...

There have been moments where I'm a shepherd... I feel as if I'll explode if I don't "let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything I've heard and seen".

And yet I, like Mary, am a woman.  I have the deep desire to "hold all of this dear, deep within myself".

torn.

So I guess in my own way, I'll do both...  Know that when the tears surface, when my smile is so big I feel my face will crack, or when I become almost lightheaded & giddy, it's because my heart is full to overflowing with all of the things pondered there. 

I can't believe that I get to live this life!

Friday, May 4, 2012

"Hey, Daddy... What's taking you so long to come and get me?  Don't you know I'd rather be at home sleeping in my own bed and playing with my brothers?"


Well, little buddy... we're coming very soon!
Yep, you heard it here first.  We got our court date!!!  [insert happy dance]  WOO HOOOOOOO!
In just over 2 weeks we'll be winging our way across the big pond to visit our Little Dude and have our court hearing.  If all goes well on May 24, I'm thinking this will be the best 40th birthday present we could ever give Aunt Connie.

Friday, April 27, 2012

No news is...

... no news.  Frankly, it's not good or bad, it's just no news.

The judge probably received our paperwork sometime between Wednesday and today.  The family who hand-carried our documents had court yesterday, so that would (rightly) take precedent in the in-country staff's schedule this week.  I imagine our documents were probably delivered yesterday, but I can't be sure.  The judge now has 10 days to review our documents and either a.) request more information or b.) issue a court date.  We're hoping for the latter.

Our boys CAN.  NOT. WAIT. for us to travel again.  They are in a perpetual state of planning on what they'll do while visiting Grandma and Pappy.  Their entire days of play are now devoted to anything involving airplanes and helicopters.  4y.o. is continually spouting off terms like "routine security check".  I think the most heart-wrenching thing, though, is when he brings me the coins he's collected and offers to help pay for his trip to Grandma and Pappy's.  He's convinced that the reason we're not traveling now is because we don't have enough $ to pay for it.  Oh Dear Judge, pleeeease issue us a date soon.  This Momma's heart can't take much more of his sad eyes and pleading voice.

[On a side note, I heard that the family passed court yesterday, so if you're keeping count... one less child went to bed as an orphan last night!]

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Judge's request... done!

Well, we heard from the judge.  Not actually from the judge herself,  but from our agency... who heard from the in-country staff... who heard from the region's representative (aka. facilitator)... who heard from the judge.
She reviewed our court documents and only has one request.  She would like our court application to be amended to further explain why we think we can parent a child with Down syndrome.

We added a few paragraphs about our work as counselors at a Special Needs Camp, our careers and education as Physical Therapists, adoption education requirements we've completed, etc. and sent it off to be apostilled last night.

Now we're praying that the Secretary of State's office does same-day service.  This time we paid for 'Expedited Processing'.  The lady I talked to yesterday said they have been running behind due to recent understaffing and we'd have to expedited it in order to even have a chance at same-day service.
If the completed documents can get to our agency on Thursday-- or maybe  Friday-- then they can be hand-carried by a family traveling to the region for court.  This option would save at least a week and the documents could be translated and in the judges hands by Wednesday.  She then has 10 days to review the documents and (we're hoping) issue a court date.

The family traveling Saturday had a 5 week notice for their court date.  If that's the case with us, we'll travel in June.  Who knows what will happen though.  The judge just might be anxious to meet the family who is actually choosing to adopt a child with Down syndrome.  (To our knowledge, we're the first family adopting a Ds child in her court.)

So that's where we're at right now.  We're thankful that the judge only had one request and that it could be completed the same day.
This morning our boys made "a bed for   (insert Little Dude's name) "  in their bedroom.  It amounted to a sleeping bag on their bedroom floor, but hey, it's thought that counts.  These 2 little guys cannot wait to get their brother home!

*Disclaimer/explanation:  I don't think the judge's questioning is meant negatively.  Adopting a child with Ds is not common in her country and she just wants to make sure we're going into it with our eyes wide open.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Drumroll please...

The winner of our Shawl Giveaway was drawn by my handsome assistant.
He took his duties very seriously.

And the winner is........................................................

Theresa !!!

Theresa, my first college roommate, has been a huge encourager during our adoption process.  Actually, I'd credit her for making me believe that we really could  adopt.  (She's excellent at making you believe you can do something, but that's a whole other story.)

Three years ago I was telling Theresa about the book I was reading on adoption.  When all of a sudden, through the phone came "YOU'RE GONNA DO IT !  YOU'RE REALLY GONNA DO IT !"  (Did I mention she tends to be a little passionate about things?)

I remember that day as being the first day I really believed that adopting may be more than some crazy idea I had... that it actually just. might. happen. 
Sure, Dave and I had talked about it, but it always seemed 'in the future'.  That little kick-in-the-pants by Theresa propelled me into starting to investigate what we're need to do to adopt and talk more seriously with Dave about it.

Theresa made the first donation to our FSP (thanks for getting rid of the zeros!),  she wore her t-shirt on World Down Syndrome Day, and I know she'll be the one cheering the loudest when we get off the plane with Our Little Dude.

Congrats T.

***Many thanks to all who entered!***

Friday, April 6, 2012

We're Famous !!!

Okay, maybe famous isn't quite the truth... but we did make it as Sarah's Faithful Friday post.  Sarah is Orphan Advocate Extraordinaire.  She is a teen making a difference.

Sarah and her best friend, Rachel, raise money for orphans.  They use their crocheting and sewing talents to make items to sell via their blog as well as at Craft Fairs.

Sarah has computer skills that have saved me on more than one occassion.  If there's something I don't understand about my blog, she's there to answer my email's cry for help.  She is also the designer behind our Prayer Cards.

The crazy thing of it all is that Sarah and I have never actually met.  One of these days I'm going to make the 2 hour trek to her neck of the woods.  I'm sure that will happen once our Little Dude is home, if not before.

Sarah is Big Sister to 2 chromosomally blessed little brothers (both adopted from Ukraine).  There are also two other Ds adoptive families at her church who recently brought home their little boys (one from China, the other from Ukraine).  I had the pleasure of following their journeys via their blogs.

Hop over and check out Sarah's personal blog or her fundraising blog.  Offer a word or encouragement and maybe purchase an item.  Their busy little fingers have raised over $1,300 toward Lilly's adoption grant.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Last Call !

The clock is ticking.  The final countdown to our giveaway has begun.  However, its not too late to get in on the action and take your chance a winning the shawl.

You have 4 ways of entering (for a total of 5 entries into the drawing):
1.  Donate to our Reece's Rainbow adoption grant.  (worth 2 entires in the drawing)
or...
2.  Share our Just Love Coffee fundraiser on your Facebook page.
3.  Share our Adoption Bug fundraiser on your Facebook page.
4.  Share a Reece's Rainbow waiting child on your Facebook page.
(each worth 1 entry)

I have a list of our donors and share-ers, but if you do so in the next 2 days, please email me at BringingHomeOurDude@gmail.com so I can be sure to add your name to the pot.  The winner will be drawn on Easter.
Thanks for your support!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Blog Hop!

Jennifer-- over at "We're what Willis was talking about"-- is hosting a Blog Hop. What's a Blog Hop? It's a quick, easy way to jump from adoption blog to adoption blog.

Many are either Reece's Rainbow families or advocates. You'll read some amazing stories of what God is doing in ransoming His little ones.

A few guidelines to Blog Hop Etiquette:
*visit AND comment on other blogs
*read at least one of their posts
*leave a relevant comment on their blog and mention how you found them
*follow their blog through Google or another blog-following tool

Check back often for additonal bloggers linking up!



Another chance to shine

Unfortunately our Secretary of State's office has yet another opportunity to dazzle us with their superior service.  I'm so thankful that they've done such a great job completing our apostilling, but I really was hoping Monday's documents were the last they'd see from us for a while.

In proofing our completed (apostilled) documents, our adoption agency found that the City Assessor had made an error and put the date of March 23 on his letter (which was written and notarized  on March 22).  While I triple checked the notary's date-- yeah, International Adoption tends to bring out some OCD tendencies in a person-- I never looked at the date on the top of the letter.
Anyhow, our Assessor was apologetic and re-did it this morning.  We've already been to FedEx, so the SOS should get the letters in the morning and hopefully they'll be completed and arrive at our agency early Friday.

On a different note, another possible issue is with our deed.  Our county does not use street addresses anywhere on a deed-- only parcel number and lot descriptor.  While it's easy enough to cross-reference the Assessor's Letter (since it has parcel number, lot descriptor, and  street address), we're not sure that will fly with the judge... So we'll submit it as is and see what she says.  If she wants more/different info, then we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

So that's where we're at... waiting...
...and again, I'm hoping and praying for a quick turn-around by the SOS, that the documents will look good, and soon be in the judge's hands!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Give it up for our SOS !

I've said it before, but it bears repeating...
our Secretary of State's office ROCKS!

Once again they received, apostilled, and sent our documents in the same day (at the regular-- not expedited-- rate).

The 3 additional documents reached our agency this morning.  Here's hoping that everything looks good and will be headed to EE soon!


Have I mentioned lately how much I love this little guy?


Saturday, March 24, 2012

3 More Requirements

Our Little Dude's region added 3 more required documents.  (This is in addition to the ones we sent last week.  It applies to all families adopting from the region and is not the list we'll get from the judge once she reviews our packet.)

Our Social Worker called with this little bit of info on Thursday afternoon.  From what I understand, regions continually revise the list of requirements, so this request isn't that out-of-the-ordinary.

The 3 requirements (all in duplicate, notarized, and apostilled of course!):
     1.  a certified copy of our house deed
     2.  an assessor's letter
     3.  a copy of our 1040 Tax Form from 2011

When getting birth and marriage certificates from our County's Register of Deeds in January, I (thankfully) had the foresight to also get two certified copies of our house deed.

A phone call to our City Assessor and he had the notarized letter waiting for pick-up within an hour.

And Thursday evening, Dave was able to e-file our taxes.  The question probably didn't cross your mind, but in case it did... Our tax form itself is not notarized.  We complete an affidavit statement and attach it to the 1040, basically stating that it is a true and unaltered copy of our original tax form.  We sign that in front of a notary then she signs stating that we have proven our identity and subscribed it before her.

I was able to take the envelope to FedEx yesterday, so it should arrive at the Secretary of State's office for apostilling on Monday morning.  Hopefully it will be completed on Monday, get to our adoption agency on Tuesday, then head to EE ASAP!

Just another hoop, my friends.  Just another hoop!

Friday, March 16, 2012

I remembered I forgot

Just this morning I was reminded that I hadn't yet blogged about our "Hat Knitting Day".  We originally had this planned for February 6, but those plans went out the window when I got a better offer.  (That was the day we met our Little Dude.)

Anyhow, we rescheduled for this past Monday.  It wasn't as big of a group as when we made hats for my friend Robyn's adoption, but it was fun none-the-less.  [How can friends, food, and knitting not be fun???]  Four of us made 12 hats and Aunt Heather had made and sent an additional 3.  My friend Kim has a few more to add to the count but a sick kiddo prevented her from joining us.


These hats will be a gift to the children at our Little Dude's orphanage... those still waiting for their Mommy and Daddy to find them.  While it would be nice to take a hat for each of the kids left behind, it would be even better if they each got a Mommy & Daddy!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Who doesn't like to win something?

While we're waiting, I thought we'd have a little fun.  But first a little background info...

Reece's Rainbow's Family Sponsorship Program (FSP) allows others to donate toward bringing home orphans like our Little Dude.  Since RR is a 501(c)3 organization, donors may claim these gifts on their taxes.

Since our commitment to our Little Dude in October, $1902 has been given to our FSP.  An additional $270 was placed in his account prior to our commitment by those hoping his family would find him.

So here's where the fun comes in...
Over the past two weeks I've been working on a shawl to give away.  On Easter (April 8) we'll draw a name.


  
Anyone who makes a donation of any size  to our FSP is eligible.  If you donated prior to this little contest, not to worry... I'll throw your name in the hat too   :o)
You'll get two (2) entries into this giveaway for donating to our FSP.

There is also a way to enter without donating... or to increase your chances by doing this also!
Here are your choices:
       1.  Share our Just Love Coffee fundraiser on your Facebook page.
    or
       2.  Share our Adoption Bug fundraiser on your Facebook page.
    or
       3.  Share a Reece's Rainbow Waiting Child on your Facebook page.
    or
       Do all three for 3 more chances!  So donate, share, share, and share for a total of 5 entries into this giveaway.


Here are a few specs about the shawl:
The pattern is called 'Summer Flies'  and has sections of butterflies, lace openwork, and a picot edge.
It's made from a bamboo blend, so it will be good for even warm climates.
Measurements are 42 inches from tip-to-tip and 17 inches deep.
The color is "Misty Taupe" and the photo below is a more accurate portrayal of it's true color.

Here's a photo to give you an idea of size.
(It's just the right size for over your shoulders in an airconditioned church or office.)

Once you've made a donation to our FSP or shared on Facebook, leave me a comment below or an email at BringingHomeOurDude@gmail.com stating what you've done (ie. donated, shared, etc.) so I can add your name to the drawing. 

Fine Print (there's always  fine print)...
Immediate family members aren't included in this drawing.  Thanks for your donations and sharing, but you know I'll knit for you anytime.  You must sit this one out.

Oh, did I mention that I like this shawl so much that I'm making one for myself in the exact same yarn?

w.a.i.t.i.n.g.

I'd love to say lots is happening on our adoption front right now, but that just isn't the case.  Actually, our court documents began their trans-Atlantic journey on Monday.  (I'm not sure exactly how long it takes to get them to our Little Dude's country.)  It'll be about 2-3 weeks until they are translated and delivered to the judge in the region.  She then has 10 days to review our documents and tell us what she wants revised, more information on, etc.  We've been warned that this *always* happens, so it's not a matter of if  she'll want something re-done but what  it will be.  The judge reviewing our documents is the one who will preside over our hearing, so she'll already be very familiar with the info about us, our family, financial status, and our Little Dude when we get to that point.

There is some rest at this point of our journey.  Until we hear from the judge, we're done doing.  While we still have some loose strings to tie-up on our Adoption Education requirements, for the most part we can just rest and pray. 

And although we're anxious to have our Little Dude home, time marches on.  There are memories to be made in the lives our 2yo and 4yo.  We've been enjoying the warm weather the past few days having played in the yard, the sandbox, at the park, had a picnic, roasted hotdogs, and made s'mores.  We love the switch to Daylight Savings time because it means that many more hours to play outside after Daddy comes home.  I'm embarassed to admit how many summer evenings we play until dark and only then come in to eat dinner.

So that's where we're at right now... waiting and making memories.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Rockin' the Red not-so-pumpy Pumps

Today is Rock the Red Pump day.  March 10, 2012 is designated as National Women and Girls' HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

Being more into comfort than style, I broke out the red Danskos for the occassion.

Yes, I realize that the "National" in the NWGHAAD title is referring to those living with HIV/AIDS here in America.  But this day brought to mind several women from my past who are living with HIV/AIDS.

In 2006, Dave and I had the opportunity to spend a few weeks in Kenya.  We have friends serving as missionaries there and the focus of their outreach at that time was HIV education and ministering to HIV/AIDS widows.

During our visit, we ventured into the Mathare slums in Nairobi.  It's anyone's guess exactly how many people call these few square miles home.  Recent estimates are anywhere from 750,000 to upwards of 1 million people.

We first visited "The Peanutbutter Project".  It's a cottage industry in which HIV/AIDS widows are employed making and selling peanutbutter.  This benefits them on so many levels.  It provides an income and a sense of purpose.  They are able to receive ARVs (antiretroviral drugs).  The protein in peanutbutter combined with ARVs and hope are life-changing for these women.

We then stopped at Alice's house.  Alice is living... no, she's now thriving... with HIV/AIDS.  Since meeting her in 2006 and buying some of the beaded pins and necklaces she was selling to make a meager income, she has gotten so much stronger and healthier with ARVs.  She now educates and ministers to others.

We visited Jael's apartment.  We were able to provide some groceries and prayer before leaving.  I have a feeling that the hugs we shared are the only ones she had received in a long time.

There was a dying grandma lying on the dirt floor of her shack.  Her children had died of AIDS and she was left as the sole caregiver for her 12 year old grandson.  I'm sure it was just a matter of days after our visit that he was totally orphaned by her passing.

We visited a 1 week old baby boy named Glory.  His mama is HIV+ and was out looking for food.  He was left in the care of his young siblings.

Our last stop was to visit an 18yo mama named Eyelet.  HIV positive Eyelet and her 3yo daughter were living with her mother.  Eyelet's mother did not want to provide help due to her HIV status.

These women did not lead promiscuous lifestyles.  Most likely their HIV was brought home by a husband that visited a prostitute then kicked her (his wife) out when she found out she was HIV+.  Chances are the husband never got tested or gave up his philandering.  And now she is widowed and alone with HIV/AIDS.

There are other casualties of this pandemic.  The children.  Children orphaned by parents who have died of AIDS.  Children born HIV+.  And possibly most catastrophic, children who gain their HIV status by rape.
I hate to break it to you, but there are many misconceptions out there... one of which is that HIV/AIDS can be cured by having sex with a virgin.  There have been many infants and young children harmed and physically mutilated by this lie.

We spent some time at El Joy School.  You would have never guessed that behind those dark eyes and brilliant smiles was pain that no 5 year old should ever have to bear.  I can still hear a line from the poem they recited in English:

"AIDS.  You took my Father...
... You killed my Mother...
And now you're killing me.
You stole my hope."


We're blessed here in the good ole' USA.  We have testing and treatment.  You can be HIV+ and live a long, happy, and healthy life.  There are tons of HIV+ kids on the Reece's Rainbow Waiting Children list just waiting for that chance.  (Also be sure to check out Project Hopeful.)  These kids aren't looking for a perfect parent... just one that will take that chance and love them.

Get educatedGet involved.  And if you have risk factors, get tested.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


I am blessed.  I really, truely am.  Just not with patience.
                                                   And so our wait for apostilling continues.. . .  .   .    .    .     .      .



Update to the above post from yesterday:  Our documents were delivered to our agency this morning.  [They were not showing "picked up" or "in transit" when I was using FedEx tracking last night.]  Yay God!


Friday, March 2, 2012

And it's outta here!

... our packet of court documents, that is.  Woo Hoo!
This morning, after a quick trip to the bank to get the last 16 documents notarized, I sorted, checked, and rechecked (... and rechecked... and rechecked... and rechecked) the documents before heading to FedEx.
  • application to the court to adopt our Little Dude-- check
  • bio boys' birth certificates-- check
  • medical letters for the 4 of us-- check
  • psych evals-- check
  • physicians' licenses-- check
  • labs and x-ray results-- check
  • USCIS approval-- check
  • financial status-- check
  • living conditions-- check
  • and 2 copies of  a whole bunch of other documents-- check

The documents will be delivered to our Secretary of State's office on Monday morning and be apostilled.  They will then be sent to our adoption agency.  Once received there, they will again go over everything with a fine-toothed comb.  (I had scanned and emailed the un-apostilled completed forms to be proofed this week.)

If all looks good, the documents will be sent to our Little Dude's country.  They will then be translated and delivered to the MOES (I think... or whoever these ones go to).  The documents will be reviewed and if everything looks satisfactory, we'll be issued a court date.

Here's hoping and praying that everything looks good and moves through this process quickly!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lilly's Birthday Bash

Somewhere in EE, hidden behind orphanage walls, lies a little girl by the name of "Lilly".  For 5 years now she's been waiting for her family to find her. 

Two teen girls-- Sarah and Rachel-- are fervently praying, advocating, and fundraising for Lilly.  Over the past 9 months, they have used their crafting talents to raise over $1,000 for Lilly's Reece's Rainbow grant.

They are currently hosting Lilly's Birthday Bash on their blog.  Their goal is to put her RR grant over the $10,000 mark... the amount where children who've been waiting indefinitely seem to find families.

This Birthday Bash continues through March 5.  Hop over and check out the items they have for sale.  And be sure to tell Sarah that Carla sent you  ;o)

Monday, February 27, 2012

... a birthday...

This weekend we pseudo-celebrated a birthday.  I say "pseudo-celebrated" for 2 reasons:  1) It only involved a DQ icecream cake and a song, and 2) Our little dude wasn't here for it. 

I guess it really was a momentous day on several fronts.  It will be his last birthday inside institutional walls and more importantly, although he's now 4yo, he will not be transferred out of the Baby House since we've begun the in-country paperwork for his adoption.

Birthdays can be tough times for adoptees.  It's often a time to remember his/her birthmother and wonder about the "whys" behind her decision to make an adoption plan.

Yesterday I found myself wondering about our Little Dude's birthmom.  I'd be crazy to think she wasn't thinking about him... the joy and expectation she was feeling 4 years ago leading up to his delivery... the love she had for him as she felt him grow and kick... then the cold, hard reality that he has Down syndrome-- a chromosomal difference not well accepted in her country. 

In many ways her decision was already made for her.  Institutionalizing a baby with Ds is what you do.  There are no programs to assist you with his Special Needs.  Society and Tradition determined what the outcome would be.  And so, one tiny and very special little boy entered an orphanage while a mother left the hospital with empty arms and full breasts.

With an overflowing heart, I thank you-- our Little Dude's Birthmother-- for giving him life.  I pray that you've found peace and will know he is well cared for and loved.

Friday, February 24, 2012

"Our Story" button!

Thanks to the amazing Sarah-- orphan advocate extraordinaire-- we now have an "Our Story" button!
I opened my email this morning to find that she had created one for us.  Sarah is also the one who made Prayer Cards for us as well as my friend Robyn's adoption.

Check out Sarah's blog.  She's a teen girl with a heart for orphans and Down syndrome.  She and her best friend use their crocheting and sewing talents to fundraise and advocate for orphans... You just might find a hat you'd like to buy in the process!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Arnold

Here's a little guy whose Mommy and Daddy need to find him before July.  Recently someone also felt this urgency and made a $15,000 donation to his Reece's Rainbow grant.  (You can read about it here.)  This generous donation will go a long way to helping his Mommy and Daddy pay the fees and travel expenses involved in International Adoption.

If you or someone you know is interested in adoption, please take a look at Arnold.  He's a little guy that will thrive with a family's love.  Won't you give him a chance?

Is it your first visit to our blog?

Over the past few weeks, Dave and I have been blessed to reconnect with friends from our past... people that we don't keep in touch with on a regular basis, yet will always consider friends. 

Since I'm not technologically savvy and am not quite sure how to make a blog button to link you to "Our Story", you can find it here.  This little gem will give you the background information on our adoption journey.  It may answer many of the questions we field when people first learn of our adoption...
... what made you decide to adopt?
... why [country]?
... why Down syndrome?

So if you're just learning about our Little Dude's adoption-- or even found our blog because you're considering a Reece's Rainbow adoption-- pop over to "Our Story".  We love  talking about adoption and our Little Dude, so if you have any further questions, just ask!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thank You.

...a HUGE thank you to those of you financially supporting our Little Dude's journey home...

In the past 24 hours someone made a sizeable donation to our Reece's Rainbow grant.  While these gifts help offset the hefty fees of International Adoption, it means so much more than that.  It speaks to the sanctity of life.  It tells us that you feel this little guy is worthy of being ransomed... that his extra chromosome was not a mistake... that he is fearfully and wonderfully made.


The truth is I'm continually blown away by God's provision at just the right time.  Today it was not so much about the dollar figure but about having people in our corner.  This morning started with me reading a blog of a family who just went through a really tough time in court.  Thankfully in the end, the judge ruled favorably-- although not until they produced many additional documents, answered days worth of questions, etc. 

There are times that I'm keenly aware of the unseen battle that's raging.  Spiritual warfare.  Satan is not giving up without a fight.  He will not acknowledge that these children are worthy of redemption.  He does not want them to become part of a family where they'll be unconditonally loved and taught about Jesus.

This battle is real.  If you don't believe me, jump into an International Special Needs Adoption and I don't think it'll be long before you concur.

We covet your financial support.  We covet your prayers.  We are humbled by both.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

USCIS approval

I just today realized that I may not have posted that we received our USCIS approval.  That little gem was waiting for us when we returned from our travels late Sunday night.

What does that mean?  It's the official okay to bring an orphan (aka. Our Little Dude) to 'The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave'.

Foreign adoptions vary.  Some are finalized 'in-country' and some once you get back to the USA.  Ours will be finalized in our Little Dude's birth country.  That said, there is still the technicality that he will enter the United States on a visa.  The way I understand it... while he will legally  be our son when the judge pronounces it, he won't become an American citizen until he sets foot on our shores with the legal entry of a visa.

It's kind of a bummer that Immigration and Passport Control  bans the use of cameras and other recording devices.  I guess we'll have to wait until we pass through the doors to baggage claim for a photo op!

We found a Psychologist who has some experince in adoption requirements.  Our little guy's country requires a psychological exam (by a Psychologist or Psychiatrist).  The results of this exam as well as our other medical information will be presented as part of our court documents.  Thankfully, this woman will see us soon and is motivated to move us through this process as quickly as possible.
I'll have my bloodwork and chest x-ray done tomorrow (also court requirements).

Is it worth all of the paperwork and needle sticks?
YOU BET IT IS !


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Things I LOVE about our Little Dude's country... (an evolving list)

1.  Tea.  While staying with our host family, there was always a pot of tea on the table during meals and snacks.  Since our return home, I've pulled out my teapot (bye bye Keurig and microwave for making tea) and am enjoying the tradition as much as the beverage itself.

2.  Coffee and Tea are actually served hot.  I'm not talking about our litigious American idea of "hot" as in 'your drive-thru beverage will only be slightly warmer than body temperature since you may be a total idiot and put your coffee between your legs then sue me when you get burned'. 
The same goes for the temperature of the bath water.  I honestly think I've brewed tea with cooler water than is pouring from their spigots.

3.   PETA is non-existent.  All of you animal rights people can hate me for saying this, but there is really no denying the beauty and warmth of a fur coat.  Fur.  The real McCoy.  The number of full-length sables and minks being sported as part of everyday attire is astounding.  Even the trim on puffer jackets is gen-u-ine... none of the matted acrylic stuff here. 
disclaimer:  This is my own opinion.  You are free to have your own and voice it.  Just do so on your own blog.  Thank you.

4.  Chocolate.  It's good.  But I challenge you to find a place in the world that has chocolate that I wouldn't like.  Enough said.


(check back for future additions to this list)