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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to all

Today, on Eli's first christmas home with us, i am so overwhelmed with gratitude.  I am so grateful that we are allowed to be his parents.  It's the best GIFT i could have ever gotten.

 Yesterday, he was on the couch after we opened stockings and he said "Eli, Daddy" and then signed love to Jared.  It was so so touching.  He loves us, and he wants us to know it.  I felt like the grinch when his heart swells so big.  I don't know what we did to deserve him, but i will be grateful my entire life for the opportunity to have him in our family, to show him love, to show him what a family is.  He has added so much to our family in such a short time, i can't wait to see what the coming years have in store for us.

He loves his little doctor kit!  He went around and listened to everyone's heart :)


New frog blanket

Friday, November 30, 2012

Mr. Smarty Pants

Eli is doing so well.  Almost ridiculous.  I know some kids come home and struggle and that is the NORM.  Sometimes i worry that people reading our story think all kids come home and everything is peachy keen.  Course, Eli has only been home for a little over a month...so we will see what the next weeks and months bring.  But i do want to say, for anyone reading this with kiddos that are newly home and may be struggling, it is NORMAL for kiddos to have trouble adjusting.  Think about all the changes they are going through!!!


Anyway, Eli loves food!  He takes me to the fruit bowl first thing every morning and requests a banana or an apple.  Banana's were a treat in the orphanage i think.  His eyes light up everytime i mention a banana!  Sweet boy :)

video


Other kiddos are doing so well!!!!  Thomas has struggled with handwriting for a long time.  Jared and i were commenting tonight that he is writing his name now without any struggle and all the letters are written correctly!!!  He can and does write other things obviously, but his name has been something we have been working on for a LONG time!  This mama is HAPPY!!!!

Both Thomas and Gwen and taking a homeschool dance class.  it is hillarious to watch them prance and twirl!!!!
Thomas is also doing basketball and gwen is a cheerleader...snort.  I tried to convince her to do basketball too but she was adament she would be a cheerleader!!!

Luci has started talking more and more.  She is a mini-gwen.  She is speaking is sentences more now.  I was talking to my mom today and she said "nanny talk me, lo, lo, lo".  It was HILLARIOUS!!!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

heartbroken

I am heartbroken tonight.  A new little one was listed on the site where we found our little Eli.  She is 6.  She weighs 10 pounds.  Please re-read that sentence.  That is not a typo.  Thomas weighed 10 pounds at 2-3 WEEKS old.  This little one is 6 YEARS old.  I can't even...i can't even imagine the horror she lives in.  My heart is seriously broken for her.  She will be listed for 2 months. 

PLEASE someone come foward for her.  I don't know how she has lived this long honestly.  I don't know how much longer she can live this way.  Eli and the other children in his orphanage were SO well cared for.  There were plenty of toys and there was food for everyone and it was a nice place.  Still and orphanage of course, but a nice place.

This, this is inhumane.   I can't even fathom seeing a little one in this shape and thinking it is ok.  It's so out of my realm of normal. 


Please look at this picture, this is NOT A BABY!!!  She is older than both Eli and Gwen. 



The other reason i am heartbroken tonight?  Hearing from a friend that an orphanage in another country has had their heater break.  They can get NO money from their government until next year.  The heater is running in a VERY small generator right now but it will not last long.  If the generator fails, then the pipes will freeze.  So the children will have no HEAT and no WATER. 

These are the left behind children.  The ones who were not adopted.  The ones who are too old to be adopted.  A few children there will be adopted at some point, but realistically, how many of them will survive a winter with below zero temps everyday and no heat?  Please help if you can. 

They only need $1500 to replace the entire heating system.  There is a $750 matching grant being offered up right now. So all we have to do is raise $750 and these kids can hold on.  Donate here  http://www.life2orphans.org/  if you feel led.  All donations are tax deductible.  Please make sure to put TOREZ HEATER REPAIR FUND in the notes when you go through paypal,  in the notes section. Thank you so much.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Guest post :)

Hi!  I've been a terrible blogger lately, so when someone on an adoption group i'm on was looking for blogs to do a guest post, i sheepishly raised my hand...i mean, someone should be blogging here...ahem.  Anyway, here you go :)


 
Title: Where’s the Outrage?
Quick! Think of three things that make you angry.
Got it? Good.
People are interesting. You can tell a lot about a person by what makes them angry. Today, I scrolled through facebook to find some of the things that people will publically voice their angry opinions about. Here’s the list I found:
-Politics
-Slow internet
-Breakups
-Having two tests in one day
-Off-topic posts
-Having a cold or the flu
-Tourists
-Losing objects
-Being tired
-Things other people say on facebook
-Football games
-Grammatical mistakes
-The weather
-Being up late
-Missing laundry
Most of the things on that list would make any of us angry, but it’s all very trivial, isn’t it? At the end of the day, is your life ruined if the internet doesn’t work? Now, I’m going to tell you something that should truly make us all angry:
 

This is Karen. Karen is sixteen years old. She’s an orphan. Nobody ever came to adopt her. She’s been passed over again and again. Now, because of her age, she legally cannot be adopted unless she is adopted with her younger sister Chrystyna.
Did you get angry when you read Karen’s story? Did you clench your jaw over the injustice of the world? Did you want to spark a debate about a system that failed an orphaned young lady who needs parents just as much as any infant?
The problem with our society is that most of us don’t get angry. We only get angry if we sense a threat to our own well-being. If we have to wait in a line for too long, we’ll sigh and roll our eyes. If we see a photo of an orphan in need of adoption, we say, “Oh, that’s too bad” and move on with our day. It’s time, though, that we realize that these orphans are real children. Karen and Chrystyna have names, likes, dislikes, hopes, wishes, dreams, and desires just like the rest of us.
Now, because Karen is considered an older child and because of the fact that she has to be adopted with Chrystyna, her chances of being adopted at all are very, very slim. We can help her, though. One thing we can do to help is donate money to Chrystyna’s Reece’s Rainbow grant. Even the smallest amount will help get these girls home. Karen doesn’t have a grant because she doesn’t have a special need. However, if the girls are adopted together, any money placed in Chrystyna’s grant will also help Karen. Second, we can share. Post a link to their grant on facebook, twitter, or anything else you can think of. You may not have any money to spend, but you might know somebody who does. Even better, Karen and Chrystyna might find a family through a link that you posted. You never know. Finally, you can pray. If you do nothing else, please say many prayers for these two lovely girls. While you’re praying, challenge yourself to ignore the trivial things and get angry over the true injustices in the world. Kids like Karen and Chrystyna are counting on you.
 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

the beaten path

I took the kids to a local nature center today.  We decided to wander through the woods for awhile.  The older three were running and wandering, and Luci kept going off the path into the grassy/wooded part. 

Come back on the path i kept calling to her.  She kept telling me "NO", and kept pushing through.  I watched her fall and get up, fall and get up. 

Again, i encouraged her to come back on the path.  NO!!!  She told me again.  I watched her for a while more, then smiled and thought, good for her.  Its HARD to go off the beaten path. People will shout for you to come back to the safe, well traveled path.

 Adoption?  Hard??
Adopting a kid with special needs?  HARD
Trying to explain why you want a kid with special needs?  HARDER :)
Paperwork?  Hard and frustrating!
Waiting for your kid?  HARD
Traveling to a foreign country, not knowing anyone or the language?  HARD!
Leaving behind the other children?  HARDER
Trying to rescue other children and not being able to?  HARDEST!!!!

Is it worth it?  Absolutely. 

But it can be so scary to go off the path.  I hope, if i ever get the chance again, that i can skip off that path with absolute faith, just like my baby did today, knowing that everything will be fine in the end.  That it will be worth it in the end. 


P.S.  Because we wandered so far into the forest, we were the only family there after a while.  The nice lady at the nature center said bc we were the only ones there that she would get the bunny out and let us pet it!  So awesome!!!




Wednesday, October 31, 2012

first experience

I know i'm not done with our time in lithuania, but i had to share this! We went out for chinese food at lunch today, and Eli was a HUGE fan!!!!  He likes food in general lol, but this was hillarious!  We put food on his plate and at one point he took the big plate we were serving off of and starting eating off that too :)  See pictures below




Sunday, October 28, 2012

My apologies!

I'm so so sorry we haven't updated before now!  We are home with Eli safe and sound!  We didn't take a computer and i am terrible at typing on the ipad...so no updates while we were in country!

I will try and recap for you (lol)

We arrived in Lithuania on Monday, October 8th.  It was a long trip and we were exhausted!!!!  We brought our baby (22 months) with us, so we still needed to care forher and couldn't fall into bed and sleep for 24 hours like we wanted!

Bright and early the next day our wonderful facilitator Silvia came and got us, and drove us to the orphanage.  I think we were both so nervous.  We had been imagining and anticipating this day for so long, and to literally be able to reach out and touch him now seemed almost...scary?  We were taken up to the third floor of his orphanage.  We saw a bunch of kids in the hallway, all getting ready for the day.  I scanned faces, looking for my son.  One of the caregivers said, "Eimantas, your mama and papa are here".  I saw a little head pop up and he walked right over to us!  He was beautiful.  He didn't want to be hugged, he was on his was to group time and on a mission.  It was a little surreal to see him in the flesh.  I had imagined this moment so many times in my head, thinking i would cry and hold him. He had other plans...lol.  He took my hand and walked us to group time with him.  Truthfully, i felt a little numb.  We sat behind him while he participated in group.  He kept looking back at us and so we kissed his hands.  He liked that and kept lifting his hands for us to kiss again.  I did tear up a little at this point.  AFter group it was time for the kids to do an art project.  He didn't want us to help him, telling us to go away.  We wanted to respect his feelings and gave him space.  After art the children had free play.  I was still feeling a bit numb over the whole thing.  I knew intellectually that it was very healthy that he was wary of us...but it wasn't the way i had pictured it, if that makes any sense.  When the kids were playing we kind of followed Eli around, and he did let us interact with him some.  We played with the other children also.

At one point, one of the other children went up to our facilitator and pointed at me and asked if i was his mama.  That was so hearbreaking to me...seeing all these other children here.  We were so suprised to see so many TYPICAL children, we were excpecting them all to have disabilities.

We left around lunch time and fed the baby and we all laid down with her to rest.  When we came back after naptime, Eli saw us and came running, "my mama" he shouted and pointed, raising his arms for me to pick him up.  My heart cracked wide open and all those feeling that had been so numb came rushing in.  I felt love and happiness and all these other things. He nuzzled into me and let me cuddle him.  It was crazy to be holding him after so many months of longing to have him near.

Ok, enough for now!  to be continued at a later time!!!!

second visit with daddy and eli

Monday, September 17, 2012

Liftoff

WE HAVE TRAVEL DATES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Woohoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We are going to see our boy in LESS than a month!  Can you believe it/????  I have been on cloud nine since we got the email.  we are running around frantically trying to get plane tickets, lodging, finalize our childcare, make meals for when we are gone and and and.....


but he is worth all the running around and paperwork and money and tears and fears...we are coming little guy!!!  Mama is going to hold you and kiss you and love you and....all that mommy stuff!!!!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Back from Florida!!

We are back and finally recovered from our 19 hour trip in the car with three small little ones!  Whew!  they were super duper awesome though, so i can't complain about that at all!!!!  Mommy and Daddy were pretty tired from driving straight through though!

Pics from the trip




Wednesday, August 15, 2012

left hand turn

Sometimes, we are on a straight road, and suddenly, a tree is thrown onto the road and we have to find a way around.  Sometimes, we have to take a turn when we really want to keep on that straight path.

We are headed down to florida to spend time with my mom and stepdad.  My stepfather has been diagnosed with a pretty aggressive cancer, and we want to go spend time with them.  This is actually a benefit to homeschooling, we can pick up and go and stay as long as they need/want us.  Although i know both my mom and stepdad would prefer not to have taken this left turn, they are both dealing with it with grace and poise!

We may have had our ups and downs as i was growing up (i'm sure i was the easiest child ever to live with), but i can tell you that he came to every tennis game, every musical, every play i was ever in.  That means something to me.  He is involved in my children's life.  They love papaw and are excited to be going to see him (they don't really understand what is going on).

Please keep us in your thoughts tomorrow as Jared and i make a 20 hour drive to florida.  And please keep my Stepdad (myron) in your thoughts and prayers as he navigates this new and scary road.

Christmas 2012.  He and my mom come over on christmas eve every year.  3 years ago Myron and my husband stayed up until midnight putting together a huge dollhouse for my kids.



Dancing at our wedding in 2003



Mom and Myron at my wedding.  The photographer caught this special moment.  I really love this picture!

Myron helping Thomas shoot a bow and arrow at a fair.

I can't beleive i'm posting this one.  This is me at around age 15?  Fun times at this house!

Thomas's first trip to the beach.  Exploring Papaw's beard :)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

1000 reasons



I got to thinking today.  About how i hear over and over again, "i couldn't do what you are doing" (adopting a special needs child), or "aren't you afraid of for the future", or "how do you know you will be able to care for them all".  And really, for the most part, those seem like valid concerns. 

  There are 1000's of reasons to say no to a special needs adoption. 
* Too expensive. 
* Stressful for the family.
* Not enough room. 
* Who will take care of them in the future
* Medical Care
* not enough attention to go around
* Not fair to the other kids
* I'm not called to that
* Family is big enough

I could seriously go on and on and on. 

But here is the thing.  I don't need a 1000 reasons to say no.  I just need one reason to say YES.  The rest will come.  One way or another.

When i look at this face, i don't think about the time, or the money, or the worry.  I think, "he needs me", and that is enough. 



Eli
This is Eli's original picture.  The one we fell in love with.















We will find the money, one way or another.
We will deal with the stress
We have plenty of room
We will figure it out
We have insurance
Love multiplies, not divides
Always room for one more.

I understand that not everyone is able to adopt.  And not everyone should.  But, if you are feeling like you might want to adopt, but keep thinking up reasons NOT too, let go.  Listen to that little whispering voice.  Let go.  Think of one reason to say yes. 

LEAP.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

More Random thoughts

So, this week has been really terrible...sewer backed up into our basement, dishwasher caught on fire, sewer backed up AGAIN, cat tried to eat the baby...you name it.  Bad bad week.

But...in the midst of my aggrivation and yes, i'll admit it, a couple of tears, there were also wonderful things. Like, posting on my adoption forum in frustration and having people message me saying, hold strong, hold tight.  WE are supporting you.  You are on the right path.  Donating to us to put a smile on my face.  Random strangers really, as i have only met a very few of them.  They don't "know" me, or my family.  Yet, they took the time to respond to my frustration.  To send love and prayers.  How lucky are we to be a part of such a strong "family"????

Calling real life family to complain and having them say, "come over here, we will support you".  And then feeding us and entertaining us.  Making us smile with jokes and love, letting my children run through and around their house.  How lucky are we to be part of such a family?

Random strangers posting that they have clothes for young boys if anyone wants them.  Those strangers saying WE can have them.  Finding more clothes than i could have imagined for both the boys.

So really, in the grand scheme of things, it's been a pretty good week!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

gearing up to school

Welllll, my big plans to continue our schooling this summer did not come to fruition :).  It's okay though, we have spent our summer playing hard with all of our friends!  Trips to coney island, swimming, lessons, zoo, museum, playdates, you name it!  We have been busy and out of the house most every day.  I'll actually be so glad to get back into our consistent homeschool routine, i'm starting to want to just stay home!!!!


I'm trying to figure out what we will be studying and using this year.  Some things will remain the same, saxon math, handwriting without tears, we have added a grammar book; first language lessons.  We will be using both Story of the world and Biblioplan http://www.biblioplan.net  for history.  I feel pretty good with the big kids lessons.  My question that i am continuing to ponder is what will i use with Eli (5) and Luci, (1.5).  I'd like to find things to keep them both occupied when i am working with the older kids.  Then the older kids will have independent work while i work with the other two.  I'm looking for simple activities, sorting, matching, stringing beads...but also looking for something new and exciting...any ideas from more experienced homeschool mamas????  Any suggestions would be very welcome!!!

And, just for fun, here are some pics from the first days of homeschooling last year



Saturday, July 14, 2012

Other families who need HELP!

My heart is so burdened for all these children who are waiting for their mama's and papa's to find them.  It breaks my heart to think of innocent children living their lives out in orphanages and institutions.  Believe me, not all orphanages are as nice as Eli's place is.  In some places, there are 9 year olds who weigh 11 pounds, and 14 year olds who weigh 14 pounds.  Those are not typos, those are the actual weights of the children i am speaking of.  Why these children are made to suffer is beyond me.

Thankfully, some of these children do have mama's and papa's coming for them.  I speak from experience, but taking that leap is one of the scariest things i have ever done as a parent.  The thought of trying to find 20-50 thousand dollars (depending on the orphanage and region) and not knowing what shape your child is in is terrifying.  Words cannot describe the heartbreak of not knowing how your child is doing, if they were fed that day, if someone spoke a kind word or gave a hug that day. 

So, i'd like to draw your attention to a couple of other families who are willing and ready to cross the ocean to save these precious treasures, and they need our help.


First, is dear Lyla.  Lyla's story is quite amazing.  She had a family commit to her, and then the family was told she was not healthy enough to live until they were going to be able to get her.  Heartbroken, then committed to a different child but Lyla never left their thoughts.  After crossing the ocean to rescue sweet Belle, they enquired yet again about Lyla.  She was still not available to come home due to her health, so they brought Gavin home.  Then, a miracle happened.  Lyla had lived and was healthy enough to come home.  A different family committed to bringing her  but unfortunately they were unable to continue.  So, the original family said they couldn't just leave her, and made the committment to cross the ocean for the third time in TWO years!!!  This family is so dedicated to these children, and they desperately need OUR help!!!  They have a great giveaway going on right now, and they also have a matching donation of up to 1000.  That means if we can raise $1000 they will get another $1000 to add to their funds!

http://thestarsaligned.blogspot.com/2012/07/giveaway-fit-for-princess-matching.html







Next up is Sara!  Sara's mommy is going to be a first time mama of this precious girl.  Think about that for a minute...she is bringing home a child with Down syndrome as a first time single parent!  I'm so impressed with her heart and love for these children, and i hope you all will be too!  She isnt having a giveaway right now i dont think, but we can still help her out !!!!!  All donations are tax free and get her one step closer to bringing sweet Sara home!

http://nataliekeller.blogspot.com/



Lastly, is Kenzi!  Kenzi is going to be coming home to a great family who have 2 little boys!  They are so so excited to be bringing her home and have been working tirelessly to get her here.  Her mama stays up till all hours of the night making bows and other crafts so that she can sell them to bring this treasure home!  Her dedication to her baby is absolutely amazing, and i'd love it if someone could help them finish up!!!!

http://love--conquers--all.blogspot.com/

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My baby

Okay, okay, i know Eli is not a baby...but, he is MY baby :) 

We got wonderful news from his country that we are officially matched with him!  That means more paperwork (although mostly not on our end this time).  And we are waiting for an official date to go get him!

Our facilitator in his country was able to go visit him for a day and spend some time with him.  We were so excited to hear from her!  She said he is fabulous, which of course we knew :)  He has language and has friends.  He loves teddy bears!!!  She also sent us a whole bunch of pictures, which was great! 

The part that made my mama's heart sad was when she told us that he knows what a mama is and he wants to be adopted and go home with his mama!  SNIFF SNIFF SNIFF!  We are coming little buddy!  You DO have a mama and a papa, you just don't know it yet!!!!

Cute pictures below, i know that's why you are really here ;)

Working hard on putting these pieces together!

He was doing the motions to a song that a caregiver was singing!  I think this picture is hillarious!

Soup is delicious!!!

I'm not doing anything...i swear!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Family

Thoughts on my mind tonight.  Family.  Family is important.  All children should have a family to belong too.  Regardless of how good an orphange is, it's still an orphanage. 

Every child deserves their very own mama and papa.  Brothers to build forts with, play with, run with.  Sisters to tease and torment. FAMILY... isn't that what we all want? 




Our family is not perfect.  But it is ours.  And i think, pretty cool if i do say so myself.  We fight and argue sometimes, just like anyone.  But under it all, we love.  We love each other.  We love others.  We stand up for each other and what is right.  Isn't that what every child wants and deserves?????

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Random Pics

  Got some news today that it might be longer than we were thinking before we travel.  And although my mama's heart is sad, i know it will happen when it is supposed to.  So, while we wait, i will soak up this fleeting time as a family of five, and look foward with joy to our coming time as a family of six!


Water table!
I could sneak my foot in here if mom would just look away!
I'm super cool!


stop taking my picture mom!






Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day Post From Dad



For Father's day I thought I would write a post about adoption. Since I work in IT Jamie is normally the one posting but I thought this was important. So here are a few things from my point of view.

Jamie and I have 3 wonderful young biological children and then begin the adoption process to bring home another child. Its definitely been an eye opening experience for me. I certainly hadn't planned to end up here but my only regret so far is we didn't start this process sooner.

When did you first consider adoption and how did you first become aware of the need for adoptive parents?
We first started thinking about adoption at the end of 2011. We had been discussing foster care shortly after our daughter was born at the beginning of 2011 but were waiting till she turned one. As we learned more about international adoption and what it entailed we thought we could make a difference.

Did you have any hesitations or fears at first and if so, what were they? 
Like any major life changing event there were concerns. Financially international adoption is expensive as most of you know. Can we help another child and handle the cost? Also how will he integrate with our family?
I thought I was completely done having children period but after looking into adoption and realizing we could make a difference and help someone have a better life that changed my perspective. Now I can't wait to get our son home so he can be part of our family.

If your child is already home, did you find it hard to bond with him or her? 
Our child isn't home yet but we are hoping to travel in August.

In your opinion, what is the hardest thing about adoption?
The hardest part of adoption is the waiting and not knowing what condition your child is living in. Are they safe and getting enough to eat. Do they have someone that spends time with them and holds them?

In the adoption world, we hear a lot from the women/moms who have adopted and not so much from the dads. Is there anything you’d like to say to other adoptive or potential adoptive dads?

I would say to other perspective dads considering international adoption give it a chance. Like I said above I didn't think we would have or adopt anymore children. Take some time and learn about the process and the difference you could make in a child's life. 



Monday, June 11, 2012

Picture

Well, we are in waiting mode here...so nothing all to interesting on the adoption front.  We are trucking along at home.  We have a couple of things we need to finish out for our homeschool year, and then i do plan to continue doing homeschool-light as it were over the summer.  I don't think a 12 week break from all school is good for kids in general :)  Luckily, my kids like to do homeschool so i don't anticipate much fussing from them!  We are also doing swim lessons, a co-op day every week with my friend Jane,  piano, zoo, museum, acquarium...all fun summer stuff, so don't feel to sorry for the kids!!

Here are some recent pics of the kids...

Luci loves to put random clothes on her head and laugh hysterically!

This is Tom's favorite new thing to do!  I think it is pretty awesome myself!  And, on a side note, it keeps him occupied and quiet for a LONG time :)

Gwen likes to play in the sprinkler :)

Luci is a cool cat!