Wednesday, August 26, 2015


I've had several people ask me for an update on the kiddos!  So long overdue and here you go!

 Eli Came home in October of 2012.  He had a few words in Lithuanian but not many and was not potty trained.  He is closing in on three years home and oh has made such amazing progress.  He speaks in sentences and is VERY good about asking for what he wants and needs.  He has grown much taller and loves to play with his siblings.  Unfortunately, he struggles still with attachment and making good choices. When children don't form an early bond to a parent, it can damage their brains and make it hard for them to connect in the future.  We are working on this with him every day, and pray that one day he can just accept our love without trying to push us away with behaviors.  We made the decision to home school him last year and continued with that this year.  He is not ready to be away from us for hours everyday.  We feel it is important for him to be more firmly attached to us first.  He is doing very well academically at home, learning his letters, numbers, sight words and many other exciting things!!!!

Jocelyn came home in February of 2014.  She weighed 25 pounds and was 36 inches tall.  She was scared of everything.  She would not sit facing an adult and would fight to put her back on our chests and hold our hands down on her lap.  We can only surmise she was afraid we would hurt her, and this way she could ensure she knew where our hands were at all times.  She still does not like anyone to walk or be behind her and will turn until she can see what you are doing.  She would scoot on her bottom but was unable to bear any weight on her legs.  She bit often, when she was feeling overwhelmed or scared.  She spent most of her day rocking herself or banging her head on the floor.  She would pat her hands on things when she was bored.  These are unfortunately all really common behaviors in kiddos who have been left in cribs and have no stimulation.  She would silent cry when something was upsetting her, with tears falling and her mouth open but no sound.  It was (and still is) the saddest sight to me.  How in the world was she taught not to cry out loud?  It breaks my heart to even think of it. She also struggled greatly with feeding, she would take a bite and then whip her head to the side and bring her hands up defensively.  In short, she was a tiny, scared little girl who had no reason to believe we wouldn't hurt her.

We have spent the last 18 months teaching Jocelyn that we will always be gentle with her.  We do not force her to eat, and if she turns her head we vocalize, "okay Jo, you tell me when you are ready".  Trying to let her know that she can control what and how she eats.  Some days feeding took a REALLY long time, and that was okay.  She needed to know that we would never force her or hurt her.  She is bearing weight on her legs beautifully and using a walker at school and church to get around.  However, she sees no point in using one at home when she can scoot on her bottom and chase her siblings just fine thank you very much ;)  We are working on it.  She was recently fitted for a wheelchair.  Although she is making GREAT progress, the truth is that she was stuck in a crib for 7 years and is closing in on 9 years old and still not an independent walker.  A wheelchair will give her a measure of independence for longer distances in the future, instead of having to have someone push her around she is learning how to control the wheelchair herself.  She says "mama" often, and each and every time she does my heart just melts.  She loves being loved.  She will wind her hands around my face and just stare at me so intently before she smiles and hugs me.  Knowing love and giving love were new experiences for her but she has grabbed hold and never looked back.  She gained 9 pounds and 5 inches in 18 months, a very respectable gain!  Jojo goes to a special school for children who have disabilities, and her staff is so loving and great with her.  She takes walks down the hallway to visit friends and they are teaching her to use an electronic talker to communicate her wants and needs.  In short, she is amazing.  We are so grateful everyday we "added" her to our adoption of Lanie.  I can't imagine our lives without her, and i shudder to think of her still stuck behind those crib bars.

Lanie was 3 when we brought her home at the same time as Jo.  She had major heart surgery in Bulgaria around age one.  She would also bang her head on the wall all day long for stimulation.  She, unlike Jojo, was EAGER to eat and be fed!!!  She has gained 10 pounds and only one inch in 18 months, and is being followed by an endocrinologist for this and several other issues.  She was unable to bear any weight on her legs and also was not crawling or scooting around at all.  When she came home we could place her on the floor and walk away and she would always be in the same exact spot when we came back.  She would shake her hand in front of her face for hours, lost in her own world and perfectly content to stay there.  She has been more like the turtle in this race, slowly moving forward at her own little pace.  She is starting to bear weight on her legs and is being introduced to using a walker.  She can stand if you prop her on the wall although she prefers not to.  She has recently learned how to scoot on her butt and i NEVER find her in the same place anymore!  She prefers to scoot into the big girls room and steal things off the floor to shake.  Hey, it's a start anyway.  She still bangs her head if she wakes up in the middle of the night, but not so much during the day.  She had open heart surgery again in May of this year, and came out of it very well and has made a lot of progress since then.  Attachment has been really slow with her, and i had resigned myself to the fact that we might be at a standstill with her.  After surgery i think she realized that hey this mom person was here the whole time, and she started to show more signs of attachment. She will eagerly reach for Jared and i now, and LOVES to be smooched right on her chubby little cheek.  She will grab my hair and bring me close for silly games!!!  So excited to see her turn this new and exciting little corner towards enjoying having a family.  She was recently diagnosed with Autism, as well as her Down Syndrome.  This was not a surprise to us, as soon as i picked her up in Bulgaria i thought she might be autistic (i used to work at a behavior clinic for children who had Autism so very familiar with it).  We love our little "squishy" fishy and the children fight over who gets to hold and play with her! She is firmly in the "baby" position of the family!

Family is more than blood.  It's our motto around here.  

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Life Sentence

Another teeny child was listed today.  She is starving to death.  Literally.  She isn't unique unfortunately, but oh my goodness.  My breath caught.

She is 5.  Weighs 11 pounds.  In a place where children notoriously come out teeny and starved.   Her crime? She has Down Syndrome.  So she has a life sentence.  She WILL die in this place if no one comes forward for her.  I can't even stand it.  

Think she is tiny simply because of her medical condition?  Here is a picture of another little one, who was in the same place, in the same condition.  

Pre and Post adoption.  It doesn't even look like the same child.  How many more children must serve out life sentences alone and starving in this place?  Can we rally for this child?  She needs a family  She needs a grant.  She needs help.  

Oh, that sweet baby above who was set free and thriving now?  Her AWESOME parents saw another child just like their sweet princess and are leaping once again to rescue from the sentence. To break the chains. To free her for life.  

Please, can we as a community rally?  Find a family for Heavenleigh, and help the Horton family bring sweet Hope home?  Can we help them break free and be able to come home and know the love of a family?  

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Life giving

I'm sure you've all seen or heard of the videos on Planned Parenthood going around the Internet these days.  My Facebook page is filled with pro-life vs. pro-choice arguments, memes for both sides, and lots of ugliness spewing out all over the place.

It's not a secret that we are firmly Pro-life in this household.  As i think about what that means, i am struck by the thought that pro-LIFE means an entire life.  Not just birth.  I see SO many people discussing the issues who think they are pro-life, but in reality they are pro-birth.  Meaning, they want the child to be born of course, and then they pat themselves on the back for another child "saved" and move on.  But oh my goodness.  When those parents need help with that child, be it through food programs, work programs or the like, i see screaming to cut funding.  I see children who are sitting in foster care or orphanages for years and years and years.  B/c once they were born they no longer "mattered" to the pro-birth crowd.

Don't get me wrong, it's great to be pro-birth.  But can we be real here?  Those kids don't just pop out ready to support themselves.  One way or another, be it adoption, or social services for birth parents, or solid foster care options with GREAT services included, the children need to be supported.

I see foster parents becoming so disillusioned with the system.  With the children who are not be considered.  The push for reunification regardless of whether or not it is in the best interest of the child.  I see birth parents struggling to make ends meet, or struggling to get services for their children, or struggling for education for their children.  Struggling.

I see (and have been) adoptive parents who are screaming for help getting their children home from orphanages.  It's really expensive to adopt.  Adoptive parents are told it was their "choice" to adopt and that no one should have to give money to them.  While that is true of course, i struggle when the same people who are SHOUTING for children to not be aborted, are the same ones who tell me my fundraising is annoying, or "those" kids i post depress them.

What has happened to us as a society?  Do we give no value to life anymore?  It makes no sense to me to fight for a baby to be born and then refuse to give help once that first breath is taken.  I can post a complaint about something on facebook and get a bunch of comments and likes.  But when i post about a child that needs a family, or a fundraiser?  Often i get crickets.

Just a rant i guess, just hoping maybe someone will read and think, maybe i should be prolife, and not just probirth.  Just a different perspective from a mama with soon to be 5 kiddos who would have had a serious chance of being aborted if their birth mothers had lived in this country.  Thank God they were born elsewhere.  Even having to wait years for us to come, means they have a chance.  A chance to grow and learn and be loved.

Lets come together and be LIFE givers, not just Birth givers.  Let's be LIFE encourager's, instead of BIRTH encourager's.  Let's be Pro-life, and not just Pro-birth.  Join us ;)  Support adoption.  Support the foster care system.  Become a big brother/big sister.  Vote for funding systems for underprivileged children and adults.  Hold a fundraiser for an adoptive family.  Donate to an adoptive family.  Call and adoptive or foster family and offer to bring dinner, or do their laundry, or bring them chocolate ;) .  Call an inner city school and see if they need volunteers. Support mental health funding.  Become an advocate for a child in foster care.  Volunteer at a woman's shelter.   Do SOMETHING.