Monday, December 31, 2007

It's gonna be rough

Well, I guess from my previous posts you've already guessed it's going to be rough overseas. But this morning I got a little taste of just how rough it's going to before my kids here at home. Yes, I know that they'll miss us, but both my kids are very resilient and very easily adapt to change, so I know that they will be fine while we're gone. Plus they're better off here than in the unknown conditions we'll face overseas.

But this morning Kristopher woke up and as he walked through the house he started saying "Daddy, I'm up, I'm awake, let's go watch cartoons!" Then he got to our room only to discover that Mike had already left for work. He's been off since the 18th or so, and K has really enjoyed having him home! Kristopher left my room and came out to the family room, presumeably to watch cartoons and I dragged myself out of bed (after all it WAS almost 8am!).

I found this pitiful scene when I got to the family room: Kristopher lay curled up in a ball on the couch. No toys, no books. The TV was off but he was awake. When I came in he said nothing like a 'hello' or a 'goodmorning' and instead said "I miss him..." with that tiny sad voice that your kids can turn on and melt you with :( So we called Daddy and were happy to hear that the office will be closing at 12:30 today and he'll be home then :) But man, this is going to be rough!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A prayer request

Tonight I received a call from a friend with an unusual question. A little background info first... I had shared with this friend that Mike and I were deciding whether we were going to try to find someone that would meet up with me overseas after Mike comes home. Partially for security, partially for an extra set of hands and some company- especially on the flight home. We also had discussed (and mentioned to a few students) the possibility of seeing if there is a college student that would like "out" and would like to move in to our guest room and essentially 'rent a room' from us in exchange for a few hours of help with the kids each week. This would be especially helpful during the first few months we are home with many doctor's appointments, etc. that we would rather not bring all the kids to. And although we have wonderful family and friends, we recognize that this will be right after taxing our resources and our friendships by depending on their help while I am away.

Ok... so the phone call... My friend said that her former childcare provider (who works as a 1-2-1 with children with special needs in Maine I believe) would like to adopt some day- a child with Down syndrome- from overseas! Pretty neat I'd say! But... there's more... This girl is not yet married or finished with school (partially done with college) so her adoption plans are not going to happen for a few years. She would, however, LOVE to come along on our trip overseas to help us and to see for herself what things are like. She also might consider coming back with us and helping us out at the house until August.

Sounds to me like it fits like a glove... but I have a few hesitations. One is whether this person I've never met is going to REALLY want to spend that much time with my husband and I (or even just me if she comes after he leaves) and whether she is going to be happy about offering to come and stay in my 'urban camping' apartment (I've been promised 4 walls and a toilet and told to be ecstatic if we get more!). I'm sure there are a few more thouhts but those are the only ones that come to mind.

So my request- would you please pray that "M" as well as Mike and I are able to clearly know whether she is supposed to be a part of our international adoption journey and possibly our family thereafter for a time? It is a big decision and needs to be made before we book our tickets... probably.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

The most original (and treasured) gift I received

This Christmas I got a BIG surprise. My sister whom I miss because she moved to MN almost a year ago is down for Christmas. And although I knew she'd bought the children each a small gift and she brought me down a 'surprise' because I couldn't buy it here, she also blessed me with the most original and treasured gift I've gotten in a long time.

She took the time (LOTS OF TIME) to print out each of my blog entries since late August when I started this blog along with all the pictures onto scrapbooking colored paper. She then assembled a scrapbook and made me a REAL BOOK with all these entries telling of our adoption journey this far!! And it has room to grow (LOTS!) as we complete this journey so I can add to it until Aleksa is home!

I'm sure there was no way that I could really get her to know HOW MUCH I LOVE THIS GIFT, but let's say I have it on my dresser and each time I walk by it (at least 5 times a day) I open it up and just look. It's amazing! I can't think of a better way to have made these electronic entries into something that we can sit and look at and read together and remember the journey. I can't find an "adoption book" for older children (like a baby book but with adoption benchmarks instead of first tooth and birth weight, and even better would be for kiddos with special needs!).

And just as a side note this is the same amazing person that is taking 3 weeks off of work to fly back down here in 3 weeks (she'll only be home for 2!) and watch my kids while Mike and I are overseas. Isn't she wonderful?? I LOVE YOU ELIZABETH!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


YAY!!! What a wonderful late Christmas gift!! Our SDA appointment in Aleksa's country is.... JANUARY 21st!!!

Not just a Christmas gift, BUT also a great early birthday present as well! I will be 26 on January 22nd! :D :D

Start praying please! More later...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!!

I'll have to post the picture of the kids with Santa after Christmas unless I find a miraculous minute in the next day or two, but I still wanted to wish all of my blogging friends a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Brianna Update

Although this is supposed to be our "adoption" blog, there's no real news there. So here's a little about what Brianna has accomplished lately...

Brianna is AMAZING. That's the only way I can put it! She pulled to standing once about 2 weeks ago and although she hasn't accomplished it again yet, she is getting into a tall-kneel and putting one foot up :) She's on her way and I bet she'll have it figured out in the next few weeks. Also, some of you may not know that Brianna's primary mode of transportation is on her fanny. Yep, she scoots everywhere on her butt! We tried for a while to get her crawling but to no interest of her own. Well... while I was on the phone today sitting on the floor, she looked at me, grinned, then CRAWLED on all fours! PERFECTLY! It was only about 3 or 4 feet, but she did it! I'm so proud of this little munchkin!

And in communication she has just blossomed lately! Just a few weeks ago we'd ask her questions with no reply or a grunt or nod. She has some words, has some signs, but used them sparingly and not always on-demand. This kiddo has come out with 3-part signs now! She'll ask for more-eat-please or more-milk-please or more-play! She's waving hello and goodbye and even saying bye-bye every time now. She also is saying please and thank you pretty consistantly and loves to blow people kisses when they're leaving (although it's pretty much the same as thank-you ;) ). She's also learned a lot of animal signs lately and in addition to her dog and bird signs she is signing (granted not all the time...) cat, sheep, cow, and pig, and has attempted fish and a few others.

We used to have a hard time with me being around during therapy because she just wanted to be held or cuddled when I was around so I started leaving and watching from the other room while involved with something else. I usually stick around a few minutes at the beginning just so she knows I'm not running away and then I slowly slip out. On Wed when she had speech she looked at me, waved and said bye-bye, and pointed out the door! She then signed 'play' to her ST! She was ready to play and ready for me to leave.

Her absolute favorite sign is baby. She loves her baby dolls but even moreso loves the baby I watch during the day. Little AB is 9 months old and I think she has had a big hand in teaching Brianna some of these recent gross-motor milestones. She crawls and pulls to standing, so although we haven't been able to convince Bria that it's a good way to go- AB seems to have done that for us! Thanks baby girl!!

Brianna will be 2 in a week and along with her big brother is the joy of our days!

I love you Tiny!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

God's provision

Well, today is day 21 of our 20 day wait... and yes, we're still waiting!

On a side note, today was a very long day. It began when the baby I watch was brought to me with a mild case of hives. Not a really big deal because they started yesterday and we just went through this with her a few weeks ago and this looked EXACTLY like it had then... it was an allergic reaction. About an hour after she was dropped off we all pile into the van to go to the church where I (usually) drop off the kids for a few hours to get a little Mommy break :) But, this morning it was going to start a half hour later so I planned to drop by the post office to get Kim's monkeys in the mail.

When we were finally all ready to leave I realized that the little one's face had about 10x as many hives as she got to me with, and her feet were really patchy and swollen as well. So I called her dad and instead of hitting the post office (sorry Kim!) I dropped her off to her Daddy. Then off to the church for what could-have-been a morning off. Except today was Kristopher's age group's special mommy-day and they were making ornaments, singing Christmas carols, and icing cookies for 2 hrs instead of having regular class. Parents must attend (not that I wouldn't... :) ).

So I brought Brianna to her class just in time for her PT to come and have a WONDERFUL session with her (Bria stood unsupported for 3-4 seconds two different times! YAY!) And Kristopher and I headed over to the gym for a little running. Then we listened to the Christmas story, made ornaments, iced cookies and sang carols. Eleven o'clock rolled around and Kristopher and I snuck off to the post office (see, I really did get the monkeys out!) then headed back to the church to pick up Brianna and to have lunch with Mike. About this time I called the baby I watch's dad and arranged to pick her up from their house after lunch. An uneventful day at the doctor- they pronounced her free from STREP and decided it must be another allergic reaction-- no idea what!

We swallowed down lunch, picked up the baby, got home, unpacked the van (including children!) and got everyone to lay down for a little rest. Somehow this time went by and I'm not sure WHERE it went... but it did. And then everyone was up and bustling around and playing HARD. Four o'clock came around, the baby got picked up, my tutoring student showed up, and I somehow breathed twice in the midst of it. That's about when the fun began.

Kristopher decided that it was a good idea to 1) scream loudly from his little snack table and see if he could talk Bria into getting in trouble with him by screaming back 2) throw little balls at Brianna's head and continue to do so after he's been told not to just to see what would happen 3) talk back and generally "mouth off" to his mother when he was told to go to time-out for hurting his sister 4) throw things at the walls in his room when he was finally sent there for a time...

Needless to say I felt really bad for my student and apologized when his mom was back an hour or so later. He did great in the midst of the chaotic house and Mike did get home sometime in there and rescued me from the little monster-boy (Kristopher, not my student ;) ).

Whew. I'm tired just writing that... but here's the cool part- did you make it this far?? :)

When I'm done tutoring I asked Mike what he'd like for dinner and like a sweet husband that KNOWS that I'm spent and really don't want to make ANYTHING for dinner, much less starting at 6pm, he says "Why don't we go out?".

Well, that's the question, isn't it? And I had a reply on the tip of my tongue just WHY we shouldn't go out-- it's the WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS, we're trying to ADOPT, we have a HOUSE ON THE MARKET, Mike's in GRADSCHOOL... all these seemed like good reasons why we don't go out to eat. But... I was spent. So we spent.

Mike suggested Sonny's and I thought, "ok, I have a coupon for $5 off and we'll just get something inexpensive". So we went out. And when we went to pay our bill it was $26, then the coupon brings it down to $21, and a tip back up to $26. Mike hands the casher the slip and coupon then stands and waits for her to ask for his card. She needed a manager 'card' to scan to input the coupon so she went and got one, then when she asked Mike for his card she instead looked down, saw what looked like a gift card on the counter, and swiped it. OOPS! It was the "manager's card". It MESSED UP their system!

So 10 minutes later we were finally able to pay our bill and they had to get the ?owner? out there to fix the mess that this card had made. And guess what? He reduced our bill by 50%! So now our $26 dinner (including tip) was $12! We added the tip back on to that and dinner for 4 ended up being $17. What a night. I guess God knew how much we needed a night out. Even if it is Christmas and we have other financial responsibilities. Isn't God's provision great?

Monday, December 10, 2007

I need a nap

Many of you who know me well hear this phrase as my anthem :) But did you know that I have another blog? One more family-related than adoption-based? It's called, ahem, "I Need A Nap" and you can view it at :)

And after you read about my day today, you'll know that I really DO need a nap ;)

After my littlest one gets picked up by her folks I'll post the picturs and song that I learned from my son's closet today :)

Christmas lights and Coral Snakes- Maybe FL isn't so great after all

Yesterday I finally got the lights on our Christmas tree (it's been up over a week) and I even convinced Mike to get up on the roof and put lights on the house :) So Kristopher went to play on the swingset on the side yard in the fenced area with the dogs and I set Brianna down in the grass to play while I pulled weeds, cut bushes back, and handed new strands of lights up to Mike on the roof.

After almost an hour Kristopher very calmly came around to the front of the house and said "Mom, there's a snake over there." Ok, we live in Florida. We live in a pretty wooded area, and we have black snakes pretty often. No big deal. So around the corner I go and ask K to show me the snake. He walks RIGHT UP TO IT and points. IT'S A CORAL SNAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I quickly rehearsed the short "Red and Yellow kill a fellow, Red and Black a friend to Jack" and said, oh yes, this one is poisonous! I grabbed Kristopher (yes, before rehearsing my little poem :) ) and called Mike off the roof. Yep, he was on his way already. Luckily my super-wonderful-ever-protective-saved-my-kid's-life dogs had already killed the snake.

When Kristopher and I walked back out to the front yard he said to me "Mom, I hit it with my shovel!" WHAT?? Yes, fearless. Oh, to be three again, but how do you put a healthy fear in a little boy??? He and Mike had that nice little chat and by the end he was at leas saying things like "I shouldn't touch snakes" and "If I see a snake I need to walk away and find Mom and Dad"...

Ugh. Thank God Kristopher is ok. And here's a little pic of my heros :)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Day 15 and Cyrillic

Tomorrow is Day 15 of our 'supposed to be' 20 business day wait to hear of an appointment date. Maybe this week?? Maybe?? Poor Charissa has already been waiting longer than I have and still no date. Bummer!

In the mean time I am attempting to learn some Russian. At least how to pronounce their alphabet, which, may I say, is REALLY confusing??

For instance-- something that looks like a P is pronounced like an R. And what looks like an n is really said like an l. An r sounds like a g, and something like a u? or a y maybe? sounds like 'ts'. Then there's this letter that looks like an X with a vertical line through it and it makes the 'zh' sound... Oh, my favorite? The #3 and the #6. 3 is a letter and sounds like a z. And 6 (although this makes a little more sense) is a b. Hmmm... guess I have a LOT to learn!

Saturday, December 08, 2007


Thank you everyone that has been praying for our decisions. However difficult they were, we are now at peace with what we have come to. Please continue to pray for all of the waiting angels as well.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Speaking of Angels...

The first picture is Daria. A sweet angel still waiting for a family. And the second? My Brianna. The rest of the story? Here you go...

Daria will soon be FIVE years old. Yes, that is a recent picture. Taken this year. Can you believe she is four in those pictures?? Brianna likely outweighs Daria at a measley 18lbs. Daria is estimated to be 15. She is holding on. Barely. And time is closing in on her.

My heart is consumed for this little girl tonight. She needs some strong arms to protect her, and a strong heart to keep her going.

Please say a prayer for little Daria tonight. You can also visit her on the Angel Tree.

Books, and Kristopher

Yesterday Mike and I took the kids to Orlando and went to a quick dinner at Panera's. Then we went to Barnes and Noble and found 2 pocket phrasebooks, a book about the culture and history of Aleksa's country, a book suggested to us by the Reece's Rainbow moms called "How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk", and a book called "We are Adopted". I can't seem to get through the kid's book without crying so far, so I'm not sure how that'll go over, but we wanted to get something that will explain the process a little with Kristopher.

Also, speaking of the big boy, we've been having these little spikes of "jealousy" with him lately at the idea of adoption. Although these are VERY normal, we're trying to help him understand his place in our family a little better- that he'll always be loved and always be our "big boy". He's helped pick out some clothes and things to give him a little bit of ownership, but I suppose it's just going to take some time. In the next few weeks our "rest time" is going to be spent with a little more 1-1 time with K and hopefully that will help some. Today at rest time he wanted to lay down and watch his little movie though (which is our usual routine) so we'll see what happens.

Monday, December 03, 2007

There are no orphans

Wow, that's all I could say. Avalon sings this song "There are no Orphans"...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Happy Birthday Aleksa!!

Well, we don't know of the date of Aleksa's birthday, so I guess we will celebrate this entire month! This is likely the first time that anyone is celebrating Aleksa's birth and her life, and the last time that she will have to be alone for it. Although this birthday isn't going to be a special day for her, nor will she likely even know that there is a reason to celebrate, but SOMEONE should be happy, and SOMEONE should be celebrating, and from this point on--- it's ME!!! I'm looking forward to having a "Homecoming" party for Aleksa when she has been home for a short time so that we can celebrate each of her 5 years.

In the next few weeks I'll be posting a few new fundraising things that we're going to do to raise money to bring home Aleksa. Here are a few ideas I've received, let me know what you think:
1. a "virtual raffle" of a handmade lap quilt (buy a chance for $5, I'll make a lap quilt and mail it to the winner)
2. an online Princess House party where the amount of "product" earned for us (a portion of the total amount sold) will be donated to our RR account instead of being redeemed as product.
3. e-bay auction with the total amount benefitting our family adoption fund

A few other great ideas- several of which I may consider still, but those are the top of my list this far :)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

One week

It's been one week tomorrow since our dossier was submitted to the State Department of Adoptions overseas, and I understand that this means we are 5 business days into what *could* be the 20 day wait- by law we should hear something within 20 business days. But... our facilitator says "you may hear sooner" and our friends say "I've been waiting 5 weeks". So we are hopeful but not TOO set on hearing soon. The official "20 business days" will be December 17th.

Please continue to keep Aleksa in your prayers. Her health, safety, and her state-of-mind. Many have told me (individually even, so I feel this is a move of the Spirit) that they are praying that there is a worker at the institution that will be taken with Aleksa and want to care for her and spend extra time with her. Someone to look out for her and know she's fed, safe, and happy. This is my prayer as well. Thank you all so very much!

And I cannot help but share that tonight I was burdoned that yes, we're praying for our daughter, but there are so many others that will never see a forever family and they need our prayers as well. Even more. So please keep these 'lost' little ones in your hearts and prayers as you remember our family as well.

Friday, November 23, 2007


I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! This year Brianna was big enough to sit at the table and eat a little bit of the Thanksgiving feast with us, and Kristopher actually tried the turkey as well! We all packed into my parents' house- 15 for dinner with another 6 people in and out during the day. We had a great time and were able to visit with Mike's parents and grandma as well when they came for dessert. Four of my 5 siblings made it for some part of the festivities leaving out only my sister in Minnisota. She'll be here for Christmas though, so we'll have the whole can together. Something neat though- both of my dad's brothers were able to come! We haven't seen one brother and his wife in several years and are excited to hear they're moving to town soon. This was the first time they've met my kiddos too! Kristopher had a great time with his new-found Aunt and even asked her to come sit on the swing in the gazebo with him :) You KNOW you've done well when a 3 year old will ask you to play outside!

Next year Thanksgiving festivities will be at our house since we're adding to the brood. I'm not sure we could have squeezed another chair around those tables although we all enjoyed the company! It was a perfect fit for this year. This is one more on the list of 'firsts' that Aleksa will get to experience with us next year. I think I'll talk my mom into cooking the turkey still though :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Well, tomorrow is Thanksgiving and boy do we have a lot to be thankful for! I am so thankful that things have sped along these past 3 weeks (yes, it's only been three weeks!) since we found out that Aleksa has been move to an institution. I am thankful that instead of wondering if/when our paperwork would be sumbitted to the SDA we know that it is turned in and things are moving along.

Here are 11 people, since this is the 11th month, that I am especially thankful for this year.
1. God- without Him, we simply AREN'T
2. Michael- my second half, my love, and my best friend
3. Kristopher- our big boy that is such a blessing and looks forward to having more siblings to play with!
4. Brianna- our sweet snuggler that has no idea life is changing but rewards us with smiles, hugs, snuggles, and temper tantrums daily!
5. Four grandparents who are nearby and are available to the kids at the drop of a hat, yet understand that we are putting our family first and have to do what's best for them
6. Our church family- many of whom are 'extra grandparents' and 'extra uncles/aunts' to our kids.
7. Our other friends and family who have been a part of our lives daily and are there to lean on
8. My "online friends", many of whom I've never met, yet their support has been wonderful
9. The many people who are praying that we have never met. I am so thankful for you especially!!
10.For those who given out of their own pocket to help us bring Aleksa home. I only know who some of you are, and yet each of you has made a huge difference for us!
11.For Aleksa. For her smile. For leading us on this journey of a lifetime and for being stong until we can get to her.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Dear Aleksa,

Dear Aleksa,

I have not yet met you, but you have changed my life. You have also been the catalyst that has changed the lives of many others! You don't yet know that there's anything happening here on the other side of the world, but someday soon I will hold you and tell you about it. You don't even know yet that you have a family desperately waiting for you.

Here is what you have accomplished this week, my daughter. You have raised awareness for Reece's Rainbow to one mom that has caught on with passion. Her name is Michelle and some day you will meet her. I know you will! Michelle has started blogging and has hollarred through the Internet that we MUST do something. Something for kids like you. The ones that some people don't understand, and that people haven't recognized the potential in.

Michelle's message has been passed on, and the children of Reece's Rainbow have been the beneficiaries. In less than 3 days over $2100 has been donated to help families adopt children with Down syndrome across the world. And it all started with you. Your little smile, your story. You have made that difference. But that's not all. Far from it. The next piece is the one that really amazes me. Through your story and the awareness coming from it two children have found a forever family. That's right, two families are adopting little ones from Reece's Rainbow because of you.

Your life has changed the lives of many around the world. Families that are giving financially, families abroad that are making committments to impact their areas, families that are opening their homes to a new son or daughter, and the children who are waiting, some of whom now have families. Yes, your life is worthwhile. You have great potential. And this is only the beginning.

God has great plans for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future. And He has already used you to better His Kingdom. For what we do for the least of these we have done for Him. We are told to care for the widows and the orphans. It's been God's plan all along. And because of you more and more people are getting that Word.

I can't wait to see you with my own eyes. To hold you and hug you. To give you warm baths and color and play dolls. And one day you will know, you will understand, the gift that you have given us all.

Your Mommy

I am small but YOU are big!

I heard this song on the radio this morning and thought- THAT is it! We are small, but YOU are big enough. I wanna feed the hungry children and reach across the farthest land and tell the broken there is healing and mercy in the Father's hands!

I wanna set the world on fire
Until it's burning bright for You
It's everything that I desire
Can I be the one You use?

I, I am small but
You, You are big enough
I, I am weak but
You, You are strong enough to
Take my dreams
Come and give them wings
Lord with You
There's nothing I can not do
Nothing I cannot do

I wanna feed the hungry children
And reach across the farthest land
And tell the broken there is healing
And mercy in the Father's hands

My hands my feet
My everything
My life, my love
Lord, use me

I wanna set the world on fire
I wanna set the world on fire, yeah

I'm gonna set the world on fire
Set the world on fire

Friday, November 16, 2007


Ok, one more from me today- but that's only because I'm procrastinating on the other things I need to get done today :)

Cost- it comes up over and over and over again. Yep, it's expensive to adopt. No, we don't have money sitting around waiting to be spent on a big expense like this. Yes, we're trusting God. But... My friend Kathy just sent me this article that makes me realize that we're paying NOTHING in comparison to the cost of our own adoption. God gave his LIFE to adopt you and I.

God's Mission: Adoption
by Max Lucado

When we come to Christ, God not only forgives us, he also adopts us. Through a dramatic series of events, we go from condemned orphans with no hope to adopted children with no fear. Here is how it happens. You come before the judgment seat of God full of rebellion and mistakes. Because of his justice he cannot dismiss your sin, but because of his love he cannot dismiss you. So, in an act which stunned the heavens, he punished himself on the cross for your sins. God's justice and love are equally honored. And you, God's creation, are forgiven. But the story doesn't end with God's forgiveness.

For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our Spirit that we are children of God (Rom. 8:15--16 NASB).

But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons (Gal. 4:4--5 NASB).

It would be enough if God just cleansed your name, but he does more. He gives you his name. It would be enough if God just set you free, but he does more. He takes you home. He takes you home to the Great House of God.

Adoptive parents understand this more than anyone. I certainly don't mean to offend any biological parents--I'm one myself. We biological parents know well the earnest longing to have a child. But in many cases our cribs were filled easily. We decided to have a child and a child came. In fact, sometimes the child came with no decision. I've heard of unplanned pregnancies, but I've never heard of an unplanned adoption.

That's why adoptive parents understand God's passion to adopt us. They know what it means to feel an empty space inside. They know what it means to hunt, to set out on a mission, and take responsibility for a child with a spotted past and a dubious future. If anybody understands God's ardor for his children, it's someone who has rescued an orphan from despair, for that is what God has done for us.

God has adopted you. God sought you, found you, signed the papers and took you home.
From The Great House of God
Copyright (W Publishing Group, 1997) Max Lucado

A new revelation- or is it??

There are several things that have been published this week about the treatment of people with disabilities in Serbia. One is found HERE and is the original report written by Mental Disabilities rights International. I want to warn you that the pictures are graphic and the words intense.

After the release of that report came an article by the New York Times which you can find HERE. Again, very graphic.

Then there was a report by NBC Nightly news on disabled kids being abused in Serbia. You can get there HERE. Again, graphic, and this one has a video.

So much attention. So much "negative press" for Serbia BUT this may be the best news we've seen for children with disabilities worldwide. Maybe conditions will change. But as the official in Serbia has said, it will take years... and for many, that is their lifetime.

Chelle, an 'online' friend for over a year and a fellow parent to a child with Down syndrome has- to no gain of her own- begun a movement. Although we cannot change the conditions in Serbia today, we can, one by one, get children OUT of these conditions that exist in many Eastern Eurpoean countries. Russian institutions are closed- no adoptions will take place after a child enters the institution. Ukraine also institutionalizes children with Down syndrome after theage of 4. Please take a look HERE and see the movement...

I'm sorry for all the links today, I know you'd rather just read an update and keep going, but... if you were to click just two of the links, go to the MSNBC news story video and Chelle's blog. Those two will tell the story in fewer words than I could even begin to.

And yes, Aleksa is in an institution. In Eastern Europe. And we don't know what conditions exist where Aleksa is until we get there.

Yep, more tears.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Yep, He's up to something. Always is, I suppose, but don't you love it when He lets you in on little pieces of his 'surprises' and lets you know just a tiny bit of His plan? It's enough to give me the anticipation to want to keep running towards the goal! I cannot wait for our trip overseas! So many adventures are waiting, and God's doing some neat work in the mean time!

A few things that God is up to:
-Providing finances
-Caring for Aleksa in our absense (I trust He's doing this!)
-Paving our way with the team of facilitators we're working with
-Delivering everything in His time to get us there exactly when He wants us there

Isn't it EXCITING??

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

On its way!

Our dossier is on its way!

Here's one thing we didn't necessarily think about in terms of adoption expenses:
Apostilles: $230
UPS 2-day shipping to Ukraine: $103
Gas to get to Tallahassee and Back: $90
Coffee to get Mike through 10 hours of driving: $2

Today's total: $525 WOW

Hurry up... and wait

I seriously think that waiting is the hardest part of adopting so far. First you decide on a child... then wait to find out what to do about it. Then you sign up for a homestudy... wait for them to come out... wait for it to be finished... wait for the background checks... WAIT!

Now that our paperwork is finished and Mike is on his way to Tallahassee, I'm WAITING for a return e-mail to confirm the address we are to mail it to. And I'm WAITING to hear that all went well getting the apostile. And I'm WAITING for my tutoring students ;) Ok, that's not such a bad wait!

Now, if only I can fill the next months of waiting with some more productive things than I have filled this morning with! I got quite a few things accomplished in the first three hours I was awake, but for the last hour I've just vegged.

Today I managed to:
- shower, dress, gather everything for Mike to take with him, check e-mail 10,000 times for a rely (none yet) about the address to send our dossier to
- get three kids dressed fed, and off to school including a bath for one of them
- get three sets of lunches and 2 diaper bags set to go
- get three gifts together, along with thank-you notes, and all in the car
- deliver three children to school
- talk with the physical therapist about not meeting next week
- deliver the note that Mike won't be in the office today to the church secretary
- deliver a thank-you note and jar of 'soup mix' to the two ladies that went out of their way to notarize everything for Mike and I
- deliver a thank-you note and a box of chocolate Turtles to the doctor's office that redid our paperwork 3 times without a complaint (and I investigated the time-line for the doc's license to renew- must call them back in the new year...)
- and all before 9:30. It's now 10:45 and I've done nothing else.

Guess I should get ready to tutor. Or do the dishes. Or the laundry. Or clean up the highchair. Or the kids' toys. Hmm... seems there are a few better uses for my 'down time'!

Monday, November 12, 2007

If I told you everything went perfectly today

Would you believe me?? Probably not. Not the way our trials have gone so far in this journey anyway. It seems that if there can be a way to do a paper wrong- any paper- that we have had it happen.

I picked up the notarized copy of our doctor's medical license today and the expiration of his license is Jan 31, 2008. Our country requires all documents to have a 6 month "shelf life" on them before they expire. Any document expires on the earliest expiration date written, or 1 year from notary date. So the copy of the license does expire on Jan 31st and so does our copy of it.

Our facilitator has said to send the dossier without this paper as it is more of a 'supporting form' than a necessity and in the mean time we will work on getting a copy of the new license as soon as he gets it done so that if it is asked for we have it.

We are still waiting on the final homestudy papers and the social worker's employment letter. Both were needing corrections and Mike's parents picked them up for us this morning on their way home from a vacation weekend. What a blessing to have people around willing to chip in and help!

More updates later I'm sure.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A little late. Thank You

Happy Veteran's Day!

Thank you to all whose families have served in the US armed forces in wartime and in peace and to those that continue to sacrifice daily for our freedom. Never before have I had such an appreciation for the freedoms we have in America. THANK YOU!


I like lists. Well, except grocery lists. I don't make those.

Anyway, recently I've made lists for
Christmas presents
Clothes that we have/need for each of the kids
Things to still do for the adoption
And my most recent... What to bring overseas.

Here are some suggestions that have been made to me. The country we're traveling to is still considered "third world" and the area we're going to is a very small town. We have been told to expect "urban camping" for 7-10 days of Mike's 2 week stay and then the first two weeks that I'm there on my own. Before and after that we'll be in the capital (3-5 days in the beginning and 2-3 weeks at the end). Rolling blackouts, lack of water for days, no heat, and possibly no hot water at all. Sounds pleasant :) And, a little girl :) THAT is the best part! As soon as I have custody of Aleksa we will head to the capital.

Please let me know of any other suggestions you may have for things that we should/shouldn't take with us! Especially if you've already traveled for your adoption, what things did you find most valuable? What things could you have done without?

• Leatherman Tool
• Sharpie Marker
• Balloons
• Luggage Tags you can spot a mile away
• Flashlight (power outages)
• Peanut butter and other snacks
• Carry along toilet paper
• Tape measure (soft one, to measure child for clothing)
• Cable ties for luggage
• Ziplock bags
• Wet wipes
• Hand sanitizer
• Small sewing kit
• Melatonin
• Tylenol PM
• Cough/cold/allergy/Immodium AD
• Under-the-clothes money holder
• Games, puzzles, etc
• toys for child, coloring books, bubbles, etc.
• Envelopes with pre-sorted cash for different places that needed to be paid for
• Universal flat sink stopper to wash clothes, etc. in sink
• Washcloths
• Band-aids
• Kleenex- travel size
• Febreeze
• Alarm clock
• Listerine strips, gum
• DVD’s and player
• Sippy cups
• Medium size duffel bags (not large or even suitcases, cars are small!)
• Umbrella
• Digital camera
• Laptop
• Space saver roll-up bags
• Chapstick
• Lotion
• Safety pins
• Books
• Gold bond
• Power converter
• Backpacks
• Cards to give with gifts (or to put $ in as a gift)
• Lots of plastic bags (walmart type) for groceries, etc.
• Beach balls
• Pull-ups
• Portable clothesline to hang clothes in the bathroom over a tub and clothespins
• Instant oatmeal, tea bags, sugar, hot chocolate

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Tiny Blessings

Here are two more tiny blessings-
Mike's parents are vacationing near Ft. Lauderdale this weekend and will be leaving there on Monday. They may be able to pick-up our homestudy so that we don't have to pay for overnight mail AND we will have the paper on Monday night if that happens- so we may be able to get the apostile Tuesday after all!

Our doctor's office will be able to get us the notarized medical license on Monday- and if they cannot than we have a friend that will go down to notarize it for us :)

And one big blessing-
We were told a few days ago that a large contribution has been made to our Reece's Rainbow grant! What a wonderful blessing it is to us!

I was asked again today about the cost of adoption and- hesitantly- how could we adopt on one salary, and a minister's salary none the less? My answer can only be this- We're living our lives serving God. Literally daily in a very tangeable way. And despite a fairly modest income to live on, God always provides above and beyond our needs and has yet to leave us at in want for anything. He has firmly told us to adopt and will bring about everything we need both financially and emotionally for that to happen!

God is good... All the time!

Friday, November 09, 2007


Thursday slipped away. It's 12:08am on Friday. Still playing the paperwork nightmare game. Our homestudy aparantly was notarized 3 days before it was approved. Try that one on for size. Won't fly, must call in about 9 hours and complain until another is overnighted to me. Monday is a holiday and these papers need to be apostilled and mailed overseas on Tuesday in order to be submitted to the SDA this year. They stop accepting dossiers on December 1st and it takes a few days to ship and then 2 weeks to translate. I can't believe Tuesday is already the 12th!

Stress stinks. And I have no voice. And I need sleep :)

Sorry so grumpy, I'm going to bed to hopefully be rejuvinated on 5.5 hours of sleep.

Pray for timely filing!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Ok, I realize that for two days I've written nothing about the adoption and that there have been questions of what and how and who and all that good stuff, so here's my attempt at the answers that those that see me in "real life" have asked.

Q: Will you/ can you still adopt Aleksa?
A: We think so. To be honest there's a bigger chance that we can't now than there was at the beginning, but since it's all up to God anyway, no need to worry. We're planning on bringing Aleksa home :)

Q: When do you think you'll travel?
A: As soon as possible! Really, we know our earliest travel will be 2008, we just don't know when. The government shuts down for several weeks for holidays in December/Jan, so even getting our paperwork in quickly we won't go until next year.

Q: Why is it such a bad thing that Aleksa was transferred if you can still get her?
A: The institutions overseas are not just "children's homes" where the kids are in groups under a few caretakers. When one orphanage worker was asked how her children fared once they had been transferred to the institution she replied "I don't know, none are living anymore". Most children are seriously ill within months of arriving at the institutions. Some institutions bury up to 30 children PER MONTH. Conditions that exist for children in these places would not be seen as acceptable for dogs here in the US. It's not a matter of whether she's around typical kids or other children with disabilities or even whether she's playing and getting interaction with adults. It's whether she's being fed, bathed, allowed to use a toilet facility, whether she's bound, ill, cold, or any other number of things.

Q: How much does it cost to adopt?
A: Ok, so I hedge this one a lot of the time. Here's a few reasons why: There are so many different options for adoption including domestic and international and then so many different countries. Every place is different and even two adoptions within the same country could vary by several thousand dollars. So really there is something for everyone. If you're interested in adopting then there's somewhere you can adopt from that will fit your ability to pay. And God is bigger than the grand ole dollar sign, so even if you don't think you could do a more expensive route you might just find out differently. If you're not interested in adopting but just want to know what the cost is for us to bring Aleksa home than I will say that it is very expensive, yet less than some adoptions. About the same as our annual salary our first year of marriage. And it's worth EVERY SINGLE PENNY.

Q: Why did you decide to do an international adoption and not adopt one of the kids available here in the US?
A: This seems to be the 'doozy'. The one noone wants to answer and yet it's asked all the time. Here's my stab at making sense :) We originally weren't sure what we were going to do. We thought that international adoption was way out of our league (surprise, it *IS*, but not out of God's!) financially, but I opened a conversation line with Andrea at Reece's Rainbow anyway. After looking at a few available kids world wide Mike and I had a conversation that revealed a few important things for us. 1) we definitely wanted to (and felt called to) pursue a child with special needs... Down syndrome if possible. 2) there aren't many kids with Ds in US foster care (interesting, isn't it?) 3) there are children around the world that need homes, but a LOT of kids with Ds in other countries that are available. 4)kids in the US even in foster care are always treated humanely (ok, ALMOST always... but the gov't at least says it's supposed to be humane). 5) kids overseas are often neglected and have no hope for a future, especially kids with disailities 6) children as young as 4 are put into mental institutions overseas and often die by age 10 because of the conditions of their care.

So we quickly realized that adopting a child with Ds from a counry where the child faces a VERY early death was what we wanted to look at. Not just looking for another child for our family- although that is a big part of it too- but looking for a child that would likely not survive if we didn't step in. And no, we didn't want a hero mission. We wanted a rescue. These kids are my heroes.

It's late, and I'm tired, so I hope this has helped those of you that have had the question and haven't asked or asked the question and didn't get an answer. I'll try to answer some of the others another day. Feel free to e-mail me questions or post them here. I'd be happy to answer whatevr I can.

9 days

It has only been 9 days...
and it's been 9 days already.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

You Said

You Said, ask and you will receive whatever you need.

You Said, pray and I'll hear from Heaven, and I'll heal your land.

You Said, Your Glory will fill the Earth like waters the seas.

You Said, lift up your eyes, the harvest is here, the Kingdom is near.

You Said, ask and I'll give the nations to you, Oh Lord, that's the cry of my heart.

Distant shores and the islands will sing of Your light as it rises on us.

Monday, November 05, 2007


I knew in advance that adoption has its ups and downs and that there would be days we were excited and happy and others that we were nervous and discouraged, but never did I imagine that we would spend months wondering if our child would be fed each day until we get there... or tied to a crib... or given anywhere to use the restroom... or clothed... or warm...

And although we're trying to move mountains to get there as soon as possible, I was told today by my state-side helper that current appointments are mostly March/April, but a few in February. She's not sure if the special needs will go differently. We're hoping to get there sooner.

A verse that comes to mind in this is appropriately found in 1 Corinthians 13, the "Love Chapter". It goes like this: "If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing."

There is power in love, and God can move mountains. Those are the two most important things to me today.

Another is Matthew 17:20. "He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." "

Faith. Hope. And Love. Especially Love.

My favorite two choices for middle names for Aleksa? Faith and Hope.

Friday, November 02, 2007


Ok, so here's the positive post I was PLANNING on writing today ;)

The indisputable blessings that God has put in motion for things to be like they are right now...

1) A mom cared enough about kids with Ds to start a ministry matching up kids with Ds with prospective parents across the globe and to help them collect donations through her nonprofit organization (aka tax deductable) so that people could afford to adopt.

2) Another mom cared enough about Aleksa to take her picture and find out info about her so that someone else might be able to adopt her.

3) When we chose Aleksa, a mom was in her country adopting from her orphanage (and even from her groupa!). We were able to learn so much more from conversations with this mom than we could have ever found out otherwise

4) The mom at that orphanage told the orphanage directors that Aleksa has a family coming for her! (this was VERY important later on!)

5) When we did our homestudy it took only 5-6 weeks to have a copy in our hands, not the typical 8-12 weeks.

6) When I was looking for Aleksa's full name, the director's computer was down so she couldn't access her file (this seems bad, but was a blessing!)

7) When I asked the other people we are working with for Aleksa's full name they asked our facilitator to find out exactly how she is registered (instead of just giving us what she had on file- yes, another hidden blessing).

8) When our facilitator went to the SDA to find out how Aleksa is registered he found out that she'd been moved (otherwise we would not have found out until we were over there and THAT would have been awful because nothing would have been expedited, we would be getting there probably months later, we wouldn't be prepared to stay the entire time, wouldn't have the extra money necessary for these changes, etc.).

9) When our facilitator checked on Aleksa he also found out that another little girl from her orphanage has moved (therefore letting her family know as well- she was placed in a boarding school which is WONDERFUL!)

10) When the person helping us state-side found out where Aleksa was moved she said that "Someone likely is pulling string here for these girls". And "This (the placements of the two girls) makes me think the workers at [their orphanage] went to some lengths to find good placements as they really should have both gone to a mental institution with openings in a nearby region. Thank God [the mom] got their info as there is no way you would have ever of known about the girls if she had not been there when she had, as they were soon moved and no one we have adopting would have ever seen them."

11) When Aleksa was moved she was placed in a facility that we believe we can still get her out of. Our state-side helper said: "Where they were moved sort of surprised me, they must know someone was coming and moved them to locations where they could still be accessed, this is very unusual for Downs children and I have a feeling the deputy director and orphanage doctor got them into some locations because they knew someone was coming for them."

12) When we quickly started pulling everything together to expedite everything our CIS paperwork was delivered into the hands of a mom that has a child with disabilities. When she saw that the petition for a child with Down syndrome she quickly approved it and send it out that day.

13) Prayer requests have brought so many people to their knees and the broken hearts of many are petitioning the Throne like never before- it's always a good thing for people to come to God.

14) A prayer chain specifically, but it was God none-the-less, led a church member to decide to write an article about our family, our adoption, and Down syndrome. This will hopefully help develop awareness not just about Down syndrome, but about the conditions that exist in other countries and the ministry that Reece's Rainbow is providing.








No, those aren't blank. I just believe that God has many more blessings for us on this journey and I don't intend to sell him short. Why 21? Well, that number is what made us choose Aleksa. Trisomy 21 to be exact, so I'm sure there will be three-fold the blessings that we've written down.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Our local paper

Today I got a phone call that was generated from our church prayer request e-mail. It was a church member that writes for our area newspaper asking if she could write an article about our adoption. She's already passed it by her editor and will call me back in the next day or two. I never would have dreamt that God would use this situation to bring about some awareness about both Down syndrome in general as well as the current state of affairs in other countries, but I am hopeful that it will do exactly that!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Yes, we made it

It's been a year of a day. But we made it. Today our world went from exciting and happy to fearful and stressed. But God doesn't intend it that way. Don't get me wrong, He intends for us to be on our knees, in tears, and broken for His children. Especially those that are orphans. Especially those that are facing situations that no child shoulld ever even know possible. But fear is NOT from God. His hand is on our family, is on Aleksa, and is leading the way. Gently. But his grip is strengthening as we petition His throne, and that is exactly what we intend to do. We have done so daily, but admittedly not with nearly the gusto that we have had renewed today. That has changed. The floodgates are opened.

Thank you everyone that is lifting up our family in prayer. God hears each and every one. Today we grieved. Tomorrow we plan. The next day... well, let's just take it a day at a time, shall we? My prayer tonight is that God will bless each one that has come to the Father for us today. May you be blessed as much as He has blessed us and abundantly more.

A day with lots of tears. Prayers Needed!

About 2 hours ago our plans changed. We found out that Aleksa has been transferred from the "baby house" (orphanage) to a mental institution. These places are AWFUL and just writing this has once again started the tears running down my face. I cannot imagine at 4 years old being put into one of these places. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE pray for Aleksa! Pray that she will be healthy, that she will have enough to eat, that she will be treated with care, and that she will be comforted by the Ultimate Comforter! Please pray that our process will be expedited even more! We know that we 'could' get there by February, but that is the quickest we see possible at the moment. Now we are praying that God will work things out to get us there even sooner. We need whomever has our paperwork at the USCIS to quickly approve us. We pray that our dossier will be able to be submitted immediately (sometimes it takes weeks to submit even after it's in country). We also pray that the SDA overseas will give us an UNUSUALLY quick appointment. God is still in the miracle business and we need one right now!

Please continue to pray for our family as well because there is no way that we will be making two trips and leaving Aleksa in the institution between times. Which means that I will be in country for approximately 8 weeks. This is very different from our original plans of one 2-3 week trip with Mike and I, a month at home, then a second trip of 4-6 days by myself. Please please please pray! We are very committed to getting Aleksa home, my heart is just heavy with grief at the things she must endure before we can get to her.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

adopt(ed)- A challenge for my friends

WOW! Mike and I listened to this last night and were overwhelmed by the words of this minister. He speaks to the church about orphans and adoption. What a powerful truth that he preaches so much from his heart!

We've only listened to the first one, but I can promise you that we'll be listening to the others soon! The first one was 1 hour(ok, it was shorter, but the MESSAGE was 30 minutes, but don't stop before the end... It's SO worth it!).

So, I want to challenge those of you that consider yourselves (or would like to :) ) among our close friends and family (yep, that includes my online buddies!)to take the time to listen to one of these messages each week for the next 4 weeks. Thirty minutes, that's what I'm asking for. And you'll be changed. And our relationship will be changed.

Please, if you take this challenge will you tell be about it as you go? I've made a button with the logo for the sermon series. And I'll remind you each week with a link so you can take this journey with us.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Our 2nd Buddy Walk!

First I have to say that God heard Kristopher's little prayer when he asked for the rains to stop and to stay away because it rained until 5 minutes before the walk and picked up right at 12 when we were leaving! This is the 5th Buddy Walk that our association has ever done and it was a great turnout! Over 500 people walked and they raised over $30,000!!! What a WONDERFUL morning!

Here is our team that walked with Brianna's Buddies this year.
From left to right it's Chris and her daughter Becky, Michael, Me with Kristopher, Liz is in front, then my Mom and Dad with Brianna on the wall. She was too interested in drinking to care about having her picture taken ;)

Brianna with Grandaddy

Brianna with Aunt Liz

Kristopher and Daddy playing with a violin

Kristopher and Grandmommy making bubbles

A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone that contributed to the FEDS of Brevard and to Brianna's Buddies!

A sweet treat

Christina over at Kwisteena's Kwaziness nominated me for this sweet treat award! My first award :)

Thanks Christina! She has a great blog about raising her two daughters, the older of which has Down syndrome. Go take a peek!

I'd like to nominate Charissa over at A Day in the Life of the Urbans who is also blogging about her upcoming adoption!

Both Christina and Charissa's blogs are surely sweet treats!

Friday, October 26, 2007


Almost 10 years ago

6 years ago in July

This kind of got to me today. I don't generally post when I'm agitated, but today is going to be the exception. Because I feel like this agitation is very valid, and that I'm really feeling like this agitation of mine stems from something that seems unhealthy in others. So here's my soap box...

It happened today, and not for the first time. I was talking to someone who mentioned a special date on November 15th. It must be a great day for things to happen because as I said, this isn't the first time this conversation has happened. You'll understand that in just a minute. So when this person mentioned their 'special November 15th' I gave the appropriate celebratory congratulations and then when 'he' said he was going away for the occasion I wondered at it because this year we, too, will celebrate November 15th with a little weekend get-away. When asked of my DH's and my own reason for celebrating I said without hesitation that it is the 10th anniversary of when we began dating.

Here's where the agitation comes in... This person looked at me with a look of both confusion and belittlement. Dating? You're celebrating when you started DATING? Isn't that a little Juvenile? Granted this person is significantly older than I am and much closer to my parents' age than my own, but this is the age-group that I spend the most time with.

Juvenile? Not at all. In fact, it makes me so sorry for this person that he doesn't celebrate more with his spouse. Yes, they've seen 25 years together. They've been married longer than I have been alive. They have celebrated many anniversaries of marriage... so why would they celebrate having dated??

Well, I hold a different view. It's not that I've only spent 6 years with my wonderful husband in marriage. It's not that I'm aching for another reason to get out of town. It's not that I'm stuck in the ways of a teenager that the 15th of every month I giggle and coo and wait to see if he remembers that another month has gone and we were still together.

It's that I'm happy. Genuinely happy.

Does Mike feel an obligation to remember yet another date on the calendar? No way. In fact, most years it goes by and a few weeks before or after it may get mentioned in passing that it's coming or has gone, and another year is ticked off in our minds. But this year, when the year becomes 10, we will celebrate.

And why not? We have so much to be thankful for, so much to be happy about, and so much to celebrate. We have two beautiful children who are happy, healthy, and loved beyond measure. This time last year we were celebrating the successful open heart surgery our daughter had just undergone. The success of her feeding tube insertion. The thriving that she was having while getting supplemental feedings which we labored over all night every night. We were celebrating our son, who had held up with grandparents during our long departure. He had grown in wisdom and stature as he does every year. We were celebrating him. But we weren't going anywhere. We didn't 'celebrate' the anniversary of our first date.

This year... we will celebrate. No matter whether people think we're "reaching for a reason" or that we're juvenile in our reasons to spend quality time APART from our kids for a day or two. In fact, I hope those that have laughed in our faces at the mere mention of this 'anniversary' of sorts might think back and remember their first date, their first kiss, and celebrate that that day marked the beginning of what is today.

It was the beginning of our dating- yes, we're still 'dating' today. That day we became 'boyfriend and girlfriend.' A few years later, 'husband and wife.' And a few more years brought 'mother and father.'

Oh, and before I'm off my soap box, I'll also say that this year will be even more special of a time with just the two of us because once again we are 'expecting' and once again we will soon have our 'baby' on our hip. We didn't know that when we first began planning this trip, but that's how wonderful our Creator is in planning things out in advance. And, just like the first two children, we won't be having our newest addition out of our sight for quite some time after her arrival. So this is the perfect opportunity to get away, just the two of us, and celebrate the ten years that God has given us since our very first date.

Cherish. Just that.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

One day at a time

Here's the montage of our first year of our journey with Brianna. It was such a roller coaster of emotions, love, and trials that first year. And then to think another year has almost passed! So... before this montage is officially out of date I thought I'd share it with those of you who are following our family's journey with us. Don't worry- there will be a new one for the second year soon :) And the third year-- Yep, it'll be another FIRST :)

View this montage created at One True Media
Our Journey 2006

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Trust and Obey

Seems like this should just be the theme song for life, but we all know that it's so hard to do sometimes. This week we've spent a lot of time trying to figure out exactly what we're going to do financially in order to pay for the remainder of the costs for the adoption. We took the first $1,500 out of our saving's account and the next $1,000 we were able to spend without touching savings just by scrimping on other day to day things. Now we're hoping to send our dossier off in the next couple of months which will cost about $550 including the translation fees. So where is that coming from? Well, I've now had donations worth about half of that by making monkeys :) There's still a ways to go on this specific expense, but God is providing just as we need it. We just have to Trust and Obey.

We were also blessed today by our local Down syndrome support group called F.E.D.S. of Brevard (Families Experiencing Down Syndrome, I'm not very involved with this group simply because they meet during a time I can't make it and it's a good 40 minutes away from here. But we are fundraising for them a little and will take part in the Buddy Walk next weekend. I had e-mailed the group just to say that we'll be participating in the Buddy Walk and to let them know that we're adding Aleksa to our family soon. When I heard back from them today I was told that they shared our adoption with the group at the meeting and that they would like to purchase one of our plane tickets when we go to get her!

Trust and Obey... There really IS no other way. Just be Happy in Jesus, and to Trust and Obey...

Saturday, October 20, 2007


How many holidays can we pack back to back into a few months?
November- 22nd, Thanksgiving
December- 25th, Christmas (and Aleksa's birthday, but we don't know what day)
January- 3rd, Brianna's birthday 22nd, Meredith's birthday
February- 24th, Kristopher's birthday
March or April- Aleksa comes home

Most of these celebrations will include gifts for the kids (all but Thanksgiving). All of them are wonderful reasons to celebrate and there are things that the kids need or we'd like to get them that will fit in with these holidays and celebrations. But wow, those are all VERY close together! So today I sorted through what I've bought already (yes, I love to shop early!) and what things would be best for Christmas, birthdays, or are better to save for when Aleksa is home since we have one for each of the kids. Fun stuff ;) I love holidays, I really do... but it's also difficult to find that happy medium between being so excited about our kids' reaction to their gifts, and keeping the main focus on the celebration and the reason for it and NOT on just the gifts!

I'm sure this year will be one of the hardest yet.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Monkey Business

I'll post details soon, but I'm going to be making some stuffed animals to raise money for our adoption fund. At the moment I'm working on some sock monkeys and will see about Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls soon. I'll post pic's and details soon, but here's the head's up that it's coming! A great idea for Christmas gifts and I'll probably include a homemade ornament that can be kept or given with the monkey as a thank-you for helping bring Aleksa home!

Keep checking...

Friday, October 12, 2007

10 things I wish I could ask someone about Aleksa

  1. What day is her birthday?
  2. Is she really happy?
  3. Is she healthy?
  4. Does she like princesses or cowboys? Dollls or cars?
  5. What is her favorite color?
  6. What are her favorite things to do?
  7. Does she like to play outside?
  8. Does she interact well with other children?
  9. Does she know that we love her?
  10. Can we go get her NOW??

10 things I know about Aleksa

My post for.. um... yesterday... (THANKS to Donna for all the info!)
  1. She has light brown hair kept in a short cut
  2. She has green eyes (just like Michael!)
  3. She is 4 1/2 years old
  4. Her birthday is in December
  5. She is very tiny for her age
  6. She has Trisomy 21 (aka Down syndrome)
  7. She is in an orphanage with typical and special needs children
  8. She is likely day-time potty trained
  9. She can feed herself
  10. She is described as 'happy and eager to please'

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

What led us to where we are today (part VII- last one!)

Brianna was rolling back to front from 4 months, front to back around 8 months, sat independently at 11 months, bore weight on her legs at 13 months, and most recently has begun the 'stepping' motion with support at 21 months! She wins us over daily with her sweet disposition and her toothy grin. Oh yes- and she got her first tooth at 16 1/2 months! She holds the record for her pediatrician's office as the oldest to cut her first tooth :).

We have recently been blessed beyond anything we could hope for when my parents offerred to sell us their house. The home I was raised in. My parents purchased a smaller house in town and since we only 5 minutes away so we quickly packed up and moved over! We are in the process of selling our other house (know anyone that wants a Florida house??) and are thoroughly enjoying the 'new' house! It has a large Florida room that is our playroom/eating area, 4 bedrooms and an office, and the best part this summer has been the pool! The kids have enjoyed it (and so have we!) and it has been a great therapy tool for Brianna.

And all of that leads us to where we are today. Two beautiful children that are 3 1/2 and 21 months. A 5 year old on the way. A son with a caring heart, a kind disposition, and a smile that will never make you question whether he's up to something! A daughter whose laughter is contagious, snuggly spirit is healing, and her potential is endless. And another daughter soon to be home who for now is filling our hearts in anticipation of getting to know whether she is shy or spunky, whether she is snugly or energetic, and what wonderful characteristics Christ has filled her with!

Monday, October 08, 2007

What led us to where we are today (part VI)

Our house got very busy quickly with a 2 month old, a 14 month old, and a 25 month old. The following Monday my nephew was placed in daycare via my parents' kind offer to pay the bill. He was at our house evenings and weekends and that was honestly all I could handle. I felt like I was in some sort of dream or trance for those few weeks. It was as if every moment was busy and in the mean time my head and heart were spinning with emotion and fears about Brianna.
My nephew stayed with us for 5 weeks then returned home to his mom and his new baby sister.

In retrospect the busy household probably did me a world of good because in those first weeks after Brianna's diagnosis I didn't have the time to sit and research, to work up my fears, or to do anything else that would hinder my relationship with my daughter. She continued to nurse and now the weight gain (or lack there of) was easily explained by her major heart defect. That was another weight off my shoulders. Her sleep patterns were also explained by the heart defect since her body was working overtime as if she was running a marathon every day. Slowly the fear of the unknown became the driver for educating ourselves on what was to come.

At 5 months old we reached the time for Brianna's open heart surgery. We traveled 3 hours west to St. Petersburg and met the surgeon and cardiology team, then spent the next day in pre-op. Day 3 was the big day and she went in for her 4 hour corrective surgery. Her AV Canal along with a large VSD and a ASD were closed up and she was back in her room on ROOM AIR (no ventilator)! She healed well but then caught a virus. She had a reaction to the antibiotic and we were glad to find out that it wasn't bacterial after all. It was 2 weeks (and MANY sleepless nights) later that we made the decision to put in a g-tube since she still wasn't gaining weight. I had been coming up at all hours of the night and in the end was spending the night with her (even though that wasn't *allowed*) to nurse her every hour again. We came home in 19 days and have had a HEALTHY, HAPPY, ALERT, AWARE, CURIOUS baby girl ever since!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

What led us to where we are today (part V)

Although the news was still difficult to take, we were surprised at our own reaction of joy. Tears came, don't get me wrong. We were still hopeful that there would be nothing wrong and our perfect little baby girl was just fine. But the reality was... SHE IS. For days, weeks, months, and can I say years if she's still not yet 2 years old? I teared up when telling someone special to me that Brianna has Down syndrome. But the hardest part.. and really most likely the part that gave all the tears... was that we were to go immediately to the hosptial for an echocardiogram. The doctor heard the faintest of murmur on her and heart defects appear in about 50% (maybe more) of children with Down syndrome.

Two days later the call came through- Brianna had a major heart defect called an AV Canal and would need it surgically repaired around 6 months of age. I quickly grabbed the closest writing tablet- a new journal that had been given to me for my birthday in January- and wrote down all the information I was given. When I closed the journal I looked at the outside and smiled. It had a baby on the front with angel wings and the entire journal was a soft pink. My angel baby's new journal. And so began the visits with our cardiologist every few weeks.

The same day that we received the cardiac diagnosis another piece of our lives changed. My 14 month old nephew (my adopted sister's biological sister's baby, if that makes any sense) was delivered to my house by my mother and three of her siblings. I had offerred to take him for his mother when she went in to have her new baby since she lives over an hour away and had noone else to take him, and of course the offer still stood. Brianna was still the same baby she had been for the previous 8 weeks and to be honest she was easier to care for than Kristopher had been! Also, that weekend marked my mom's 50th birthday and her siblings had traveled from across the country to spend the weekend with her.

Saturday, October 06, 2007


Today I took the kids and went to garage sales with my parents. Although I'd planned to let Aleksa be in the toddler bed when she arrives (since it's similar to what she's been sleeping in), I went ahead and bought a twin and we'll decide which bed gets stored. It's a light-maple daybed that has sleigh type sides on it. It matchs the crib, toddler bed, and changing table that we already have. Since Brianna and Aleksa will be sharing a room all their furniture will match! And what's somewhat ironic is that even though the house we bought it at is nowhere I've been before, my MIL and FIL were running the garage sale (he's a Realtor and listing the house) and the bed we bought previously belonged to Mike's Aunt L. and her daughter!

Then at Wal-Mart on clearance was a plain pink sheet set which of course called my name! And Kristopher picked out a lunchbox on clearance that has Backyardigans on it and said he wanted to buy it for Aleksa. So I conceded (after all, he wanted it for someone else! LOL) and Aleksa now has a new lunch box as well.

Twin Daybed: $25
Pink Sheets: $11
Backyardigans Lunch Box: $4
The glow on K's face when he chose something for his new sister: Priceless

What led us to where we are today (part IV)

Our pediatrician visits were pretty normal the first time or two but then became more frequent because Brianna wasn't gaining weight very well. She had had a little trouble learning to latch on while in the hospital, but quickly got the hang of it and was doing well. We were told that we needed to consider supplementing with formula soon because she wasn't getting adequate nutrition. I refused. I knew I had plenty of milk and that she just wasn't drinking enough. She slept all the time and it seemed that only a few minutes after latching on she would fall asleep.

So I spent a week agonizing over her weight gain and our next checkup showed she had gained the 5 oz that the doctor had 'required' of her! She continued nursing but her growth was still slow. At 5 weeks old her ped (whom I LOVE!) very delicately told me that he has suspected a problem with Brianna since birth but had been unable to identify it. He wanted to run a chromosome analysis because the only thing he could find (albeit a bit of a far guess) was Turner Syndrome (a single x instead of xx or xy). We agonized once home but had her blood drawn and began researching this syndrome. We told family and friends that blood tests were being performed but never mentioned the suggested diagnosis. Mike and I both felt strongly that we wanted to KNOW what was going on before we shared every hunch of the doctor with everyone.

Three weeks later when Brianna was 8 weeks old the pediatrician called us in for an appointment. He first examined Brianna head to toe, snuggling her along the way. He looked at her hands, her feet, her belly, her neck... "We have a problem with little Brianna" I remember him saying. I can visualize exactly where I was standing and where Michael was sitting and exactly how his face looked when he told us. Michael and I just nodded, having come to terms that if he invited us into the office for the results that they were most likely positive. "Brianna has Down Syndrome," he said with his Puerto Rican accent. Mike and I just looked at each other with a surprised smile on each of our faces. Down syndrome. NOT what we were expecting. SO MUCH BETTER!

Friday, October 05, 2007

What led us to where we are today (part III)

The doctors decided that our baby girl's heartbeat was very strong and she wasn't showing any signs of distress, so we would be monitored over the next 3 days and would be induced the following Monday (oh- did I mention that this was a Thursday and Sunday was New Year's Day??). So off we went with a list of appointments for the next few days. Each appointment checked out fine, monitoring went well. I had a few contractions (random ones) while hooked up and most of the time the baby reacted just as expected. Then we got another change of plans. They wouldn't induce on Monday because it was a low staff day for the holiday weekend! "Just in case," they wanted an OR team on site and they wouldn't be there on Monday. So... Tuesday, January 3rd, we arrived bright and early at the hospital to be induced.They started an IV and antibiotics (because of my heart murmur) but were waiting on the doctors to start the pitocin. They decided that was the best way to induce so that they could stop it at any time if necessary.

They had us in triage this whole time but triage quickly filled so they moved me in to a birthing suite since it was guaranteed that I wasn't going home. After the move the nurses had a hard time finding the baby's heartbeat. They immediately put me on oxygen and after a minute she found the beat again. A few minutes later Mike poked his head out the door after I'd adjusted positions and said the monitors were beeping again. The nurse ran in and when she did find the heartbeat it was 70. A normal infant heartbeat is around 130 or so. This time both of the OB's in my practice stood over my bed and started at the chart, stared at me, and it happened again. No movement on my part, and no heartbeat on hers.With this new development we were VERY glad that the pitocin hadn't been started and the wait for Tuesday became a huge blessing. 15 minutes later I heard our new daughter's first little 'mews' as she was born via emergency c-section. At 5lbs and 2 oz (Kristopher had been a whopping 7 lbs, 1 oz and we thought HE was tiny!) and only 18" long she was quite a peanut! We bonded instantly with our Brianna Elizabeth, she checked out wonderfully from the doctors and after only 48 hours in the hospital we were able to take our 4 lb, 14 oz tiny baby girl home!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

What led us to where we are today (part II)

During those first busy months as new parents we also decided to sell our 2 bedroom townhouse and purchased a small 4 bedroom house in a nice little subdivision. After a few major home renovations (including making it into a 3 bedroom house) I became pregnant with our second child. We were thrilled to find that the ultrasound showed that this baby was a girl at just 17 weeks! I have to admit I was somewhat skeptical to paint the room pin and buy little girl clothes because of all of the 'what ifs' that I had heard. So we waited to prepare the nursery but told Kristopher about the impending birth of his new sister. At about 30 weeks the doctors mentioned that I was measuring pretty small but nothing of concern since I was small with Kristopher too. But at 32 weeks they decided to go ahead and order an ultrasound just to be sure. We were calm knowing that we had a peace about our baby and were excited to just know whether this baby in fact was a 'she'! Our 33 week ultrasound checked out ok with just a little lower fluid. They scheduled another for 4 weeks later just to be sure. At the 37 week ultrasound the tech gave us the news that he would not be allowing us to go home until we were able to be seen by the OB. The fluid around the baby was very low and the baby had not had any significant growth since the 33 week ultrasound. As luck (is there REALLY a such thing as luck??) would have it our OB was upstairs in the maternity ward and asked us to come up and be checked out. At this point we were a little more prepared to panic since we were expecting the baby to be late (like Kristopher) and not at all thinking she might come early. The bedroom was still not painted, the bassinet lay in a box, and her baby clothes (although they'd been sorted a few times ;) ) were in a bin since there was no dresser. We weren't ready to bring a baby home!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A little something to think on

Found this tonight and thought I'd share it.

Advocacy is not an option
It is essential
As vital as drawing breath
It affets your life
your future
your friendship
your finances
your decisions
your family
Advocacy is not something that requires anything of you
Advocacy is a passion for a group
a cause
a child
for MY child
Advocacy is LOVE

What led us to where we are today (part 1)

Here's the Reader's Digest version of the Cornish family :) I'll post it over this month so that it's not just overwhelmingly long!

Michael and I (Meredith) met in junior high school and were acquaintances for quite some time before beginning to date in November of 1997 (10th grade!). This November we plan to take a weekend get-away to celebrate 10 years together! That's hard to believe! We are both committed, born-again Christians and our personal relationships with Christ are definitely a sustaining factor in our relationship. Soon after high school graduation Michael proposed (Aug 1, 2000) and we were married the following July 14th! Michael and I were both attending the University of Central Florida. He was getting a business degree in Human Resource Management and I was working on my degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Psychology. I graduated with my BS in December of 2003, our son Kristopher was born in February of 2004, and Michael received his BA in May of 2004. During this time Michael worked in the Youth ministry at Park Avenue Baptist church and after our first year of marriage I worked in Children's ministry at Park Avenue.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

On the road to learning- bonding

I really enjoyed the bonding advice that I recently read on a blog and decided to start seeking out a bit of my own. Here are some online articles about bonding that I found informative. I hope they will help someone else as well!

This is a whole list of articles from the Rainbow Kids website about attachment, bonding, and even suggestions for overcoming things like RAD :) There is a LOT of info on there! Happy surfing!,%20Bonding%20with%20Toddler,%20Facilitating%20Attachment,%20General,%20Grief%20and%20Loss,%20Infants,%20Issues%20and%20Advice,%20Older%20Children

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Homestudy paperwork complete!

Our homestudy paperwork including 4 background checks (Department of Children and Families, local, state, and FBI), and our health forms complete with blood test results will be in the mail tomorrow! This should complete our homestudy and hopefully it will get sent to the USCIS this week! Once it gets to the USCIS they will have all three parts (so long as they accepted Mike's digital fingerprints!). These are the application, digital fingerprints, and the homestudy. Then it's a waiting game to get approval :)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Our kiddos

I finally got some new *decent* pictures of our two kiddos! Lately all I have gotten are closed eyes and shy glances. Here's another peek at Kristopher and Brianna. The kids were thoroughly enjoying some pizza, so yes, that's food all over Kristopher's face :) These were taken on Tuesday evening. I can't wait to have Aleksa in on the pizza messes!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Kristopher's getting it

Kristopher is really asking questions now about whether there's really a person named Aleksa and she's really coming to live here. He's often asked where her parents are or if when she stays with us if her mom and dad will come and get her like the baby that I watch during the day. We've explained to him that she doesn't have any parents right now and his mommy and daddy will be hers too. Also, that she will be his sister and this will be her home. Noone will be coming to pick her up, she's here always.

Well... I guess he's listening, even if he isn't fully understanding yet! Today at Wal-Mart an older woman said hello to the kids and asked him if he has a granny. He said 'no' but I told him that he has a Grandma and a Grandmommy, and those are all the same as Granny. Ok, he got that. Then he replied with "I don't have any parents either!" So I asked who I am and he said "you'll be my parents later." LOL I explained to the very nice lady (with a very shocked face!)that we are adopting and he has recently been asking many questions about the child's parents... Who'd have thought he would go around telling people that HE doesn't have parents?? I guess sometimes all you can do is laugh!

Saturday, September 22, 2007


USCIS or CIS: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
INS: Immigration and Naturalization Services
Homeland Security: includes the CIS and the INS
I-600a: paperwork- we file this petition to adopt an orphaned child internationally
I-171H: paperwork- the 'ok' that is sent back to us from the INS to adopt
SDA: State Department for Adoptions (in Aleksa's country)
dossier: paperwork packet for adoption
apostille: state level notary stamp
Ds: Down syndrome
SN: Special needs

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Saving the world

I love this story and read it again the other day in a book called Adoption Miracles by Karen Kingsbury. I don't know who the original author of the story is. Here is my paraphrase...

A little boy walked along the shore one day after thousands of starfish had been beached in the sand. Each step of the way he bent down and picked up a starfish and threw it back in to the ocean. A man walked by and told the boy that he'd never save them all, why even try? The little boy looked at the man, bent down, picked up another star fish and replied "it mattered to this one" and threw it back in to the ocean.

No, we can't save the world, but we can make a difference one child at a time...