Monday, October 31, 2011

Bethany

This little girl is Bethany:

Bethany is waiting for her forever family
in Eastern Europe.
She has Osteogenesis Imperfecta,
 also known as Brittle Bone Disease.
She has spent much of her life in a hospital.

She has had multiple broken bones in her lifetime.
Until recently, she was not even able to sit up.
Yet despite all of this, she is a sparkling jewel
of a little girl, incredibly bright and clever,
and ready to share her sweet smile
with anyone who has time for her.
But really, who better to tell you about Bethany
than Bethany herself?
Here is an awesome video about this little love:

True, it is all in Russian, but just watch this little girl and see her sparkle!  Below are some excerpts from the video:

-          The journalist is calling her “Sweet little dove”, she says seriously “ Why you are calling me Dove? I am not a dove, my name is "Bethany"”

-          The journalist is asking her “ Do you like to sit in a armchair?”, she responds “ Of course, I like it. It is very convenient in general. You just need to put an extra roller for the back in order your back not to be curved”

-          The journalist is telling to the camera about "Bethany's" medical condition and she comments “ Oh…I understand everything what you are saying here about me…yes…it is truth!”

- When being asked to introduce herself, she is saying " My name is "Bethany" and I am very smart"

- The journalist is asking her " Are your eyes being bothered by the camera's light?", she responds " No, because the light is pointing directly to my nose".


Bethany is an amazing child.  


Here is her profile from Reece's Rainbow:


Bethany 15H

December 2006
Osteogenesis Imperfecta
melx-15
From volunteers who met her:  This radiant girl lives in a Russian orphanage. She suffers from OI, Group 3. She was bedridden for the most of her life; until she was almost 4 years old she could not sit and could not turn over. She had multiple bones broken by simply moving around in bed. Only one year ago volunteers found her in a cast from head to toe. They have begun raising money for her rehabilitation in the American Medical Center in Moscow. As a result, she is now sitting vertically first time in her life. The first time she was able to look out the window, she saw the bleak Moscow landscape of late November and there was no limit for her joy! She takes such pleasure in being able to see that the street cleaning guy has a “soft” hat and that birds are “fuzzy .” Despite having such a handicapped childhood, Bethany is unbelievably bright. At three and a half she knew all colors, 1 to 10 numbers, could recite many children rhymes, and she has a perfect music pitch! According to the nurses, Bethany radiates positivism and humor to such degree that children from the hospital gather in her room for a good laugh, a song, or a story. When it was time for her to leave the hospital and to part with the nurses, she broke down crying for the first time, despite all the physical pain of the hospital procedures. She desperately wants to belong, to be part of a family.

Update Sept 2011:  Bethany is extremely bright child…despite of the orphanage environment, her mental development is far beyond her age group. You should see how she responds to the questions and how she comments…she is so funny and so cheerful. She can sit without a help, but she is still not walking.
 
More information and a video from June 2011 is available for interested families.  More pictures available.  Potential families must have good medical coverage and be comfortable financially.
 
$9585.30 is available towards the cost of my adoption!


Bethany has been waiting for so long for a family to choose her.  Well, here is some good news that might help:  

1.  Did you see her grant?  People who love sweet Bethany have donated nearly $10,000 to her adoption grant!

2.  Read this glowing report, written last year by volunteers who worked with Bethany (referred to as "Rita" in these quotes):
What our volunteers said about Rita

“Rita sat for the first time in her life! Finally! She sat for ten whole minutes. It made me cry. Imagine, she finally saw things that she had never seen before – falling leaves, a yard-keeper outside. She noticed that his hat was “soft”. Rita is now more mobile. She is crawling in her playpen and can move her legs. She is not afraid to roll over!”

“You've got to believe us, she is not only the most advanced of all the orphans we have ever seen, she is a true genius! She talks non-stop and knows a lot of things that even “regular” children her age don't know.”

“Rita recited me a poem and I told her a story about two silly hamsters. She asked me why the hamsters were laughing and immediately answered that question herself. “Because they are kind and silly, and because they got their grain stash!” When it was time to go, I hugged her and she said that my hair was “tickly”
3.  Sweet Bethany has made huge gains since the last report was written!  Check out the latest update:
Doctors at the European Medical Center have presented Bethany with a wheelchair, and Bethany moves herself on that wheelchair very dexterously, turning wheels with her little hands.
Bethany plays in a hospital’s playroom with a boy, the same age and OI stage 3 as Bethany, however that boy is walking, and Bethany is not. The only difference between them is that Bethany is an orphan, and boy is staying at the hospital with his Mom. The staff of the orphanage loves Bethany dearly but they can not substitute family’s effort to make a child walk.
The most ground-breaking news: Bethany CAN STAND now! She can stand without anybody’s help, holding bed’s post! Just imagine how happy Bethany was standing first time by herself on the floor! Hopefully, around New Year holidays, Bethany could start walking using orthoses, splints or walkers…
The personnel of the orphanage, who loves Rita very much and greets Rita every morning as their most beloved and important boss, already prepared a pair of special beautiful little shoes!
Bethany has a new nanny; today is nanny’s first day, but she already is under spell of our Asian princess’s charm.
Nanny says that Bethany is extremely smart and that is why it is so easy for Bethany to master geometrical forms, drawing, counting and so on: today they practiced counting backwards.
Currently Bethany can sit and turn in bed, can stand: her bones and back muscles are stronger, her legs are longer, she is growing rapidly, and, consequently, her body deformations are less severe.


If you would like to learn more about OI, check out this website:  http://www.oif.org/site/PageServer
Bethany could have a long and wonderful life!  Yes, she will have broken bones.  Yes, she will be in pain at times.  This is true for her whether she remains an orphan or is adopted.  But how much sweeter could her life be if she had a mommy and daddy to shower her with hugs and kisses, to sing to her, to gaze into her eyes and tell her that she is a precious jewel, loved unconditionally, created in the image of God?  
I believe that somewhere out there, there is a family who has a place in their hearts for this sparkling gem of a girl.  There must be!  She is so precious.  Here are the requirements for adopting from her region:


Region 15 – General Information

  • 2-3 trips 
  • 1st trip, Both parents for 5-7 days
  • Wait 2-3 months for court
  • Both parents travel for 2nd trip, one can leave after 4 days
  • 10-day waiting period is NOT waived for special needs
  • Only one parent would need to return after the 10-day wait
  • Up to 8 children in the home if the family income is sizeable (the adopted child being the 8th child)
  • Both parents must be younger than 60 years
  • EASY TRAVEL IN-COUNTRY
  • Fee includes orphanage donation
  • Married couples and single mothers may apply
  • Un-related children may not be adopted simultaneously
  • Total program and travel fees approx $35-40K
And if you are a real fan of this little darling, here is one more video clip.  This one is from last year, June 2010.  This kid is CUTE!  

She is funny.  She is sweet.  She is a smart little 
cracker-jack.  She is tough.  She is determined.  She can accomplish amazing, wonderful things, if only someone will give her the chance.  She is adored by her caretakers.  She desperately longs for a family to choose her.  Please consider Bethany!  Share her story.  Donate to her account.  Pray for her family to find her, and to find out who they've been missing!


Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Box of Joy

You have probably heard of Operation Christmas Child, right?  If not, it's an opportunity to fill a shoe box with gifts for a child who otherwise may not receive gifts for Christmas.  The boxes are shipped by Samaritan's Purse, an amazing ministry organization, all over the world, and presented to children who own very little.  In the hands of that child, it is a box of joy!  


Isaac was so excited to spend his hard-earned allowance on gifts to fill a shoebox this year.  He had a blast shopping, and trying to get the most for his money!  Now his only problem is trying to figure out how to cram all that good stuff into one tiny box!  


And because Isaac wants to be a movie-maker IS a movie-maker, he made the following video to share his ideas for how to pack a shoebox:  
video
Isaac is hoping and praying that this box may find it's way into the hands of one of his new brothers in Eastern Europe.  I think as he shopped he was picturing the box being opened by Gideon or Micah.  Stranger things have happened, I suppose, but I told him there are lots and LOTS of other kids who need a box, too.  All over the world!  And besides, HOPEFULLY his new brothers will be coming HOME right around then, and we can just shower them with gifts right here!  He is cool with that!  :)

Costume Party

Isaac's Cub Scout pack had a Harvest Party, and the kids all dressed up:
Isaac was SO EXCITED to win the Scout's Choice Award for his costume!
He found the cheeseburger at a thrift store and then he worked so hard to figure out
how to make a root beer hat and french fry shoes.
Oh, and it wouldn't be complete without ketchup and mustard!
Silly boy!

Josiah dug through our dress-up bin to come up with this winning look:
monkey jacket, frog feet, tie, and sunglasses.  Makes total sense, right?

And Gracie?  She's been going back and forth for the last month between princess and pink kitty cat.
So what's this?  All of a sudden she was a duck.  And there was no changing her mind.
Never mind the pink kitty ears and tail mommy made!
Never mind the swishy pink gown and tiara.
She found this duck outfit at the bottom of the dress-up bin.
I don't think the kids have even tried this outfit on in a couple of years.
It's always just sort of forgotten.
But today Gracie discovered the duck!
She loves the duck.
If it's a duck she wants to be, then a duck she shall be!
She's quacking in the picture (of course!)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

SUBMITTED!

We were submitted today!  Which basically means that our huge packet of paperwork has been translated and submitted to the government of our boys' country.  So now . . . . we wait.  Some more.  Normally being submitted is a huge, exciting, pack-your-bags-get-ready-to-leave-at-a-moment's-notice type of announcement.  But not right now.  This country is not issuing travel dates right now.  Their government is in the midst of restructuring their adoption department, and everybody's paperwork, once submitted, is being held until the restructuring is complete and the new adoption department gets up and running.  We are being told it is likely to be December when they give us an appointment in their country.  Not all that much longer.  It just seems like it right now.  Because these little loves
are really starting to wonder if their new brothers will ever be home.  Poor little Josiah was getting pretty upset about it last night.  He looked like he was about to cry when he said, "Mom, are my new brothers EVER going to come home?  Cuz' I don't think they are ever really going to come.  They're not coming, Mom!  They are never coming, are they?"  

You have to understand that my kids have already lost siblings more than once . . . we have tried to adopt through foster care three times, and all three times those kids have ended up being moved to go back to biological families.  Their last loss was perhaps the worst.  Their two-year-old foster sister, whom they all adored, was moved very abruptly to return to her birth mother after we had been told for months that she would soon be free for adoption.  While we had never promised our kids that she would be their "forever sister," they talked about it constantly and assumed that she would stay.  We all did.  And when she left, our kids really grieved.  They still miss her so much.  

While our kids are very excited to get their new brothers home, and especially excited that they will be FOREVER BROTHERS and not brothers that might have to move out at any time, they are definitely feeling the stress of the uncertainty right now.  They are hesitant to even talk about the boys lately, it seems.  "Are they really coming, Mom?"  "Mom, if Gideon really comes . . ."  I hear these things all the time.  And truly, I cannot promise them anything yet.  They do know that at this point, we are HOPING to adopt these boys.  They are aware that plans could still change.  We could still be told that these boys are no longer available for adoption.  There is no reason to think that will happen, but it could.  So I have had to make sure the kids know that, too.  Because their hearts have already been broken too many times.  

Once the brothers are home, I think it will be such a relief for them to KNOW that this is different.  That this time they can really bond completely.  This time they won't have to guard their hearts.  This time there will be no social worker showing up to take their brothers back to "the other mom."  Very soon, we will know.  Very soon, we will be able to tell them, "These are your brothers forever."  But right now, the uncertainty.  It is hard to guide them through this.  It is hard for all of us.






Friday, October 21, 2011

This little guy has been on my heart for awhile now.  
Look at his little face!  
How sweet, right?  

No, this is not my Gideon, although I have to say he does look a lot like my boy!  This is Igor.  Igor is waiting in eastern Europe, in Gideon's country.  Waiting in an institution.  Yep, he's already been transferred.  Just like my Gideon.  But unlike Gideon, he's still waiting.  Waiting to be chosen.  Waiting to be discovered, scooped up, and smothered in kisses.  Waiting for much-needed therapy and surgeries.  Waiting for a chance to show what he is capable of.  Waiting for a chance to shine.  Waiting for somebody to love him.  Just as he is.  


From his Reece's Rainbow profile:



BOY, Born November 26, 2004
HELP, I'VE ALREADY BEEN TRANSFERRED!
This handsome young man is another of a growing number of children who were born with arthrogryposis. 
His hands seem to be unaffected, but he is unable to walk at this time.  He is described as very loving and affectionate and friendly! 
Igor is facing the institution and will remain bedridden for the rest of his life…he needs a family like you!

Donations will be accepted for this child when further information is received.





 Igor looks like such a spunky, bright little guy.  Can you imagine him bedridden?  For the rest of his life?  He is about to turn seven years old.  He ought to be in first grade.  He ought to be the light of some mommy and daddy's life.  He ought to be free to blossom and grow.  


Many of you are probably already familiar with www.covenantbuilders.blogspot.com, the awesome adoption blog of the Nalle family.  If you haven't discovered their blog yet, I encourage you to visit!  Their adorable little boy, Aaron, also has arthrogryposis, and he was adopted from the same country last year.  So as you look at little Igor, almost seven years old and waiting for his mommy and daddy to find him, I encourage you to consider Aaron, the shining precious jewel that the Nalle family has been blessed with.  Just imagine Igor.  How he could shine with the love of a family.  How mightily a family could be blessed by adopting this little boy.  


Almost seven years old.  Too old?  I don't think so!  Igor is very loving!  He is affectionate and friendly.  And he is so precious.  Donations cannot be made to his fund yet.  This is because not enough information has been received about him yet.  And with no grant fund, I worry that he will be that much more likely to be overlooked.  But it is certainly possible for a family to inquire about him.  He needs a family.  He has already been waiting for so long.


I wonder about Igor.  Would he be a cuddle-bug, or a busy explorer?  Would he love music, or art, or telling knock-knock jokes?  Can you imagine him in Cub Scouts, or singing praise songs at church every Sunday?  Would he love animals?  Or cars?  Or dinosaurs?  Would he love to listen to the same story again and again?  Nobody knows.  And that is the thing.  Nobody knows who this little guy was created to be.  He is waiting, patiently waiting, for somebody to come and find out. He is a treasure, waiting to be discovered.  I am praying for the family lucky enough to be his.  





Saturday, October 15, 2011

Out Of Our Hands

Our dossier is complete.  It has been notarized.  Checked for accuracy.  Cried over.  Redone.  Double checked.  Apostilled.  Triple checked. Prayed over.  Boxed up.  Weighed.  Addressed.  And shipped to Eastern Europe.  Goodbye dossier!  It is out of our hands!    
Most of you reading this blog know exactly what I'm talking about, because you've been there!  For those of you not so painfully familiar with the international adoption journey, the dossier is a great big old stack of documents detailing every single aspect of our lives:  financial, medical, professional, personal, etc.  There are multiple background checks.  There are in-depth summaries of our entire lives.  There are letters of petition, letters of obligation, letters for name declarations, letters for interpol clearance, letter of home ownership, letter of employment, letters about everything!  There are multiple copies of multiple personal documents for both Derek and I.  Why do they need four copies of each of our passports?  Each notarized and apostilled, at $15 per document?  Who knows.  We do it because it's on the list.  And then there are copies of the licenses for all the professionals who contributed documents to the dossier.  Our doctor's medical license.  Our social worker's license.  The agency's license.  I'm telling you, this dossier is a triumph!  A beautiful mountain of completed paperwork!  It represents hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of document requests, apostilling, translation, and shipping fees.  It represents months worth of phone calls, appointments, begging, pleading, letter writing, typing, printing, sitting in the notary's office at the bank, and waiting.  Lots of waiting.

And it is finally out of our hands.

Whew!  I feel lighter.

So now we wait some more.  It took so much longer than we had hoped it would.  There were so many delays.  A month here.  A week there.  A few days here.  It all added up.  But I know that we personally did not waste a single day.  From the day we committed to adopting Gideon, not a single day has been squandered on our part.  If there was something to be done, we have done it.  If there was somebody to call and pester and nag politely remind and make inquiries, I have called.  These delays have all been due to waiting on other people.  It has been SO FRUSTRATING, but we have trusted God every step of the way, prayed through every delay, and never wasted an opportunity to move things forward.  If it meant dropping everything to drive for hours to pick up a document the day it was completed, we have done it.  If it meant Derek taking a day off work that we can scarcely afford, we have done it.  We have done what we can.  

And now we are really trying to trust the Lord.  Because honestly, we may be too late.  The fact that this dossier was not sent two or three weeks ago could mean months more waiting for our children.  There are deadlines looming in the country we are adopting from, and it looks as though we may have just missed those deadlines.  But we are trusting God.  His plan is to give these boys a future and a hope.  He has a good plan for them!  He has not forgotten them.  And so we are trusting.  

Nobody seems to know for sure whether these deadlines are really going to happen or not.  Nobody seems to know how long the shutdown may last, if it is actually implemented.  Nobody seems to know when we may be invited to travel.  Nobody seems to know if our boys are okay.  So much is uncertain right now.  But God knows.  

Please pray for our process, and for the processes of so many other families currently in a similar situation as ours.  So many families waiting.  So many children waiting.  Please pray for miracles and good news from our children's country!     

And let me leave with you some sweet pictures from the pumpkin patch:











Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Walking In

This morning we woke up at 4 am, buckled half-sleeping kiddos into carseats, and set out for Seattle!  By 7 am, we were standing, bright-eyed and paperwork-in-hand, in front of the USCIS office, ready to beg and plead, if necessary, to get our fingerprints taken.  You see, our appointment is not until October 24th.  We just got the appointment letter in the mail yesterday.  So we decided to walk in early and hope and pray that they would agree to take our fingerprints early.  We learned a few things today, by the way:


1.  There is a $7 parking fee to get into the building.  We are from a small town.  Pay to park?  What's that?  Isaac was completely puzzled at how it could COST MONEY to park a car!  He went on and on about it all day.  "What about that car?  Do they have to pay to park there?  How about that one?!?"  Oy.  


2.  We got to walk through a metal detector.  If you think the "Pay to Park" topic captivated my Isaac, you should have heard him go on and on about weapons in the building!  "But what if someone hid a knife inside their boots?  And then said it was just the rivets on his boots making the wand beep?  But what if someone threw a knife over the metal detector?  But what if someone has metal fillings in his teeth?  But what if . . . "  Yeah. And then the whole "But why would someone bring a knife into this building?  What would they do with it?  Cub Scouts have pocket knives.  Dad, why did you have to leave your pocket knife in the car?"  etc.  etc.  etc . . . . Isaac is so innocent.  He could not think of a reason why a knife would not be allowed.  


3.  They don't actually open the fingerprinting window until 8 a.m.  In case you are planning on walking in to the Seattle office, you might as well get an extra hour of sleep.  Being there at 7 did us no good.  


4.  Nobody smiles at the USCIS office.  It is a VERY SERIOUS place!  


5.  We were the minority in the building, being so very white and English-speaking.


6.  Other people's kids are a lot better at being quiet and sitting still for two hours than mine!  


7.  They may tell you that chances are slim of your fingerprints being processed if you walk in early.  They may point to the sign that says, "If you are here on a day other than your scheduled appointment day, please reschedule your appointment."  They may frown and shake their heads.  They may listen to your impassioned plea with a blank look of official purpose on their faces and then politely direct you to the waiting area.  They may make you wait and wait, wondering, with your stomach tied up in knots . . .


8.  They take pity on people who walk in and beg to be fingerprinted!  After about an hour, they managed to squeeze us in, and then we were in and out in about ten minutes!  


Success!  


We love those serious, official people at our USCIS office!  


When we got back outside, Josiah ran outside, arms spread wide, and yelled, "Outside!"  He was so delighted to get out of that clean, quiet, serious building!  Yeah, he's a country boy.  Not so big on being cooped up indoors!  He seemed surprised that it was still light outside.  He asked, "Is it almost bedtime?"  It was not quite 10 a.m.  


Then, to make the day not quite so boring for our sweet kids, we decided to ride a ferry boat over to Bremerton and back!  This was their first time on a ferry boat, and they were so excited!  They explored every inch of that boat!  
















Cool, breezy sea air, seagulls swooping, beautiful scenery, the gentle lap of waves, giggling skipping kids stomping in puddles on the ferry deck, and one giant step closer to getting two sweet brothers home . . .
What's not to love?