Sunday, April 28, 2013

Finding joy

Dear Readers,
  Ever since December, when Benjamin had hand surgery and we found out about the surgery this summer, the theme of our house has been "joy". We made cookies that spelled out the word, and every time we found ourselves feeling upset and not in a celebratory mood, we made more cookies. Haha okay, so we didn't bake EVERY time we felt upset. Just a lot of the time. :) 

But actually, for as long as I can remember, anytime I've felt upset, Mom has reminded me that joy is a choice. It's impossible to always feel joy. You have to make a conscious effort to do so. And although by nature I'm kind of a glass-half-full kind of person, it doesn't take much to steal my joy. Surgeries snatch it away in an instant. 

So this season we have all made an effort to find joy...
I've found that where thankfulness is, joy is, also. And so about once a month I've been writing down a list of things I'm thankful for in my journal, in an effort to find, and keep, that joy. This month I thought I'd share a few on here. :) 

The small things are really my favorite things. I'm fairly certain going to the grocery store with Mom and Cate has been on my list before, haha. But today my first thing is going to be...

1.) Having a birthday party. I didn't really want to have one, but my brothers did, and so we had one...and I am thankful that we did! I really enjoyed it and still laugh to think of it. It was a lot of  fun to dress up and see dear friends. 

2.) Seeing Berkeley listed on the 'My Family Found Me' page on Reece's Rainbow...she is one of my favorite little angels listed and seeing she had a family made my heart smile! 

3.) Going on a field trip to the Japanese friendship gardens on our actual was actually a  very funny experience. We wanted to be at the hospital in time to have lunch with Dad, but on the way to the gardens we were talking on Mom's phone. Henceforth, we had no directions. Sooo I told Mom to turn when I saw a building that looked kind of like it could be the Japanese friendship gardens, and got us lost. Haha! We ended up getting to spend a good 45 minutes there before getting to the hospital, though, so that was good. :) I actually really loved getting to drive around trying to find it, hehe (I told you I loved the small things, remember? :)) And lunch with Dad was wonderful, too. 

4.) (this will be my last one since it is the fourth month of the year, after all...)

Getting to spend time with my sweet friend yesterday. One of the main reasons I dislike parties is because I feel as if I only get about five minutes with everyone. So although I loved getting to see her last Saturday at our party, it was even more of  a treat to get to spend the day catching up yesterday! Sweet friends make life so much more joyful, and yesterday was such a gift. 

What are four things that you are thankful for this month? 

"Those who sow in tears
    shall reap with shouts of joy!
 He who goes out weeping,
    bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
    bringing his sheaves with him." ~Psalm 126:5-6

I hope you have a joy-filled May. Your blogger,

Friday, April 26, 2013

Interested in adoption? Reece's Rainbow

photo courtesy of Mellissa 
Dear Readers,
    Russia's ban on adoptions broke my heart. It's like I'm being punched in the stomach every time I go to Reece's Rainbow and realize this child or that child no longer has a family coming for them.
When I see anything remotely related to Russia on the news, I stop whatever I'm doing and give it all my attention. But it's never the news I want to hear. People are saying they may never allow us to adopt those kids. My heart breaks for these precious children, and I long to scoop them all up into my arms.

     Now there's nothing for us to do but pray for Russia. So we will pray. And in the meantime, there are many many many other precious babies waiting who are NOT in Russia.

  Latvia is another country that has many orphans waiting for their families. Like Russia, children with special needs are institutionalized. And they deserve families just as much as these Russian children do!
   Dee Etheridge (from answered some of my questions on her experience adopting her daughter from Latvia, and has graciously allowed me to share them here! I hope the answers encourage you. I found them very insightful, and have to say, they gave me the itch to adopt from Latvia! :) Enjoy, dear ones!

Why did you decide to adopt from Latvia? I found my child first and then luckily she was in a country I was able to adopt from

How did you find your children? Were they listed on Reece's Rainbow? I'm a foster parent and while at a meeting someone mentioned the book The Connected Child. When I googled the book, it linked it to Reece's Rainbow. That was sometime around spring of 2011. I was immediately hooked. But I was looking at it as an advocate and providing financial support for families and children. I saw Darya (listed as Brigita on RR) that summer. I had started doing daily prayers for certain children and families and Darya was one I prayed for daily. I fell in love with her beautiful smile! I honestly did not feel Darya's chances of adoption were good given her description and age. It wasn't until Sept. that I felt/heard God tell me that Darya was my daughter. It was an experience I had never had before and cannot even describe fully. It was like I had instantly fallen in love with Darya. It was a tough decision though. I am single and was very scared about adopting a
child with special needs, esp. being so very low functioning. It was extremely emotional. But I knew in my heart that Darya was my daughter and that I couldn't go one without her. 

What were the conditions of the orphanage/institution like? Darya was transferred to her institution in 2009 when she was 4yo. It was very clean, the children were separated into groups and lived in what looked like small apartments, and there was a playground there. When we went on the first trip, it was their summer and so they let the kids go outside twice a day. I'm not sure if they got to go out like that when its cold. The children were clean. The girls had long hair and it was fixed nicely. Darya was very clean. There were about 6-7 kids in each group. They just recently added a school on the campus. Darya had not started yet but was supposed to start that Sept. The caregivers seemed to genuinely care about the kids. However, Darya does have a lot of learned behaviors that are concerning (biting, hitting, pinching) and self-plays being choked, bit, spanked, pinched, pulls her hair, slapping herself in the face, etc. I don't think she was abused
necessarily. I think a lot of this behavior likely came from other kids. While I was there, a much older boy/young man kept pulling her coat to choke her and pulling her hair. 

What would you tell someone considering adopting from Latvia/ considering adopting a child with special needs? In regards to special needs, research everything you can and have as little expectation for your child as possible. Even for their future. A family met Darya in 2010 and shared their experience (and pictures) with me. Based on that, I was expecting a very listless, extremely delayed child with other issues aside from Ds. I was pleasantly surprised to find Darya in much better shape and development. 

In regards to Latvia, be prepared for many trips and long stays. But, this country allows you the opportunity to bring your child home the first trip! Its a fantastic blessing (with added financial problems though). But I'd do it again. Latvia is beautiful and a wonderful place to visit. But it can be expensive. Bring some food yourself. In addition, multiple unrelated children can be adopted together. 

How many trips did you make to Latvia during the adoption process? 3 trips total. The 1st trip is to meet your child. The child(ren) stay with the family in an apartment or home for 10-14 days or so. This is for a bonding period. If you want to adopt multiple children, the children have to spend this bonding time together. Social workers visit you in the home to check on the child and see how bonding is doing. This trip is about 17 days. Both parents travel this trip. 

After you come home, you get the paperwork together and apply for the I800a. The 2nd trip comes after this and the article 5 are received (the embassy does that based on the approved I800a). This is the actual adoption hearing. Latvia has a mandatory 20 day appeal period. Only 1 parent needed. If the child is over 12yo and went home after the 1st trip, the child has to return for this trip. 

The 3rd trip is after the 20 day appeal period. This is to get the new birth certificate, passport, medical, and Visa. This trip is about a week. I believe only 1 parent for this one as well and the child has to travel this trip. 

How are your children doing now that they are home? Darya is doing fantastic! She has transitioned well and is learning so much. She was taught basically nothing and I'm not sure what she understood or didn't understand in her language. But she has caught on to English really well and follows simple commands well. Her self-injurious and self-stemming behaviors are getting better. She hits, bites, and pinches people all the time but its not as fierce and hard as it was in the beginning. She is learning sign language and definitely has potential to learn to speak some. She can quack and makes other noises that mimic syllables/words. She still doesn't really play and the self-play of hurting herself is a bit sad. She is becoming more and more healthy. Her hair and skin glow and her physical abilities are getting better (though she has really good muscle tone anyway). She loves to snuggle, loves to have you sing to her, loves music in general, and loves to
swing! She is so much easier than I was expecting but at the same time is a lot of work. I think she is fantastic (though I may be biased). 

   If you are interested in adopting, visit for more information. And please remember to keep those precious kiddos in Russia in your prayers. Your Blogger,

Friday, April 19, 2013

Beautiful news!! Reece's Rainbow waiting child

Do y'all remember Sebastian? I posted about him ten days before my birthday. 
I talked about how his birthday is about a week after mine.

And how if he didn't have a family by then...

he would never have one.

WELL guess what? 

SEBASTIAN HAS A FAMILY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"....Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning." ~Psalm 30:5

I'm so thankful morning has come for Sebastian. May the Lord bless and strengthen his family as they work to bring him home, and protect his heart as he waits! I'm so thankful that his 16th birthday will, despite the odds, be filled with joy. Thank you, Jesus.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

What's it like to be a triplet?

Whenever someone tells you "Happy Birthday", you automatically respond with "Happy birthday to you, too"....

Because in your house, that's generally an appropriate response. :) 

So Happy Birthday week, Benjamin and Mason! I'm so thankful to be your triplet!

And to the rest of you, who are NOT celebrating a birthday this week; I'm sorry. No, just kidding--a very merry UNbirthday to you, dear readers! 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Ten days...

In just ten days Benjamin, Mason and I will be sixteen years old. 

Just eight days after that, this young man will turn sixteen. 

So close in age...
and yet our stories are completely different.

He lives in an orphanage in Eastern Europe...

I live with my loving family...

His birthday means he no longer has a chance of having a family...

My day will be spent celebrating with my parents and siblings...

"16" means homelessness for him....

It means getting to drive and volunteer at Phoenix Childrens' Hospital for me...

Please be praying for all of the orphans who will be turning sixteen this year. Please pray for protection of their hearts and bodies. Please especially be praying for Sebastian. He will be on my heart all month.