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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Aching heart

I know it has been a long time since I've posted.  To be totally honest, life has gotten in the way.  At the beginning of the school year, I decided that I would only work one day per week.  It would leave me with plenty of time to do things that needed done.  I'm not sure how, but that has not happened.  I am working more now than I did in the summertime.  We are also in the process of trying to sell our house.  We LOVE our house and our land, but it simply isn't big enough for us.  The living space is very limited and it seems that we are always underneath each others feet.  I'm sure it drives the boys just as nuts as it does me and Honey.  At the end of the day, I just don't have the mental drive to get a blog post up.

The reason for my post is probably understood....my heart is aching for all the families in Connecticut (and beyond) that were touched by yesterday's tragedy.  I managed to spend most of the day disconnected from the happenings at a school (that in reality isn't that far from here) in another state.  Honey came home from work and we talked about it a little bit.  Then the news special came on and I found my stomach in knots and tears streaming down my face.  I looked at my husband and said, "How do you even go home?  How do you walk in your front door and look around and see everything that reminds you of your little one and not just crumple to the floor never to get up?  How do you see your Christmas tree and the gifts so neatly wrapped sitting underneath it knowing that your child will never get to unwrap them?"  My heart was pounding and I wanted to run upstairs and wake up the boys just to tell them again that I love them.  I just cannot imagine dropping my boys off at school and finding out an hour later that some lunatic came into their school and destroyed so many lives. 

Several weeks ago, Honey and I were talking about adding another child to our family.  This has been an ongoing conversation for some time.  He said that he would be happy when we had our third child home and we could just focus on our family.  I nodded and he said, "Will you be satisfied once we adopt our third?"  I thought about that for a few minutes before I responded.  You see, it's not just about wanting more children.  Having said that, I have always wanted a lot of kids, but it is so much bigger than that!  When you adopt, your heart is changed....and I'm sure it is the same for foster adoptions as it is with international adoptions.  When you see the need first hand, you are compelled to do what you can.  When you see the faces of children that need nothing more than love and a family, you want to bring home as many as you can.  I have heard a quote, "Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names.  They are easier to ignore before you see their faces."  This is truer than you could realize, unless you have been there and touched their scared faces or had a touch starved child wrap their arms around your neck somehow willing you to take them home. 

My heart is aching tonight for those families that have lost their children, but also for the children that have yet to find their family.  My prayers are with all of them. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Help Porter come home

Imagine being a 7 year old and being taken from everything you have ever known.  You had been living in a baby home that wasn't the best, but it was your home.  You were taken to a very dark place where the other boys there had nothing to do all day but sit in a shed and rock.  But you don't even have that luxury.  Since you can't walk on your own, you are put in a crib and left there.  That is the reality for poor little Porter.  But there is something you can do to help!!  There is a family who is working to get him and the only thing standing in their way to send their dossier to get him is money.  It's a sad fact that money is a roadblock so often that keeps a family from a child and keeps that child from coming into a family and home. 

My friend, Julia, is having a giveaway to help this family.  Today is the last day of the giveaway, and there are some really cool prizes!  Can you spare $5?  Or can you share this with your friends?  That's all it takes to get a chance to win!!  Go here please and help!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Wow....an update? Really?

I was, um, reminded yesterday that I had not posted an update in some time.  It's strange how quickly time passes when you have two active little boys who are constantly moving.  I have also been working more hours lately.  Every dollar counts.  Ok, enough excuses...on to the updates. 

There are so many new things.  First off, Fuad is 100% potty trained!!!  We are completely done with pull-ups at our house...even at night!  Vlado still has a problem staying dry at night unless we wake him up and have him go.  Fuad has been dry every morning since we stopped the pull-ups.  He is really good about racing to the bathroom as soon as he gets up.  He has had a few minor accidents at school, but I think most of that is because they go directly from lunch to the playground without a stop at the bathroom. All of his accidents have been as they are coming in from recess.

And on that subject, all I can say is UGH!  The boys had summer school this summer and Fuad did very well.  At the beginning of the regular school year, I was told that he was having a few meltdowns.  The biggest was at the end of the day when he didn't get on the bus like the rest of the kids.  I kind of expected that because he has a thing for buses.  Thankfully, we were able to get that under control and there is no longer a fit at the end of the day.  Other than that, I was told that he does pretty well.  Last week, I was in his class as a volunteer to do a nature program.  He was, for lack of a better word, a complete and total jerk.  He wanted to be on the computer, but he was being made to be with the rest of the class (with his aid right beside him) for the nature lesson.  I believe he knew that I wasn't able to do anything about his behavior because I was teaching a lesson.  I saw him throw himself to the floor, scream, try to head bang the aid (like he did to me in Serbia when he left a knot on my head), flail all over and almost kicked another child and he did make contact and kick his aid.  I was SHOCKED!  We have not seen that type of behavior at home since the first week he was home.  I think what is happening is that he is still trying to figure out if the teachers and aids at school are really in charge.  He KNOWS we are in charge at home and does not try to push boundaries (too much anyway).  We are going to try something new on Wednesday.  I work on Mon and Tues or I would try it on at least one of those days.  I am going to hang out at the school.  I won't be in his classroom all the time.  I will just be available for when he throws a fit.  He won't know when I will pop in to check on his behavior.  It just really irritates me that he is doing this stuff.  He knows how to do his work....I know this because we have him do the same type of stuff at home.  And he sits and does it with no fussing.  His teacher told me that everything they ask him to results in fussing.  He just wants to do what he wants to do when he wants to do it.  UGH!

We took Fuad to the doctor the other day.  He has been home almost 5 months and has not gained an ounce.  In fact, he has lost a little over a pound.  And...he has grown 3 inches!  He is still in the healthy range for BMI but barely.  They took his blood and are going to check him for diabetes, his thyroid level and also for celiac disease.  If all of those are normal, I'm not sure what we will do.  He eats the same amount as Vlado (I checked with the school and he does, in fact, eat all his lunch everyday).  Vlado is thriving and Fuad is not.  It is very confusing.  I just can't imagine that he is getting less calories than he was in the orphanage.

We went on vacation to Maine right before school started.  Vlado was so different with the ocean this time.  The last time he saw the "big water" he was terrified.  He got a little better but never really trusted the waves.  This time, he LOVED it!  I took him out into the deeper water and he had a blast getting pounded by the water, well, until he got water in his mouth. :)  Fuad was so afraid!  We eventually just let him be and he decided the water wasn't too bad.  He didn't go into the deeper water, but he walked into it a bit and decided to enjoy himself.

We went to an aquarium too.  The boys enjoyed looking at the fish but Fuad wasn't too happy about sitting down for a picture or two.



Both of the boys LOVE being outside.  It's sad that lately it has been so rainy and overall crappy outside.  I can't wait until the snow flies.  I wonder how much Fuad has been able to play in the snow.  We get lots of it here (since we live on a mountain). Having 2-3 feet isn't a shocking thing here.



We went on a hike last weekend.  The first few minutes, Fuad fussed and moaned and groaned.  Then, out of the blue, he seemed to change his attitude.  He kept up with Honey and Vlado.  If it wasn't for me having an asthma attack, we probably would have made it to the top of the mountain we were climbing.



The other day, I walked into the kitchen and found the boys in these boxes.  They were pushing themselves along and making car noises.  It amazes me to finally see imagination in Vlado.  Having a little brother has helped him grow!

 
So, overall, we are doing very well.  One other minor detail...we finally decided on a new name for our boy.  :)  We originally wanted to rename him Viktor and keep Fuad as his middle name.  When we were in Serbia, we started calling him Viktor Fuad but it just never felt right.  Viktor was just too strong of a name for our timid boy.  So, we got home and dropped Viktor and just called him Fuad....he never was officially Viktor anyway. We were told that we didn't need to readopt him to change his name so it wasn't a rush to figure it out.  Well, about a month ago (or maybe it was longer), we decided on a name.  We went to vital records and filled out the paperwork.  We got his birth certificate in the mail a couple weeks ago.  So, he is now officially Luka Fuad Breen.  Nothing has really changed though because he still goes by his middle name.  I'm not sure we will ever transition him to Luka, but I still love the name and it does fit him.  So, that is the long and short of what we've been up to lately. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

It matters.....people helping people

I know, I know....you all deserve an update on Fuad and Vlado.  It will come soon....I promise!  But for now, there is something else a little more pressing.

My friend, Tara, and her husband are wonderful people who currently have seven kids.  One of their boys, Simeon (lovingly called Eon), is blessed with an extra chromosome.  He, in turn, has blessed his family.  They have been so blessed that they decided that they wanted to add another child to their family that is blessed with that same extra special chromosome. :)

Tara and Shawn are adopting....and not just from anywhere!  Their 8th child is coming home from Serbia. Their dossier should be on its way there this week.  Due to the fact that Serbia is very quick once  your dossier arrives at the Ministry, they might be traveling in 3-4 weeks!

While they have plenty of resources to care for this wonderful child once he/she is home, they are still a little short in the department of the lump sum that is needed when they travel.  Now, you know that most people don't have thousands of dollars just sitting in the bank.  This is where you, my loyal readership, come in.  Please visit her blog and show her a little love. :)  She has a chip-in where you can donate.  Really, any amount is appreciated and will help so much.

 Now, I have a little gift for you.  For the next 15 people who donate at least $10 to Tara's adoption fund, I will send you 5 starfish Christmas ornaments. All of the ornaments are hand made and will vary in colors and/or charms (some have bells).


 If you have never read the "Starfish story" you really should.   I realize that $150 isn't a huge amount and many will say "what will it matter?"  But that is the whole point, right?  If we all do a little, together we can do HUGE things!   Comment here to let me know you have donated and leave me  your address.  I will moderate comments on this post so your info won't be made public. :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Surgery day

I was really nervous for today.  When I first took Fuad to the urologist, I was told that his surgery, since it wasn't an emergency, would  probably not be scheduled until late September.  Two weeks ago, they called to let us know that it had been scheduled...for July 25th.  And that day is today.  He was having a two part surgery involving his, um, little boy parts.

The hospital arranged for a translator to be there and she was really good with him.  He didn't seem to respond to her nearly as well as he did the nurse who spoke Serbian to him last week, but it was still nice to have her there.  I'm not sure that he understood much of what she told him about the procedure, but once again, it was nice that the hospital arranged to have her there.

He was not nervous at all before the surgery. In fact, he buzzed around the pre-op area playing with the toys and making everyone fall in love with him.  I went with him to the OR and they had me hold him while they did the initial anesthesia.  I had tears in my eyes as I put him down and walked out of the room.  Now, I am no stranger to operating rooms.  The difference is that I am usually the one on the table.  The first time that you hand your child over to a surgeon, even with a not terribly complicated surgery, it sucks!

The hour and a half that it took for his procedures went rather quickly.  I am happy that I brought my crochet with me....it makes time FLY!  When I finally got to go back, the translator went with me.  She was more  upset that I was.  I am one of those people that can stay pretty calm during a situation...it's after that I get upset.  (like being fine while holding Fuad as he went to sleep but being teary after)  Our translator, however, was so upset, and he wasn't even awake yet.  As he started waking up, he began the saddest whimpering.  A dose of tylenol with codeine and some apple juice later, he seemed ok.  He kept trying to touch the area of the surgery and I was told to keep him from touching it.  That made  him SO ANGRY!  His whimpering turned to full out cries and even a scream or two.  The nurse ended up giving him a couple doses of fentanyl and soon he was quite dopey.  It didn't take long, though, for him to get worked up again about not being allowed to inspect his body.  He continued to get more and more upset.  It was time for him to be discharged and we were just waiting for Honey to get there (he had been at home with Vlado) and he was letting everyone know how displeased he was.  As soon as he climbed in the little red wagon, his cries subsided.  We got outside and even the whimpering stopped.

He didn't seem happy in the car.  He got sick on the way home, but I don't know if it was from the codeine or anesthesia.  But after he got sick, he seemed to be a little better.  Getting home seemed to be just the thing he needed.  I made him a piece of toast and he laid in my lap on the couch nibbling away at his meager dinner.  He got up after he finished and went to the bathroom....and peed.  Now, we were told that he would probably be very afraid of going to the bathroom and we might have to put him in the bath to get him to go.  Well, he proved how tough he is.  Over the next couple hours, he snuggled in my lap looking at a magazine.  Every 10-15 minutes, he would clamber up and pull his shorts down to inspect himself.  It was quite funny actually.  He didn't touch it too much or try to take his dressing off.  He just wanted to see.  Now, he had not had any more pain medication since the fentanyl.  I believe he puked up all the tylenol.  But he was comfortable enough to continually whip down his shorts and whip them back up.  I think some of his crying and stuff at the hospital was because he just wanted to check out what was going on "down there" and wasn't being permitted to even look.

At bedtime, he took his shorts off and put on a pull up like he normally does.  He went to Honey and whispered, "Nite nite, Daddy. I love you."  We have been working on him projecting his voice but whenever we say "louder" he just repeats that word instead of speaking louder.  Tonight, Honey said, "louder" and Fuad said, "NITE NITE DADDY. I LOVE YOU!"  Our little boy has amazed us tonight.  I'm so thankful that God took care of our little boy.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Enormous update....about time, right?

I missed posting that Fuad has been with us for 2 months.  Day after tomorrow is the day that he's been in America for 2 months.  The change in this child is unbelievable.  Do you remember when we were visiting him those first few days and we were very nervous because we couldn't get him to look at us?  Now, he will not only make eye contact (of his own accord) he will continue that eye contact for an extended period!  *I should add that his eye contact is pretty much reserved for us.  Others that he sees only occasionally are not worthy it seems. :)  He is currently trying out that eye contact accompanied by a shy smile.....usually when he is being fussed at for something.  He understands so much more English that Vlado did at this point.  I talk to him in full sentences and he does what is asked...well, most of the time. LOL!  He is 7 after all.  He still jabbers away in Serbian A LOT!  But, when my friends (who know Serbian) talk to him, he just repeats what they say instead of conversing.  He did this in Serbia too though.  As far as using English, he is still pretty much in the identifying stage.  He can identify so many things though!  Some of his words are truck, bus, tractor, airplane, boat (do you sense a theme here?), water, juice, eat, drink, (he also uses a sort of sign for eat and drink), more, please, all done(again he uses signs for those), dog, cat, Mama, Daddy, let's go, shower, and careful.  He also knows how to say and can point to eyes, ears, hair, mouth, teeth, knee, leg, finger, and arm.  I'm sure there are more that I just can't remember right now.  Getting him to open his mouth when he speaks is a struggle.  He keeps his mouth shut almost like a ventriloquist!  But the result is a whisper and mumble at the same time and it is pretty frustrating.  I think he has very little confidence and is still a bit shy with us.  I can imagine that he was told to "be quiet" so much before that learning to project his voice is something that will take more time.  If Vlado is an example though, we will end up having to tell him to use "quiet voices" in no time at all. 

He has finally gotten past the bolting his food and drinks.  But he has now become the pokiest eater of any child I have ever seen.  It takes him 45 minutes to eat lunch.  The funny thing is that he takes the smallest bites.  He nibbles the edge of a sandwich like a bunny but then chews that tiny bite like his mouth is full.  We are teaching him "big bites" and he is finally opening his mouth a bit larger to take in more food.  He eats most anything we put on his plate, but I think he's taking cues from Vlado....thankfully!  We are so super blessed that we have two children that will eat what we give them.   We occasionally have small struggles with him not wanting to eat at all, but when he sees Vlado eating desert, he manages to eat something. :)  Funny thing how much of a motivator a fruit cup can be.

The boys both start ESY (extended school year...a fancy term for summer school) tomorrow.  We put Fuad in school pretty soon after we got home.  We know that many would discourage that, but he was so unhappy when Vlado was at school and he was at home.  Getting him to engage when he is not happy is nearly impossible.  He did GREAT at school!  He learned to count to 10 in less than a week...I was impressed!  He is a pretty intelligent boy....it's amazing that his paperwork had him listed at moderately mentally retarded.  I don't like that word.....but that was their words.  It's astonishing how much children in orphanages are held back by someone's opinion of what they can and cannot do.

He has such an imagination!  Just now, I saw him playing with two dog bones on the floor.  When I looked at what he was doing, I noticed that he had positioned them to look like a see-saw.  He was moving it in the see-saw motion and making little sounds for up and down.  He came to us not knowing how to hold a pencil.  He still has some work to do, but he has improved so much!  He loves drawing on his magnadoodle and is very precise.  He did an phenomenal drawing of an airplane the other day.  We were amazed at his detail.  I didn't realize that I had not even introduced coloring to Fuad until we were at a restaurant last night.  Vlado doesn't enjoy coloring, so it didn't even dawn on me to let Fuad try.  He held the crayons so well and did a pretty good job of staying in the lines.  He even made a color pattern on a butterfly...green, yellow, green, yellow - on its belly.  

Potty training is going pretty well.  That was the thing that I was least looking forward to.  When he is at home, he is in underwear pretty much all the time.  I still haven't tested underwear in public.  I really should try though because he does a very good job of taking himself to the bathroom and he stays dry almost all the time.  He is learning the other part of potty going pretty well too.  I'm not sure what the school will want to do.  If he is wearing a pullup, he doesn't even try to hold it.  So, I guess we will talk to the teacher and see what she wants to do with him.  I will not be sad to see pullups gone from this house!

When we first got home, Fuad was terrified of the dog!!  If she was in the room, Fuad would not do anything but stare at her with a look of horror.  Here's the bad part....the dog quite often lays down under the kids' table.  She and Vlado have been buddies since the get go so it was only natural for her to be close to him.  So, when Fuad came....it was just another set of feet to rub her belly (in her opinion).  But, in Fuad's mind, she was under the table to eat his toes and he would NOT SIT there if she was so close.  Now, however, they are friends.  We are blessed that our dog is very easy going.  Fuad will lay down on the floor right by Bailey's food bowl to watch her eat.  The other day, the dog was laying on the couch.  I looked over to see Fuad's head right by the dog's and he was twirling her tags on her collar and giggling at the tinkling sound. 

I'm sure there are things that I am forgetting....strides he has made and boundaries he has pushed past.  He is a great kid....I can't believe we have been blessed again with such an easy going child.  I wish more people would take a chance and adopt an older child.  They just need a chance to blossom.  I'm so happy that God gave us the opportunity to help him reach his real potential!  I'm sorry there are no pics.  My camera has been MIA since we got home from Serbia.  :( 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Oatmeal packet cookies

Yes, yes, I know that I should do an update on our family.  But, it isn't going to happen at this moment.  I will do my best to get an update up before the end of today.  :)

I have been looking for a recipe for cookies (or something) to use up a ton of oatmeal packets that have been in my pantry way too long.  My pantry is so full of food that I could probably cook from it (and the stock pile in my freezer) for months.  I really need to get that stuff used up before it isn't usable anymore.  So, I finally found a cookie recipe today! :)  I am going to try it this afternoon...but I wanted to get it down so I didn't lose the recipe.


Ingredients:
  • 1/4 c white sugar
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 c butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 egg
  • 6 packets flavored instant oatmeal
  • 1 c flour
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients except flour and oatmeal packets. Stir in flour and oatmeal packets. (The mixture will be sticky due to the milk. If you prefer crisp cookies to chewy ones, eliminate the milk. If you like your cookies chewy and cakey, add an extra tablespoon of milk.)
Roll dough into 1 1/2" balls and drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet, about 2" apart. Smash the balls down to a thickness of about half an inch.
Bake until light brown, about ten minutes. Allow to cool on cookie sheet briefly, then remove to a rack to finish cooling.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Potty time (or party time?)

When we were in our meeting with the ministry and were told that Fuad was NOT potty trained, my heart kind of sank.  How silly was it of me to assume that just because a child was going to school that he would not be in diapers?

He seemed interested in following Vlado to the bathroom, at first.  We thought that was a good sign.  But then he lost interest.  :(  I chose to not push the issue when we first got home.  I thought it was a good idea for him to get used to all the other new things in his life before I tried something as difficult as using the potty.

I'm not sure why, but yesterday seemed like a good day to start.  I started slowly by leaving him in his pullup and taking him to the bathroom.  I would tell him to "go pee" and stand him by the toilet.....both Honey and Vlado stand, so I figured he would understand that better.  I didn't have any luck with that.  When Vlado got home from school, I had Fuad go into the bathroom with him and try again.  Vlado went and came out.....then I heard more tinkling!  We were all very excited!  Then came the scary part. LOL!  I took him out of his pullup and gave him underwear.  He pulled them part way up and then just whined.  He wanted no part of wearing ONLY UNDERWEAR!  He did pretty well for the rest of the day.  We only ended up with one small puddle.  We are very happy that he has figured out the "how" of the potty.....now to just figure out the "when."

I did put him in a pullup to sleep.  This morning, when he got up, his pullup was only a little wet.  Usually he has a 10lb pullup in the morning.  I think he's getting it....although I'm probably going to have to retract that statement at some point.  We will see.  I really hope that he gets it this easily.

This next part is probably going to make some of my adoption friends cringe.  We had the school come out to the house on Thursday to do an informal evaluation.  Fuad exceeded their expectations.  He showed great ability to problem solve and understand some not so easy concepts.  He was able to stack 8 smallish blocks (which we were told they didn't expect him to be able to stack more than 6 without them falling over)  He stayed very focused on them.  When they came for Vlado (after he had been home for a month), he was all over the place.

They told us that they want him to start part time on Wednesday.  I know it is VERY SOON and we should keep him home for bonding and such.  Vlado attends summer school and the teacher/student ratio is amazing!  Last summer, he had some unbelievable strides educationally.  We really wanted Fuad to be able to have that too.  But in order to be qualified for summer school, he has to be enrolled before the end of the year.  The special ed teacher also has to have time to observe him to prove that he is  behind enough to warrant summer services.  He is going to be so excited when he finally gets to go to school!  He gets so upset in the morning when we drop Vlado off and he can't go too.

Our SW came on Thursday too for a post adoption visit.  She was impressed with Fuad! :)  She said she was so surprised that we have another child who does not have any major problems.  We are blessed.  I am ready for another one. :)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

We really are alive

I have learned that having virtual twins (the boys are only 8 months apart) that are 7 years old are almost as exhausting as having newborn twins.  It's easy for me to say that though, because I've never had newborn twins. LOL! 

We are all learning what it's like to be a family of 4.  I think the boys are adjusting better than I am.  Vlado, without truly understanding what a big brother is, is thriving in the big brother role.  He helps with so many things.  The other day, when the boys were having dinner, Fuad (actually we aren't sure at this point that we are going to name him Viktor....it doesn't seem to fit him)  was having problems getting his food on his spoon.  He's not very proficient with the use of utensils.  So, Honey told Vlado to help him.  So Vlado took his spoon, scooped up some food on it, and then handed it back.  It was adorable!!  When we were at the grocery store a few days ago, I had my hands full.  Fuad cannot be let to walk on his own yet (he tends to wander easily).  I asked Vlado to hold his hand, and he took this job seriously.  Fuad kept trying to get away but Vlado held on tight. :) 

Fuad is a very impatient little boy.  He wants what he wants when he wants it.  And he is slowly learning that throwing a fit is not the way to get what he wants.  He has spent quite a few moments in a chair with his hands folded in response to a screaming, throw himself on the floor fit.  He is also learning that grunting and stamping his foot doesn't work either.  :)   When Vlado goes to school in the morning, he gets VERY angry that he doesn't get to go too.  Once again, I am learning that I AM BORING!  He is ecstatic when it is time to pick Vlado up from school.  

Today, though, I'm having a really hard time concentrating on giving you an update.  Remember the little girl that we were in the process of adopting last year about this time?  Well, she was relisted today with RR.  There are new pictures of her and she is an adorable toddler.  Oh, how my heart hurts.  I know that it was the right thing to do, at that time.  I know that if we had continued with her adoption that we wouldn't have Fuad right now.  But, if we had continued.....we would have met her already and she would be so close to being home.  I know that Fuad was meant to be our son and I have no regrets.  But, oh my word, my heart hurts that she is still waiting. :(


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Viktor is home

Maybe I should have titled it, "We are all home!"  We stepped through our front door at about 8pm last night and we were all exhausted! 

I should start at the beginning...when we were still in Serbia.  I was glad that we had Thursday to do some souvenir shopping and stuff.  I started packing at around 6pm on Thursday....mostly just clothes that were downstairs.  Once I put the boys to bed at 8pm (I tried earlier, but it just didn't happen) I put it in high gear.  I have no idea how we managed to spread out our stuff that much in 3.5 weeks, but we had stuff EVERYWHERE!!  I finally finished at 10pm.  You would think that I would go to bed at that point (since I knew I had to get up at 3:30am), but no.  I was wired and could not sit still.  I paced....I never pace.  It was almost midnight before Honey and I hit the sack.  I still didn't sleep though.  I think I managed to get about an hour sleep before it was time to get up, shower, and finish packing our toiletries and various things that didn't make it into our luggage the night before.

The boys were confused, but both were happy.  Vlado was excited when he saw all the packed bags by the door.  Our driver was right on time at 4:30.  His dad came too (in his own car) because we (crazy Americans) had too much luggage.  So, on our way to the airport, our family was in one car and our luggage was in the other.  LOL! 

The airport seemed so confusing.  We finally got our checked bags taken care of and had our tickets in hand.  We made it through security and then through passport control.  When we got to hallway by our gate, we saw a HUGE line and our flight was going to start boarding in 15-20 minutes.  I'm not sure why, but a very nice security guard waved us up to the beginning of the line (Honey said that he thinks you get treated better at airports when you have small kids...I think I believe him!)  We had to go through a 2nd security scan and then we were in another waiting area.  They don't announce the flights.  Around the time that boarding should begin, people just start lining up.  Viktor did not like that at all!  He tried to throw himself to the ground, but somehow it didn't happen.  It probably had something to do with all of the people crowded around like sardines.  When we got on the airplane, he was so excited!!   There was no fear at all!  I didn't see any anxiety at all until he saw that the plane was landing.  It wasn't because of the landing, but because the ride was over.  :)

We had a meltdown at every airport because Viktor did not want to wait!  He just wanted to get on the next plane (although he calls them autobus)  I didn't want to encourage his behavior, but I have to admit that I calmed him with snacks on more than one occasion. 

We made it to Washington DC and immigration was a breeze!  In Philly (last time), we had to stand in line to talk to one officer.  Then he sent us to another room where they processed paperwork for immigrants...and they weren't super quick.  We were happy with how efficient it was at Dulles, although it still took about an hour.  We had a 4 hour layover so it was fine.  I had to go to the service desk to get our tickets for our last flight.  I could have used the kiosk, but I was hoping to change seats.  When our travel agent booked the flight, there were only 5 seats left on that flight and none of them were together.  I got super lucky (not so much) that a flight to Pittsburgh had been cancelled so all the other people in line (about 15) were angry and impatient.  I ended up waiting in line for another hour or so.  When I got to the front, the attendant wasn't super trained.  It took him 20 minutes to print tickets (I had asked him about switching seats, but then told him to forget it and I would figure it out on the plane)  Honey had taken the boys to Five Guys (it was right across the hall from the service desk)  Neither of them ate though....they just grumbled.  Yes, I know they were tired, but when you are tired too....it's so hard to deal with a whiny (or in Viktor's case screaming) child. 

Viktor fell asleep on the final plane, before we even took off.  Vlado was having some serious tummy issues so he whined the entire flight.  We finally landed at home at 6:30 or so.  It was so cool that Honey's sister met us at the airport.  She had flowers for me (isn't that the sweetest?)  She told us that she had something for us and went to her car.  She came back loaded with bags....of food!  She made a HUGE shepherds pie.  It is big enough for several meals.  She had bought breakfast - bananas, croissants,  cereal, milk, a bag of fruit, pop tarts, and I know I'm forgetting something.  I was so thankful!  I have heard of adoptive families who have people who bring them food when they first came home.  It felt so good that she thought of us in that way.  We were so exhausted last night and it was so great that we could just go home and not have to worry about stopping at the store.

The boys went to bed almost immediately when we got home.  They were both sacked out when I checked on then 10 minutes later.  :)  I managed to stay up until 10 or so.  When I finally went to bed, I don't remember even turning over once.  I was OUT!  When Honey came to bed an hour later, I woke up in a panic.  (That tends to happen when I am asleep really hard and get woken up!)  Honey said he heard Viktor singing to himself at around 4am.  It's 7:30 now and his head is on the table.....if Vlado would stop talking, Viktor would probably go to sleep.

I will post about our first day home tomorrow because this post is long enough.  But one cute story.  This morning, when we got up, we found Viktor playing in his bed.  I assume he woke up and didn't think he would go back to sleep.  So, he got up and grabbed some toys and brought them back to bed.  Vlado still won't do this even though we have told him he can.  Vlado stays in bed until he hears us up.  Maybe he will understand it is ok to get up and get a book or play if he wakes up in the morning (and Mama is still sleeping) 



Wednesday, May 9, 2012

End of the tunnel

We are finally seeing the light at the end of this adoption tunnel and, let me tell you, we are happy.  We are enjoying the ability to breathe a little and not worry about what else can happen. 

Yes, there have been many bumps and bruises on this adoption journey.  Would we change how we did things this time around?  No!  The individuals we worked with were very helpful and did what they could to get everything done properly.  (I don't even want to know how many phone calls Z actually made for us on several occasions to get stuff worked out!) 

International adoption is a very tricky business.  If you are relatively new to it (as many future adoptive parents who are reading this are) it is hard to know the ins and outs of it.  Having someone on your side who can help is very important.  Having someone who you can call at any time (day or night) is extremely helpful!  Having someone you trust is imperative!

I have also learned on this trip that it is important to speak my mind.  I am usually a "go with the flow" sort of person.  This time around, I learned that I need to "make some noise" to get myself heard.  I didn't do it as much as I should, but I did it more than is usual for me.  Next time, I'm sure I will figure it out even more.  And YES, there will be a next time. :)

Tomorrow is going to be a stress free day.  We are going to be able to go out and get some last minute souvenirs and gifts.  Then we will come back here and be able to pack at a leisurely pace and get ready for our trip across the ocean.  And then, we will be HOME!  I can't wait....my bed has been calling my name for weeks! :)

This just in.....

We are now in ownership of an American Visa!  Honey has sent a message to our travel agent.....we are FINALLY COMING HOME!!!!!

I will post more tonight but I just wanted to let you all know that God worked it out!

A taste of home (kinda)

After our frustrating day yesterday, I was in desperate need of sugar!  Food (especially sweets) have been a comfort to me for as long as I can remember...and don't bother telling me that it isn't a healthy thing.  I am fully aware of that.  Anyway.....

So, I was dying for something sweet and I had NOTHING here.  We have been slowly clearing out all the food that we've bought since we should be going home soon.  (Oh, how I pray!)  I had a few baking ingredients (because I made banana bread the other day) but not a ton.  The sugar and flour here come in very small bags.  I searched and searched for something I could make that used sugar, flour, oil, eggs, milk, vanilla and baking soda.  Then I thought about the fact that I have very little here as far as baking pans.  So, I was in a mess. 

Then I remembered seeing something on Pinterest.  It was a cake that you mixed up in a coffee cup and baked in the microwave.  I found the recipe and realized it called for baking cocoa powder.  Hmmm, I didn't have any of that.  Then I remembered.....I had packets of hot chocolate mix!!  I mixed it all up but actually baked it in a soup bowl.  I also didn't have any measuring spoons but since the quantities are so small, winging it worked.  There was so much of it that I couldn't eat it all. :)  I was quite pleased with myself.  The funny thing is that there were marshmallows in the hot chocolate mix so they all floated to the top of my batter making it look strange cooked.  But it was delicious!  I might just have to remember the recipe when we get home because I had a homemade cake in less than 10 minutes!  I thought you all might be interested in trying it.  So here you go.

Microwave cake
4 TBS all purpose flour
4 TBS sugar (I reduced it to about 3 TBS because of the hot chocolate mix has sugar)
2 TBS baking cocoa (or 1 packet of hot chocolate mix)
1/4 tsp baking powder (I used baking soda and it still worked)
1 egg
3 TBS milk
3 TBS oil
3 TBS chocolate chips (optional - I didn't have it but didn't miss it)
small splash of vanilla (I used vanilla sugar that I bought here)

Mix all the dry ingredients well in a large coffee mug (like I said, I used a soup bowl).  Add the wet ingredients and mix until combined.  Add the chocolate chips if you are using them.  Put in the microwave and cook on high heat (the recipe says 1000 watts) for 2½ to 3 minutes.  (I pulled mine out at 2 minutes because the batter was more spread out and it was perfect!  The recipe says you can drizzle with chocolate syrup and whipped cream.  I used a caramel flavored ice cream topping and it was FANTASTIC!!) 

This is 2 servings but I'm sure I could have eaten it all if I really tried. :)  Enjoy!!

I know it doesn't look that good.  And I had already eaten what I wanted before I thought to take the picture.  It is a nice fluffy sponge cake consistency and it is super easy! 



Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Really?

There were so many things that we needed to get done today.  We were seriously praying that Viktor's passport would be ready when we got to the police station.  Everything else depended on that.

Z picked us up at 12:30 today.  We drove to the police station and went up.  Judging by the long line of people in the hallway, we knew that it would take a while.  So I took the boys outside and they played on a playground that is right next door.  We were there for maybe 45 minutes when the cell phone rang.  It was Z and they needed me at the station to sign for the passport.  Woohoo!  Less than 5 minutes later, we were walking out of the station with a spanking new passport. 

We then had to meet with our translator to pick up our translated documents....ie adoption decree, birth certificate and citizenship papers.  That took no time at all and we had time to spare for our medical appointment.

Our appointment was changed this morning (by the doctor) to 2:10.  We arrived at 2pm and she let us in and began the process.  We walked out of her office at 2:40 with medical documents in hand.  The medical was very basic but still much more in depth than Vlado's. 

We got in the car and I called the embassy to let them know we were on our way.  I had called this morning and made an appointment for 2:30.  Thankfully, they were ok with us being a little late.  We went right into the embassy and were sent immediately back to "window 8" which is actually a small room.  We gave them all our documents and then we waited...and waited....and waited.  At around 4:20, the officers came back and started asking a few more questions.  Most of the questions were centered around Viktor's birth parents and how it was that he came into custody of the center for social care.  We told them what we knew.  I knew something was up when the officer turned off the microphone (they were behind a plexiglass partition) so I couldn't hear what they were saying.  They turned it back on and gently explained that we had a problem.  There was NO documentation explaining how our boy "became an orphan." 

When we were in his birth city, we asked specifically for these documents.  We were told that they didn't have them.  Today, our driver called the social worker again and told her our problem.  She then told him that they did have the documents and they would mail them...tomorrow.  So, we are once again waiting to see what happens.  They are going to fax the documents to the Ministry tomorrow before they mail them and we hope that the embassy will accept a fax copy. 

***So, this is a bit of advice for other families coming to Serbia to adopt.  When you have your adoption ceremony, MAKE SURE that you get documentation that indicates why your child is an orphan.  This can be the relinquishment documents that the birth parents signed or a court order showing parental rights were terminated.  But you need something for our embassy!!  I know I sound a bit callous, but I don't mean it that way at all.  I just want you to not have to go through this too.  There are many cities here who have never done an international adoption and the more YOU know about the process, the better.  I am not bad mouthing anyone.  I'm sure the reason we weren't given the documents before was a complete misunderstanding.  I am guessing they didn't totally understand what we needed.  So, I don't blame anyone!  If you are the praying sort, pray that our embassy accepts the faxed copy. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Is it time to go home yet?

It just came over me today how long it seems that we've been here.  Tomorrow will be 3 weeks since we reached Belgrade....we left the US 3 weeks from today.  I know I shouldn't complain because others that have adopted (from other countries that is) spend 5 or 6 weeks away from their homes.  But I think we are all ready to go home.  We need normalcy to return or in Viktor's case, to begin.  The boys are getting sick of the toys that we have too.  OK enough complaining.

We are still waiting on the passport...hoping and praying it is ready tomorrow early in the afternoon.  We have a tentative medical appointment scheduled for tomorrow at 2:30.  I am going to call the embassy in the morning and let them know where we stand.  I am also praying that we can schedule an appointment there after our medical.  It will be super tight, but I can still hope!

Today we went and got Viktor's pictures done for his visa.  He wasn't smiling, but still it was a decent picture.  We also went to the orphanage one last time to pick up his medical paperwork.  And I just remembered that I was going to do a "last walk down the orphanage steps" picture, and I didn't. :(  At the meeting, they gave us all his medical stuff.  We learned a couple medical things that nobody mentioned at our ministry meeting....I found that interesting.  They also gave us some of his school work from this year.  There are drawings and color pages and cute art projects.  Then she showed me a baby book of sorts that they started at school.  It has his handprint on one page and some information about his personality.  It's all in Cyrillic so I have no idea what it says, but it's cool to have it.  Then I got a glance of some printed pictures just as she stuffed them into the book.  And if you know me, it won't shock you that I immediately got teary.  We finished up and I was happy that they willingly gave me email addresses so we could keep them updated with his progress and pictures.  I gave a couple hugs and we left. 

When we got down the street, I pulled out the pictures.  There is even one from his 5th birthday party.  There are maybe half a dozen pictures and most of them are with his group.  This makes me so happy because we weren't allowed to take pictures of him with his group before he left.  Most of the pictures are probably about a year old, but I recognized most every child in his group. 

The nurse also had in the bag that she gave us a gift for Viktor.  She called it his "famous toy" I wasn't exactly sure what she meant by that, but kinda understood when I saw it.  We were told that he loves small cars.  The gift was a set of 20 matchbox cars. :)  I kind of wonder if someone brought this box of cars and donated it to the orphanage.  If they did, it makes me sad that the other kids didn't get to enjoy them.  Still we are grateful for the gift.  The boys had a blast playing with (in Vlado's words), "so many new cars!"

This shaggy carpet is the perfect "jungle" for their cars. :)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

We took a day off

After the last few days being so emotionally charged, we we were all due for some down time.  Our poor driver, Z, started getting sick a few days ago.  His 6 year old son has been sick, and he finally decided to give it to his daddy.

So, yesterday, we told him we would call him if we needed him.  We all slept in pretty late.  Well, Honey only slept until 7am, but for lately, that is late.  Both of the boys slept until around 9:30 and although I was pretty much awake, I decided to snuggle in bed until 10am.  It won't last long, so I need to take advantage of it while I can. :)  Honey had already fed the boys (isn't he a good Daddy!).  I threw a pizza in the oven and ate some for my breakfast.  I was one happy Mama today!  The boys got the rest for lunch (that made me happy too because it was already made!)  Viktor eats as well as Vlado and he takes his cues from him.  Today, I had sliced up some cucumber for them and put a little salad dressing as dip.  Viktor was eating a slice and he saw Vlado dip his in the dressing.  It was so cute as he watched him and then decided to try it too.  He has such a cute little "mmmmmm" noise.  He seems to love everything he has tried so far....well except for a sandwich that I bought at a mini mart the other day.  But they had put olives on it and the cheese was VERY strong smelling so I don't blame him for not liking that.

Around 3, we decided to walk to the grocery store.  It is maybe a mile or so from the apartment.  About half way there, Z called to ask if we needed him.  I had to convince him we were fine and were out on a walk.  I didn't tell him we were walking to the store because he would have probably drove over to get us.  Viktor did GREAT in the store!  He didn't touch anything (unless Vlado touched it first)   Each boy got to pick out a snack and we had to convince Viktor to get something different than Vlado. :)  I had taken my camera with us, but there are so many embassies (did I spell that right?) on that route, I decided it was better to not take the camera out (especially after our run in with the police yesterday)

The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing!  The boys got pudding for snack and each emptied his in 2 minutes flat. :)   Tomorrow we have to go back to the orphanage to pick up his medical packet.  This is what we take to the doctor during his medical so they can list all his immunizations and such.  And we will probably get his visa picture taken so it's one less thing we have to worry about on Tuesday.  We are still praying the passport is ready on Tuesday!  We all feel much better after our day of rest!

No, they aren't sleeping.  They are just watching cartoons.




Saturday, May 5, 2012

Another step closer!

Today was another incredibly early morning.  We found out yesterday that we could go to Tutin today to apply for Viktor's passport.  So, once again, we all got up and were out the door at 5am.  (If I never see 4am on a clock again, it will be too soon!)  The boys were so tired!  Of course, we did this same trip just day before yesterday....in truth, we were all still tired from it.  And that includes our driver!

We arrived in Tutin at 10am and picked up the social worker at the social center.  Then all of us traveled over to the police station.  We waited for just a few minutes before the lady who was to do the application came in.  She went into her office and booted up her computer.....I'm sure you will all be shocked at what happened.  Her computer could not connect to the network. :(  Z, our driver, suggested that we walk the boys around for a few minutes.  We stopped at a small coffee shop and waited.  Viktor was not as well behaved on this trip as he was a couple days ago. He wanted everything he saw and screamed several times when he was told no.  After about 20 minutes or so, we went back to see if anything happened.

There was a guy in the office with the ladies and we were told that he was a computer technician.  I went out into the hall to sit with Honey and the boys.  Z came out and told us that this gentleman occasionally works on the computers at the social center and the social worker had called him.  She had explained our situation and he said he would be happy to do what he could. :)  Eventually he got the computer up and running and was so sweet talking to Honey.  He congratulated us and told us that we were doing a noble thing.  (I wanted to tell him that I just wanted kids and it had nothing to do with being noble, but I just smiled and shook his hand....he had just helped us and refused payment!) 

It still took quite a while after the computer was fixed.  It seems that the network problem started yesterday so there were several documents in the pending file that needed to be cleared before our application could be started.  She finally started on our data at around 12:30.  She had never done a passport application for a child who had been adopted by an international family, so she was SUPER DETAILED and checked everything about 10 times.  We finally walked out of the police station at 2:30pm.  But we have his adoption decree, birth certificate and citizenship papers.  We pray that the passport is ready on Tuesday like it should be.  Even with today being extra long, we got what we needed.  And it was a beautiful day....no rain during the drive.  It was a good day!

**I almost forgot to tell you something funny.  Honey had his camera with him and took quite a few pictures in Viktor's birth city.  We asked our driver if we would get in trouble for having it at the police station and he said he didn't think so.  Well, as we were standing on the steps (Z had gone to the car to get something), a pretty intimidating police officer came up to us.  He did some pantomime sort of thing telling us we could not take pictures of the station or the cars.  Then he put his hand out for Honey's camera.  We weren't exactly sure what he wanted it for, but Honey handed it over.  Right about then, Z came back and we told him the officer had a question.  He told Z (in a rather gruff way) that if we had taken pictures of the station or cars, they must be deleted.  But he handed the camera back and didn't force the issue any more.  A few minutes later, all of us were in the station and the officer was talking to Z.  Once he learned why we were there (and that we had adopted Vlado 17 months ago) his attitude toward us changed completely.  But that few minutes when Z wasn't there were kinda scary!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Another one less

I am so very sorry for not posting yesterday.  We had a few hiccups that ended in a rough day.  Boy that sentence doesn't make sense, but I can't figure out how to reword it.  I was in bed before 8pm last night with a massive migraine.

So, anyway.  Our day started at 4am.  The city where our boy was born is a 5 hour drive from here and our meeting was at 10am.  So, we had to get up at 4 to be ready to be picked up.  (Actually, Honey got up at 3 to make sure!)  We picked up our translator and we were off.

The boys did really well in the car.  And that is saying something because there were 4 adults and 2 kids in a rather small car.  Honey and I switched back and forth having a child in our laps.  I realized just how boney our boys butts are. LOL!

We made it to our destination just in time.  We all went in and sat down and words started flying all around us in Serbian.  We didn't know exactly what was happening at first.  Our driver told us that he was afraid we were going to have to come back a different day because they weren't prepared for us.  They were very kind but they had never done an international adoption and weren't sure exactly how to do it.  After about an hour, they handed us forms and shook our hands and congratulated us on our adoption.  It was a little anticlimactic.

Then we all piled in the car again and headed to the building where we would get his birth certificate an citizenship papers.  After almost 2 hours, we were told that there were some things missing on the decree and the birth certificate could not be issued.  The only thing we could do was drive back to Belgrade and we would be called when all the documents were ready for us to pick up.  We have to go back there to apply for his passport.  *I found out just a moment ago that we are being allowed to go tomorrow (Saturday) to do this.  Before just now, we thought we had to wait until Monday!

So, our adoption is official!!  He is our child!!  We just don't have any documents to prove it yet.  So, for the first time, let me introduce you to our son -  Viktor Fuad Breen (his official name is Fuad Breen here, but we are giving him the first name Viktor when we get home)


Viktor Fuad Breen
Born April 17th, 2005
in Tutin , Serbia
Adopted forever into our family
May 2nd, 2012.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tomorrow is the day

Oh boy, can you say that 4am is early!!  We have to be up at that time to leave for our 5 hour drive to our boy's birth city.  Having 2 seven year old boys in the back of a car for 5 hours will be good practice for when we make the trek to my parents house in the Mountains....that's 14 hours.

I have our snacks and drinks ready to throw into the backpack.  Clothes are laid out ready to put on.  Little bodies had a good shower and are preparing for the big day ahead.

It will probably be late (or at least late for us) when I post again.    Although, since we're 6 hours ahead, it won't be late for you guys.  I plan on posting TONS of pics tomorrow....I will even go back and put in some to go with other posts.  I want you to see the progression of his trust.  It is so evident in our pics. 

He wasn't ready at first, but he is ready for a family NOW!

**I can post these pictures now.  We busted him out of the orphanage a day early and these are from our first day together as a family (even if it wasn't official yet)
The boys throwing "helicopters" off the balcony
Eating his first meal with his brother
All showered and ready for bed in their matching PJ's. I could not get them to sit still!







Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Meeting royalty

Did I get your attention with that title?  Here's the cool thing.....we did meet a member of the Serbian royal family!  We are staying in a fantastic apartment!  The lady who owns it knows Princess Elisabeth.  Tonight they had dinner and she told the Princess about our adoption and our amazing Vlado.  And, how cool is this....she wanted to meet Vlado! 

We were told earlier today that this dinner was happening and M (our hostess) said that she was hoping Princess Elisabeth would want to meet us.  We were also told that she is very down to earth.  When we found out that she was coming here, Honey insisted that we wear our "good clothes" because "she is a princess."  At first, I thought he was being silly, but I'm glad he insisted.  Their entire party was quite dressed up and even in our "good clothes" I felt underdressed. 

Vlado did very well and even said, "Nice to meet you, Princess." (With only a little prompting!)  And he gave her a huge hug and a kiss on the cheek.  She was entranced. :)  Our boy is quite the charmer.  She applauded our adopting (although that felt a little awkward).  We met outside and our meeting was cut a little short when a car drove slowly down the street and gawked at our guest.  It was almost as if they knew who she was. LOL!

We were honored tonight.  Vlado showed how amazing he is.  M did get a picture of our boy with the Princess.  Again....how cool was this?!?

Monday, April 30, 2012

WE HAVE A DATE!!!

I'm sorry for once again leaving you hanging.  The last few days have been frustrating because we didn't get the signature we were hoping for.

Well, we didn't get it today either.  BUT, they are changing things up a bit for us.  They are allowing us to have our adoption ceremony on Thursday and they will get the permission signature "later."  I'm not exactly sure when later will be, but I am pretty sure that our adoption will be final once we have the ceremony.  I *think* the signature is just permission to have the ceremony....or at least that is what I am hoping.

So, on Thursday at 10am, we will have our adoption ceremony in a small town about 5 hours from here.  We will have to be up super early and go to the orphanage one last time to pick up our boy.  Since it is so far away, they are allowing us to take him.  Usually, a representative from the birth city travels here to pick up the child since they are still the responsible party for him.  But I think they realized that it made little sense to drive 5 hours to pick him up just to drive back (and gas is crazy expensive here!) when we are going anyway.  It will be a packed car with 4 adults and 2 children, but we will manage.  The man at the ministry said this big trip is just practice for the "main event" of our big travel home.  I thought that was pretty cute.

We will tell the orphanage caregivers tomorrow that we will be picking him up for the last time EARLY Thurs morning.  On Wed, I plan to bring a cake and some juice boxes for the kids in his group.  It will be sad seeing them for the last time.  And I will bring his "gotcha day" clothes for the workers to dress him in on Thurs.  I can't wait for this part to be done so I can show off our boy.  He and Vlado are so cute together and they NEED to be shown off!  :) 

Little does he know that he only has 3 more nights and 2 more days in the only home he has ever known.  He will be coming with us and will never be without a family again.  Oh boy is his life about to change!

I had laid down on the floor and he came over and plopped down on me.  He leaned against my legs like I was a chair. :)

This picture is for my Burlington friends.  Does this remind you of Church Street?  :)  We couldn't believe they put up a cow just for us. lol
They have HUGE snails here.  This coin is about the size of a quarter.  And this wasn't the biggest one we saw!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Still waiting

I should have posted this yesterday, but I was too bummed.  We found out the minister is not in town....he is campaigning.  It is an election year and elections are held on May 6th.  So all the elected officials are doing their best to be re-elected.  Because of this, we wait.  We are once again praying that we get a signature on Monday. 

We had an interesting happening this morning.  So far, whenever we pick little brother up from his room and little ones come out looking for loving...I pick them up and give them a hug.  Today, when I did this,  little brother threw a fit!  He was stamping his feet and grunting and giving me a look of, "How could you?"  And another little girl kept slapping Vlado (not sure what that was about!) so we quickly left his floor for the 2nd floor playroom. 

Both boys know that the first thing we do when we get there is have a snack, and they both were ready as soon as we got there.  Little brother is still using his signs and is now saying "juice" when he wants his juice box.  We are making progress but it feels like there is so little we can do with him in that environment.  We are ready to take him out of there for good!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

We need some prayer

I posted about yesterday.  If you haven't read it, scroll down and check it out!  It is pretty cool, if I say so myself!

Now on to our prayer request.  We are waiting on a signature.  How adoptions work here is a little different than some countries.  On last Wed, we met our boy for the first time.  This first visit was observed by the representatives from his birth city.  That evening, they wrote a report about the visit and submitted it to the ministry.  This past Monday, the director of the orphanage wrote her final report about our visits and that was submitted to the ministry.  After that was done, a person in the ministry makes a report taking into account both reports they have received and this is forwarded to the Minister of adoption for his signature.

This is where we are.  We are just waiting.  Elections are being held here on May 6th.  Because the Minister of adoption is an elected post, he is not as his desk much because of election stuff (campaigning maybe...I don't understand that part)  We cannot have our adoption ceremony until we have that signature.

We also have found out a bit of bad news (at least for us).  Tuesday and Wednesday are holidays here....it is their Labor day and it is a 2 day holiday.  Ok, now if the Minister signs tomorrow, is is possible (although not probable) that we will have our ceremony on Monday.  If we don't, the ceremony will be Thurs at the earliest.  After the ceremony, we will get his birth certificate and apply for his passport.  There is a 24-48 hour turnaround for the passport....but these are working days.  So, best case scenario is to have the ceremony on Monday and we may be able to get the passport on Thursday.  If that happens, we might be able to schedule the medical for Thursday and still make it to the Embassy to apply for the visa.  If we can do that, we could pick up the visa on Friday and fly out on Saturday.  This is the absolute best case scenario.  If even one little thing gets messed up, we could be here until 2 weeks from today.

We really need prayer because Honey's time off is only approved through May 6th.  I am really trying to trust God with this.  But, to be honest, with my emotions being so out of whack right now, it is very difficult.  Please, please pray that we get that signature tomorrow and his social center is able to get things together to have the ceremony on Monday.  Please, Lord, you know this need better than I do!

I LOVE this picture!  He was being goofy while Daddy was trying to take his picture!

I can't believe I didn't post

Let me start off by saying I'm sorry for not posting yesterday.  It was the most wonderful day and I was so excited about it....I have no clue how I didn't tell you all about it.

Last Wednesday, when we had our appointment at the Ministry of Adoption, we made sort of a passing request.  We  had thought about it quite a bit, but weren't sure it would be possible.  We asked if we could somehow arrange to go back to Vlado's birth city and meet with his former social worker and psychologist.  They knew Vlado back then and had seen him with us.  We truly wanted them to see how far he has come.  When we asked, we were assured that it would be no problem and they would contact the center in his city to set it up for us.  Then he asked, "Do you want us to find out if the former foster mother would like to see you?"  I think my jaw dropped to the floor.  This was more than we had even hoped for. We said that would be wonderful and so the ministry, after we requested the date, set up our reunion.

I was a little nervous.  I knew that Vlado would impress as usual. :)  But I guess I was afraid he might remember and be stressed, or the meeting might not accomplish what we hoped for.  We wanted the people to see how amazing Vlado is and to maybe think twice about limiting a child's ability based on perceived disability.  I should not have worried!

I think everyone who works at the center was there...including the gentleman that drove the center workers around last time. (He was hilarious, by the way!) Vlado's former social worker, when we were here last, was a stern lady.  She was so serious, but looking back, I guess she was just trying to make sure that we understood what we were getting ourselves into. LOL!  But yesterday, she had a smile a mile wide and couldn't stop gaping at Vlado and cradling his face in her hands.  She told us, through our interpreter, that she could not believe it.  "This cannot be the same child!"  Everyone was shocked that he talks, uses to bathroom instead of a diaper, and that he is such a personable child.  He went around shaking everyone's hands and saying hello.  I think he even said to a couple people, "Nice to meet you."

Then his former foster mother arrived and she had brought her two daughters.  You should have seen the look on her face when she saw him.  He did not seem to remember them at all and I'm afraid that it might have hurt the older girl.  We knew that it broke her heart when he came to live with us.  All of us went upstairs, to the same room where we had his adoption ceremony.  And once again, so many eyes were on our Vlado.  He was adorable and pulled out all the stops showing off.  He pulled out a book and read it to them and then proceeded to write words on a piece of paper (spelling every one correctly by the way!)  His foster mom took video of him so she could show her mother.  We stayed and talked for an hour and a half.

We were able to get email address of both the center and the foster mom.  We also found out that she is on facebook and are going to keep in contact that way.  We love that she can watch Vlado grow up. 

When we went outside, we were able to get some really good pictures of Vlado with his former foster family.  Then we got one of our family and the foster family.  I would share names, but I just don't feel comfortable giving that information.  But just so you can see for yourself, I am posting one picture.


The Lord blessed us with a perfect day!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Alex" and "Nick"

*Once again, the names I am using for children are not their actual names.  I find I need to make that clear!

About 10 minutes into our morning visit, we were joined by a woman and a little boy.  He was probably between 2 and 3 years old.  I'm not sure if she was his mother or what....she certainly wasn't a volunteer.  (We have seen several volunteers with children and they are amazing with the kids!)  The first thing I noticed about little "Alex" was two huge red scratches down the side of his cheek and his tear filled eyes.  I was rather close to them because I was trying to move our stuff to give them some room on the small couch.  I noticed that he seemed to be watching her and, to be totally honest, seemed like he didn't want anything to do with her.  She sat him on the couch and presented him with a gift bag that had a stuffed animal, some snack foods and a juice.  She pulled all these things out and put them beside him and then proceeded to text on her phone for the next 30 minutes or so.  I glanced at him every so often and offered him small smiles.  I can tell you that I have never seen a child filled with so much sorrow.  He was by far the saddest child I have ever seen.  Honey even commented to me as we left the institution, "Did you notice how sad that little boy was?"  I don't think I can adequately describe what I saw today.  When he was done eating, she got him down and pulled out some toys for him to play with.  He only had eyes for our firetruck (which most every child that has seen it has been drawn to it).  She yanked it out of his hand and scolded him which immediately wiped all traces of a smile that had been there moments earlier when he had picked up the truck.  I felt so bad for this little boy.  I don't know if the red scratches had been done by another child or by himself.  But he had no joy in this time away from his group.

The 2nd story I have is a bit different.  "Nick" is probably about 5 and he lives on our little boy's floor, in the room next to our son's.  As we were picking up little brother for our afternoon visit, we saw one of the volunteers coming for Nick.  We saw this same pair yesterday during our afternoon visit and it was a pleasure to see this volunteer again.  You seen, Nick is autistic and this particular volunteer is wonderful with him.  He has given himself heart and soul to Nick and refers to himself as Nick's older brother.  We got to the playroom at about the same time and it was nice to hear (in English) "Can we play with you?"  The six of us played together for nearly 2 hours.  Nick was willing to come over to us and try to play with our puzzles and watch our nook...and our boys were very good about sharing with him.  Everyone here LOVES my nook tablet and are amazed at everything that I have on it!  This wonderful volunteer (let's call him Barry) played with Vlado and was shocked to learn that Vlado was adopted from here 17 months ago and that he didn't speak when he came to us.  (Vlado does not stop talking now!  If you know him in person, you are probably giggling at my huge understatement!)  When Vlado pulled a book out of the backpack today, we read it together.  I would read a page and then Vlado read one. Barry was dumbfounded that Vlado was reading.  He was also surprised to see little brother sitting quietly snuggled into Honey listening to a book on my nook.  What I forgot to tell you is that on day 2....remember the awful visit?  Barry was there.  He is the one who carried little brother back inside and took him back to his room.  He witnessed the horrible fit and my not so composed reaction to it.  Don't worry, I was able to hold back the tears until the elevator closed.  But when he came back downstairs and told us to wait for a few minutes before we went back up, he saw my not so pretty crying self.  So, Barry saw what it was like at first, and he is seeing what is developing between us.  I think that is a good thing!

So, there is the reality for two of the children who live here.  Tears from one and giggles from the other.  How can my heart not be broken in two?

Monday, April 23, 2012

He is one smart cookie!

Our visits are kind of starting to run together. It's always the same routine. We ride up to the 3rd floor. We go to his room and find him...sometimes the door is open, sometimes not. We get his jacket in case we want to go to the playground (we didn't go this morning because we wanted to avoid the bus to school). We get in the elevator and go to the 2nd floor playroom. The boys have a snack and a juice box and then we play. Two hours go by and then it's time to put our shoes back on and go back to the elevator and then to his room. He is beginning to hate getting his shoes back on. :(

This morning the adorable baby with ds was in the playroom again today but this time with an older gentleman. I was happy to see that he was loving up on the baby too! :) We played for a while and I had pulled out my nook tablet to show one of the nurses a picture. Something about the nook caught little brother's interest. He and Vlado tried to play with it for a while, but eventually gave up because they couldn't get to anything interesting.

I was excited to see a little girl I recognized today. She is a cutie patootie who is maybe 5 or so. I *think* she has CP but she is quite a livewire. Her legs are affected and she can't walk, but she hops on her knees to get where she wants to go. And she is FAST! She kept hopping over to us in the playroom but never got really close except to Vlado. She tried to pull his glasses off. Speaking of glasses, we think that our new boy might need to get his eyes checked. He quite often squints when he's looking at something like he can't get his eyes to focus. Today, I put my glasses on him (they are relatively weak...just for a slight astigmatism) and he was amazed. At first, he pulled them down to look over them and then back up to look through them. He did this a few times and then put them right on his face and didn't try to take them off again. It was almost like they helped him see better. It's good to know that he won't mess with them if he does indeed have to get glasses.

I got a little video today of our new boy signing more please....so adorable! He is learning already. He knows what I mean when I say wait. He understands who Daddy is. And tonight, he figured out how to work my nook....at least somewhat.

Honey had the nook on his lap and had pulled up a "read to me" book. Our little guy figured out how to drag his finger across it to flip to the next page. At the beginning of the book, there are 3 buttons....read to me, read myself, and read and record. Honey had hit the read myself button and our little guy didn't take any time to figure out that something was wrong...it wasn't reading to him. So, he flipped back to the beginning and pressed the read to me button. His smile was a mile wide because he had fixed it. I got some cute video of him cuddled up to Honey playing with the nook. I will post those kinds of things once we have the adoption ceremony.

I know these aren't the pics you want, but.......


These are a yummy treat I found at the store. Each one is about 1 inch square. I'm not sure what to call them...bon bons maybe. Vlado calls them little cupcakes.










We got these at the grocery store deli thinking they were onion rings. When we got them back and heated them up, we learned they were some sort of fried seafood....calamari or octopus maybe. It was still pretty yummy!










This is what we had for dinner tonight. I highly recommend it for anyone coming here and staying in an apartment with a microwave. It was quite delicious and was plenty for 2 adults...Vlado ate a hot dog. I made meat balls with some ground meat (I think it was a mixture of beef and pork) and a seasoning packet (like shake and bake) for chicken. It was amazing! And the spaghetti cooks in the microwave in 3 min and the pasta was cooked perfectly....it was pretty cheap at only about $3.










And finally, Honey and Vlado being goofy in the playroom. Meanwhile, little brother is chowing away on an orange he found in the backpack just a few minutes earlier. :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

So many children!

I debated whether to post this story or not. But I think I need to get it out. It is eating me up inside.

Back in Nov 2010 when we adopted Vlado, we were given the opportunity to take a tour of the orphanage where he had spent his first 4 years. I was nervous. I had heard so many stories and my heart didn't want to see the reality. We visited so many rooms and each had children that were aching for a little affection. There were little ones on beds that seemed to be unable to get up on their own. Without permission, I picked up several and just held them close, willing them to feel at least a little comfort for a few minutes. This happened in room after room.

At last, we were taken to the 3rd floor....where Vlado had been before he went into foster care. We were able to go to his room and meet one of his former caregivers. The kids swarmed around these new adults. I went out into the hallway but Honey stayed in the room for a minute longer. A little girl, maybe 6 or 7 years old with ds, came up to Honey and put her arms up. He happily picked her up and rubbed her back and she looked at him. He put her down and was getting ready to walk away as a little boy ran up to him and his arms went up. Honey bent down and scooped up this little guy and they looked into each other's eyes. Honey said that he had the overwhelming desire to walk out the front door with this little boy in his arms. Something spoke to both of them during that moment. And Honey could not forget it.

Fast forward to this trip. We had our first visit on Wed but it was terribly short. On Thursday morning, we had our 2nd visit. As we were standing in the hallway waiting for a diaper change, a little boy ran out into the hallway. He brushed by me, Vlado, the other caregiver, social worker and doctor. He had his eyes on Honey and Honey alone. He wrapped his arms around Honey's legs and was jabbering away. Honey bent down and picked him up and when I met his eyes, they were wide in surprise. It was the same little boy that had latched onto Honey last trip. And he acted like he remembered. Quickly, he was ushered back into the room with the other children and our visit began. We sat in the partitioned area putting puzzles together and talking with the social worker. That little boy had sneaked out of the room again and found his way to us again. He listened for a moment and then said to the social worker, "English?" The social worker smiled and said yes, and the boy looked at honey and said, "My name is David" (I can't tell you his real name obviously) but he told us....IN ENGLISH! We smiled at him and he took that as acceptance. He climbed up into Honey's lap and laced his fingers through Honey's and sat as still as he could. He just wanted to belong. The social worker didn't shoo him away and he stayed for a few minutes, until the caregiver found him.

Today, we had to wait for a minute again for our little boy to be ready, so we were in the hallway again. "David" came back out to Honey and again wished to be picked up. A little girl came up to me. She is absolutely beautiful! She wrapped her arms around my knees so I bent to pick her up. Her arms circled my neck and her legs wrapped around my middle. She laid her head on my shoulder and tried to melt into me. She felt so good in my arms. Neither of the boys has ever been extremely affectionate with me. I'm not saying that I am in any way disappointed in the affection level of the boys...I know each child is different. And I know many boys just don't have the "cuddle bug gene." But oh how this little girl needs a Mommy! What I wouldn't give to be able to give that to her.

I have no idea if either of these children is available for international adoption. My guess is no because, from what I have seen, neither has special needs. They both seem relatively typical. But still they are stuck behind those walls with no family to call their own. Why does it have to be like this? Yes, these children are given the opportunity to go to school. Yes, they have food and clothing and a warm place to sleep. But are they given a nice warm bath before they go to bed? Does someone read them a bedtime story and kiss their forehead? These two might not be available, but there are so many (in so many countries....yes, even our own!) that need us. We are all commanded to help the orphans....do you live it?