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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?

Good Sunday

Today was a good day. Our little boy was not as open today and I think there might a couple reasons why. First of all, I think he was really hungry today. We bring snacks everyday. Vlado is used to having a mid morning and mid afternoon snack too. We usually have some sort of fruit, mostly a banana or orange. Yesterday, I brought a sandwich and both boys had half. I gave it closer to the beginning of our visit so that it wouldn't mess with his appetite for lunch.

We started off our day on the playground for about 45 minutes or so. Of course, today was the day that I forgot my camera. The boys were incredibly cute together. Our new boy took a bucket loader tractor out of the sandbox and was rolling it around the courtyard. When we first got there, we had noticed a woman sweeping the area and putting the "dirt" into piles. It wasn't actually much dirt but stuff that had fallen from the trees. The boys found these piles and decided to play with the truck. One boy would hold the truck and the other would use the bucket to scoop up a load. Then they would switch. It was quite cute. But both boys like order, so they didn't mess up the piles. I think the piles were more together more after they were done. Several times, "little brother" tried to get to the backpack but he is learning what "wait" means. He doesn't like it, but he's learning.

When we told the boys it was time to go in, he started throwing a fit (like the one on our 2nd visit). We didn't let him control the situation. He dropped to the ground so we just let his hands go and looked at him. Eventually he stood up still squawking. Honey held up the backpack and he seemed to understand what that meant.

As we were going to the play room, I noticed a woman had just mopped. So, we all took our shoes off so as not to ruin her mopping job. I think I did the wrong thing because she seemed to admonish me. I hope she wasn't saying we couldn't go to the play room because we did anyway. First thing, he grabbed for the backpack. Honey told him to wait. I washed Vlado's hands first and I think "little brother" thought he wasn't going to get snack because he started yelling again. When I finished with Vlado, I motioned for him to come over. His smile returned and he gladly let me wash his hands. When I brought out the snack bag, he started reaching his hands to me. I let him have half a sandwich and he gobbled it up. I took out a juice box and he drained it like he was dying of thirst. When he was finished, he tried to get to the orange that was in the bag too. He wasn't happy that I didn't let him have it. He kept trying to get to it for the rest of the visit.

His eye contact was less than yesterday (I wonder if he scared himself by opening up so much yesterday) But he did play ball with Honey and Vlado for quite a while. About 1/2 hour before it was time to go, he found a bag with those peanut snack things. He brought it to me. I gave one and then showed him the sign for please. He quickly imitated me to get another. Then I added the sign for more. And he did that. I said, "more please?" and he signed both together! He seemed quite proud of himself because Honey and I were praising him. Even Vlado shouted, "Bravo!" from the other side of the room.

All too soon, it was time to go back to his room. As soon as he saw that we were putting shoes on, he started getting upset. We got on the elevator and started going up and he dropped himself to the floor. He was at least hoping we were going back outside. The caregiver met us and told him to go out onto the terrace. We went downstairs and we could hear him screaming. We went out to the gate and Honey looked up. Our little boy was standing on the terrace looking down with his arm reached toward us. It is heartbreaking to know that he is so upset, but at the same time, it is good that he is wanting to be with us. Poor baby was still yelling when we left. :(

I promise I will show you his face eventually. :) Right before this picture clicked, he was resting back into my legs. A moment later, he had his arm resting there too.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

He is learning to trust

*This might be a little long.

Today was phenomenal in so many ways. Honey and I were both a bit anxious for today's visit. We have been so discouraged by the lack of eye contact (I know it is normal, but it is still hard!) and his overall behavior around us....he acted like we weren't there most of the time. Today things started to change a bit.

When we first got there, we were happy to see our favorite caregiver was there. She is the one who lets us go down to the 2nd floor playroom. She called his name and he came out in the hallway to see what she wanted. He caught a glimpse of us and practically climbed over her to get to us. After being given a few games, we were off to the playroom. I grabbed one of the buys bees from he other playroom and he was so happy to be able to play with it. He and Vlado played together for quite a while, helping each other get the beads from one place to another. At one point, Honey threw a ball and it landed in "little brother's" lap. I told him to throw the ball back to Daddy, and HE DID! I'm sure it might have been a fluke, but he looked straight at Honey and threw the ball. That was our morning visit....playing with the busy bee, looking at books together, throwing the ball, and slowly starting to look at us. :) It is still on his terms, of course, but it is happening.

Our evening visit was good too. When we got to his floor, all the kids were sitting playing with small toys. He didn't even look for approval. He just jumped up and headed toward the door. The worker had us wait for a minute so he could get shoes on, but he was ready to go. Vlado even let him push the button on the elevator for the 2nd floor. :)

We went back into the playroom and the boys commenced taking every toy off the shelves. Every time we have gone down there, we walk past a room that is filled with kids who are non-ambulatory. I told Honey I would be right back and I took a chance. I went to that room and asked the worker if I could go in. She was busy feeding one of the children (I won't describe that) but told me yes. I was able to love up on about 5 little ones who were the size of 2-3 year olds. But these were not 2-3 year old children. They all had their permanent front teeth so I am guessing at least 8-9 year olds. One darling little girl was terrified of me at first. She was lying in a crib and I just put my hand on her chest. She started to whimper so I talked to her very quietly. One little boy who was on the floor held my hand so tightly. He was babbling to me telling me quite the story. :)

All too quickly, it was time to go. I was here to spend time with our future son, but I just needed to give these other children a little time. When I got back to the playroom, there was a family in there with Honey and our boys. They were feeding their baby a bottle and the mother was singing to him. I couldn't take my eyes off them. Their little boy has ds. But it could not have been more obvious the love that these parents have for their baby boy. They were in the playroom with the entire 2 hour visit. They sang to him, played with him, cuddled him, fed him a bottle and later a jar of baby food. They were just loving their child. I'm absolutely sure that they would care for him at home if they thought they could....if they thought that their child would be accepted like other children. I saw today, first hand, that parents who relinquish their children to orphanages do so with heavy hearts. It broke my heart thinking of how she felt when she took him back to his room. :(

This is the first coloring page of our new son. I can't wait to post pictures of him! I'm sure some of my RR friends will recognize him! :)










I got lots of these sideways glances today...which is much better than just seeing the top or back of his head.
It's kind of hard to see, but he is leaning into me in this picture.  I think this was his first voluntary physical contact

Friday, April 20, 2012

Visit 4

My brain won't give me a better title for today. We were a little anxious going into today's visit. We know that he is used to going to school every morning and we are told that he loves going. So, we were nervous that he was going to get very angry again.

When we first reached his room, the door was closed and the kids were all sitting in chairs. I think the caregiver was reading a book. He saw us and I waved. He jumped up and headed for the door. He knows we are there to get him. I'm not saying that he is bonding to us yet. I think that he just likes leaving his group when the others have to stay. We were back in the partitioned area again today. He kept looking in my backpack but when I told him "not yet" when he found food, he did pretty good at putting it back. He seems to understand when I say "wait" and he might grunt at me, but that's it.

A few times today, he grabbed for his jacket and pointed to the door. I heard him say "bus" or something similar to that several times. He knew it was time to go to school. We told him no and he started getting worked up. We tried an experiment (the same one we tried with Vlado) and ignored the fit. Honey and I just looked at each other and not at him. I think he is used to getting what he wants when he screams. The fit wasn't long and he seemed confused that we weren't getting upset. I at least was able to keep my anxiety off my face. He still stomped his foot and grunted and pointed to the door. But he only threw himself to the floor once. And I didn't get head butted!! :)

We had a meeting today with one of the teachers from his school. She told us that he behaves well at school but that wasn't the case when he first started in September. It took many months for him to talk to them or even look at them. He also didn't respond to them when they called his name. (sound familiar?) They also brought up the fact that he tends to have several characteristics of a child on the autism spectrum. I was surprised that this was brought up because he has not been diagnosed as such.

Vlado was a bit more upset today that "little brother" didn't want to interact. Vlado tried several times to play and was ignored.....he doesn't do well being ignored. I thought he would have a problem being at the orphanage again, but that hasn't been the case. But having another child just completely shut him out has been hard for him. But he is still excited whenever we are going to "Viktor's house."


This is what we see quite a bit. He hides his face so he doesn't have to see us. But he loves that firetruck!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

At least there wasn't a fit

We went back this afternoon. He was all smiles when he came out of his room to see us. I think he just thinks it's cool that he gets to leave the room when all the other kids were sitting on their beds. He started by plucking up some courage and looking in our backpack. At the morning visit, we had brought a banana and some snack things that look like cheese doodles but smell (and taste, I assume) like peanut butter. He is very motivated by food and I think he was looking to see if we had any. I did....but I had it hidden in a side pocket. :) When he didn't find food, he decided that a book he found might be interesting. He only had a minute to look at it though, before the worker told us that she was taking us down to the 2nd floor to a playroom. *He lives on the 3rd floor and we have been playing in a small area at the end of the hall that is partitioned off.

He did pretty well in the playroom although when one of us tried to get closer to him, he would move away. Eventually, I got to the point where he let me sit and play with him. One of the toys was a castle type thing that had 4 holes on the top that had colored rings. If he dropped a ball into one of the holes, it would bounce through the toy and pop out a door at the bottom. I started saying the color names and pointing to them. After repeating maybe 10 times, I tried saying a color to see what he would do. He really tried to get the matching hole and really started getting it (just before he got bored with it). The play room that was beside the one we were in had a bunch of busy bee toys in it. He REALLY wanted to play with those and I was afraid he would melt down when told no. He did whine and stamped his foot a few times. He kept grabbing Honey's hand trying to drag him there, but we managed to curtail any fits. Whew! When it was time to go back to his room, he seemed antsy, but I just assumed it was because we walked past the busy bee room and didn't go in.

We got back to his floor and his caregiver took his hand and told him to go back to the room. He didn't show any problem with this until he got to the door. He looked back at us and started crying. The worker said, "I'm sorry. He is just so sad." I don't really know how to take that. I really hope that he was sad that he was leaving us, but I just don't know. I guess we will see tomorrow morning if he is happy to see us again.

I will end up at least getting some scenery pics up here soon. It has rained every day since we've been here so I haven't taken any pictures of our surroundings. I'm not supposed to have any pics of our boy either. ;)

Although it looks like eye contact, it wasn't.  My camera was down and he looked at it so I snapped a picture.  Doesn't he look so tired?


The curse of the 2nd visit

Today's morning visit went about as well as the 2nd visit we had with Vlado back in 2010. I didn't even blog about that day because I didn't want to remember it. But now, I'm wishing I would have so I could remember how I felt. I guess I don't really need that though because I'm feeling it again now.

The first part of our visit was good. Vlado and "little brother" put puzzles together and worked really well together. I was impressed that he knows how to work puzzles almost as well as Vlado. We still couldn't get eye contact and he seemed irritated when we tried to have him put his head up. We heard lots of humming and some other stimming noises, and some grunts when a puzzle piece didn't fit. But it was overall ok.

Then they had us go outside to the playground area. At first everything was good. He wandered all over playing with different outside toys. Honey pushed him on the swing some. And they passed a ball back and forth a couple times. Then it happened. The bus that takes the kids to school pulled into the driveway. He LOVES school from what we've been told. When one of the ladies told him that he wasn't going to school today, he LOST IT! He screamed, went limp and threw himself to the ground. When I picked him up, he slammed his head backward and head butted me...I have quite the lump on my forehead. Nobody could calm him down. And trust me, several people tried. I just stood there feeling completely helpless. They took him upstairs and had us wait for a few minutes. When he saw us again, he started stimming and rocking from foot to foot. We were told that when his routine gets interrupted, he reacts like this. I am beginning to suspect he might be on the autism spectrum. Most of the time (even when he is doing what he wants to do) he seems to be in his own world. When he looked at me today, he seemed to look through me.

Pray for us! We have another visit this afternoon that I pray goes better. He is so fearful of anything new. And when he doesn't want to go somewhere, he is practically impossible to move. He is a strong child!

This was the morning visit before his fit
Maybe 10 minutes before the bus showed up.  But for this moment, he was happy with his snack

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

We met him!

Today was the day. We had the meeting at the ministry first which took longer than it should have. The officials from his town (which is 400km away) were late. They told us about his birth parents and we found out that he doesn't have any full siblings. He has several half siblings on his father's side, but they are all adults. They told us his medical stuff which was pretty typical. He is going to a "special school" which I can only assume means a school for kids with special needs.

Then it was time to go to the orphanage. It was a strange sensation waiting out in the hallway. Since Vlado wasn't in an orphanage when we met him, that was new. They brought him out of his room and he was all smiles. I think he thought it was cool that he got to leave his room during what looked like a rest time.

We went into a little area that was partitioned off. There was a little table and chairs, and a bookshelf with books and some toys. It didn't seem that he was used to being in that area. They gave us a bag that had some games and puzzles that he is familiar with. But he was more interested in the firetruck that we took out of the backpack. He didn't want to share with Daddy but Mama was able to get it from him to show him how to roll it. I made noises of the firetruck but couldn't get him to imitate me but he did laugh. He did not want to look at us much...it's probably safer for his heart to not really look at us. He doesn't really understand the whole thing since he has lived his whole life in this institution. This boys LOVES to be tickled. I was able to get him to look at me as the "tickle monster" was "attacking." He linked his fingers in mine (to pretend to stop me from tickling) and looked into my eyes. I leaned toward him and he came closer to my face and we touched nose to nose for a millisecond. He's a sweetie!

He has dark hair and one of the orphanage workers said he looks like me. Funny since Vlado is Honey's mini me. We only got to spend about 20 minutes with him. We are supposed to go back tomorrow from 9-11 in the morning and will get to meet other officials from the orphanage who give us more information.

We weren't able to get any pictures today. We were actually told that we can't take any pictures until after the adoption ceremony. So you will have to wait a bit for those. It is rainy and cold (for here) outside. I thought the officials were going to have a heart attack that I wasn't wearing a jacket. They don't know me well. Well, I guess I will sign off for now. My brain is full!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

We made it


After seeing the inside of 4 airports and 3 airplanes, we have finally arrived at our destination. The second flight today was brutal....it seemed to never end! And then the third flight, there was a screaming toddler for the entire 1.5 hours. I don't think I've ever been so happy to have a plane land. :) I wasn't able to sleep this time on the flights so by the time we got here, I had a full blown migraine. But a good old Relpax tablet and 4 hours of sleep and it is gone, praise the Lord!

I do have a really sweet thing happen on the 8 hour flight. Vlado actually fell asleep in my arms with his head against my chest. He has NEVER done that before. He only slept for about an hour, but it was sweet to have him there. I think that was the only time that he really slept, and he still has more energy than Honey and I combined.

Our meeting is tomorrow at noon (6am eastern time) and then we will get to meet our little guy after that. This Mama is gonna get some more sleep now.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Vlado - coming with us

Honey and I have both had MANY people ask the same question over the last few days. So, I'm thinking there are others that have the same question.

The question is this. Do you think Vlado will be scared going back to the orphanage?

First of all, let me assure you that Honey and I have thought long and hard about this. We are completely aware that the first couple days might be very scary and anxiety provoking for our little man. He did live in the orphanage for the first 4 years of his life. He was in foster care for 2 years before we met him and took him to live with us. Even though he had been away from the orphanage for 2 years, we know that he remembered at least some of it by his reaction when we went to visit the orphanage during our last week there. He was clingy and a little withdrawn while we were there, but he seemed to relax relatively quickly when we left.

We feel that, even if he is nervous at first, this experience will end up strengthening his bond to us. We will go to the orphanage to visit little brother, but at the end of the visit, all three of us will go back to our apartment together. I think it will become even more clear to him (over the first few days especially) that we are a family and we are "stuck" together....and we aren't going to leave him. I'm sure he will need a lot of extra holding and snuggles during this time. He might regress a little or a lot. We truly are prepared. We have been talking to him for a while about this trip. I hope he understands, but if he doesn't....he will get it soon. He's a pretty smart kiddo!

We are 36 hours or so from takeoff!

This family needs YOU!

Last July 4th, our family traveled to New York for a camping trip. This wasn't your normal hang out around the camp fire toasting marshmallows kind of trip although we did do that. This was the first ever Reece's Rainbow family reunion. I was so excited to finally meet these people whose blogs I had stalked over the years. :) These were families who had stepped forward to claim their children that were born across the ocean and had been abandoned and forgotten.

One of the families that I met was the Spitz family. Their story is a little complicated but it is an amazing one! If you go here you can read their unbelievable journey! They have completed two international adoptions in less than 2 years and are working on a 3rd. They are an incredible family and they need help to bring home their angel girl. I remember Summer hugging me when we met...it was like she had known me forever. She has this way about her. She has loved Lilianna for two years and the whole family can't wait to get her home so she can learn what being loved and cherished is all about. Please help! Can you give up a meal at McDonalds? Or a Starbucks coffee? Believe it or not, $5 is HUGE! If you can't give, share! This giveaway ends today.....which, by the way is Summer's birthday! Help us blow her away!

Friday, April 13, 2012

3 DAYS!!!

I can't believe it is this close! In less than 72 hours, we will be leaving our house for the last time as a family of 3. At this time in 3 days, we will be sitting on our first plane (I'm assuming we will be boarding) waiting for the plane to take off at 11:20. To be honest, I haven't even taken our suitcases out of the closet. I started a list of things to bring the other day, and we do have a box with a bunch of random things we have thought of. I have the rest of our paperwork that we have to bring in a folder on the counter. I worked the last 2 days so I haven't had time to do the gazillion things that I need to do.

Today, I had a meeting at the school to discuss summer school. It really isn't a question with us. Vlado LOVES learning, so if they offer additional school, we are happy with that. Last summer, summer school was amazing for him. So, I'm really excited to see how he progresses this year. We're still trying to figure out what to do as far as schooling with our new little one. I guess time will tell.

Now....for some entertainment. This video was taken at school the other day with Vlado and his ELL teacher. They did an essay together and then he read it. You have to remember, this is a child that was not speaking 17 months ago and we were told that he would never learn or even be able to go to school. They could not have been more wrong!





p.s. Our boy's name is not Viktor yet, but that is what we are going to change his name to. I can't tell you his name yet. And we are not staying in the Holiday Inn....I have no idea where that came from. He has become obsessed with the Holiday Inn and Applebees lately. LOL!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Can I count this as therapy?

Quite often when I go downstairs to our basement to light a fire (we have a wood stove that provides most of our house's heat), Vlado goes with me. He doesn't get to go into the basement much so I think he likes to take every opportunity to go with me. Since our stove is there, we have quite a bit of wood down there as well. And, as I'm sure you can guess, there is quite a bit of wood shavings and other various "wood dirt" on the floor. Vlado is still very much a neat freak. When he is downstairs with me, he uses his foot to sweep up the small wood chips into little piles. Tonight, I handed him a little broom/dustpan set...little as in about 4 inches. He squealed because he was so excited. He proceeded to go around the basement floor sweeping dirt up into little piles and then into the dustpan. He found a small box to dump it into. With every pile, he would smile and say, "See! Clean the floor!" I watched him sweep the floor with that tiny broom for a half an hour. Since it took hand/eye coordination to get the dirt up into the dustpan and also the squatting down surely helped his leg muscles.....it is therapy, right?? Otherwise, I think it might be counted as cruel and unusual punishment. I mean, what mother has her son sweep the floor with a 4 inch broom? :)

Here we go again!

There have been so many things happening in the background of this blog. What I mean by that is there has been some activity happening in our home that I have been quite silent about. I'm not exactly sure why I chose to keep it all a secret. It is actually amazing news and something I should be shouting from the roof tops. But, I allowed myself to be scared by what others might think about our news. I know with 100% certainty that this is what we are being called to do. Still, there are some that might not like it. But I am going to yell it anyway!

WE ARE ADOPTING AGAIN!!!

In fact, we leave in just a few short days....one week in fact! We will be adding a little brother to our family. I truly wanted a girl this time. We received the information on little brother and I fought it! There were so many things that I told God during the week or so after we received the referral. "God, you know I wanted a girl. You know I wanted a YOUNGER girl! I DO NOT WANT THIS!" I'm sure He just smiled and I'm sure I heard His voice. "You might not want it, but this is what I want for you!" So we decided to go for it. Little brother is just 8 months younger than Vlado and in reality, he is not "little." I mean, he is a little boy, but he is bigger than Vlado.

Little brother is currently living in an orphanage.....the very same orphanage that Vlado lived in before he went into foster care in his country. My boys actually lived there at the same time as infants and toddlers. In this Mama's heart, I can see them in their cribs side by side. I can picture them on the floor playing with blocks as small toddlers (although I'm not sure that happens) I know it is possible that they were never together in the same room, but still I think about it.

We are bringing Vlado with us on this adventure! I worried about taking him out of school for 3 weeks, but this is a very important event in our family. We are blessed that one of those weeks is a school vacation, so he will only miss 2 weeks of school. He is excited to be getting a brother although I don't think he knows why he is excited. He is the same excited as a toddler who knows that there is a baby in Mommy's belly that is going to come to live with them. But that same toddler doesn't truly understand until Mommy comes home from the hospital with a bundle in a blanket. Sharing his home and parents is good in theory, right? The actuality of it might take some getting used to. :) But still we can't wait to go!

Are you ready to take another adoption ride with us??