Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Best Ingredients

Want to know the BEST ingredients for a birthday party??
Take one very excited almost 11 year old boy...
Invite a bunch of people for his first ever birthday party...

Make sure to have some RR babes there to make Mama smile
Joshua (Taras on RR)

Sean (Slava on RR)
Make sure the weather is just right for getting thoroughly wet...

Provide water guns and lots of water..

And have fun!!



Having a birthday cake and lots of presents is definitely a bonus!

A sweet day for a very special little boy!

Friday, July 3, 2015

About A Lost Boy

I made promises when we left John's orphanage.  Promises that I would do whatever I could to find families for the five children we left behind.  I've fallen short on those promises as we have spent the last weeks treading in deep water and trying to keep from drowning.  Thankfully the Lord isn't dependent upon me to stir in hearts because two of the five children have families in pursuit.  Wetherby and Reilly will soon be tucked into forever families. 
That leaves three.  CharlieRebecca. Toby
This post is about one.
I cannot write this post without tears streaming down my face.
We met Toby the same day we met John.
His first question to our facilitator... will they adopt me too???
Break my heart!
We couldn't adopt him, but we welcomed him every single time he was allowed to come visit with John. 
We listened as he begged our facilitator for a family.
Please. Please find me a family.

He has Celiac Disease. He can't eat gluten. 
 Celiac disease.  That's his entire special need.

That's not to say that he doesn't have some orphanage behavior. I don't know of any child coming out of those kinds of places who doesn't carry scars from life inside.  Toby is a rocker.  A flapper.  These are called stimming behaviors.  He rocks back and forth when he is sitting or standing.  He flaps his hands and fingers around. They make him look like he is autistic but neither Rob and I believe that he is truly autistic.  What he is is bored and lonely and desperate for a Mama to gather him in her arms and hold him tight.  He stims to comfort himself. He stims because he has no one to soothe his fears and speak kind words to him.  He stims because it his body's way of giving him sensory input. Both John and Aaron stim.  They are both rockers.  John only rocks at night when he is falling asleep.  Aaron rocks both at night and occasionally during the day - usually when he is bored or watching something that has all of his attention.

John was a favorite.  Toby is not.  John's disabilities kept him from being overly physically active.  Toby is all boy contained in a small area filled with other children who are physically and mentally disabled.  He's frustrated and lonely.  He is filled with energy that can't ever be released.  All of his friends have been adopted.  He's been left behind. 

Though he is all boy - he can focus. In fact he tended to be more focused than John at times. 

He loves building and creating and drawing.  He knows his math facts and does well in school. 
He wants a family so badly that when he was around us he would only let us speak English so that he could practice. He was told that if he learned English a family would want him.  So he is desperate, desperate to learn English. 
He's all-boy but he totally knows how to be gentle.  He is surrounded by children who struggle to walk, who need help dressing, who are smaller and vulnerable.  He was so tender towards Aaron. It was almost second nature for him to help him out and to play in a way that wouldn't harm him.  Those are amazing qualities! 
Oh Please won't you SEE Toby.  See him!

I write this with tears streaming.  In the first days when we met Toby he was so happy each time he was allowed to be with us.  Unfortunately, though we granted him permission to come, the nannies would often refuse his request and we had to leave him behind in his groupa.  He would cry and beg and plead and cry some more.  We would leave him behind with broken hearts as we listened to his weeping and pleading. It broke our hearts.
We loved when he was allowed to be with us. He was always polite and well-mannered and quick to do whatever it is we were doing. He was a pleasure to have around.
After court, I left for home and Rob stayed and visited each day with John and often with Toby.  When I left, Toby hugged me goodbye. I held him and kissed his head. I told him I would be back in a few weeks.  He understood.  He knew the routine. 
Two weeks later I came back.  My coming meant that John was leaving.  My coming meant that Toby was going to lose his best friend.  My coming meant that he was going to be left behind.
I will never ever forget Toby's eyes the day I walked back into his groupa. I expected a smile and a hug. I received neither. He instead gave me a hollow, blank look.  A stare that spoke volumes.  Grief leaked from his eyes into mine.  He was sitting on the floor in front of the small snow-filled TV staring up and me.  I wanted to gather him in my arms.  Apologize.  Whisper comfort.  Make promises to this Lost Boy that someone out there would surely find him.
I couldn't do any of that. We just stared at each other. Grief flowing between us. 
Saying goodbye to him was like tearing a bit of my heart out. I brought him gifts.  Two Lego sets.  I gave both of them to him but sadly the nannies took one away and gave it to another boy.  I took it back.  Made it clear that it was for Toby. His.  His alone. I doubt he was allowed to keep it.
It was all I had to offer this sweet boy who wants a family more than he wants anything else in the world.

 Please see him!!  Please see Toby!

At the end of August, from what we have been told our Fabulous Five will be moved out of this orphanage.  The facility is getting a name change. It will become a rehabilitation center.  NOTHING ABOUT THE PLACE WILL CHANGE EXCEPT THE NAME but because of the name change the five true orphans are being transferred.  From what we understand, where they will be going is NOTHING like this place.  NOTHING.
We doubt that Toby will be transferred to the same place as the others since he is not physically/mentally disabled.  Please read what another RR mom wrote when she found out Toby will be transferred:
"I don't know where he will go, but I have personally visited two of the institutions that are likely candidates. I can tell you that Toby's shy and gentle spirit will be completely crushed by the harsh and competitive atmospheres at both of those other institutions. The orphanage where Toby lives is a kind and nurturing place, and the other two institutions in this same city are completely opposite."

Rob and I visited one of those institutions and we agree.  It is an awful fit for him. 
Toby needs a family. He desperately needs a family.

Please pray. Please consider.
If you can't adopt him, please give to his grant account so that money is NOT a stumbling block for a family.
See him. He is truly a hidden treasure!
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
Who will sell everything to find this Lost Boy??

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Inside a Family

Summer Days.

Lazy Days.

It's some of what we have been doing around here...

Little boys being little boys.  (Shh.. don't tell him... he's getting a real bike in August thanks to the kind people at Wheels on the James.)


More Swimming!!

Haircuts by Mama...

Yes, she needs a haircut... one of these days...
Plenty of firsts for our newest littlest.
We are slowly slipping into a new norm.  The shock of the first weeks is easing and our newest is settling into the rhythm of life inside a family.  We still have our ups and downs but we are learning, growing and loving deeper as the days go by. 
John is learning to swim, learning to hop, learning his letters and the sounds that go with them, learning that Papa works during the day and can't be disturbed even if he is in the office in the garage.  He's learning that playing with Aaron is quite fun.  He's learning that corn on the cob, broccoli and green beans are good to eat. He's learning that butter tastes good on bread.  He's learning about love and forgiveness.  He's learning about God.  He's learning.

Friday, June 26, 2015

One Lonely Butterfly

A few weeks ago we dismantled the room we had set up for the cutest little girl across the ocean.
  Our two littlest were shouting with glee as we cleaned it out and made it into a fun toy room for them. 
 It's a tiny room and making it into a toy room made the most sense since they are sharing the other small bedroom. 
In the midst of their joy at having their own space, I had to wipe away some tears.  As Rob removed the bunk beds, we discovered one stray butterfly.  I missed it when I pulled the butterflies off the wall in April.  I didn't take it down.  I couldn't bear to remove it. So our boys now have one lonely butterfly on the wall above their massive piles of Legos. 
Don't get me wrong. I love our newest and wouldn't trade him for anything in the world.  Even though he is testing and pressing and pushing the boundaries, my love for him is growing ever deeper as the days go by.
 Each morning he comes down with the happiest grin on his face and will often climb into my lap so Mama can 'eat John.'  He sits in my lap and I hug him and kiss him and he giggles and feigns horror at my kissing claiming that I will eat him up. I wouldn't trade those moments.  Not for a million.  A trillion.  Ever.
But I still grieve. I can't help it. I still miss the little girl we left behind.  So does Rob.  Grief hits us when we least expect it.  I pray for her daily.  I long for a family to find her and for her to say yes. Yes!


So I'm keeping the lonely butterfly.  It is a reminder to pray for the one we left behind.  A little girl who needs a family. A Mama, a Papa and a room to call her own.

Her listing is back on Reece's Rainbow. 


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sweet Times

Ben and I arrived home late early early Sunday morning.
Note to self.  Next time you park in the economy parking lot at Dulles Airport... don't just remember the LOT you are in but please remember the ROW.  Otherwise you will find yourself at 1:00 am in the morning dragging your luggage through a massively huge parking lot trying to figure out where in the world you parked your car. If a security officer happens to drive by and offer to help - SAY YES.  Then tip her nicely when she helps you finally find your lost vehicle!
We spent Father's day resting and resting some more. After dinner we headed down to our favorite river to swim.

The water was a LOT higher than normal so the little boys, Rob and I sat and watched Ben and Elijah wade up the river and ride the current.

We then walked/drove to another part of the river where the little boys could enjoy the water too.


I love these guys.
They make my heart sing.