Saturday, May 30, 2015

Fields of Yellow

Fields of yellow flowers dotted the countryside over there. 

We were told they were harvested to make some kind of oil. They were beautiful and our driver was kind enough to stop and let us enjoy them up close. 

It was cold.  It was raining.  My camera was acting up. 


I was still glad we stopped.



Sometimes you just have to stop and smell the roses yellow flowers.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Trench Work

If you watch Little Orphan Annie or Oliver Twist you get the impression that adoption is a romantic, whimsical fairytale.  A wonderful benefactor swoops in and rescues a child from a life of misery, providing them the desires of their hearts and everyone lives happily ever after.  It's a great feel-good story.  It makes for great movies, books and blog readings.
I'm a sap. I love those kinds of stories. I love watching whimsical movies and reading books about rescued orphans and following blogs during the adoption process.  I love when misery is erased and happy ever after ensues.

But here's the truth.  Adoption isn't whimsical.  It's not romantic.  It's messy.  It involves brokenness and loss.  It's about motherless and fatherless children (despite many of those children having biological mothers and fathers still living). It's about rejection and neglect. It involves torn families and separated siblings.  Adoption is an acknowledgement that a child has lost something precious.

We wish we could say now that John is home, we are living the happy ever after.  We wish.  In reality we are in the hardest part. The trench work.  The part where you take a child who has experienced brokenness and loss and you help them find healing and hope within the security of a family. Our son came to us after spending almost 11 years in an institution.  His entire understanding of how relationships work is based upon his relationships with the children and caretakers in his institution.  It's a warped understanding. It brings with it gross misconceptions and behaviors and attitudes that need to be changed.  This doesn't happen overnight. It doesn't take place without trauma.  It's trench work.  It's exhausting and confusing for everyone involved. On top of that is the language barrier and with it the struggle to communicate to a traumatized child during the hardest adjustment of their lives.

A few years ago I wrote a post titled THE LIST. I wrote it after being in the trenches with Aaron. I'm reading it again as I sit here in the trenches with this newest son of ours. I need the reminders on there.  I need others to read THE LIST who know us in real life so that they have a clue what we are going through. Trench work is not pretty and there have been many days in the last three weeks when we have looked at each other and wondered what we have done.  I've struggled with doubt, fear, insecurity and everything else that comes with parenting a little boy who doesn't speak my language and who is testing every single solitary boundary there is.
His first days out were a nightmare. Our mature talking 10 year old Ukr*I*n who had charmed everyone's socks off all his life became a toddler on steroids with us once we walked him out of those gates. He reverted to baby behavior but with the deviousness of a 10 year old. We are still recovering from that shock. He's smart and manipulative and quick to figure out angles and knows how to work us both and is so darn cute and desperate for us to love him despite his crazy behavior right now.
 We have had to come to terms with the reality that right now he needs us to see him as a toddler and treat him accordingly.  We've had to set strict boundaries of what he can and can't do. He needs constant supervision.  He is learning all about time-in on Mama's chair next to her computer. He is learning that no in this family truly means no. He is learning that here in our house he takes turns, shares, sometimes loses and cannot have everything he wants. He is learning that if he turns his nose up at the food we provide then he can't have ice cream and Oreos 15 minutes later. These are HARD lessons!!

It's not easy. Not for John and not for everyone else in the family. In the same way that a newborn baby changes all the family dynamics, adoptions affect family relationship across the board. We are struggling to come to terms with our new normal. We haven't figured it all out yet which makes this phase a bit messy and frustrating for everyone.  Aaron is feeling the change probably the hardest as he is having to share his favorite Papa in the world.  He likes order and routine and adding a new brother has been anything but orderly.
Despite everything though, we love our newest son who was God's choice for our family and who is going to push us beyond what we thought we could do. He's a precious boy, ornery but precious. I love holding him in my lap and cuddling him and he soaks up those times. I love holding his hand when we are walking together and I love when he reaches out to be picked up and held.  We are committed to go through thick and thin with him behavior issues, medical issues and all!! 

He's very much worth digging in the trenches!
For those who know us in real life, please read THE LIST. For those who are themselves in the trenches, you should read it too.  If you are adopting, or thinking of adopting please check it out!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day and Victory Day

I don't usually do holidays on this blog, but living in a free country means more to us after spending the last 3 months in and out of a country struggling with what freedom should look like.  Much of what we witnessed over there was not what we would define as freedom.  What we have here is precious and rare and should never ever be taken for granted.

To all those who have served, including my dad and my sweet husband, and to all those who are now serving...
Thank you!
Thank you!
We happened to be in John and Aaron's country during their Victory Day Celebration. With two little boys who were bouncing off the walls in the apartment, we decided that the terrorist threats for the capital that day were not strong enough to keep us inside.  So we ventured out.
There was a police presence everywhere. 
At one point we went down in an underground tunnel in order to cross the street and walked past an entire regiment of men in uniform all standing in formation from one end of the tunnel to the other.  They stared at us and we stared just as hard back at them. It was probably the strangest experience I'd ever encountered in that country.  An entire regiment of about 50+ men just standing there in an underground tunnel staring at us as we walked by with two little boys and a wheelchair.  The temptation to take their picture was SO STRONG, but I refrained. I don't think Rob would have been too happy with me! I satisfied myself by taking pictures out on the streets with my zoom lens. 


Their Victory Day is an end of World War II celebration.
This World War II vet was proud to have his picture taken with the boys.

Even though it was Victory Day, most of what we saw centered around the Revolution from the year before and those who lost their lives.

What would a celebration be without John taking the opportunity to show off his hand walking skills.

Frustratingly enough for him, only one person acknowledged all his hard efforts!

We were glad we braved the streets. It was good to get out and see a bit of their country.

And it kept two little boys out of trouble which was definitely a bonus!!

That was most definitely a Victory for us!

Thursday, May 21, 2015


Sometimes plans change.
Sometimes staying home is better than one more trip on top of too many other trips. 
Sometimes God provides an opportunity for rest instead of running. 
I took the sometime and ran with it. I'm home. The Lord provided coverage for the convention so I didn't have to go.  Ben and two others are carrying the load.  Rob and I and the littles get to stay home and enjoy home.  I'm not complaining. 
Will you pray? Pray for this sweet boy? 
I have so much to share about a trip I took when I was in country.  I wanted to take my time and tell you the story of that trip and the boys I met.  But this little guy doesn't have the luxury of time.  His Reece's Rainbow name is Ben and he is desperate for a family.  He needs one NOW.  He is tiny. The tiniest six year old I have ever held in my arms.  They are trying their best to keep him alive. He has special caregivers and a special room and they are trying so hard to feed him so that he can retain  food, but they aren't equipped to meet his needs, and he isn't doing well.   
Please pray for tiny Ben.

He needs a family.  He desperately needs medical care. 
He is available for adoption. 
Sometimes stories have to wait and sometimes instead you just have to yell.  This is that sometime. 
Mama and Papa - where are you??  Please come rescue your son! He needs you!!  He is oh so precious.  Holding your son in my arms was an unbelievable privilege. So teeny and so so sweet.  He's so ready to soak up all the love you have to give to him!  Hurry! Hurry. He doesn't have time to wait.  He needs you now.
I have so much more to share about Ben's world. For now I ask you to please pray for him. Pray a family will bravely step up and answer the call to bring him home.  Pray and consider and donate.  He has a $1,000 matching grant so every donation to his grant account will be doubled!! 

Thank you.
Thank you!


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Home... Until Tomorrow

Since February I've flown to Texas and driven to South Carolina and Tennessee.  I've crossed the ocean three separate times on 13 different airplanes. I've spent 4 nights on a train and took 4 other train trips besides. I've ridden subways, buses and been driven around a foreign city and country by countless drivers.  In the in-between at home times I taught my classes, spent countless hours dealing with our business, made dinner for whomever happened to be in the house and was a mom and wife to my family.
So when I say I am grateful to be home I mean it.

Home with all four of my sons under the same roof.  Home with my husband and our sweet dog and our little house in the woods.
Until tomorrow.  When I am off again to North Carolina to another convention.  Ugh!
Oh well... Winston Salem is only 4 hours away. 
When we  traveled on our first trip we carried with us a suitcase full of 30 beautifully handmade scarves that we gave to the director at John's institute for the children there. The scarves were made by a sweet lady who has supported so many of our endeavors on this blog. When she gave me the scarves I had NO IDEA that she was also adopting a boy from the same country as our son.  In fact our adoptions were tracking a week apart - they were submitted a week after us.  I was shocked and very very humbled by their desire to send scarves to orphans (paying for material and postage) when they were in process and trying to raise funds for their own adoption. I was also shocked that she was donating and helping with OUR adoption and yet not saying a word about her own.
And you want to know the really amazing part of this story?  I wasn't the only person who received scarves to give out to orphans this past year. 15 other families were contacted and 15 other families carried over 700 scarves for orphans.  All handmade.  All donated for orphans.  All made by one person.
One person who was in process to adopt and trying to raise funds for their own adoption.  Now that is just downright precious!
 I was hoping and praying that we would run into each other across the ocean, but even though they were submitted a week behind us, our paths never crossed.
Here's the thing.  They have court next week and are $4,500 short. They are adopting an OLDER boy who is close to aging out.  They hosted him last year and fell in love. He has said YES and all they are waiting on is court! Would you consider supporting this family who has supported us and who has a real heart for orphans??  Their need is urgent.  Please!
The link to support them is HERE.  Every single donation counts.  Large or small.  Please??
Also - If you missed my blog post last week about the up and coming BUNDLE SALE then go read about it OR CLICK HERE and sign up to get on the e-mail list!  This is a YOU DON'T WANT TO MISS THIS BUNDLE SALE.... SALE!!  Signing up is EASY and it starts soon and if you don't sign up you are going to miss the announcements AND the bonus stuff they are going to do during the week of the sale. 
You seriously don't want to miss this sale!
And now I am off to enjoy another day at home... until tomorrow.
P.S.  If you are in Winston Salem at the NCHE Convention this weekend, PLEASE stop by my booth.  It always makes my day! And there may be a chance that a little guy .... or two.... from across the ocean will be with me.  Maybe. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Newest Dog Lover

Considering he was rather terrified of the dog even that morning... this was a bit of a breakthrough!

Seriously, how could he not love our Summer-dog.
She is the gentlest soul alive.
I promise I did NOT match shirts. 
Okay, I matched John and Aaron but not Ben and Elijah!
Isn't that the sweetest picture in the entire world???
It made me smile!