Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New Pictures

Here are some new pics..... Driving a car, putting on new clothes and sitting with mommy.... She loves her mommy already and loves new clothes!!

Day 5 and 6

So here is the day five and six recaps since I was too lazy to really go in and make the updates yesterday!

Day five started out pretty benign and stayed that way at the end of the day.  It was a sunday, so not much was really going on, even though most things were still open and doing business.  One of the things that we noticed this time that we really didn't notice last time we were doing the adoption with Lucy is how few people seem to be going to any kind of religious service of any kind.  Whether it be to an orthodox church or a synagogue or mosque or whatever.  Just would have thought there would be more activity around religious settings than there is and last time I guess we just didn't pay much attention.  Maybe we jsut didn't see it and it is happening.  Not real sure.  Just thought it was interesting to note.

Other than that note, the rest of the day was pretty straight forward.  We got up and went to see Harper at our normal time in the AM and had a nice time with her playing and having fun.  She likes the simple things in life it seems.  She likes playing with plastic bags, she likes playing with us and she likes to just generally have fun running back and forth between us and giving us big hugs.  We tried buying her a new doll the other day and a little purse with some things that would resemble minature "getting ready" stuff like a hair dryer and brush etc... She wanted nothing to do with anything we brought, except the bag.  She played with that bag for probably 45 minutes, waving it around, putting her head in it, putting it on top of her head like a hat... It was endless fun for her.  It was the classic example we all have seen before of the child loving the box more than the present inside at Christmas.... Classic...

We wrapped up the day with some singing from the phone.  We are playing a few songs for her everyday from my phone from Sesame Street or Elmo or Ralphs World or something that Ragen and Lucy love so she will start getting used to it.  She sings along sometimes with a really cute high pitched voice that makes us both laugh.  Not for very long, but she tries which is pretty cool.

Day six started off by Dena and I wanting to buy a few new clothes for her to wear, as everytime we see her she seems to have the same thing on and she really stinks something pretty fierce.  We sense that she is not getting much in teh way of baths so we thought maybe some new clothes would freshen her up a bit.  So we went around to a few clothing stores in town and tried to look around for something that would be good for going outside when it is nice yet, indoor friendly as well.  Dena found some pants and a shirt that looked good and so we picked it up along with a few other things for her.  She needed some new shoes so we picked up those as well.

When we got to the orphanage, we could not wait to put on the new clothes and see what she thought.  We had no clue what would happen next and we dropped our jaws when we saw it.... We pulled out the clothes from the bag and ended up showign them to her.  She actually held up the clothes to herself as if she was looking to see if they were big enough or if they looked good on her.  That was funny and surprising, but only a start.  Then she started to rip off her shirt that she was wearing and had no regard for whether or not it came off without tearing.  As she took off her own shirt, Dena and I raised an eyebrow and took it in, feelign pretty good that she could take off her own shirt, good progress for a child in an orphanage and having Down Syndrome.  Then what we saw next blew us away.... She actually started to put the shirt on and not just put on over her head and play around. No, she actually put the shirt all the way on and then looked at us after wards as if to say, ok, whats next!  We were stunned and blown away.  It just was incredible to us that she was doing this on her own.  We looked at each other and just laughed.  Pretty cool.  Then she proceeded to take off and put on this same shirt 3 times in a row with no help from us.  And again, this was not just a plain t shirt.  It was a longer shirt that had a hood and was not easy to tell which was the front and which was the back.  She is s sharp cookie as Grandpa Sader would say.

So after that display of sheer genius, we just were happy as clams and had some great fun with her from that point forward.  We have noticed that she likes the juice we are bringing, so we started to bring a full bottle at every session and try to give to her slowly.  She does seem to have a problem with reflux or something as everytiem we are there, she seems to spit up a bit and she does it before we give her anyting to eat or drink. Not sure if she has a snack just before we come or not, but something seems to make her a little sick everytime we are there.  Mostly when she bends down and forces pressure on her belly while reaching for something at her feet.

So we are on to day 7 in country and already itching to see our girls back home.  We miss them so very much.  They are being loved on and taken care of in awesome fashion by family, but we still miss all their little isms.... We did Skype with Ragen yesterday as Lucy was sleeping and Ragen just set her head on her hands and looked into the screen and smiled and it just melted us.  We miss them so much and are ready to just scoop up this little brown eyed beauty over here and make our way home.  But we are unsure of when that will be at this point.  We have hit some snags in the process that are making things a bit more unpredictable than planned.  So prayers would be great for a smooth ride the rest of the way and timely court date for bringing her home.

Much love to all reading...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Day 4 Recap

Not much going on for day 4.  We started the day with a quick breakfast and then headed off to see Harper for our normal morning time with her.  This time we went right with her to the play room inside so that we could have her undivided attention on play and building a bond.  There are about 20 other kids in her group that are always together "playing".  They don't so much play as they just sit around and screw around in the dirt while the nannies/caregivers watch them do nothing.  The little kids seem so bored and so under stimulated that it just breaks our hearts.
So we rolled over to the play room and just started goofing around with her in anyway possible to just start building trust with her and building a bond.  She really loves to give hugs to us so we just started with that.  She just ran back and forth between us and gave hugs over and over again for about 10 min.  Then she started to walk over to a storage area for dolls and pulled out this horrible doll that we have in the pictures.  Last time around the nasty doll that we confronted was this eerie looking doll that had steel blue cold eyes and looked possesed.  This time around it was just a horribly beat up doll that had a mullett hair cut and was about to lose one of her legs to old age.  But she loved it so we just watched her play with it and tried every once in a while to enter into her world the best we could.  Alot of the morning session just was us watching her play and trying to understand what he likes and dislikes might be so that we could learn to join her in her play.
We wrapped up the morning session with a change of a diaper of course as they diaper situation is a bit crazy again.  It is not the same as last year where we saw used diapers hanging in the room to dry to be used again, but she stunk of pee and we just thought we wanted to start in on getting her cleaned up a bit before we left.  She left back to the group, looked back and waved goodbye and we walked home to the hotel.

The afternoon session was a scorcher.  It has been still pretty hot here, in the upper 80s and it was humid as all get out.  The orphanage is in a bit of a low area and so there is no wind that gets in and it is stagnant.  We did the best we could to continue to bond with her and play different games with her.  We played with a ball back and forth, we played with some cars, we played some singing games and she was pretty well engaged with us the whole time.  She was sweating, I was sweating and Dena was really sweating.  We were having a good time but we got cut short when the caretakers came in and took her away.  They seemed to be having dinner a bit earlier than normal and so we had to leave a little bit earlier than we had expected.

We bought her a doll as well that day to see if we could get her used to a new doll and see how she reacted to something new.  But in typical little kid style, she took the doll out, looked at it, played with it for 10 sec and then spent the next hour infatuated with the bag the store gave us to carry the doll in.  Amazing.... What we have learned from her in watching her though is that she is alot like Ragen in her play.  She is a bit independent, never really just sits and takes it in, can play with one thing for seemingly forever and gets upset if you interupt her play.  Similar qualities to Ragen and it will be interesting to see how they interact when they first meet.  I predict some fireworks, but shortly thereafter I think all will be well.

Day five recap tomorrow.  We are waiting for this weekend to end so we can get back to paperwork.  They have so many holidays here and so we just are hoping that we can finish up some paperwork on Monday and get in front of the court on Monday as well for setting of a date with the judge to get full custody.  We are praying hard that this will happen by end of next week, Thursday or Friday.  But we just don't know yet what will happen.  Prayers are welcome on this as we don't want to be away from Ragen and Lucy any longer than we have to.

Interesting Questions

I forgot to tell a quick story in my last post about an interesting question we got from the orphanage director the other day when we first arrived at the orphanage.  Last time around with Lucy, we didn't really face any of these odd questions from the people at the orphanage, but we did get the doozy questoin from the judge when he asked if we Americans sold orphans for body parts.  Yeah, we laughed on the inside too, but calmly told him no and that was never something we would do.  Really we just wanted to bust out laughing and tell him he was high for even thinking something like that.  But just like us, we all come into situations both at home and abroad where we confront preconcieved notions and ideas that we just have to do our best to shoot down as quickly and politely as possible.  And do it in love so that the other person doesn't feel like an idiot for asking.
So on this trip, we really hadn't run into anything like that again until we hit the orphanage and the director ended up asking us at the beginning of the interview why were adopting a second child and why we wanted three kids with Down Syndrome.  Our facilitator did his best to translate and then the fine gentleman looked back at us puzzled and asked us if the US govt somehow rewarded us for having kids with disabilities.  He wanted to know if we got extra money somehow for having these kids.  He just could not wrap his brain around the fact that some people just are ok with having kids that don't look, talk, walk, act or generally behave like typical kids.  It is always a bit sad when people ask questions like this because it actually shows more about their mindset and mentality than ours.  But you also have to just chalk it up to more ignorance than anything else.  Just another reason why our adoption cooridination organization has placed over 800 kids in the last few years with families, as this country still is so backwards in the way they think about, care for and discard children with disabilities.

Friday, August 24, 2012


Here are some pictures from our first few visits.  Big brown eyes and a great laugh....

We Have Arrived- Day 1, 2 and 3 Recap

We have arrived in country and are excited about the days ahead.  The journey here was a bit long, as it always is to get over here, but rather uneventful, which is the way that you would hope that traveling would be.  We had a few moments of frustration and a few moments where God showed up to clean up our frustrations in classic ways.
We left Rochester MN on Monday on a flight to Chicago and then transfered in Chicago to a big ol Boeing 777 for our trip to London.  We arrived in London on Tuesday morning and had about an hour and a half to gather ourselves before continuing on to Eastern Europe.  We took a few moments in the American Airlines/British Airways lounge to catch their great breakfast and some free wifi to catch up on email and for Dena to check in on Facebook.  Then we were off again.
We hoped on our three hour flight to eastern europe and instantly I caught my second wind but Dena hit a wall hard and struggled to get any sleep on that flight.
We landed and did our duty to wait in line for what seemed like forever to clear passport control and customs to pick up our bag.  Once on the other side, our faciliator met us and we were on our way to change money.  While I was waiting in line to change money, Dena and our facilitator brought our bags to his car, which was not good timing because as he was gone, they started clearing the airport arrivals area and I had no idea what they wanted me to do.  Some guy with a white coat came up and started yelling at everyone to do something but I was clueless.  And to boot, I was watching the lady in the exchange booth count out my money she was about to give me so I was in no hurry to go wherever they wanted me to go.
Turns out, as my facilitator raced back in to see how I was doing, they were clearing the airport because of a bomb threat and we needed to get out now.  Thankfully the woman finsihed counting my money and handed it over.  We moved fast to the car and out of site from the airport just in case the threat was more than just a prank.  Turns out it was just a prank and nothing came of the threat.
The rest of the afternoon was rather uneventful, we drove around the city with our facilitator and ran some errands with him and then he dropped us at our apartment.  We got a few small things from the store to tide us over and then we turned in for the night after 30+ hours without sleep.

Day two arrived and it was the day of our first appt with the govt agency that gets the adoption process moving when we are in country, called the SDA.  Our appt was at 11am and we woke up at about 9am, after waking up at Midnight with jet lag, to get ready.  Off we went and the appt took all of about 10 min and we were done.  We had the same lady working with us that we had last year and she remembered us and we showed her pictures of Lucy and how she was adapting.  It was pretty cool.  She made a nice comment to us about how she thought we were good people for doing what we are doing in coming back again, we thanked her for the kind words and said to her that maybe we would see her again next summer!  Not likely!! :)

After the appt we took the rest of the day to take a bit of a tour with our facilitator, as last time we were here we did not have the chance to really explore this big capital city.  It is really pretty and has such history that we wanted to take the time on this trip to do that.  So he took us around the rest of the day to a number of different spots, the highlights being a boat tour on the river the city sits beside and a visit to a Orthodox Christian cathedral called St Michaels.  It was kind of your typical large cool old church until we stepped inside and they were doing one of the rituals they do daily.  As a part of the rituals, the priests and head priest were doing this cool chanting thing that I have never heard in person before which was really cool to hear.
At the end of the day, we were blessed to get our SDA Referral approved in teh same day as we had the appt, which just never happens.  We were excited because this meant we could leave the next day to the region and city where Harper is and get all set up at the orphanage to see her over the long holiday weekend of Friday Sat and Sunday.  If we would have gotten the Referral one day later, we would likely have to have waited till MOnday to see her which would have been a drag.  So we were really blessed to have the nice people work so hard, both our facilitators and the SDA people.

Day three started out really early, getting in the car with our facilitator at 6am for the drive 2.5 hours away to her city.  It was a smooth drive with really nice roads and we moved right along.  We arrived in her city and found it to be about the same size as the city we were in last year, but it seemed to be a bit different, it seemed a bit more modern.  The city we were in last year jsut seemed to be a bit more run down.
We went right away to the local SDA office and our facilitator did some paperwork with the local lady and then we were off to the orphanage.
When we arrived, we noticed right away that this orphanage is much smaller than the one last year.  It is just a few groups of kids, maybe two or three and on a very small grounds.  They have some nice outside space to play, but limited inside space.  Although the inside space they have is laid out well and they have a couple of nice playrooms with all kinds of toys.  Good for the rainy days.
We were brought right into the directors office to meet him and to go over Harpers medical issues and history.  Nothing real revealing in this session.  Mostly just the same ol same old.  Heart condition, issues with general health etc... The funny thing that we both rolled our eyes at though was the Directors statement that she " Does not have much of the downs, in the face".  They said she was pleasant and generally a great demeanour.
Then, out of no where, in romps this little ball of energy with dark brown hair, brown eyes and a small that lights up the room.  She flies right by us and right over to one of the nurses.  She must have a nice bond with her because she got hugs and kisses from her.  We both felt a little disapointed actually with this moment, because last time around they kind of brought Lucy to us and sat her on Denas lap just like she had just had her naturally.  It was a moment for Dena to bond with Lucy and created a special memory.  This time it was not so special.  We were caught off guard and she just ran right past us.  A bit disappointing.
So we got a chance to play with her for about 20 min and then left again, with the intention of coming back later to play longer.
We moved off to the hotel and checked in and got situated while our facilitator ran around on some errands. We settled in and he came back to get us to go shopping for food and to buy a fan for our room. There is no air in teh room and Dena takes medication that makes her very hot most of the time, so we needed something to keep the air flowing in the room.  We got all of that done and then had some lunch and then rested a bit.  Then about 5pm they dropped us back at the orphanage for our longer visit for the day.  From there our facilitator left till Monday and we walked back to the Hotel after.  It is about a 20 min walk and is nice to break up the day with that walk.  Last year we took a taxi everytime cause we couldn't walk and so this time it is nice to not have to do that.  Helps to save money as well.
The afternoon session with Harper was great.  She warmed up to us a bit and we had fun playing with her in the play room.  She is so energetic and smiley and loves to hug.  She is walking and talking and everything that we did not really expect to be honest.  We were expecting more like Lucy and where she is at.  Just barely starting to walk, not really feeding herself, not talking, not good with her motor skills, low tone etc...  She is anything but that.  She has great tone, she walks great, she is doing some talking, she feeds herself fine and wow does she have energy.  In abundance.  I think it is mostly cause they really don't do jack with them all day but sit around and do nothing.  The caretakers here don't seem to be all that motivated to be playing.  They mostly just sit around when we see them and talk and don't pay much attention to the kids unless they are doing something bad and then they scream at them.  Anyways, Harper is just very different than we expected and planned for and it is a bit hard to adjust to, since our other girls are so different from that.  That is what we are used to and comfortable with so this is very new.
We wrapped up day three with our staples, chicken on bread with cheese and some chips and water.  Pretty basic, but it is cheap and easy and we don't have to guess what we are eating.
So that is the first few days we have been here.  Will write up our experience for Friday tomorrow.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Time to GO!

WOW...well when it comes to us and the "U", their timeliness has been extremely quick. Either that or they know somehow that I hate surprises and want to keep me on my toes. We will be leaving this weekend and just found out today! Last year when we traveled for Lucy, we got a 5 day notice....this year we were anticipating a more "normal" waiting period....but no, it's us, what was I thinking??? So we will be leaving in 6 days to drop off our girls with family in Minnesota and then on to the "U". Prayers for my girls as we leave them behind and prayers for our safety and this journey as we travel across the globe to meet our 3rd daughter would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I'm here....getting ready once again!

Well as I've admitted before and I'll admit it once again, I am not a good blogger :-P Hopefully Rob will lead us on this part of our crusade once again as we anticipate travel within a few weeks. You would think that since we've been down this road once before that everything would be kosher for me, but it's not. Yes, I'm nervous! Just as nervous as with Lucy....maybe even a little more. So I continue to hold onto God's promises.....that if He leads us to it he will bring us through it....He did NOT forsake us with Lucy, and I know He will be there for us with Harper (Charity). All the questions that keep coming up... What if she doesn't like me? Lucy is a DREAM, what if Harper is the exact opposite? What if I don't bond with her? How will I manage 3 CHILDREN with Down Syndrome? How will Ragen learn to accept her? How will Lucy manage seeing her Mommy hold another? Will there be enough of me to go around? Will we be able to stay afloat financially? How will my girls do while we are gone? The questions seem endless.... Please do NOT get me wrong...I am getting very very excited to meet my daughter, to hold her, to touch her, to smell her, to make her smile, to make her laugh, to bring her chocolate and feed it to her when the caretakers aren't looking :-)...it's jut the evil one trying to get to me and put doubts in my head...just like last time. But he will NOT win. Prayers for this upcoming journey in my/our life would be greatly appreciated...