Hoping to someday find M's brother adopted in the U.S. -
Myckola Oleksandrovych Markov - 8/26/2003

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tweeters, Twitterers, Tweeps...

Ok so I'm not so up on the whole twitter thing since we only made an account to update stuff from Ukraine, but if you are (or even if you're not) please go follow Reeces Rainbow. Patrican Heaton will donate $1 for every follower up to $10,000. They are at 5,000 now. Also, please try to get the word out about Saving Kirill by using #SaveKirill.

Little Evan (toddler orphan in Russian with Down Sydrome) will have her fate decided tomorrow by a Russian judge as her family will have to endure a 2nd day of deliberations and questioning in a court room before hearing whether or not they'll be allowed to adopt her.

Please pray for this judge. She didn't think Kirill deserved a family because he has Down Syndrome and she believes he's better off an in institution than a family.

Phillip and I spent all day yesterday fasting and praying for this little guy and his family while their appeal was filed. (As much as we could while he was working and I was doing the stay at home mom thing). We prayed with the kids about it and then ate dinner last night. I woke up at 3am last night and prayed for Evan's family who was undergoing questioning in a court room at that very time.

Please pray for these little ones and their families. For kids with Down Syndrome and other special needs, its be adopted or die. Really.

So go tweet, go join the Saving Kirill facebook group SavingKirill@groups.facebook.com, and repost about this on your blogs, facebook, and twitter!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

From IF to WHEN

So last night while Phillip and I were talking about Ukraine, adoption, all the kids that need homes, and how seeing things with your own eyes changes you forever; he said "WHEN" we go back it will either be all of us, or we'll try to do it so one of us can stay with the kids.

Before, it has always been IF. Last night it was WHEN.

We also decided that we would consider a child with HIV. HIV has such a stigma and I WAS terrified of being near anyone who might have it, but after doing some research I've found that its not something that can be easily transmitted from everyday contact in a household environment and with medication a child would be able to live a normal life.

Oh and we also think we'd like to be approved for a sibling group and "older" kids.

So... yeah. Its WHEN. Not sure how soon WHEN is though... I guess we'll leave that one up to God. (Like its not anyways lol)

We really want to get people in our area involved in a hosting program. I've tossed the idea out there to a few people in our church already. I really want to host, but I think we'd need a bigger house. (hmmm...) There is also something else in the works but I don't think its public info yet so I'll wait till that is ready to present and then I can share about it on my blog :) Hopefully, it will help others we know be able to adopt.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Impossible, Difficult, Done

I have never passed a more anxious or trying month in my life, but I never felt God so present with me. -- Hudson Taylor

Ah, yes that is exactly how I felt during the month we spent in Ukraine. To really be stripped of everything you know and love and find yourself on your knees for every little thing is to really trust God. I don't miss only being able to talk to my boys via skype when I wanted to hold them, or having to take a shower without a shower curtain or trying to fry eggs with a fork (yeah no spatula) or spending a week in an apartment in Kharkiv wondering WHY the papers we desperately need signed are not being signed; but I do miss that closeness I felt to God. Knowing that every little victory we had was a direct touch from Him.

The day we had court I was so nervous that all I could do was just sit in a chair and pray. The prosecutor didn't show up on time. The case in front of us wasn't on time. We sat and sat in a courthouse feeling completely and totally out of place. Americans waiting to adopt a Ukrainian child in Ukraine. We got some looks while we sat there and waited.

The actual court hearing was very informal. We were asked to verify our names and other information, why we wanted to adopt Katya and how we could provide for her. They asked why we wanted a third child when we had two? We said that we felt we had been blessed with a wonderful life and we wanted to share that with a child who didn't have a family. We told the judge that we fell in love with Katya's spirit and determination. The orphanage inspector told the judge that Katya asked us, "Are you here to take me home?" when she came in to meet us. Hearing her say that made tears come to my eyes.

The judge was a very nice man. He didn't give us a hard time. He declared us Katya's parents and that was that.

However, it doesn't always go like that. Special needs children are seen as a detrimental to society in Eastern Europe. A family who was hoping to be declared parents of a little boy with Down Syndrome in Russia, was denied the right to be his parents. Why? Because he has Down Syndrome and the judge thinks he belongs in an institution NOT a family. That family is appealing the decision to Russia's Supreme Court.

Tomorrow they are asking people all over the country (and world!) to fast and pray for them and their little boy, Kirill. I have never fasted before but I am tomorrow because I have been in a court room, faced a judge, and had a happy outcome. Katya deserved a family and Kirill does too.

Won't you join me?

Click here to read more about Kirill and his family

Click here to read Kirill's family's blog

If you're on twitter, go follow @ReecesRainbow. For every person who becomes a follower,@PatriciaHeaton will donate $1 up to $10,000 to Reeces Rainbow. Use #SaveKirill in your tweets!

I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done. -- Hudson Taylor

Monday, March 28, 2011


Natasha was one of the few children in Mariah Katya's grouppa that we were able to meet one day when her grandmother came to visit her. What a lovely child! She had long platinum blonde hair done up in an elaborate braid, ice blue eyes, chubby little cheeks, a pretty little red bow of a mouth. She was gorgeous. No child belongs in an orphanage, but she was like a flower that had come up in the middle of a parking lot. She stood out.

As soon as I saw her, I wanted to take her home too, but asking about other children we saw was against the rules at that orphanage. Natasha was 4 as well. Her grandmother managed to get that across to us when she asked the workers if we were adopting Katya. There weren't any children over 4 in the Baby House. Natasha surely was facing a transfer to an older child internat.

The statistics for what happens to children as they age out of the orphanages is so sad. Something like 80% of girls turn to prostitution because with their "orphan status" they can't get a job. They are lower than 2nd class citizens. Natasha... every day since we've been back, I've thought of her. What will become of her?

What will become of the little boys who walked by us in the hall as we played with Katya. The little one who's eyes looked right into my heart. His chubby little cheeks and his skinny little legs. He reminded me of my Wyatt. I would have taken him too.

Or what about the little girl that broke out of her grouppa line to run over to Phillip and try to hug him and say hello? The little boy we saw who could say "Ihzdrahzwheezstya!" in one quick breath. We could never say "hello" in Russian correctly and that little one just popped it out every time he walked past us. He had on blue tights with a huge hole them that exposed half of his leg. He wore shorts over them and sandles.

There were so many boys. Most people don't want boys, so there are many, many more boys in the orphanages than girls. What will become of them? Sometimes I want to ask God, "WHY? How can you let this continue? Don't you love them?"

Today's post is for them.

Its a speech given by Kay Warren. (click the title of this post to view her article)

Don't call yourself a believer if you're not caring for orphans, said Kay Warren.

Kay Warren of Saddleback Church is a featured speakers at Catalyst West, April 21-23, 2010.

"If we are doing little to nothing, how dare we, how dare we claim to be followers of Jesus Christ," she said Friday. "Followers of Jesus Christ care about widows and orphans and they understand that it is a litmus test.

"It is not an option."

The weighty words were delivered to thousands of church and ministry leaders on the final day of Catalyst West, a three-day conference designed to challenge leaders to be change agents in the culture.

Stripping the leaders gathered in Orange County, Calif., of their excuses, Warren said caring for orphans is not just for infertile couples or middle-aged folks who have a little discretionary money and time.

"It has nothing to do with personality, it has nothing to do with spiritual gifts, it has nothing to do with economic status, it has nothing to do with your season in life," she stressed. "It has to do with accepting the responsibility that God will one day hold us accountable."

And it's not just a matter of personal responsibility either, she indicated.

There is a theological reason all Christians are to do something to help vulnerable children.

Warren highlighted: "What our Heavenly Father does for us spiritually, He expects us to do physically."

What God did was not only save sinners but also bring them into His family.

"You and I were all spiritual orphans," she said. "We're not just cleared of the guilt of our sin. We belong in God's family. He has taken us and made us part of Himself.

"Now He shares with me everything that He has. Everything that belonged to Jesus belongs to us."

While Christians have a spiritual home, there are 143 million children around the world who don't even have a physical home.

Yet many believers likely are unable to name the names of five orphans, Warren noted.

"This is sinful," she asserted. "This is shameful. This is reprehensible."

Warren drilled into the thousands of Christians gathered that caring for orphans is not just one of many things they should be doing.

"When you understand the theology of it, you will not be able to push it away; you will not be able to put it on the backburner," she said. "You need to understand that adoption represents the heart of what Jesus Christ has done for ... us."

The orphan advocate clarified that the Bible isn't necessarily calling every person to adopt a child. She and her husband, renowned pastor Rick Warren, have not adopted, she noted.

But, she added, the Bible does say Christians have a personal responsibility to do something, whether it's contributing to the fund of a family trying to adopt, providing house cleaning for a family that adopted, or getting involved with church sponsorship of children.

At the same time, it's not enough to simply send some money or place children in orphanages.

"God is a relational God," she said. "And orphanage is an institutional solution."

"What's the best?" she posed. "For children to be in homes with their own families."

Warren challenged every Christian family to ask themselves: "God, do you want our family to adopt?"

In the United States, if one family out of every four churches adopted a child, there would be no orphans in the country, she highlighted.

"You guys, that's doable."

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Clarification - Perspecitive

This is a follow up from my last post, so if you didn't read it, go back and do so before reading this or it won't make sense :) I think some people got the wrong idea about what I was trying to say.

For those of you who have biological children: Imagine you are sitting in an exam room with your child's pediatrician and she looks at your child, then you and asks, "So why did you decide to get pregnant? Did you always want kids?" "Did you know that you were going to get him/her the night you conceived?"

Hmmmmm..... How do you answer that? How do you think that might make your child feel at age 4? Age 5? How does it make YOU feel? Do you think that you should have to answer this question in front of your child?

You might say "Yes we always wanted kids but he was a surprise!"

For those who have adopted children, we get that question a lot. Yes, its an opportunity to witness... but its also an opportunity for a child (and parent) to feel singled out. How much to tell? Where to draw the line? How do you know how your child REALLY feels when they hear someone ask that?

I personally LOVE to tell people about our trip to Ukraine and everything leading up to it. It was all God all the way. We could not have done it ourselves and we know we were meant to be Mariah's parents all along. We had things confirmed for us over and over in ways that only God could do. Of this I am sure and for those who are actually interested in hearing our story and all of the little details that make it amazing I love to share it. We love Ukraine and look forward to a day when we can go back again. It weighs heavy on my heart every single day that we left 119 orphans behind in Mariah's orphanage alone... and that was Baby House #2 in one city.

Christians today fight over where to place playground equipment for children who come once or twice a week to play for a few minutes. I've seen an orphanage full of over 100 children who's outside activity time each day consisted of walking in a line, in groups of 2, holding hands past the dilapidated remains of what was once a play area. Who fights for them?

Why did we adopt? Because God commanded us to.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

If you say you are a Christian then that verse is talking about YOU. And lest someone think I'm tooting my own horn here, I don't think God meant that if you adopted one child, you were off the hook when there are MILLIONS of orphans still waiting for someone else to just obey God and give them a home or at the very least, help someone out who is willing to bring them home.

I've seen them. I've cried for them. I've dreamed about the ones left behind...

"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows what we know, and holds us responsible to act." Prov. 24:12

That verse rings so true for me. I've seen the needs. I've looked into the eyes of children who just wanted to come over and get a bit of attention for just a moment.

I've come back home to the U.S. where we take everything for granted. The church doesn't even seem to know about orphans much less care about sponsoring them, hosting them, or sending families to go adopt them. We live in big houses, drive nice cars, spend way too much money on things we don't need and happily live in our own little bubble of complacency when children who are just a plane ride away go without enough to eat or clothes that don't have holes in them. We sit in business meetings on cushioned pews, in buildings that have central air, and fight about where to spend our money when God has already told us what to do with it.

So yeah... that's why we decided to adopt. We realized that God has blessed us beyond what we could ever deserve. Why did He do this though? So we could wallow in it? No. So we could share it. We very clearly felt God tugging at our hearts for the children with no families. God's heart is for the orphans.

Psalm 68:5
A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows,Is God in His holy habitation.

God doesn't care if you don't think you have enough money to adopt, or enough of this or enough of that... God equips those who answer His call. I've witnessed it first hand.

Every child deserves a family and every child has a potential family if God's people would just quit turning a deaf ear to God's calling.

In the United States, if one family out of every four churches adopted a child, there would be no orphans in this country.
(according to a speech given by Kay Warren - Rick Warren's wife)

There is an estimated 800 million Christians worldwide.
There is an estimated 140 million orphans worldwide.

According to those numbers, if 6% of the people who call themselves Christians adopted ONE child then there would be no more orphans.

So to sum it up:
What I want to say when someone asks me, "So why did you decide to adopt anyways?", is all of this and more... but what usually happens when I start talking about God calling us and how many children are left behind and what her life was like before we adopted her is a quick interjection of, "Oh you are such special people for adopting a child like that." "You did such a wonderful thing and she is SOOO lucky to have you!" Nice words, yes. Well intentioned I'm sure, but again, not exactly flattering to the little 4 year old who is now my daughter.

She is special. She is wonderful and we are lucky that we listened to God so she could be part of our lives. God thought so much of her and valued her so much that He placed it on our hearts to go get her. She has always been a part of our family in God's plan.

So if the question is asked in front of her, the answer is just going to be "Because Ukraine is where my daughter was." Because it was.

What do you say?

Its happened several times since we've been home already. We go out somewhere and someone asks me (in front of my children) "So why did you decide to adopt?"

Ummm... little ears are listening, I feel put on the spot to defend our decision and explain why adoption is such a great thing and how we felt called by God to Ukraine, but is that fair to my children? Is that fair to me? No one asks, "So why did you decide to have kids?" No one asks me if I knew my kids were healthy and perfect while I was pregnant with them. Mariah is pretty much fluent in understanding English now, and even if she doesn't understand what is being asked, she very soon will!

I feel like the question singles her out and will make her and my other kids think that there is some reason we should NOT have chosen to adopt her.

So what do you say? I know I'm not alone with this issue.

I've had it happen twice now in a doctor's office sitting and by my child's pediatrician while she was examining the child she is asking about. I guess the question is innocent enough but I'm afraid my children are going to hear that asked one day and my response is going to leave them wondering if I didn't have a good reason. You only really get one shot at explaining something like that the right way and I don't think its fair to me or my kids to have it brought up in public!

I am really leaning towards answering the question with a simple, "Because Ukraine is where Mariah was.", and leave it at that!

Of course if someone wants to ask me this question without my children present, I am more than happy to give a lengthy explanation, especially if they are interested in adopting themselves! I love to talk about our experience and how God called us to Ukraine, but for people to just pop the question like that in front of my kids just to see what I say... I am having a hard time with giving an answer I'm comfortable with.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Read - Act!

From one of Tesney's friends in the "Saving Kirill" facebook group.
Feel free to use this write-up to share with others:

My friend, Tesney, lives in Alabama, and she and her family have been on a looooong journey to adopt a boy with Down Syndrome named Kirill in Russia. Last week they appeared before a judge to receive her decision about whether or not they could bring Kirill home. 5 HOURS of testimony on their behalf later, the judge agreed that they were a great family and would have been happy to let them adopt. BUT not Kirill. Her reason? She believed he is "socially unadaptable" because of his "medical condition" and that he would be better off in an orphanage than with a family. Tesney and her family were heartbroken.

But they haven't given up. Now they're fighting with an appeal but need all the help they can get. We're trying to spread their story to as many people as possible. They are not the only family who is trying to adopt children with special needs in this region -- but they are the first. This decision will affect other families who want to give these children a loving home and a chance at a full life!
Here is a link to Tesney's story in her own words:


And here is a video of Tesney and Kirill -- do you call this socially unadaptable???

What can you do?
1) PRAY -- God is powerful and He can do anything!!!!!!!!!

2) Join the "Saving Kirill" group on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/home.php?sk=group_160513784005050&ap=1

3) Share the link to their story on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, discussion boards -- anywhere! We are trying to get the word out so that the media picks it up!

4) If you have any political or media connections, please forward this story on to them.
Our Eyes Opened: Kirill's Story

‎"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows what we know, and holds us responsible to act." Prov. 24:12

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Help needed

You may have read about the story of the little boy with Down Syndrome who was denied the right to a family. His parents are fighting for an appeal and a second chance at being allowed to adopt him right now. His mom, Tesney Davis is asking for SN adoption success stories, especially from Russia but anywhere in Eastern Europe may help.

Please email yours to her TODAY (time urgent) with pictures! tesneydavis at hotmail dot com

Click the link above to read more about his story. (The "Help Needed" title is a link to a blog with more info.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


After trying to get Mariah evaluated by the school system here for over a month to no avail despite help from several people, we finally sent a certified letter requesting an evaluation because we were told that sending a letter was the "proof" to get someone to do what we were asking.

We sent the letter last week.

I got a call today to schedule a Child Study Meeting. At 7:30am.

Yep 7:30am is the ONLY time they have available within the next 10 days, which is apparently the time limit they have to do the meeting.

Well guess who is going to have to take a 2, 4, and 5 year old into a Child Study Meeting by herself. Yep. ME.

Wes's preschool doesn't start until 9am so I can't even go one kid down. The kids don't even get up until around 8 most mornings especially since the time change.

I feel screwed. I've tried and tried all this time and now I'm stuck with this. There is no way I can get 3 kids to wake up early, eat breakfast, get dressed, and get Katya's stretching done and AFOs on, and show up at a meeting at the school by 7:30am without someone having a major meltdown. (Probably ME)

You know that saying, "Be careful what you wish for?" That's what I'm feeling. I asked for this so I guess I'll just take my bedraggled kids and self in there and see what happens.

This is the part where I wish I could clone myself so one of me could stay home in bed with 2 sleeping boys while the other me gets up and has time to nicely dress herself and Mariah, eat breakfast, and calmly drive to a meeting where I can concentrate on the ONE child that is being evaluated instead of the two that are cranky and will not sit still and be quiet for 30 minutes.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The feet and other news

This picture is of her just standing in her walker with her AFOs, after stretching.

This is how flat she can get her feet first thing in the morning with no stretching and no AFO's all night. Her knees are bent, but she can make her feet flat on the floor!

This is her holding onto the sofa and just standing without really thinking about it or trying to put her feet down. Again, first thing in the morning, no stretching and no braces all night. Not bad!!

We've contined to see progress with Mariah Katya's posture, gait, and flexibility. Much of this is probably due to her determination to do what everyone else does. She takes her walker outside and pushes it around in the driveway, the yard, up to the sandbox and she even drove it down into a ditch to play in the mud! Its not easy task to push something with four wheels that are meant for inside, outside. She hefts that thing around
though, determined to go wherever her "bratchik" are going.

She will walk and say at each step, "Feet down! Feet down!" forcing her feet completely flat on the floor. It takes effort and its not the most natural looking gait, but hey she has only had the AFOs for a few weeks :) Her right side is weaker so she has a harder time picking up her right foot and making it stay flat on the floor. She has more control over the left foot as it as more strength, but its also the harder one to stretch as its actually quite strong and quite tight.

I will try to find a picture of how she "stood" when we first met her at the orphanage. She wore the tops of her shoes out from dragging her feet while someone held her hands. The way she walks now is a huge, huge improvement from what we saw when we met her. We thought that she would need surgery to get to this point, but she really is determined to walk and takes her walker everywhere.

I've tried to teach her how to cruise around on the furniture and walls when she can't take the walker somewhere (like around the table to her chair). Its her first instinct to drop to all fours and crawl and its like she didn't have a clue that she could stand up and use things to balance herself while. Once I showed her how to do that, she really has picked it up and tries to walk more instead of crawling. We're still wearing the knees out of pants though lol

We have a CP clinic next month with several different specialist so we'll see how that goes and what they suggest. She's made such great progress that I bet she'll be walking by herself by this summer!

We've also signed her up for preschool with Wyatt. Its just 2 days a week and its a 3 year old class, but that's where she is developmentally. She needs time to be 2-3 years old so she can progress to being 4 and soon 5. I really do not think there are any cognitive delays, just developmental ones and we're happy to let her progress at her own pace there.

A letter to our local school system was sent last week, requesting a complete evaluation for therapy and delays both developmentally and cognitively. I have had it round and round with our school and keep getting the brush off and never getting called back. Hopefully we'll get somewhere with the letter...

We're working on getting set up with a local therapist, but we still haven't had all the evaluations done to even know what we need to work on, plus Mariah can be very challanging to interact with on occasions. I think she still needs time to adjust and get comfortable here. She likes to test us over and over again with the same things. True to her gender (haha) she is very dramatic and can turn on the pout and tears very quickly. We've also seen a few tantrums. I usually handle these by asking her to stop and then if she doesn't, sitting her down in time out. Usually close by, but away from what we're doing. After she has her little fit for a few minutes, she stops and I'll go ask her if she's finished and she'll say "Yep." And then we're good.

We have a Dr. appointment with our new pediatrician this Friday just as a follow up check-up. This Dr. will be prescribing the TB meds for the next 8 months and will keep an eye on how she's doing so we're going in to establish a "This is Mariah now" baseline just in case we have any concerns later on. Hopefully they're on time because I am sqeezing this in-between dropping Wes off at preschool and pickup time...

Sorry if this post is a little scatterbrained. I've been up and down trying to put Wyatt back to bed for naps at least 6 times. I even caught him in Wesley's room, kissing a sleeping Wes. Somehow he also took all his clothes off, turned them inside out, and put them back on. This must have been in-between him scratching the paint off the wall next to his bed.

I'm tired of that color anyways.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

How's the English?

Everyone asks me, "How's her English coming along?"

Well here's a few examples of what I get to hear all day.

"Mama, I like walking"

"Mama, I like pizza"

"Mama, I like cheeken noggots"

"Mama, van broke - Papa fix. Yep"

Me: "Katya do you like juice?" "Yep, I like shook, Da."

"Weeeesley! Sit down! Mama! Wesley NO sit down!"

"Wyah, be nice! Mama! Wyah no be nice!"

"Mama, fixin hahweer?" "I like fixen hahweer! Mama ee Rya kryceeva!"

"Whezley! That's deescuhstin! Mama, dats nasty! See Whezley, mess!"

"Mama, see sondbox? I like sondbox" "I like trampoline!"

Her new favorite word is "Yep" It has officially replaced "Da" We don't hear "Da" anymore and I can't say I miss it too much... Da Da Da

I am now "mommy" half the time instead of just "mama." What cracks me up is that Phillip is now "Poppy." Haha - Yep.

Oh and the other favorite word is "Whut!?" Everytime we even start to say something to her, its "Whuat!?" Its kind of like a growl... it starts off way down there... takes a lot of effort to get the "Wh" sound out so we start deep and low and kind of "Rrrwhhhuuuuat!" Every five minutes LOL

That's how she says "WHEEAZLEY" too. Really, its pretty funny :)

Mariah's (Katya) favorite things to eat:

Cheeken Noggots
Hotdogs (also called Cheeken Noggots)
Goldfish crackers (also called Schnack)

She'll eat most anything but these are what she actually asks for. Every meal she asks if we're having "Cheeken Noggots" because she likes cheeken!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Finally - Meds

Mariah has a BCG scar. This means she was vaccinated against TB. This doesn't mean she can't get TB, it means she can't get severe TB.

The BCG vaccine can also cause a positive TB test. However, Mariah's TB test was a 14mm reaction which is rather large, and meant that her Dr. thinks she COULD have been exposed to TB in the orphanage and have latent TB. Latent TB is not infectious. Its like having Chicken Pox and then being at risk later in life to develop Shingles. You cannot give someone Chicken Pox or Shingles just because you had it as a child, but you are always at risk for developing Shingles at some point in your life because you had Chicken Pox. The virus remains dormant until you become very stressed, old, sick, etc.

I've had 2 differing opinions on this so I figured I'd share what I have learned. According to our International Adoption Dr. the BCG vaccine does NOT cause a false positive on the TB test.

According to our pediatrician, it can.

Because of her positive test, the IA doc wanted her to take the 9 months of TB meds just to make sure she would not later in life ever develop TB.

Her pediatrician didn't even think the TB test was necessary, so I had to have it done at the Health Dept. (I felt it was necessary) and then even with a positive result, didn't think the meds were necessary.

I took Mariah to have a chest x-ray just to make sure all was well with her lungs, and it came back clean. She is currently healthy. No active TB.

After a lot of research, talking to different Drs., and other adoptive parents, we decided to go ahead and do the 9 months round of TB meds just to elimiate the risk for her ever developing TB. The IA doc said it is a pretty small risk that she'll ever develop it IF she was exposed but that she most likely does have latent TB so why take the risk?

9 months from now will be December 16th. 270 days to go.... I hope its yummy medicine!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


First I want to make a note that Katya has decided that she wants to be called Mariah. We are still calling her Katya and Mariah or Mariah Katya. Its hard for us to switch names after calling her Katya so long! As a result, I may call her either Katya, Mariah, or Mariah Katya on my blog as that's what we're calling her here at home.

I also wanted to put a few pictures up here to show the progress she's made with her walking. When she first got her AFOs, she couldn't put her feet all the way down, especially her right foot. We've really worked on stretching WITH the AFO's on as well as a set of knee imobilizers the therapist gave us. Stretching with the equipment on has really helped her flexibility in the areas that really need it. She also is sleeping in at least one knee imobilizer at night, usually on the tighter leg. This results in a much more limber leg in the morning. She really doesn't fuss too much about it. At first she didn't like having two on at a time because she couldn't turn over in bed very well, but just one doesn't seem to bother her.

This picture and the one above are of the day after she got her AFOs.

Here is a picture of her standing in her walker today with BOTH feet flat and her right knee slightly turned inward.

Also just a little side note. We bought tennis shoes to go with the AFOs but these little cheap croc knockoffs from Wal-Mart are much easier to put on and take off. They're also great because she likes to go outside and scrounge around in the yard, on the patio, and in the sandbox which results in dirty shoes. With these, it doesn't matter! We just bought one size bigger to accomodate the AFOs. Mariah loves them!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Maple Festival

This past weekend we took a little trip to Highland County, VA. Its a family tradition that started when I was a little girl and Phillip and I like to continue the tradition and take our kids each year. My birthday is the second week of March, and that is also when the Maple Festival starts. We go around to the Sugar Camps to see how Maple Syrup is made from Sugar Maple sap and we always buy a good supply of it. Somehow we always run out again before March the next year though!
We also go to the Rainbow Trout Hatchery to let the kids feed the fish. Fillets and whole fish are available for purchase, but after accidentially buying whole fish (head and eyeballs included!) last year, then having to come up with recipes for said fish, so I didn't waste an entire box of trout, kind of killed our appetite for fish this year. We just fed them, hung out a while, and left. Well, Phillip did buy several fried fish sandwiches, but that was it!
We also stopped in McDowell, VA at the Sugar Tree Country store. Its run by an Amish family and they make the best Brunswick Stew on the planet. SO GOOD!
Wyatt unfortunately got sick on Thursday and was still sick on Saturday, but with the help of Tylenol was able to have a reasonably good time. I figured if we waited and didn't go this weekend then we might ALL be sick next weekend. Wes is coming down with whatever "IT" is now so it looks like I made the right call...
It was a beautiful day although very windy! The kids were just not in the mood to have their pictures taken, but I did try. Mariah (Katya) looks very perplexed in some of the pictures. I think she was a little bewildered by the wind. It was like she couldn't figure out what it was. You might be able to see in a few of the pictures that there was even still a little bit of snow on the ground.
Wyatt was ticked off at the world that he was feeling bad and he took the opportunity to let us know that "He was NOT ok!" Even the delicious Maple Donuts we bought at Eagles Sugar Camp couldn't entice him to eat. Poor guy. He did finally eat a few piece of Maple Candy and half of a hot dog.
Its a long drive up to Highland County, as it is true to the name HIGH up in the mountains! Wes and Wyatt both took naps in the van. Mariah (Katya) took the opportunity to make truck noises and sing.
{I am trying to upload additional pictures because we took a lot of good ones, but blogger is being difficult right now!}

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Calling other CP and AFO mommies...

Katya just got her AFOs last week. The guy showed me how to put them on her and I am pretty sure I am doing it right, but foot keeps sneaking up out of it a little bit (her heel lifts up) and then it hurts her. I think maybe I am not tightening the strap enough but I don't want to end blood flow to her feet lol Is this maybe a sign that we need to stretch more or mom is just not hooking the strap well enough? Her left foot is very tight. So much so that I have to have her lay on her back so I can flex her foot enough to get it flat and fit in the AFO. She tries to help by pushing her foot in and down. I am pretty confident we're getting it on, its just riding up especially when she crawls and the toes of her shoes are dragging a bit more than if she was walking.

While we're on the subject of stretching, I'd like to mention I HATE it. Katya hates it. We're supposed to stretch with her 3 times a day and she absolutely hates it. She tenses up and screams so that I don't know if there is even a point to stretching because she just fights the whole time and how can you stretch if you fight it? Some days she is fine. We play music and she'll sing and help stretch. Yesterday she even ASKED me to stretch. Most of the time though, its a fight. I mention it and she starts crying. Some days I feel like we've gotten set back with our bonding a whole month just from one day of stretching, but if we don't do it, she'll be back to a stiff little board like she was when we met her. UGH. Bottom line: We need to get therapy set up at least one day a week with someone other than mom and dad! I'm sending a certified letter to the school tomorrow. I have tried several other ways to get her evaluated and its all been a no go. Finally someone at the Kluge Childrens Rehab Center called around our county, and then told me exactly where, and to who I need to send a letter and what to say.

So other CP mommies, how many times a day do you stretch? How long do you stretch? We had a translator tell Katya that she has to stretch and wear her AFOs so she can learn to walk by herself. That seemed to help. She told him she liked to stretch! (umm not!) The therapist we saw seems to think that she was overstretched and is aprehensive about it happening again. I think that is probably the case, but we still have to do it. She tenses the moment you put a hand on her which makes getting anywhere with an actual relaxed muscle stretch very hard!

In other news, we bought pansies and tomatoes today for the kids to plant. Katya and the boys loved planting their own little tomato plant and Katya then helped me plant the pansies in flower pots. She was SO excited to help. I sniffed the flower and she said "ee ya!" (and me!) and practically inhaled it -haha! After we planted them all she sat on the steps and said (in Russian) "I love the flowers!" So cute!

Another result of finally having a translator at her last Dr. visit is that he told her that we had named her Mariah. We have been calling her Katya like they did at the orphanage but her legal name is Mariah. The translator told her this and asked her if she liked it. She said she did and now she tells me "Ya Mariah!" She will even answer to being called Mariah. I originally wanted to just call her Mariah but now she's been Katya for so long I have a hard time calling her anything else. We'll see where it goes but she seems to want to be Mariah...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

8 1/2 weeks

M has been home for 8 1/2 weeks now. I feel like I can finally say that I think it took that long plus the time we had with her in Ukraine for me to start to fall in love with her. Yes, you heard me right. I didn't love her right away.

I fully expected to meet a child and instantly feel the way I felt about my boys. Not so. When we met M, she was cute and talked a lot and asked us if we were there to take her home with us. It should have melted my heart, but I was TERRIFIED. She had a long list of medical issues and exhibited some interesting social behaviors and while I had expected all of that, to see it was something else.

Its taken about 8 weeks home for me to finally realize that its about falling in love. Its not about an instant connection. Its about making an effort to love someone that isn't always easily loveable. We knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God meant Katya for us. Its been my prayer every day since we met her, "God please help me to love her like you do. Help me to love her like you love me."

Adoption is a beautiful thing because its a symbol of what God did for us. I think of how unloveable I am sometimes, but God still loves me. I didn't do anything to deserve His love and sometimes I do things to not deserve His love, but He still loves me. He knew all about me and everything I would ever do and He STILL loves me.

So I asked God to give me that kind of love.

Adopting M has opened my eyes to what kind of a person I thought I was, and what kind of person I really am. She has opened my eyes to what it REALLY means to love. People tell me that we did such a great thing adopting her and we're such great people. No no no. I am not a great person. I am selfish. I have a temper. I value sleep way too much! God is the one who did a great thing. God saw M and loved her before I did. He valued her life and sent us for her. We didn't do anything but go where God told us to go.

I think that we are truely blessed by God because He sent us to M. She has taught me so much in 8 weeks and has strengthened my faith in ways I didn't even know it needed to be. I can say now that I really LOVE her. It grows every day. She is such a happy child and sometimes I think "How can she be so happy with all she's been through?" but she is just a joyful little person!

I realized last week when I took M to the Dr. that I finally felt like her mommy. I felt like I needed to comfort her and it came naturally. She smiles at me and I smile back. I look for things to make her smile during the day and when I go shopping I'm not just on the lookout for trucks, and trains, but hairbows too :) If I had known 8 weeks ago that we'd be doing this great right now, I would have saved myself a lot of tears! We still have stuff to work on for sure! Don't get me wrong, its not a cakewalk now but I think we've reached the point where we can understand each other and communicate well enough that she understands that I love her and will take care of her and I understand that a lot of what she does that is "bad" is from being afraid or testing me just to see the way things work.

I'm a little uncomfortable even posting this, but I learned so much from other people's blogs who were very open and honest. I like to keep it real here and not just hand out rose colored glasses. Parenting is hard work no matter if your children grew in your belly or in your heart.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Here she is sitting up on her bottom by herself without me asking her to. She could hardly sit like this on a couch when we met her. She'd fall over, but here she is, home 9 weeks and sitting up by herself!

Here she is getting her AFOs fitted. It was tears and screams until mama broke out the new shoes. Way to go mama!

First time trying out a walker and she ran it around the entire room saying "See look at me!"

The beautiful new shoes. 2 sizes bigger than her foot.

The lovely new AFOs in hot pink and purple.

AFOs and staples

Yesterday we went back to the Kluge Rehab Center to get Katya's AFOs. She had a therapy appointment at 4pm and her AFOs had just come in 2 days ago so I wanted her fitted with them before her appointment with the therapist. I knew she wouldn't be thrilled with having her feet stretched and put into braces so I bought her new Sketchers Twinkle Toes shoes to break out once we got into the fitting.

She started crying when we got into the room and she saw the guy who put the casts on her legs a few weeks ago. She really started squealing when he tried to put the AFOs on, so I brought out the shoes and the unhappy sqealing turned into "Ooooooh new shoos!" These particular shoes are hot pink, sparkly, glittery, and they light up. Once she saw those and we explained the braces went into the new shoes she gladly held her legs up and couldn't get them on quick enough.

Once she got into the AFOs she wanted to stand up and walk immediately. She was THRILLED that she could stand up and kept saying "Look at me, Mama! See stand up!" I almost cried.

Our translator came into orthodics and took us up to therapy. He was a super super nice guy. Katya started singing her "Bayoo Bayitchkoo" lulabye that she has sang since she came home, but has now forgotten most of and he started singing it with her! He knew the whole song :) I asked him what it was about and this is where it gets interesting. I thought it was soooo sweet she sang this song to her doll, but he said its a song about "Go to sleep, stay in your bed, don't fall off the edge or the big grey wolf will come and take you away."

REALLY!? No wonder she curls up in a ball in the middle of the bed!

Katya didn't say a whole lot to the translator. She seemed to understand him fine and would follow instructions in Russian when he asked her to do what the therapist wanted and he seemed to be able to calm her down and explain things so she didn't get upset this time. The therapist got Katya a walker and she got so excited over that thing. She stood right up with it and walked all over the room. We actually got to bring a walker home with us. It was one that someone had donated so we got it for free! Katya is THRILLED that we got her a new "kahlashka."

The translator explained to her that the AFOs were her new special shoes to help her walk like her brothers. He told her all of this in Russian and then explained to me what he said. He said that there really isn't a Russian word for "braces" so he told her they were special shoes.

On the way home in the van Katya pointed to her legs and said (in perfect English) "Look Mama, see special shoes!" What a smart little booger!

All in all we had a great appointment and Katya really did well. The therapist said she'll definitely be walking on her own before too long since she was so determined to get up and use her legs with the AFOs right away.

And here is where you'd think the day would end. We went to Phillip's parents to pick up the boys and head home, but when we got there I found out Wyatt had hurt his head.

He had a huge gash in the the back of his head that obviously needed stitches. He and his brother had been playing outside and big brother had dropped something on his head. So I called our Dr. office since they have a Dr. on call for stuff like this. I thought I'd just head up to the office and have his head stitched, but when Phillip talked to the Dr. (our Drs. assitant) she didn't want to come in and do it. She said because Wyatt is 2 he wouldn't hold still for her to stitch his head. Phillip could hear the bleep from a cashier ringing stuff up and people talking in a store. Gimme a break!

I had to take Wy to the ER which I hate to do because they charge 3 times the amount the DR. office does. Fortunately no one else was there when I walked in and they took him right back, applied numbing gel to his scalp, gave him 4 shots of novacain and stapled his head closed. It took ONE Dr. and ONE nurse to hold him still. I didn't even do anything. We got home after 9pm and Wyatt was ok till the novacain wore off around 2am. Not a great night but he's fine now with tylenol. Poor guy. 10 days and we'll go back to have them removed.

This morning I called and set us up with a new Dr. office that is 20 miles closer to our house and hopefully more accomodating. If this was the only thing our Dr. office had done to tick me off it would be no big deal I guess, but they lost Katya's paperwork last week after I called to verify it was there and then tried to tell me that it never got sent... Ummm yeah. They also sent me a past due bill for her and said that they didn't have insurance information for her yet. Also not true. We gave them the insurance card (that is the SAME one for everyone else on file) at her visit and told them to bill it. They told me to hold onto the bill when I got it from them cause they'd have to submit it twice since she wasn't on the insurance at the time of the visit... Nice.

I love our Dr. and was willing to drive the extra miles to see him, but we never get to see him, his assitant won't see our kids when she's on call and the staff is incompetent.

---This is the end of my Dr. office rant--

Well that's my update for now. I'll post pictures of Katya in her AFOs as soon as I have some more time. She LOVES them and was upset that she couldn't sleep in them last night.

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life; but those who make their journey home across time and miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them,are carried on the wings of destiny; and placed among us by God's very own hands. --Kristi Larson