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

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Change is a comin'

After a long road of evaluations, meetings, home visits, meetings, evaluations, paperwork, meetings, and writing and re-writing the IEP, we made the decision to withdraw M from public school.

She was in a special-ed class for 2 1/2 hours a day, 4 days a week and went to the regular pre-k room for 30 minutes each day for a total of four 3 hour days.  We wanted her to have more time or all of her time in the regular pre-k room, but the school felt otherwise.  (I would like to say that her special-ed teacher is a wonderful person and a good teacher, but that room is not where we feel M needs to be spending the majority of her time) 

We finally got her OT and PT evals done this month, after sending in a certified letter requesting them in March.  Yes, 9 months.  After the evals were done and she "qualified" for OT and PT the school decided that they wanted to offer her 30 minutes of each OT & PT a week.  We had asked for 2-4 30 minute blocks each week.  She has a delay of up to 3 years in some areas. 

Once it became clear that the school was not going to allow M into regular pre-k for any more than 30 minutes a day and was not going to offer her a reasonable amount of therapy we started to ask ourselves why exactly had we put her in school to start with?

We put her into public school for 2 main reasons:

  • For socialization with typical children so she'd have peer modeling and friendship.
  • To receive occupational and physical therapy to help her realize her future academic potential

We realized that by doing private PT and having a private tutor to do OT with her, we are meeting her therapy needs to the best of our ability.

We withdrew her from public school and enrolled her in private preschool with Wy.  She'll be in a typical classroom setting with typical children at her developmental level.   

We think this will be wonderful for her!

I'm not a fan of change.  I thought we'd already made the best decision for her and after putting so much effort into public school, I hated to just throw in the towel.  However, it wasn't about what was easy or hard.  It wasn't about what was "ok" or "good enough" for M.  We wanted what was best for her.  As her parents its our job to be her advocates.

It is our job to make sure she's getting the absolute best that we or anyone else can offer her.  If that means utilizing every resource available to us and then seeking out even more when we feel like she needs more than she's getting, we will.

 Stumbo Family Story


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Gotchya Day!

Today is the day that daddy broke Mariah out of the orphanage FOREVER.

It was a crazy day and one that resulted in no pictures....  so I'll leave you with a video of Mariah on Christmas morning totally absorbed in her new dollhouse that Santa brought.  Look!  It has stairs!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Our Christmas Story

Mariah's "Gotchya Day" is December 27th.  That's the day her daddy broke her out of those green orphanage gates and took her away, an orphan no more.

Phillip spent December 25th in Ukraine in an apartment in Kharkiv Ukraine.  We skyped him from his parent's house and I fought back tears the whole time.  That wasn't how we had planned Christmas.  We thought we'd be home with our new child before Christmas and instead we got to spend it with our family on two different continents.

This song really spoke to me. 

We were just ordinary people living ordinary lives, but we heard God's call from halfway around the world.

Yes, it was a strange way to add a child to our family.  People asked us why more times than I can count. 

Sometimes we asked, "Why me?"  We aren't special people!

Somewhere along the way though, we realized that it wasn't about us; it was about her.  I think it was when we were sitting with her at the orphanage playing on the floor with her and she started rocking back and forth that it really hit me how much she needed a family.

When Phillip was back in Ukraine after our 10 day wait finishing up paperwork to bring Mariah home, I imagined a joyous airport reunion complete with our family, church family, and friends.  I imagined how wonderful it would be for Phillip to see a large group of people waiting to greet him when he returned home with Mariah.  I wanted pictures of that moment to show her how loved she was and how wanted she was.  I mean we had spent over a year completing paperwork and 6 weeks in a foreign country adopting her!  It had exhausted us financially, emotionally, and physically, but here was the end.  Here was going to be the moment that made it all worth it.  THIS would be the day she'd touch down and become an American Citizen.

When Phillip and Mariah landed at Dulles on December 29th there were 4 people to greet them.  Myself, Wes, Wyatt, and my brother who I asked to come along to help me find my way to Dulles.  As it ended up that night, I got lost leaving the airport in the dark and my husband who hadn't slept for 3 days drove us all home.

Where was the joyous celebration!?

I struggled with this for a long time, and I will be honest, I still do.  A year later; that still hurts.

But this year as we are coming up on the celebration of Jesus' birth, I realized something that I knew but never really took the time to understand.

The Savior of the world was born in a stable.
Where was the joyous celebration?

God used ordinary people in a less than desirable circumstances because they were willing.

Was it convenient?  No.

Was it easy?  No

Did anyone applaud them?  No.

Why were they in a stable in Joseph's hometown anyways?  Why weren't they WITH his family?  I wondered about that...  Mary his pregnant fiance might have had something to do with that.  Maybe they weren't thrilled that she was pregnant before they were married.  "God told you what!?"  Hmmm....

Did any of that change the significance of that day?  No.

God's son was still born, albeit in a stable with no one around to help Joseph deliver a baby in less than sanitary condition even by Bethlehem standards.  No one offered congratulations or lined up meals for them.  Nope.
So... what's the point of this post?  Do I think we are Mary and Joseph?  Do I think Mariah is Jesus. 

Ummm.....  No.  Not even close.

My point is that I got hung up on human recognition and acceptance.  I hoped that people would understand the significance of what we had done and want to rejoice in what it meant for Mariah.  I had hoped that people would look at her and realize that there are thousands more, millions more like her that are waiting for ordinary people to just let God do something extraordinary through them.

I wonder what Mary and Joseph thought that night as they welcomed the Savior of the world...alone.  Did they realize the significance or were they just caught up in the moment of dealing with what it is to have a baby in a stable?  Did they know who Jesus would be and everything that meant?

Here we are a year later and I have wondered more times than I can count Why did God choose me?"  I am sooo inadequate.


I was willing and here we are.




Look who's tracing now!

Big progress for my girl!  She had noooooo idea how to hold a marker when she came home, much less trace anything.  Now she's actively trying to trace the letters on her board book.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cookie Decorating!

This is the 2nd year we've gotten together with our neighbors and decorated cookies!  Lots of fun :)

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I just...

I just swore twice.  In an email.

Mariah had her forearm crutches ordered (supposedly) nearly 8 weeks ago.  We were told it would take 2-8 weeks for them to arrive from a place that is an hour from our house.

Its been nearly 8 weeks so I called to check on them and guess what!?  They can't find the order!

I called back 2 more times to see if they'd figured it out and all I get is that the guy who "supposedly" ordered them is out because his wife just had a baby and maybe he didn't put the order where he was supposed to so they just can't see it.  Well, I understand that but someone should be able to tell me that you at least ordered them, right?  Someone should be able to find it, right? 

The receptionist laughs hysterically at everything I'm saying for some reason, and everything she says seems to be equally as funny and followed up with "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" 

She promised to have "so and so" who is filling in for Mr. My Wife had a baby so I can't be bothered check my email and let you know about the order.  Well, she was supposed to call me RIGHT BACK because I was pretty expressive with how irritated I was getting over this on the phone because after all I called on Monday asking about this for the first time and today is Thursday.

She cut her ridiculous laughing by at least 75% and promised to call me right back.

Guess what though?  No call back.

I googled them and found an email address to send feedback to.

I am usually super nice which coupled with looking like I'm 18 is why people don't ever take me seriously.

I was NOT nice.

And you know what?  I don't feel bad about it because I was actually really honestly to goodness angry that someone would treat my child with such little consideration.  If you are an adoptive parent you'll understand why that's kind of a big deal.  I didn't have to "pretend" to conjure up feelings for Mariah and hope that I'm not somehow letting her down because I still don't quite feel for her what I feel for my other two and wonder if that means I am not always advocating for her like I should be.  I was REALLY angry because MY child deserves better than to have her order lost and for no one to care about it. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Annual Report

I realized that December is indeed the month that Mariah landed at Dulles and became an American Citizen.  This means that its time to fill out the annual report for the Ukrainian Consulate on our adopted daughter. 

I wonder if they look at it closely?

I wonder if they know what kind of shape she was in when she came home?

I wonder if they compare the pictures and see how far she's come?

I wonder if they look at the pictures and see how much joy she radiates?

I wonder if sending in these reports makes people see that there is value in a life no matter what a culture says?

Remember, if you are an adoptive parent to a Ukrainian child it is your job to send in these reports on time!!  You signed paperwork and submitted it with your dossier, promising to send these reports.  Not sending these reports can cause Ukraine to decide to shut down the adoption process or make it even more difficult for future adoptive parents. 

Love this getup!

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Happy Birthday on the potty

I bet this title will get me a few views!  Haha

Mariah likes to sing.  She has this hilarious habit of singing when she goes potty.  If she goes #2 she will call for me to let me know she's done so I can come ya know... wipe her.

Well, while she's waiting, she sings.  It was "The Wheels on the Bus Goes Round & Round" then it was "ABCs"  but today it was "Happy Birfday to me!" echoing off the walls in our bathroom.

Then when I go in there to wipe her hiney after taking a HUGE breath in hopes that I can get her cleaned up and run out to inhale clean air before I pass out, she keeps trying to chat with me. 

"Mama, can I have one of doz fwashlights you got daddy for Chrismus?" 

Me: "Not answering cause I am holding my breath and wiping her butt.

"MAMA! DO YOU HEAR ME!?  I am talking to you!  Can I have one of doz fwashlights? Do you dink daddy will care?"

Me: still holding my breath

"MAMA!  DO YOU HEAR ME!?  I am RIGHT here talking to you!"

Me: "Yes I hear you!  I am trying not to talk because you stink!"

"Oh, yes I do stink a lot."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Coloring Improvement

Mariah colored this today.  I am pretty impressed with appropriate color choices and attempting to keep the colors in the lines (sometimes). 

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Mariah's name

I got this before we went to Ukraine last year. 

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Little Tag. Big Meaning.

This would be the first time Mariah ever had a Christmas present wrapped just for her from her parents.  Kind of hit me as I wrote it out.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

And the winner is...

The winner of the Wii System is.....

Tom & Carrie Woolfolk! 

I've know Carrie since the first minute we stepped into our church.  She was the one who took the time to say hi to the new couple and ask them if they knew where Sunday School was held upstairs?  Then she walked us upstairs to a room that is now full of our friends and the best Sunday School teacher EVER.   Coincidentally, becoming members of that church and friends with the people in that room is what led us to adopt Mariah.  

So... congrats guys!  I know your two boys (and the one on the way) will enjoy the Wii!

Also, because we were really touched by how generous people were, we added a few last minute prizes.

Sharon Moreno won an 8GB flash drive and Ernie Kidd won a $5 amazon gift card.

Our total raised was $665!!

Thank you to everyone who donated and shared!

She's ours! A year later.

On December 9, 2010 in a Ukrainian Court Room, we were declared the parents of Mariah Katarina Johnson.  A lot of worry went into that day.  We had been waiting and waiting to get a paper signed and stamped by a group of people who no longer had the power to do so.  Our translator told us that we HAD to have that paper signed and stamped then back on a train to Kiev to the SDA before we could have court. 

We sent out a lot of pleas for prayer regarding this paper and I know people back home were lifting us up and interceding on our behalf.
On the very  last day possible, "L" came to our apartment and said, "Its signed.  I don't even know who sign it, but I do not care!"  Our wonderful facilitator fronted the expediting fee himself to the SDA in Kiev to get that paper processed in 2 days instead of a week so that we could have court.

That was one of many times when we spent a few days wondering what in the world we were doing only to have to God show up and move a mountain at warp speed.

 We had to sit outside the courtroom in a waiting area for a loooong time.  The cases were running behind so of course we had to sit there and listen to people talk on and on about stuff in Russian.  We were pretty nervous.  This was the day we had been building up to for over a year!

On our court day, we were hoping the judge would be able to waive the 10 days because Mariah had several medical conditions.  Court itself was very informal.  The judge was actually one of the nicest laid back Ukrainians we had to deal with the entire time.  He seemed really happy that we were adopting Mariah and just went through our dossier asking us to restate the required information.  The orphanage director didn't come, but sent another person to represent her and the orphanage doctor came as well.  We were kind of surprised to hear how positive they were about us adopting Mariah in the court room because we'd not had much of a warm welcome at the orphanage.

After court, before we got the court decree, the judge actually spent a good part of the day trying to figure out if he could legally waive the 10 day wait for us.  As it turned out, he just couldn't find legislation that he felt would allow him to do that for us and not put him in a bad position with his job, so we knew we'd be going home to wait the 10 days out since we'd already been gone nearly a month.

We rode a bus from Kharkiv to Kiev for about 9 hours from 4pm to 1am  That is the worst possible mode of transportation in Ukraine except for maybe a few select drivers.  The bus stops are H.O.R.R.I.B.L.E.   Our bus actually nearly caught on fire because the brake on one of the wheels was sticking.  I was literally sitting on the problem area and could see orange glowing on things as we passed by.  We stopped a few times for all of the men to get out, smoke, talk about and get back in the bus.  Crazy.

We arrived at the Kiev airport around 1am for a flight that left at 5am.  We arrived in Frankfurt around 8am and had a 5 hour layover then sat on the tarmac for over an hour waiting for our crew to load up the food while the captain kept apologizing in a lovely German accent.  Finally, we flew 8 hours across the Atlantic to land in Dulles where my Dad met us and drove us the remaining 2 hours home.

A week later, Phillip got to make this trek back to Kharkiv to finish paperchasing for several days then made the "flight from hell" home with Mariah.  It was on this trip that he met Meredith Cornish who was also bringing home 2 little ones, Aleksa who has Down Sydrome and Wesley who has Cerebral Palsy.  They all landed together in Dulles before Meredith got on her final flight to Florida.   


Thursday, December 1, 2011

The CP Connection

Hi! Welcome CP Connection Bloggers!

We were introduced to the world of Cerebral Palsy on November 24th when we met our daughter in a Ukrainian orphanage for the first time.

Mariah was 4 years old when we met her and and had a diagnosis of premature birth, heart problems, crossed eyes, and many other things!  Here she is at one of our visits, hardly able to sit up on the couch.

I was nervous about adopting a child with CP because I knew NOTHING about it!  But, I knew that she was still just a child in obvious need of a family so we said "YES!" and brought her home :)  (Ok it wasn't that easy, just take a look at my sidebar timeline!)  We became her parents on December 9, 2010 in a Ukrainian Court room.

Since Mariah has been home, she has received an official diagnosis of spastic diplegia with minimal right arm involvement.  She was classified at a stage 3 but has since been moved down to a stage 2 due to her remarkable improvement over the 11 months she's been home.

Mariah wears Spring Leaf AFOs and will be receiving hot pink forearm crutches very soon!  She has had one round of botox in her hamstrings and calves and WOW!  That stuff is amazing!  We now have flat feet and she started independently walking, not just for short distances but for everything!

Mariah has also had an MRI that indicated minimal white matter damage consistent with a premature birth.  She's also seen an ophthalmologist for her strabismus and amblyopia but surprisingly enough all that has been required to correct and maintain so far is patching one eye an hour a day.  She has 20/20 vision!   

Our initial adjustment once coming home from Ukraine was horrible.  I won't lie.  It was awful.  I felt awful, alone, unattached to my child and did I mention completely and utterly ALONE?  That's what drove me to find other mom's who had kids with CP, particularly moms who had adopted kids with CP.

My adoptive mama friends rock.  They comforted me, told me I was normal (I doubted this), gave me advice, and understood where I was coming from.  I wish I lived closer to some of them but alas we are spread across the United States! 

Mariah will have been home 1 year on December 29, 2011 and while it has been probably the most challanging year of my life, it has been the most rewarding.  I love my girl and she is an amazing person who despite everything she has gone through in her short life, usually has a big ol' grin on her face.  She has taught me more about love and life than anyone else ever has. 

I hope to meet some new friends and have some new blogs to link up to!  Thanks for stopping by and PLEASE leave me a comment!  I am just needy like that; I want to know you liked my blog :)

Here's Mariah NOW!

Adoption changed our lives.
God chose us to be her parents and its something that I try every day to live up to.  

Stumbo Family Story

In case anyone is interested, the ChipIn Widget at the top right of my blog is a raffle rundraiser we're doing to raise money for Mariah's orphanage.  A $5 entry gets you a chance to win a complete Wii System!  The deadline for entering is December 9th.

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