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

Friday, May 31, 2013

29 more days

Until this bed has its boy back.

He was the last one to board the plane when we walked the kids to the gate for departures.  

The last one.

After remaining so guarded during much of hosting, afraid to show his feelings, he hung back as his group boarded and kept giving us little waives.  It reminded me so much of how V kept turning back, looking for me, to waive as I watched him disappear from my sight when he returned to Ukraine from summer 2012 hosting.

I got my first hug as D said goodbye and then I watched him reluctantly get on a plane and leave.

29 more days until that piece of my heart flies back across the Atlantic and walks out.

Sweet boy I know you have had more hurts and disappointments in your short life than most will have in their entire lifetime, and I could see the fear of risking your heart in your eyes.  

Soon you will never have to doubt that you are so very loved.

We have prayed for you.

We are waiting for you.

We are working so hard to bring you home forever.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Seriously? Passport Woes!

My husband's passport is going on 8 weeks of "processing."  We have called, emailed, called, called, called... you get the idea.

We've been told everything from "You say you aren't leaving the country until September so you have PLENTY of time."


"It should be there at THE LATEST by next week"

*next week comes...and goes...*

"Oh, it might take another 2-3 weeks at the longest."

and then

"I'm sorry our system is down.  Call back in 3 hours."

*called back 1 minute later and got another person*

"Oh your passport is in the PERFECT place for expediting.  For $72 you can expedite it.  Will it get there faster?  Well... we aren't sure when it will ship."


We do desperately need his passport to complete our dossier documents.  I didn't realize how many required that little number and we also need 3 copies of just it for the dossier.

Pray. Pray. Pray.

I have a friend who knows someone and is going to try to help us tomorrow because we already forked over the $72 in hopes that it might get it here quicker but we are far from counting on it.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Walking: Three Weeks Post Botox Injections, One week Post Cast Removal

M had Botox injections on May 8th, followed by 2 weeks of casting.  She had her casts removed last week and received her new bilateral, articulated (hinged) AFOs.  Here is a video of her walking exactly one week after having her casts removed!

And Walking Inside.
I asked her to walk slowly and carefully because she tends to go TOO fast.

Just for reference, here is a video of M six months ago in November 2012.  

M started taking Colloidal Mineral Supplements through the Preemie Growth Project approximately 8 months ago.  Her progress cannot be attributed solely to these mineral supplements because she goes to weekly PT (who is amazing btw) and just received Botox Injections and casting for two weeks, BUT keep in mind that she received NO treatment while she was in an orphanage in Ukraine for 4 1/2 years. I feel that for some things, her body would still need the extra help even if spasticity was suddenly completely removed.  So far, we have been able to avoid the need for any surgical intervention to prevent bone or joint damage.  She also takes several natural supplements including Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, Fish Oil, Ginko, Probiotics, and Vitamin D3.  

We have been amazed at how much the minerals have not just helped relieve some of her spasticity, but they have helped her gain weight, gain height (4 inches in 8 months), and finally grow a healthy head of thick, shiny hair!

Look at her from the start of the school year to the end!

The stools are different heights so you can't take that into account, but what I noticed the most was her posture and size.  Wy who is my typical bio is in the same class and grew only half as much as she did during the year, measured on the same scales for height and weight.

And just because I like to remember how so very far she has come, here is a video of her during one of our visits to her orphanage.  She's wearing my coat because she thought it was fun to dress up :)  I had to completely support her for her to even be able to stand.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Unexpected Joys of Adoption - Friends

So far in this series of posts I've done

The (Unexpected) Costs of Adoption

The (Unexpected) Joys of Adoption

This post is about all of the new and unexpected friends I've gained since we made the decision to adopt over three years ago.

When we decided to adopt, we knew nothing about it.  We didn't know what a home study was and we didn't have a clue what orphanage behaviors in post institutionalized children could look like.  So I began to read blogs of people who were in process to adopt or had already adopted once before and were doing it again.  I would find a blog I liked and add it to my blog's sidebar so I could read along and learn.  I appreciated the people who didn't sugar coat things and I appreciate it even more now, because from them I learned the most.  I eventually found a few of the blogs author's on Facebook and connected with them through email and messaging.  Through some of them, I got to experience adoption in Ukraine before we ever went over.

Nothing really could have prepared me for how M would react when we brought her home though.  I wasn't prepared for my reaction to her reaction and it scared the living daylights out of me.  I called the one person I knew who had adopted 3 times.  She immediately said, "Oh that's normal!  I am still falling in love with one of my kids.  Its a daily choice."  I would NEVER have guessed that from just viewing their family from the outside.  She made me feel so much better simply by telling me that I was normal.

As life with our new "normal" went on, I felt increasingly isolated.  M's behaviors didn't just go away.  They got worse.  After dealing with things completely on my own for a year, I finally desperately reached out sort of vaguely on my blog.  My desperation must have come through because another adoptive mom emailed me asking if I was ok.  I was NOT.  She requested that a group of adoptive mom's with special needs kids, add me.  It was like instant relief.  Not only was I not alone, my problems were NOT the worst and they were so similar to some things others were dealing with that it was uncanny.  That group of ladies that I have never met has become my lifeline.  They are the only ones who really understand.  I can vent away on a horrible day or post how proud I am that M could finally stand up by herself and they get it.  I don't have to explain why I feel the way I do because they've all been there.  Without that amazing support group of other moms, I think I would have been top cadet at a loony bin in a few more months.  Together, they helped me figure out what was going on with M and develop strategies to help her.  No judgement.  No advice from people who have never seen the inside of an orphanage.  Just moms who had been there and worked through it before me.  I am proud to call some of them my friends.  Together we have supported each other through what has been the hardest times of our lives; together we have rejoiced when those who walked it, owned it, got through it, and decided to do it all over again.  We all get it.  We get why its so hard and we get why its so worth it.  I would never know these ladies if I had not been struggling.  I would never have been added to that group and I would never have got to read their stories or be a part of their lives.  What was the lowest point in my life turned into one of the greatest blessings.  I would never want to lose the friendships I have gained.

Other friends have come through the therapies that M has needed.  Her PT also has 2 adopted children from Russia and she is another one who just gets what it can be like to be the parent of an adopted child.  I usually would just smile and say, "Great" when people would ask me how M was doing.  I didn't have to do that with her PT.  I was able to explain M's attachment issues and how we needed to proceed with her therapy so that she felt safe yet would comply.  Her PT has turned into one of the people I look forward to seeing each week.  She gets what its like to have a special needs adopted child and just that is enough to make me feel more at ease around her than most people.  After having to defend my positions on a few things with M in the school system to people who did NOT get it, I tend to be tight lipped about some things and very guarded and careful in how I choose my words when explaining things about M.  With her PT, I don't have to do that.  She understands and she respects my wishes as M's mom.

M's OT is another person I also look forward to seeing because she has helped us understand her even more.  I had pieces of a puzzle with M's behavior and abilities that didn't make sense.  She has been able to help us put them together and piece together the puzzle that can be M.  She is another one who does NOT judge me and respects my observations and opinions.  She listens to me and because of that, we have been able to put together therapies for M that have really helped her achieve more in a short time than I thought possible.  Her OT has even gone so far as to say that I am such a great mom that she wishes I could give parenting classes to some of her other parents.  After walking through such a hard time with M for over year, it nearly brought me to tears to have someone recognize how hard I try with her and that it is all because of how much I love her and want to help her succeed in life.  Do I always get it right?  No.  But never hearing someone tell me that they think I'm a great parent leaves a lot of room for self doubt.  Sometimes I joke that M's therapy is also therapy for ME because I get to be around people who understand!

Another group of people that have become my friends have done so AFTER we adopted M.  They are the people who met me around the time that we were in process to bring her home and watched us go through it all.  They are the ones who after seeing us do it, have become increasingly aware of what its like for orphans around the world and are authentically interested in asking me questions to learn more. I appreciate these people so much because there are so few people that really care about what it is we do.  There are people who have offered to help me fundraise, offered free photos of our family while we were hosting, texted me to say they were praying for me after I put my kids back on a plane to Ukraine, and they are the ones who ask me every time they see me, "How much longer till they come back??"  They have seen us walk this path God has put in front of us and they care.  Some of them have even gone a step farther and after seeing us host, have decided to host this summer as well.  That really brings more joy to my heart than I can express in words.  For others to look at us and realize that they can do it too is really what I have hoped for since M touched down and became a U.S. citizen.  Our hope has been to help others realize just how desperate the need is and how they can make a difference.

One of the most unexpected joys I've had was yesterday as I was dropping my kids off to their last day of preschool.  One of my friends asked me, "How do you think V is going to take not coming with his brother for summer hosting?"  First off, that is what I've asked myself since we realized we needed to host D to ensure we could adopt them all together but realized we could not afford to host V as well.  Its been breaking my heart to pieces, and in her heart, she went to the same place I did.  She was worried about my boy too.  I just started crying because some days it seems that no one else cares about him and they certainly don't care that I spend my nights crying tears into my pillow and my days plastering a smile on despite the ache in my heart.  But she did and she promised to pray for me and my little V until we can be together again.  I went around crying most of the day because my heart had been heavy with knowing he couldn't come for summer and hoping he would understand.  Having two sweet friends hug me and tell me that they were praying for me and my little guy was such a relief.  They saw my pain and they didn't patronize me with "Oh he'll be here before you know it."  They recognized that my son is halfway around the world and it makes my heart hurt.

I have come to realize that there are a lot of people in this life who want to be your friend when you are happy and fun to be around.  There are not a lot of people who are willing to be there for you when you are trying to do something ridiculously hard and crying over it.  I feel really blessed to have found a few people that are.

Oh and if you have ever thought about donating to our adoption, now would be a fantastic time.  We are approximately 3 1/2 months from when we hope to travel and we still have to raise about $20K.  Even typing those words makes my head spin BUT I firmly believe that God doesn't bring people halfway just to leave them there.  

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

No More Casts!

Casts are off and new braces are on!  M kept squealing about how flat her feet are and WOW they are soooooo flat when she walks.  She kept saying, "I knew it! I knew they'd be flat! Yay!" She is also thrilled that she gets to take a REAL bath tonight and not just sit in the tub with bags on both feet while I dump water on her!

She still has some pronation but they are FLAT.  She was able to just take off and walk around barefooted too. I was worried that Botox, casting, and the resulting flat feet would make her wobbly but she rocked it!  She chose blue and green as the colors for her new AFOs...  not sure what happened to pink, but she was pleased when she saw them so it was all good!

Her Dr. came in and saw her for a minute and he was very pleased.  He said that her ROM (range of movement) is actually better than neutral, which is the position he casted her in.  We've also noticed that the spasticity in her right arm has improved.  She did not have botox in it so we were wondering if its from the Colloidal Mineral Supplement she is still taking via the Preemie Growth Project because we saw less spasticity in other areas of her body, immediately after starting it several months ago.  Even her orthotist commented on how her arm looked better so I know its not just me!

I love watching her walk around.  I will never forget being told that she would never walk independently by a doctor at this same hospital not long after we brought her home from Ukraine.


W and Wy were really interested in the cutting of the casts!

Wy claimed the casts once they were off... you can imagine how that went!
New AFOs!  Straight legs and flat feet!
Why M was so determined to bring her casts home...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Random updates

Tomorrow Mariah will have her casts removed and hopefully the hospital really did put a rush order on her new AFOs so she can get them fitted and walk out of there :)

Some have asked me about D's hosting expenses.  We sold a vehicle and paid them.  He is coming.  I have seriously considered selling my wedding band to pay for V to come too, but it was only $90 when we bought it so I don't think it would cover the costs and there is no point to selling it if it won't pay the entire amount.  My heart just breaks thinking of my poor little V wondering why he can't come back too.  He thinks of this as his home now, and I keep reminding myself that soon it will be. Forever.  Talk about walking around with a heartache though!  Never take for granted being able to hold your babies tight.

We are STILL waiting on Phillip's passport to come in.  We sent off for W's and Phillip's at the same time.  W's came in.  We got a letter asking for a statement as to how Phillip's got mutilated.  Yeah... High Efficiency washers are a beast.  We sent the statement well over a week ago.  Hoping they'll just send the darn thing because we need it to complete our dossier.

We got our fingerprint appointment from USCIS.  Its June 6.  We are trying to work something out to get up there and walk in before that, but we have 3 little kids and a full time job to work around...

We are still right at halfway for our fundraising.  We have estimated that we'll need $40K to complete this adoption and we have raised right about $19,500.  Please click on our fundraising link and share share share even if you can't donate!  Every time we have a big waive of publicity, donations come in!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Proud Big Sister Moment

Two of these guys graduated from VA Tech with degrees in Engineering and History, and both commissioned into the Army this weekend. One did it last year and one just got back from basic training. 
I love my little brothers!

What a new Engineer looks like :)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Biometrics Appointment!

Look what we got in the mail today! We are trying to work something out so we can walk in sooner, but the office is 2 hours away. 

The (Unexpected) Joys of Adoption: Family

I think that maybe the best way to send a mass email to everyone on your contact list, yet guarantee that no one will email you back is to announce that you are adopting, and ask for donations.

Have you ever been there?

When we were adopting for the first time, it was suggested to us that the best way to fundraise was to explain to your friends and family what you were doing and ask them to help you out.  They even suggested making a list of the top 10 people who were likely to empathize with you.
I'm won't mince words here. That suggestion sucks.

Why does it suck?  Well, because it made us think of those who mean the most to us.  You know, "Oh YES lets send that to them!"  Surely they will want to help! It put a huge expectation of them in our mind.  When that expectation didn't come to pass, we felt disappointed and hurt.

What we found though, was that God can speak to people without a nicely made flyer politely begging for donations.  God can quietly whisper to someone's heart that you have a need and they can help fill it.  And guess what??  Its not usually from those people that you were expecting it from.

To be perfectly honest, we have received the most support from those we least expected in our family.  Those people we don't get together with much or haven't seen in years were the ones who surprised us; and the surprise of it all was half of the blessing.

We have had extended family reach out to us and express how happy they are for us and how much they want to help.  They have cheered for us on social media and donated items to our fundraisers.  Some have simply very quietly sent us a donation.

What we have had to force ourselves to realize is that we should not be placing our expectations in people.  We should be placing our hope in God.

What a blessing it has been to have God use some members of our extended family to reach out to us when we least expected it.  A few relationships have perhaps even been restored a bit by it.

Yes, it is hard when those we love and interact with the most are not the most supportive, but it is important to remember that our hope should not be in them.  Our hope is in the Lord and He does not tend to work things out according to our plans.  So, when I say that one of the joys of adoption can be family, I mean it in a very non-convential sense of the word :)

Don't miss out on the surprises God may have for you because you are too busy pouting over how "They just don't get it."  The truth is that they may never get it, but there are plenty of others who may see what you are doing and be completely transformed by the realization that God can use ordinary people to do extraordinary things.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

28 Children are Still Waiting for YOU

The organization that we host "V" and "D" through still has 28 children waiting to be chosen by a host family this summer.  They have VERY little time left so if a sweet face grabs your heart then don't waste any time contacting Children's Cultural Connection

 I am coordinating arrivals at Dulles Int. Airport again and I'd love to see a few of these faces there with my arrivals group!  

Valentin (his brother is Igor (14) each have a $400 grant. He would love a remote controlled boat. Vlad-a boxer with a $500 grant. Sonya-Would like to be a teacher, $500 grant. Yana and Diana Sweet girls with a $2000 grant, Bogdon-10 year old with special needs. Ruslan-adorable and wants to be a builder. Artem-13 year old with $200 grant-former street child.

Maya (10) and Dima (11). Siblings with a $400 grant each. No one has inquired about them at all. Can be hosted separate. Maya is a gymnast. Dima dreams of becoming a journalist.

Lyuba (14) would like to be a wedding cake baker

Ilya (9) likes to read fairy tales

Alex (10) like to embroider and cycling

Alina (14) her brother is Denis (13). She likes the cartoon cinderella and prefers being outdoors to indoors. Her brother Denis likes to sing and draw.

Ivan (11) LOVES soccer

Sasha (14) twin sister is hosted in WA. Loves basketball

Sasha (14) and VIka (7). $200 grant each. Sasha is an amazing singer. Vika is adorable and everyone loves her. (I met Vika at the airport! SUPER CUTE and spunky little girl!)  

Dima-7 Great memory and imagination


Igor (14) $400 
Sonya $500 
Vlad $500 
Yana & Diana $2000 
Sasha & Vika $400
Artem $200 
Maya $400 
Dima (11) $400

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Best Mother's Day Card Ever

The best Mother's Day present would be if someone wanted to help us out with our fundraising so I can go get my babies!!  Click here to help us!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

My baby is 5!

My little baby born on Mother's Day 5 years ago!  Happy Birthday, Wy!
We thought the entire time I was pregnant that he'd be early like his brother was, but he held out for an extra 3 days to give me the best Mother's Day present ever!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Smiles, casts, tears and smiles!

In the waiting room before being taken back.  Still excited about the prospect of pink casts.
After having "happy juice" and mama having to make a DR. come back and apologize for saying "You're so cute, I might just steal you."  Talk about freaking a child out!  Hello, I just covered her ears when you asked if her blood relatives had issues with anesthesia and told you "I don't know them."  Way to freak a kid out.  Fortunately happy juice fixes some things.  
Waking up from anesthesia.  Very emotional and groggy.  Not a great combo.
Miss Groggy woke up and quit crying enough to insist on a Happy meal on the way home.  It magically righted all that was wrong in the world and needed to be followed up with popcorn at home.  Thank goodness she bounced right back :)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Botox & Casting

Mariah will be having a sedated procedure for Botox injections and casting tomorrow at 12:30pm.  This is to treat the tightness she has in her muscles causes by her cerebral palsy.  She'll be wearing hot pink casts for two weeks to really stretch her muscles out and hopefully prolong and accentuate the affects of the Botox.  Right now she is happy that she will be asleep for the injections as she has had them un-sedated before, and she thinks that getting two pink casts will be really cool.  I'm hoping that she'll keep that attitude for the 13 days she has to wear them.

If you think about us tomorrow, pray for her and ME.  

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Its Official!!!

It feels so good to have a place where we feel that we belong once again.  Of course my husband joined too. I only took a pic of my certificate.  We are excited to officially begin a new chapter in our lives!!

The (Unexpected) Joys of Adoption

I wrote a three-post series on The Costs of Adoption last month, basically explaining that while adoption is wonderful, there are oftentimes things that we end up losing in the process.  I focussed on three of the main things we have encountered personally,the loss of family relationships, the loss of our church, and the loss of some of our friends.

What I want to write about next are some of the unexpected JOYS of adoption, what we have gained!  I want to focus on the same three things:




because while we have lost some of the things we had, we have ultimately gained much more.

Stay tuned!  

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Child Waits

We got a phone call that our pre-app was accepted by A Child Waits Foundation so they will be mailing us out the full application packet to fill out and return.

The wonderful feeling of having the pre-app accepted came with the realization that this adds more paperwork to the process (again) which brought feelings of wanting to purchase a massive paper shredder and just sit shoving paper into it while manically laughing joy!

We also received an email from Show Hope that they did receive our entire grant application packet with supporting documents by the April 30th deadline.  Yes.  I sort of feel like I should get a medal for that (but I'll settle for a grant!) considering I did not have a completed home study in my hands until the evening of April 25th.  There is a certain rush and terror that comes with organizing that many documents, receiving the final necessary paperwork just in the nick of time, rushing to the Pack and Mail, and entrusting them to Fed Ex.

When I knew they had arrived safely though I sailed along on a rush for several days, smiling to myself every time I thought about it.  "Yes, you ROCK, Erin." "Hmmph, I am SO super awesome."


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