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

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Happy Family Day M!

Celebrating the day 7 years ago that 4yr old M became an American citizen and met her brothers.

As always, chips! For the orphanage director who told us not to feed her any fried food 🙄
The 24lb 4 year old decided right off that fried was the way to go so we celebrate the ending of her "special diet" every year. 

This year I found Kinder Surprise Eggs! We used to bring one every day to the orphanage when we visited. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Private Placement

After two years of homeschooling, I requested that D, V, M, and E have neuropsych evals done again.

I knew that homeschooling was going well, and emotionally the kids were at the best they'd ever been. But the academics were still a struggle. Sure we'd seen some great gains, particularly with D and V in math and M in reading, but they are still nowhere near grade level.

I had many people tell me to just accept them for who and what they are and do the best I could at home, but I truly felt the best I could do was to go back at it with the special ed department.

I aquired a new advocate from a few counties over. She is fierce. Unlike my other advocates and lawyers, she never once told me to "play nice" and work with the team. No she realized the "team" screwed my kids for years and she came to end their game.

I enjoyed the hell out of my last IEP meeting. Truly it was validating and can I even saying healing to have someone so solidly defending me and fighting for my kids.

We walked out with private placement for all four. Yes. My kids are all going to private school for kids with learning disabilities at the school district's expense. As my advocate explained to them, this is their obligation for denying them an education for seven years (for Mariah) and four years for my boys. She was ready to file Due Process that same day if they denied us that...and they tried. But ultimately we prevailed and my kids finally will get what has been their right all along - a place that provides specialized education for their disabilities.  

They start Jan 16 and after a trial day at their new school before Christmas, are so excited! 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Long Story Short

To summarize a lot in a relatively "short" post I'll keep the updates to the point.

We are hosting again!
V2 went back to Ukraine in August. An older girl from his orphanage found me on FB and allowed him to use her phone and call us on FB. It was nice to get to see him and know he was doing ok.
We decided to host him again for Christmas. We just couldn't see leaving him in the orphanage and we felt we had the time to fundraise the host fees. So, we started fundraising and did the paperwork.
We got a message from Ukraine one morning that said "V2 is gone. Grandma took him to her house."
And that was apparently what happened. The sweet girl that let him use her phone had managed to take a short video of him saying goodbye. I still have it and it rips my heart out, but I truly hope that was for the best.

We just weren't sure what it all meant. He was dropped in our laps for summer hosting when we weren't even looking. I had a "What's up with this God?" moment.
Then the girl started messaging me just to say hi.
Then she asked if we were still going to host a child.
Then she asked if we could host her.
Apparently V2 talked us up and we were "The cool family" at the orphanage.
I really wasn't sure. She's 15. We have NEVER had a teen girl.

But I asked the host director if she could come and got a "YES! She's awesome!"
We thought about it and hemmed and hawed and got scared and almost said NO, then said YES.

So.... to summarize we ARE hosting her now.

We fundraised and fundraised and didn't make the full amount (by a lot), so we took out a loan to pay for the rest of her host fees.

Meet "Y."
We picked her up on December 16 at Dulles.

She has been the sweetest kid. We have hosted 4 previous times and have never had a child assimilate so easily. We were asked to be a backup host for V2 because it was well known we've had significant challenges with some of our kids, and we had some with him. Summer was exhausting!

Y has been just sweet and kind to my girls and surprisingly dishes it out to my boys, which I find amusing. She has braided Little E's hair, painted M's nails, roughhoused with my boys, and helped me cook. She asked me to buy her a... wait for it... word search book. I just love her.

My heart is full right now. I can't even think about sending her back without starting to cry. No one tells you it gets harder each time. No one tells you that no matter what happens to them, you'll forever feel that you have another child. But I guess that's what they need. Kids need someone to love them so much they can't bear to watch them go.

I hope to update more on our amazing news with school for four of our other kiddos, but I'll save that for another post. We've been enjoying our time with "Y." While summer was difficult and extremely challenging for every member of our family with V2, everyone has declared this the "Best Christmas EVER" with Y because "she just makes everyone happy."

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

(Backup) Hosting...Again!

We were asked to be a backup host family. We weren't even considering it, but we saw his face...

Meet V2 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Ella Grace

My friend Karrie and her husband are adopting a little girl from Eastern Europe with a genetic skin condition. They're currently fundraising to cover the adoption fees and medical supplies necessary to go get Ella Grace. I'm challenging my blog readers and everyone on my friend's list to donate to their fund. 

I'm matching every dollar donated this week (5/20 - 5/27) up to $500.

Karrie helped us spread the word on Facebook and challenged her friends to donate to us so we could bring our boys home over 3 years ago. I appreciated her support so much at the time, and have never forgotten what it felt like to have a friend so solidly in our corner. 

Help me give back just a little and give a little girl a family. Ella desperately needs to come home where her new family can properly care for her skin. She has EB which causes blisters and wounds on her skin from the slightest friction and touch. Karrie and her family have a biological daughter with EB and two boys with EB whom they adopted from Ukraine.

Monday, May 1, 2017


Check out M doing a backflip at gymnastics!

Last weeks was also her third anniversary of SPML surgery with Dr. Nuzzo in NJ! 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


My boys love to build their own LEGO creations. We submitted the best one to the official LEGO site and it was approved! If it gets enough votes, it will be considered for production.  

The boys are so excited with each vote it receives.

The Wash Plant needs 80 more votes in the next 40 days in order to earn more time to reach the 10,000 votes it needs to be considered.


(You will need to make a LEGO profile)


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Adaptive Bike!

I applied for a grant to get M an adaptive bike. She was approved a few weeks ago and her bike arrived last week! 

She has been SO excited to ride. Words cannot express how much she loves this bike or how thankfuk we are to Wheels On The James for providing the grant!


Sunday, February 26, 2017

SMOs for Ballet

M has carbon fiber AFOs with a chipmunk insert.

She does ballet and gymnastics and complains of foot pain and her legs being really tired when she goes barefoot. 

So we had an appointment to discuss options for balerinas and gymnasts.


We are going to try an SMO or custom lift so she can have more freedom of movement without sacrificing good foot support.

M is so determined! As her mama I am determined to help her do whatever it is she is determine to do!





If you want to read more about what a determined kid she is, don't forget to buy her book on Amazon!



Saturday, February 11, 2017

E's finger Update

E had an injury to his finger prior to coming to the orphanage. It was badly scarred and mishapen but the Dr. at the international adoption clinic didn't seem concerned. She gave us fungus cream and said "the nail might fall off."

Well a few months ago E cut that same finger chopping apples and I took him for stitches. The dr at urgent care said his finger obviously had a bigger issue, so we were referred toa hand  surgeon. 

Two days later we had xrays and saw the bones in his finger were in two pieces. We scheduled  reconstructive surgery for December. 

Surgery went great and a pin was placed to hold the bone graft from his wrist. All was healing nicely till V smashed into it goofing around. E's finger was infected the next day and abscessed. After two weeks of antibiotics, the pin had to be removed. 

The infection is gone now but the bones couldn't heal well so he is going to be receiving a bone stimulator to use every day!

Hopefully my littpe guy will be as good as new by summer. He's had to be careful and not allowed to ride bikes or jump on the trampoline until he's healed up.  



Thursday, February 9, 2017

A brief update in pictures



We adopted a cat from the shelter 


Eli had surgery on his finger


A Letter to Betsy DeVos From A Special Needs Mom

A Letter To Betsy DeVos From A Special Needs Mom

This is the link to my newest article on The Mighty. Its probably not a popular opinion, but when has mine ever been? 😂

Wednesday, February 8, 2017


I am so proud of Mariah!

As you saw in my previous post, she has been journaling in her Handwriting Without Tears and Dyslexia Games books. I encouraged her to put her stories together and write a book. She did just that! I helped some with scribing for her when her hand got tired, but she wrote a book with her words from her memories and experiences. It was such a great healing thing for her and I to do together. She desperately wanted to have her book published so people could read her story and understand more about Dyslexia, Cerebral Palsy, and International Adoption.

While searching for someone to publish her book, I found a way to publish it myself!

Here is her book, available in paperback and downloadable to Kindle from Amazon.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Mariah needs a Publisher

Update! Someone shares with me how to publish to Amazon. Here is the Kindle Version of Mariah's book. So exciting!

Gotcha: An Adoption Story https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MSBDAHA/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_Y9FIyb9GHCAA5

As anyone who has followed my blog for any amount of time knows, we have long had our struggles with the public schools refusing to accommodate our childrens' disabilities. Much of my more recent writing was to express this frustration to help raise awareness of the problem.

Since we decided to homeschool the children two years ago, I've mostly devoted my time to teaching and researching ways to further help my children at home. I've also become a writer for The Mighty, elaborating on certain aspects of what its like to live with disabilities.

Mariah has struggled with emotions related to living in an orphanage for the first four years of her life. She has also been incredibly frustrated by how she was treated while she was in public school. She felt singled out, different, and misunderstood.

I am so proud of her for wanting to write about her experiences. Owning your story is a huge part of the healing process. Mariah wants to "Be a famous author!" She has already written a lovely rendition  from her point of view about her life prior to being adopted, what it was like during the process and after she came home.

Mariah plans to write more books about the other disabilities she lives with so children can gain a better understanding of their differently abled peers. Some of her plans for future book titles include,

"I Have Dyslexia!"
"My Legs Aren't Broken, These Are AFOs."
"Kids Have Strokes Too"

Please help us share her video so we can find a publisher who'd like to "Make her a famous author!"

Click HERE to see Mariah's book on Shutterfly

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