SUMMER

3 Aug

Joseph has been home for almost 6 months now!  Half a YEAR!

In some ways it seems like it’s gone fast, but when I think back to the first month or two after we were home, it seems like almost a lifetime ago.   So many changes for Joseph, his brother and sisters and for us as parents.  To be honest, I do not think we were as prepared as we THOUGHT we were to bring home our “bouncing ‘baby’ boy”!!  We have been on a wild ride that seems to be slowing down a little each week.  Joseph has learned so much since he’s been home.  He is picking up English incredibly fast.  Each day he comes up with some word that I KNOW he didn’t know the day before…actually, probably LOTS of words each day.  He is learning that he can do things that he didn’t think he could do.   He is learning to trust his Pappa and Momma.  He loves to snuggle with his sisters and tease his big brother.

I believe that Joseph has found his cozy little spot in our family.

This summer has been filled with “firsts”.

New foods like CORN ON THE COB and WATERMELON!

New foods like CORN ON THE COB and WATERMELON!

Lots of walks around the neighborhood.

Lots of walks around the neighborhood.

Fishing!

Fishing!

First haircut at home.  (This picture was taken after a few "swipes"!)

First haircut at home. (This picture was taken after a few “swipes”!)  He was so nervous he was shaking!  I never realized how much trust it takes to let someone cut your hair!

Having his very own money for the first time ever!

Having his very own money for the first time ever!

AND buying his favorite candy with his own money!

AND buying his favorite candy with his own money!

Many trips to the ZOO!

Many trips to the ZOO!

Playing in his pool for the first time!

Playing in his pool for the first time!

Visiting a museum about South East Texas.

Visiting a museum about South East Texas.

Joseph's longest car ride ever.  Just ask him, it took TWENTY HOURS!  --On our way to Indiana!

Joseph’s longest car ride ever. Just ask him, it took TWENTY HOURS! –On our way to Indiana!

Joseph met and played with ALL of his Indiana cousins while we were there.  He remembered everyone's names right off.

Joseph met and played with ALL of his “Holland” cousins while we were there. He remembered everyone’s names right off.

Graduated to a BIG pool.   Joseph had lots of fun at Uncle Wil's pool.  (Notice all his flotation devices!  I didn't make him, that's how he felt safe!)  He was BRAVE getting in for the first time ever!

Graduated to a BIG pool. Joseph had lots of fun at Uncle Wil’s pool. (Notice all his flotation devices! I didn’t make him, that’s how he felt safe!) He was BRAVE getting in for the first time ever!

Watching 4th of July FiReWoRkS!!

Watching 4th of July FiReWoRkS!!

He waved his flag off and on all day!  At one point he was singing "Joseph, you are American!" to the tune of America!  :)

He waved his flag off and on all day! At one point he was singing “Joseph, you are American!” to the tune of America! :)

WELCOME TO THE FAMILY JOSEPH (and happy graduation to Andrew!) PARTY!!

WELCOME TO THE FAMILY JOSEPH (and happy graduation to Andrew!) PARTY!!

Joseph's special "welcome home" cake!  (He really wanted candles!)

Joseph’s special “welcome home” cake! (He really wanted candles!)  I just love his smile in this picture!  It took 8 years, but he finally got those candles!!!

Riding his new, perfect for him, plasma car.  (Or "bike" as he calls it.)  And being able to get WET...just for fun!!

Riding his new, perfect for him, plasma car. (Or “bike” as he calls it.) And being able to get WET…just for fun!!  (“Just for fun” is one of the new phrases he likes to say lately. — I like that phrase too, unless it’s the answer to, “WHY did you DO that?!!!!!” 

And lastly, SCHOOL!  Joseph and I have been doing school each weekday since about March.  He is starting to READ and is really good at Math.  Ok, honestly, he USUALLY does school at the table, but last Thursday we were having a big tree cut down in our yard, so he did school work and watched the guys work.

And then there’s SCHOOL!   Joseph and I have been doing school each weekday since about March. He is starting to READ and is really good at Math. Ok, honestly, he USUALLY does school at the table, but last Thursday we were having a big tree cut down in our yard, so he did school work while he watched the guys work.

Another BIG first that I didn’t get any pictures of was the DENTAL WORK that Joseph has had done!   It took many dentist and doctor visits before he was ok-ed for oral surgery.  (And almost just as many screaming fits.)  To make a long story short, he finally had surgery and all of his teeth fixed!  YAY!  He’s sporting some crowns and extra holes that will soon be seeing permanent teeth!   No more tooth pain!  Double YAY!!

Thanks so much for following along with us.   Joseph is a FUN and FUNNY kid.  I’m thankful that he is a part of our family!

Some upcoming things:  In the next few weeks, Joseph will be assessed to see where he fits into elementary school and will most likely begin going to the public school at the end of August.

August 15th we go to Shriners in Houston for Joseph to be fitted for a wheelchair.  He is super excited to be getting a chair he can “run” in.  :)

In the near-ish future we will be contacting the doctor at Shriners in Philadelphia to see what he says about Joseph’s Hall’s Contractures.  (New name for Arthrogryposis!  :) )   If the doctor is willing to see Joseph we may be making a trip there.   When we took Joseph to Houston, back in March, he was very traumatized and uncooperative so they were unable to get a good diagnosis/look at him.  At that time we were told there was nothing that can be done for his arms or legs.  (We are stretching his wrists at home.)  We would like to get a second opinion– for sure.   We are waiting until we feel that Joseph is ready for a long day of being “messed with” before we try that experience again!  Joseph HAS been telling us that he wants to walk, now, so we would really like to see if that is even a possibility.  (Until we were in Indiana and Joseph was around a lot of cousins, he had never mentioned walking.)  Now that he talks about it a lot and has bonded more with us, we feel the time is approaching.

Many more new “firsts” to come!

We appreciate your prayers!!

We Are Still Here

10 May

Do you ever procrastinate….and the longer you put it off the harder it is to do?!

I don’t.

Ok, well maybe sometimes.

Sorry I have not kept up with blogging.  If you are interested, I am on Facebook and have a page specifically for Joseph.  I find it a lot easier to quickly send little messages on there, right now.  Please let me know if you’d like to be added.

Some Highlights

We made a trip to Shriners Children’s Hospital in Houston in March and found out that Joseph has a very real and controlling fear of doctors/dentists.  It was a hard visit and looking back we wish we’d just waited until he was more bonded with us.  As far as what the doctors determined– NOT MUCH.  Joseph was very uncooperative, so even though it was an all day adventure, they were unable to tell us much at the end of the day.   What we DID hear was not easy to take.  We were basically told that there’s nothing that can be done with his legs/feet/hips and very little with his arms/hands.  Right now, his “therapy” is us stretching his wrists once or twice a day.  We will be getting a second opinion at a later time.

After Shriners Joseph started mentioning tooth pain.  So began our “Tooth Adventure”.  He went to two dentists and found out he will need a LOT of work done on his teeth.  Due to his extreme anxiety he will need to be sedated for the dentist to be able to work on him.  (And hopefully get it all done at one time.)  Next he needed to go to  his pediatrician to get released to be sedated.  The pediatrician will not ok him for sedation until he has his heart checked out….which has been unsuccessful so far, once again due to being uncooperative.  We will be going to a Pediatric Cardiologist in Dallas for another attempt at getting his heart checked out next Friday.   Of course, prayers would be appreciated.   We have one scared and wild little boy when we go to medical appointments, who knows that when he is biting/hitting/yelling that all stops and he can go home.   We need wisdom.

As far as home life goes….it’s going.  :)

Joseph is speaking SO much English and understands a lot of what we talk about.   Recently he has started talking a lot about what his life was like in “O-Kraine”.

Which reminds me, we found out a few days ago that the second little boy that we attempted to adopt has been adopted!!! He is now in a Ukrainian family!  I do not have any other details, but I am thankful that God provided him with a family…and that he was willing to be adopted.  God’s ways are best and I am thankful that He’s got it all under control!!

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Joseph is living a life of “firsts”.  It is fun to see him do new things.  Getting WET is always at the top of the list of fun things!  He also likes to help make cakes, play Memory (he’s good!!), tease his sisters, play the Wii and go for walks.   Each day Joseph and I do school together.   When he first came home he did NOT like us to read to him, but since I read to him during school each day he has come to enjoy it….although if HE gets to choose he picks the shortest books he can find!  (He’s no dummy!)  He  is starting to do Math facts by himself and knows most of the letters in the alphabet.  Joseph does not have much confidence yet and does not think he will ever be able to read, but I have no doubt he will be…and soon!  :)

Thanks for sticking with us!   We appreciate prayers.  :)

HOME SWEET HOME

27 Feb

WE ARE HOME!!

and boy does it feel good!

We had an extra long Valentine’s Day this year since we were traveling…

32 hours to be exact!  What a special gift we brought home with us!

I guess I will start from where I left off last time.  ;)

I believe  last time I wrote we were waiting for the 10 day wait to be over.   Wow, that feels like a lifetime ago!!  Well, believe it or not, it DID eventually end…we were doubtful it ever would!  haha!  During that wait we did a lot of “not much”!  It was super cold and snowy, with some warmer days mixed in, so we only ventured out with Joseph about once a day.  (Darrel would go out more often foraging for food, etc.)  Almost everyday Joseph would wake up and say, “Momma, (or Poppa) neyt outside.”  –He was very nervous and scared when we would venture outside of our little cocoon.

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Another reason we didn’t go out very many times a day was the struggle it was just getting outside!

Leaving our apartment

Leaving our apartment

At the elevator

At the elevator

In the elevator (too narrow for a wheel chair)

In the elevator (too narrow for a wheel chair)

Down some stairs (too narrow for wheel chair)

Down some stairs (too narrow for wheel chair)

Finally outside!

Finally outside!

Joseph’s favorite thing to do when we DID go out was take pictures.  We have a camera FULL of “machinas” (cars) and the Dnepro River!  When we were in the apartment his favorite thing was playing on the iPad or tablet.  He would not even want to take potty breaks or eat.    Since we have come home he has a time limit on his computer playing and has discovered so many things.  Each day Joseph has been with us we have seen him grow.  He was a VERY brave boy to come with us (that is another story I will tell another day) but EVERYthing we did was new to him.  So there was the fear of the unknown.  Stores were scary.  People staring at him made him uncomfortable. (I agree!)  Going from office to office was boring, yet unknown, so scary.  Food was strange.  (Even though we tried to feed him what the facilitators said he would like.)  And the list goes on.

playing in Ukraine

playing in Ukraine

We were finally able to continue on “finishing up” the adoption on February 1st.  On February 2nd we spent 17 hours getting Joseph’s new birth certificate in his home city, Donetsk.  That involved taking a 4 hour train ride there, driving around and going to some offices, touring the city for hours, going to a mall to wait for the train, and then the 4 hour train ride back to our original city.  It was a very long day! :)

In Joseph's birth city.

In Joseph’s birth city.

Monday, Feb. 4th Darrel and our facilitator went back to Donetsk to finish paperwork there.  Joseph and I stayed at the apartment and had the best day we had together up to that point.  :)   At the beginning of our time together Joseph could only relate with one person at a time.  So, when a Russian speaker was around that person was “it”.  Joseph would not only ignore Darrel and me, he would be mean, too.  When it was just the three of us then Darrel was next in line.  I was on the bottom rung!  Honestly, it was not much fun, but I tried to be the adult and realize that it was most likely because of how he had lived in his orphanage and the institution.   Each day got better and by the time we were on our way home he realized that I was not so bad after all.  Now that we are home things are going much, much better.  I think he is realizing that I love him and am not going to hurt him.   I think it has also helped that we are now in a family setting.  The world no longer solely revolves around what he wants.  :)

Tuesday, Feb. 5th we did more adoption related stuff and visited the orphanage for the last time.  It was pretty anti-climatic.  From January 18th when Joseph started living with us until Feb. 5th we had to go back to the orphanage three or four times.  Each time Joseph would get quiet and nervous, but never asked to go back or acted sad to leave.  The last time we went Joseph was aware that it would be his last time, but he did fine.  All of the school age kids were in school, but there were a few older boys around.  Joseph asked one of them to give Vlad a message for him.  (We don’t know what he said.)

Good bye orphanage!!

Good bye orphanage!!

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Our Embassy and medical appointments were scheduled for Monday and Tuesday of the next week.  We went Monday and all went fine.  It was nice to see the American flag waving at the Embassy!!  Tuesday we got ready to go to the medical appointment and were called with the news that the office was closed for the day, which meant we would need to go back on Wednesday instead.  We were pretty disappointed and felt sick that we had already gotten flights home for Wednesday morning.  We were able to move things around and get our flights changed to Thursday…for a price!

Our flights went from Kiev to Munich, then Munich to Houston.  We left our apartment around 3:30 am and arrived in Houston about 18 hours later–2 pm the same day!  It was nice to have only one layover and change planes once.  Joseph liked the little computers (of course) and played around with his and watched movies most of the longer flight.  He FINALLY decided to take a nap about a half hour before we landed!  During the entire trip he would ask every so often, “America?!”   It was a little anti-climatic landing and getting off the plane with him sleeping!  :)

Darrel’s parents and our kids all met us in the airport.  We had a WONDERFUL time on the ride home with our four other kids that we had missed so much!  Joseph played around for a few minutes, meowed and promptly fell asleep.  (The kids thought that was funny!)

So, now we are home and ready to rumble!  Joseph is learning so much and everything is an adventure.

Playing at the park after the kids got out of school.

Playing at the park after the kids got out of school.

Our littlest two.  They love playing together!

Our littlest two. They love playing together!

Helping Andrew blow some leaves!  (Trying to wind up the extension cord just like Andrew!)

Helping Andrew blow some leaves! (Trying to wind up the extension cord just like Andrew!)

Watching tv between two sisters, it doesn't get nicer than that!

Watching tv between two sisters, it doesn’t get nicer than that!

ORPHAN NO MORE!!!

27 Jan

ORPHAN NO MORE!!!

Here is what has been going on with us!
Our blog is not cooperating, so I am attempting to update a different way than I’ve tried before, so please be patient! :)

January 14 – left Texas

January 15 – arrived in Igor’s city after over 30 hours of travel

January 16 – had boys with us most of the day

January 17 – went to court. Complications. Rescheduled court for following Monday. The boys spent the rest of the day with us.

January 18 – picked up Igor after lunch and tried to pick up our other little one, but he would not come with us.

January 18-21 Igor stayed 24 hrs. a day with us until court.

January 21 – ADOPTED IGOR!!!!!! Stressful, emotion filled time
At court we were finally able to adopt Igor!!!!!! We will not give lots of details until he is home safe and sound with us. No way do we want anything jeopardized!! We were not allowed to adopt the other little boy we were hoping to adopt. I will tell you about it when we get home. We are very sad for his future. We have to trust that The Lord knows best.

Jan 21 – now. We are waiting for the 10 day wait to be over. (This ten day wait is mandated by court, and is a normal occurrence for all civil cases not just adoptions.) The wait ends on a Friday so we have been told that we will probably have to actually wait until the next Monday, Feb. 4th to begin doing paperwork to bring Igor home. We will do paperwork and other necessary things here in the city his orphanage is in, in his birth town, and also the capital of the country. All of that can take around ten days. SO, we should be home sometime around Feb. 15…if everything goes smoothly. Like I have said before, God has been preparing us to rely on Him and be patient. So, we will wait and see how it goes.

We are so thankful that God has allowed us to adopt Igor. We are also thankful that the orphanage has allowed us to keep him with us before the adoption, and during the wait. I am pretty sure this does not happen often. We are thankful that we are getting to know this sweet little boy now while we wait to go home. There is much to be thankful for!

I am looking forward to blogging openly about what we are experiencing here once we are home. Until then, thank you for your prayers. Our hope and trust is in God. Please pray that we would continue to depend on Him and not on ourselves.

Sent from my iPad

Adoption Update

31 Dec

My plan for this post is to give a brief update on what is going on with our adoption of Igor.

Because the adoption is not finalized we are not allowed to share very many details online.  If anyone would like to call, or e-mail, I would love to chat with you.  :)   I CAN share SOME about what has been going on!

First of all,  NO the things that are going on in the news about Rus*ia stopping all adoptions is NOT effecting our adoption.  Igor lives in a different country!  We have had lots of concerned people asking about that!!

We were in Igor’s country from December 1 through December 21.

Our three flights went ok.  Darrel was so extremely cramped on one flight that he could not move his legs at ALL,  but he survived.   We had to change our itinerary at one airport because of a delay, and we were told that our luggage would not be at the airport when we got there.  I am happy to say that neither one of us threw a fit or even stressed out when we were told  that our luggage would be a few days late in arriving.  So, it felt like a gift from the Lord when we saw our luggage HAD made it on time!!  Thankfully, Darrel still looked for it, even though we were certain it wouldn’t be there!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA view of Switzerland from our plane

We arrived in the capital city and had an appointment the next day.  At the appointment we were given Igor’s file and the file of a second child.    We were approved to adopt two children, so at this first appointment we were given what is called a “blind referral” for the second child!!   The child is a boy around seven years old who lives in the same orphanage with Igor. We had never seen his file before but his special needs matched up with  what we have agreed to accept, and what we have been approved for.   At this first meeting we were shown some pictures of both boys when they were younger…oh, such cuties!!!   We accepted both files and the fun really started!!capital city

After only being in the country for 2 days we were put on an overnight train to go to the city the boys’ orphanage is in. We didn’t get much sleep, but we did have a chance to “talk names” and try to figure out what we would like to name both boys.   We have been in uncomfortable spots at different times in life, but the train tops all the other times!!   (Ok, maybe it was not the WORST!  Being stranded on a Mexican highway at night with 3 little kids was pretty uncomfortable…but that’s another story!!)   We could not READ or SPEAK one word of the language!  We kept looking at each other and I would say, “This is so bizarre!”  We made it off the train in the morning, thanks to our facilitator knocking on the window of the train motioning for us to get off!  :)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our first visit to the orphanage was pretty stressful, and surreal.  We met the boys after talking with the orphanage director, social worker and a few other people.  The second Igor turned around I definitely recognized that sweet face!  During the first visit we didn’t really talk to the boys, but Igor kept looking at us as the *adults in the room talked.  (*When I say adults that does NOT include Darrel or me!  :))

We were impressed by the condition the boys are in.  They both seem to be healthy little boys.  :)  What a HUGE answer to prayer.  They go to school, are allowed to play, have physical contact with others and are fed.  That is more than we expected!   We are thankful that the Lord allowed the boys to be placed in this particular orphanage for older children with special needs.  Many, many other children in their country are in such worse places.   We were also concerned that Igor may not be able to use his hands due to Arthrogryposis but right away we noticed that he IS able to use his hands!  (His right one more easily than his left.)   YAY!!!

BUT, the best part!!!

One day as we were struggling through communicating with the boys a young missionary lady walked up and (in ENGLISH) asked if she could help us!!  She spent the afternoon translating for us.  What a HUGE blessing.  Up to that point we had not had anyone tell us all of the cute little things that the boys were saying, or to tell them  the things we wanted to say!

She is a believer and spoke often of the Lord.  She told us that she has been coming to this orphanage and

SHARING THE LORD with the children!!!!!

This is the most important thing we have been praying about for 3 years!!!

Our time was mostly spent visiting the boys who, by the way, LOVE electronics!  Good thing we had two tablets for them to play with!!  Also, many hours were spent running around in taxis doing paperwork and just plain surviving!   Our main apartment was located right downtown and we were able to walk to buy groceries, so it was pretty nice!  Our first apartment in the city was on the sixth floor and our second apartment was on the fourth floor.  We felt like we were training for mountain climbing!  The stairwells are cooold, dark, smelly places!  You get up or down as quickly as possible!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur stairwell!  :) Yes, it warrants a picture! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADarrel outside of our apartment.  It got dark around 3:30 pm!

Because of certain issues that arose, we were unable to get started on the adoption as soon as is “normal”…if there IS a “normal”!!  When we were finally able to submit our request to adopt and go to court it was too close to the holidays and our judge could not hear our case until January.

On December 21st we came back home to wait until court.  It was so good to see our kiddos here at home after three weeks!  AND, in time for Christmas!   Thanks to my parents who stayed with our kids the whole time, we came home to a nice clean, decorated house!  :)  Lovely!  My bed felt wonderful…even during the HOURS of not being able to sleep the first few nights!

We will be flying back on January 14th.   Court is set for January 17, 2013.  After court we have a ten day waiting period.  During that time we will visit the boys and wait.  After the ten day wait we begin running around, again.  First we will go to both boys’ cities of birth–neither being close to where they live now.  Most likely that will include train rides and maybe an overnight stay.  Then we will do some more running around getting necessary things completed.  Then, GOTCHA DAY!!  After we get the boys we will travel by train back to the capital city and get their visas, passports and medicals.

This second trip is expected to take another three weeks.  Our journey is taking longer than we expected, but I guess not any longer than the Lord has been preparing us for!  He has faithfully been teaching us to depend on Him and to be more patient!  His timing is perfect, and I need to keep remembering that!!

*Please be praying with us concerning the actual adoption.  There are some “particulars” that we cannot share.

*Please pray that the boys hearts would be prepared and that God would give them peace.

THANK YOU for your prayers and all of the money that has been donated for this to happen!!  God has blessed us so much.

We are Here!!!

6 Dec

Image

 

A view from one of our apartments.  

We are in Igor’s region!! We started traveling Saturday, December 1st. It was a long trip with three different flights, and an overnight train ride! It is absolutely amazing what a person can do without knowing the language….but it’s not advisable! My tip to those who plan to adopt: even if you are incredibly busy and have to stay up all night for a month, learn a little of their language ahead of time!! (We are learning some phrases, but very slowly.)

When we got to the country we were met by our driver/translator…who also did all of our running around and paperwork with us. He took good care of us and showed us some of the city as we went to different places. We are so thankful to have stayed with a new friend, Karen who opened up her apartment to us for our first two nights in the city! That was a huge blessing!

Two nights age we traveled by overnight train to the region where Igor lives. That was a memory that we will carry with us forever. :) We were thankful for our friend, Colleen who recently adopted from here. She let us borrow some of their traveling gear! We put the travel blankets to good use as a barrier between us and the itchy train blankets! Seriously, that made it SO much better!! We’ve also used the bedbug spray. :)

Yesterday we met Igor!!! It was a very short visit, but the minute we saw him we recognized him! I am not sure how much I can share on here before the adoption is complete, so I will have to leave you with that! We do not want to jeopardize the adoption in ANY way!

Please pray for us! There is a lot of behind the scene things that I did not come prepared for. :). We are forever thankful to God for being with us every second of every day! What a peace we can have even when we cannot see exactly how He will work things out.

  .

LEAVING IN THE MORNING

1 Dec

Hi!  I just wanted to get on here real quick and let you know that

WE ARE LEAVING IN THE MORNING!!!

The time has finally come!  We will be meeting Igor in 5 days!  If we have internet I will keep you updated!

THANK YOU to EVERYONE for helping us get to this point!  God has proven once again that He is faithful.  It is neat that He uses HUMANS to do HIS work!  We are so blessed to be allowed to be a part, aren’t we?!  When I get a chance I would like to add up all of the different fundraisers we did and post some totals!  The t-shirt sale, being the last of our fundraisers, is the one in the front of my mind right now.  We ended up selling over 50 shirts!  Cool!!

Please pray for our kids here at home.  I miss them already…even though a couple of them are still up talking to me as I write this!  It will be hard to be apart, but I’m so happy my parents are here taking care of them!  That’s a perk, mostly since we hadn’t seen my them for 7 months!  :)

My brain is too full (or just too scattered!!) to know what else to say, so

GOOD NIGHT!

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