Wednesday, January 29, 2014

And He's Off!

           I'll never forget posting in excitement when we received word that Levi was walking while in the baby home.  We weren't sure how he was managing, but just the fact that he was up on his feet, moving, even though he was holding on, was wonderful news.  For the past couple of months we've been seeing glimpses of Levi walking....on his own....on two perfect little feet flat on the floor.....and we are so incredibly proud.  He has come so far to get to this point....not just physically, but mentally.  To see him finally have the confidence to let go on his choose to stay on his feet, and to do so smiling and often giggling at his success brings me to tears.  Love this sweet little boy!!!!!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Gotcha Day! Celebrating One Year!

      We had just walked through security and were getting our belongings back in order when I heard someone ask.....where's the baby?  I was taken aback at first and then followed the security officers eyes to the diaper bag hanging over my shoulder, complete with bottles in the side pockets.  I'm sure you could hear the exclamation marks in my voice as I told her we were going to get him.  She seemed genuinely excited for us and wanted to know a bit more.  We talked for a minute and then went off to wait for our flight to Moscow.  I was so excited.....and so.very.relieved.  While I still had some feelings of uneasiness which didn't subside until we landed in the US, I knew our court decree had come into full legal effect two days prior and that we should be all set.

       I really can't believe it has been one year since the day we woke up in Russia, more than ready to go get our son!  I'll never forget the sleepless night prior and our being ready well before needed.  But most of all, I will always remember the fact that.....we couldn't get out of our room!  Key stuck in the door, unable to communicate with the front desk, and just wanting to get out that door and to our son!  In time we were freed and on the road.....the familiar hour drive to a little the only home our son had known thus far.  I remember it feeling surreal that we were really there, and that this was it!  I'll never forget his smile and little arms reaching for us when they brought him in.....any fear that he wouldn't remember, would hesitate, would reach back as we walked away....all subsided then.

Finally officially a family!!
So thankful for all of these women!
Back at our hotel.....surreal that we were finally on our own with him!
Worn out!
             I also really can't believe how much this little boy has grown and changed in one year.  It's truly incredible.  When we first brought him home, I was giving him a bottle.....pureed all of his food.....he was just a baby!  That seems like forever ago, another lifetime.  His drinks had to be warm, or room temperature........doing anything required so much focus and hard work, and often resulted in throwing it in frustration.  It's crazy to think that he's gone through casting, surgery, braces 24/7 and is now so very close to walking on his own.  All while learning what everything is in this world, what it means to be a family, learning a new language.....I could go on and on.  There have been so many stages with this little guy, crammed into one year.  I'm so thankful to have had some time with him as a baby, even while he was 17 months old when he came home.....he was really still a baby and I'm so grateful for that brief time.  I feel like we enjoyed each stage, just in fast forward, with Levi.  He is such a miracle and thinking back over this past year really just leaves me in awe.

January 2013
February 2013
March 2013
April 2013
May 2013
June 2013
July 2013
August 2013
September 2013
October 2013
November 2013
December 2013

January 2014

                                                     *                        *                       *

         In celebrating one year as a family of four, I also find myself reflecting on how much someone else has grown and changed, and significantly impacted Levi.  Caleb.......and his being a big brother.  On this day one year ago, his whole world changed.  We'd talked about it and prayed about it for months, but I knew he couldn't possibly have really understood.  And then one day, there he was.....the little brother we'd long since talked about..........

       When God first laid it on our hearts to pursue adoption, I remember thinking it was a crazy time....definitely not what we had planned.  Of course now I see a million reasons why it was perfect timing, but one of those is Caleb.  He's only 15 months older, and Levi has loved watching his every move since day one.  Levi had been so used to being around other children so I think it was really helpful for him to have Caleb there.  He's also been great motivation for Levi since he always wants to keep up with what Caleb is doing.  I think in many ways Levi has learned the most from Caleb.  Especially in the beginning when I'd often try teaching him a new word, sound, movement or sign......many times he would just ignore me, but if Caleb did it?  Then he'd try!  I'm sure hearing Caleb repeat everything and talk nonstop every day has helped with learning a new language too!

       For both boys, however......learning what it means to be brothers, well, took some learning.  And I think it's one of the things that melts my heart the most as I look back over this year.

       The excited boy you see in the video above, seeing his brother for the first time, was genuine.....but it wasn't always that way.  When we came home, he had to learn how to share our time, our attention, his toys.....his world!  I learned quickly that I could never leave the room without bringing Levi with me.  While Caleb clearly liked his new brother, he also liked to control what he did and didn't do.....and he had trouble understanding him.  He couldn't understand why he threw the toys, or wanted to play with the toys the "wrong way"!!  He didn't understand why he wanted to keep touching the garbage, or didn't "hear him" when he told him something.  So...he'd nudge him a little too hard....or block his way.  For the most part, Levi would just move on like nothing happened....or let the toy be taken and move on to something else.  I felt a lot like a referee for a while.

      And then....little by little.....Caleb would want to make sure Levi got a snack too.  Or, he just knew he heard him wake up from his nap so we should go and get him......while he was clearly still sleeping.  And he'd say, "Levi, wanna crawl with me?!.....and get down on the floor and crawl-chase him.

       Meanwhile Levi was gaining confidence.....he wasn't just a spectator anymore, he wanted to participate in everything!  And learned he has a voice, and wasn't afraid to use it!  Caleb still had his moments, but now Levi had something to say about it....or do about it!  And while Caleb's "moments" became fewer, Levi decided to take over.  Knocking down Caleb's towers, taking his toys....hitting when he didn't get his way, whining.....whining....and more whining!  Typical two year old behavior!  Of course Caleb wasn't too enthusiastic about this, but I started to see him be more understanding.  When he'd pick a toy for himself, he'd grab one for Levi too.  Or if Levi really wanted something, he'd willingly hand it over.  Then I'd hear him trying to console Levi....."oh honey, it's okay," when the whining came.

       I don't really know when it's been such a gradual, slow but steady change......but maybe in the past couple of months, they seem to have become best friends.  They understand each other now.  And they LOVE being together.  Caleb constantly asks Levi to play with him and much giggling typically follows.  They each have their own distinct interests too, but even in those moments when they're playing with different toys, Levi will usually bring his nearby.  I've found that I have a lot of pictures of them separately for the first several months...unless I placed them together....but now, it's quite the opposite.  Such a blessing to watch them grow as brothers and friends.....they've both learned so very much from each other.  While it may have seemed that Levi would benefit most in learning from a sibling just a bit older, Caleb has learned so much about sharing, compassion, understanding and so much more.  God knew the timing was perfect for these two, and I know each one of us cannot imagine life without the other.    

            Just a few days after picking up our son, we were finally home and altogether as a family.

It seems like yesterday and a million years ago all at the same time.....
I'm so thankful for this journey, for this past year and all the changes, challenges and joy!


Monday, January 13, 2014

Sending You A Little Christmas....Til You Come Home

       I'm not sure what happened, but I attempted to post this around the New Year and it obviously didn't happen.  This is a video that was made by the families who were in the process of adopting from Russia when the ban hit.  Families and children that met and bonded, but remain separated.  I think of them often and it only intensifies how thankful I am that we were able to bring our son home.  I will never forget kneeling by my bedside in the most helpless state I'd ever experienced, praying with everything in me that our son would come home.  I cannot imagine this past year without him, and I cannot imagine how difficult it has been for these families.....and these children.  I trust that God is in control and that there are so many factors that I cannot know....cannot see.  And I continue to pray that He will move mountains and make a way for these children to know the love of a family.....the love of a heavenly Father.  Please join me in continuing to pray for them!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Where We're At.....First Official Steps

         Two years ago this month we were taking the first steps towards adopting from Russia.  Last year at this time we were making our final trip to bring our son home!  Here we are again in January taking the first steps towards adopting from U.  If you would have told me these things several years ago, I would have thought it to be far fetched and unrealistic.  God is certainly a God of surprises, excitement, and plans beyond our wildest imagination. 

 "But as the Scriptures say, No eye has ever seen and no ear has ever heard and it has never occurred to the human heart all the things God prepared for those who love Him."
1 Corinthians 2:9

         I'm excited to be taking our first official steps in this process.  We sent our first payment to the facilitator we're working with, had our first meeting with our social worker, and have begun getting paperwork together.  This time around it's familiar, and I think for that reason I am able to enjoy the process a little long as I don't fall into the all too familiar trap of wanting everything done yesterday! 

        I get asked often where we're at, since we've been praying/talking about this for several months basically we're updating our home study which is crucial to completing any other step of the process.  We'll have one more meeting with our social worker next week and once the home study is complete we will apply to USCIS.  When we receive our approval letter, we can submit these two documents, along with several others required by U, to our facilitator.  Then we simply wait for our SDA appointment.  We will travel to U, to our appointment, not knowing specifically who we will be adopting.  We will be approved for up to two girls ages 0-12, however, who we will be presented at our meeting is unknown until that day.  We are trusting that God has this covered and are praying for clarity and wisdom in any decisions we may need to make on the spot.  We are also praying for peace about where this process leads.....whether we come home with one, two, or no children (yes this is possible)....we know fully that God has called us to this. 

       Aside from the legal aspect of the whole process, there's also been quite a bit of preparation going on for us in other ways.  If we had any hesitation that God was calling us to adopt girls, I think that has fully faded...........

       Over a dozen bins of beautiful girls clothing sits in my attic.  An incredibly generous friend has wanted for us to have the clothes that her girls have outgrown, and we are so thankful!

      During our move we took all of my old barbies, dolls etc. out of our attic and into the new house.  While setting up the playroom it seemed foolish not to put all of the doll stuff in there now before every inch was taken up with Caleb and Levi's toys.  It seemed so far off when I used to say that I wanted to save them for my future daughter(s).....and here we are!  I sure hope they like them!

      We have a fourth bedroom upstairs in our new home that we've referred to as "the girls room" since day one.  For a while it remained unfinished.....white primed walls without color, a hole where the eventual light fixture would go.....sort of a catch all room.  I often wondered if we should just wait until we met our girls to bother with the room.  After all, this is an uncertain process and what if......?  Then one day it hit me how weak that mindset lacking in faith I was.  And so we painted the room, bought some fun bedding and I painted a shelving unit we already had to match the new room.  Once we got started, amazing things happened.  Like a family from church giving us their bunk bed set.  Oh and the same parent's neighbors offering two twin mattresses to us.  Really?!  And God just continues to blow me away.  

Still a work in progress, but getting there!

       The boys wanted to help put the bed together of course.......

       Oh and the build a bear animals you see on the beds?  Caleb chose the pony and Levi the bunny.  We took them on New Year's Eve to have them made.  So meet Black Beauty (the white pony) and Bookie (Caleb's name for ever animal, character in a story, creature etc.).  Each made with love by a brother to a sister.  Initially it was a gift to each of them for Christmas to go to build a bear....their experiential gift (if you read the Christmas post you know what I'm talking about).  But the more I thought about it, the more I felt like it was silly for them to make another.  They each have one, and a million other stuffed animals.  And this was way more exciting anyway....Caleb loves anything having to do with sisters, and Levi.....well Levi just loves to do everything, especially if Caleb is doing it.  

       To say we're excited is an understatement.  While we know that this is going to be a major change for all of us, and may bring some new and difficult challenges to our lives, we are eager.  And I love how excited the boys are....that they've already been a part of preparing for their sisters.  Caleb is at an age where he's really started to get some aspects, although I don't think there's any real way to prepare him for such a huge change.  He'll randomly declare that he's going to share everything he has with his sisters, asks when they're coming, whines that it's taking so long, plans to give them some of his very own stuffed animals, and explains to me that they're going to talk all crazy like blahliudgalkdjgkl. : )  We'd have missed out on so very much if God hadn't allowed us to be a part of this world of adoption!!!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Thirty One Fundraiser

      It's truly humbling when people approach us with a plan on how they want to help us with this adoption.  I've learned to just accept with gratitude and watch in amazement as God carries out His plans....and try my best not to get in the way!  A sweet friend shared that she wanted to help in some way and would do a Thirty One fundraiser, donating her profits to the adoption.  This will go on until January 14th so if you or anyone else is interested in checking out some great products, here is the info below:

                             Facebook Event - there is a flyer with this month's specials on here : )

                                                                    Event Shopping

                                                                        Event Home

           Thank you!!