Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pskov family updates....

The Moreno are home from Russia after meeting Baby J, now they are waiting for a court date. Did I mention their plane caught on fire on the way home? Is satan working overtime in Pskov or what?!!?...... 
The Davis family's appeal has been filed with the Supreme court. HOWEVER, the Judge could simply overturn her ruling at this point and the case would be over. (Meaning they could bring home Kirill!) So lets pray for that route! Regardless, lets keep praying this little guy home. You can follow them on facebook- "Saving Kirill" and get the latest.

The Hook family had court today- after a looong line of questioning, a messed up document, a lunch break, and some crazy questions the Judge has called a recess until tomorrow. (So that the document could be corrected and presented again tomorrow) Surely, she has it in her heart to grant baby Evan's adoption, right? Why else would she be making them redo documents at this point? I take that as a very good sign. Regardless, please say a special prayer for them tonight before bed -OR- if you are up late tonight into tomorrow- 3am-? please pray for them in "real time" while court resumes. Pray that Evan would be on her way to where she belongs- with her family!!!

One more thing- I have a dear friend, Steph, that is in another region of Russia having court tomorrow too. Her journey has been especially strenuous and insane (even worse than what we went through) due to the ramifications of the adoption freeze. Pray that things go smoothly and she can bring her son home too!

When all our babies are home we can do one big Yippeeee dance! (And have a nice reunion celebration!)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

There goes the neighborhood....

 Last weekend, new construction began in our backyard- the giant sky fort- a gift from my parents. Wow- this sucker is big. Needless to say after two full days of work, we are still under construction! It hasn't helped that we've had maybe 2 sunny days in the last week and a half! Charlie's job? We bought him a shovel and he was the official poop scooper (the playground is located in the former Great Dane bathroom area). He wanted to have his hands on every part of the assembly- all 57 steps (yikes) we are currently at step 48. And when I say we, I mean Chad. The slide still needs to be assembled (it says it takes 6-8 hours!) as well as the swings. But in the meantime, it makes an excellent fort! I just love these pictures of "the guys" (and Donna, Chad's mom) working.

My dad and Charlie with his "equipment"
The frame goes up

Helping Dada

Putting together the rock wall and ladder

Dada Rick's shadow
Can I help some more? Pleeeaseeee....

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring Cleaning :)

Step 1: Sweep throughly

Step 2: Mop with the sudsiest soap you can find

Step 3: Run the vac, using your best form and technique

Step 4: Clean the glass

Step 5: Pack it up after a hard day's work
I promise you, I don't MAKE Charlie clean, he really likes it I swear. Since his favorite "toy" was the vacuum cleaner attachments, my friend Michele got him his very own vac for his birthday! And I got him the cleaning when I clean, he can clean with me. (Note to self: DO NOT use dish soap in the mop bucket. I didn't want him cleaning with chemicals, so I used some Mrs. Meyers dish soap....needless to say, this required more clean up after the time: WATER) I guess I was going for authentic over practical. But anyway, the clean house lasted about, uhhh....45 minutes. Now I am back to tripping over toys, scraping who knows what off the glass, and looking at the carpet in disgust. Well, it was good while it lasted!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Save Kirill!

Our friends, the Davis' are asking folks to read their story and contact anyone that can help. Of course, we all have been praying, but if you know ANYONE that can help, even if it is a long shot, PLEASE make every effort to bring more people into Kirill's Army! CNN, People Magazine, and Drudge report has been contacted and we are waiting to hear something. Please feel free to re-post too! (In her story, by the way- we are the Christmas Miracle!)

Thursday, March 24, 2011Kirill's Story

Please feel free to share the following on your blogs. It is a summary of our adoption journey so far. Please help us spread the word. We are hoping somehow someone will be able to help us.

Two years ago Greg and I began praying for God to do whatever he wanted with our lives. We handed him a “blank check” so to speak, and told him to cash it. He opened our eyes to children with disabilities wasting away across the ocean in Eastern Europe. We joined God and started our adoption journey.

Our family is more than equipped to handle a child with special needs. I have a degree in Early Childhood Education. I am a member of the Board of Directors of Best Buddies of Alabama. I have volunteered for RISE and Eagles’ Wings. All of these organizations serve individuals with special needs. My husband I have close friends and family who have special needs and we are a big part of each other’s lives. Our wedding party included some of these special people. Our involvement with individuals with special needs led us to adopt a child with special needs; specifically, we chose Down Syndrome.

As we prayed over the faces of thousands of orphaned children with Down Syndrome, we ultimately chose a little boy named Sergey from Russia. Eight months later, as we neared the finish line of our adoption, one of Sergey’s family members in Russia stepped forward to adopt him. We were heartbroken for our loss, but God showed us that we were following him, and his ways are perfect. We knew we still wanted to adopt, so the way we saw it, two children would find homes because of our journey…Sergey went to his family and now we would choose another child to come into our family. We took great comfort in knowing that God could see this when we first committed to Sergey! We were honored to be a part of his plan.

Shortly after losing Sergey, we received a new referral with a grainy photo of a four-year-old blond-haired boy wearing pink glasses named Kirill. We were instantly in love with him. We had to re-file a lot of our paperwork because of the change in referrals and regions of Russia, but we were fast and we thought we were looking at three more months at the most until we would have Kirill home.

That was well over a year ago.

Since then so many things have happened. A tragic story of an adoptive mother sending her child back to his country alone on a plane with a note pinned to his shirt rocked our world…he was from Russia. Adoptions in Russia came to a screeching halt. Kirill’s region stopped processing adoptions for eight long months. The judge refused to accept any Amercian adoption cases until an official treaty was signed between the United States and Russia.

Even though we wouldn’t be able to finalize the adoption in court until the treaty was signed, we were allowed to go visit Kirill and sign our official petition to adopt him in August 2010. We fell more deeply in love with him. This was our son.

During that time, we found out that Kirill is the first child from his region EVER to be adopted with Down Syndrome. A birth mother keeping her child with Down Syndrome is unheard of in this area of the world. Adoptions of children with Down Syndrome just don’t happen there, these children are literally hidden away from society in orphanages and mental institutions. As our process continued, it became apparent that Kirill would be a pioneer. If our adoption was approved, it would pave the way for other children with special needs to be adopted from this region.

Then, a miracle happened around Christmas and the judge in this region suddenly changed her mind and began processing American adoptions again. We were elated. Could this be the light at the end of a very long tunnel? I was somewhat nervous about Kirill being the first child adopted with Down Syndrome from his region, but our agency was very confident that if we got a court date, our adoption would be approved. In seventeen years, they had never had a case rejected IF the family was issued a court date. We were told not to worry, so I didn’t. After meeting the judge’s requests for several supporting court documents, we were finally granted a court date-March 17, 2011. St. Patrick’s Day…I was thrilled. This would be our new favorite holiday! Our son was coming home!

Our other son, Clayton, who had just turned three when we started this adoption process, has prayed fervently for his brother. He is now almost five. When we told him Kirill was coming home, oh my…we had an excited big brother on our hands! At one point he even went to his room, dumped out his toy cars and divided them into two stacks…one for him and one for Kirill.

Last week, as we sat in the courtroom and suffered through five agonizing hours of difficult questioning, we were not prepared for anything but an approval of our case. Two doctors, two social workers, and the Minister of Children’s Services all made very strong statements on our behalf. They fought for us. Hard.

But when the ruling was read, the judge said, “Your application to adopt is rejected.” The basis given was that Kirill was “not socially adaptable” due to his “medical condition” and he was better off in an institution than in a home with a family. As the judge read her ruling, she stated several times that we were a good family, that we met all the criteria to adopt a child, but that she would not approve our adoption because Kirill has Down Syndrome. She told us that we could adopt another child, because legally our application had no problems according to Russian adoption law. She said she would approve our adoption for a “typical” child, but not this child. Why? The only reason? Because he has Down Syndrome. Even though we were approved by our home study and by the USCIS to adopt a child with special needs. It makes no sense whatsoever. Denying a child a family because he has Down Syndrome is a violation of human rights at its most basic level!

It was like a terrible dream. We were so unprepared for this outcome. As we left the courthouse in a mental fog, the doctors and social workers that had testified came to us and said, “If you appeal, we will fight for you. Appeal. Fight this decision.” Of course we were going to appeal…I could no more walk away from our biological son, Clayton, at this point. Kirill is just as much my son.

So here we are, asking God to move the mountain that is standing between Kirill and us as we appeal to the Supreme Court in Moscow. There are also three other families who are in various stages of adopting children with Down Syndrome from Kirill’s region; one of the families has a court hearing set for next week.

We are hoping that someone will hear our outcry and help us bring our son and these other waiting children home. His adoption will set the precedent for many other children in his region. There are 98 children in his orphanage with special needs alone. It is one of many orphanages in this region that houses children with special needs. This is about more than just one child, the lives of hundreds of children with special need are at stake. Please help us.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A lot of things....

A lot of things have happened this week, wonderful, lovely, things....Charlie's 3rd birthday, His dedication at our church on his birthday, visits from grandparents, new words, new sentences (gasp!) the gorgeous weather, It's been a REALLY great week....
But....a few things are keeping the glowing posts and the pictures and the celebration.....
My mind has been constantly drifting to the Davis', the Hooks, the Morenos....
I have had a serious case of writers block. So for now, no words...just prayers for them. It doesn't feel right celebrating until we can ALL celebrate together. Please continue to pray for the Davis family as they wait, wait, wait for a verdict that will restore their joy and their broken hearts.... The Hooks as they travel on Saturday and have hit some bumps in the road- paperwork mess that they REALLY don't need right now, as their court date is on the 31st. Celebrating with the Morenos as they have FINALLY met their daughter and now turn their thoughts to court as well.
Please continue to remember them.

Friday, March 18, 2011


The Davis family are almost home. They are of course heartbroken, but their faith is strong. We have learned that they are appealing their case through the Russian supreme court. This means within 10 days, they should know if the decision of the lower court in Pskov will be overturned. Now we know a little better about specific prayer needs for them and other families walking on egg shells right now. If WHEN this case is overturned, it will set a new precedent for children with special needs. That they need a family just like EVERY child. PLEASE be in prayer for the Davis family, the Hook family, and the Moreno family as they wait...wait....wait.... these next two weeks are going to be very difficult for them. Pray that God grants them peace, strength, and courage.
Please pray for the assembly of the court that will hear this appeal. Pray that their hearts are in tune with these children's best interest.
PRAY for the attorney that their agency, Reece's Rainbow, has hired. Pray that God grants them wisdom, a tender heart, and a passion to put this case above anything else on their work load.
Pray for the Reece's Rainbow agency and workers in Russia and State side. That this matter would be their #1 priority. That their connection is strong to the judicial system in Russia and the right doors will be opened.
Pray for these precious children and all children waiting for their mama's and papa's. They don't understand ignorance or red tape or due process. They just want love. Period.
I am begging you to bathe this whole process in prayer, it's the best and only thing we can do right now. Maybe when you wash your hands, remember them. Maybe when you tuck your kids in at night, pause to remember these babies that have no one to tuck them in....Find a way to remember them.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Prayer Request

Our fight is not over yet.....
Our friends, the Davis' are in Pskov right now, their court date was this morning.
We just received word that the Judge (same Judge as ours) has REJECTED THEIR CASE!
After a 4-5 hour grilling and 8 months of waiting after they met their precious boy, she rejected their case.
I am just stunned.
The reason? Their son has down syndrome.
I know, that isn't a reason at all. She apparently thinks that living in a mental institution is better than a loving, wonderful home that has access to the best medical care, eduction, and love.
Our next friends, the Hooks, will have court on March 31st. Their precious daughter was Charlie's best buddy in their orphanage and she has down syndrome too. The Moreno family is right on their heels waiting for their down syndrome daughter. Please pray for them too. I can't imagine the fear that has gripped them this morning.
I am just so upset about this news. Please stay tuned, I will give you an update on what their agencies are advising at this point.
All I know is that Satan is attacking Pskov right now. He is attacking what the Bible says is "God's Pure and Faultless" religion, protecting orphans in their distress.
I thought I was done fighting, now that Charlie is home.
But it looks like the fight has just begun. Something has got to change to protect these babies. Please be in prayer for the Davis family, the Hook family and the Moreno Family. Be ready prayer warriors.....

Monday, March 14, 2011

Real stuff.....

I hope I have satisfied the "we want pictures and just pictures" crowd with the obscene amount of pictures I have been posting. I started a Shutterfly account for family and realized that updating it once a month was not practical, because during the first 10 days of March I had already taken 140+ pictures. Now, keep in mind my camera stays on the "sports" setting because it snaps three pictures in a row very quickly. That helps because after the first flash, Charlie returns to his normal smiling self and drops the "camera is stealing my soul" face. He is getting much ham-mier in front of the camera. He gets it now. He is even posing for a few these days. But tonight I am taking a break from the photo-ops.

Everyone wants to know how we are doing. I guess it can be summed up by saying: We are trying to figure it all out. I know, that will NEVER happen, but we just added a new mysterious little creature to our family and we are trying to be the best parents we can be. Should we not give him juice if he refuses to eat? Should we be happy he is staying hydrated? Or is he tricking us into only drinking juice for dinner? Why does he cry sometimes in the middle of the night? Is he hungry? Too hot? Too cold? Having nightmares? So we try out different variables. The tricky part is what seems to be the answer one night doesn't work the next. But I will say, by looking at the big picture every day we are together, the better he does. The happier he is. He is a really happy boy, we are so thankful.

We have been talking to a speech therapist that is also a friend, she thinks he is doing really well. We are still going to jump on board therapy when he turns three (next Sunday) to make sure we are doing everything in our power to make up for close to three years of institutionalization in the language department. But he adds about a new word every day, so that is huge! His word today was Crackers. Yesterday it was "Joe-Joe" (our friend) and Saturday it was "Yeah Baby" thanks to Penn State Basketball and Papa screaming at the T.V. We know he is getting it, we just want him to be able to verbalize it the way a three year old should.

As far as attachment, we are doing great. He is VERY comfortable with us and knows the difference between his Mama and Papa and all the other fun, wonderful people in our lives. At the end of the day, Mama and Papa reign supreme in his book. That's a good feeling.

Where we are struggling:

1-Church. It's really tough there. It's impossible for Mama and Papa to work at the same place at the same time on Sunday. He acts out there- it's just too much for him right now. It's hard I think because he is like a little celebrity and he doesn't want all the attention. It makes him squirrely. So Ne-Ne (my sister, Brittany) has come to the rescue. She comes with us to church now and is the "constant" in the church equation. I can greet new people and work while Chad does his work. He sees us and is in the church environment that we desire him to know at an early age, but can still have someone that is just attending to his needs and attention span. This Sunday was 100% better than last Sunday.

2-Keeping our house a non-danger zone. We are surrounded by too much stuff. He has too much stuff, we have too much stuff. I am ready to burn it all and start over again. I am thinking a minimalist loft with like a couch, a bed, and a bookshelf. I know kids come with a lot of stuff but this is ridiculous. It makes me feel claustrophobic. Today I purged 4 bags worth of junk from our house. I have 32 more left to fill. It's what I'm doing for Lent. Purging 40 bags. While I fill I pray. What I sell I will tithe. What I can give to someone who needs it, I will give. Anybody need anything? Now is the time to voice your needs. If not Ebay, Consignment, and Yard Sale will beat you out!

3-Not feeling sick. I am a very healthy person, but since we've been home I've had two colds, messed up my back and had a stomach bug. This is ridiculous!

4- Trying to be a productive member of society again. I can't concentrate worth a darn! Now what was I saying? :)
I am a very prompt person, but today I checked into making shirts that say "Sorry I'm late" so I won't have to say it all the time. I lose things, I forget things, I have a list that nothing gets crossed off of, just added to daily. It takes me days to do one simple task.
The list could go on and on....but for now that's where we are. I think we are doing well. I am trying not to be so hard on myself. Trying to juggle, but not be so upset when I drop the ball. I know what you are going to say- I've heard it before- Welcome to Motherhood.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Artist

Start out with a little green (of course)
Put a little more here and there
Discovering I can paint my hands instead of using a paintbrush
Uh-oh...paint on my shirt
Uh-oh....Sorry about the paint Alex....

Friday, March 11, 2011

Fun Day!

We went to Monkey Joes today!
Mama had to go with him once or twice.....
Then he did it all by himself...800 times at least!
This one was a little tricky....
There were so many fun things to do!
Check out that form! NBA here we come!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Happy Birthday Dada-Pop!

Top 10 reasons why my Dad is awesome:
10-He built me really cool things- rocking horses, two story castle beds, doll houses, frog cages, a play village in our yard, science projects, etc. He was the original Bob the Builder.
9-He cooks weird but Delicious stuff like cheeto-breaded mushrooms and chicken
8-He was the chief of our Little Indian Princess Tribe
7-He was the assistant leader of my Girl Scout Troop
6-He sends me almost daily emails of pictures he takes on his camera or OLD pictures I forgot had existed
5-He is the original creator, designer and perfector of the Fire Squirrel. (My dad never does anything the boring way. Lighting a fire, for example.) Step one: Build a fire pit and douse the wood with gasoline. Step Two: Jerry-rig a guide wire from a tree to the gasoline soaked wood. Step Three: Attach a matchbox car with a fuse and firecrackers to the wire. Step Four: Build a trigger. Step Five: Tell an old Indian tale about how fire was created and God made the fire squirrel. Step Six: At just the right time in the story: trigger the car, that lights the fuse, that explodes the firecrackers, the races down the wire to the gasoline soaked wood and BAM! You have a huge campfire. Step 7: Optional: If the Squirrel doesn't light, climb the tree with a lighter and light that sucker manually. (Kids don't try this at home. Call my Dad, he loves giving demonstrations.)
4-He tries to speak foreign languages just by speaking English with a funny Spanish/German/French/Russian Accent
3- He goes on every single Mission Trip with Chad and all of our teenagers every year. And they LOVE him! He teaches them building skills and other important life lessons, like Fire Squirrell building I'm sure.
2-He and my mom have been married for 35 years and he still buys her flowers, takes her shopping AND carries her bags, opens the car door for her everytime, and do fun "Bucket List" things together.
1- He is an awesome, kind, loving Christian man that has never met a stranger and would literally, give you the shirt off his back. He treats others with kindness and love. If you ever get the opportunity to meet my Pop, you would love him too.

We love you and can't wait to see you in a few days for Charlie's Birthday! Finally, you've found a March-born friend!
XOXO, Chad, Sarah and Charlie :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

9 to 5

Mow the grass
Walk the dog
And cook dinner?!?!
Lady, haven't you heard of Child Labor Laws?!!?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Together 1 month!

I just can't believe how quickly time passes. I would read other family's blogs as they celebrated milestones like these and think how can they not believe they've been home a month, two, six? I guess when you are blissfully happy, time passes much, much quicker! We are doing just great at home. Chad and I have begun to phase into working. Charlie stays home with Papa in the morning while I work and then we flip-flop in the afternoon. At first it was a little bumpy- not for Charlie- but for us. Juggling work responsibilities and such while keeping his world stable. Not an easy task, but we have gotten somewhat use to a new routine.
Church......a different animal. It would be a piece of cake if one of us had a Sunday job. But with that being the busiest day of the week for both of us, it is absolute chaos. It was chaos before, but now it's reached into the insane-o realm. We wear a lot of hats at the church and Mama and Papa need to work some things out on that one. But we're getting there. If I could just drop him off in the nursery, it would be better I think. But I haven't gotten over the "I want to wear Charlie as a shirt and never let him out of my sight until he's 30 and then he better call me every night" phase. It's hard leaving in the morning when he's at home AND with Chad. I guess it just took us so long to become a family, I us to stay like that EVERYDAY. Just the three of us....
His language skills continue to grow. It's funny, we have little mini-conversations now. Granted, they are mostly about food, riding in the car, or going ca-ca, but conversations none the less. He's started to mimic a little more, so that's been a lot of fun. We take turns mimicking each other, both ending in hysterical laughter. His laugh just lights up a can't help laughing along.
Now if we can just get him to smile for a camera without bribery, mentioning his Baba or asking him if he wants a banana.

Yeah...this is my "hello" you gotta problem with that?

I'm not looking at you....

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sneak Peak....

I ordered Charlie's announcements yesterday from Shutterfly. Not to sound like a commercial for Shutterfly, but I looked EVERYWHERE else, even created several announcements on several different sites. Then you get to the end and they want $12 for shipping, envelopes are seperate cost, of course the paper I choose was "premium" paper and wasn't included in the quoted price...blah...blah....blah....And we need ALOT of announcements!
My mom has always told me I have champagne taste on a beer budget...and I couldn't agree more! I just couldn't justify spending that much money. Then I found Shutterfly. I think they are pretty darn cute, maybe it's the subject!
Licorice Dot Blue Baby Announcements
Turn your favorite photo into a birth announcement.
View the entire collection of cards.
Here is our announcement!

Friday, March 4, 2011

31 for Baby Yana

If you aren't familiar with the brand 31, they have some really fun, funky stuff- purses, luggage tags, storage solutions all made with these fresh, cool patterned fabrics. Anyway, it's a neat-o company and you can have like "home-shows" and get the gals together for a night of shopping. Did I mention you can get everything you buy monogrammed for $6?

-BUT- What could make 31 even better? If it is an adoption fundraiser! My bloggy friend Lisa, is trying to get her angel Yana home. Her friend, Brooke is a 31 consultant and is hosting a show for Lisa and Yana.

Here is Lisa's blog link. FOR THE LOVE OF YANA AND HER FAMILY

Here is where you go to shop: CLICK HERE TO SHOP 31. I KNOW YOU WANT TO!
Not only are you helping a little girl get home, but you are scoring some awesome goods! My fav (pictured) are these collapsible baskets. They are great for tailgating, lugging things around (I am buying a second one because I have twice the amount of stuff to lug around now....) or just to catch all in the trunks of the car.

Also- during the month of March for every $31 you spend you get half-off a purse! They have these really cute ones that you just change the shell of, putting an end to "purse-swapping". Too cute!!!

So shop for Yana!

My Machina!

These pictures are from our first weekend home :) Hard to believe two weeks have just flown by......Believe it or not we did not make him pose with the American flag! My mom handed them out at the airport and he must have held onto that thing for at least 48 hours straight. It still flies proudly above his carseat in Mama's car!
(Almost) All American boy with his car

Building stuff with Papa and Dada

He couldn't wait to get roof, no door, no problem!
Checking out the finished product

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Rain....Rain....Go Away....

Spiffy Super Hero Rain Jacket and Fireman "Ohboofs"

Cheering with Papa at Bethel Boy's Basketball Game
Too much excitement for one day!