Sunday, October 21, 2012

I Think I'm Gonna Like It

It's hard to believe that October 10th, our Homecoming Day has come and gone and another 11 days has passed. I always say that I need a vacation after a vacation (even though I wouldn't really call this a vacation) to recover and gradually get back into the swing of things. Unfortunately my mom didn't want to stay another night, let alone another week. Do you blame her though? 40 days of looking after 4 kids was enough! There was nothing gradual about getting back into the swing of things, life just kind of picked up where we left off. Doctor appointments, soccer games, hospital visits, wedding, school Fall break, oh my! I did allow myself some time before I got back on the computer, hence the reason why it has been 11 days. A video is in the works from our Gotcha Day and Homecoming, so stayed tuned. Coming to a blog near year you, Fall 2012.

For those interested here are the details of Sara's Gotcha Day. Without videos and pics this may be a bit boring but here I go. I had mentioned earlier that we ran into a snag that day. After we had been picked up by a cab, taken to the passport office to get Sara's passport, we arrived at the orphanage. Our day started at 9:30 and by now it was close to 1 pm. We were so excited and ready to bust her out. The video camera was charged and ready to record her leaving the orphanage. I had snatched the last pics of the orphanage itself so I could remember every little detail. Her new outfit was ready to replace the one that she had been wearing. Everything was lined up as we had been waiting for this moment for a long time. We knew that within minutes we would hold our baby girl in our arms and our new life, our new forever would begin. We knew that once we left the gates of the orphanage, Sara would never look back. We waited in the lobby as Yulia went to sort out the last details with those in charge. We expected it to be a quick process but she came back and said that the one in charge was not going to sign and allow us to take her unless social services was present to sign. In the past Yulia said that the director has had no problems allowing social services to sign within the next few business days. But because the director was on vacation he technically was not in charge and the next in line would not allow the process to be completed unless social services was present at that very moment, even knowing that someone would be at the orphanage the very next day. Yulia quickly got on the phone to contact social services but because it was the lunch hour, no one was available. She came back and said that we may have to wait. At that moment I'm afraid that "wait" was no longer a word in my vocabulary. In the meantime she said that we could visit with Sara since it was during the normal visiting hours. So we did. Yulia was doing her best to get in touch with someone who could help and finally she reached someone but had to leave to go pick her up. Another hour and a half passed then Yulia finally entered the room to let us know that it was time to sign paperwork.

Once we were finished I was expecting to get instructions for the "out with the old, in with the new,  changing of the clothes" ceremony. There was no mention of it and finally I asked, "So when do we change her clothes?" Yulia thought that we were all ready to go and had already done it, even though she was still in blue jumpsuit, tee hee, so we went back to Sara's room and got her ready to go. The nanny quickly stripped Sara of her clothes, then swooped her under a running tap to wash her bits and face. Once she was dried off, I swooped in and started to change her. I am thinking that maybe the nanny intended to dress her but I'm afraid I didn't even give her the chance. As I was getting her dressed (in pink) the nannies were looking in the bag to see what else I had brought. Her dress was short sleeved and they were very worried that was all I had for her. They just smiled and nodded as if to say she'll just freeze but oh well, but then I reassured them as I showed them that she had a cardigan to cover her little arms. I even had a coat and hat. No worries nannies, I have been a mother 4 times before now! Once she was dressed I had asked if they could feed her before we left and no kidding, it took less than a minute and she was back. I had just enough time to collect her things and she was good to go. They cut very large holes in the nipples of the bottles and feeding requires no sucking so she choked down whatever they gave her and we were off! There were no tears, no hugs or kisses, no good byes from the nannies but I smiled and thanked them anyway. As we walked out the door and entered the cab, I did noticed that they were at the window watching so I am sure that they were happy for Sara. Sara was free! Free as a bird! What a wonderful feeling for her and for us to know that we will shed tears of joy and sadness for her, we will give her all the cuddles and kisses she needs, and we will never have to say good bye to her again, it's only hellos from here! She was part of a miracle, Kareen's (Mia's) miracle! But now she is our little miracle!

I will do another post of our last days in Ukraine and our journey home. Then I will do weekly, bi-weekly, maybe monthly posts of Sara and her new life. For now I just wanted to post this so you could all see that we are still truckin'. Sara is doing well. She couldn't be happier. She has smiled more than ever this past week. I would love to know what she is thinking, but I am sure she feels like she is home! I am sure that she has stopped thinking that this is the longest visit ever and when are they going to take me back? I am sure she is thinking holy noisy and busy compared to the life that she knew. And I am sure she is thinking, to quote another Annie song " I think I'm gonna like it here!" The next day after we got home, Thursday, she had a cardiology appointment. I had made several appointments while we were in Ukraine thinking that we would have been home way before the scheduled appointments. Jet lag hadn't set in yet so we went. Everything looked and sounded good but the doctor did say that by doing a sedated echo he would be able to see everything in regards to her heart. We knew that she was born with a hole in her heart and I was willing to do whatever it takes to have her thoroughly checked, head to toe. She had that on Tuesday and everything looks good. She still has the hole in her heart but have been told that it is normal and it shouldn't be a problem. She does have an abnormal defect called a PDA but it is small enough that it shouldn't be a problem. She will just have follow up appointments annually. Poor baby has tiny little veins and had to be poked several times for her IV and blood work, and she wasn't a happy camper coming out of sedation, but what a relief to know that her little heart is well. She also had her pediatrician appointment on Monday. Dr. B said that she looks good. She had four shots and the blood work that she had done at the hospital confirmed that she is healthy. Her blood count looked good, her thyroid looks good, and she tested negative for other diseases. She weighs 14 lbs. and is 26 inches long. On the DS charts, she was around the 25% for height, weight and head size.

She has an appointment for her eyes in November and also an ENT appointment. I am sure that she will either have to wear glasses or have surgery but it is amazing how her eyes have already calmed down since we've had her. She has more to focus on and more to look at. She has kids in her face and has a reason to make her eyes work. She loves to stare at her hands because I am sure that at times they were the only things she had to focus on. But now she has so much more to see! She thinks that her toes are amazing because I really don't think she has ever seen them. They are so quick to bundle them in the orphanage, putting a sleeper on top of socks so every time her feet are free from socks she is touching them, eating them, thinking I have 10 more sausages to enjoy! After her first bath, where she actually got to lay in the warm water, she was all smiles and giggles. During the bath, she kept sucking in and the water being poured on her belly was literally taking her breath away, but afterward when she was wrapped in a towel, she had a look of "That was amazing!" It has been so much fun to experience many of her firsts. She's already had her first road trip to Idaho for a wedding too. It has been amazing to see the transformation from the first time we saw her until now! She is so sweet! So happy! So vocal! So strong! So mobile (rolling from one end or the room to the other)! Good eater! Good sleeper! She is just perfect in every way! Life is good! Life is grand! Life is busy! Being a mother of 5 is my new life and I think I'm gonna like it!

Monday, October 8, 2012

I'm Ready To Be Extraordinary

We have made it to the end of our rainbow! We have reached our pot of gold! Our beautiful princess is an orphan no more! We gotcha Sara Lily! Gotcha for good!

It was a very rainy, cold, busy, exciting, overwhelming, sweaty, surreal, happy, sad, joyful, tearful, much anticipated, lovely, starving, magical, perfect day! Although I listed a fair few, words really cannot explain how I feel! To look over at Sara this very moment as she sleeps makes my heart swell! I am so grateful for this opportunity! If someone would have told me even 2 years ago that I would travel 6000 miles to Kiev, Ukraine to rescue a little girl from a life that I can't even fathom, I would have never believed them. Many would say that Sara is a lucky little girl, but I would have to say that I am the lucky one! I wish I could relive this moment over and over, because it feels amazing! Whether I have given birth to my 1st, 2nd, or 3rd child, or adopted my 4th or 5th, the feeling is the same when a little one has entered my heart and my life!  During this journey I have felt my Savior's love, seen many miracles, and have had many answered prayers. My joy is full!

I am really exhausted and am so ready to cuddle my baby girl, but I just had to post another video with pics from this glorious day! The live footage will have to come later because I do not have enough room on my computer to store it. There was a little snag that we ran into when we arrived at the orphanage. It set us back a couple of hours before we could actually take her so we were able to have another visit while we waited. So you'll see her in her cute (blue) orphanage clothes first, then in her sweet little (pink) dress. It's tough to juggle a camera and video camera so we only have pics after we have left and got in the car. We'll create a masterpiece with live footage once we are home but for now enjoy the show. Our Sara Lily is ready to bloom. She's ready to be extraordinary!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I Love Ya Tomorrow

Today was our last, official visit before our big day tomorrow! What better way to capture the moment than to see pictures of today set to the song, "Tomorrow" from Annie. Tomorrow, Sara will be an orphan no more! We promise, tomorrow will not be a day of "gotcha, just kidding!" It will be the real deal, Miss Sara Lily's Gotcha Day! Hip, hip, hooray!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Almost To The End Of Our Rainbow

We are so RED-y to bust our baby out of the orphanage. 2 more days (Monday) until Gotcha Day, the real deal!

ORANGE you glad we only have 4 more days (Wednesday) until we cross the pond? We sure are! Our homecoming is so near!

We've had many highs and many YelLOW's during this process. But oh so worth it!

Lots of laughter and plenty moments of GRRR-een! All part of the excellent adventure!

We're feeling a little BLUE that we have to leave. (It's the birthplace of our daughter, a place that will always be close to our hearts.)

Sara Lily, PURple loved, cherished, and chosen!  Our lives have already been brighter since we found you. We have been changed for good!

Each new day adds a new color and we've almost made it to the end of our rainbow! Our pot of gold (Sara) is glistening, shimmering, sparkling and will soon be our treasure!

We feel richly blessed. It's been an experience of a lifetime. Our family is complete!

Is it any wonder why she adds so much color to our lives?

She's a ray of sunshine!
 Waiting to get her new birth certificate with us listed as her new mama and papa!
Car ride back from her passport application.
Silly Sara!

Every time she lifts up on her arms, she always grasps her hands together. I think she's praying that her little friends will find a home too!
I love this look!
So big! She got up on her tippee toes and lifted herself up. I think she was trying to show her dad the correct way to do a push up. Mark looks like he is taking a good mental note. Clever girl!
Girls just wanna have fun!

Shake, rattle and roll!
Sillier face! I love it!
Look at me!

I'm a happy girl!

A girl needs her beauty rest, especially after a long day of play. Life is getting better every day!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I Have A Tale to Tell

I just wanted to share with you a fun, interesting tale that I discovered, a Russian folk tale. During one of our first visits to the orphanage I noticed this carved, wooden statue. It was of a fox with what appeared to be a happy face (ball) on the tip of his nose. There was another painting of this same face (ball) with a rabbit on one of the playground sheds. I knew there had to be a story behind the statue and painting and I did some research to find out what it was all about. I came across the story of the Kolobok. I told Yulia our facilitator that I had figured out what the fox with the ball on the tip of his nose was and she smiled. She told me that this is the first fairy tale or folk tale that a child hears from their parents when they are small. It's a very traditional story and I am happy that I discovered it so I can read it to Sara and my other children to continue this tradition. Enjoy!


The Story of the Kolobok
Once upon a time a poor Babushka and her husband, Dedushka lived in a village. One day the old man asked the woman to make a kolobok. The old woman went and scraped round the flour-tin and swept the bottom of the corn bin and got a couple handfuls of flour. She mixed the floor with sour cream and shaped it into a kolobok, a kind of little round bun or cake.  Then she fried it and left it on the windowsill to cool.

After a while the kolobok suddenly got up and rolled. It rolled from the sill to the bench, from the bench to the floor, across the floor to the door. It hopped over the threshold and into the hall. From the hall it rolled onto the porch, from the porch into the garden and from the garden out through the gate. Farther and farther it went. The kolobok rolled down the road until it met a hare. "Ah, kolobok, kolobok, I'll eat you now." "Don't eat me, hare. I'll sing you a song: I'm kolobok, kolobok! I was scraped up in the flour-tin. Swept up from the corn-bin. Mixed with sour cream into a bun. Fried in butter til I was done. Then left on the sill til I cooled some. I ran away from grandfather, I ran away from grandmother too and I'm sure I'll have no trouble, hare, running away from you." And off it rolled down the road, so fast that the hare could only stare.

The kolobok rolled down the road until it met a wolf: "Ah, kolobok, kolobok, I'll eat you now." "Don't eat me, grey wolf. I'll sing you a song: I'm kolobok, kolobok! I was scraped up in the flour-tin. Swept up from the corn-bin. Mixed with sour cream into a bun. Fried in butter til I was done. Then left on the sill til I cooled some. I ran away from grandfather, I ran away from grandmother, I ran away from the hare too and I'm sure I'll have no trouble, wolf, running away from you." And off it rolled down the road, so fast that the wolf could only stare.

The kolobok rolled down the road until it met a bear: "Ah, kolobok, kolobok, I'll eat you now." "Don't eat me, bear. I'll sing you a song: I'm kolobok, kolobok! I was scraped up in the flour-tin. Swept up from the corn-bin. Mixed with sour cream into a bun. Fried in butter til I was done. Then left on the sill til I cooled some. I ran away from grandfather, I ran away from grandmother, I ran away from the hare, I ran away from the grey wolf too and I'm sure I'll have no trouble, bear, running away from you." Again it, rolled off down the road, so fast that the bear could only stare.

The kolobok rolled down the road until it met a fox: "Kolobok, kolobok, where are you going." "I'm just rolling along the road." "Kolobok, kolobok, sing me your song." And the kolobok began: "I'm kolobok, kolobok! I was scraped up in the flour-tin. Swept up from the corn-bin. Mixed with sour cream into a bun. Fried in butter til I was done. Then left on the sill til I cooled some. I ran away from grandfather, I ran away from grandmother, I ran away from the hare, I ran away from the grey wolf, I ran away from the big bear too and I'm sure I'll have no trouble, fox, running away from you." But the fox said: "I believe that must be a fine song, but you know I am rather hard of hearing. Kolobok, be so kind as to sit on my nose and sing your song again, a little louder." The kolobok hopped onto the fox's nose and sang the song again a little louder. But the fox said: "Kolobok, be so kind as to sit on my tongue and sing your song just one more time." The kolobok hopped onto the fox's tongue and snap, the fox gobbled it up!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Anyone remember this show? It was a hidden camera /practical joke reality show. The show involved concealing cameras filming ordinary people being confronted with unusual situations. When the joke was revealed, victims would be told the show's catchphrase "Smile, you're on Candid Camera." I am pretty sure that we are the stars of the show! No gotcha day today! You read that right, no gotcha day today.
I have heard it said many times that no adoption is the same. You cannot compare your adoption with another adoption. Although I agree, I was pretty sure that the general rules were the same. Gotcha day after the 10 day waiting period was one of those rules that I thought was pretty consistent.  Because of that rule, we were sure that today was the big day! But how does next week sound? Looks like we will be busting her out of the orphanage next Monday. As much as it is disheartening I have accepted the reasoning. Let's just say that it is best that Sara stays in the orphanage until we have her passport and visa in hand. She is in a safe place. She is being well cared for. She is in a place that is familiar. It's not what we had in mind, but it makes sense. There is still so much paper chasing to do and many appointments to make and if she doesn't have to run around with us it will be better. Especially since she has just gotten over an unknown illness. That's the last thing we want is for her to become ill again. So soon enough she will be in our arms.
Last night when I spoke with our facilitator and was gearing up for the big day, I had asked if she was going to be present at the orphanage. I have several donations for the orphanage and gifts for the caregivers and director and I just wanted to make sure that she would be there to help translate. Plus I wanted someone there to answer any questions I had about Sara's feeding and sleep schedule. I also wanted to get an idea of what she eats so we can make sure to buy those items while we are here so we don't shock her system. Just as we were about to hang up, she had said "I am not sure if we will be able to do to the orphanage thing tomorrow." When she said that I was sure that she just meant that we wouldn't do the donations tomorrow but I did not think she meant that we would not get Sara out.
For those of you who don't know or haven't figured it out, we are in Kiev, Ukraine. (I am able to disclose this information now because the 10 day wait is over.) Well being in Kiev has many conveniences. We are in the same city that we flew into. We didn't have to travel far to meet our baby girl. We are in the same city as the US Embassy. Because of this, the process is easier in a sense. For  families who adopt outside of Kiev, they are able to take their child out of the orphanage after the 10 day wait because they have to travel back to Kiev with that child to make appointments and to finish up their paper chasing. Plus this is where all families fly out of. Because we are here, Sara will continue to stay in the orphanage until we are ready to come home. I probably should have talked with families who have adopted from Kiev or asked more questions to our facilitation team. Maybe it wouldn't have been a surprise and I would have been better prepared. So it's not what we had expected, but it's just another chapter in our excellent adventure! Once again, stay tuned. The best is yet to come! And smile because you just may be on Candid Camera!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Life Is Like A Box Of.......


Happy October! Happy National Down syndrome month! In October 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed a resolution proclaiming the first "National Down Syndrome Month". This resolution is part of an ongoing national effort to raise awareness about the abilities of people with Down syndrome. I am happy to have an active and direct part in this great effort now. Sara has blessed our lives in so many ways already. She is going to rock her designer genes!

We could learn a lot from crayons: some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, some have weird names, and all are different colors but they all have to learn to live in the same box.

Please join me in accepting that being different isn't different after all. We all add color to the canvas of life and life is so much better in color!