Tuesday, May 31, 2011

the judge...

well, tuesday has come and gone and still no court date.  The good news is we at least found out we are assigned a judge, that is the first step.  The bad news is that the judges father passed away TODAY per the reports we are given.  Ohhh boy....  Our facilitator has some contacts and feels that we may still have court on friday...but it's just not sure...so we will wait ... patiently.... and trust.... right? 

The "boo boo" update is that Shea does infact have stiches.  I can't tell how many because of the bandage, it's a bit puffy and a little bruised.  I think by tomorrow they said we can peek under the bandage and see how it looks at least that's what I think we conveyed through my little bit of russian and their little bit of english and as always...body language and gestures.  Shea had a great evening visitation with us.  You would never know he had been through such an injury today by the way he acted.  He as a very good boy and didn't pull or play with the dressings. 

By the way I'm really craving milk!!  I found it no problem in the capital city...but here...I've been successful at finding yogurt but the two times I bought a container of what I thought was milk (had a cow on the front and said 1 %!!) it ended up being that bitter thin yogurt drink.... so once I'm back in the big city I'm marching to the grocery to get some cow juice!

A boo boo - hospital bound...

no morning visit for us...guess who we found in the medic van when we arrived??!!

entrance street to our current apt

Before I write about our morning...please keep praying...it's afternoon on tuesday the 31st and we have not yet heard about our court date....

Another surprising turn of events today!  We started our routine as normal, the driver was on time and we headed toward the baby house for our AM visitation.  As we were walking up the path to the main doors we saw one of the medic vans...not unusual.  What was unusual was that some staff people were pointing at us and then pointing into the van.  I looked in wondering what was up....and who sits in the van but my Toma!!  He had a serious look on his face, and a big bandage taped above the lateral aspect of his L eye.  I wasn't clear on what happened but through some body language and universal words like boom and oy!...I think they were telling me that he fell down and cut himself.  There was a bit of blood and it looks like he might get a shiner.  Soooo our toma is off to the hospital and no morning visit will happen today. 

He seemed fine all in all, he laughed and smiled a bit and I think he was very happy to be getting a ride in the "machina"!  I asked if I could go along...but they told me no in a very friendly way. 

By the way...do you notice that I'm in clothing for 80 degree weather and he is still in leggings and sweatshirts?!  I notice the boy next to him gets away with no leggings....that lucky boy.  Shea must be so hot!  Yesterday they had leggings, a flannel and a winter coat on him!!  When we were out of eye sight we took of the coat and rolled up his sleeves - he was getting so sweaty! 

Anyway - we are relieved it is probably a minor issue that is sending him off to the hospital.  I'm wondering if he will need stiches??  We are also thankful that it happened on their watch and not ours!  That would have been awful if it had happened during one of the visitations.  Also something I don't think I've mentioned....the man holding him in the picture is his "physical therapist".  Now I don't know if he has formal training or education etc...but his job is to spend time with the kids working on range, mobility, walking etc etc...so we are thankful that he's been getting some of this in his weekly routine! 

I wonder if this "boo boo" happened during PT time, because he does usually have it in the AM before we visit and this man was at the van with Shea...so that is what I'm guessing.  From the motivation and bravery that our little man has I'm sure this won't be his last boo boo while trying to achieve great feats!  We waved to toma as he rode off in the van, he blew us a kiss and smiled.  I made muscle signs at him telling him to be tough.  I think they were relieved that we took it well and didn't freak out!  Like I said...leave the type A at home :)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Pack light and leave your type A at home :)

no sitting on the seat for this boy!  put me in the rails and let me walk in circles forever!!

this is where PT mama noticed full open chain knee extension for the first time!! woo hoo!

again!? why sit when I can stand??

rear entrance of another stop at the social workers office today to finalize papers which are now on a train back to the capital city.

typical street scene here...iris and poppies are the most plentiful flowers around right now...

Am I type A? Yes of course I am… in fact some of you might say in certain areas of life I leave type A and cross over into the world of OCD!

I planned to leave my type A at home for this trip and I think I’m doing a pretty good job….not sure…you’ll have to ask Dan later. Three times now our driver has shown up late for various reasons shorting us anywhere from 30-50 minutes of our visitation time…. But I’m rollin’ with the punches.

Most often in when trying to get food other than at the grocery store we’re drawing pictures and playing charades….it burns extra calories right?

Cockroaches? No problem… they’ve all been in the stairwell…not in the apartment…yet!

And the big one…. You are probably all wondering (especially judy, vinny, mom and dad who are so wonderfully turning their lives upside down to take care of Simon and Danielle) DID WE GET OUR COURT DATE YET?? Well, thankfully I left my type A at home, because NO…we did not get our date today. I am hopeful and still calm though because our facilitator feels everything is in order, and that we probably do have a date assigned, but due to the new computer processing it is just not “showing up yet”. She estimates it may “show up” at 1 AM….once everything is processed for the new day tomorrow. She hopes to have word for us tomorrow morning. The Senti family had SDA on the same day as we did and has been on the exact timeline as us and they found out that their court is this Friday. Now…we are in different regions, with different courts and judges, but I’m hoping our news will be similar.

Once court is complete we can take the overnight train back to the capital city, get an appnt at the embassy and then fly home… FINGERS CROSSED PEOPLE…. Extra strong prayers please. I miss Simon and Danielle and want to get back to work so I’m not eating up so many of my limited hours off. (because gee, there are some other big things around the corner for our family in the months to come!)

As for our visitations there are some specifics on the other blog. We’ve noticed a trend with our boy. We have 2 really wonderful visitations…and then the third visit we get a grumpy butt with a definite stubborn streak for at least ½ of the session. Again…nothing major, I’ve been around enough kids to know this is pretty typical stuff! Let’s hope we get the sweet angelic version of our boy when it comes time to take the plane ride home J

I’m thrilled at how his English is progressing each day. He is counting to 10 with me now. He as also started to mimic words or phrases quite often without being bribed with treats.

I'm noticing even more knee extensor and flexor control over the last few visits than I did on our first day here... on the swing today his feet were touching the ground and he fully extended his knees a few times to lift his feet up in the air!  Great news for ambulation!

I discovered today he is a pro at drawing circles. We also worked on a project where I drew tiny dots and had him place teeny stickers on them…he did great! He is his mother’s child as I noticed if his sticker was not exactly covering the dot he would make me help him take it back off so that he could redo it more perfectly!

He has officially become a pro at giving kisses too! We are sooo thankful also that 80% of the time the visits have been going very well and that the weather has allowed us to spend so much time outside. I don’t know how the families who do this in the winter months bear being isolated to one visitation room for 4 hours every day… praises!

To close… I’ll point out a parallel I noticed today. Dan and I often report how becoming adoptive parents has opened our eyes in just a small small way to how intense God’s love for his children (us) must be. This morning during some rough patches of our visit with a grumpy boy who was not getting his way I realized another revelation…. Dan and I were trying to redirect Shea to something that was safer, would not get any of us in trouble with the nannies, and was ultimately way more pleasurable in the long run for Shea. He fussed and wiggled and whined, which turned into tears of a 4 year old who wasn’t getting his way. I knew if he would just realize what was about to happen, if he could let go of his strong will and trust us to give him what was just right. He would know that all of his struggling was a waste of time and energy. OK GOD… I get it! Maybe I should leave my type A unpacked even once we return home. Maybe I should trust that you always know what is best for me…and I shouldn’t exert so much energy trying to make things work my way and in my timing…. I get it…. Please keep reminding me!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Guest blog from my hubby...

many of you ask... this is what the adapter looks like if you're getting ready to travel

he REALLY enjoyed the hard boiled egg we brought him today!!  He also love the orange...but SB mom's....did I read something about limiting citrus for our kiddo's kidney's??  fill me in please....

this beautiful (sp?) whisteria is about a 1/4 mile from the orphanage...WOW

A guest entry from Dan-

I’m a Jerk....
At one of my last shows before heading off to Eastern Europe, a friend came up to me after the event and said, “you’ve got a great job. You get to brag about your kids for two hours at each performance!”. He’s right. And because this is true, people often approach me and say something like, “ you and your wife are amazing!”, or a similar sentiment.

I want to clear this fallacy up right now. My wife is amazing. I am not. I’m a jerk. It’s true. While Elizabeth really is an amazing woman, wife and mother, I simply receive the benefits of her being a class act. I think sometimes people listen to my story and think I am some sort of super Dad. Well, the truth will set you free right? So, here it is - enjoy your freedom.

I’m 41 years old and pretty set in my ways. I like things the way I like them. If I put something somewhere, I don’t want it to be moved. If my CD player is on a certain volume, that is where I want it to stay. I like my dvd’s in cases (the case that matches the corresponding disc would be nice too) and don’t like when I find them separated. I crave peace in my home and hate, absolutely hate interruptions. How do these desires play out in a home with two (about to be three) children with special needs you ask? They don‘t. As a result, I’m prone to irritability. I’m moody. I get grumpy when I’m tired. A far cry from Ward Clever.

Elizabeth laughs at me because I don’t like change much and yet we are an ever changing family. Super dad I certainly am not. Sure, I have my strong points, but again, more often than I would like to admit, instead of Pa Ingalls, my kids got stuck with an exasperated father who lacks the stamina to keep up and the patience to enjoy trying

I’m that guy. You know, the jerk. When I’m in the express lane at the grocery store, I count the amount of groceries in the cart of the person in front of me. One item over the 20 or less statute, and sighing heavily, rolling eyes or thinking bad thoughts are all in my arsenal of responses. Getting crappy service anywhere, rude managers or line budgers are all in the crosshairs for my crankiness too as far as I’m concerned. I’m the best driver on the road and most others drive like idiots. In short, most of the time I live my life under the assumption that everyone should think like me and act accordingly. Seldom seems to happen though.

So, what is a Christian man like myself supposed to do? The very title of “Christian” means “Christ - like“, or “little Christ“. Not only do I fall way short in the father and husband role, I pretty much blow it in the most important pursuit one can commit to. Being transformed into the likeness of my friend and savior.
My jerkiness extends far back. I can remember years ago when Elizabeth and I were dating. I used to sit on my couch and channel surf and when I came across a Sally Struthers commercial I would keep on changing channels. Something very stupid and selfish would enter my mind too. I would say to myself, “that’s their problem, they should deal with their own, we should deal with ours.” The hypocrisy of it all was that I was not doing anything to help any of “our own” either. Plus, as I soon realized, I was completely ignorant of the plight of children around the world. In the U.S., we have the richest poor in the world and a system in place for mass amounts of children not to fall into the cracks.

Around this time, Elizabeth went to work in orphanages for a few months in China. When she returned, she shared her stories, and God cracked my heart wide open.

It is here that I hang my hat. I may not become the world’s greatest dad or the most patient husband. I may still be a jerk in several areas of my life, but I can sense that the work God has done on this one part of me is reflective of his power to change other parts too. I feel a bit like the woman in the new testament who grabbed hold of just a piece of Jesus’ clothing and became healed. While it would be nice to embrace all of Jesus along with every bit of what he can do to change me, for now, I’ll settle for this one piece that has given me the ability and strength to follow the James 1:27 command to “look after widows and orphans in their distress.”

Also, while away in a far off distant land, in an uncomfortable setting, with a language barrier and completely different culture - (in other words, a total interruption to the comforts I have set up for myself back home), and despite being who I am (a jerk), I still get to identify in part with God. For it is He who stepped down from a comfy throne in paradise and crossed time and space in order to adopt us as his children. I am thankful that he didn’t look at us and say, “that’s their problem, they should deal with it.” Instead, he looked at us - helpless, lost, alone and abandoned - and he loved us enough to make the trip.

So, to recap - My wife is amazing. I’m a jerk. But, thank God, He is not done working on me yet. And for now, I’ll settle for identifying with Christ by adopting another life into our family. I just hope little Shea is not expecting Mr. Brady as his new Dad!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sat 28th, day 3 with Shea

here is the traditional girl coat!

veiw from our aptartment here, 4th floor....ohh my legs are tired!

captured for a snuggle

getting braver...he will do it is daddy stands still...but whimpers bc he's frightened if Dan starts to walk around

Hi all,  today was day 3 with Shea.  There were heart jumping moments, and heart wrenching moments.  First off, when I arrived at the grouppa door to retrieve Shea for visitation he was intent with some project...I called into the room...T o m a (pronounced toe - mah, his nickname here).... He looked up, gasped and then cried out mama, mama, mama and hurried out of his chair.  By the time we reached each other I was wrapped up in a sweet hug from my boy.  It was wonderful!  I love going to that room to greet him...however it is very hard to go to that room and leave for play time with only him.  Each time I go other arms wrap around me and exclaim mama, mama...tears usually follow when I leave with only shea...it is gut wrenching.  I give the others pats and kisses and as much TLC as I dare to right now in the early phases of getting the nannies to trust me.  The left behind always haunt me....

When I dropped Shea off after our visit he too broke into tears and full fledged crying.  Now quite honestly I think from reading the signs, he wasn't so much upset that we were leaving...but that he had to come inside because he was having soooo much fun outside! 

When we returned for our afternoon visit we had our first dose of Mr Shea, testing the waters.  It was either that he is starting to figure out how much he can get away with, or that he was just very tired.  To give him the benefit of the doubt, that second visit is awfully late in the day, especially when he's getting so much stimulation and outdoor time with us now...always active active active.  He showed some signs of being a "real typical 4 year old".  He was happy as a clam when getting his own way, but whiney and pouty if he didn't get his own way.  Nothing major...just normal kid stuff!  We did get firm with him a few times though...we hate to so early, but we need to set the ground rules early I think.  He seems tough enought to take it!  I still got some great snuzzles and lots of giggling and fun!

Now here in shea's country people do not sit on the ground or the floor, it's a cultural thing.  At our house we seldom sit on furniture!  So...a source of stress is that the nannies are always offering suggestions or blankets etc bc they don't like us playing on the floor.  So if anyone has any suggestinns how to get a kid that plays at high speed, and is non ambulatory to stay put on a blanket...I would love some insight!!! Geesh!  It is pretty much impossible!

also...something is up with his hip.  Lot's of clicking going on...while he's playing and if I range his leg.  Probably a bit of subluxation from his muscular weakness....will put this on the list to get checked when we are home.  Also, the dentist will need a visit too I'm afraid!

Dan and I ate at a local shop tonight.  We had a local dish that was basically chopped pork, pickled carrots, pickles, lettuce and sourcream in a wrap.  It was very yummy, less than 3 dollars US each.  Later my tummy did not respond too well, the meat was very rich and greasy, and I don't think I was used to that.  For about 25 cents US we also tried a drink from a vendor.  They park on the sidewalk and have big metal vats of this beverage that looks like ice tea.  I'm pretty brave and pretty tolerant to new things,....but it did not taste like tea!  It made a thirsty plant nice and happy though as I poured it out when no one was looking.  Lastly we stopped at the market to buy some oranges for the grouppa.

Thank you all so much for your comments and emails, I look forward to them each day.  Homesickness is definitely setting in.  This process is so long.... I can't wait to hold my babes at home....but this is probably harder on me than them :)

PS...he's really starting to mimic our english today!  almost none yesterday, but today he's saying eat, please, thank you, I love you, simon, danielle, nana, papa, mama, daddy and a few others.  Ok...we're usually bribing him to do this with food treats...but it's working!

Pictures from day one and two w Shea....

it took all of about 3 seconds to fall in love w daddy!

he struggles with the straw, but perserveres to get that juice that mommy brought him...

mommy is trying not to be outdone in the "fun" catagory!

out cruisin!  He LOVES being outside...

Shea got out of the drivers seat and walked him self back here holding on to the rails

grandma he LOVES his hat!

great attention span when it's a preferred activity!  He's not so keen on books though...
Our routine right now is to get up and moving in the morning, take a 20 minute ride to the orphanage for a 2 hour visit.  We take the 20 min ride home at midday, eat, rest, run what ever errands we need to and then head out again by 3:30 for our 4-6 pm visit.  We are usually home by 6:45...and we are pooped!  We are hoping to hear a court date by monday...fingers crossed.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Meet Shea...

We met Artiom / Shea for the first time on Thursday morning! Our first meeting was only 10 minutes or less and it was in a small hallway area, everyone standing, no chairs etc so it wasn’t exactly cozy and comfy but it sure was fun!

The nanny came out carrying him and he was smiling. They said he knew we were coming today and was very excited. No one knew, or could tell me how long he knew about getting a mama and papa, but he did not seem nervous or scared at all!

I talked to him for about 20 seconds, then put out my arms and he easily came to me. He is lighter and smaller than simon. I’m guessing 3T clothing probably? Maybe some 4T in shirts. He saw the toys that we brought right away and was asking about them. The teddy bear we gave him soon became a toy that he would place on dan’s head, dan would shake it off, make funny noises and Shea would giggle hysterically. When the bear was placed on mama’s head apparently I didn’t comply quickly enough so shea put one of his little hands on each side of my head and shook my head for me so that the mr bear game would continue!
We then went on to nose beeping, and the like…We had him stand for us while holding onto a bench, and he was very proud! Then we were told we must hurry to complete more paperwork today and that we could come back for 2 hours in the evening. So - we left promising him we would be back soon. I don’t think it could have gone better if we had tried.

Since then we are allowed 2 visitations a day. 10-noon and 4-6 pm. We have learned so much about him so far.

Socially - he loves loves loves cars and trucks! All other things pale in comparison. He is also a builder with blocks etc and has a love for anything technological. If he spots our camera’s, video or laptop he insists on using them…and he actually gets the hang of things pretty quickly. He loves his daddy’s silly games and faces. He loves when mommy spins him and flys him like an airplane. He giggles A LOT!! So much giggling that sometimes we have to stop because he can barely breathe! I would say he is very happy to have a mama and papa now. He is starting to give kisses now…and has developed a strange yet wonderful action of wanting to kiss my legs and feet! I’ve also caught him sniffing me in deeply a few times. How awesome! Simon and Danielle…I miss you soooo much, and can’t wait to get you all in the same room.

Physically - As we knew from the waist down his legs are pretty small. They did a good job correcting his club feet. He has lots of hip motion and some knee control. He is not able to control his feet. He can sit on a chair without back support well. He get into and can play in kneeling. He even squats sometimes if holding on to something, and today for a few seconds he got into a sqaut, let go and maintained his position for about 8 seconds! He can’t stand or walk without holding on to things, but he can walk if pushing something sturdy like a cozy coach car etc. He can climb the ladder to a slide if I stablize his feet on the rungs, he does the rest by himself. Tunnels are not a problem for him. His fastest mode of mobility is on all fours, progressing both legs at once. I wish my pictures and video would upload on this internet connection so you could see his motivation! Wait until we get him the proper equipment! Watch out, here he comes!

He does have issues with bowel and bladder control. (nothing new in our house!) His shunt is palpable on the
left side of his head and down his neck.

Language    He is a chatter box in Russian! Today we got him to mimic a few English words like mama, daddy, car, guitar, music. He understands all Russian that is spoken to him. He communicates to us through pointing and facial expression too. He fusses when visitation time is over and we need to take him back to his grouppa. I’m sad to see him upset…but pleased that I know we are the preference right now. I also was encouraged when I had to leave him for a few minutes with Dan to use the ladies room, and found out he had been asking for me while I was gone J

He seems like one smart cookie!  His fine motor control is good.  He does need to learn how to drink from a straw!  OK...this is getting long, and I've probably lost half of my readers by now!  Until tomorrow :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Exhausted Joy....Thursday 26th

sorry...right now my connection is too slow to let me load a photo :(

I am very very very pooped so this will be basic and I’ll expand more after some food and sleep!
Train arrived in region a bit late so we immediately hit the ground running as we expected.
1) social workers office for interview
2) meeting with orphanage lawyer to get Shea’s social history
3) met our boy for 5 minutes!!
4) meeting with orphanage doctor
5) trip to local courtroom
6) back to social work office to drop off papers
7) back to orphanage for our formal visitation…almost 2 hours from 4 to 6 pm J
8) back to social workers office to drop off more papers
9) our facilitator had to go the couriers office with our files
10) a drive to show us our nearest grocery stores and places to grab dinner…by now we have been eating granola and oranges etc since yesterday at lunch time! We were well prepared for this though… new families take note! No time to stop for eating…and bathroom time - plan it well!
11) to our apartment …. Finally…. ahhhh

The name game...

Dan and I have long known our Artiom would be Shea Kulp once he was our child. What we TOTALLY forgot to talk about in all the hustle of these last months was what his middle name should be! Ooops! It wasn’t until we were in the notary office rushing paperwork that they said “what is his middle name? It’s needed for these papers”. Whoops! We knew we had no time to spare….we quickly thought about keeping artiom as his middle name or his nickname toma… but they didn’t sound quite right. We tried one other that didn’t sound quite right….then Dan exclaimed….”how about Matthew??” I instantly liked the ring of it…and agreed, and 30 seconds later it was on an official document! SHEA MATTHEW KULP….well soon anyway…after we pass court by the end of this trip God willing! For those of you who don’t know…Matthew is the name of one of Dan’s brothers with down syndrome.)

Wed the 25th

Initial game plan. Free day to run errands and prepare to leave capital city, then be ready to get picked up at 4:00 pm in order to go back to the SDA and formally sign our referrals! Then boarding a train by 8:30 pm to go to Shea’s region…a 15 hour overnight train.

Dan and I were again awake early, but I was thankful that I actually achieved 6 hours of sleep …. So so so much better than 2 ½! We went out on our own for some official errands like exchanging money, buying water for the train, and finding a pharmacy for some medicine. By the way google translator has been so very helpful!

We mozied back to our room by noonish, and were getting ohhhh sooo comfy by taking off our shoes and plopping on the bed in hopes a a catnap after all the walking in the hot sun when our phone rang! It was Niko….thank God we had started our duties early today. “Be ready in 15 min, new early appnt at SDA!, get packed too” We had most of our packing done already and were actually able to leave the suitcases in our apt until 2:30 so that was also a big help.

To those coming behind us…. Be ready for quick changes on a regular basis….they can usually be good….don’t let them ruffle your feathers….we’ve had a few happen already, but they were all positive ones so far….be flexible….I have happily left some of my type A in the US to survive this trip as a pleasant woman!

So off we went to the SDA… all in all we waited for about 45 min, they checked our passports this time and then had us each sign a ledger. We were then handed a thick thick stack of documents that would go to region with us.

Back to the apartment to quickly finish packing up, then by 2:30 we were being driven to a private notary. We spend almost 2 hours there and then rushed over the train station for our 5:50 train! Phew we made it!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

SDA - check! (still in the country's capital)

Our SDA appnt took a total of (drum roll please) 7 minutes from the time we started until we walked out the door.  They asked us for our passports but didn't look at them.  The only question they asked of us is what we did for a living...I guess being a youth director and and PT was good enough for them today bc that was the end of it!  We each signed our name and were done.  The staff and officials seemed very rushed today, which worked in our favor I think.  We were told that Shea HAS NOT been transferred!  Praises! 

Shea also has a biological sister who was abandoned as well, we were told she is in the same orphanage.  We wanted to know what to expect with all of this, so S called M in region.  M said that his sister was born in 2009, and already adopted out of the orphanage by a ukranian couple.  We feel sad that they are being seperated.... but relieved at the same time that we don't have to think about if WE would be the ones to split up siblings or not.  S told us we will learn more about the biological parents and sister when we get to region.  No info today on his parents or the abandonment.  We were shown a younger picture of him, and we were able to swap it for a current one that I had in my photobook for a little bit of history.  We did not learn anything new about his medical status that we hadn't already known.

So what's next?  Tomorrow afternoon N will pick us up and we go back to SDA to pick up the referrals.  We will move out of this apt and bring all of our luggage with us.  Then the Senti's will head out by train a bit after 6, and we head out a bit after 8 pm.  I'm told our train ride to Shea's region will be approx 13 -14 hours long on a sleeper train....about 200 US, but I think we have some change coming.

Please pray for the B family.  They had an appnt today and expected to get a referral for 2 daughters who were siblings...but a problem has come up and only one is released....a difficult situation.

We have to wait a handful of days to find out when our court date with the judge is.  Please continue to pray for a fast notification and a short wait between today and court.

In regards to non business "stuff"....jet lag and baby bump symptoms got the worst of me last night and I only slept between the hours of 1am and 3:30 am.  I felt fine at the appnt, but on the way home started to feel very motion sick again.  I came straight home and took a power nap for about an hour and a half...and bless his soul, my hubby is so supportive that he thought he should take a nap too!  After waking I messed around on google translator and got prepared to take a taxi to the botanical gardens.  Dan stayed back to get some groceries and stay cool...it's above 80 again.  I had a nice time strolling liesurely through the gardens and resting in shade often.  There are so many hills here...!  I made it there and back with no problems and bartered until a driver gave me a price I liked.  I bought Shea once of those expanding balls (like the one judy and vinny have) for shea from a street vendor.  Tonight we plan on having Ukranian food for dinner rather than grocery store food.  Wish us luck!

Thanks again to all who have been emailing, commenting etc.... it is a great support and in a way our form of entertainment when we are in the apartment. 

st andrews church, right next to sda

statue right in front of sda...this was 9:57 ish and I was trying to keep calm...  we were starting late!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Chains rattle...

I've always been one to believe that when "good" is about to occur in our God's spiritual realm, that "bad" will not stand by and let things happen easily.  When "good" has ever been about to happen in my life I seek confirmation of being on the well lighted path if things all of a sudden start to get very bumpy on the road I'm traveling.  If the road is too smooth, with no ruts or detours I fear I have chosen the path that does not frighten the "bad" parts of the spiritual realm.

One of my favorite sermons ever that I replay over and over is by Wes Stafford.  He eloquently tells that when good is about to happen to a forsaken child, satan and his cohorts are in agony bc this is one of the strongest ways to give glory to God.  He describes how the demons rattle the cages, shake their chains and hiss out in defeat when a child is delivered out of persecution and God's angels triumph.  I love that visual! 

Looking back on the week or two that led up to departing for Shea's country, I could honestly say there were some major ruts in my road.  (and praying friends these can all translate into prayer requests too...thank you )

**Bump number one. Until now I haven't mentioned it to many because I was taking time to process it all and didn't quite have time to breathe.  Simon has officially finished his screening, and has been given a secondary diagnosis of autism in addition to his down syndrome.  My mother's analytical thinking actually already knew this, hence the reason I signed him up for screening in the first place.  However when I heard the doctors confirm this, and a moderate case...not borderline to boot I honestly struggled.  It of course won't change who my little boy is, whom I love to the core of my soul.  What is does change for me is the thought of what is future holds for him, and the types of challenges he will need to overcome.  I have a wonderful support network, but know that I am still in an adjustment phase here.  I felt that I didn't have time to properly settle in to this idea bc I was so overwhelmed with preparing to leave for this trip... I guess the fact that I am blogging at 3:30 in the morning means I am now doing some "processing"

**Bump number two.  We had a fun day of cystodynamic testing with urology for simon as well.  Praises that he doesn't show spasticity of the bladder or renal reflux which can cause long term detrimental effects!  The outcome was that he was diagnosed after his catheder studies with a weak or insufficient bladder neck and sphinter.  Long term...this means he will always have issues with bathroom control bc of his spinal abnormality.  This diagnosis doesn't have a quick pharmacuetical fix, but is also less harmful to the inner anatomy.  There is a chance of corrective surgery in the future when he is older and bigger.  Yes this was all within 48 hours of leaving the country.

**Bump number three.  Thursday I received a call from my obgyn stating there was an "issue" with my lab results from wednesday, and that I needed to complete 2 to 3 additional tests and have another obgyn appnt (this would be the third in 4 days) before I was cleared to leave, and later I learned it was  IF I was cleared to leave on saturday morning for my trip.  Sure...no problem, I have TONS of free time to get this all done in the 2 days before this major adoption project begins...let me at it right?  I of course was working that day driving home to home for my PT homecare job and also had to get simon to strong for his tests....and they wanted me to collect a 24 hour urine specimin for them, chilled!  So you can guess who ended up driving to the closest hospital in Newark and begging the lab for a large collection jug, as I did not have any time to get back to Thompson.  Proceeded to drive home a bit later, load a cooler with ice and travel the rest of day with a chilled jug of urine in my trunk!  NO LAUGHING.... a mom must do what a mom must do!  Friday I learned that for some reason, probably a bad draw, that my platelet count was reading 80 when I usually sit above 200.  By friday's retest I was back up to the high 100's....so I was given the doctors blessing to "get out of town".  I do have to go back for more lab work and an appnt within 48 hours of being home....no problem...plenty of apare time in my life.  By the way, baby is moving fine and thinking this is all quite hilarous, except for those airline descents which he/she consistantly hated.

**Bump number 4.  On the tuesday before leaving there was a day of emotional rollercoaster in our home.  Within an 8 hour time frame we thought Simon would have to be pulled out of his program at SHC for a different summer school option due to regulation issues.  I was beside myself...and the SHC staff were as well.  After a bazillion phone calls this issue was resolved in a way, and now our boy is back to SHC for the summer.

Bump number 5.  Less than 24 hours after leaving, my mom who has the kids on weekend suffered through and incredible stomach bug that left her reeling.

So...  I would say my dear Shea that we are one the well lit track, the "good" track, the track where glory to God will be found, and the fatherless will be given justice!  Those chains are rattling, and a few hisses are being sounded bc the "bad" guys know they are about to be defeated!  My bumps in the road are not easy...but they are confirmation.  AMEN!

seeing pretty things and passing time... day 2

So we don't have any official business until tomorrow am.  Today we "relax" and do some recovery from jetlag.  This AM we awoke about 6, and headed out to find some breakfast.  We wandered around our general vicinity for about an hour or so.  By mid morning we met up with the senti family and went to the monestary to take in some architecture...hence the photos above... It was beautiful and the temp has reached 85 today.  We contemplated moving on to another afternoon siteseeing trip....but we decided to be wise and lay low to prepare for the business of the next few days.  I'm back in the apt with my feet up, as I've had the joy of experiencing my first bout of prego ankle swelling today....I'm sure it's from all the travel over the weekend, and then all the hills and stairs today....so we are being good and getting some rest. We also enjoyed a fun skype time with the kids today as they woke up, still in pj's and rubbing the sleepy's out of their eyes.  Tonight we will be joining our friends for some dinner....and then tomorrow AM the "real" reason for the trip begins.

Here is a link for you...this page shows RR kids in Shea's orphanage who have not been matched with families....so their fate is questionable....    Again, i'm not 100% sure that Shea is still in the baby house.  I think we will find out tomorrow.    I'm hoping I might be able to love on some of the other kids while we're here....time will tell.

Last night Dan and I got a chance to watch a dvd we brought with us from home.  It was a sermon from a father / comedian with a son who has spina bifida....hitting home about the value of life.  Wow, it was inspirational, and certainly a good pep talk / kick off for us after a long weekend of layovers and plane rides. 

I'm also noticing how my previous travels have made the transition here quite a bit easier... for example I'm not shocked and I learn to dodge the lugies of passerby men on the sidewalk bc public spitting is definitely A- ok here :)  The people on the streets are generally very serious, and don't smile easily...I have the giant urge to go up and tickle them to see if we can crack a smile!   Also, the whole waiting in line thing doesn't really apply here as it does at home and you have to claim your spot with gusto to avoid 12 cutters...this skill has come back quickly.  Lastly... mini skirts and chic dressing in the capital city is common for the young beautiful women...I do dare say my husband is enjoying this part!  I just continue my waddle stroll, rub my growing belly and laugh!  I did have to borrow a head / shoulder covering to enter the "cave sanctuary" below one of the churches today....my sleeveless shirt, although otherwise conservative did not meet the standards inside the sanctuary wall.  Amazing how much difference a few miles can make.

On a closing note...please pray for our friend jeff w, as he is undergoing his open heart surgery back home today.  Thanks guys...really appreciate the emails and blog comments, keep em coming....  until tomorrow....

Sunday, May 22, 2011

We've arrived in Shea's country...

stairs to our apt

Alley to our apt

entrance to apt

teeny tiny elevator, thank God we don't have to use the stairs, we are on the 15th floor!

Shea's bear had a long long flight...now he's taking in the view while waiting to meet his new owner...
our building

So we are here!  We arrived about 1:30 in the afternoon and then took a half hour van ride with the Senti family to this region of town. About 5 minutes after settling into our apt I had the joy of a really fun and messy nose bleed!  Then we needed a good nap, followed by a walk to the grocery store where dan and I bought water and a few groceries.  We will be in this location until wednesday evening.  We got a chance to skype with the kids, so that was wonderful.  Please say a prayer for my mom, she has a nasty stomach bug today,...so good old grandpa steve took over for the day.  Also a prayer for me, as last week my doc wasn't happy with my platelet count, but they had rebounded well by thurs and friday and he happily told me i was "cleared to hit the road".  I just had to promise that I would get follow up labs within a day or two of getting home.  Dan's sore leg is holding up fairly well so far....and we hope that it will continue.  As for Shea...if all goes well we will ride the overnight train wed, and meet him on thursday.....MR Bear is anxious to meet him and finally get a real bear name from his owner :)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

We've made it all the way to...... philly!

saying goodbye to our lovies in rochester....
We are finally seated at our gate in philly.... it was one heck of an ordeal to get to this point....geesh.  I will make a long story short.... but it took us a very long time find an airport employee who could direct us to customs properly, to get through customs to declare our very large amount of adoption money, and then back to the ticket counters bc we had to switch airlines here.  As type A, cross every t, dot every i as I am....  I forgot something....  All along I've been checking the carryon guidelines for our first airline, but didn't stop to think it would be different for our switch.... and we were so proud of ourselves for taking an extended trip to EE with a carryon and a backpack each....no checked luggage to loose!  Well, low and behold our new airline had much lower weight limits for carry on than U.S. air.   In the end, we were each forced to check one of our bags.  After a frenzied "reorganization" to make sure all the essentials such as the dossier, meds and undies were in our backpacks we each checked a bag... and will hope for the best. We then headed to security AGAIN.  Of course with my pacemaker I had to get the personal screening again...which led to lots more questions about the moola in my belt...but the forms got us through much easier than rochester this time!  Phew I'm tired, and we've only made it one state so far....

Another learning experience: I have not flown since carrying the extra stow away if you know what I mean....hmmm i've noticed things like the merry go round with the kids have been making me get that green sea sick feeling....well multiply that by 10 for landing in philly w some turbulance...the stow away didn't care for it either and kicked kicked kicked downward the whole descent.  I clung to my little white bag for dear life, but made it to the ground without having to use it ... phew!

We had a lovely morning with the kids, and mom and dad button, judy and katie saw us off at the airport....wow we are going to miss the kids....and are so grateful to our village at home for chipping in to care for them while we are gone.  We love you guys...

Next we head to frankfort germany, a 5:40 flight which will be 7 hours long....then a lay over and on to EE....

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I wonder?

Well everyone... Dan and I will be in an airplane heading over to meet Shea is less than a week!  I'm so sorry to be sooo behind on posting, but as you can imagine "extremely busy" is the understatement of the year around here.

This week will be spent working and preparing to transfer patients over to other therapists, packing, double checking our documents and cash, preparing the kids for our time away....and taking deep breaths!

I'm not really 100% sure if Shea is still "safely" nestled in the baby house (relatively speaking), but if I had to rely on my gutt instincts (no fat pregancy jokes about my gutt people!) I have a sense that he has not been transfered yet. 

I wonder if he has any idea that we are coming??  I wonder what he will think of us?  I wonder if he will be scared?  I wonder if he will understand why we can't take him home after the first trip??  AKA....these are all prayer requests please....

As for mommy... I wonder if he'll like to snuggle?  I wonder if he'll try to test his limits?  I wonder what his leg abilities will be?  I wonder about the health of his bowels and bladder?  I wonder if he'll like daddy more than me?  I wonder how is shunt is.  I wonder about the status of his clubbed feet after casting.

A really big prayer request for you all... our first trip could still fall within the estimated 2-3 week time frame...but due to procedural changes in judge selection some families are up to 4 wks.  I am hoping we won't have to change our return flight date....that would just be more george washingtons we would have to come up with.  Also....I really really really don't want a long first trip...I'm cutting it very close with the time I'm allowed off from work and this could cause big issues... I'm getting more pregnant with each passing week....I have wonderful people caring for my children...but the burden of 3-4 wks instead of 2-3 weeks??? and I will simply miss them terribly.   So please God....we've had our share of bumps along the way...please remove this one from our road, pretty please.

Many other things have also been happening in the midst of all of the adoption hubba balloo....Danielle made us so proud participating in her first special olympics!  Yeah Danielle...!!

Dan heads to Ohio for a few days very soon....another thing to squeeze into our crazy week....
I'm trying to get our veggie garden planted before we leave, so that we don't delay our harvest, but rain is forcasted all week long...bah!

Simon has more kidney screening and a cystogram test on his bladder which will require a cathederization on thursday...poor little man....please wish us luck and a plan of action.  Grow little kidneys, grow....

So, as you can see a very busy month, and we covet your prayers... I will try to update often on our trip.  Ta ta for now.