The Family

The Family

Thursday, December 27, 2012


Cancer sucks.  It is like a vicious, evil plague taking over our country, our world.  Days like today just make me think and ponder the enormity of cancer.  It is everywhere.  It it awful.

Ever since Atticus's diagnosis I have tried to stay positive.  Tried to be brave.  Tried to comfort myself with the fact that he has done SO well with all of it so far.  But sometimes, the reality of the situation is just overwhelming.  Like on days like today.

Just about once a week my sweet little buddy and I trek into Charlotte to Levine Children's Hospital for his treatment.  We hike up to the sixth floor around 8:30am, usually before most other appointments arrive, sign in, and wait to go back for treatment.  And today was no different, except we were not alone today in the waiting room this morning.  Instead, sitting across from us was a mom and dad, and their daughter Addison.  Addison was probably about three or four years old.  Her mom and I struck up a conversation which eventually lead to her asking what Atticus had, and I told her.  After discussing his Leukemia a bit, she told me that her daughter had Wilms Tumor- a tumor of the kidneys.  They had found out recently.  Today was their first visit to the clinic.

And so what do you say to a woman you just met who breaks down in front of you and says the enormity of it all is just too much.  What do you say?  The only thing I could say....... I understand, and I will pray for you.  Because I do understand.  Now.  And I wish I didn't.  But I do.

My baby has cancer.  He has cancer. And every week I am surrounded by others that do too.  Like little Addison.......  and like the teenage boy with Down Syndrome in the waiting room today when Atticus and I left, whose mother's eyes met mine and gave me a knowing smile....... and like the other teenage boy waiting with us for the elevator who removed his hood to reveal his bald head, and who probably drove himself to his own appointment today because he looked about my Evan's age.

Cancer is everywhere it seems.  There are friends in our church who have been recently diagnosed, friends and acquaintances in my adoption support groups who have it or whose children do.  And the dear Lord knows I had plenty of experience with it before now too.  My mother passed away from it at age 48, my uncle- her brother- had esophageal cancer and died at 51.  My grandmother.... my great-aunt..... yes from the time I was a young girl I had my fair share of exposure to life with cancer.  But those were adults at least.  They may have died way to soon, but at least they had gotten a chance at life. When you are talking about children, well it is just a different matter all together.

There are no easy answers, no simple treatments, no guaranteed cures.  There is nothing anyone can really say to make it better, make the burden lighter, make the worry go away.  There is prayer, and understanding, and that is why those were the things I offered to that woman today.  The only things I could give.  The only things that might help, if just a little.

But in the meantime, it still sucks.  And I never use that word.  But it really does.  And on days like today when I call my husband sobbing because the weight of it all just comes crashing down on me, and the reality just slams me into a wall with such force that I am not sure where else to turn, I realize that the Lord is the only place I can turn, and He will direct my steps and He will guide me through it.  Me and all those other moms and dads who carry this weight upon their shoulders.  The weight of cancer, and their child having cancer, and the worry and the what-ifs...... He will carry us through all of it.  Just like He has before as referenced in that Footsteps poem.  And I have to rest in Him.  Because sometimes, it is just too much to bear.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas!!!

Well here we are, at the end of another year, and preparing for yet another Christmas holiday!  This year, Christmas will be even happier, livelier, jollier and more full of merriment now that ALL of our sweet children are HOME!!

At some point I promise, I will get around to sharing the pictures I have of their arrival home just about two weeks ago, and the days that followed, but for now I just wanted to post a few pictures of our gang, and wish everyone a very happy, healthy and blessed Christmas!

Decorating the tree!

She was so enthralled by the lights!  She just kept saying "wow.  wow."  while we were putting them up.  :)

Photo bomb by Evan!

Helping me make Christmas goodies

Snuggling with Alice

Aren't we cute in our Christmas outfits!?

Mine has my name on it!

All my dapper young men

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

I hope that the following days are filled with love and joy for your family.  I know we have had many friends who have had recent tragedies in their lives and as we think of them and pray for them at this time of year we are reminded of how precious our time together is, and how it should never be taken for granted.

So MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone!  Have a cup of cider for me!!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

They Are On Their Way Home!!

Yet again, I have to apologize for being lax in keeping up with my blogging.  I have done lots of updates on Facebook, but there just never seems to be the time to sit down here and compose my thoughts and pictures the way I would like, so I put it off.

But I must now because there is some exciting news to share!  Our children will soon be coming home!!!!!!  We are finally in the last stage of this adoption process.  The medical appointments have been completed, the visa appointment was held at the Embassy, and they are due to pick up their visas tomorrow afternoon!  The flights are booked people!

On Saturday afternoon my husband, daughter and two newest children should be touching down on American soil, making Bronwyn and Leo official American citizens!!!  We are so thrilled that this time is finally here!

Everything these past couple weeks has been going very well.  Tim and Schuyler waited out the required 10 day waiting period until the children were officially ours.  Then he and our facilitator did the mad scramble last Friday to run to the cities of our childrens' births to have their birth certificates changed.  It was very exciting to see the new ones, with their new name of  Rowe!  Such a momentous occasion.

The official court decree!!!!!!
The plaque outside the office where you get the birth certificates.  Notice the parents holding the child
One of the buildings where they got the birth certificate
The statue of Stalin in Bronwyn's hometown of Saki
Leo's hometown, Konstitushya
Waiting.....waiting.....  It was a long day.
Bronwyn's new birth certificate!!
Leo's new birth certificate!!

After that, the children were released to Tim's custody.  He said that although they were going to miss their friends at the orphanage, they were very happy and very relieved to say goodbye to that lonely place that had been their home for years.  Home being used in its loosest term.

Watching movies in Russian!
He had a lot of fun with them during their last couple weeks there!  They had to go shopping for some new clothes as they were not allowed to bring much of anything with them,  Bronwyn loves her new coat and boots!

He also brought Leo for a haircut, and got one himself while he was there  :)  They got to go exploring a bit and headed to the park across the street from our apartment with some friends we know who are also there adopting two wonderful teenage boys!  Between that and checking out some new restaurants, and finding some movies in Russian to download and watch, they have been biding their time chomping at the bit to come home!

Our friends the Hamiltons who are adopting two amazing teenagers
Bumper cars anyone??
The very cool park!
Taking pictures.  Of course!

The boys are going to do some target shooting!
Ah the smiles of a boy with a gun.  Hmm....  They were only shooting targets though :)

Leo got a little haircut with Papa the other day!

Before they left, Tim was able to organize a class party for each of them which was very fun!  He brought cakes and juices got to take a few pictures of them eating and having a good time.  He also brought flowers and chocolates to the director and social worker at the orphanage, and chocolates for the kids' teachers.  He said he has more pictures of their official " Gotcha Day" and I will post some of those once I get them.

The weather over there has changed dramatically since I left too!  The streets of Kiev are covered in snow.  I love the snow, but I am petrified of slipping and falling.  So it is probably better that Tim is completing this last leg of the trip instead of me  ;)  They don't clear their sidewalks or steps or streets for that matter over there, so I would probably be on my behind in a millisecond!  :)

This street was where we had our first apartment when we traveled for our first trip to adopt Charlotte and Atticus.  Ahhh memories!  It wasn't covered in snow though!
Here it was before!  BIG difference!

He has defected!  ;)
So now, we wait.  They are scheduled to pick up their visas tomorrow at 2pm.  Then around 4am on Saturday they will head to the airport and begin the long journey home.  Lots to do before they arrive!  Like clean, clean, clean, bake, and clean!!  Just kidding, we are pretty much ready.  I do want to bake a few "welcome home" treats for them though  :)  CAN"T WAIT!!!!!

Friday, November 23, 2012

With Thanks.....

There was SOOOO much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!  Who can even count all the blessings our family has received over the past year?!

We have a roof over our heads, heat in our home, clean water to drink and the ability to take a shower every day if we want.  There is electricity in our home, more gadgets than I care to mention, food in our pantry and fridge and clothes on our backs.  And these are just the material things, which we take for granted each and every day.

But we have been blessed with even more this year!
Four new children have been added to our family since last Thanksgiving.  Such a blessing!!
After all, children are a blessing from the Lord the Good Book says.
And the blessings we have received along the way throughout their adoptions has been incredible....
friendship connections, monetary donations, toys and clothes for the children, amazing support and encouragement, prayers, words of wisdom, I could go on, and on, and on!

Through our acts of trying to bless these children with a family, we in turn have been blessed beyond our wildest dreams.  But that is the way it supposed to work isn't it?  That is how God planned it in the first place.  Bless and you will be blessed.

And when our son Atticus got his horrible diagnosis of Leukemia on October 6th of this year, we were blessed again-- friends made us meals, helped with our children when I could not be there, said numerous prayers for us, came to visit us.
The hands and feet of Jesus.
Even through a tragedy we see Him, and we are blessed.

Yesterday, Thanksgiving, was a time to gather with family and friends and remember His love, and the blessings He has poured out on us this year. 
My heart is so full.
His love and grace abounds in our lives.
We have all we truly need, and much much more, and we are grateful.

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of our lives over this past amazing year.
And thank you to our incredible God through whom all blessings flow.

The Rowe and Joyner children-  missing are Schuyler, Bronwyn and Leo Rowe and Lenix Joyner