The Family

The Family

Thursday, October 25, 2012

We're Here!!!

Yeah, we are finally here and I finally have a moment to update this blog a little!

What a whirlwind it has been, as all adoption trips seem to be. We arrived to EE by way of Frankfurt on Sunday afternoon. The driver we love, Nico, was at the airport to get us, along with another adopting family. We cleared customs just fine, not a question was asked which is different from last time, and our luggage was the first off the conveyor belt! so glad it arrived with us! So, off we went.

First we exchanged some money and bought a few groceries, you know the staples- water, coffee, chocolate..... :) and Nico got both our families set up with a cell phone to use while in country. Then it was off to our apartment in the big city! We stayed in a totally new place this time, but still not too far from the buffet we ate at and loved last time we were here. Great food, cheap prices. Really wish they had a restaurant like that one at home!

Outside our apartment in the city

On Monday it was the day we had been waiting for, our appointment to receive the referral for our children!! Well as it turns out, even though they are in the same orphanage, because our son has no documented special needs we could not receive their referrals together. So it will be the same process as it was for us last time here- we got one referral then we have to return to the city for our second referral. Except last time it was 10 days later. This time they are taking pity on me because of Atticus's condition and allowing the appointments a week apart. So we return this next Monday for the second referral and then I can head back home on Tuesday morning.

Luda's referral picture

Vanya's referral picture

We met some other great families while getting that referral, and it was nice to chat with them and find out about the children they were adopting too. And I tell ya, nothing- still nothing- beats seeing
that dossier, all those documents you put all that time, blood, sweat and tears into procuring, back in your hands again, but this time sewn together by thread. It just brings tears to my eyes when I think about how I prayed for their safe voyage across the ocean and safe delivery into the proper hands so that they could be scrutinized and ultimately approved and we could come get our children!

Mama, Papa and Schuyler having cappuccino after getting our referral

We got to visit the infamous Roshen store while in the big city, along with our friends the Dewberrys.  Here are Schuyler and Kolya out front, and below is a picture of one of their gorgous window displays.
Tuesday we officially picked up that referral and Tuesday night it was all aboard the train to our children's region! It was actually a great train ride. We were in the car right next to our friends from NC who we knew and loved even before this trip. So it was fun to hang out and chat a little. Later Tim fell asleep and Schuyler was listening to music on her iPod when a friendly stranger decided to meet my acquaintance. That's what I get for leaving my door open. ;) He commented, in Russian, that I should turn the light in so as not to hurt my eyes. I was reading my magazine by the light coming in from the hallway of the train so I wouldn't disturb Tim, and thus began a lengthy conversation between he and i, and then Tim after I nudged him awake! our friends next door came iver to see what all the talking and laughing was about, and hercsin was able to translate most of our conversation for us too. Interesting evening.

Upon our arrival in region we went straight to the social worker's office to get her approval and signatures and then to see our kids! We went in and sat down with the director and social worker of the orphanage, talked a little, showed her some family pictures, then in came Luda! Of course the tears started flowing as I hugged her again, she looked adorable! Then Vanya came in. We hadn't seen him in even longer and it was SO great to lay my eyes on him again!! It was an amazing feeling to know, for sure, that we were here to get THEM. I had promised them I would be back, hopefully by October, and I kept that promise! That was a great feeling.

I had been so afraid if letting them down, of getting their hopes up and then something happening and us not being able to follow through, or the country shutting down again, who knows what. But I am just so glad that I can say I kept my promise. Yes Luda and Vanya, you are coming home to your family. Yes, we are going to be your Mama and Papa. You won't be alone anymore!

 We have gotten to have just two fairly short visits with the kids because of running around for paperwork, but we can already see how glad they are we are here, and the look off relief on their faces telling me they are happy it was sooner rather than later. We have loved visiting with the other kids we met here previously too and I am going to do my best to advocate for those who want and need a family so badly, like our children did. Good kids who want nothing more than a home and love.

So here are some photos from the trip so far. And again, another huge and heartfelt thanks to those who helped us get here! We could not have done it alone and our children thank you!

Vanya and Papa!!  Love this boy!! (and that guy too)  ;)

Vanya trying hard to do a Tangoes puzzle

Yulia and Luda!  Amazing young ladies!!

Sweet A who also has a family in NC coming for him!!!  We got to deliver a little care package to him from his Mama and Papa!  :)

Making paper airplanes and throwing stars with a kind and sweet 14 year old boy.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

What A Crazy Two Weeks!

I will have to keep this post short, because with all that is going on I honestly have not had much time for blogging as of late.  To say that the past two weeks have been crazy is an understatement.  There has been SO much that has happened, both good and bad, and we are exhausted.  :)

I will start off with the most major event-- October 6th of this month we were to attend the Buddy Walk in Charlotte as we do each year, and help out at the Reece's Rainbow table.  While we were getting ready to go, I noticed that Atticus's feet and hands had swollen up and attributed it immediately as an allergic reaction to an antibiotic I had just given him half an hour earlier for an ear infection.  So off to the ER we went, they gave him Benadryl and a steroid, but then did some lab work to check his blood.  The results came back as abnormal and their best guess was Leukemia. I was devastated!  I called Tim immediately, crying uncontrollably and somehow through the sobbing he heard the word "Cancer" and was like WHAT??

So he turned the car around and brought the kids back home, I went from the ER at that hospital by transport with Atticus to the Levine Children's Hospital which is well renowned for their cancer treatment.  We spend the next week on their hematology/oncology floor, had spinal taps, bone marrow biopsies, lots of issues with veins, needles, ports, reactions to blood products, spikes in fever, you name it. But in the end, he was diagnosed with Type B ALL Leukemia which is a very common and thankfully, treatable, kind in children.  Praising God for the small blessings!!

Atticus is now on chemotherapy and will be for the next three years.  Yes you read it right, THREE YEARS.  He will gradually step down from what is called induction all the way to maintenance therapy, provided that he responds to treatment well.  The success rates with this type of cancer are 85% to 90%, and we have a great team of doctors who really are on top of things.  So we are fully confident that this Leukemia will only be a small blip on the radar of Atticus's childhood.

Please continue to pray for our sweet boy.  Everyone's prayers have been so greatly appreciated!!  And all the calls, visits and meals have been too!  Our friends and family have been so kind to us and we are truly grateful!

So, on to miss Charlotte.  A few days prior to Atticus's diagnosis, we got one for her too.  One the neurologist had never even heard of!  Leave it to our Charlotte to be an original  :)

It turns out that she has a rare condition, so rare that only 41 people have been diagnosed with it since 1914.  It was discovered on her MRI and is called Rhombencephalosynapsis.  Read below....

"From an article published in 2009, "There have only been 50 cases of Rhombencephalosynapsis since the first known one in 1914. Until the use of the MRI in 1991, only a few cases were reported. Most doctors, including specialists, have never heard of this condition." 

This condition is when the two parts of the cerebellum which are in the back of the head and supposed to be separated into two hemispheres by what is called a vernis, are actually fused together with no vernis and therefore no separation.  There is nothing to be done about it at all, it just is what it is.

But, the good thing about finding out this diagnosis is that we FINALLY have some answers about our little girl!  This condition is what is responsible for her being so tiny, not gaining weight, having hydrocephalus, strabismus. lower set ears and ADD. This area of the brain also helps control all the signals the brain sends to its different parts, so coordination, balance, etc are all part of it too.  Hence the reason why she isn't walking yet either.  This will probably just take longer for her while her brain takes longer to communicate and make up for what that cerebellum is not communicating properly. So right now, yeah for a diagnosis!

Life will go on as usual for her right now though.  She is doing remarkably well in all areas having already pretty much mastered English in less than 5 mos, made tons of friends, started Bible class at school, preschool, therapy, etc.  She is one happy and smiley little girl and we are SO thankful to have her in our family!!!!!

So onto the other piece of BIG news we got during these last two weeks.  WE GOT A TRAVEL DATE!!! Yes, last Thursday we were informed our travel would be imminent, like in 9 days from when we got the call imminent.

We are soon on our way to bring home our two teenagers who have been anxiously waiting for our arrival!!  Some changes in our game plan had to be made of course considering our new situation with Atticus, but we have worked it all out enlisting some special care for him, as well as a caregiver for our other children while we are gone.  I will be leaving the majority of the travel to Tim this time so that I can come back and be at home to care for my baby.  I am very happy with the plan we have in place, and just anxious to get our two newest blessings home where they belong!!!!

Please pray for safe travel for us, for the health of Atticus and for all our children in our absence.  We are trusting in God and His provision as we move forward into this new phase of life dealing with a serious illness, bringing two new teens into the family, and maintaining all we have going on already.  I am up for it and so is Tim!  :)  Just pray for our strength and endurance and for peace in our family during this time.

Thank you again to everyone who has supported us as of late-- emotionally, financially with the adoption-- we really cannot thank you all enough!  Our auction was a success, our FSP on Reece's Rainbow has continued to grow, and people have been present for us in our daily lives helping us out and we are grateful.

If you feel lead to help, please continue to donate if you are able, as Tim's full time in EE will be completely unpaid.  That, childcare, me having to make two trips to EE instead of one, will eat up all the monies we currently have and then some.  We thank you for your help!  (the link to our FSP on RR is at the top right corner of this page!!)

Here is also a link to another blog from a woman who did such an incredibly sweet post on us and our situation.  Take a look if you like.....

Thank you everyone!!  Away we go!!!!!