Mia's Homecoming Video

At last I see the light

One Less Orphan: Mia's gotcha day

Friday, April 29, 2011

Kareen's family book

Thanks to Jennifer's blog I found this awesome place that makes customized photo BOARD books. So we made one to take to Kareen with pictures of our family, and it is a board book so she can't hurt it! LOVE IT! It turned out really cute! We also just ordered another regular photo album through iphoto of all of our extended family pictures to take as well. The board book is our immediate family and is for Kareen. The other one will be to show both Kareen and the officials over there so they can see how many people are waiting to love this little girl.

Bree is making good use of the book for Kareen right now and was so cute reading it too me!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

At last I see the Light

The latest obsession at our house is Tangled. Bree watches it OVER and OVER on the ipad and she sings the song "At last I See the Light" and makes you hold her hands and gaze into her eyes and act it out just like the movie. Well although I have heard this song MANY times, I never thought of it pertaining to me and my family and this road we are traveling right now.

The other night I came home from a night out with my mom and sisters and Kris told me he had an early Mother's Day gift for me that he and Bree had been working on. He sat me down at the computer and showed me this movie he made and said it was to take on our phone and ipad so we could show Kareen.

It of course made me cry through the whole thing! The sweetest part about it was that Kris was the one who had found this new meaning to this song and he had taken time to place the pictures in the video to match the words. This new meaning of this song is totally what we have felt about this journey and it all started when Bree came into our lives and showed us that there was a lot more in store for us than we had ever planned.

Before Bree was born, we were blind to what the world of special needs had to offer our family. When we were told Bree had down syndrome, we were emotional and scared of the unknown and we were in a "fog" not knowing what to expect. When we became part of this new "down syndrome family" we saw everything looking different, and then the "fog lifted" and it became not just ok, but great!
"The world had somehow shifted and Everything looked different...."

Then comes Kareen and knowing that "now she's here, shining in the starlight. Now she's here suddenly I know" and "if she's here it's crystal clear, I'm where I 'm meant to go"

I didn't know that I was supposed to travel across the ocean to another country and bring home my daughter until I saw her face and "All at once everything is different, now that I see you"

"And it's warm and real and bright
And the world has somehow shifted
All at once, everything is different
Now that I see you, now that I see you"

All those days watching from the windows

All those years outside looking in
All that time never even knowing
Just how blind I've been
Now I'm here, blinking in the starlight
Now I'm here, suddenly I see
Standing here, it's all so clear
I'm where I'm meant to be

And at last I see the light
And it's like the fog has lifted
And at last I see the light
And it's like the sky is new
And it's warm and real and bright
And the world has somehow shifted
All at once everything looks different
Now that I see you

All those days chasing down a daydream
All those years living in a blur
All that time never truly seeing
Things, the way they were

Now she's here shining in the starlight
Now she's here, suddenly I know
If she's here it's crystal clear
I'm where I'm meant to go

And at last I see the light

And it's like the fog is lifted

And at last I see the light

And it's like the sky is new

And it's warm and real and bright
And the world has somehow shifted
All at once, everything is different
Now that I see you, now that I see you

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I got my "Carrington" in the mail this week

I got this necklace in the mail this week!

You may remember Carrington who came home from EE malnourished and fighting for her life. Well when I saw that someone on Etsy was making these necklaces called "the Carrington" and all the proceeds went to help this sweet girl, I knew I had to have one. Not only would I be getting the cute necklace to represent my new princess, but I would be helping her at the same time.

So I now have the "from orphan to princess" necklace attached to the initials of each of my other girls.

Gotta love it!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

When love takes you in

I am all over the place right now.
It still feels surreal that we are actually going to be meeting her in less than a month!
I have lists of things to do, things to get, things to remember, things to pack, instructions to leave, schedules to leave for the kids, etc. etc.
I can't sleep at night, because I lay there thinking of all the things to do and remember and my mind just won't shut down. I wonder things like what will her smile look like? will she be nervous to meet us? will she understand any of this? will she look a lot different than her picture? will my girls be ok at home? will I be ok away from them?
See why I can't turn my brain off?!
Then when I do fall asleep I dream about her and what it will be like to hug her for the first time and to see her smile for the first time. I dream about what it will be like to finally get to take her from the orphanage for good and what it will be like to welcome her home for good.

I try to live the normal day to day routine too but it is hard to think of anything else right now other than preparing for this trip to meet Kareen. Yet I have to balance time with my other girls in the preparations too because we will be away from them for a few weeks.
I have so many thoughts and emotions to express right now but can't seem to put them into coherent words so instead I will sum it up with this amazing song and some pictures of our journey so far.

When love takes you in

I know you've heard the stories
But they all sound too good to be true
You've heard about a place called home
But there doesn't seem to be one for you
So one more night you cry yourself to sleep
And drift off to a distant dream

Where love takes you in and everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart
When love takes you home and says you belong here
The loneliness ends and a new life begins
When love takes you in

And somewhere while you're sleeping
[ Find more Lyrics on http://mp3lyrics.org/LY2q ]
Someone else is dreaming too
Counting down the days until
They hold you close and say I love you
And like the rain that falls into the sea
In a moment what has been is lost in what will be

When love takes you in everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart

And this love will never let you go
There is nothing that could ever cause
this love to lose its hold

When love takes you in everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart
When love takes you home and says you belong here
The loneliness ends and a new life begins
When love takes you in it takes you in for good
When love takes you in
Lyrics: When Love Takes you in, Steven Curtis Chapman [e

Sunday, April 17, 2011

They know....

Today we are exactly one month away from our SDA appointment and we now have our flight booked from here to Atlanta, to Paris, to "U". (we are not supposed to spell out the name of the country on blogs and FB yet but if you don't know where we are going...and want to, leave me your email and I will email you). Wow!!!! Seeing a flight itinerary is making it VERY real!

As if I am not emotional enough right now, this post from a mom over there right now was the icing on the cake. I read it on friday, and cried and I can't stop thinking about it. I cry every time I think about this or read it (which I keep doing).
A little background to the story...the family now has custody of this little cutie Evan, and they are waiting for her visa to come through to take her home for good and this is what they experienced the other day as they took her to do some of that paperwork.
"Evan cried today......I knew it would happen, honestly I did. She is just the happiest little girl - so full of life and fun. One almost begins to think that she somehow by-passed the effects of orphanage life. Some would even say that because of her Down syndrome she might not even be capable of knowing what has happened over the course of her life.

We left the hotel room on Thursday afternoon and headed for the cab. She had the biggest smile on her face and was laughing as we got in the car, almost like she was thrilled to be riding in a car. She sat in the back between Clark and I - all smiles. As we were driving, she slowly became more and more somber and grabbed each of our hands and wouldn't let go. I noticed that she was biting her cheek and little bits of blood were evident in her mouth. How do you reassure a little girl that everything is going to be okay? Especially one who only knows Russian and how much of it she knows is a mystery - since she is nonverbal.

We kept leaning down and kissing her and squeezing her hand, but her eyes were wide with uncertainty. We stopped at the train station and everyone started exiting the vehicle and she lost it. Unsure of whether she was being returned or we were leaving her didn't really matter at the moment. I AM sure that either choice was not one that she wanted. She cried and she cried hard. How do you tell her or explain to her what FOREVER means? I held her, her Poppa held her, we murmured our love to her and said the word forever and then took her with us on the train.

I pondered the situation later on the train. So MANY people think that children with Down syndrome can be put into an institution and it will not have any lasting implications on them - they deem them incapable of any human understanding. Do they not know these children can feel and have emotions and bonds like all other human beings? After a little more than 24 hours with her Momma and Poppa, she KNEW she did not want to return. She KNEW that what she experienced in those 24 hours was better than where she had been.

The reality of that is a hard pill to swallow, when you think of how many orphans with Down syndrome have been transferred to an institution and will never, EVER, be able to KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.

It's sobering and also fills me with sadness. I wish I could do more. I wish you could do more. I may not have all the answers, but I do know this.....

The blessing of being obedient to God's call on our lives is evident in the smiles and tears of our sweet Evan and I am thankful beyond words that we chose to obey."

I haven't stopped thinking about this because although this little girl is only 4, she KNEW this new life she had been given in the last 24 hours was better than anything she had known before and it was what she wanted! Neither her age, nor her extra chromosome affected her ability to feel and know what love was. And she KNEW she wanted it. Bree is 4 and Bree has down syndrome and she KNOWS what she wants and she knows what being happy and loved feel like. Which makes it all the more heartbreaking to think of all those that may never know. Just because of a physical difference from the "norm" a child is deprived of this love.

Her last statement "I am thankful beyond words that we chose to obey" rings very true for me. I think everyday how grateful I am that we are on this journey and what a life changing and miraculous road it has been and we haven't even met her yet! Oh, every time I think about meeting her I just can't decide if I should cry or smile or both because it is now so real and we will be there with her before we know it! I sat and watched this sweet little girl today at church who was the same age as Kareen and had the same color eyes and hair and she was snuggling with her grandma and I leaned over to my friend and said "isn't that little girl so cute?" and she said "yes, and I can tell she is making you think about your baby girl right now". Well, most everything does make me think about her lately!

Kareen may not speak our language or understand fully what is about to happen in the next month or so, but I have no doubt that she will feel of our love and know that it is what she has always wanted. I would like to believe that she already does feel our love, even now. I just pray that we will be able to convey the assurance to her that she needs to know that she will be ours forever and that she won't have to be alone anymore!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

It's started already

Now that we have a travel date and are making all the arrangements to be gone, the girls have started struggling with the idea of us being gone for so long. Tonight I think it became real that we are really going to be gone and that it is going to be for a long time. Longer than we have ever been away from them. They broke down in tears tonight as they realized all the things we will be missing.....like their big end of the year dance recital (Bree's very first one) and the only one they do all year, Bree's end of year school program (most likely), all the end of school festivities that we look forward to every year like field day and school picnic day and pictures with their teachers and so forth. Not knowing when we will be coming home, means there is a good chance that we will be gone for the last week of school and suddenly it is hitting them....and me...... and this is going to be hard!

All along, from the very beginning of this process I knew that this was going to be the hardest part for me but I didn't realize they would already be worrying about it....when we still have a month until we leave.

The girls also realized that we may not get to bring Kareen home this first trip and would then have to leave them again to go get her, and we won't know this until the end of the trip. So they are now adding a new item to their prayer list which now include these prayers in regards to Kareen "Bless Kareen to stay at the baby room until mom and dad can get there, Bless Kareen to be healthy and strong and safe, and bless that mom and dad will get to bring her home with them on the first trip."

Adrie broke down in tears tonight before bed, after trying to hold them back, and said "you will be missing my first field day mom" You see she has always been coming with me all these years to help at Kyra's and was SO looking forward to me being able to help with hers this year.
My heart aches as I think about missing these events in their lives, that may seem little, but are big to them and to me because I am always at these types of things, always. I can't even express how hard it is going to be for me to be away from them for 2-3...or more weeks and I get so emotional and then I worry that they will be safe and it all comes to the surface.

But then I remember the REASON we are doing all this.
The reason we are sacrificing and missing out on things
The reason we are feeling heartache at the thought of being apart from eachother
and that reason is for
ONE LITTLE GIRL who needs us. She needs a family. She needs someone to miss her and she needs someone to miss. She needs to be able to have a dance recital. She needs to be able to go to school and to have field day. She needs the chance to have a life and to experience joy and love. And I know we will learn quickly that we need her too!

And I keep reminding myself that the Lord has guided us through each step of this process and has had a plan through it all. It has all been His timing, not mine so although the travel dates are in my opinion some of the worst times we could be gone.....I have to trust that it will all work out and that the Lord has it all under control.

When I first started talking to my sister in law, Lindey, about the idea of pursuing Kareen, one of my biggest concerns was leaving my girls for so long and I told her I didn't know how I could do that and she said to me "yes but you are going to bring home another member of your family. You are going to get your daughter."

I remember one of the many nights that Kris and I laid in bed late at night talking about if this was the path our family should be going down and if it was the path, was Kareen the one we were supposed to add to our family. One night as we were talking Kris quietly said, "honey is this little girl our daughter? " can you not picture your life without her?"
I broke down sobbing and said "I think so"

If Kyra, Adrie, or Bree were stranded half way around the world, and all alone, I would move mountains to get to them and bring them home, and Kareen is going to be our daughter too so therefore we will do what we have to do to save her and to bring her home.

It doesn't get old...

seeing these children become part of a family!

Eva is no longer an orphan!!!!

This family is celebrating their new daughter today!!

My emotions are a mess right now with a travel date and the reality that one day this will be our happy day! Can't wait!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


WE GOT OUR TRAVEL DATE TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WE HAVE OUR SDA (state department of adoption) APPOINTMENT MAY 17 SO WE WILL BE LEAVING MAY 14!!!!!!!!!!


So, this is how the process will work. We will go to our SDA appointment in the capital on May 17. At this appointment we will hopefully learn more about her family and we will see her file and maybe some baby pictures. Then we will get our "official" referral for her, which we can't pick up until the next day. Once we pick up the referral we will travel overnight by train across the country to her region and HOPEFULLY get to see her/meet her before the weekend because you can't visit the orphanage on the weekends. So we will actually be in country for about a week before we get to meet her.

So now we get to find flights and start getting ready!!!! YAHOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

Kareen we are coming in ONE month baby girl!!!!!!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The empty bed

Last week we got the rooms situated for Kareen to have a bed in Bree's room. As I went in to kiss the girls goodnight, which is always my favorite part of the night...there is something so exquisite about watching a little one sleep. I first saw this in Kyra and Adrie's room....And next door in Bree's room was this......
the empty bed....
Seeing Bree sleeping so peacefully and all cozy in her bed always melts my heart and then to look over and see the empty bed, it just made this whole thing a lot more real.
This bed is waiting for Kareen. It is waiting for a real little girl, not just a picture on my computer. This little girl will finally have her own bed, in a room with her very own sister, and will be able to be tucked into those covers by a mom and dad who love her.
Soon, very soon , this bed will not be empty.

****progress report: we HOPE to hear an appointment/travel date later this week. We are praying it comes this week!!!!!*****

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The 10,000 follower challenge

For those who don't know about Patricia Heaton's awesome challenge she instigated last week for Reece's Rainbow.....here is the Fox news.com story on it. It has been so awesome to see how someone can use their status and position for good! We are all grateful to Patricia Heaton for stepping in and not only donating money but raising awareness of the needs of these children, and the needs of all children with down syndrome.

'The Middle' Star Patricia Heaton Takes to Twitter to Raise Awareness for Adoption Charity

By Allison McGevna

Published April 03, 2011

| FoxNews.com

Television star Patricia Heaton says her involvement with a new charity that aids in the adoption of children with disabilities has been some of her most meaningful work to date.

The former “Everybody Loves Raymond” actress, who now appears on the successful sitcom “The Middle” volunteered to donate $1 for every person who follows charitable ministry Reece’s Rainbow on Twitter up to $10,000 in an effort to raise awareness for the organization’s work.

“ I found out about Reece’s Rainbow online after doing some research on the trouble that children who suffer from Down Syndrome face in being adopted domestically and especially internationally, where many countries institutionalize these children,” Heaton told FOX411. “I just started crying immediately, it was so upsetting to learn about the challenges these children face.”

“The idea that a child could be institutionalized when there are people here willing to adopt them but maybe don’t have the financial means was so upsetting,” she added. “With travel, lawyers and more, it can cost upwards of $30,000.”

“I felt it was a problem I could have some impact on,” she said. “ I had just hit 10,000 followers on Twitter and I said, ‘what better what to commemorate this little milestone but to try to help get this organization some recognition on Twitter. So I said I would donate a dollar for every new follower.”

“As a parent myself, you think about all the ills of social media, but this technology is amazing when you see what it can do to impact a cause like this,” Heaton said.

Heaton added that her goal for using Twitter was to help raise awareness for the organization, which also helps children who are HIV positive and those with special needs.

“A lot of people said, ‘Why don’t you just donate the money?’ Well I wrote a check to the organization the first day we discussed this initiative. But this is a great way to help raise awareness. If just one person makes the decision to learn more about the ministry and adopt a child with Down Syndrome, that’s a life that has just been saved.”

“We want to de-stigmatize Down Syndrome,” she added. “I work in an industry where so much emphasis is placed on how you look or the type of things you have done. That kind of shallow value system has become part of our culture. We have to be a part of changing that way of thinking.”

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Yard Sale for Kareen

We had our yard sale for Kareen the past 2 saturdays. This was the first idea my girls had to raise money for the adoption when they learned that is what we were doing. So they have been going through their toys and clothes for months collecting things to donate to the yard sale and they were SO excited about it. I was super stressed trying to get everything ready the week before the yard sale because Kris was out of town all week (and really isn't around this time of year anyway, even when he is in town....10 days until we get him back) but friends and family stepped in and we pulled it off.
My friend Julie K. showed up with dinner and banners and we spent the evening making banners and signs and pricing the garage full of items.

We even figured out how to rig up this double sided banner and attached it to pieces of wood. Kris would have been so proud of us utilizing his tools!

The girls had been making bookmarks (which I am sick that I never took a picture of...I haave some video of them but no pictures). They were each hand drawn pictures of kareen and Adrie. and then Kyra joined in and they added homemade fans to their inventory. So they made this cute sign and sold their bookmarks, fans and drinks. They wanted to have a lemonade stand but it was REALLY cold so they sold canned pop instead...a little less help needed to do that!

They had their own cash box and were SO excited that they sold ALL their fans and bookmarks and made $100 for Kareen.
This was the girls cage when we had the bunkbeds that we were selling sitting in our living room the day before.

My cute friend Anna put together a fabulous bake sale to go with the yard sale and some of the neighbor boys had fun helping man the booth!
Bree found a big box to keep her entertained with the ipad!
When their was slow traffic the neighbor boys, Jaxon and Casey, wrote their own sign and went to the main road to wave it around. It said "yard sale...help adopt Kareen" So cute!

Kris had to work all day so his family and mine came to help!
Kris' dad enjoying the view of the yard sale! (Thanks Marie for all the furniture donations!! They were a HUGE help!!!!)
Some of my girls who I couldn't have done this without...or anything for that matter.
Me, Anna, Julie D., Julie K., and Jodi
Some of my family helpers...Chaly, me , mom, Lida and Bret

Once again we were overwhelmed by the love and support of others! The girls old librarian made a special trip to the sale just to buy their bookmarks and then donated more than the bookmarks cost, as did another friend/neighbor. Another neighbor was so touched and excited to help that she "hired" my girls to come organize doll clothes and make things for her classroom at school (and they HAD to eat treats while there) and she paid them $20 for Kareen and a few dollars for each of them. Another friend volunteered to organize a 5-K if we need.....it just keeps going and it never ceases to amaze us and touch us deeply. I remember when we were contemplating starting this journey and Lisa told me our lives would be forever changed for the better if we did, and we continue to see that be true!

We did really well the first sat. and brought in around $700 but still had quite a bit of stuff so we decided to do it the next sat too. It was actually kindof a neat experience because the second sat turned out to be a "pay it forward" sale. We had slower traffic and we were able to help out a few different families who came by. We met one lady who was here from New Zealand for our church's general conference and we loved talking to her and felt impressed to offer her to fill a garbage bag of clothes to take with her. She lit up and was SO appreciative! She loves to come here and get Old Navy clothes and we had SO many of them from there so she was in heaven! Another family came who were originally from Mexico and we started letting their daughter choose toys and things and they were also SO appreciative. It was fun to be able to pay it forward a little! So we gave away more that second day than we made but it was a good experience!

Friday, April 1, 2011


It's NO APRIL FOOL'S............We just found out we WERE SUBMITTED!!!!!!!!!! This means that she is ok, and that she is available for us and that in 4-5 weeks we will be MEETING our GIRL!!!!!!!!!!! I can hardly type because I am so shaky with emotions! I am Smiling, cheering, crying.......you name it!!!!!!!!!!!!
So the government now has our dossier and has pulled Kareen's file to "hold" her with our file!!!!!!

You know how it feels when you are sitting in a reception room, anxiously awaiting something important? And it's unclear just how long you will have to wait? You console yourself by saying "just 5 more minutes" again and again-you just have to break the wait up because otherwise despair creeps over you.

Even the little ones know. Kareen has been waiting for 4 years now to have a mom and dad and family......

Waiting. She has no way of knowing, that she's already been found by her family.

Hang on baby girl, we are coming!!!!!! And you will get your happy ending soon!!!!!!!!!!!