Mia's Homecoming Video

At last I see the light

One Less Orphan: Mia's gotcha day

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The grass is greener on the other side

This morning we had not yet made a final decision on whether we were staying here or going home for the wait, but we knew that the earliest we could leave here would be Thursday so we had a little more time to think it over. So we went to visit Mia and when we walked in they motioned for us to follow them and we were led back down the long hallway and into Mia's groupa's room. We got the impression that we are supposed to pick her up ourselves from the back of the building now right from her room, instead of going through the lady at the front of the building. We walked in and picked her up and went outside. They told us we had to stay in this new area that is in the back of the building, which we have now seen is the special needs area or play ground. It is secluded at the back of the building. In the week and a half that we have been visiting and roaming the grounds we had never seen it until today. The areas we have been playing in up until now are apparantely not where Mia and the other kids from her groupa have been allowed to go. It's no wonder Mia was so interested in the playgrounds and the outside areas, it appears she probably had never been over there.

This area was much more dreary and hidden.

There were 2 little swings that were barely standing, a little pavillion, and the box playpens. The grass was definitely greener on the other side....

When we got to our visit this morning we were not sure what we were doing and Mia helped us make that decision. When we picked Mia up this morning she was different, she was very somber and quiet and we couldn't really figure out what was going on with her. We only managed to get a few smiles out of her. As we were visiting with Mia, our facilitator called and told us we needed to come meet her after our visit to sign some documents to prepare to get Mia's passport as soon as the wait is over. She told us we could outline the scenarios with her of what needs to happen after the wait and when it could all happen, if that would help make our decision.

So we finished our morning visit and walked Mia back up to her groupa and drove about 30 minutes to meet our facilitator at the notary. In talking with her we learned that if we stay here the scenario could look like this:

We could get the court decree next thursday June 9, in the evening and then friday morning (June 10) we could run around and get the passport and birth certificate stuff we need. Normally the passport would take 4 days to get but we can pay an expedited fee in this region and get it the same day (on friday). After we get all of that done we could pick up Mia from the orphanage either friday or saturday (gotta LOVE the sound of that!!) and then head to Kiev on the overnight train. Unfortunately Monday June 13 is a holiday here so the embassy is closed so we can't do her Visa and medical appointments until tuesday and best case scenario could be done with embassy wednesday afternoon/evening and then head home as soon as we can get a flight. IF this scenario pans out, we would end up being home a week sooner than we thought. So based on this new information along with the fact that Kris' work was so understanding and willing to work around him staying and letting him work some from here, and that we have AMAZING family and friends who are more than willing to keep our girls happy back home, we decided we would stay through the wait.

Unfortunately I won't get to say goodbye to my brother in person before he leaves for 2 years and I won't get to sing with my dad at his farewell and we have to miss our girls for a few more weeks, but we feel at peace with this decision and know that it will be ok. In the long run, if this possible scenario works out we will end up being away a week less than if we go home and come back. We will get to skype with my brother with Mia before he leaves though!
(Kyra and Adrie-she is clapping watching your dance performance from last year on dad's phone-maybe soon she will memorize it like Bree does)

Mia styled her own hair for us today
We love how she stands with her hand behind her back like this
And when she is sitting she folds her hands on her lap

The door in the background is the door into her groupa's area
When we took her back to her room we got a sneaky glimpse through the doorway

This playpen with a wood plank for the floor had about 7 kids in it. As we have started to see where Mia has lived, we are connecting more about the description that the staff gave us of her that first day "she is helpful and loves to clean up after meals. She helps the other children and hands them their toys when they drop them" We are beginning to see that sweet little Mia is watching over these other children and helping take care of them. Many of them are not mobile and are not able to do the same things Mia can do. She seems to be like a little mother in her groupa.

My dear friend sent me a message today that rang so true with regards to these other children

"As for those sweet little ones being left behind,
I like to think that the veil is very thin for them.
That they know completely that they have a Father in Heaven that loves them
unconditionally when no one here does. There life here may be short and lonely
but I believe they know and may even remember what it was like to have a loving
Father wrap his arms around them and hold them close. You cannot save them all,
Kec, but that one sweet little girl you ARE saving is yours and you found her!!
She knows you are her mom and dad and the happiness shows in her eyes.
I can't wait for your forever family to be under one roof. It will be here soon."

I know this is true, our Father in Heaven is mindful of all
of His children and these angels will be saved, if not in this
life than the next.I am just grateful that He chose us
to save this one, and that we listened. Even though
we were in another part of the world,
He led us to this little girl.

God knows each one of us, no matter where we live and what
circumstances we were born under.
And how He blesses us when we step
outside of what is comfortable and easy to help one another!

When we picked up Mia for the afternoon visit, it was like she KNEW we had decided to stay! It was as if she was helping us make the decision this morning by showing that she needed us here because when we picked her up this time it was completely different. We were about 20 minutes later than usual for our visit and we walked up the stairs to the room and before we could even knock we could hear her cute little high pitched voice and we could hear the caretakers talking to her and saying "Mama and Papa". When we opened the door she was literally standing in the doorway waiting for us! She had her pink phone in her hand (the one we brought the first day we met her and they asked us if she could take it with her...when we never saw it again we assumed we never would and then seeing her holding it made us think they had been letting her use it as a reminder of us) and she just BEAMED!! She started giggling and ran over to us! There were 5 other caretakers in the room with her all smiling and laughing at how she reacted to see us. She had been waiting and she KNEW we were coming through that door. She needs us here for her.

She doesn't know that in 10 days we will be taking her where the grass is greener
but she DOES know that we come to visit her each day and that we love her

and right now that is all she needs to know

Another friend's message yesterday said "Every moment of this journey has been proof of the loving guidance of our father in heaven. He will not forget you or any of your girls now through this decision or the next ten days. No matter what you decide he will either be giving your girls here some extra love and protection or your girl there. "

So now that we have decided to stay we know the extra care from the Lord will be given to our girls back home! Kris and I cried as we sat with Mia today making the decision to stay because we miss our other girls so bad it hurts, and we will miss being there to see my brother off, who I love dearly and will miss like crazy,, but we felt peace and we knew we made the right decision. We know that our girls back home have many people who love them to hug them and take care of them, but our girl here does not.

THANK YOU to our AMAZING family and friends who are willing to look after our precious girls at home!

THANK YOU for ALL of the sweet comments and the love and support we feel from SO many! I wish there were better words to express our gratitude to all who are a part of this journey with us because your kind words and encouragement are helping us through this more than you know! I want to make a journal of all the comments and messages we have received to remember this remarkable experience.

THANK YOU to Kyra, Adrie, and Bree for understanding what needs to be done in order to have our family all together again, and for doing it with a smile! We love you!

It was so different to see Mia dressed in capris and a t-shirt because we have only seen her dressed in little dresses so far.

In the afternoon we took her back over to the big playground and she was excited to try pushing mom and dad on the swings this time

One of her new favorite things to do is walk up and down the stairs holding onto this little railing...now if only we had a railing that short at home for the stairs!

And last but not least, Kris can now check off "use a squatter toilet while in Ukraine" of his list! Glad I didn't have to use it!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Introducing Mia Kareen Cox

It's official....(well in 10 days I guess)

This smile is going to grace our home and our family forever....Mia Kareen is now a member of our family.

Court went well....once we got there! We got picked up by the driver who our facilitator had arranged and she had told him where to take us and she would meet us there. Well he drops us off at this building that appeared to be a court or office of some kind and he left. Our facilitator said she would be there in 5 minutes and after 20 minutes we started to worry a little. We then get a call from our facilitator asking where we were....turns out the driver took us to the wrong place. SO we had to then wait for him to come back and get us and by the time we got to the courthouse we were 45 minutes late for our appointment AND the paper we needed to be faxed over before court, was NOT there. Luckily the judge was SUPER nice about it all.

The court room was very small and consisted of a few benches and then a cage type thing of to one side (I assume for prisoners) and then the tall bench with 3 seats...one for the judge and 2 for the jurors. The social worker and the lawyer for the orphanage were also present.
Before the judge came in our facilitator told us over and over that the judge would ask us WHY we wanted to adopt this child with special needs, and as we were talking, the judge walked in. She was VERY smiley and friendly....nothing like what we expected. She proceeds to read some documents and our facilitator was translating back and forth. Her first comment was what great smiles we had and how young we were. She asked Kris if Mia called him Papa and he said yes. Then she started asking where the paper was that we were waiting for and our facilitator told her it would be here before the end of the day and begged her to let us proceed anyway. Well we assumed at this point that we were just making small talk waiting for this paper to come. The judge asked us about our family so I approached the bench with our photo album and they all smiled and loved looking at the pictures. She asked us if we receive money from the government for having a child with special needs. We told her that we don't get money but that there are lots of programs for these kids and that our daughter Bree goes to school with typical kids and takes dance with typical kids. As they were looking through the pictures the judge asked who takes care of all of these things...she asked how I managed to take care of the house and kids and laundry and programs and such. She said "do you iron? do you cook? do you have a washer and dryer?" They proceeded to explain that these common conveniences that we have are so foreign to them. They don't have cars and dryers and schools close by. She smiled at us through the entire court process and kept saying "you must be so organized" We talked back and forth for awhile longer about our family and then she looked at us and said (through our translator) "I know you will give her a wonderful life and she will be very happy! Unfortunately by law there is no way I can waive the 10 day wait...sorry" Our facilitator then gave us a hug and said congratulations and we were a little surprised that it was over because we didn't even really realize that it was the actual court process going on. We still thought we were just engaging in small talk waiting for the paper to be faxed, and lo and behold we were now the parents of Mia Kareen!

We really felt like if there was a way around it, this judge would have done it. We felt like our prayers had been answered in the fact that she knew what was in our hearts and everyone in the room felt our love for this girl.

We are beyond thrilled that court went so well but we are so torn with what to do about staying through the wait or not. There are so many factors on both ends and we will have to make that final decision tonight. It has been an emotional day! Finding out the good news that we now have another beautiful daughter and then feeling so torn that our family is now under 3 roofs; we are under one, 3 of our girls are under one, and one of our girls is under another.
-If we travel home it is 2 days of traveling each way since we are 12 hours from Kiev so we would really only be home about a week before coming back.
-It would cost a lot more money to go home but we would love to see the other girls.
-We will be missing my brother's mission farewell if we stay and then he will be gone for 2 years by the time we get back and unfortunately either way now he won't get to meet Mia for 2 more years.
-If we go home we have to leave Mia and how do you explain to her that you are really coming back?
-what about Kris' work?
-we can't even get a flight out until thursday now because we have to sign some stuff tomorrow and then take the train to Kiev -if we leave
-the list goes on and on....so tonight we are making this decision

So after court we went to the orphanage to talk with the director and ask some questions while we had our facilitator with us to translate. We gave the director a thank you gift and expressed our gratitude to him for keeping Mia there until we came for her instead of moving her to the institution. We then asked him if we could find out more about her daily routine and if we could see where she lived. He agreed to let us go to her room and give our donations of blankets and hats and things that we had brought for the orphanage, but the only catch was we were not allowed to take pictures. OHHH how badly I wanted to take them!

So we met with one of the staff who told us all about the daily routine of Mia and she kept saying how beautiful Mia was and that she was so smart and that everyone there just loved her so much. Then she escorted us down that LONG hallway that we have watched Mia go down. It kept going and going and led to an entirely different part of the building, one that we didn't even know existed. We walk into this little room with a few couches, a small tv, a few toys, one of the playpen /crib things we had seen outside, a kitchen area, a little bathroom area (we didn't see much of this) and then a bedroom. The children were just being put down for their naptime and they called Mia out of the room to come see us and she just BEAMED when she saw us! She looked a little surprised to see us down there but she came running and gave us hugs and kisses and started waving to the caregivers and saying "paka" (bye) . They were all laughing and talking (again our translator was translating back and forth) about how much she loves us. They said that all the staff talks about how quickly she bonded with Kris, because until then she was really scared around men and didn't want to go to them. They said that every time she comes back from our visits with her, she tells them all about it ...in her little language. They said when they tell her we are coming she gets so excited! It was so interesting to see her today in this environment. She acted different, she had this new light again today, like she KNEW that we were REALLY her parents now. It made it even harder to have to leave her there for another 10 days and not really be able to explain to her why we had to do that. Why we can't just take her now!

Then the heart wrenching part came....
we were able to go into her bedroom/sleeping area to see her bed and there in this tiny room we saw the other 15 children in her groupa. All of them were special needs, which we didn't know until now. Some cerebral palsy, some with facial deformities, there were all kinds and all of them looked up at us from there little cribs with eyes that cried out to our souls. Eyes that cried out for love. I am afraid those eyes will haunt me forever. Some children stood up when we came in, some did not, or could not. One little tiny guy didn't even move, he just looked up at us with sadness and I wanted to pick him up SO badly! It just broke my heart to see them all and to not be able to pick them up and love them!
When we saw them all we knew that this group was down the long hallway for a reason, because they were being hidden from the world. This group probably did not get the same opportunities (like the performance the other day) that the rest of the kids got. We were pretty certain that some of these children didn't spend much time out of these cribs by the looks of them.
There are just no words that could really express how we felt in this little room today. Unless you could see them there is no way to put it into words. My fears of being heartbroken to leave the other children were made a reality today. It was more difficult than I could have imagined to walk out of that room and close the door on those sweet angels.
I am so grateful we got the chance to see what Mia has called home her whole life but it broke my heart and brought tears to my eyes to see those who are being left behind. I don't think I will ever forget that picture of these 15 little beds in this little room. 15 angels who should be loved and given a chance.

Mia and maybe 2 other children were in a little bed, it kindof looked like a horse trough with a mattress inside it..almost like a big cradle of some sort. And the others were in cribs. They were all dressed in little sleeper/jumper things...except Mia who was in a dress....probably because we were coming to visit. We were than motioned out of the bedroom so the kids could go back to napping and we heard their sweet little lonely cries as we visited with the caregivers some more in the kitchen area. They informed us that Mia needs to wear a bib when she eats and they tried to talk her into eating but she just kept waving "paka" and clinging to us. They were really very sweet ladies and we wish so badly we could spend time with this groupa and hold the other little angels. The ladies were very thankful for the blankets and clothes we brought and we were glad to be able to deliver them to the Mia's groupa...especially because they were all kids with special needs. We thanked them for taking care of Mia and giving her a chance and they kept thanking us for coming and saving her.

This living area was what you picture an orphanage to look like. It was nothing like the rest of the building that we had been spending our time in. Yes, it was fairly clean and kept up and yes, we got the impression that these ladies were doing the best they could and that they did care for the children but we definitely felt the true orphanage feeling in there today. The smells, the sounds, the lonely eyes. They were all what we had envisioned when we pictured an orphanage in our minds.
We saw it today. We witnessed it first hand.
We saw the "family" that Mia has had since birth and the place she has called "home".
We saw why her eyes seemed so haunted until a week ago.
We may not have been allowed to take a picture but we don't need one, because we will never forget what we saw today.
After about 15 minutes it was time to say goodbye because they needed to put her down for her nap and all we could do was try to tell her that in 10 days we will be taking her from there for good.

10 days sweet Mia......

(we didn't get back to visit her this afternoon like we would have liked and since we only got the few minutes with her in her groupa where we couldn't take pictures, we couldn't get a "court day" picture with her so these from the other day will have to do)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tomorrow is the day...

We will stand before a judge and petition to make official what we already feel in our hearts.....
that this little angel is our daughter...
that she is meant to be part of our family forever...
that she will be loved....
that she will be taught.....
that she will have opportunities to grow and the potential to be great....
that she will be able to let her light shine to the world....
Tomorrow is the day....
we will plead our case to a judge in a foreign country
who doesn't speak our language,
we will plead with her that this child is worthy of the life we can offer her,

that this child deserves to be saved and to live outside an institution

and we will pray that what is in our hearts and the spirit that has led us to this point

will transcend all language and cultural barriers and that this judge will KNOW

that it is not coincidence that we are here at this time

it is a miracle that was meant for this one little girl, a miracle that has been in the works long before now

Tomorrow is the day we will find out when we can take this sweet girl from behind these orphanage walls
and show her to the world

we will find out when we can take her across the ocean

to a world she has only dreamed of

to a family she has never known

to joy and happiness she never knew she deserved

My dad is so good with words and he sent me a sweet message that says some of what we want the judge to know tomorrow :
" For the past four years, Mia has been taken care of by the good people of the (orphanage) and we thank them for their love and care. My husband and I have travelled nearly 7000 miles to put our arms around this little girl and include her in our family.

She has three sisters waiting for our safe arrival home and your good decision will keep those four children together for the rest of their lives. We love this child with all our hearts and will continue to care for her always."

He advised us to " Speak from the heart and trust Doctrine and Covenants 100:6: "For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment what ye shall say."

If you trust the Spirit and speak from your heart, the judge will have a hard time saying no to you."

We have had a nice Sabbath day here fasting and praying for our court tomorrow and we have felt such peace. We were able to attend church today and have some neat experiences there. Tonight one of the facilitators called to check on us and told us to be prepared to answer the question "why do you want to adopt a child with special needs from here?" We have so many answers we could give to that question, and we will pray that we are prompted tomorrow which one(s) to give that will speak from our hearts.

We don’t know exactly what the future will hold, but we are certain that this is one of the best decisions we have ever made!
Tomorrow is the day we hope to make this little sweetheart an orphan no more!