Friday, April 30, 2010

English or Russian?

7 What are your thoughts?
After last weeks T&A surgery, Nina came home and had reverted back to how she acted when I had her in Ukraine. The experience was very traumatic for her. yes, I know it is hard for many kids, but we are sensitive to the fact that Nina's past has taught her to fear certain environments or situations. being confined to a bed, attached to monitors is too close to being tied down to a bed, something that she knows. We were supposed to be safe, we were supposed to protect her, and yet we were not doing anything about it. On top of it all, she was in pain. I do wonder if she questioned if we had "punished" her.

Our emergency had me very concerned about what was going to happen with Nina, even if we only had to stay for one night.

Today, as I was getting ready to leave, I had to pack up our stuff and go get the stroller so I asked the nurse to stay with Nina. She was not able to do so, so she got a lady that works at the hospital to come and stay with her while I ran around the hospital getting ready to go.

This lady had an accent. I looked at her name tag. Her name was most definitely Russian.

Although she was not from Russia (and I cannot remember where she was form) she informed me, "Of course I speak Russian!"

I told her Nina was adopted from Ukraine. I did not have to say more, the lady began to speak to Nina in Russian. Nina was too worked up to listen, but eventually, it caught her attention. She looked at me, with big eyes. Slowly she turned to her, stared at her. Then she lifted her hand, pointed her little finger at her and said, "No. Stop."

She turned to me and said. "Mommy, I love you. Family. Mommy, daddy, Ellie, Nichole, Nina."

She tuned to the lady who said something else to her and she repeated, "No. Stop."

I am not sure what this lady said, but she did stop and said to me. "She doesn't like it. Something bad happened to her and she has bad memories. She needs to forget it, don't try to get her to remember. She needs to forget."

The lady spoke to Nina in English and Nina then decided she would paint with her while I was gone. Before I left the room, the lady pressed on. "Remember please, she needs to forget. When she is older, maybe you can teach her, but she does not like it."

I am not sure about this encounter, but I think God had a reason for us to meet this lady.

In the car, on the way home, I got my daughter back.

Somehow hearing this lady speak in her old language reminded her of the love she has now. Of the family that hugs and kisses her. Of the sisters that she enjoys spending time with. She knows she is loved, and it has made a difference.

So God gave Nina a little of His medicine, and reminded her of how loved she is. A God of miracles, and a God that cares deeply about our hurting hearts. He holds Nina close and gently reminds her of His love.

We are coming home!

0 What are your thoughts?
Thank you friends for all your prayers. We are coming home! Nina is doing well and happy. I have a couple of posts to share (one was lost because I lost internet connection) but will update as soon as I get a chance.

Thank you, thank you.

Please do keep Nina in your prayers so that she continues to heal and we do not have to come back!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Another Hospital Night

3 What are your thoughts?
Nina had a few spots cauterized this morning. They said that there was a nerve or vein (not sure which) that was leaking underneath a scab. It was putting pressure on the scab and creating lots of blood clots.

She seems to be doing better than last week, after all, half her throat is healing, the other half has to start healing all over again. The OR doctor told Andy that in 10 years working there he had only seen 3 kids come back after the 7-10 day. He said it is usually the very next day.

She is tired as is expected and so are we, it has been a long day.

To clarify on my last post. My mom will come and stay with Nina only if we have to stay for an extra day. Ellie has a school event tomorrow night that I promised I would be there for. So hopefully we will all be home!

This morning as we went to the ER in our town, the doctor had taken a quick look and said that Nina was fine, to just go home and bring Nina to see the ENT later in the morning. I was not so sure. A nurse saw Nina still spitting up blood, and we could see a blood clot in her mouth. The nurse insisted we waited a little bit longer. Thank goodness! Once Nina took one sip of water the blood just started coming out.

I have never been more scared for any of my kids before. Nina was sputtering blood and it was coming out fast. They were sucking it as fast as they could and the doctor rushed to call mayo hospital. Then all of a sudden she threw up and the nurse caught a handful of blood clots and blood...and more blood was coming out. They were scared, I was crying, "Do something, please do something!"

They called for a helicopter to rush her to Mayo. I felt terrible, knowing that I could not go with her. However, they said Nina did great on the flight (she got to play with an i-pod touch, I am now a big fan of them.)

It was a long day, but tomorrow will come and they say rarely does a kid come back after a second time. Pray with us that she does start on the road of healing. And thank you all for your many prayers for Nina today.

In the OR

3 What are your thoughts?
Nina was taken to the OR. She has been there for over an hour. I don't know if that is normal or if it is too long. We are just waiting. Please keep Nina in your prayers.

Also, Ellie is very sad. She told me this morning as I was leaving that she wishes we had not adopted Nina because I am gone with her all the time. It breaks my heart! Tomorrow Ellie has a final school event, and I promised her I would be there. I am so thankful for my mom willing to come and stay here with Nina so I can be with Ellie.

On the mean time, please pray. I am exhausted (emotionally) and feel like as I am down I am getting kicked.

I was listening to a song called "Stand in the Rain." I need to get the lyrics, because it sure feels like the world is crashing down.

Prayers needed for Nina

14 What are your thoughts?
She woke up this morning bleeding. Went to the emergency room and it got pretty bad. She is now being air lifted to Mayo so they can do something!
Please keep her in your prayers!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Broken

1 What are your thoughts?
My friend Gillian posted this on her blog today, and I wanted to share.

"Christ is building his kingdom with the broken things of earth. People desire only the strong, successful, victorious, and unbroken things in life to build their kingdoms, but God is the God of the unsuccessful – the God of those who have failed. Heaven is being filled with earth’s broken lives, and there is no “bruised reed” (Isa. 42:3) that Christ cannot take and restore to a glorious place of blessing and beauty. He can take a life crushed by pain or sorrow and make it a harp whose music will be total praise. He can lift earth’s saddest failure up to heaven’s glory." J.R. Miller

Maybe you need this reminder today, just as I did.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Physical Characteristics of Down Syndrome...

4 What are your thoughts?
The physical characteristics of children with Down syndrome...

-Might make you rethink your definition of Real Beauty
-Might make you wonder if angels live among us
-Might take your breath away
-Might some days remind you of how scared you were when you first received the diagnosis for your child, and how much you thought about "the look" your child would have. Now, you see so much love in that child, that you cannot imagine your life without them.

These are some of the physical characteristics that are common in individuals with Down syndrome.

-The almond shaped eyes that slightly slant upwards
-The button nose due to the small bridge of the nose
-The little ears that sit slightly lower
-The tongue that sometimes likes to peek out to say hi
-The "thicker" neck

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I have noticed that most people find my blog based on searches for "Physical Characteristics of Down Syndrome." I previously wrote this post, on that subject.

If you do have a prenatal or new diagnosis of Down syndrome, you can read this post. This is where our journey began. Now I can say with full confidence that I would not trade it for anything! But at the time, I wanted it all to go away. And if you need someone to talk to, do not hesitate to contact me by asking a question, or by sending me an e-mail.

Looking forward to an IEP...yeah right!

2 What are your thoughts?
Neither Nina nor Nichole have IEP's...yet. But I have yet to hear any parent say to me that they love IEP's. More often than not, this is what I get.
IEP. Individualized Education Plan. The joys of sending your not typical child to school.

My friend Renee (who was adopting at the same time we were!) has blogged quite a bit about IEP's lately, and I have enjoyed reading through those posts, trying to make mental notes as I know this will be us in 6 months for Nichole, and maybe even less for Nina. I do love some of the acronyms that she has shared that have been recently found around the blog world from some frustrated parents.

IEP - Incredibly Excruciating Pain!!!
IEP - I Exited Pissed-off!
IEP - Irritating Exclusion Program
IEP - Intellectuals Expelling Poop

My favorite one is "Informed and Educated Parent."

Last September I attended a conference called "Parents as Presenters." One of the presenters gave his talk intended to be shared at the beginning of an IEP meeting. I remember thinking what a powerful thing to do before everyone starts talking about your child and focusing on all they cannot do, all they will need help with, and what their limitations are.

A friend and I joked and said that anyone working with children with special needs (yes, anyone!) should first be required to parent a child with special needs for at least three months or so, preferably a year, so that they really get to know the child and fall in love. It makes a big difference. As a parent, you know who is doing their job, and who really gets it. We don't see it with IEP's, but we do see it when you get the "evaluations" for your child, or even the way someone talks about your child.

Anyway, this was meant to be more of a funny, light post, so I will leave you with this last cartoon.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Better Day

1 What are your thoughts?
Yesterday was a hard day for Nina. She drank very little and did not eat anything at all really. Not until later at night did she have a little bit of soup. Still, she was going to need IV fluids for the night.
Nina asked for a bath last night, and she got one. She absolutely loves baths! however, her IV tape came loose regardless of the "covering." And because Nina plays so much in the water, it had started to come out.
Later at night, they called the IV docs to out in a new line, but they "fixed" it. Well, at least they thought they fixed it. We had trouble with the IV line all night, until finally at 3:00 am I asked the nurse to please just be done. We needed to sleep, and she had had IV fluids for 5 hours already. He agreed and said we could decided what to do in the morning.
At 5:30 am Nina woke up crying. The IV had come out completely and it was just hanging there attached to a little bit of tape. Yikes!
Then we were back to sleep until 10:15 am!
Nina woke up asking for water and milk. She then wanted breakfast. Her choice...soup!
We played with some play doh and she is now playing with Grandma Chachi who stayed with us last night.

So we should be okay going home today. She is talking more, although she is still so crabby! But that could also be because of the lack of sleep.
Can't wait to sleep in my own bed with no lights and nobody coming in at all hours of the night or machines beeping.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Not So Good: A Prayer Request

4 What are your thoughts?
To say we are exhausted is an understatement. All 3 of us!

They took Nina of the IV to see if she will eat and drink on her own. So far we have failed, as she has had nothing to eat or drink, other than a few little sips of water.

Her oxygen numbers keep dropping when she is sleeping and they have an oxygen mist thing going for her as she sleeps. Unfortunately, she never had an actual test done to see if she had sleep apnea, which she very well might have, so we do not know if her numbers are "normal" or not. I am afraid with what we know, they will say "not."

Our one night stay at the hospital will most likely result into 2 days at the hospital. No fun! I need sleep, I am not happy, enjoyable, nor mothering or nurturing when I am sleep deprived.

So please pray for Nina.
-That she will start eating and drinking
-For her pain
-For her oxygen levels

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Do Not Like Hospital Stays!

4 What are your thoughts?
We have not had many experiences staying at hospitals overnight. Just 2 births and all girls now at some point in life. I do not like spending nights at hospitals!

It seems like things always look "worse." And it possible...that night staff is hired to work at night for a reason? Like maybe...bedside manners are not as good?

So after a scare the doctors were having because Nina's oxygen levels were too low and they almost got her hooked on oxygen or considered ICU, the probe thing was found to not be on correctly. This has resulted in beautiful numbers so far as it is on right.

This after a doctor coming in and seeing Nina is asleep proceeding to speak loudly. Never mind we were whispering, he was not getting the hint. And I just decided I am crabby, so I should not post while crabby.

For now, please do pray for Nina, I have a feeling we are not going to go home tomorrow and Andy leaves on Monday for school for 2 weeks.

Surgeries Done. Now Recovery.

2 What are your thoughts?
After three hours we finally were told that we could go see Nina. However, because we are spending the night, their recovery room only allows for one parent to come be with the child. Nina asked for daddy to come be with her and I waited for a long time to see them.
Nina is in and out of crying.
She is sure of one thing she does not want. Mommy. Sigh.
If I see her she cries, if I talk to her she cries, so this mommy is feeling pretty defeated. I know she is in pain, but it is still hard.
She got some pain meds and she is doing better now. I was actually able to play with her for a little bit and she seems more herself. She has had a couple of Popsicles and some sips of juice. However, she is still in pain. Her voice sounds a little different, which I knew sometimes happens.

She is playing with some toys and pushing on all the buttons on the bed, which means we have had some unexpected visits from nurses.

That is it for now, there is not much going on other than trying to keep her happy and comfortable. At some point she was so worked up that she threw up while Andy was holding her. Her diaper was also so wet that Andy's pants got wet. So today, Andy gets the best daddy award.

Nina's Surgeries Have Started

3 What are your thoughts?
We woke up bright an early this morning and left home by 5:45 am. Our sweet little girl did not sleep any more in the care ride, she just looked outside the window and seemed pretty excited to be gong somewhere.
We waited for a while and we met with different doctors and nurses. Amazingly, Nina did not ask for milk or something to eat. She did notice Andy and I were chewing gum and she asked for a jelly bean!
Here we are waiting.
Nina got her new pajamas on and she was pretty excited. She was pretty happy to wear a hat too, although she insisted we were not putting it on right.
Then they said one of us could go back with her. Nina chose her daddy and so Andy got his blue pajamas on so he could go in with Nina :)
They offered a medicine (drug) that would make Nina ll loopy and basically will "erase" her memory from what will happen. We agreed to it as we are not sure how this could impact Nina after all she has had to go through in her life. She was so out of it! Basically she was "high."

Before Andy and Nina got to go in, they came and said Andy could no longer go in because of the many procedures they will do, the order required is not conducive to having parents be there. Whatever they are doing first does not require full sedation, I think that was the issue.

So we are waiting. The procedures started at 9:35 and they said this will take at least 3 hours. So we will be waiting and praying for our sweet girl.

Please pray with us too!

And continue to pray for Crissie and her family please.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Nina's Surgery Tomorrow

5 What are your thoughts?
We finally have a time for surgery tomorrow. Yes, finally! For some reason this system is set up that you don't get an actual time until after 8:30 pm the night before.

Tomorrow we need to be in Mayo at 7:15 am and then we go from there. I know for sure we will be there until Friday to make sure that Nina is okay.

She is having 8 procedures done
-bronchoalveolar lavage
-ear cleaning
-adenoidectomy (just a possibility depending on what they see)

So please keep our sweet girl in your prayers. I know many of these things are routine but it is not routine for us! Thank you for your prayers!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Finally Answering Some Questions

1 What are your thoughts?
How is Nina doing with her AFO's?

She i doing well. Still is not a big fan of them as they make her stretch in ways that are uncomfortable. And when she has been wearing them for a while, she still cries as we take them off. However, we now put them on while she is sitting on our laps, so there is no more fear or "flashback" to being tied down. She even tries to help and do it herself. We are still breaking them in, so we are not at the point of wearing them all day.

How is Nina doing with the walker?

We do not have a walker yet, so we hope to get it soon!

So how was Lent?

Well, it was hard! I do have a real addiction with the internet. Another thing I learned is that it is easy to replace one addiction with another, so I did a lot of reading, so I found myself not having as much time as I thought I would have.
What was wonderful was having no Television, and we will continue to do so. We only have 2 shows that we watch and other than that the TV is off.

Yes, we did. I just got a baby hawk and so far I really like it. Funny as it is, Ellie seems to be the one that likes it the best. In her own words, "You can give me a piggy back ride all day!"

Maybe playing "knock knock" jokes will help Nina learn turn taking when talking.

What a great idea!

A couple of other things to add.

-Nina's surgery is this Thursday, only 2 days! So tomorrow night after 8:30 I will have an actual time and will update here so people can be praying for our sweet girl.
-Nina is having a birthday party on her birthday. It will only be a cake, ice-cream, balloons, and happy birthday type of party. This will be exciting!

Prayers For Crissie!

0 What are your thoughts?

The Patterson Family adopted Crissie last year from Serbia. Crissie was one of the little girls from Reeces Rainbow. Crissie has a severe heart condition and the Patterson's knew from the beginning, that this road would take them to hospitals and open heart surgeries.
Right now, Crissie is fighting for her life. Things did not go as expected and Crissie was gone for 20 minutes. But the Lord brought her back and she is now fighting, fighting, fighting! My heart breaks for this family. Please join us in prayers, visit their blog, and leave a comment or a prayer for them.

This is Crissie and her mom before she went in to have surgery.
This is Crissie now, fighting for her life!
Please pray for Crissie and her family! you can click on the button on the top of the page and it will take you to their family blog, or you can click on this link.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Some Discoveries from Today

1 What are your thoughts?
Discovery 1:

My attempts at making authentic Mexican food need some help! Fortunately, I am the only one who actually knows what anything is supposed to taste like. Still, I think Andy must know something is off. My attempt at Chiles Rellenos ended up with Poblano Peppers that were just not cooked but still hard. I need to ask my mom how to make them the right way!

Discovery 2:

Never Ending Story is NOT an appropriate movie for 4 and almost 4 year olds! No matter how sweetly you call the Rock Eater "So cute!" He is not cute, he is scary! So that was that for watching the movie. It was my favorite movie growing up. I did watch it when I was 4 until I was maybe 10 or so. I could quite the entire movie. Today, I got to watch the first 5 minutes in English for the first time. And after years, I could still quote parts of the movie. But in case you are wondering, it is a very scary movie!

Discovery 3:

Nina told me today that sometimes Andy and I tie her too. What? So I asked her when we tie her, and she told us we tie her in the car seat. Light bulb! When we got home, Nina did okay at the airport, it was when we got her in the car seat that she lost it, kicking, screaming, and she seemed so scared. Within seconds she was asleep. Today I understood why! So for those of you adopting, this is something to think about and prepare the kids for! At least now I can talk to Nina and she knows that we are just getting buckled so we can be safe!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Nina Thinks of Birthdays

4 What are your thoughts?
As it is every day, Nina said before going to bed...

"It's my birthday today! yay!"

"No Nina, it is not your birthday today" I said

"Yes" she says with a whine, "Yes it is!"

"No sweetie" I continue, "Not today, but you will have a birthday in 2 weeks."

She makes a defeated face.

"You know, when it is finally your birthday, you will be four and we will have a party for you. Everyone will sing, "Happy birthday sweet Nina...""

"Oh yes! Yes! Sing happy birthday to Nina! Mommy! Good idea! Good idea!"

A good idea indeed. The first birthday celebration of her life!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

"Grief is not a Speed Sport"

1 What are your thoughts?
The last six months have been the hardest months of my life and I am only 29 years old. I take a deep breath and I can smell the reality of that statement, it fills my lungs and seems to settle in, clinging to my lungs, and trying to get comfortable. I cough.

Maybe when I am 40 years old I will have things figured out. I will read Ephesians 1:11 " In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, " Hopefully I will say, "Ha! I have a more clear understanding."

When Nichole was born, dealing with her diagnosis was the hardest thing I had ever had to do. As I look at Nichole now, my heart is full of love. She has brought much joy and love to our lives. She has changed us. What really matters in life comes so easy to her, and she teaches us how to live every day.

Nichole allowed us to know God's heart in places where we had never been before. As we explored, we discovered breathtaking sites and we fell in love more with our Lord. In this journey, He gave us love for the "unlovable and broken" of this world. After all, we were unlovable and broken in deeper ways. As we stepped out in faith to adopt, we were stepping into unknown territory, and this journey of faith has come with many tears, and we have known grief in new ways. At least I have.

The tears began before we step foot in Ukraine, and once we arrived, we were thrown into a spiritual ground of which I had never encountered before. There were days when discouragement sat on my shoulder, it rested on it heavily, and the physical strain of carrying it knocked me down. Loneliness danced around me, taunting me to join the sorrowful tunes and I would find myself swaying to the composition. Anger yelled at me, and even when I covered my ears its echo vibrated in my mind.

I saw the reality of the orphanages in Eastern Europe. Those noises, smells, and scenes will haunt me forever. My heart broke, and I wanted to scream because I was so powerless to do anything for them. I couldn't help them! I could only save one. My heart still does not understand all that I witnessed in that place, I saw much darkness, but I also saw care and love.

For two weeks the daughter I had fought so hard to save, cried and screamed for two to three hours each night. The sound, like a poisoned arrow pierced my mother's heart. I soared on hope each day of promises made, only to see hope abandon me in mid air. "Tomorrow for sure" was said, yet tomorrows held the same answer.

I felt like God had abandoned me...for the first time in my life. But God was there. He was there through Kim and Jerry, our missionary friends. He was there as our "angel" lady when we were stuck in the Ukrainian airport for two days as we attempted to get home. He was there as the Germans took care of us while we had to wait yet another night in an airport, and He was there was our family was reunited. He was there, I know it. I saw it. But I did not feel it.

Grief. I had never experienced emotional grief.

So I read the wise words from Uncle John Stumbo, who wrote on his blog, "I've said it before: grief is not a speed sport. Grief must be allowed to wander around the mysterious shafts and canyons of our heart. It's trek is usually best taken in the dark. But in time, the human heart is ready for light to shine again. Insights such as those provided by Moses begin to light a few candles, piercing the darkness and announcing that a new era of healing is coming."

In speaking of Moses, Exodus 17 tells the story of Moses needing Aaron and Hur to hold up His arms during battle in order for the Israelites to win. Moses could no longer do it on His own, he needed others to do it for Him. Oh how thankful I am for all the Aarons and Hurs in my life that were holding me up during our time in Ukraine. Those that continue to do so now.

Recently my family (my family of origin) has had some pretty tough things happen. I was already emotionally "frail" so this came as a blow. They say when it rains it pours.

Then I had the car accident.

But like John Stumbo also said. "God is in this, and GOD IS GOOD." Oh how comforting that thought is to me, oh how it brings me peace. Because God is in this, and God is good.

"being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6

I am confident of this. My life belongs to Him, and what a comfort this is. So I allow for God to meet me as I grieve, and allow Him to comfort me and carry me. His arms are a safe place, a place of rest.

Oh how I need that!

Friday, April 16, 2010

News on the car...

0 What are your thoughts?

Yes, it is totaled :(

And we were ONE payment away from having it all payed off! Oh well, the air bags did not go off, and they should have. I think maybe had we had a serous car accident, who knows what tragedy could have happened.

My sister and I are safe, we have great insurance that has really taken care of us, and that is all that matters.

Andy's Birthday Cake

2 What are your thoughts?
This year Andy's birthday fell on a Wednesday. The busiest day of the week for him, so we knew that not much was going to happen except Ellie was really excited about making him a birthday cake. I have a birthday cake book, and Ellie and Nina like to look at the pictures. Ellie decided that since daddy likes football, she was going to make him a football cake.

And this is a picture of the cake Ellie made and the picture of what the "fancy" cake looks like in the book. So we did not it to look as nice, but Ellie made it! I think she did a pretty good job for a 4 year old. Yes, I helped her with the white lines, but over all, she did a pretty phenomenal job!
She knew that doing the little details would be too hard, so she did what she knew she could do, and in my opinion, this was the best football cake ever!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Car that Was

4 What are your thoughts?
Andy came to get me and we went to get all our stuff from the car so we took a couple of pictures.

Andy said he was "underwhelmed." Maybe that is a good thing and the car will not be totaled, maybe it can be fixed. Who knows.

So here are the pics. What do you think, totaled or not?

Life Happens

3 What are your thoughts?
I came to visit my family for a day. Yesterday as my sister and I were driving back to my mom's house we got in a car accident. It was one of those that happens in really slow motion and you are not quite sure of what is happening at the time.

We are both fine, the air bags did not even go out, but the front of our car is pretty messed up.

Crazy! I don't think I had ever been in an accident like this before. And it is no fun when your husband is not there! I am not the quickest when it comes to accidents, so I felt like in a daze. The officer was so gracious and I felt like in a way she was taking care of me. Well, it is the reality that God sends people to help us out and let us know things will be okay.

So now we are waiting on insurance and hopefully I can go home soon!

Friday, April 9, 2010

We Couldn't Be There

9 What are your thoughts?
We are not sure how much Nina understands the English language. Sometimes it seems like she has a great grasp, while other times we wonder if she understands what we are asking or saying to her.

We are still puzzled by her behaviors at times. What seems a normal situation, can send her into her own world, where she can easily be irritated or upset. These times are hard for all of us emotionally. It makes us wonder what exactly took place at the orphanage, and what her life was like.

I shared in a previous post, that the first time I walked into Nina's room, they were not expecting me and I was sure that a little girl was going to be tied down to the smaller wooden pen. I saw this same little girl being smacked across the face and her ear pulled as she was dragged to a chair because she was not fast enough. never mind that she too has Cerebral palsy and could not walk. The impatience and lack of love were heart breaking. Praise God Oksana has a family waiting to go get her!

I tried to teach a worker how to feed a little boy with Down syndrome by helping support his jaw. She said she had not time for that and shoved the food into his mouth. His eyes watering and gulping, gasping for air, maybe even aspirating with every spoonful going in his mouth. He too has a family ready to come get him.

I saw other children treated harshly and being punished. And I saw more. And what I saw will forever be in my heart, and it will remind me that these children live in dark and scary places, and that those with special needs are abused even more, because it is easier to hurt those that are weaker.

Nina's recent reaction to having her braces put on, along with other behaviors, made Andy wonder if Nina had been tied to her crib as punishment. We have found out that it is not the braces that make her cry, but rather having her lay down and getting them strapped on her, the noise of the Velcro, and having something that "restricts" her body. Once she is up and walking, this is not an issue.

A friend who is also adopting from Ukraine wrote on her blog, "We showed up unannounced one day at the orphanage. All the children were in the big wooden playpen. They were all tied to the slots of the playpen so they couldn't move. No wonder they didn't want us to come in the room."

So we asked Nina today about her life at the orphanage, not sure if she understands us, not sure if she knows how to communicate with us.

"Nina?" I asked, "Were you tied down on your crib? Did you have to lie down and they would tie you?" She looked at me, a sad expression, her little lip came out, and the tears started to come, she said softly, "yes." And she cried some more. I held her so close to me, wishing I could take that away from her, wishing that somehow she had not had to go through that. Andy asked her why they did that. "Nina naughty, Nina naughty." She responded.

We were not there to protect her for the first 3 years of her life. She has gone through so much in her short life, and there is nothing we can do about it. We will never be able to take that away. We can love, and we can pray, that is what we can do.

I think of how we almost allowed money to be an issue. I think of how I almost said Cerebral palsy was too much for me to handle. Those things are so insignificant now, so small.

My heart breaks for orphans around the world. My heart breaks for my daughter. And it aches, oh how it aches, that there were times where she was tied down to a crib, treated like an animal, starved of comfort or love. Never again, never again. Our loving arms will wrap her close, and whisper how much we care.

Today I was her mother, I felt it. I will protect my sweet girl as best I can.


You can find many waiting children with special needs on Reeces Rainbow. They all need a family, they all have suffered enough!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter Weekend and Crown College

4 What are your thoughts?
After our church service on Sunday, we drove up to my mom's house to spend Easter with my family. My sister gave each girl a wrist band of a different color, and the girls had to go and find eggs that matched the color of their wristband. So Ellie had purple, Nina yellow, and Nichole green. It was a lot of fun for the girls. Ellie also wanted to get some more plastic Easter eggs and put candy in them. I told her to put 5 jelly beans in each. To our surprise (okay, we were not that surprised) only a few had 5 jelly beans, most of them were missing one...or two...or three!

On Monday, Andy and I got to go to Crown College (where we met!) and share with the student body about our adoption journey. It was a great opportunity and Andy did a great job talking about God's adoption of us, while I cried a little when I shared. Really, I don't know that I will ever be able to share anything that is close to my heart without chocking a little.

AFO's Make Me Cry!

3 What are your thoughts?
When Nina first tried her AFO's on she loved them! She realized she had better balance and that it made walking maybe a little easier. The first time we put them on at home she was okay with it, but the second time around, as soon as she saw them, she started to cry!

As a matter of fact, she even cries when we stretch her now. It used to be that she would count with us as we would do a stretch, but now, she cries and cries and cries. Her legs are very tight, and this will be a process...a painful process.

So here are pictures of Nina standing as she has for the last few years of her life. You can see her that her heels are as high up as they can, and she stands on her toes (sometimes just the big toe!)

The AFO's make a huge difference, and you can imagine how much that hurts! Don't blame her poor girl. So for those of you that have a child with CP and had to go through this, any suggestions are welcome! I do think once she gets botox it will help, but for now, the poor thing is scared to wear them or be stretched, because it might mean, we will put the AFO's on!

But here she is, sitting like a "pretzel" which makes her feel so proud of herself! She was not able to do this when we first got her, as her legs did not "open up" it is pretty exciting!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Love so Amazing

1 What are your thoughts?
Today is Good Friday.

"The self-sins are self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love and a host of others like them. They are not something we do, they are something we are" A.W. Tozer--The Pursuit of God

Because of my sin, because of who I am, I need a Savior. And I have One who willingly gave His life for me. Today, we remembered the Cross, and His Love so amazing.

Tonight at church as we moved through several stations, we had the opportunity to identify our life with the life of Christ, to evaluate our sinfulness and pain from God's perspective, and to die to ourselves just as Christ died for the sins of the world.

1. Focus on Jesus.
What are you feeling right now? Lay everything that you are thinking and feeling at His feet. "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" Matthew 16:24

2. What do you need to die to?
"Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed, But if it dies, it produces many seeds." John 12:24
What areas of your life need to be addressed? Invite Christ to have his way in your life.

3. Enduring the pain.
Where is there pain in your life that you need to face and allow yourself to feel? How have your sins brought you pain? How have you caused others pain?
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross." Hebrews 12:2

4. Abandoned by God.
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Matthew 27:46
Focus on the fact that Jesus felt alone, forgotten, and abandoned during his most desperate place of need. When have you felt this way?

5. Jesus walks with us.
Jesus Immanuel, our God-with-us, helps us in our weakness. he walks this road with us, carrying us through our pain and helping us to let go of our sinful, selfish behaviors. Walking through the difficult stuff of life with him leads to a deeper intimacy and fuller relationship.
"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings." Philippians 3:10

6. The peace of death.
Invite Christ to crucify your sinful nature. Invite him to take everything that is not pleasing to him and to replace it with himself.
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me." Galatians 2:20

7. New life.
"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come." 2 Cor 5 :17
Invite Christ to bring his new life into your life.
How will you live differently now?
"If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies" Romans 8:11

Remembering the precious gift that we have been given, because of His amazing love!

(Taken from Andy Stumbo's booklet from tonight)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Three Months Home

0 What are your thoughts?
Nina has been with us for three months now. Time flies by and somewhat it feels like we are still catching up with life. I find myself still saying, "We just got back from Ukraine."

Nina has blossomed having a family. It amazes me how much she has developed, grown, and learned in the last 3 months. She is not the same little girl that we met at the orphanage. Remember that video of when we first saw her? Wow! I look at that and remember our time together in Ukraine and see how different our sweet girl is.

Physically she is able to do so much more! When we first got her she could barely open her legs apart, now, we can wrap her around our waist, she can climb up the stairs, and she can crawl.

Verbally she is just amazing. I cannot even tell you how much English she speaks because anyone that meets her now would only think she has a speech impediment, not that English is her second language.

Emotionally she seems to be attached to us. I worried so much about attachment from all I read in regards to adoption. It has turned out that I am having a harder time with bonding than she is. I have had a few times where she has really felt mine, and my motherly instinct kicks in, but it is something that we are still working on. We are getting to know each other, attachment takes time. It is a seed that grows, and with Nina being older and not a baby from my womb, it does "feel" different still. Contrary to what most people would have thought, our 2 weeks together in Ukraine before coming home were the hardest for bonding (for me) This was a trying time as Nina rejected me so many times, hitting, screaming, and every night she cried for 2 to 3 hours. Emotionally exhausting and painful as a mother. So for those of you that pray for our family, you can keep me in your prayers. There is no doubt I love her, more than any other child in the world (aside from Ellie and Nichole) the love is not lacking, it is the "belonging."

Socially she is a very social little girl, but she is still learning. Andy put it in great words, "Nina talks at people, not with people." True, very true. She never learned the patterns of communication, taking turns, and listening to one another. There is not much "exchange" as most of the conversations are her talking at people about what she wants, but anything else is lost and she has a hard time following.

Intellectually every day is a leap! She came to us being behind Nichole in all aspects of development, and other than physically, she has not passed Nichole. Nina is learning all sorts of things, in overload sometimes! She is also pretty upset at the fact that she is 3 years old and not 4 like Ellie :) Soon, just one more month!

We love her, she fits so well in our family. I cannot imagine not having her with us. And yes, we would do it all over again! She is a sweety (but can be pretty bossy too!).

So if you have any questions, ask! And I will answer as best I can.



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