Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Intro to our new blog!

O.k It took us forever, but we finally finished our new blog. I guess these things take time now to do since the babies came home. Eli is always keeping us busy now. We had to go buy a gate just to keep him in one spot! He is just always trying to get into new things trying to understand how they work. He is a very smart boy!!
All 3 babies and 4 of the others have strep throat at home. Eli has it worse than the others. Poor baby cried all night holding his neck. His fever got up to 104.5 last night. We had to put him the bath to cool him of and break the fever. Today he seems to be much better after going to the doctor and getting a nice big shot in his little butt.
Me and Tony worked this weekend to get this new blog up which will be more about our life at home with 10 kids, instead of our adoption process. We just felt the need for the change. I hope we don't loose all of our followers from Reece's Rainbow.
I was just amazed at the support we had from our friends and our R.R friends. Hope you enjoy it. This is the new blog Livinoutlove.blogspot.com

Friday, March 12, 2010

A New Blog

Here are the most recent pictures of our sweet babies. In our new blog we will include all of our family photos, and make the new blog more about all 12 of us, and not just the babies!!

Me and Tony are thinking about changing our blog to another one. Now that we have the babies home it is really about our life with them and as a family of 12. We will probably change it this weekend and everyone will be re-directed.
This has been an exciting journey to go through with all of Reece's Rainbow friends, and others that have followed along. This made our time in the Ukraine so much easier. We went through many struggles there, and had alot of silly things we had to deal with like the drama back at home. I know my family did not like me talking about it on my blog, but they did not understand it from where we stood. At home they had everyone to talk to . In the Ukraine all I had was my computer and all the friends that gave me so much advise and kept me going. This to me is like my personal journal that I open up to others to read. I guess if you don't like what it says, you don't have to read it!
So A big Thank You for those that gave us so much support!!
Now, the second stage will start. Our life at home. I feel we have so much to write about.
We have had many, many doctors apt ts. Nessie, and Elisa will have to have eye surgery to help them with their eyes, and Nessie may have to have surgery because of her reflux. Eli, well he is so healthy that the doctors make fun of him. He is 30 pounds now!!!! He does have to go to the ENT because of his hearing, but so far all is well.
Tony bought a really nice camera so we can finally post a lot of new pictures. We have all been having so much fun with it. I truly adore the moments we have right now. The kids love the babies so much. I don't think I could have asked for any better loving kids in the world.
Please forgive us if changing the blog makes it more difficult for some of you, but we felt like we needed this change to make this blog a better one!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Look who's birthday It Is ????

Elijah turned 2 on March 1rst. We just celebrated his 2ND birthday with my daughter Noelle who turned 7. We went to Peter Piper pizza with a few friends. When it was time for the cake we gave Eli his very own piece if cake. He just grabbed his cake and shoved the entire piece into his mouth all at once. It would have been very cute, except it was bright pink icing!! Afterwards he was on a sugar high the rest of the day.
Our next news is that 3 days ago Elisa started walking !!! After a few days of trying she can really do it well now. She can even get up from a standing point on her own. My baby is growing up!! The 3 babies are doing so well. They all have done so many new things in such a short period of time. We went yesterday and bought a new camera so we finally have new pictures to show you guys!
After giving a lot of thought to what we want to do next, I am convinced I want to adopt from Ethiopia next. Tony still likes Reece's Rainbow so we will have to figure out what God is telling us to do here. Right now we are just trying to enjoy our babies as we watch them grow so fast.
I have a few pictures here for you to enjoy of their b-day party and Eli eating his cake. It was a lot of fun to watch! Hope you enjoy!

Eli on his way to his party!!
This is Eli having a blast with his cake!!

Mommy and Elisa(Leeska is what we call her) having a moment!

Miss Nessie trying to understand why Eli has a pink face!!


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Babies doctor appts.

We took all 3 babies to the cardiologist apt. yesterday and they all 3 got a good bill of health!! We were so excited to hear the doctor tell us that they are all o.k.
I have been getting many emails about the Haitian babies!! I did have one lady that reads my blog follow threw with the info I gave her. She said right now they only have 8 year olds and up/ My friend form church said that in the next few weeks the younger ones will follow, but they don't want to get people excited right now because A lot of people are wanting them! If you have tried to follow up on the info I sent on my earlier blog and have not received any response please leave me an email so that I can talk to my friend working for these people. She is eager to help place these children into good, loving homes!!
email-tbarch@prodigy.net Thanks, Leah

Monday, February 22, 2010

Homeschooling and parenting

These are the only pictures I can find right now. Our camera brokeat such a bad time so we are looking to buy another one this weekend. Then we will get some good pictures on here!!

When we left to go to the Ukraine we put all of our homeschooling on hold, now it seems I can not find my way back into it. The kids are not doing well and My husband is getting really frustrated with them, when I know its my fault. Its just a lot harder with the new babies taking up so much of my attention. I'm trying really hard to make that special time to help them more, but I just wonder how so many of you guys that have adopted do this?? How do you make that time to home school, and give the babies the time they need?

The babies are going to the specialist tomorrow with their hearts. They have now gained another pound this week. I'm not sure that's so good for Eli. We don't know how to slow his weight down. They eat so much, then they cry when they are done.. Elisa is becoming so friendly with everyone. This is something we did not know if we would see or not. She was so afraid of people before that she would just look away. Now she dives out of our arms into other people standing around. She loves to show off. They have all started therapy as well. Elisa loves to throw toys, so they are working with her on that. We think that they praised her for this in the orphanage. She claps and looks around for praise as soon as she throws something.

As far as the Haitian adoption my friend said they are still looking for homes. Right now they are sending most of these babies here to Texas, but she said if you guys contact that info that they are willing to send them to homes that are home study ready. The older kids are disparately seeking homes. There is one girl that is 14 that she keeps talking about a lot. She said she is very sweet and friendly and that she needs someone to love her. I am tempted, but I promised my older daughter I would never adopt older than her!! If you guys contact that number or email and they do not contact you please email me because she said she would contact them directly herself. They are really getting a lot of calls right now, but unfortunately not a lot of calls that ready right now. Please contact me with any questions if you are interested. tbarch@prodigy.net

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Give Me Your Eyes.....

What do you do when you return home from such an amazing journey and you realize that God is not done with you yet.... When you realize that there is so much more He is calling you to do? We've been home from the Ukraine for exactly one month now and life is amazing! Sure, we're busy and life can be chaotic at times, but we are soooo happy...... but not content. Ok, I know that may sound strange, but let me explain. This adoption process..... this trip to the Ukraine..... this leap of faith has changed us..... FOREVER.

There is a beautiful song by Brandon Heath called "Give me your eyes" that talks about walking through life and not truly seeing.... not truly caring about the people all around you..... the people who are hurting and hopeless. We all fall into that trap of just rushing through life with our goals and our milestones never really paying attention to the needs all around us. That doesn't make us bad people, but I beleive it makes us miss out on all that God has in store for us. I beleive our inability to see through God's eyes makes us miss out on so many of His blessings. The chorus of this song is as follows:

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me you heart for the ones forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see

So after completing our adoption journey we realize that we are not done. God has opened our eyes to a world of need.... to a world of children who have no home and no one to rock them to sleep at night. To steal a line from the song, He's given us the "heart of the ones forgotten" and the "ones that are far beyond (our) reach". God has given us a passion inside.... a burning inside that we don't quite know what to do with yet. We want to bring more children home. We want to start an adoption ministry at church. We want to tell everyone about our experience and encourage them. We want to advocate for those children who don't have families and help raise money to get them home. We want to show people that "special needs" children are truly special and share our experience with the world. But most of all.... we want to follow God.

Have you ever been so inspired and so passionate about something, but not know what to do with all of that passion? That's where we are right now. We feel like we're going to explode if we don't do something. We know that we're called to do more, but we don't what. People keep telling us to just enjoy what we have and they're right..... we are so blessed..... but we are not done. God has given us a vision for something so more... something bigger! We just don't know what yet.

Info On Haiti Orphans....

This is one of the e-mails we've received from the Hope For Orphans organization regarding the orphans in Haiti. Hope For Orphans is affiliated with Focus on The Family and is a legitimate organization. They are not an adoption agency, but are advocates for the children in Haiti and have been working closely with our government to make a way for these children to be rescued quickly. There are e-mail addresses for a few of the key contacts in if you are interested.

Dear Families and Friends of HCRM, As you all know, we have been advocating on behalf of the many children that need homes at HCRM. Most, if not all of you have spent time in prayer about how the Lord might lead, or not lead your family to pursue any of these children through adoption. When we first got connected two to three weeks ago, we were praying for a long shot, that the doors be opened for these children to come to America and into forever families. Today is a BIG milestone in the process for the children that we have been advocating for. There has been legislation that was introduced to Congress today called the Hope Act. It is exactly what has been prayed for, that the government would allow these child (pre-earthquake orphans with documentation proving that parental rights have been terminated) to have Humanitarian Parole and be granted visas into the United States. While this legislation, coded H.R. 4603, was just introduced, we feel as though now is the time that we have been preparing for. If you, or anyone you know has a relationship with your Congressmen, please reach out to them and advocate for the Hope Act. Finally, you will see there are 15 children/sibling groups attached to this email. These are the children that have not been matched with any families, and no one has pursued them. Please spend some time with the Lord, as these children do need homes. We know that the Lord will bring ALL these children into homes, so we want to re-iterate that pure motives from the Lord are what you should go on, not an emotional decision. Please do not forward this these profiles to anyone, as we want to be respectful of these children. However, if you do know of individuals that are PAPER READY (current HS), please have them contact me, so I can introduce these children to them. As a reminder, Hope For Orphans is not a child placing or adoption agency. HCRM is the adoption and placing agency that retains the legal guardianship of these children. All matching is done by HCRM. Hope For Orphans is merely mediating and advocating for these children. For those who want to pursue a child or children from this list, you should send an email to rpennington@familylife.com and smcbride@familylife.com. Your email should include:
which children you would commit to if able (in rank order if more than one)
a scanned copy of your current home study
a scanned current picture of your family
a scanned copy (IF YOU HAVE ONE) of your I-600A or Approval
contact information to include cell phones and e-mail address Thank you for your prayers and consideration for the very special children. Pray that the Lord will bring their Forever Families to the surface.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Adoption Info

I had a very big response to the last post. I guess I did not think that that many people would be interested. This is awesome though!!
The lady that is giving me the information actually adopted 3 kids from Haiti a few years back, since then, she works for Angels Orphans in Haiti. They gave her the information that they were sending these children here to San Antonio last week.
I know a lot of you have responded and I am trying to return ever ones emails as fast as I can. The thing is I have to find out where each person lives so that I can ask the woman in charge when and if they are sending these kids to your areas??
I would just post her info on here, but I want to make sure with her first that she does not mind me doing this. She has sent me a list of kids that are coming this week and pictures, but they are all 5 and older to about 18. In the next 2 weeks they will be getting the younger kids. She said if people wanted to foster first they would allow that to while the family was getting their home study done.
To all the people that responded I will email you tonight after the kids lay down. I will try to email you the same email I got that has the pictures of the kids and the contact info. I wish I knew more on this, but they just allowed these kids to start coming into the country so they are moving very fast before anyone changes their minds. Thanks so much for being patient with me!! Leah

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Just in Case

I just wanted to write really fast in case anyone reading would be interested. Our Friend from church has been working with people in Haiti and some of the children there. She has sent an email asking if anyone was interested in adopting some kids there. Right now they are sending older kids, but they will be sending the younger ones as well.
They are asking for people that are already home study ready that might only need to get finger prints and such. This will be a very fast adoption, and they say it should only cost about 500.00
If you know of anyone that would be interested please send me an email and I will send you the email of the people in charge. Me and Tony are praying about taking a younger child, but not a baby. We feel God has blessed us so much in giving us such easy children, and he has done this for this reason, so we can continue to do his work and what he wants us to do. At this time we are not sure if we will or will not do this, but please pray about this for you and any of your friends and let me know. Thanks, Leah

Monday, February 15, 2010

Passing the cold bug around

We thought we were done with this awful cold bug in our home, but it now looks like it is making its second round. Elisa can not breath at all, poor baby. She has such a croupy cough as well. The other 2 are still finishing up their antibiotics, but they seem to be getting worse instead of better. I have heard that this is normal when you adopt from over seas, the babies get sick a lot at first??
The babies did get dedicated yesterday, but I do not have the pictures yet. They all did very well, and looked very cute. After church we went out to lunch with a Friend. I was very amazed at how well all 10 kids at lunch. The babies only fused a few times when they wanted more food, but it was a good experience.
I'm getting better at taking all 10 out with me into public, you just have to get passed all the nasty stares that some people give you!!
Eli has been cruising all threw the house. He has managed to pull our blinds down and knock over 3 of our plants this week. We also find him trying to go up the stairs about 3 times a day. He loves to pull out all the pots and pans and bang them together. Its actually really funny. Nessie just sits a lot playing with her toys. Elisa is getting better at trying to walk with us. Her therapy started last week and went very well. Today Nessie, and Eli's therapy starts. I'm glad they have made such process!!
We really want to adopt again now that this has gone so well for us, I just do not know when. I'm waiting for God to let us know who he wants us to adopt, and when?? Ill post pictures tomorrow, Thanks, Leah

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Life is Good

As we adjust to the new ways of life here at home me and Tony find ourselves thinking that there is still more in store for us than we thought. We thought for sure that after adopting these 3 children that we would feel complete. As soon as we got them home and everything fell into place without any complications at all we soon starting thinking about adopting again. I know Tony would do it right now again, but I am the one this time that is making the decision to wait a while. There are so many kids out there that it is hard to find the right one, its hard to say no to certain ones. I know it is something that we will have to pray about for a long time. I want to give these babies all the attrition that they need for now.
We are amazed at how well they are doing. They nap from 12-2. Then they go to bed at 8 and sleep all through the night. They do not get out of bed until 9 in the morning. Vanessa is a little bit fussy right now. We think because she has a lot of stuff going on with her little butt. She has scare tissue from something that has almost closed her little hole there and it has got to hurt. She is going into the Doctor on the 23rd for that.
They are all starting therapy tomorrow. I'm very happy to get this started. They have already come so far.
I guess everything is going very well. The only thing that I could complain about is family and the fact that my family has no desire to even see the babies. Me and Tony were very surprised that certain family members have not even called us once to check on the babies, and they have not seen them either. It hurts our feelings I guess that they seem to think that they are so busy with their life's that they cant even call us. I know if they needed anything at all we would be there in a heart beat, even with 10 kids. I don't feel like they really think that this is important because we just have so many kids now. I guess I just don't have that connection I wish I had with family. My own parents still hardly know my other adopted children that I adopted almost 4 years ago. I guess there is not much I can do about it but pray that God will open those doors to communication. Tony has had a hard time with this to. I wish he didn't think about it so much, but I think it really bothers him even more than me. He feels like I do that this is such an awesome gift. We want everyone to enjoy them with us, and some people cant even pick up the phone to see how they are.
I know its all petty, but these are the things we are working on right now. We want them to know there entire family.
Other than that, they will be dedicated at church on Sunday. I'm praying that some of the family will attend that. I will post pictures after Sunday when they get dedicated. Thanks, Leah

Saturday, February 6, 2010

After 2 Weeks.......

The babies have been home for 2 weeks now and they are already making so much progress. The first few days were home, the just sat in the playroom. They didn't want to play, didn't want to be held, and they hardly moved. They would just sit there and rock to the music we had playing the background. Today is a totally different story. They've all discovered the excitement of exploration. They love playing in the playroom (formally our formal dining room), but they've also figured out that other parts of the house are exciting as well.

Vanessa likes to crawl on top of the other kids. If you lay down in the room she will usually crawl on top of you and get as close to your face as possible. She loves to explore our faces with her eyes and her hands and she always wants to kiss..... big slobbery kisses! When she wanders outside of the playroom she usually ends up in the kitchen. She's so much fun......

Elijah has discovered the cabinets and, of course, the pots and pans. He would spend hours banging pots and pans together. He also like to find the dog water and tip it over. Then he gets himself soaked by playing in the water. When we bring him in our room he makes a b-line for our shower. It's a big walk-in double shower and he absolutely loves it. Of all of the kids, he explores the most.

Elisa has progressed the most though. She seemed so miserable the first few days, but she has come out of her shell. She is very attentive and is always looking for us. When we walk around the corner she immediately makes eye contact and then smiles the biggest most beautiful smile. Whenever we walk near her she reaches for us and gives us a huge hug. She doesn't wander around too much, but when she does, she finds the closed carpeted area that she can..... and then lays down face first on the carpet. It must feel soothing to her. She still loves her music also. We crank up the stereo in the house and she bobs her head and claps her hands. We're so happy with how much she's warmed up to us.

Oh and they all LOVE bath time now. At first they screamed and cried, but now we have trouble getting them to get out of the tub. They've also put on some weight. The girls have each gained 4 pounds since coming home and Elijah has gained 2 pounds. I guess that's what American food will do for you.

Overall, the transition has been much better than we expected. The kids sleep through the night, they go down for nap time, they eat well, and they've warmed up to all of the other kiddos. Although they've all had runny noses since we got home, they have been such a joy. We are sooooo blessed with these three angels and we are so thankful for how smooth this transition has been. Here are some recent pics of the kids playing:

Sunday, January 31, 2010

About our Kids

I wanted to go back to a few of the questions that were asked in the comments. I know my husband is an awesome blogger and he should be the one to always write, but I had this on my mind today. Someone had asked before about how old all of our kids were. If you guys are just starting to read I understand that a lot of you don't really know all of this.

Our oldest daughter is Faith. She is 12 years old. Then we have Grace who is 9, and Noelle who is almost 7. After Noelle was born we decided to adopt domestically. We adopted Dylan (10), Christian (9), and Haily (almost 7). They were a sibling group available through the state. During this adoption we got pregnant with Emma. She is now almost 4. The babies we just adopted are Elisa (almost 3), Elijah (almost 2) and Vanessa (almost 2).

Our oldest daughter went with Tony to the Ukraine to bring the babies home. She is such an amazing person. She loves the babies and loves to help out. I know God has so many great things in store for her life. She is the first one to respond when the babies cry or need anything. She has been such a great help to me.

I am so happy with the progress of the babies. Yesterday we had a baby shower for them. They did so well with everyone holding them and picking them up. They love to sing and dance. This has truly been an amazing experience that I recommend anyone do if they feel called to do so. I am so excited every time I look at Reece's Rainbow and see more babies finding homes. I am really happy about Vivienne and Laura finding homes. I tried so hard to see them when I was there. I believe she was sleeping in the baby bed beside me because it was her room I was in. They had her laying in a bouncy seat in her crib. All the babies there looked well loved and well cared for. I hope everyone reading this knows that the babies where we adopted from were all loved so much by their caregivers!!

Here are some pictures of before we adopted since I do not have current ones of all of us. This way you can see our entire family before that new babies.
Leah and the kids on our cruise (top right is Laura, our French exchange student)

The Whole Family (before the babies)

All the kids on the beach......

Faith (The responsible one and the second mother of our house)

Dylan (our big hearted boy)

Grace (the spunky one)

Christian (Our boy with a million questions)

Noelle (the sensitive one)

Haily (all smiles or all tears)

Emma (The spoiled one)

Emma on the beach

Friday, January 29, 2010

The sun is always shining......

Since many of you who read our blog are either thinking about adopting or are already in the process, I thought I would share some of my general thoughts while they are still fresh on my mind. First let me point out that our adoption was not the smoothest or quickest process. We began the process in Feb-09 and had along year of ups and downs. As we announced our exciting news to friends and family, the responses were less than supportive. People questioned our motives, our logic and even our sanity (well I even question that sometimes). We thought everyone would be jumping up and down to support us, but they didn't seem to understand. Then, one month after committing to Elisa and Vanessa, Leah called me crying after her medical evaluation. Her doctor would not sign the paperwork because he was worried about her health (bad back, arthritis, 7 kids, etc). We were devastated, but did not give up.

During this same time period, we decided to put our house on the market as we knew we would need more room when the adoption was complete. This was a huge step of faith for us as we knew there was no guarantee that the adoption would go through (especially after the problem with Leah's doctor). Additionally, I was in line for a promotion that would force me to leave San Antonio. Who in their right mind wants to buy a new house right before being relocated? We knew the real estate market was weak and expected the sale to take at least 6 months. So we listed the house and the first people through the door made a full price offer. Our first thought was "praise God", but the very next thought was "oh no!". We would have to move in the middle of the adoption process causing us to redo our home study along with many other documents (including the USCIS paperwork). Oh and none of this could be done until we found and closed on a new house which we were hesitant to do until I found out about my possible promotion.

Oh.... And in the midst of selling our house, we were throwing our one and only fundraiser dinner. We had invited hundreds of people to a benefit to help raise money for our adoption. We were so stressed and overwhelmed at this point in the process. Everything was up in the air...... the adoption, my job, our house, etc. But we did not give up. God was with us and we had His peace and His presence throughout the process. The fundraiser was a huge success raising a little over $7000. We committed to buying a new house and had our home study and other documents modified to reflect our new address. Leah and I (and our 7 kids, 2 cats, and 3 dogs) actually lived with our good friends for about 2 weeks while we were between houses.

Then, the day before we were to close on our new house, we got a devastating call..... my dad had passed away suddenly. There was no warning, no signs, nothing. This event eclipsed everything else going on in our lives including the adoption. So we moved into our new house
while preparing for my father's funeral. As we prepared to grow our family, we lost someone so dear to us. It was so hard to move forward after this event, but we didn't give up. Despite the circumstances and the delays and the frustration, we knew God had called us on this mission and we knew that only He could close the door on this adoption.

So we finally got Leah's medical paperwork signed and in late September we began preparing our dossier. There were also many delays in this process, but those delays turned out to be a blessing. See when we first committed to Elisa and Vanessa, Leah and I really wanted to adopt Arthur (Elijah), but we never considered 3 children. All of the delays in our adoption process gave us more time to think and pray about Arthur and when we realized he was still available, we knew we needed to add a third child. So at the 11th hour, we changed one simple form and added Arthur. While all of this was happening, deadlines were quickly approaching. We needed everything submitted and approved by the end of November or we were going to have to wait until March and redo most of our paperwork. On the very last Monday possible, our paperwork was submitted and we received our approval and travel date.

Our first trip was in early December and most of you were reading our blog at that time, so I won't repeat the details other than mentioning that everything went well. On the second trip, everything went well until the passport office shut down. For a few days we were told that we would not get the babies passports for approximately 2 months which would mean leaving the country without our children. We prayed and prayed until we found out that we were going to be able to get our passports. We were one of the only families in the country to get passports at this time so we knew this was an answer to prayer. Everything went smooth from that point on which leads us to where we are today...... one BIG happy family.

In closing I want to encourage all of you who are adopting or thinking about adopting. Hopefully your process will not be as long and difficult as ours, but you will have your share of problems. You will run into people who just don't understand..... you will have paperwork that has to be re-done over and over again....... you will have concerns about finances...... and you will have doubts about what you are doing. With all of this trouble, always remember why you chose to adopt..... always remember the beautiful children who are counting on you....... and always remember that God is in control!

It all came together for me as we were leaving the Ukraine to travel back home with our children. Our entire adoption process wasn't this bright exciting event..... it was riddled with troubles and uncertainty...... with clouds that often overshadowed the bigger picture. For our entire 5 weeks in the Ukraine, I don't believe that the sun came out once. Every day was overcast with clouds covering the sky, making for dreary days. As we ascended in the airplane, we lifted above the clouds and we took the following pictures while the sun was rising:

It was beautiful to see the blue skies and bright shining sun. I forgot all about the cold dreary weather we were leaving. It was truly a metaphor for our entire adoption process. No matter how cloudy it may seem..... or how difficult the process may seem..... the sun is always shining when you rise above the clouds.

Good Luck and God Bless!!!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Few Pictures....

Daddy, Emma, and Nessie (Vanessa)

Elisa in her playroom

Eli's adventure on the front sidewalk!

Faith and Elisa!

Emma on her swing!

I love Nap Time!!!

I have never done nap time with any of my kids, and I have never understood why it was so important to moms. Now I do. I can not wait until nap time anymore. This seems to be the only time I am able to get any of the cleaning done. The kids are doing really well to the adjustments. Eli came home sick and it has been passed around now. Two of my kids have it now, and Nessie is just now getting it. She seems to cry all day long because she does not understand why she doesn't feel well.
We are so amazed by Elisa. She has so come out of her shell. She is a totally different child than she was in the Ukraine. She is spunky and so so happy. She loves to dance, and loves to clap her hands. We are so in love with these babies.
Eli still just stares at his hands. He is such a handsome boy. He weighs 30 pounds, big big boy. Elisa weighed 22 and Nessie weighed 20 pounds.
I agree with Tony, He said to me last night that he can not believe that these babies had not been adopted before now, and that people really missed out. They are just the most amazing kids!!
We have got a lot of pictures for you, but I'm not sure how to download them. Tony's knee swelled up last night double in size. He has been in so much pain that he had to go straight to the Dr, today. They are going to have to drain a lot of the fluid from his knee today. When he gets home he said he will post the pictures right away. They already look so much better than they did before.
I have so many people ever day asking me how can I do this, this is to much, but each time we adopt, we follow where God leads us, In return I know God finds me these children that God knows will be perfect for our family. They are just well behaved children, Its not as much work as people think.
All in all, We are the ones that are truly blessed. We will post pictures tonight. Thanks for reading our post, and following along with our adoption!! Leah

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Adjustments for Everyone!

So we're home now, caught up on our sleep and it's time to get into a routine..... yeah right! The first day we were home, we took all 3 kiddos to their new pediatrician to get them checked out. Eli had a fever and cough, Vanessa had a very nasty rash on her backside (had it since birth according to the orphanage docs) and Elisa was very lethargic and not eating. In fact, Elisa has not been the same child we met in the orphanage. We weren't sure if she was sick or just having trouble adjusting. Needless to say, we were very worried about Elisa.

The pediatrician put Eli on an antibiotic and told us that Vanessa would have to have surgery to remove the inflamed area on her bottom. He was shocked that the orphanage doctors did not know what it was. We also showed the doctor some scarring that Vanessa had near her private area. He was puzzled by the scars and thought she may have had surgery to correct hip dislocations, but there was no record of this with the orphanage. When we got to Elisa, the doctor seemed concerned. She had been sleeping most of the time, wanted nothing to do with anyone and was not eating at all. He wanted to have her admitted to the hospital right away. After discussing our options, we decided that we didn't want Elisa's first weekend with us to be spent in the hospital.

We made it our goal to get Elisa to eat and get her to open up to us. On Friday morning, we had a breakthrough...... YOGURT. Elisa loves yogurt and ate and ate and ate. She ate so much food on Friday and this morning she was a different child. She was loving and playful and was smiling. We're still not sure if she had just been sick or needed food, but whatever it was is behind us now. The babies are adjusting well to their new home and the whole family is doing great. Our other children fight over who gets to hold, play with or feed the babies. I'm sure that will change in time, but for now, we are all closer than ever. As I sit here right now in the play room I am watching the babies play and am so grateful that we were able to adopt them. We picked them based on a picture and a feeling inside.... and a medical history that turned out to be mostly incorrect, but in the end, they are a perfect fit. They are perfect and they are ours! Praise God for choosing us to follow this path and to experience this kind of joy!

Oh and for those of you requesting pictures..... we are so sorry! We will post them as soon as we can, but honestly we just been enjoying the kids and have not taken many pics. We'll get some out soon. Thank you all for all of your encouragement......

Friday, January 22, 2010

Home Sweet Home!

Sorry for the delayed post, but we all had a little sleep to catch up on. We began our journey home at 2am on Wednesday which was 6pm Tuesday night in San Antonio. We had a short 3 hour flight from Kiev to Frankfurt and then a 2 hour layover in Germany. The kids did well on the flight, but when we got off the plane things got interesting. They all started screaming at once because they were hungry. We had food for them, but could not prepare it fast enough. As we weer struggling to get them all calm, we noticed people all over the airport staring at us. I wonder what they must have thought. After about 30 minutes, they were calm and so were we. We boarded the plane at 10am (2am in SA).

This next flight was the long one. It was a 10 hour flight from Germany to Chicago. Faith and Elisa sat in front of Brittany and I and the two babies (Vanessa and Elijah were sitting on our laps). One of the greatest delights of our trip home was watching Faith with Elisa. Faith is 12 years old and handled Elisa with such poise and patience. Elisa was the most difficult by far, but Faith had a way with handling her. Elisa definitely has some sensory issues, but Faith knew just how to work with her. She would pat her gently and help her get comfortable and even when she was screaming, Faith was calm. I was amazed at the maturity of my oldest daughter and she made me so proud to be her father. The kids all had their moments on this flight, but overall, they did very well. I got peed on twice and thrown up on 4 times (all by Vanessa), but that just helped us bond....

We were worried about what to do with our 5 hour layover in Chicago, but the long layover turned out to be necessary. We started at customs where the lines were long. We made it through relatively quickly and then picked up our baggage. At that point, we went to the Homeland Security area where we had to turn in our immigration paperwork. Although this process took about an hour, the people working there were great. Seeing us with all of the kids and baggage, they waved us through the customs security point and told us to have a nice day. After all of that, we had to recheck our bags and then take a train to another terminal. The Chicago airport is HUGE, so it took a while to get to our gate. By the time we got there, we had about an hour to get some food and feed the kids who were getting pretty fussy.

The last leg of the trip was a breeze. We left Chicago at 5:30pm (SA time) which was 1:30 am in Kiev. Needless to say, the kids were tired and they slept through the entire flight. We arrived home at 8:30 pm to end our 26 hour journey.At the airport we were greeted with yelling and cheering from our family and closest friends. I believe there were about 20 people there waiting for us. I was so tired at that point that I probably didn't look at excited as I was. We passed the babies around from person to person. They hardly woke up as people were kissing them and pinching their cheeks. This was just the start of all of the loving they are going to get from now on. We got home and went straight to bed.

It is such a relief to be home and to know that no one can take these babies away from us. Throughout the 2 trips to the Ukraine, there was always an underlying tension that something may go wrong; we may get denied, they may get sick, we may not get passports or may not get visas. There was always another step that we had to go through, but not anymore. When I laid them in their cribs I could finally breath a sigh of relief. We had completed the journey that we started almost a year ago and Elisa, Vanessa and Elijah are now home. Now it is time to begin the next phase of this journey.........

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

We're Coming Home!!!!

We got our visas today for the kiddos and are coming home in the morning! The whole process at the embassy took less than a few hours. We're so excited and can't wait to get home to the rest of our family. Please pray for a safe and quick flight home....... and that the kids sleep a lot on the plane!

Leah, Dylan, Grace, Christian, Noelle, Haily, and Emma...... We're coming home!!!!!!!!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

More PIcs of the girls.....

As demanded by my wife (pics only)


A Newfound Respect For My Wife!

Shortly after getting off the train, we took the kids to their medical appointments. They only had room for two of us to go, so Faith and I took the kids ourselves and left Brittany at the apartment in Kiev. It was so hard taking 3 kids with just two of us through the ice and snow. The appointment was a joke. After waiting for about an hour, we saw the doctor who turned out to be an adult cardiologist.... not a pediatrician. She was asking us about the kids and what they did normal or not and we kept telling her that we had only had them for less than a day. We asked her a bunch of questions and she could not answer any of them. She kept saying that she works with adults and not kids. So basically, we were just paying to get medical release for the US embassy.

After almost a full day with the kids, we are exhausted. Feeding time has been crazy! Elijah grunts non-stop if we don't keep something in his mouth at all times. Elisa spits and throws her food and Vanessa is of course... perfect. She just eats and drinks and giggles. They are all down for naps right now and we are glad. I don't know what it is, but it is so rewarding to have them all asleep at the same time. I have so much respect for Leah! There are 3 of us and we struggle to keep up with the kids and I know when we get home she will have it all under control. She is an amazing mother and I am so grateful for her.

So tomorrow is our final day in Kiev. We go to the Embassy at 8:30am to do a bunch of paperwork and then go back to pick up the kids visas. If all goes well, we will be on a plane at 5:45am on Wednesday..... and home Wednesday evening. I cannot wait to be home with all 10 of my children. As I writing this, Elisa woke up and Faith brought her to me. She is sitting on my lap watching me type right now. So it's time for me to let you go so I can spend some time with my baby.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

We Have Our Kids!!!

Today we got our kids! We went to the orphanage at about 5:30 expecting a big send off for the kids. What was I thinking? We walked in the door, gave them our clothes to change the kids in to while we waiting in the lobby. They brought the kids out and hardly even said goodbye to them. We had gifts for the caregivers which they thanked us for, but there was very little emotion shown by them as the kids walked out the door. Were they happy that they were being adopted??? Were they relieved???? Were they sad???? Oh well, one thing I know for sure is that we were elated! They looked so adorable in their little snowsuits.... you know the kind that are so puffy that they can hardly move their arms or legs.

We took them back to the apartment and immediately Skyped Leah so that she could be part of their first day with us. We fed them dinner which was an adventure. It's been so long since I've fed a baby, let alone 3 at once. Food was all over the place, but Elijah and Vanessa ate great. Elisa hardly ate a bite that she didn't spit out or throw across the room. We never got the orphanage to tell us what they ate, so this is all trial and error for us. Tonight was all error with Elisa, but it will get better.

Right now, it's 11:30pm and we're on the train to Kiev. Brittany and Vanessa are asleep already, but the rest of us are wide awake. Elijah and Elisa are just looking around trying to take it all in...... and so are we.... our first night with the kids! We will have medical appointments tomorrow and them go to the Embassy for Visas on Tuesday. We are praying that all goes smoothly and we get to come home as planned on Wednesday. The only glitch so far is that Vanessa's birthday is different on her birth certificate than we were told. The only problem with that is that some of the paperwork has already been filled out with the old date and was signed by Leah. I'm sure this is common and we can simply make the correction, but it still concerns me a bit.

Anyway, I need to get back to enjoying my new kiddos. I hope we get some sleep tonight, but if not, at least I'm with my kids!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Getting Ready........

It's Saturday in the Ukraine and it's getting cold. Yesterday was a pretty quiet day. We were unable to see the kids due to the appointments that we had. We met with the inspector (social worker), the lawyer, and the orphanage Director to sign the final paperwork and arrange our "Gotcha" day. At the meeting, we received the baptism papers for each of the children. It seems to be customary for the children in the orphanage to be baptized at the age of one. Each of the children had a small booklet and a small cross necklace which they gave to us. This will be great for the children's memory books.

After the meeting I was taken to Vanessa's room so they could show us how they applied medicine to her "backside". She has perpetual inflammation in that area and they wanted to show us what they used on it. It looked pretty bad, but they said it was not painful to her. Evidently it's been that way since birth and she has never been able to where diapers. We will take her to a doctor as soon as we get home to see what they say. When we left the orphanage we went to the pharmacy to buy the ingredients for the medicine. Yes.... I said ingredients. The medicine they use has to be mixed at home which our facilitator will do for us tonight.

Later in the day we went to the bank to withdraw the money the children had in their bank account. These accounts are created by the government for all orphans and it is customary for adoptive parents to donate this back to the orphanage. It was a much larger sum of money than I expected. We were actually given the option to designate the money to the care of a specific child and we chose to do so for a small boy who has lung cancer. We must have been at the bank where all of the "welfare" accounts are held, because there was a long line of elderly people all the way out the door.

As we waited and watched the people come and go, I was overcome with both sadness and gratitude. These people were so old and worn down. They had clearly lived hard lives and were continuing to do so..... many of them shivering due to the cold. I helped several ladies down the steps as they were too fragile to get down on their own. Several things occurred to me as we stood there for about 30 minutes. First, my grandmother is from this region and was fortunate enough to get married to my grandfather and come to America as a teenager. I saw her face as each of the elderly women walked by and I was so grateful that she was living comfortably in America now. I also thought of Elisa, Vanessa and Elijah and how blessed they would be to come home with us. Not only are we taking them away from the orphanage, but we are taking them away from a very hard and difficult life. Oh how blessed we are........

So today we are getting ready to pick our kids up. Tomorrow (Sunday) is our "Gotcha" day and we are so excited. We're picking out their clothes (actually, the girls are picking out clothes) and setting them aside for the big day tomorrow. It's taken so long to get to this point... where we will finally have them in our care. Tonight we will go buy diapers and formula and all of the other things we will need to care for them at the apartment. We finally feel as if we're nearing the end of this very long road. At this time tomorrow, we will be together.... FINALLY TOGETHER!!!!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What's Going On......

OK, so here's the scoop on what's going on over here in the Ukraine. As you know, we were suppose to get our passports this week and then travel straight to the US Embassy in Kiev to get visas for the kids. Well, at the passport office we found out that passports are not being issued at this time. There was no explanation... just that they would keep us updated. After doing much research online today and chatting with other families in this same predicament, I have a little more history on what is going on.

Evidently the company that produces the passport books has not been paid or is in some court dispute with the Ukrainian government. On top of that, there is a huge national election taking place here on January 17. It is a presidential election and several other key offices. Many believe this passport issue is tied to the elections which tells me that this is all political. If so, the results of the election may or may not resolve the issue. There is a whole bunch more information on this issue, but the bottom line is that we are caught up in dirty politics where passports (and now adoptions) are being used as political fodder.

In researching this issue, I've stumbled across many families who are here in this country dealing with the same issue; many of whom are in the same city as us. With all of this bad news, I know that God is in control and that He has a heart for these children. God wants each of these children to be home with their new loving families and we know that He is faithful! As I said in my previous post, God answers prayer and I know there are a lot of people praying for us right now. I would like to ask each of you to pray for these other families as well in hopes that we will all be home with our families soon.

With that I will leave you with some more pictures to help us remember what we're doing this for......