Saturday, February 6, 2016

Two months!

Octavia has been out of the orphanage for almost 10 weeks now and we've been home for 7 weeks (we got home 12/18).

Our trip home was uneventful. We flew from Octavia's country to Vienna, from Vienna to Newark, NJ, and then Newark home. The entire trip took just under 23 hours and Octavia did extremely well throughout the entire thing. For the long trip from Vienna to Newark, we had the entire middle section of seats to our self, which was nice because Octavia was a lap baby and we got to spread out a little more than we would have otherwise.
The first leg of our trip home!

Part of the welcome home crew! Octavia and I were really tired by this point! Recognize the sweatshirt & t-shirt in the front row and the pink shirt on the right? I sold those!


Since we got home, Octavia got to celebrate her first real Christmas.
Christmas Day

She is pulling herself up on people and furniture and loves to stand when I'm holding her hands. Being held and holding my hands to stand up are two of her favorite activities. Until we got home, she was only drinking formula and eating baby cereal. She's now eating solids and loves it, she especially likes to self feed. Three of her favorite foods are bananas, peas, and yogurt. She also loves to drink apple juice.

Left: The first picture I ever saw, she was 4 months old.
Right: A few days ago, at 14 months.

I've been back to work for three weeks now and Octavia loves her daycare. She gets to play with other children her age and the daycare woman's two girls (5 & 3) love to dote on Octavia. We're still working on getting our morning routine down but we're almost there!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Two Weeks!

It's been close to two weeks that Octavia has been "home". My little girl ceases to amaze me. Every day, she is showing a new skill.

A few of her newest accomplishments:

- Babble: She used to just "sing" when music was on but now she is talking almost non-stop!
- Laughing: At first, she would just smile when she was tickled but now, she actually laughs. She has such a beautiful laugh.
- Hugs & Kisses: When I pick Octavia up in the morning, she hugs me and lays her head on my shoulder. She will also give those sweet baby kisses that everyone loves!

Even though I am fully funded, I still have my Amazon link. I will be using the funds to help another family adopting from Octavia's country who is currently in process to adopt a boy called Blake. You can find the link on the right-hand side of my blog. To read more about Blake's family, read their RR FSP or check out their blog. As a reminder, using the link doesn't cost you anything!

Today, our translator and driver took us on a short excursion to a few old churches. St Hripsime Church is one of the oldest surviving churches here. The church sits on the remains of a pagan structure and is also the site where St. Hripsime was martyred during the time of the conversion of this country to Christianity.

The second place we went was Etchmiadzen Cathedral, which is considered to be the oldest cathedral in the world. It is believed that St. Gregory the Illuminator had a vision of Jesus Christ descending from heaven and striking the earth with a golden hammer to show where the cathedral should be built.

Outside St. Hripsime Church 

Outside Etchmiadzin Cathedral



Thursday, December 10, 2015

Help Lilit Have Surgery!

Lilit is a little girl waiting to be adopted in Armenia, where I am right now.
At birth, Lilit was diagnosed with kyphosis scoliosis with rotation and chest deformation. Lilit was given up by her mother and brought to one of the orphanages here 9 days after her birth. At 6, she moved to another orphanage.
Lilit is now 8 and needs spinal surgery. SOAR-Toronto Chapter (http://soar-us.org/toronto/) has set up a Go Fund Me page to support Lilit. 100% of the money raised will go directly to Lilit's medical bills and whatever it takes to get this lovely girl healthy.
Nobody deserves to be sick, and especially not a little girl who doesn’t have parents to hug her and/or be happy for her. There are no words to adequately express how much your thoughts, prayers and donations will mean to Lilit. Please help us help her.
To the best of my understanding, Lilit first needs diagnostics to see if she is a surgical candidate. The MRI and X-ray images from Armenia are of poor quality and the doctors here in the US could not make a definitive determination about treatment. The surgery which we believe will most likely be chosen for her is a spinal procedure where magnetic rods are placed into her spine. Over the next 2-3 years, these rods are moved further apart to slowly straighten her spine. This would involve seeing orthopedics 2-3 per year for several years.
The raw cost estimate we received from a children's hospital here in the US is $250,000 including diagnostics, surgery, and the follow-ups. We are hoping that professional services can be donated, so that the cost will come down significantly as reflected in the fundraiser.
If you have a few dollars to spare, please consider donating to Lilit's medical fund. Every dollar counts and this surgery will change Lilit's life. 

If you would like more information on Lilit, please check out her profile on Reece's Rainbow. http://reecesrainbow.org/80331/eden-3

Fully Funded!

I would like to thank you for your generosity over the course of this adoption. There have been some trying times but everything has worked out according to His plan.

Here is a screenshot of my FSP. It is SO nice to read that top line. Fully funded. Wow! There were times I thought I wouldn't make it.


Please keep following our story. Even though the adoption is complete, our story hasn't ended. I will be sharing our journey this trip as well as our time together once we get home. 

If you have a few extra dollars, please consider donating to another family in Michigan who are going go get their sweet daughter! They left yesterday and are still $1,836 from being fully funded! Please help in any way that you can! You can donate to their FSP here and read more about their journey here.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Lost

Tonight, as I was rocking my sweet girl in my arms, I couldn't help but think about the children still waiting. ChristianReese, and Callum especially.

I have met all three. They're wonderful little boys who don't deserve a life in an orphanage (no child does). They deserve a mama who will kiss their boo-boos and a papa who will play catch with them. They deserve a chance to live outside orphanage walls. To go for long walks, to have clothes of their own, to have toys that belong to them. Yes, these boys all have special needs but that shouldn't make them less worthy of a family. Doesn't every child deserve the love of a family?

Callum (almost 6)

Callum is completely lovable and wants nothing more than hugs. He is mild mannered and tends to go off alone and play with a toy rather than join the rest of the group. He's a love bug and very strong, which is surprising given his size! He is friendly and has a beautiful smile.

Christian (6)

Christian's caregivers are very surprised that he is still waiting for a family. He's doing very well and has age appropriate self-help skills. He is verbal, can dress himself, he makes his bed, and is fully potty-trained. He's a quiet guy who plays well by himself and with the other children in his group.


Reese (8)

Reese's smile is infectious! He also has big blue eyes, so pretty! He loves to be a part of the other children's laughter and joy. Reese is verbal. He will often start prayers and has them memorized. He's bright but his current physical limitations hold him back. He would thrive in a family who could provide him with the therapies he needs.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Gotcha!

I woke up to this beautiful site. I hope that I can have an even better view over the next few weeks.

Mount Ararat, believed to be the location of Noah's Ark.

Today, I received the adoption decree. I am now legally Peaches' mother! Peaches is officially an orphan no more!

Peaches is now Octavia! Octavia left the orphanage for forever and she seems pretty happy about it. She is nearly 13 months old and she hasn't let her extra chromosome slow her down. She is sitting up, crawling, and loves to stand when you hold her hands. 

Outside the orphanage gates.

So happy to be home with her mama!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Greetings from Eastern Europe!

I left on Friday at 1:45 pm and arrived here Sunday at 1:20 am. There weren't any problems on any of my flights and I had layovers in Detroit (only an hour), Amsterdam, and Moscow.

Once I got to the apartment, I unpacked everything and went to bed. I slept late because jetlag hit me a lot worse this time than it did last time. Once I got up on Sunday and got going, my translator took me around and showed me where the local market was, where the money exchange was, etc. I'm in a different part of town than I was last time so it feels a bit different. After she showed me around, I ended at the market (the Vernissage) to pick up a few souvenirs. I will probably end up going back next Sunday since there isn't much else to do!

Yesterday morning, I spent some time hanging out with Peaches at the orphanage. She has her first tooth, she just recently started sitting up, she is crawling, and she loves to hold my hands to stand up. I was worried that the clothes I brought wouldn't fit her but they're just the right size for her!

In the afternoon, I had court. It started at 5:00 pm and was done by 5:18 pm. The judge said to come back on Wednesday, December 2 for the court decree. Once I get the court decree, I can get Peaches from the orphanage. What a great day that will be!!!

It's raining today so besides going to the orphanage and out to lunch, I've just hung out at the apartment.

Cannot wait for tomorrow!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Big News!

I received word this afternoon that I need to be in Eastern Europe by Monday because we have court on Monday!

Seriously.

When I read the email, I couldn't stop shaking. Less than a week until Peaches is officially my daughter!

I will update when I have more information.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

T-Shirt Relaunch + Update

Update: 
I received my NVC Numbers on Oct. 30. More accurately, I received them on Oct. 28 but didn't see them until Friday because they ended up in my Spam box! I sent the numbers to my agency who filled out the appropriate paperwork. 

I was told on Wednesday that my attorney would be filing for court on Thursday but I still haven't found out when my court date is. We are *hoping* that court will be November 30 but I should be finding out tomorrow (Monday). If I have court on the 30th, Peaches and I should get home just in time for Christmas! How wonderful would that be?!

T-Shirt Relaunch + Bonus:
I have re-launched my "love down syndrome" shirt campaign. It can be found here: www.booster.com/lovedownsyndrome

If I sell at least 12 shirts, I will donate 25% of the earnings from this campaign to the Angel Tree child or RR Family (must have active FSP) of the winner's choice. Here's how it will work:

- 1 entry per person for sharing this post
- 2 entries per person for each shirt purchased 
Email me a copy of your receipt and the family or Angel Tree child you would like the earning to go to if you win. When the campaign ends, I will post the winner here. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Trip One - Part Two

Part Two: 

Monday
Since this was an unscheduled day off, I went out to lunch with the L family, our translator, our attorney, and another family, the O family, that got into down late Sunday night/early Sunday morning. They were going to be meeting their son (Evan on RR), who is in an orphanage in a different city, at the same time as me. After lunch, our translator brought the L family to an appointment and the translator’s sister, our unofficial translator/assistant, Z, gave me and the second family a small, guided tour of the city. Our tour ended at the Vernissage but there weren’t as many vendors there, which is likely because of the holiday.

I went back to the apartment to hang out for a bit before we all met up for dinner. After dinner, we wandered around the outdoor mall that nearly connects the Opera Theater and Freedom Square to Republic Square. The other family who was on their first trip and I went to Republic Square to watch the dancing water show that started right at 9:00 pm. They last for an hour but we didn’t stay the entire time. Republic Square was packed with people though, it was great to see. I believe the dancing water show is a nightly occurrence but I could be wrong on that, the only night I was in the area to check was Monday night.

Tuesday
On Tuesday morning, our driver picked me and the O family and then we picked our translator up on the way to meet the Minister of Justice. He had a quick chat with us before wishing us well. He is the one who approves Dossiers so he knew a little bit about our families.

In the afternoon, our driver and Z brought me to Peaches’ orphanage where I first met with the director. She asked me a few questions and then gave me permission to meet her. We left her office and walked to the building where her room is. After arriving in the room, I scanned the area to find her. So many babies! Once I laid eyes on her, I melted. She’s so much cuter in person than in her pictures! Our translator talked to the nannies and informed them that I was there to meet Peaches and we had already talked to the director and she knows we’re here. Peaches had just gotten up from her nap so they gave her a new diaper and dressed her in a cute outfit before giving her to me.

They gave me a stroller to use and let me go outside with her since it was a nice afternoon. Peaches and I hung out under a pavilion and I held her, rocked her, and tried to get her to smile. She was so serious that first day! I didn’t get a smile out of her. Our visit lasted 2 hours and then I had to give her back. They drove me back to my apartment and I hung out there the rest of the night.

Wednesday
I got to spend two hours with Peaches in the morning and then two again in the afternoon. During our morning visit, I got her to smile a little bit. She was beginning to open up to me! I fed her a bottle and then she fell asleep in my arms. So precious! During our afternoon visit, she fell asleep on me. We were inside because the nannies believed it was too hot for her to be outside. The L family stopped by and got to meet Peaches, which was pretty awesome.

Thursday
I had two visits with her again on Thursday. During the morning visit, she fell asleep on me again.

I arrived early for my afternoon visit to pass out the Beanie Babies two to of the rooms with the older children (3-5 year olds). I save “Christian”, who is a sweetie. Peaches and I spent the afternoon inside again. There was a couch in the hallway so we sat there and played.

After my visit with Peaches, I went with the L family to an orphanage run by nuns. There are children up for adoption there, too, but they’re only available to married couples. I got to meet a few children whose parents are in process of adopting them and one whose family arrived for court a few weeks after I left. I got to play with “Laura”, a child available for adoption. She’s so sweet! Her and the L family’s daughter hit it off well. I gave out the last few Beanie Babies to the 5 children who are in Laura’s group. Afterwards, the L family and I went to an indoor mall to get souvenirs and then out to dinner.

Friday
I had my last morning visit with her on Friday morning. In the afternoon, I got a short visit before I had to go back to the Minister of Justice. Both myself and the other family on their first trip went. We told him that we did, in fact, want to adopt the child we met. After this, we met the other family for dinner and then I went back to my apartment to rest and finish packing up before heading to the airport at 1 in the morning. The O family’s flight left an hour before mine so I figured it would make more sense to just go to the airport with them than to have our driver come back for me right after he dropped them off at the airport.

Saturday
My flight left at approximately 4:25 am. The flight was just under 4 hours and we received a full breakfast courtesy of Austrian Airlines (this is the same airline I flew on from Dulles to Vienna and then Vienna to Eastern Europe). I would highly recommend them! Great service! It was about 6:00 am Vienna time when we arrived (flight was due to arrive at 6:10 am). My layover was just under 4 hours. We took off from Vienna at 10:05 am (approximately) Vienna time and had a flight that was 9 ½ hours. Our flight path brought us over England, Greenland, Newfoundland, Quebec, Ontario, and even much of Michigan! Too bad I couldn’t just parachute out of the plane, it would have saved so much time. :) We arrived at Chicago O’Hare at approximately 1:35 pm. This was the first time I’ve ever had to deal with customs. There were several other international flights that arrived about the same time as mine. Going through customs was confusing at first but it did go quickly.

My layover was 5 ½ hours but then the plane was delayed because the plane our pilot was flying on his way into O’Hare was delayed getting there. I was supposed to arrive back in Grand Rapids at 9:15pm but didn’t get back until 10:00 pm or just after.