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Monday, May 30, 2011

Five Months Ago

I totally missed the four month celebration, but wanted to take a moment to note the day. Five months ago, we arrived home - exhausted and so thankful to be back in familiar surroundings. At least, they were familiar to us. But, it was a whole new world for this little girl. Here is the first picture of her in her new home, coming up the stairs for the first time.
 And here she is coming up those same steps five months (well, almost) later. This is now Maia's "dom" and she knows it. She has come so far in this time. She's learning, talking, playing, blossoming, and growing - she is loved beyond compare by many people!!
 I was glancing back at my three month post and noted that we celebrated that day with a chocolate sundae. Well, it wasn't intentional, but I may be starting a trend. Maia and I stopped for a chocolate sundae on our way home from my friend Del's house today. Maia was one happy little girl.
And here is a picture from today. Maia was helping me to make chicken enchiladas for the family of one of my co-workers who is going through chemo and radiation for cancer. She enjoyed helping mom and caring for others is an important trait that Mark and I hope to instill in Maia as she gets older.

And thank you to all of our service men and women as well as their families for the sacrifices that they make to keep us safe today and every day!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Some days... and other days

Some days, I get discouraged. I'll be honest, it's not always smiles, giggles, and laughter in our house.  Raising a child who spent the first three years of her life in an institution has resulted in some behaviors and habits that are difficult to deal with. Sometimes, it's hard not to take them personally. There are times when I fail as a parent. And I fail miserably. Days when I'm not as patient as I would like to be. Days when I forget to ask God for guidance along this journey. Days that I wish I could "do over" again.
There are days when I fail as a wife, too. Days when I am cranky, short-tempered, not as loving as I would like to be. Days when I forget to ask God to help me be a better partner to Mark.  Days that I wish I could "do over" again.

I know I will never be a perfect parent  or a perfect spouse or a perfect friend or a perfect anything... I accept that and I try to do better. I ask for forgiveness - from God, from Mark, from Maia, from my friends.

Thankfully, there are other days. Days when I do get it right. When I slow down and take time for those extra hugs and kisses, those few extra moments spent together. I'm patient, tolerant. I manage to see past the behavior and recognize what's behind it. I look at the precious face of my daughter and thank God that He has trusted me to parent her (who am I to question HIS decision?)!
There are days when I remember to tell my sweet  hubby how wonderful he is and how much I appreciate everything he does. Days when I just stop and enjoy the moments, treasure them for what they are. Days when I crawl into bed at night knowing that it's been a good day because of how I chose to live it.

Today is going to be one of those "other days."

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Funds status

Someone asked me the other day where we were at with raising funds to bring Matthew home and what we would do if we weren't able to raise all of the money needed before we travel. Well, here is the current status:
Anticipated adoption expenses are right around $30,000 (unfortunately, this is the most expensive time of year for airfare). So far, we have raised the following amounts.
Adoption Funds
Bella Adoption Grant                                $1500.00
Church Fundraiser                                    $4400.00
Private Donations                                       $700.00
RR Family Sponsorship Donations            $1165.00
Melanie's Employer Reimbursement       $10,000.00
   Current total                                       $17,765.00

We still need to raise a little over $12,000.00 within a few short weeks. This morning, we found out that one of the families who was submitted the week before us received their travel date - June 9. So... if all goes according to plan, we hope to be traveling by mid June.

$12,000 in four weeks seems impossible. But, I have seen amazing stories of God's provision for those who have stepped out in faith to adopt. With God, nothing is impossible. He knows our needs. He wants to meet and exceed them. So, we are trusting that He will provide the funds necessary to bring our son home.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Note to self...

Do not, I repeat DO NOT poke yourself in the eye with your fingernail. UGH! Somehow yesterday morning, I was reaching to wipe something off my face or out of my eye (don't even know what) and I managed to stick my fingernail right in my eye.
UGH! I was the interesting case of the day at the emergency eye clinic. Apparently fingernails are nasty things to stick in your eye (go figure... all the bacteria that grows under there - lol!). Add to that, the fact that I have had Lasik surgery and managed to scratch my cornea right at the edge of the surgical flap. And I had an eye that many people were excited to examine and discuss.
So, now it's steroid and antibiotic drops and close follow up with the ophthalmologist (I go back tomorrow already).
Lesson learned... keep my fingernails out of my eyes!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

WOW! (Mark's title) aka "Blessed by our church family, friends and reminded that God provides!"

Last Sunday, our church held a potluck dinner, silent auction, and bake sale as an adoption fundraiser for us. About six weeks ago, we had approached our pastor asking if the church would consider a change drive to help us with adoption costs. Truly, we were grasping at straws... we don't know a thing about fundraising. We thought that if we could raise a few hundred dollars, every little bit would help with our adoption costs.

Well, we were humbled when our church came back to us offering to have a dinner and silent auction. As we talked and planned, the bake sale was added. Then last Sunday, it was also mentioned that our church was going to ask Thrivent Financial if they would match some of the funds that were raised. Oh, my goodness... we just could not believe how people were reaching out and supporting us. We still didn't have high expectations, but we felt so touched by the efforts that people were making on our behalf. And so unworthy!!

This morning, we planned to get up in front of the church and tell everyone thank you. We still didn't know how much money had been raised, but it really didn't matter. The prayers and support that lifted us up as we brought Maia home and now as we make this journey were what was most important to us. Anyway... I'm off track. We were asked to come up in front of the church and presented with a check for


This was beyond anything we had even remotely considered. I can not express how full my heart was when Lynn told us that the church council was so moved by our faithfulness to God's calling to bring Matthew home that they "KNEW that they had to show us how much they supported us." 

God keeps reminding us that He is in charge of this journey and He wants Matthew home with his forever family just as much as we do. Thank you is totally inadequate to express the emotions in our heart, but 


Friday, May 20, 2011


We have our immigration approval update. That is the best news today.
Saturday we are going to see my grandmother, She is 99 years old and doing well.
Sunday we will go to church and then have a day of rest. We need the rest!!!


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Something big to be thankful for on Thankful Thursday!!

It's Thursday... what's so important about Thursday?  Well, Thursday is the only day of the week that the SDA accepts dossiers for adoption. As soon as I woke up this morning, I started praying that today would be the day our dossier was submitted. That there would be no further delays and that God would just walk beside Olga (our facilitator) and move in the hearts of the government authorities.
I checked my email a few minutes ago not even thinking about the dossier. I wasn't expecting to hear anything until later this afternoon. Yes -


According to Olga, there is still no confirmation of shut down dates as the government makes their transition for adoption authority. So, we are praying that we will receive notice of our travel date within a few weeks and travel several weeks later. Probably mid-June!

Soon, sweet boy - your forever family is coming to get you!!!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The weekend and our adoption fundraiser

It's been a good weekend. Yesterday was the first Saturday in a long time that we just stayed home. I did get up early yesterday morning to run into Rochester to pick up a donation for our fundraiser. Stopped at the farmer's market for some rhubarb and was home by 7:45am. Spent the day baking (zucchini bread and strawberry rhubarb crisp), got to spend some quality time with Maia, yep... good day!

Church this morning was nice - our pastor is on vacation so our service was lead by Cabin Fever. They are  an awesome bluegrass band who are all members of our church. Afterwards was our adoption fundraiser. There was a potluck dinner with great food, a bake sale and silent auction. It was an AMAZING event and we are truly humbled by the outpouring of love and support that we received from our church family (as well as other friends and family who attended). We feel so blessed to be part of such a great group! God is reminding us that He provides and that bringing Matthew home is part of His plan!

We took two cameras with to make sure that we took pictures and unfortunately... didn't get either one of them out of the bag. Would have loved to have pictures of the event. A couple of cool things... Mark's sister Betsy made a beautiful cake for us (and it tasted wonderful!!) and my friend Amy came to the fundraiser. We have known each other since 3rd or 4th grade, haven't seen each other in probably 20 years. It was wonderful to see her and such a special blessing that she made the trip!! Didn't get to visit quite as much as I would have liked, but hopefully we will be able to get together again soon.

And now, going to take advantage of an early night for Maia (she was pretty wiped out by the end of the day) and make it an early night for me, too.

Thanks to all who shared our day with us!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Not this week

We had hoped that our dossier would be submitted this week. Unfortunately, the SDA (State Department on Adoptions) did not have accurate health information on "Matthew." Because their information did not match our "Letter of Intent," they would not accept our dossier. It's more complicated than that, but this is the short version.
So now what? Olga will be working to get updated medical information to the SDA this week so that she can submit our dossier this coming Thursday.
Please pray that all goes perfectly. The impending shutdown is looming in the back of our minds, although I remind myself that once again... this situation is NOT a surprise to God. He's in control and He knows the outcome. And He wants Matthew to have a forever family, too!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Where is the best place to celebrate your birthday?

The emergency room of course!!

Maia was sliding off our bed yesterday (which is pretty high). After she got down, Mark noticed that she was holding her wrist and that it seemed to be bothering her. I arrived home about 45 minutes later and sure enough... she was not using her left arm at all. Her forearm and hand were cooler than the other one. I was concerned. I hoped we could get her in to extended hours at the clinic, but when I called to make an appointment we were directed to the ED.

So, I threw a baggie of cheerios in my purse for Maia and off we went. It was a busy night in the ED - we'd been there about two hours waiting when Mark said to me, "I thought we'd be home by now." Poor boy... he's got a lot to learn about hanging out in the emergency room with a non-life threatening issue.

Maia was very patient, could tell she wasn't feeling great because she was much "cuddlier" than she usually is. We were roomed shortly after that. The first doctor came in the room to examine her, she was great with Maia. The second doctor was also terrific. But, it was hard to see them manipulate her arm when it obviously was causing her pain. She had x-rays taken which was also really painful since they needed to get specific views. Results? No fracture. The second doctor came back in to give us the good news. He started examining Maia's arm again and performed a quick gentle manipulation of the forearm and elbow. Voila... pain free, although it took a little while for Maia to realize that the pain was gone. Diagnosis? Nursemaid elbow or radial head dislocation. Apparently what happened when she was holding on to the bed on her way down, the traction allowed the ligament holding the radius in place to move and allow the radius to become dislocated. It's common in children under the age of 2-3. And Maia was the second case the doctor had seen yesterday - the other kid was rolling down a hill when it happened.

We were on our way home within three hours of arriving at the ED, enjoying a late night drive through McDonald's dinner. So much for the nice birthday dinner including yummy ice cream cake for Mark. But, all that matters is that Maia is ok - we are thankful for that. She is back to her usual self today and enjoyed sharing ice cream cake with daddy for dinner tonight, although she really would have liked to have it all to herself.

This picture isn't from tonight, but you can see that she loves chocolate. This was Maia's first experience with "licking the spatula." At first, she wasn't sure what to make of it but figured it out pretty quickly! :-)

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Today is my wonderful husband's birthday!

The world is a better place because he was born, he is one of the most unselfish, generous, kind people I know. I am blessed to be his companion in this life journey and I thank God for him every day!

Would you join me in wishing Mark a happy birthday?
Perhaps you would even consider making a donation to our FSP in his honor?
(If you do, please leave a comment on our blog about this!)

I love you! Happy birthday!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

Last year on Mother's Day, we didn't even know that Maia existed. We knew that we wanted to adopt. We had considered some very special kiddos on Reeces' Rainbow and another waiting child site. We had talked with a doctor who specializes in international adoption about these children. There were a couple that we wanted to commit to, but we found out that the little boy had already been adopted and the little girl had a family coming for her. There were a couple of other kiddos that we did not feel would be a good fit for our family and they have come home to their forever families as well. On Mother's Day last year, we were impatient and anticipating - wondering if maybe God had different plans than parenthood for us. But He knew in just a few short weeks, I would receive an email that would change our life forever. Yes, the email telling us about a little girl named Anastasia who was waiting for a family.
About a month ago, it hit me that this year, I would be a mother on Mother's Day. Amazing, but still didn't have a whole lot of meaning to me. Until this morning. At church, our pastor asked all the mothers to stand up so that they could have a round of applause in their honor. As I stood up, my eyes filled with tears - truly... before Maia joined our family, I never felt like somone who HAD to have a child. My life was very full and GOOD! Mark and I were happy. And yet now that our daughter is home with us, life has taken on a deeper meaning. My life is fuller on many levels (many good, some challenging). Am I happier? Not necessarily. Am I more unhappy? Absolutely NOT! But things have changed and I am so thankful that God has found me worthy to parent this beautiful little girl. And if it is His will, I will also be blessed to parent a precious little boy. Yes... God is GOOD! And Mother's Day has extra special meaning this year.
We shared a little of our journey to Matthew this morning at church. This was right after the above mentioned honoring of mothers so I was already a little emotional. Sandy, our generous friend from church who is coordinating the fundraiser, gave a brief intro. She started by saying that there was a little boy in Ukraine who didn't have anyone to tuck him into bed at night, didn't know what it was like to be part of a family, didn't have a daddy to wrestle on the floor with... by that time, I was a blubbering mess. Mark, Maia, and I stood in front of the church to share. I could barely get the words out. When it came time for Mark to share his part, even my strong, "unemotional (his word, not mine)" husband couldn't speak - he was too choked up. But, we were very thankful for the opportunity to tell a bit of this story to our church family.
Afterwards, we headed to Wisconsin for the annual Mother's Day get-together with Mark's mom's side of the family. I remember the first year I went (six years ago). Mark and I were dating at the time. His family was so welcoming to me. It was a very special day. Fast forward to today and they were able to meet Maia for the first time. Another very special day! She had a great time and enjoyed playing with her cousin John who is also three.
Tonight, we got good news that our request for information letter was indeed submitted last week. So if all goes well, our dossier should be submitted this week! Please pray for this to happen.
And Happy Mother's Day to all women - not just those who are "mothers." Whether we have children or not, we all have the opportunity to love and nurture others.  And a special mother's day thank you to a precious mother who gave birth to my beautiful daughter Maia Anastasia! You have given me a priceless gift!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Once again... humbled

Tonight as I sat outside Maia's room waiting for her to fall asleep, I was moved to tears. Friends and family have donated so generously to the silent auction fundraiser that our church is going to be hosting for us. It has been difficult to ask people to help. Mark and I are used to being the ones who are helping others. I don't say that to make us look good. I just say that because we prefer to be on the giving end... it's difficult to receive. A friend reminded me the other night to think about how I feel when I am able to give to others. Then, she told me to allow others to feel that way by helping us out. So... God is teaching me, humbling me, and showing me again how He loves to bless us. And I am so thankful for the outpouring of love, support, and encouragement that we have received as we travel this journey to bring our son home!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Happy Tears - God is so good!

I hadn't looked at our Family Sponsorship page (or our blog for that matter) over the weekend because of computer problems. This morning, I arrived at work and pulled up the page before beginning my day. I am absolutely speechless, humbled, and praising God! Our family sponsorship is up to $965!!!!! Money that will go directly to the costs of bringing our son home.
Words can not express the gratitude that Mark and I feel to those of you who have contributed. Thank you from the depths of our hearts! And thanks to God for His provision!

I'll add just a quick update regarding our dossier status as well. The process is that our facilitator needs to submit an official "request for information" to the SDA. This is a letter which specifically mentions the child we hope to adopt and asks them to determine if he is truly available. It takes about a week for this request to be processed. Our dossier can not be submitted until after this clearance is obtained. So... our request for information letter was sent a couple weeks ahead of our dossier. Unfortunately, it was in a package with another family's dossier that was lost by the delivery company. We sent another request letter with our dossier just to be on the safe side. The lost package arrived the same day as our dossier did. What does this mean? Well, our request for information letter will be submitted this week. If all goes well, our dossier will then be submitted on May 12. I had hoped that we would be submitted this Thursday (that's the only day of the week that dossiers are accepted), but it is not going to happen. I'm discouraged about this, but trusting that God is in control. None of this is a surprise to Him. And I am sustained by an image given to me by one of my bloggy friends Rett (who I really hope to meet one day soon!). She reminded me that God was "camping out with Matthew" during this waiting period. What a great picture of God and our little guy hanging out. Thank you Rett!

Please pray that our request for information letter is submitted as planned, that Matthew receives official clearance as being eligible for international adoption, and that no changes occur within the country that would prevent our dossier from being submitted on May 12.

And again, thank you to everyone for their thoughts, prayers, and giving hearts!