Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Now That's Big

So maybe this picture wasn't the best one to start with.  They look sort of weird if you ask me.  Let me explain.  The older kids went to youth group where it was game night.  One of the games included chewing up a banana and spitting it through the nylon.  The few that tried it said it was very gross.  Here is Julia and Adam showing me how funny they look with the nylons on.
Joey, the older boys' friend way back when we lived in Reedley came down to visit.  One night we had ice cream floats and shakes.
Anastasia remembered doing this craft with me back in Ukraine when we first met.  Jonny and Anna had fun doing the sand art too.
Nolan follows Dennis around like mini-me.  He is such a turkey like that.  Even though Nolan had just eaten this yogurt, when he saw Jonny eating his fifteen minutes later he thought that he should be eating one too.  Same with breakfast.  When we first get up, we make cream of wheat for Oliver and feed him because he is hungry like that. :)  Of course Nolan wants to eat if he sees Oliver eating.  Then when we make fried eggs and toast or pancakes a little later, he wants to sit down and eat again.  There is nothing wrong with him wanting to eat and I have no problem feeding him, but I am trying to teach him that each person in the family eats one time at each meal.  This concept works great at lunch and dinner when we all sit down at the same time but for breakfast and snacks, he ends up just eating a little more because I haven't quite figured out how to explain it to him. :)
Nolan sporting his new haircut!  After seeing me cut his Daddy's hair and three of his brothers with the RoboCut he was was excited for his turn. 
Isn't he a cute cookie!
Alex loves Oliver.  Just the other day he was pushing Oliver all over the house in his walker.  What a big brother!
Last night we went skating because it was dollar night!  Most of the kids have skates so we only had to rent five pairs which kept the price very affordable.  All the kids had a blast.

Nolan enjoyed being pushed around in the stroller and pretending to play the arcade games.
Grandpa kept Oliver happy with a chunk of ice to suck on.  Oliver is teething and the cold felt
Since Alex can't skate and he had to take turns with Nolan and Oliver in the strollers we all kept Alex entertained by giving him high fives everytime we went around.
Dennis actually got out on the floor and skated with the help of a walker on wheels.  After four or fives times around he was tired.  He decided that drinking soda is so much more fun... and yummy!
Here is Galina and Annalyn with Caleb's girlfriend's sister Chelsea.
Adam with his friend pushing Nolan in the stroller.
Caleb and Taylar
Our friend gave us three zuchinni.  They are very big.  I decided to make zuchinni bread.
It turned out delicious!  Jonny nearly polished off a loaf all by himself.
Even William thinks Oliver is pretty cool now.  If you know William, this is huge!  It is such a blessing to see how much he has warmed up to his new brothers.  Praising the Lord that Adam and Caleb are such wonderful role models for their younger brothers.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Bringing Them Home: Why International Adoption?

A few years ago our family was filmed to be part of a documentary.  Our goal was to share about international adoption and special needs along with other families.  In the process the producers have become friends.  They are the ones that have driven us to the airport for our last two adoptions.  Finally the documentary is being aired on PBS-- on the East Coast.
I invite you to mark your calendars to watch.

WNET Thirteen New York and Paul & Melissa Buller of The Buller Company Present - “Bringing Them Home: Why International Adoption?” … an unforgettable immersive journey through the emotion-charged world of special-needs adoption.  Inspirational first-person accounts unfold before us: from Southern California to Siberia, across the United States and around the world, families are determined to heal a broken system … securing a child’s bright future where once there was none! 

Raw and reflective, “Bringing Them Home: Why International Adoption?” addresses the “questions” that matter through first-hand experience … “Why foreign adoption when there is so much need in the US?” … “Why ‘buy’ a foreign baby?” … We need look no further than our own backyard: The lack of a national adoption policy, the stifling family reunification rules that so often lead to heartache.  

 Parents, siblings, facilitators, support group activists, state officials and more … Each bring a unique perspective to the debate, their combination delivering an empowering, spontaneous slice-of-family-life so recognizable and yet so unlike any family profile film that has gone before.  A challenge to audiences everywhere to ask themselves “What can I do to help?” 

Here are the dates the show will be aired.

WNET Thirteen: Saturday, 8/4, 2pm
WLIW: Saturday, 8/4, 3pm & Wednesday 8/8, 4pm
NJTV:  Tuesday, 8/21, 10pm & Sunday, 8/26, 5pm

 If you end up watching the documentary or would like to see it aired in your area please leave a comment at http://www.thirteen.org/about/contact/.  Here is a chance to spread the news about adoption!

Respite Host Family Needed on West Coast

Hi everyone.  There is another situation here on the West Coast where a 7 year old little boy is in need of a respite family for the next 3 weeks till he goes back to Ukraine.  He would do best if there were no other small children in the home.  He seems a bit jealous and would do better if there was no one else his age, or any children at all competing for attention.  Find out more information by emailing Laurel at laurel@godswaitingchildren.com

Thanks so much!

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Nolan had his plastic surgery consultation yesterday morning.  I was not thrilled with the doctor's attitude.  Basically he told me that the ENT and pediatric dentist that I took Nolan too was not up to par and that if I wanted him to fix Nolan's palate then I would have to see who he recommends for these issues.  Seriously that is what he said.  Forget about the fact that Nolan's ears are in great shape.  Forget about the pediatric dentist who sometimes teaches at this same hospital and took the time to try and coordinate care in the best interest of Nolan.  Forget about both these doctors having a wonderful bedside manner and seeming genuinely interested in making sure I am involved in my child's care.  Forget that Nolan felt very comfortable around both of them because they are great with kids.  Just forget about all that.  I went ahead and scheduled surgery for Nolan with this doctor on my way out... but only as a last resort.  Even Galina told me that it sounded like this doctor was giving a speech rather than talking to us.  On the drive home it dawned on me that this was the same doctor who had nothing nice to say about the other doctors that had performed Dennis' surgeries.   His attitude was still the same--  Our team is the best and what other doctors say or do cannot compare.   You better believe I came home and called another plastic surgeon that was recommended to me and made an appointment.  In two weeks we will get our second opinion.

Speaking of doctors and surgery-- Alex's procedure has continued to be a huge blessing.  I had read the horror stories but so far so good.  In many ways it has exceeded my expectations.

Summer is flying by it seems.  The boys continue to adjust to family life to the point that it seems like they have always been here.  Everyone is growing up so fast.  Oliver can hold is bottle now.  Not that he has ever had a bottle fed to him outside our arms-- no that would be a waste of a beautiful and intimate precious moment with one adorable little boy.  While he is in our arms we have taught him to cup his little hands around the bottle because it is about the cutest thing in the world to see.  It's like he is making up for all the time he missed out on enjoying drinking from a bottle.  Dennis can now take out and clean his own prosthetic eye and put it back in.  I just had to teach him to plug up the sink so it doesn't accidentally go down the drain.   He is also trying to learn how to roller skate.   Nolan can now get on the toilet to go to the bathroom all by himself.  He is also learning to write his name and do puzzles.

Today we were blessed with a boatload of baby food for Oliver from our friends.  They also gave us lots of age appropriate toys for him.  Their parents, whom we hadn't met until today gave the boys a welcome home gift too.  It felt like Christmas!  Thank you Medrano family!

Urgent-- Family Needed Now

Hope everyone is having a good weekend..
We have an urgent situation this morning and I could sure use your help.  There is a group of kids here from Ukraine on a host program.  One 7 year old little girl's placement is not working out.  Her current host family would like her to spend the remainder of her time here with a different family.  This little girl needs a host family that is willing to take her for the next 3 1/2 weeks.  Preferably a family who is a days drive from Chicago where she will fly back to Ukraine on August 23.  There will be no cost to you accept what it costs to feed her and whatever out of the home activities you choose to do with her.

Here is a little about Tanya.  She sounds a lot like when Sveta first came home so I believe with love and attention she can thrive in your home for the next few weeks.

Tanya is seven years old, she will turn eight in August. Emotionally she is a little younger.  She absolutely loves to play with dolls!  She also enjoys coloring, drawing, and iPad games in Russian.  Tanya will play in the water for hours outside or in the bathtub.  She loves talking on the phone to her friends too.  She is very intelligent and understands a lot of English, though she prefers to speak to you in Russian.  She can also sound out Russian letters and enjoys reading to you. Tanya likes being read to in English too.  She loves playing dress up.  She will happily dress herself in perfectly coordinating clothes every morning before she does the dishes, washes the windows, and wipes off the counters.  Tanya is very, very independent and doesn't always like to accept help.  She even prefers to make her own food if you'll let her!

Tanya has trouble relating to other kids, she prefers to play by herself and gets upset when others are near her toys.  Because of this she would do best as the youngest child or as an only child.  She is very friendly and affectionate to every adult, sometimes including strangers. She also loves babies and toddlers, but she can be too helpful, including trying to help random little ones in public.  She isn't able to take no for answer sometimes and continues doing what she wants despite being told to stop. Tanya is also sneaky when she really wants to do something.  Tanya doesn't do well with pets--she is unable to stop grabbing, chasing, and being too rough.  She also dislikes large dogs and gets upset anytime they are in the house.  She loves small dogs, but is unable to let them rest despite being shown how to treat them gently.  She also struggles with understanding that possessions belong to other people and will take what she wants and try to run away with it and hide it.  

She loves to eat.  Her favorite foods include noodles, hard boiled eggs, oatmeal, pancakes, and bananas.  Tanya loves fruit of all kinds, and she will drink as much milk or juice as you have in your fridge.

Tanya has a crossed eye.  She has new glasses with the correct prescription now and can see much better!  The eye doctor prescribed twice a week eye drops to help strengthen her weak eye muscle rather than using an eye patch.  Tanya has no depth perception and gets hurt often.  She isn't able to ride a bike or a scooter.  She doesn't like a lot of physical activity unless it involves water!  Tanya really needs to go to the dentist for her cavities and chipped front teeth.

Tanya needs an afternoon nap to make it through the day.  She gets carsick if you don't roll down the windows and let air blow on her face, and she doesn't do well on long car trips.  She can't sit still and won't stay buckled, though she does better if an adult is able to sit in the back next to her.  Tanya loves to joke around and laugh loudly.  She will joke with you for hours!

When Tanya is nervous or excited she becomes very hyper and hard to control. She weighs 65 pounds and needs a strong adult to grab her at times. Once she adjusts she will calm down.  She needs very strict boundaries and a lot of one-on-one attention to keep her in line or she will get herself into trouble!  Despite her behavior issues Tanya is a very sweet and kind little girl who is always looking for love.  It's very easy to fall head over heels in love with her sweet smile and chocolate brown eyes.  With a lot of personal attention she will be very happy little girl.

If you are interested in hosting her beginning immediately please email Laurel at laurel@godswaitingchildren.com.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hope This is Possible

To whom it may concern,

I recently had the privilege to examine Nolan Reed.  I conducted a comprehensive dental examination and diagnosed him with severe early childhood caries.  While he displayed a cooperative attitude, he was semi-cooperative for the exam and radiographs.  He had difficulty opening sufficiently to take needed radiographs and to allow total visualization of the oral cavity.  His proposed treatment needs will include extractions, baby root canals, stainless steel crowns, and fillings. 

During his initial interview, mom reports being scheduled with plastic surgery for consultation and possible treatment in the near future.  Due to his medical presentation of unrepaired cleft palate, dental diagnosis, and ability to receive dental treatment, please evaluate for possibility of combining palate repair with dental treatment.  

If you have any questions regarding Nolan please feel free to contact me.


Nolan's very nice dentist

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Oliver Trying to Crawl

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Chicken Was Pretty Good Too

Today we went swimming.  A few of the girls wanted to stay home so they watched Alex who is still not able to swim because of his surgery.  Alex wanted to go but I thought it would be more torturous for him to watch.  Out of sight out of mind.  I think they watched a movie.   The function of the surgery is making life easier than I even imagined.  Praise God for that.  Alex absolutely loves it.  It has changed our relationship.  Honestly, taking care of the bowel management was taking its toll on both of us constantly causing friction.  Neither of us wanted to be in the bathroom together and did it purely out of necessity.  He often fought me and no matter how hard we tried to make it work he was having more and more accidents.  I was always worrying about kids teasing him too-- but now it looks like he may have the freedom from most future accidents like I had hoped.  So far so good.  Tomorrow he has his kidney ultrasound and soon he will see the Spina Bifida Team for his yearly check-up.  When he was in the hospital he was given his bladder relaxing medicine in pill form instead of liquid and he swallowed it no problem.  Now that he has graduated to swallowing pills I am excited to request his new prescription in pill form.

Nolan is a fish.  The ENT has encouraged us to let him swim and enjoy the summer because it will actually help clean out the built up wax in his ear.  One less thing to worry about.  Ahhh, music to my ears (excuse the pun).
I remember a few years back I declared that Dennis would be swimming on his own in no time.  Fast forward to this summer and he is still not swimming on his own.  However we have made great progress since he now loves the water and is confident to swim all over the pool with only these arm floaties.   As I get older and continue to learn I think it is wisest to say that Dennis will be swimming on his own when he is good and ready and not when I say.
I love the fact that my kids enjoy hanging out with each other.
Nolan no longer goes pee pee in the pool.  He has asked me to take him potty the last three times we have been to the pool.  After swimming for quite some time he was ready to get out.  Jonny invited him to sit with him and Nolan couldn't be happier.
Paul, Andrew, and Anna getting warm by laying on the hot cement.
Caleb and Oliver hang out all the time.  Shhh, but Caleb even changed one of Ollipops poopy diapers. :)  (That is a nickname one of the kids thought up and the name seems to be sticking.  But it's perfect since Oliver is as sweet as a lollipop!)
Tonight we made fried chicken.  We sampled a piece and it still seemed a bit raw in the center.  I didn't want to fry it longer and have it burn so I stuck it in the oven for 30 minutes and it came out perfect!
William who is hardest to please said it compared to KFC's chicken and Alex ate four drumsticks!
Yesterday and today I went through all of Paul's, Andrew's, Jonny's, and William's clothes.  We got rid of anything that was stained or torn and passed along clothes that were too small to whoever is next in line.  Then I passed out the back to school clothes.  Can you believe they already have their first day outfits and school doesn't start for another couple weeks?  They are so excited over how neat and clean everything is now that they promise me that they are going to keep their drawers like this forever!  Wouldn't that be nice!

Who Are You?

Hi everyone!  Just wondering who is out there reading.  Where are you from?  When did you begin following our journey?  When we adopted Dennis?  Alex?  Nolan and Oliver?  Now is the time to delurk!  Since you know so much about us, I would love to learn a little more about you.  Thanks!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Life Over Here

In the evening we have been working on the yard little by little as a family.  It has been hot these last few days so we aren't getting tons accomplished but we are seeing progress.  John and some of the kids went and bought a couple dozen pavers so that the kids would have a path to the trampoline and around the garden without walking in the dirt. Setting the pavers in place has been quite the job for the kids but they are proud of their work and so are we.
John built two more raised garden beds and this time we are digging down 12 inches so that whatever we plant will have more room for their roots.
Oliver is such a cutie.  We often talk about how much he has changed since coming home.  He babbles and coos and makes the cutest faces.  He is learning to kiss.  I am teaching him that.  After just two days he is leaning his face into mine when I say kiss and pucker up my lips.  It is so precious.
Nolan is an incredible little boy.  He loves having Alex and Dennis as his big brothers.  They do everything together.  He also tends to follow around Paul and Jonny.  Thankfully they don't mind much.
Here is Nolan taking a water break from playing outside in the little pool.  His favorite thing to do is to get Ninja our black cat and walk him over and dump him into the swimming pool.  Ninja immediately jumps out, shakes off, and runs back to his chair.  Then Nolan goes and gets him and walks him back over the pool and drops Ninja in.  As John and I watched this we were sure there would be a natural consequence but Ninja didn't seem to mind.  And of course Nolan thought it was lots of fun! 
This weekend Grandma and Grandpa came down to visit and meet their new grandkids.  We celebrated Grandpa's birthday too by going out to dinner.  The first Denny's we went to was having a car show and they couldn't seat us for over an hour.  The next Denny's would have to split us up.  The third Denny's had our table ready for us when we got there.  
Here is Rachel enjoying a big burger-- her first in a long time.  She is enjoyed it very much.
Annalyn loves to be goofy and make people laugh.  Despite her silly face isn't she growing up to be a beautiful young lady?
Love this pic of Caleb and Dennis.  Love love love it!
This was Nolan's first restaurant experience.  He did really well and at like a champ!
Oliver loved eating spoonfuls of our whip cream off of our pancakes and hot chocolate.  Alex did too!  Yum!
Sveta and Anastasia shared a big nacho!  Every time we go to Denny's two of our girls end up sharing a plate of these awesome nachos.
Anna with Grandma
The amazing grandparents
Radiant Galina showing off her smile!
Happy birthday Dad!
A few mornings ago I took tons of pictures of Oliver.  Here is one of my favorites.
The kids's long time friend Joey came down to stay with us for a few days.   It's nice that they get to hang out even though we live 5 hours apart.
Guess what?  Caleb took the written test to get his driving permit this morning.  He missed 0!  How awesome is that?  Pretty soon he will be accompanying John and I on all our errands so that he could get in his driving time.  Rachel has been preparing to take driver's ed for sometime now.  Finally she feels ready to take the plunge.  She is taking driver's ed as one of her electives this semester and then she will do the online class.  Up till now she just didn't feel ready to drive yet but after seeing how well Caleb did she is encouraged and excited and inspired to get her permit.   
Love these smiles!  Rachel was letting William make up names for her and that is why he is smiling so nicely for this picture.  :)  Whatever works.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

So Many Firsts

Oliver is not the same little boy we brought home just a few weeks ago.  Everyday he blows all of us away with all the amazing things he is doing.  He is full of life and has such a wonderful personality.  We are the ones blessed to have him in our lives.
God couldn't have made him more perfect!
Yesterday we all got very excited.
Oliver has cut two bottom teeth!
That explains all the drooling and need to gum everything he can get his hands on.
What a chomper chips!

Friday, July 20, 2012

An Update

Alex is home from the hospital.  Yay!  He did great too.  At first he was really excited to go to the hospital. He was disappointed when he asked if he would stay there for 4 nights and I answered that he would only be there for 1.  Why?  He wanted to watch tv and change the channels.  I guess not having cable makes Nickolodeon very attractive.  Still I was a little hurt that he wasn't looking to me for any source of comfort or reassurance about his big surgery.  I gave it to him anyway.

Alex's surgery went great lasting less than two hours.  When it was time for me to go back to see him, he was actually crying for me.  As soon as he saw me and called out for me to be with him, I rubbed his head and promised that I would be by his side and he fell right back to sleep.  Later when he woke back up he did ask to watch Spongebob so I turned it on.  Imagine my surprise when he asked me to turn it off five minutes later so he could go back to sleep.

The child next to us began to cry when he woke up.  The crying was so loud that it bothered Alex tremendously.  The only way I could get Alex to relax was by covering his ears for him.  Daddy came and visited for awhile.  We had to sit in recovery till 5:30 pm when a bed was finally available.  Actually it was when a nurse was available to take him as a patient.  The room we stayed in didn't have a 2nd tv in the room so we went without.  I read while Alex slept.  He would wake up periodically in pain but he never threw up and ended up sleeping through the night.   In the morning the surgeon saw us and gave us the green light to go home after his tubing was flushed.
Here is what Alex's surgery looks like. It is actually much more painful for him than his spinal cord surgery was back in December.  You can see what procedure he had done here.
After dinner we waited about 1/2 hour to flush 400cc through this tube into his large colon.  That part was fairly easy except it did not have the results I was expecting.  He even gagged and vomited a little from the cramping.  Poor guy.  Alex was frustrated and tired so I finally called it a night.  I told him that we will keep trying till we get it right so he shouldn't worry that it will always be like this.  
Alex is one amazing trooper I tell you.  Bless his heart.
When he went to get into his bed he saw that Nolan was sleeping in it.  Alex got in the best he could but he disturbed Nolan so that he turned over and fell out of the bed.  Nolan was whimpering a little so I scooped him up and Nolan wrapped his arms around me.  It was such a  pleasant surprise that I didn't want to put him down.  But I did as I tucked him back in to his own bed with a little bear to sleep with.  As I went to finish tucking in Alex he was already nearly asleep.  
Nolan and Alex enjoying a treat.
It warms my heart to think that this is Nolan's very first beater licking of cookie dough.  He sure enjoyed it.
Today Nolan saw the ENT.  I really like this doctor because she has the bestest bedside manner and the kids aren't afraid of her.  Nolan's hearing test came back with some hearing loss and it turns out that his left ear is full of impacted wax.  As she read his Ukrainian medical that is one of the most thorough reports we have ever gotten she noticed that it said Nolan had atresia of the left ear canal.  She was not able to see deep into the ear even though Nolan let her clean out a lot of the wax.  She did not want to exasperate him so she sent us home with instructions and a few droppers to drop hydrogen peroxide into his ear to help break up and loosen the wax.  She wants to see him at the end of summer to get a better look.
Oliver is doing so great.  He has worked his way into the hearts of all of us.  He is reaching new milestones almost everyday.  He is tummy scooting more.  He is holding his bottle.  He tracks movement really well now.  He is grabbing for everything.  He laughs and coos.  He is able to bear weight on both legs for 30 seconds.  His core strength is improving.  He has also learned that he prefers to be held.  He is one amazing cuddle bug if I ever saw one.
Thanks for all of your comments about his health.  I do plan to seek a few referrals at his next check-up.  Hopefully this pediatrician won't have a problem referring him.  Finding a pediatrician with experience with DS is easier said than done. I hope she is open to me making suggestions. Trust me, I tried asking specifics when I was calling around trying to make an appt. No such luck.  It really is a hit or miss.  Dennis sees the craniofacial team.  Alex sees the Spina Bifida team.  Why is there not a clinic for children with DS?
Caleb has finished Driver's Ed.  Pretty soon he will get his learner's permit.