Family Pic Nov 2015

Family Pic Nov 2015

Monday, July 30, 2012

Meeting Avery Marina

Today we got to visit Avery!  It was the first meeting for Steve, Kacey, and Evan.  When I was here on my second trip adopting Julia and Aaron, I met her as she kept escaping from her groupa to come out and play.   She obviously wanted a mommy and daddy and she got my attention!  We are back here to bring her home.

We were picked up at 9:45 this morning by Tatiana and her son, Edward.  We drove out to the orphanage, they dropped us off to wait, and they left to pick up someone from the Department of Children's Services.  This person is supposed to observe our first visit with Avery and give us the go ahead to proceed with the adoption process.

When they returned, Tatiana first asked us to come inside and sit down in the office of the head doctor.  This was not done the last time we were here adopting.  The doctor wanted to talk with us about how Julia and Aaron were doing.  I think we spent about 20 minutes talking about and showing them pictures of them.  The doctor remembered us and had many questions.  The conversation was slower, as Tatiana had to translate everything between the doctor and me.  After we left, Tatiana told me she thinks the doctor was very shocked at how well Julia is doing.  He also seemed to understand the type of surgery Aaron had on his legs.  He also inquired about how our insurance covers Julia's medical expenses.  It was a very different and interesting experience.  I do not think it is usual for a family to start out the first visit with the head doctor.  In fact, the last time, I only saw him on our last day at the orphanage.  We were very happy to have the opportunity to show pictures and share how well Julia and Aaron are doing.  Tatiana even said that of all the children she has seen adopted, Julia has transformed the most.  My hope and prayer is that through this, the eyes are opened to these caregivers as to the worth and potential of many of the children whom they write off as incapable of any meaningful life.

After we were finished visiting with the doctor, we were taken down to Avery's building where she was playing outside on the playground.  She was wearing only a pair of pink stretch shorts and sandals.  I think they try to keep the children cooler in the summer by not putting shirts on them, even the girls.  I hope nobody is offended by Avery being topless in these pictures.  When Avery first spotted us, her eyes locked onto the ball I had in my hands for her.  She ran up and took the ball and ran with it.  Everyone laughed.  She knew what she wanted!  To play!  Despite being cross-eyed, she has great hand eye coordination.  When Steve threw the ball to her, she caught it EVERY time!  After a while she was intentionally trying to throw it over the fence to the road.  She did manage to accomplish this task and the guy from Children's Services kept kicking it back over the fence to her.

As I sat down to listen to another orphanage doctor go over her medical history, Avery came over and wanted to check out what we had in my backpack.  We did not bring all of the toys for her today, as we knew this would be a shorter visit and did not want to overstimulate her.  We spent quite a bit of time talking with this doctor, while Tatiana translated everything.  The head lawyer and one of the nannies also contributed to this meeting.  We learned about Marina's medical history and spent quite a bit of time learning about how much she has progressed just over the last year.  Our guess is that one or more of the nannies have been working with her.  While we talked, Avery was off playing with Kacey.  She really liked Kacey!  She loves being picked up and played with.  She stands in front of you and puts her hands up, meaning "Up!"  Evan was off running around doing his own 3 year old thing, not paying too much attention to Avery.  (Although when we left, he exclaimed, "Hey!  Where's Marina?  Why did she not come with us?")

So, what did we learn about her?  Well, contrary to the DAP office telling us she was a single child of her biological mother, we were told today that she was from the fourth pregnancy.  She was born full term on April 4, 2005, so she is 7 years old.  She weighed 2 kg 800 g, which is roughly 6 lbs. 3 oz. and 50 cm or 19.7 inches long.  Her birth mother (bm) gave her up on the very first day.  For some reason (I could not exactly understand in the translation), they have lost all records or information on the bm.  No name exists anywhere in any records.  There is no information on her pregnancy either.

Developmentally, she progressed normally prior to 6 months old.  After 6 months is when her delays were noticed.  Since then, she has always been noted to have mild mental delays.  She can understand complex sentences and commands given to her.  She can repeat one word up to two syllables at a time.  If she is trying to repeat a 3 or more syllable word, she condenses the sounds to two syllables.  The nanny indicated she is learning more and more everyday.  Avery enjoyed looking through our photo book of our home.  Everyone was explaining for her what was in the pictures.  She was saying the word "piano" and everytime she came back to the page with the picture of it, she remembered the word and repeated it.  The nanny said she can draw shapes, such as circles and squares.  

They say she understands emotions and intonation in spoken words.  At times she gets upset and has crying/screaming fits and they do not know the cause (maybe frustration?), but that these tantrums have lessened over the last year.  They also say she gets headaches and holds her hands over her ears and screams.  This makes us wonder whether she may be experiencing migraines.  She is significantly cross-eyed, so this may be part of the headaches as well.  Overall, we are encouraged by everything we learned about her today.  We are more optimistic that in time and with therapy, she will be able to communicate verbally.  The nanny says she sometimes takes her shopping and she is very good about following instructions while in public.  I hope so!

Enough of my are pictures:

Thursday, July 26, 2012

DAP appointment today

The weather is sunny and beautiful today. At 10 am, Niko picked us up from our apartment and took us to our DAP appointment. We waited outside the building for about 15 minutes with two other American couples who also had appointments this morning. Soon Serge and Yulia joined us and then Serge led us inside and up the stairs where we met with a psychologist who wanted to hear a little bit about us, go over Avery Marina's file, and call the orphanage to confirm that she is available for adoption. We learned that she was the only child of a single woman who had her parental rights revoked. The appointment was fairly short and sweet. Since this is the second time adopting from this country, the psychologist was interested to hear about Aaron and Julia. We had pictures with us of Julia standing up in her playpen. After the appointment we had lunch at a pizza place across the street from the office. We had a great time chatting with Serge, Yulia, and Niko. Then Niko brought us home while pointing out a few landmarks, grocery stores and restaurants within walking distance from our apartment. We should receive our referral tomorrow afternoon. We plan on doing some sightseeing over the next couple of days and taking an early train to the region of the orphanage Sunday morning. Below are some pictures from today. The church that is next to the DAP office was under construction when we were here a year ago. It is complete and looks beautiful.

Steve and I in front of DAP building

Kacey and Evan

Me and Yulia

Me and Niko

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

We have arrived!

We just arrived at our apartment in EE this evening. We have our DAP appointment tomorrow morning and will most likely post a few pictures. But in the meantime, we wanted to let you all know we are here, safe, sound and exhausted. Going to bed now! More to come tomorrow......

Below are two pictures just before we left home for the airport:

Saturday, July 21, 2012

As promised..... are a few more pictures I took today of Julia standing up in her playpen!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Three Less Orphans

For those of you who followed our adoptions of Julia and Aaron, you may remember my dear friend Aimee, who traveled with me on the second trip to help me bring them home.  This wonderful lady and her husband Roger, have four children and she HATES flying on airplanes.  The personal sacrifice by Aimee and her family to help us will forever be engrained in our hearts.  It was also an incredible gift to spend two weeks with a great friend.  Our busy lives at home would never allow such time together.  It was truly a blessing. 

Throughout the earlier years in our friendship of 13 years, Aimee and I had many conversations about adoption.  I know she and Roger prayerfully considered it and even started the paperwork at one point.  But life got in the way and it never happened.  In more recent years, we were both still stay at home moms, raising our kids and caught up in the "busyness" of life.  The topic of adoption was clearly not on the radar.  Even she will tell you that when she first learned we were committing to adopt Julia, her reaction was that we must have lost our minds!  What on earth were we thinking?.....4 kids, one still so little, and homeschooling?   How would this be possible?  If our roles were reversed,  I can't say I wouldn't have had the same reaction.  But along with many other people in our lives who were leary of the journey we were about to embark on, she (and her family) quickly and wholeheartedly became one of our greatest sources of support.    

I would like to introduce the Medlin family and announce that..................

Aimee, my dear friend of 13 years

Roger, Aimee's husband

Aimee, with their 4 children: Josh, Sam, Mike, and Anna

Aimee and Roger HAVE LOST THEIR MINDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just kidding!
We are praising God and rejoicing that they are in the process of adopting not one...not two...but THREE children! 

They have committed to three absolutely adorable children from three separate regions in an EE country.  It has not been an easy road.  There have been struggles, disappointments, changes, and much waiting.  But they have relied on God's strength and guidance and have perservered.  Aimee went on the first trip this past winter and visited them for three weeks, one week with each child.  They have just recently received a court date and are expecting to find out soon when they will travel again.  With this country, there is a lengthy time period between the first trip (meeting the children) and the second trip to bring them home.  The waiting has been very hard at times, but by God's grace, they have continued to focus on Him, who they know is in control of ALL things!  

Aimee and Zaidlyn

Aimee and Mateo

Aimee and Evie

Please keep Aimee, Roger, and all seven children in your prayers. We are praying specifically for the process to go smoothly and timely, for safe travels, for financial provision, and for peace during the adjustment of settling in with three new little ones. Adopting three children at one time has been a large financial committment for them, one that they have made very graciously and unbegrudgingly. The final trip and expenses for their adoption are expected to run them another $8,000.   I know they could use financial help and would be humbly appreciative of any monetary support.  Please consider donating to the Medlin family through their Reece's Rainbow "Sponsor a Family" page here

Three more children will be orphans no more!
Glory be to God!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Avery Marina

We would like to share the name we will be giving Marina when we officially adopt her.  She will be Avery Marina Schwenzer.  The name Avery was picked out if our last baby, Evan, had been a girl.   LOVE this name!  I have also come to like the name Marina very much, though I don't think we would have come up with it ourselves.  Just today I was purchasing a personalized mug for her, as we have one for each child.  The mug comes with the name on it, along with the origin, meaning, and characteristics that go along with the name.  The fun part is.....since we order the mugs on a website, it doesn't show all of what it is going to say.   So I wanted to do some research this morning and find out more about her name.   It is of Old English origin and the meaning of Avery is "elf" or "magical counsel."  I found this amazing as she has been described as "Marina the fairy" by people who have recently visited her.   The name Avery is most definitely going to suit her : )

We also want to thankfully announce we are financially prepared to travel.  From the Thrivent matching fundraiser, the many generous donations we have received through Marina's RR grant fund, the travel reimbursements for Aaron's surgery we received from the ACCA Shrine in Richmond, and the federal tax refund that finally deposited two days ago......we are fully funded!!!  That's right, God has provided for all that we need and a little extra for unknown circumstances.  We stand in awe of our Lord and Savior's mighty and all-encompassing provision.  We extend a humble and heartfelt "thank you" to each and every one of you who has offered up prayers and support for this financial hurdle to be overcome in Avery's adoption.  It couldn't be done without you, as the instrumental hands and feet in God's plan for one more orphan to have a family to call her own.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Julia can stand up!

I know I just posted a picture of Julia yesterday, but I really wanted to post a side by side, or up and down picture of Julia from the first day we got our hands on her to now.  Many people are always writing or telling us how amazing Julia's transformation has been in just a little over one year.  We live with her day in and day out and although we do see how much she's changed in person......everyone once in a while I go and get a picture of early on and compare it with one taken more recently and I am blown away.  She is going to physical therapy now and will soon be starting occupational and speech therapy.  She has recently been pulling herself up to standing in her playpen.  My friend got one picture of this on our last camping trip.  I will try to get more soon.  It is amazing how strong she is getting.