Family 2013

Family 2013
Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

We had court !!!

 First official "Sasha" photo :) Introducing Sasha Falvo  We love you so much little guy! You are going to make your mark in this world! God has big things planned for you sweetie :)

 Family photo with the Asst Director of his Orphanage

The judge requested our little guy be in court to answer questions. :/ you can imagine how nervous we were for him. Folks here do not understand the desire to add a special needs child to your family. It truly baffles them. In there defense their lives are much harder then ours and they do not have access medical care or therapies that we do. So will Sasha being very twitchy, stimming, and biting his hand we were worried :(
He did AMAZING! He was bored and nervous at first and continued to roam around the court room, the judge finally told the director to just let him be, "he is a child, let him walk" :) Sasha settled down next to the secretary and she let him draw on paper (he CAN hold a pencil!!) and he settled right down.
When the judge finished asking us a ton of questions and Giana a ton of questions, he turned to Sasha and said "Where is mama and papa?"  Sasha stood up with a shy smile and pointed to us!!! (happy dance, tears ya know ;)
Then he asked him "where is the judge?" Sasha pointed out the window! Lol..too funny. Everyone laughed :) I dont think the little guy has any idea what a 'judge'  is :)  Over all it went really well.
 the judge ruled favorably but now we have to wait thru the  10 day waiting period for any appeals that may rise. After the court session the judge gave us all a large plate of fruits from his garden to enjoy! Nothing like fresh healthy fruit! The fruit here is SO good. It smells delicious and is just so sweet and dripping with juice :)
Celebratory lunch :) twice cooked potatoes and stewed cabbage with dill. SO good!

Getting to court day has been 26 days in the making thru many delays, frustrations, and upsets. It was such a victory! This little guy has been on our hearts for 2 years and finally we are his parents :):) Thank you so much for all your prayers and encouragement! It really means so much to us!

Michael has to go back to work, so he will be leaving :( tonight. Giana and I will be staying here for another 3 weeks. We have some good friends new and old in town, so we wont be alone. We actually feel pretty comfy here , and walk everywhere so we will make the best of it! Our little guy is being transferred back to his orphanage "V" so the drive will be 45 mins vs 90 mins. Sad though to not spend time with many of the kids who are staying at the camp orphanage. It breaks my heart to not be able to love on them and tell them they matter. Such a sad life for an orphan :( you really have no idea.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Too much reality for a child to handle

2010 baby house group

This picture was taken in 2010. You can see our Benji with Sasha in the front middle. 6 children in this picture are here, at this "camp" orphanage way out in the middle of no where. They were all transferred here. They are considered special needs children. They are delayed. They are hidden. They are all perfectly and wonderfully made by God. They are all a joy. Slowly look at this picture. They scroll down and match up each child. All 6. Do you see the changes? Can you see what transfer to school / institution for mentally delayed kids does to their little souls? Can you even imagine? 
Our little guy now. SO tiny and thin. He smiles shyly then looks away quickly. He would rather play away from everyone and just watch. His world has changed so much in 2 years.
Here is "A"  She is samantha on reeces She is available for adoption. She is very small and shy. But lights up when we interact with her. I think she may be very near/far  sighted too, she walks slowly up the stairs and seem to feel for each step. Glasses would make her life so much easier and more pleasant. Such a little thing. She loves to sit on my lap quietly and just be with me. She would bloom with the love and protection of a family all her own. She does have a younger sister who I have not seen here. I have no idea if they can be separated. Her sister is in the top picture on the way right. Samantha is on the way left with pigtails.
Little blue eyed baby :) This child brings out the protective mama in me. She is in the top photo back row, in front of my husband. What a change. This little one is so alone in the world. She will take her little duck toy and rock or swing it all by herself. She never asks for a hug just stands quietly behind us. She does not expect anyone to care about her :( When we pick her up she melts into a hug trying to feel every bit of our warmth . She needs a mama to love her. She will go to a mental institution the next time they decide to move her. She truly has no chance here :(
This is little water boy. He is on the back row, with the dot on his head. He is tiny and thin and appears dehydrated. His skin is tight. He grabbed my water bottle with such fury and starting gulping SO fast even his little friend was stunned. I couldn't bare to take it from him. He gulped then ran behind a tree with the water and just hugged the bottle to his chest. Like a scared little bird. Just grab and run. He is bone thin and seems to be a bit autistic. Could be institutional which he would heal from slowly with a family and therapy. His reality is heart breaking . He just seems so frightened.
Do you see the light has gone out of sweet "V" ? He is in the red shirt on the back row in the top pictures.  Now he teeth are all rotten. He is bone thin. Most days he walks around bare foot , in thread bare clothes. He is gentle! He loves to give a thumbs up :) When he stands next to me he pets my hair or rubs my arms slowly . He asks if I am "v"'s mama? I say no, I am Sasha's mama while pointing to our little guy. He accepts it but I know it breaks his heart. He deserves to be picked! He deserves a family!! He is AVAILABLE for adoption!! Just ask me for info! AND  he is smart! He wants to learn. He loves trying to write with me and do puzzles. He tells me his name over and over hoping maybe that I wont forget him. That I will find him a Mama. That he will be worthy. That some nice lady with be "V"'s mama. Finally.
Oh blue eyed baby girl :) We love this little girl!
Sweet V and me :)
Here are the 3 musketeers ! These little boys are good friends.  V is in the middle and little long eye lash boy is on the right. BOTH kids were in Benji's baby house. They boy on the right is in the peach shirt in the top picture!
Long eye lash boy :) He has beautiful eyes and a smile that lights up his whole face! I think he has mild cerebral palsy. He gets around fine, but his left foot turns in a bit and his leg seem a bit weaker. He claps and smiles so sweetly when you give him a treat or push him on the swing. Little things make his day :) He used to have glasses :( He is tiny and thin. I know he would make a wonderful son. I hope to find out if he is free for adoption. I would love to see this gentle soul in a family before his innocent joy is stolen away.
This little one melts into me each time I pick her up. Blue eyed baby girl. She is very quiet, like a little mouse who never really expects you to see HER.  She stands back with her little hand out when I pass out treats, never expecting me to actually giver HER one. And when I do? She smiles so sweetly and then ...puts the treat TO MY MOUTH. This baby who has nothing to call her own, is willing to share her tiny treat with me, give me the first bite . I am not worthy of the pure love and trusting this child gives. I just hug her and I want to protect her from her harsh reality. All. Alone. No one. To turn to. Can you even imagine? What if this was your reality? YOUR child's reality? So scary... She deserves a family. She deserves to be loved!
Finally ending with this sweet face. A REAL smile. He is like a little onion and each visit we are slowly peeling away layers of hurt and neglect. Each visit he is amazing us with his desire to connect to us and be loved :) Our little guy is in there. He is happy to come out , much sooner then we ever expected! He actually ASKED to be picked up over and over again on our last visit! AND he was cheeky and stuck out his tongue then giggled at us :):) It is amazing to me how much hurt and neglect these kids suffer but they are SO resilient and SO trusting. They want to be healed. They want to be loved. They are so worthy of this journey. They are worth every delay (which there has been many) Every disappointment. Every step in this journey. They need us . And we need them :)
Never apologize for making Jesus smile.  I believe with each orphan child rescued from a life of loneliness and neglect , Jesus does in fact smile :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The glamor of it all

Guess what? Did you know that some people think adopting is glamorous and oh so exciting. Some folks think it is kinda  like a mini vacation they say.  That those of us going across oceans to adopt these beautiful forgotten babies and children are selfish. Yeah- not so much.  This is a journey. A mission. We have been stretched and grown and twisted and molded into what God has ordained for our lives. We are on a path to give this sweet boy back his life.  To save a little soul. Now it can be exciting, some of the time. Also it is amazing and eye opening and soul stirring. And it is humbling and touching and sweet and spiritual and painful and boring and oh so stressful. Glamorous not so much. Especially in  90 plus heat, so cramped from driving in a car that your legs and bottom are numb, while chasing that one elusive paper or signature that holds your future in its tiny little metaphorical hand . That one person who you find yourself praying is in their office, in a good mood, willing to help while you drive another hour in the opposite direction at 120-130 kilometers an hour. With the windows down. So hot.  So thirsty yet afraid or plain unwilling to drink more than a few sips of water for fear the next bathroom you encounter will be yet another squat potty. Yes a squat potty. Some are actually NOT inside. Oh this is 2012 you think! Well not here folks. These people (who are very brave )are still back in another century bless them. No, these bathrooms are out back in the fresh (gag) air in what we know as “out houses” IF you find a bathroom inside it may be a squat potty (which for the innocent out there is  basically a hole in the ground with either some wood or tile around the lovely hole) or it may be an actual toilet bowl! Score!! You  think. Sorry, it may not have a seat which now makes it a TALL squat potty because you DO NOT want to sit down on it. TRUST me.  You will be forced to do a variation of the “squat” while trying to relax enough to umm pee. Not as easy as you think J  If you need to do anything else , well God bless you! I will hold it until I burst! I have been building up my thigh muscles quite a bit using the tall squat potty at the orphanage though. Requires a variation of the ‘squat’ and pushing againse the walls with both hands. Sounds fun no?  But the torture is that the  camp which is 90 minutes away has an actual real toilet! Inside ! With a seat and all !  It’s a game to hold it until we reach the camp part of our outings! Gotta have fun where you can.  I have NOT used the on the floor squat potty yet.   My daughter did and was all kinds of horrified, which I found hilarious! OH don’t forget your toilet paper or tissues!! It is not readily available in bathrooms. Weird right?  We Americans are such prudes ;)  I bet you would like pictures huh? I only have one , of the scary industrial Sleeper train bathroom. Yes it is as cold and gross in person. Just IMAGINE the smell.  No grosser, no grosser yet. Yup THAT gross J I promise to have my husband take the camera in the bathroom with him next time :)
 Thats my foot just in case you think I made this up ;) This train is most likely 50 plus years old. Its a joy really. 12 hours of rocking, creaking, crashing, banging, hitting cow like noises. All. night. long.
The entire bathroom is all kinds of hard metal surfaces so IF you lose your balance while the train is rocking back and forth or slamming forward and backwards, and you fall or hit your head ...well good luck to ya ! Survival of the fittest here folks!
More soon!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Day 2- seeing the reality of orphanages

Day 2-
We got up today at 6 am to meet our driver and make it to the social workers office when she arrived to ask her to come to the “camp” with us to start the process. She was an hour late arriving. Of course. So we sit. And wait.
We drove over to his orphanage "V" . We had papers signed by the director there , picked up the lawyer, then off to his Camp orphanage way out in "M". About another 1 ½ hours...
away. THANKFULLY the Lord has taken pity on me and my weakness to extreme heat . We woke to a beautiful breezy morning. MUCH cooler.  
We stopped at a road side stand to buy grapes from a farmer. They are wonderful. Also ripe tomatoes , all for $3.40
When we arrived at the camp orphanage another family was also there to meet a little boy they requested from a blind referral. He is a beautiful child. Sadly they may not come back for him. I heard them ask their translator to ask him what musical instruments he played! I swear I choked… Im thinking, I wonder umm..can my little one hold a pencil lol! Stupid people. Where in this poor setting  do you SEE any musical instruments?!? They didn’t even bring a toy or a book for him to interact with them. Not well prepared for this reality I think. They only brought an ipad. Well he doesn’t know what to do with it, and he was a bit rough with it which they were not thrilled with.

Our little guy really didn’t pay any attention to us today. He was over whelmed with all the people in the room and toys to explore. If he sees a broken toy he becomes very agitated over
It. He seems to be upset someone broke it. Then he makes this noise like keeeekeeekee then bites his hand :(
We did get him to settle and sit, and he played stickers with Giana. At first it was not a skill he had. But after a few tries he would show Giana which sticker to remove and she would hand it to him, then he would slowly put it on the paper matching up ones that looked alike! Pretty smart. He made little groups on the paper. As he relaxed the stimming with his hand stopped and he was able to use his right hand a bit , although it is weaker then his left. But the curling and uncurling of his fingers seemed to stop. We tried coloring next. He either cannot or would not hold a crayon. He did pick up a piece of paper and made motions that seemed to say “hey make me a plane” so Michael made a paper airplane for him and he was thrilled! He would throw it nice and easy and smooth. Very impressive. He would even smooth out the folds each time so it would continue to fly. The social worker wanted him back in the main room, so as we went back in I took out the robot that lights up and more stickers. Sweet little Sasha girl ( what a little love she is!) came over so I pulled out a puzzle and worked on it with her for a bit. Next the little boy who had a family considering him came over and took the robot. Our Sasha spied the baby push toy in the corner and off he went. He became obsessed with pushing it back and forth up the hallway. After about 15 minutes I asked him to put it back and he turned away. He clearly didn’t want me to take it. I had to and he became upset with me. He laid on the floor and had a tiny little tantrum. I told him Nyet Vova! He sat up , then turned his back on me. When we went back in, it was time to go. I tried to hug him and he pushed me away and wouldn’t even look at me. I sat down and was petting his arms and talking to him but he kept pushing me away and turning away from me When a caregiver came over and talked to him , he started to cry and was staying Nyet Nyet ..his tears showed me how tiny and vulnerable he really is. Broke my heart for him.
Our facilitator came and spoke to him. He was upset because he didn’t want to go back to his room. Not that we were leaving…..
I have realized that after 3 moves in less than 2 years our little guy has been hurt and has a bit of Institutional Autism , maybe cerebral palsy too?  Very sad to realize that damage that has been done to him. I have changed my way of thinking, to wrap my head around the changes. He is no longer a typical child with some special needs. He is now a special needs child who needs time and love to heal . The little affectionate boy with the quick smile is no longer easy to find.
Heart breaking.
But he is not lost. We can find him again.
I have to believe we can heal his heart. I have no idea what medical conditions he has, why his hand curls and twitches, why his speech is bad ,why his eye is cloudy or why he is much thinner than the other children, why he seems to not hear well.  I don’t know what he has been through. And really we don’t care. We can only love him. We will treat what we can .
And just love him.

 Kids eating lunch. They had potato  soup :)
 This is little "S" she is 9 years old and is a doll baby. She had epilepsy and some behavior issues. I know with love and security, and the RIGHT medical care she will thrive! Her personality is AMAZING.

 This is the baby walker our little guy became obsessed with. Was not happy when I had to put it away.
 Happy family picture :) Little "S" wanted in and I could not leave her out. She wants a mama of her own SO badly. She has been passed over many times and it is heartbreaking.
 Love :):)
His little eye is cloudy :( the other eye probably doesnt have strong vision either. But he sure is CUTE! So glad we finally found him again!
Stickers were a new concept but he was really enjoying them! He gave us a bit of a smile here. He seems very unsure of my praise just yet. But it will come. We will find him again :)

So many kids here that NEED families. They have been forgotten. I will share all their faces soon. I need your help to find families for them!  NO child should live scared and alone.

Day 1- Finding and meeting our boy !

*The heat and the smog have really taken a toll on me. This is an industrial city with many steel plants. With the heat high, and no rain the smog just sit in the air. Really hard on your head and sinuses. Disclaimer over :)

 The journey has taken a complete left hand turn at each corner.not one thing is as expected. We traveled 1 1/2 hours to his orphanage.after a 8 hours in a sleeper train.
 :/ Only to b told to go to the social workers office. Another 30 mins and 2 offices later we find it. They aren't there! And its a teeny tiny town. No real addresses. We go to the orphanage anyway again now over 2 hours in the car in 96 degrees w NO air hoping they will take pity on us and let us meet Sasha anyway,  only to find out he's not there!! Its empty! Kids are away at 'camp" but they don't kn which one he's at. The SDA knew this and didnt tell us yesterday. We sit for another 30 mins. The Asst Director is a very nice lady and feels badly for us.  Did I mention it is 98 degrees and NO AC anywhere?! We are soaked thru. Sitting talking and everyone is wiping dripping sweat off their faces. It is tough. I dont know how they do this all summer. I feel for these people.
 Finally they find him. At a camp that is actually an orphanage for mentally delayed , mentally retarded, and brain issue kids ;( and its another 1 1/2 hours away from where we are in a teenier tiny farm town. Like cows on the road, not a person or car for miles.Other than the people who live way out here.  Just miles of wheat and sunflowers and smelly smog if you get behind giant trucks. We are drenched in sweat, mentally exhausted and have headaches from the smog. The drive is beautiful but brutal. Finally we find it. There is no where in this teeny town to stay. Forget pee ;) Only little tiny houses. We get there and He is napping. :/
Finally they bring him out. He has a shy sweet smile.Very shy.  Bone thin. Weird tick thing w his hand, very delayed from 2 years ago. Speaks his own language (jibberish) but repeats mama and papa and Renat . Seems sweet and easy going. Does get nervous... then bites his hand. Oh sweet boy.....
He will b in this "camp" (its SO not a camp, its a big empty orphanage w about 15 kids) all summer.way way out in the country. Nothing like making it easy on families :/ They wont move him back. We have to stay in zap. 11/2 hours away. The drive today cost us $175 . Just to drive.  I'm just a bit shell shocked today...
Why is this all going in a complete different direction? What has happened to our happy little boy? Why do they treat kids like this? Like forgotten waste? To hide?
prayers are appreciated.
 Waiting outside the social workers office. Trying to find a breeze...
 Finally! After 2 years -here is our boy!!!

 The cows we had to stop and let cross the roads.
 Leaning against Papa looking at the tablet. He was very stiff, and shy :(
 Little Babuska crossing the street.
 This the tiny country road we finally reach after 90 mins driving, to get to the "camp" orphanage where our little guy is staying for the summer. It is very. rural.
 Fields of cows just roaming around.
The back view of the "camp" this is beautiful hilly  countryside. Just stunned how far away he is, and how much $ it is going to cost everyday to see him. Adoption is never easy. But it is so worth it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

When the universe has other plans...

 Lunch at our favorite little resturant :) it translates to  "fat hut" oy. Thats borscht , fried potatoes, and perogis filled with cheese. And a beer :)

 Daddy and Giana in the morning before our appointment
 Mama and Daddy :)
After our appointment we walked to the top of the church. The view over looking the city was amazing! The church was built , and rebuilt several times since 1895 due to water damage and war.

Our appointment was not at all what we hoped for. We asked to see the file of a little baby girl we had fallen in love with and believed God and pointed us to. It turned out she was not available for adoption at all :(  They wouldnt show us any other files since our appointment had run so long. We would need to leave and come back in a week. That is impossible at this time. We then we asked to see our Sasha's file and low and behold there was very important papers missing which would make him also unavailable to be adopted :( we were in shock. The papers had been in his file a few weeks ago. Now they would have to be found thru 2 baby houses and an internet. We waited in the office for almost 3 hours hoping to have an answer. The staff promised to work on it for us and try to recreate/find the papers that had gone missing. It took another 3 hours but thankfully they called and it was ready to go. We will be able to adopt our Sasha as long as the judge in court approves the new papers. Prayers appreciated.
After we settled in that we could actually adopt our little guy, we learned the Church family we had looked forward to seeing and staying with again, had canceled our stay. A change in staff, and our plans were axed :( we are very saddened and trying to find peace. I personally feel very defeated over this day. So many low points. Seriously seeking God's plan.

We plan to take the train to our region Tuesday night. We should be seeing our sweet little guy Wednesday !!! Can not wait to surprise him with his family! It is his turn :)

We have arrived :)

 Love this old city :)
 Heading out on Friday to Dulles to bring sweet Taiya to hang with my friend Kendra while we are away bringing Sasha home. Giana was VERY excited to be making the trip to Europe with us!
 Taiya was amazing on the plane. Such a good traveler.
 Once we arrived at our apartment we had to run out and get some staples :) Gotta have yogart and wine ! The MacCoffee is the best. Just add hot water , the sugar and milk is already in the packet.
 Giana and Daddy getting ready to go site seeing
Mama and her girl :) She is just wide eyed and loving everything about this trip so far.

The planes this time over were comfy. We did have turbulence from Germany to ** which wasnt fun but over all not too bad. We have a really cute apartment right close to the TGIF and across from a new Channel store going in. Such a contrast between expensive and very poor.
We have our SDA/DAP appointment Monday at 10 am. That is when we will hear our little guys story and have permission to visit him. We have an extra little cutie we are going to check on God willing it will work out and we will have great news to share :)
"...Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls knows that we know, and holds us responsible to ACT..." Proverbs 24:12

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27
"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -(Mahatma Gandhi)