Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Going backwards...part three Leonid

OK Sorry been a little crazy here with Christmas and colds. Kaeden, Savannah and I all have pretty bad colds and both of them are very high maintenance when they are sick!

This was my Christmas gift from Jared, a blanket with all 5 kids pictures!

Anyway I left off with us sending Masha back to her country after she had been with us for three weeks. You may be thinking three weeks is not alot of time but having her 24/7 for that time we really got to know her pretty well. We knew leaving that airport in North Carolina that we wanted her to be our daughter, Ashlyn was crying because she had to leave. We didn't know for sure if she really wanted to live in America but one of the chaperone's that was with her called me while on their layover in Detroit to see what we were thinking because Masha was acting sad and was very quiet which is not her personality, shes very chatty! lol Masha was afraid we didn't want her so I explained that yes we wanted her and we would come for her as soon as we could. Before the kids left to fly home all the host families and kids were hanging around at the airport waiting and the husband of the lady who originally posted on facebook about their being a kid still needing a host family was there with their host child who they just adopted earlier this month! Anyway they had 8 children at the time and were going back for two more and meeting and talking to him is what I think really opened Jared up to the idea of us adopting two kids this trip. As soon as we got on the road back to TX I started looking at Reece's Rainbow again and doing some detective work to try to find out which kids were in the same part of the country as Masha!

I messaged a couple of mama's that I knew had adopted from that area before one of them being the original person I have mentioned before and both of the them mentioned a few kids that were in the age group we were looking to adopt but they both mentioned a little blonde boy and how sweet and cute he was. They both sent me pictures they had taken of him months before and crazily enough they both sent me pictures of the same child, Leonid! None of us even realized at that point he was listed on Reece's Rainbow already, So I show Jared his pictures and the photos of a couple of other kids but I knew who I was smitten with. I thought he resembled Jared as a child:) Both ladies had been telling me about him and I was already thinking of committing to adopt him when a few nights later one of the ladies posted his Reece's Rainbow profile pic on our facebook group. I saw her post and messaged her telling her I did not even know he was listed thru RR yet and we were thinking of adopting him. That same week we emailed the ladies at RR to commit to Leonid.

So you see the same person who posted about Masha needing a host family is also married to the guy who I believe showed my hubby it is OK to adopt two at a time and the same lady who emailed me pics of Leonid before we knew he was even listed with Reece's Rainbow. I think that is too crazy to just be coincidence I believe that is all part of God's plan. There were even more along the way too, how wild is it that at a friends house she happens to invite one of her friends over who is native to the city where Masha is AND she knows the chaperon who came with the kids?! Or what about the first lady who originally posted about the hosting having a friend who was in the process of adopting from the orphanage where Masha lives who is originally from the town next to my hometown. His family still lives here and I have since met his sister in law who generously came to help at our car wash and gave me a bunch of hand me downs for the boys! Also all during Masha's stay with us we met several Russian speakers throughout our travels both here close to home and on the way to North Carolina. Since we have committed to both kids we have had lots of friends and strangers help which we are sooo sooo very grateful for! Everything is ready and waiting for the kids to get here we just need a few more pieces of paperwork and in January we will be submitting our dossier to their country. Hopefully they will invite us to travel to meet the kids mid February. We are over half way funded now for the adoption!!! Only need about $13,000 give or take a little to be fully funded! If you are looking for a tax deduction this year please consider donating to our grant account through Reece's Rainbow it is 100% tax deductible and will be used for adoption related expenses.

We are so very excited to go get the kids and bring them home, I even have a bag "packed" lol. No its not actually packed but it has items in it I have been buying a little at a time that I know we will need on the trip. Stuff like long underwear(it's cold over there), flannel PJ's, tights to wear under my jeans, a hat, gloves, scarf, travel size toiletries, the small bottles of maple syrup from cracker barrel! lol YES I said maple syrup I'm bringing some with me:)

here is my bag:)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Eve...these kiddos need a family can you share their pictures?!

I am still needing to write part three of our journey but I'm sick and so are Kaeden and Savannah and we are moving all the kids bedrooms around so its just gonna have to wait. Until then can you share these beautiful faces they are all in the same country as my kids and they need families.

This is Bellamy, she has Spina Bifida like my Leonid.

This is Berkeley, she had a spinal hernia but has had surgery for it. If this girl were in the same part of the country as my kids I'd be begging for her to be our daughter too.

This is Camille, she has Cerebral Palsy

This is Giselle she also has CP. Look how beautiful she is.

This beautiful girl is Jeanette.

This is Violetta

and this little monkey is Sergey.

All these kids need a family, they can be found on Reece's Rainbow and all of them have grants you can donate to so when their families do find them they have less of a financial hurdle to bring them home.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Going backwards...continued part two:)

All right so we thought we were hosting a 9 year old named Masha who we had a few pictures of and a brief description of her personality and likes. We were very excited because Ashlyn was also 9 and liked to draw and read too just like Masha. I was looking forward to a few weeks of having two 9 year olds giggling and doing arts and crafts and playing barbie. Well that night in North Carolina as all the kids started coming down the hallway at the airport and walking up to their host families I couldn't find my kid! I stood off the side at the back of the gathering waiting for the excitement to die down a little before I asked "hey where's my kid?" After a few minutes the hosting program director realized I was kid less so she asked the chaperone's who came with the kids and they pointed to a tall, skinny girl and said this is Masha. Well we were kinda all in shock and exhausted it was already after midnight so I said "Hi or Prey vet" and took her back to my hotel room for the night. The next morning the hosting director came by with a translator and told me that the 9 year old Masha was put in foster care right before the trip so instead this Masha came who is 13. They offered me the chance to get our money back for the hosting fees and find another family for her but Jared had already told me go ahead and bring her home, we agreed to host an orphan from that country so we are. So later that afternoon the 13 year old Masha and I flew back to TX. I was already telling people that we were not going to adopt her because Ashlyn wanted to remain the oldest girl in our family. Several people said you never know what God has in store for you etc etc etc including Jared he was surprisingly more open to the idea of a teenager than me!

Masha took to me very quickly and I found myself really enjoying her but at the same time holding myself back because she was a teenager not a 9 year old like we wanted. Her first week here Ashlyn was still visiting her dad and step mom for the summer so Masha and I had lots of time with just us and the babies at home. There were days she drove me nuts!!! lol She loved our Great Danes and would play with them loudly in the house running through the whole house squealing with them right at her heels, during the babies nap time. Every night when Jared and I would watch TV she would come sit next to me on the couch and share a blanket and giggle as we tried to use google translate to communicate. At the end of the first week we were supposed to let the hosting organization know if we wanted to adopt her or not, well Ashlyn had only been home one day and I was still in complete denial that a teenager would fit in our family so I told them no. Well that night they called and wanted me to send her back to NC so she could possibly meet other families who may be interested in adopting a teenager. That night I barely slept, I cried a lot. I was really confused and stressed by it. The next day when I told her she had to go back to NC she cried and said she did not want to leave. Of course that made me cry even more...when Jared came home from work that night he wanted to know why we couldn't adopt her. So we talked to Ashlyn several times over the next few days about what she wanted and she wanted Masha to stay too. One of the Sundays while she was here we went to church with a friend of Jared's who happens to be married to a native Russian. So while we went to the worship service Masha stayed out in the coffee shop with Ekaterina and had some good Russian conversation. After church we went to their house for lunch and Katrina said my friend is from the same country as Masha let me call her to come over too. So Anastasia comes over and starts talking to Masha and it turns out she is from the same town where Masha lives and one of the chaperone's who came on the trip is a friend of hers she grew up with!!! That was a crazy coincidence don't you think, I know it was all part of his plan. Anyway another of Anastasia's friends lives in NC and they just adopted so we get in contact with them and they adopted a girl from the same orphanage as Masha and the girls know each total God thing. The world is not that small!

The next couple of weeks were tough knowing we were going to have to send her back and we didn't know if we would ever see her again. We knew we wanted her but we didn't know if she wanted us but we enjoyed our time and took her to do a lot of fun things. The last few days you could tell Masha was dreading going back, we drove from TX to NC and stopped a few times along the way to sight see. The last night before the kids all flew back was really tough, just thinking of it makes me tear up. We had to have the kids at the airport on Sunday I think at like noon, it was hard trying to be upbeat and Ashlyn cried as we were getting ready to walk the kids to the gate to board. At that point we still didn't know what Masha wanted, as we were hugging her good bye she asked for my phone and typed out "I made my decision, I want to live with you" I hugged her very tightly and typed this back to her
then she boarded the plane and was gone....There are alot of things I can't share publicly because that is just the nature of international adoption but we knew without a doubt that we were going to try our hardest to get to her to give her the chance at having a family and a home with siblings who love her. Jared and I both realized she was our daughter, there was no mix up with the Masha's this was and is our Masha.

I'll write tomorrow about adding Leonid aka Grayson to the mix:)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Going backwards a little....maybe a little graphic or TMI

OK I never fully explained how we found ourselves on this crazy journey called international adoption so I thought I would explain it a little and you can decide for yourselves if we are crazy or like we believe on a path that was chosen for us.

When Jared and I finally had our first date after a few months of emailing back and forth and using my space, yes my space to chat we talked that first night about our future together. Seems kinda crazy huh but after only a few months of emails and maybe three short phone conversations when we finally  met in person we both felt that spark and just knew that this was it we were meant to be together. We talked that very night about both having biological kids and adopting we didn't specify what type of adoption we just both agreed we wanted to adopt after having a bio child together. Well we got a married a few months later and started trying to get pregnant right away after a year of nothing we started looking into adopting from the foster care system I did google search for adoption photo listings and found not only the TX website for kids in foster care but I also found the link to Reece's Rainbow. I looked at all those kids with special needs and my heart just broke but we not financially able at the time to pursue adoption unless it was through the state so we researched it more and kept trying to get preggo too. After almost two years of trying I finally went to the doctor and had a bunch of tests run, the doctor and I discussed fertility treatments and I told her that Jared and I's view on fertility treatment was that we would take a pill or something simple like that but we were not going to subject ourselves to procedures and shots to have a biological child we didn't need that connection that we could adopt a child and love them just the same. She said OK great when we get all these test results back in a few weeks you can come in and we'll start your fertility treatments. Well when the test results came in I had an abnormal pap smear so I had to go back for more tests when they came back I had severe cervical displasia stage 3. Basically its what develops into cervical cancer and of course untreated it can spread just like any other cancer. So over several months I had several in office procedures where they would cut out part of my cervix that had the bad cells on it but it kept coming back and every time it came back it was spreading toward my uterus. The last procedure I had done she cut out about an inch of flesh from my cervix and the mouth of my uterus. Two weeks after that procedure when I went in to be checked and the pap smear came back abnormal again my doctor recommended a total hysterectomy. I was in shock, I really believed that that last procedure had gotten everything and that we would be getting pregnant soon. Now in between all these procedures I was having we did adopt Kaeden he was born in July 2010 and we brought him home at 1 day old. When she told me I needed a hysterectomy he was about 4 months old. I had the surgery in early January 2011. I was heartbroken about having to let go of the dream of having another pregnancy I still knew it didn't mean we were done growing our family but it just meant no bio kids for us and that was really hard to give up.

So we focused on me getting well and I am next month will be two years since my surgery and I am back to only having to see my gyno once a year instead of every three months like I have been doing for almost two years. When she got my pathology report back from the surgery she said she was glad I didn't fight her on her recommendation for a hysterectomy because it came back as carcinoma in situ. In other words I would have ended up having full blown uterine cancer and it was an aggressive type.

Fast forward to the spring of 2011 when we decided it was time to start the adoption process again for another child or two. We went through DePelchin because we wanted to adopt a child from the foster care system closer to Ashlyn's age. We went through all the classes and trainings and after months of all that we found out that DePelchin also had a newborn adoption program so looked into it also. We wanted to be open to both but the foster care side could never get it together to finish our paperwork so we could actually get placements of kids in our home. I emailed several people for weeks and called every number they had listed and never got anywhere with them so we eventually gave up and just went with the infant program that was late Sept 2011 we were matched with Savannah's birth mom late Dec 2011 she was born very early Feb 2012. During all this time I have always looked at Reece's Rainbow from time to time and read about the families adopting and thought in the back of my mind I want to do that but I never really thought it would happen.

Over the past year I really started paying attention to Reece's Rainbow and those families blogs and reading about the conditions the kids were living in just broke my heart and opened my eyes. So we started doing something I became a prayer warrior and a guardian angel for them, I joined the face book group and started donating to the families fundraising and praying for them and that's how I found out about hosting an orphan. Another adoptive family posted in our Reece's Rainbow face book group last summer that a 9 year old girl still needed a host family. I thought sure why not, maybe this will show us if we can adopt from overseas. Jared was reluctant because of the amount of travel and the enormous costs involved in international adoption. I pretty much made him say yes to hosting, he knew how much I wanted to and if he said no it would cause an issue between us so we agreed me more readily than him;) lol It was only about two weeks until the kids arrived when we agreed to host so we were kinda rushed and just winging it, I flew to NC where the kids were flying in from to meet our 9 year old Masha to fly her back to TX with me. Well that night a 9 year old Masha did not get off the plane, a 13 year old Masha did! It was shocking but Jared and I talked and we agreed to host an orphan and this girl was that so away we went on different path than we thought we were going on. The 9 year old was not available for adoption for about a year so we thought if we wanted to adopt her we would have plenty of time to save and fund raise. Well as you all know our Masha is the 13 year old that got off the plane that night. We didn't plan or want to adopt a child older than Ashlyn, we didn't want or plan to adopt again so soon but the man upstairs had different plans for us obviously. I'll write more tomorrow about Masha and Leonid and how it all ties together.!/pages/Crystals-Creations-for-Adoptions/189209751143940

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Just some randomness...

Not too much going on with adoption as far as paperwork, we had our fingerprints done Friday for USCIS to have the FBI check our backgrounds. In the past three years we have had our fingerprints done 4 times each for adoptions and had countless background checks because they usually pull a background check at the beginning of the process, in the middle and again at the end just to make sure. So now we are just waiting on approval from our government saying we are approved to adopt then I will drive to Austin again to get the last few papers apostilled for dossier and send them over to our team in the kids country. That way as soon as their country re opens after the holidays over there we can be submitted to them and just wait for a travel date. We are praying really hard it will be an earlier date but it just depends on how many files are ahead of ours in the stacks they will receive! Hopefully we will travel mid February that way we will be there for Masha's 14th birthday in early March:) The boys new room is finally complete now we just have to play musical rooms with the kids and move all the furniture and junk. Other than all that we are just trying to get ready for Christmas and all the activities that happen at this time of year like school parties, office parties and birthday stuff since Jared and I both have December birthdays. In fact tomorrow is Kaeden's Christmas party at Mother's Day Out and Ashlyn's class party at school and lunch with parents at school so I have a full day tomorrow! I did get a video message today from Masha though! Some friends are in her country and just adopted their daughter while they were visiting Masha's orphanage they took the video for us. It was really great to "see" her again and hear her voice. I miss hearing her say Crystal with her accent! lol Anyway I'll leave you with some pics of Kaeden and Savannah, Ashlyn doesn't like her picture taken anymore especially if she knows I'm posting it on face book or something!!!

Putting on the star

Kaeden 29 months

Savannah 10 months

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A plea for Christmas.....

For those of you who actually know me in person you know how much I hate asking for help for myself. I love helping others and asking for help for them but when it comes to asking for myself I'd rather not so this whole thing has taken me way outside of comfort zone. This journey has stretched Jared and I in more ways than even we realize and we are only about half way through this part of the process. We knew it would be hard we knew it would be stressful and challenging but wow until you are actually living it you just don't comprehend how hard it is and no one gets it except other adoptive parents which I am so very glad I have met several in person and have my face book friends who have been there and done that. It is so encouraging to know we are going to get our kids no matter what happens because God has already made our plans for us, he just hasn't clued us in yet on what they are. So we are walking blindly and trusting him which is sooo hard, FAITH it's such a small word but its meaning is HUGE! OK here comes the plea part....

Do you see those two beautiful faces? Those are MY kids, no they are not legally mine yet and yes things can happen during the adoption process but here comes the faith part, we are trusting God that we were led to these two kids specifically through crazy coincidences and Jared and I both know these two are ours. As I sit here typing I have tears forming in my eyes because I am trying so hard bring them home but I need help from everyone. I used to have the same beliefs and feelings a lot of you do about adoption and fundraising. I thought if you can't afford to adopt well, blah blah blah. Until we started researching adoption several years ago, of course no adoption is the same especially domestic versus international but they have one thing in common...MONEY. The amounts can differ greatly from a few thousand to over $60,000 yes I said $60,000. We paid for our first two domestic adoptions out of our own pocket for everything. Our first was about $17,000 from the first application fee to the legal fees to finalize it. Our second was about $25,000 from application fee to legal fees to finalize it. Yes we did get the adoption tax credit from the first for about $13,000 but just like having a biological child we had to buy all the things you need for a baby and in most cases you don't have people lining up to give you a baby shower and gifts when you adopt at least we didn't. We did have some wonderful people at the church we were attending bring a whole table full of gifts which we were very very grateful for. Both of our adoptions were very fast our first was super fast we had the first meeting at the agency in March our home study was complete the first week of June and by mid June Stacey had contacted us through a mutual friend and told us she wanted us to adopt Kaeden. She was due July 2nd...we were thought and were told by the agency we would be waiting several months because we already had a bio child. So we started saving money but ended up having to take out a $10,000 loan that has like 28% interest...yeah ouch. The agency wanted their money as soon as he was born so we had to pay $14,500 the day we brought him home! With Savannah's adoption same thing we were told we would be waiting awhile since we now had two kids but we completed the home study in late September and on Dec. 29th we got the call we had been chosen and the baby was due in the beginning of February. So knowing we needed over $20,000 total again we had to take out another loan for this adoption:( same high interest rate...we had almost paid off the original BTW so as of right now we still owe like $6,000 for the last loan which we pay monthly, never late etc etc. I know some people are thinking well if you couldn't afford it why are adopting, why chose to have another child. OK so for those of you who have bio children, did you pay your entire hospital bill and prenatal care upfront or before they let you bring the baby home? Did you decide before you got pregnant well we need however many thousand dollars for the medical bills so lets just save up them get pregnant when we have the full amount yeah I didn't think so.

This costume ring is also available as a buy it now or you can bid on it in our auction on facebook. The rings belonged to my late aunt
This time is different we are not adopting newborn babies our kids are already alive and waiting for us. We were not planning on adopting again especially so soon but ya know how things go when you try to make plans! Yes we have a good income and could just save up every month to pay for the adoption completely by ourselves but that would take over a year to save that amount. Our kids need home now, Leonid is stuck in a crib everyday almost all day. He needs therapy and surgery when he gets home, a lot of kids in his country have undiagnosed medical needs and if he is not adopted soon he will be transferred to an institution where he is left in a crib all day and will receive nothing but the bare minimum. Masha is almost 14 she needs parents to love her and guide her into adulthood, now is critical in her development. We can afford their day to day care, doctor appointments and surgeries we just cant afford the upfront costs to rescue them and literally save their lives. We are putting our own money back every month to go toward adoption expenses, we cut back on our budget and we are making things to sell but we still need help. I have lots of crafts I've made to sell, I've offered babysitting, I've tried giveaways, We've done auctions, We did a car wash, we did garage sales, I've done craft shows, we are going to do several nights at restaurants to help fund raise but we still need help.  If  you aren't interested in buying any of my crafts or a puzzle piece can you please at least share our story and get the word out about not only our need but the need of so many kids that need families. We are begging and pleading for help not a handout for our kids lives not us personally but for them. We still need about $15,000 to finish our adoption of Masha and Leonid, can you please at least just share our story or consider collecting your spare change for us?! We already have put over $200 in our savings acct just from spare change.
This stamp set is for sale in our auction as buy it now or you can bid on it
puzzle pieces too!!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

I have an empty wall and need your help to fill it...

We put up a couple of walls in our family room to make a new bedroom for Kaeden and Grayson aka Leonid to share, this way Ashlyn and Masha will each have their own rooms. The room is almost done just need to put up the crown moulding and baseboards and install the sliding doors for the closet. This added some wall space in what is now going to be the dining room and leading into the playroom for the little kids. So we though doing the puzzle fundraiser would be a great idea, that way we would have something meaningful and pretty on the blank spot we now have, in fact here is my blank space!!!

My blank wall...its waiting!!!
As you can see we really need something there to decorate so if you could please buy a puzzle piece or two so we can hang it up in our home quickly. We are doing one puzzle piece and a bracelet for a $5 donation, for $8 you get two puzzle pieces and a bracelet and for $10 you get three puzzle pieces and two bracelets! It's a tax deductible donation and helps bring home our two kiddos. On the pieces you buy we will write your name, bible verse, message...pretty much whatever you choose on the back then after all the pieces are sold we will frame the puzzle and hang it in that empty space!
The bracelets!

This is the box for the puzzle!
The playroom almost put together!
If you want to donate and get a puzzle piece just comment here on the blog or message me on facebook!
Whats left of the family room, its going to be the play room now

Monday, December 3, 2012

Puzzle Fundraiser!!!!

I bought a puzzle with a lighthouse photo on it to use as a fundraiser. My family room used to be decorated in lighthouses but since we split the family room in half to add a bedroom my collection will have to be pared down:( But I can frame a puzzle and hang it on the wall! Here's how this works, you "buy" a puzzle piece and we will write your name on the back of it. After all the pieces are spoken for we will frame it and hang it in our now smaller family room!!! So the kids can look at it and see all the people who helped to bring them home. Since our bracelet fundraiser has been SUPER slow I am combining it with this one. For a $5 tax deductible donation you will get one puzzle piece and one bracelet! For $8 you get two puzzle pieces and a bracelet and for $10 you get 3 puzzle pieces and 2 bracelets!!! All the donations will be tax deductible and will go directly to our in country expenses!!! We are still guesstimating that we will need about $15,000. So anything is very much appreciated and needed! I took our spare change jar Friday and it added up to just over $71! So you see every penny really does count, if you cant make a donation right now please consider saving your spare change for us. We have been since August and have saved over $200 in loose change and a friend saved over $50 in change for us. Just leave me a comment if you want to donate to the fundraiser and how much so I know what to send you!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

And more construction!!!

The room is still under construction so my house is still covered in dust and torn apart. As I sit here and type Jared is taping and floating the drywall. Sounds like fun huh, and he is loosing work time this weekend so he can be my date:) One of my best friends that I have known since high school is getting Married Saturday and I am her matron of honor so tomorrow night he is coming to the rehearsal dinner and then Saturday the wedding and Saturday we are staying in a hotel room in Kemah, it was a gift from the bride and groom! I cannot even remember the last time we were in a hotel room alone together. Usually we have kids with us! So I am very excited about the weekend getaway and getting to spend some time with my hubby and out with other adults and just have a good time. My parents are keeping the kids for us so we can do this stuff, I'm afraid in a few months though they wont be as apt to keep all our kids at the same time! At least we aren't like the Duggars, we will only have 5! Maybe by next weekend we will be ready to paint at least the outside of the new walls so we can put the furniture back and put the kids play room back together. Right now all their toys from the play room are scattered all over my living room, it looks horrible. I gave up even trying to pick them up this week. Oh well on the adoption front we are waiting on USCIS approval, we got our appointment letters today to come have our fingerprints done for FBI background checks and are hoping to walk in earlier then our appt so it will speed up the process by about two weeks! After that we have a few more things I need to drive to Austin to have apostilled. Then its more waiting.....waiting and hmmm more waiting!!! I have started buying a few things here and there for our trip though. I have no clothes that will be warm enough for their winters so I did some online shopping on black Friday and bought gloves, hats and scarves and some boots which I need to buy water proofing spray for since we will probably be there when its snowing. Yuck I hate snow, I am not a fan of cold weather at all so this part is not going to be fun for me!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Construction zone

Well Jared started construction on the new bedroom Wednesday night for Grayson and Kaeden. Of course things have not gone as quickly as he had planned! His plan was to have it ready to be painted by mid this week. Well as of right now only half the sheet rock is up, so still needs to be taped and textured. Everything in my house is covered in dust and as always there were a few issues we now have to fix. First is the floors, we had laminate installed several months ago and where Jared took a partial wall down there is now a big long space with no flooring....also that same wall was really attached to the ceiling. He had to hack a few holes in the ceiling to get the top board off. Also my new dryer that I just bought last week because my fancy one and half year old steam dryer dies for the fourth time is taking two sometimes three cycles to dry a load of clothes, I just cant seem to win in the laundry department. At least I have a dryer!!! That stupid steam dryer has been dead more then it was working since July I just don't know how I am going to keep on top of laundry for 7 people when every load I dry takes at least two cycles to dry...sigh. On Wednesday night we also ended our face book auction and the total bids were just over $500!!! We also had a guy Jared used to work with bid on Grayson's middle naming rights for $275!!! And a lady I used to work with years ago gave us a check for $250!!! We are getting closer to our goal but still have a long way to go until we reach our goal. We are still hoping to travel in February or March and are guesstimating that we still need about $15,500 for all the costs. We still need airfare for us and the kids, the fees for the adoption, rent for an apartment in the country, food while we are there, travel in the country, the kids visas, passports and medical exams in the country and other misc stuff like gifts for the other kids in the orphanages. This time of year just like everyone else pretty much is one of our busiest. This year I am in one of my best friends wedding the first Saturday in December, the next weekend is Jared's company Christmas party, the Friday before the party I am taking donations to the adoption agency we used for Kaeden's adoption for their birth moms' Christmas party and helping to set up for that, the following weekend we are driving to Canadian to go to one of Jared's best friends weddings and in between all that normal stuff, stuff for Ashlyn's school and both Jared and I's birthdays! Fun, fun, fun:) Hopefully after the Holidays are over we can do some more fundraisers to help offset our costs. I'm hoping to have another yard sale in late January maybe early February and if we have time and the weather warms up another car wash! We are looking for more fundraising ideas so if you have any please let us know!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Early Christmas Gift!

We got an early Christmas gift from a family member Monday night! Totally unexpected but oh so appreciated! I am not going to mention who gave it or even which side of the family it came from because I don't know if they want us sharing that but we received a very generous check for $1000!!! Jared and I both were shocked and so grateful. We are going to use it to start converting the family room into a bedroom for Kaeden and Grayson! We were going to have to wait to do that until the kids the were home because right now we are saving every penny we can for adoption fees but since this check came to us we can now go ahead and get the rooms ready for the kids now! What a blessing now they can come home and start getting used to their new rooms and the transition will be much easier. This means we will be playing musical rooms again though! Ashlyn will be moving into what is now Kaeden's room and Masha will go into the room that is now Savannah's. That way they share the hall bathroom and have bigger closets. Savannah will move into Ashlyn's old room that has its own bathroom and the boys will go in the new room that will be next to Savannah's new room. They are going to have to share bathrooms with all the girls until 8 years or so when Ashlyn and Masha are both gone then they can have their old rooms! So lots of painting is in our future but that's OK, it makes me feel like we are doing something while we wait for the kids to actually get here. I think Ashlyn has really been missing Masha and is excited about her coming home. I am not however looking forward to all the sisterly fights over clothes and stuff! Even though they are 4 years apart they can wear a lot of the same I can already foresee arguments over clothing! So anyone wanna come help frame a couple of walls and put up sheet rock???!!! Anyone, anyone....I'm also not looking forward to all the dust from construction in my house again, we just now got most of it out from having the laminate floors installed back in March. Oh well, the flooring will be easier for Grayson to get around on when he is older and using either a walker or a wheelchair. We still need to build a wheelchair ramp on the house and build a covered carport and walkway to the house. It rains here a lot and having to pile 5 kids, 3 being younger and one with mobility issues its going to take a little bit of time to get everyone loaded up in a vehicle and buckled up. I have already  told Ashlyn that she and Masha will have to help when they are home with carrying a younger sibling and buckling them in otherwise I'd have to make a bunch or trips to and from the car! Oh the adventures of having a larger family!!! lol I never in a million years thought this would be my life!!! I thought two maybe three kids, now here I am with my three about to be five kids and wishing it could be more! I always have had a tender heart for children and orphans but over this last year my eyes were truly opened to the world's orphan crisis and I cannot close them again. It's not just overseas in developing countries, its here in America too. Hundreds of thousands of kids wait for a family every day, its so heartbreaking. I have heard so many times how "special" we are or that there is a special place in heaven for people like us for adopting. I'm here to tell you we are not special, we are very normal and there is no special place in heaven because adopting is what we are told to do in the Bible. I love all my children the same whether they are adopted or biological. Whether i have had them since birth or like Masha will be 14 when she gets home. You don't have to be blood related to a child to love them with everything you have, you don't need to look like them to feel like a parent and you certainly don't have to go through a pregnancy to be a mom. Being a parent is so much more than biology and I truly wish more people would look into adopting a waiting child.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Update on fundraising:)

Well Saturday night I had a "spa party" here at the house as a fundraiser. After supplies and food we made just over $100! I had a craft show the next day that didn't go so well...I paid $25 for a booth and I sold one $3 necklace....ummm yeah it was a big epic fail! I was going to do another craft show the second week of December but I am now thinking of not doing it, none of the craft shows I have ever done have been considered successful:( So we need to find something else to help with adoption costs besides my crafts because considering money spent on supplies and then my time and effort we have lost money on them. We do have a few months left to raise all the money so that is a good thing! It looks like March will be when we get to travel to go meet the kids and get our official referrals but that could change, it just all depends on how fast our paperwork is approved both by our government and theirs! We got a few new pics of Masha yesterday from our friends! Cant wait until we actually get to see her again! Jared decided yesterday that Kaeden needed to start sleeping in a toddler bed, so he converted his crib and further Kaeden proofed his room. He did good and took a nap just fine and slept all night too. I am about to put him down for a nap now so we will see how that goes! LOL Last night we also taped off on the floor in the family room where the new bedroom will be for Grayson and Kaeden. It's going to be a little awkward because we need a hall way large enough for Grayson to get through with a wheel chair when he is older but it will work for the boys until Masha is older and goes off to college then they can fight over who gets her room! OK now the scary hate even thinking of it because it is so scary but here it is... We have currently in our grant through Reece's Rainbow $4686.10 with another $1000 we personally sent in to commit to Grayson. I have a $250 check from a friend that is on its way to that account and we have our auction going on now on facebook so with all of that we have about $7,000 there. In our personal savings we have about $2,000 i am guesstimating. I have not looked since our check to USCIS cleared last week that was $890. So depending on time of year we travel, how long we have to be there etc etc we still need at least $10,000 at least....see I told you it was a scary number! And its the lowest guesstimate I can offer for now. As we get further in the process it will be a more firm number that could grow or shrink. There are so many unknowns especially with the country we are adopting from! We are and have been cutting back our expenses around the house to save and will continue this forever. We are saving money every paycheck for adoption costs but the truth is we need help, we hate asking for it but we do. If we don't fund raise at all and just save and wait it will be a year or more before we could go get the kids...they need us now, heck I need them now. I'm going crazy wanting my kiddos all here with us! I want to get Grayson to a doctor, I want to have Masha here begging me to go swimming again! I'm putting these pictures up of some items that are in our facebook auction that either have no bids or lows bids....!/events/376838552399493/

Friday, November 16, 2012

A weekend of fundraising....

This weekend will be jam packed with fundraisers for us! Tomorrow night (Saturday) I am having a spa party here at the house. I have a friend who is a Chiropractor and has graciously offered her massage services for free!!! Amazing right, I cannot Thank Heather enough for doing this! So she is going to be giving mini massages, I am going to be giving mini facials like I did when I worked at Origins and we will have a station set up for self pedicures and self hand treatments! I am also making lots of yummy snacks, recipes courtesy of pinterest lol and we will have wine and sodas all for $20 a person!!! It gets better...I also have a few door prizes I will give away just for coming and there are gift cards for sonic and Boca tan that can also be won for a small donation. I'm hoping to raise a little money for my kiddos and enjoy an evening with some friends and family. Sunday I have a craft show all day here locally for a charity event so I am hoping my items will sell better at this event since it already is a charity event. I made bath bombs yesterday for us to use Saturday and a few for me to sell. I also made an awesome smelling eucalyptus mint sugar scrub to use at the spa party on our hands and feet. Mmm, I can hardly wait!!! And in other news our dryer died AGAIN...we bought it brand new in June of 2011 so its just over a year old. Its a samsung steam dryer ya know the fancy kind with all the buttons and has the matching fancy front loading washer...yeah those I do not ever want another front loading washer again. It gets a funky smell all the time, you have to clean it all the time and drain funky smelly water from the bottom drain yuck and don't even get me started on the dryer, stupid thing started dying in July just a few weeks after the warranty went out on it. After calling and arguing with Samsung a few times they agreed to cover repairs on it after I paid the service call $85. Well it took a few weeks to get the guy out here he finally fixed it yay it worked about 2 weeks and died samsung back OK same issue so I don't have to pay but its going to be two weeks before they can come out. Blah, blah, blah anyway every time it dies it takes a few days to a few weeks to get it fixed then in about two to three weeks it dies again. The heating element is getting too hot and literally melting, it got so hot last time they replaced it in October it was melting wires around it. Well since this is the fourth time it has happened Samsung is giving us a partial refund....yeah it sucks but its better than nothing so I am dryer shopping and well I hate spending over a $100 on anything and right now I really hate spending money period because I keep thinking of all the adoption costs we still have to pay in a few months. So even though I need a dryer and it has to be done I am struggling with actually spending the money! So I guess I am going to have spend almost $400 on a "cheap" dryer since it doesn't look like one is just going to magically appear for free in my laundry room, oh well! At least with the partial refund I can buy a new dryer and have a little left over to buy another car seat for Savannah and pay for things for the spa party.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Happy Yet Hurting Heart

My heart is happy yet hurting at the same time...a friend of mine is in my kids country now adopting her two newest kids. It is amazing getting photos of Masha from them and hearing updates. They were able to take her a small package with gifts and letters too. It is so nice to be able to know how she is doing and hear from her through letters and through this family. Today the mom returned back to the country for their court date and as she was walking up the driveway of the orphanage Masha thought she was me and got all excited for a few minutes until she realized it wasnt me, just another blonde american lady! That is what makes my heart happy yet hurt at the same time. I am so glad she misses us, so glad we are able to know these things yet so sad that I am not there and she is missing us. I know we will travel in a few short months but somedays it feels like forever. This process is not for the faint of heart, it is draining in every sense of the word but I know in the end what we are doing is worth it. Not only are we getting our kids home to us but we are literally saving their lives. I know we can't save them all but we can save these two and hopefully help other families bring their kids home too. We got a new picture of Masha today and she looks so beautiful and grown up! Scary that in a few months I will be the mother of a 14 year old girl!!! And the mother of 5 children!!! Wow that still is kinda scary to see lol! We need a bigger dining room table!!! good thing our house is big!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Oops...A Father's Perspective

First of all this is Jared, Crystal's husband, and I screwed up.  Yes, I can admit it and I know Crystal loves seeing it in print.  I had 100 post cards made up to mail out to the wealthiest neighborhood in Texas regarding our adoption.  I put our Reece's FSP site on there as well as the blog address.  Our oldest daughter and I addressed them all and was going to send them out the next morning when my wife noticed I had our Reece's site wrong.  I forgot a back slash in the address so it wouldn't work.  So if one of you reading this received one of those post cards it was my screw up, and I corrected it the best I could but I understand it did not look very professional once I did that.  To my wife....enjoy it while you can, because you know I rarely mess up (yes, I know I will pay for that one later).

I thought it would be a good idea for me to put into words my thoughts on this adoption.  So here it goes.  Having two teenage girls in the house at once (the moat is being dug as we speak), two boys that are full of energy (buying stock in 5 hour energy), and one baby girl that is a drama queen (rogaine is on order).  I must be losing my mind.  Well, don't worry, I lost my mind many years ago; I think it left with my hair.  Everyone knows my wife's love of children so I am constantly asked how I feel about this or if I just go along because I know my place.  The truth is I was actually the driving force on us adopting Masha.  Why?  She's stubborn, she is stuck in her ways, strong willed, schedule oriented, opinionated, and feels like she is on her own.  Many of you are thinking 'what are you thinking, why, these are not good reasons'.  What many people don't know is she reminded me of me.  None of my current kids will ever look like me (unless they have premature balding) or act like me (their mama is thankful for that), but she acts like me, and she has the same attitude I had growing up, 'The world is stacked against me and I don't care I am going to beat the world.'  Masha is a fighter, and she feels like the only person she can count on is herself; this is how I felt growing up as well, and I want to be the one person in her corner, because I see that same ambition in her that I had, and that same drive.  Plus she's is really fun to pick on, because she fires right back.

In regards to "Leonid" (aka Grayson...poor kid already has a million names) from what I have heard about him from other families he is full of life.  He has spina bifida but he doesn't let that stop him.  It sounds like he has the personality of my youngest boy and my rugged good looks (from what family members have told me his picture looks a lot like me when I was that age).  I do not feel sorry for him which I know several people think that is why we are adopting him.  Guess what?  It's not.  Life sucks, circumstances suck, but it is what we do with that life and those circumstances, and from what I have heard about this little boy he is not letting his current life and circumstances define who he is and let him get down about his situation.  That is why I, personally, am drawn to him.  He has managed to let his personality thrive and his attitude to be great in such a harsh environment.  Imagine what he could do in a good environment with the medical attention he needs?  This child can achieve anything he wants, and I would be proud to call that child my son, and be there for him when those dark days do come, because they will, and he will question things later on, but I know by looking at him he is strong, and with the love of a family he can overcome anything.

So do I sound selfish in why I want these two kids?  Yeah, I guess I do, in fact, I sound like any couple that is pregnant.  See, my wife and I will never experience that together.  We had all these plans when we got married, and we had a timeline for how we were going to build this family.  Guess what?  God thought our plans were funny, so he changed them in the matter of a few months.  I can joke about it now, but at the time it was really hard on both of us.  We had completed one domestic adoption at that point, and so it eased our pain knowing that just because this medical thing happened doesn't mean we can't build our family.  We just needed to build it another way, and this time we were going to listen to the plan God had for us instead of the plan we had (last time when it was our plan Crystal went under the knife; I do not want to go under the knife, so I am going to listen).  All of these kids are my kids.  Ashlyn is my step daughter, but no one will ever hear me introduce her as such, because she is my own; I have raised her, I have sat in her room until she fell asleep because she was scared, I have been there to pick her up.  Kaeden is adopted, but he is mine (he likes Michigan and the Texans, he has to be mine).  Savannah is mine, okay maybe she is more Crystal's with the drama queen; I'm joking, I am in so much trouble over this.  The thing I am trying to point out is that it doesn't take DNA to make a parent, watch the news and that is evident.  I take great pride in saying Ashlyn chose me, because unless she was on board we were not going to marry, Kaeden's birth mom and Savannah's birth mom chose us out of many families, Masha has chosen us, and Grayson...well he has no choice, but he would choose us because we are that  Point is our family has not been built traditionally, someone else has always had a choice in the children added whether it was themselves or other people and the same thing has always been constant.  WE WERE CHOSEN.

Take this for what you will, but make no mistake that I want my kids home and will do whatever it takes to get them home.  Their place is here with me, Crystal, and their brother and sisters; not in an orphanage or institution.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Leonid is turning 4 this month.....

Normally a kids birthday is something that is celebrated with a party and presents. Parents invite friends and family over and you have cake and ice cream and candy and cookies...decorations and presents, lots of presents.

Well Leonid won't be getting any of that for his birthday, just like he has never gotten anything for any of his other birthdays. Or Christmas, or Valentines, or Easter etc etc etc. You get my drift no presents no party. For him he's lucky if he gets attention from a caregiver in the orphanage other than whats is absolutely necessary. Not all of the caregivers are uncaring or mean they are just overwhelmed and overworked. They have too many kids to care for and not enough resources to do their jobs and give hugs and kisses.

Since we can't be there for his actual birthday to snuggle him and let him eat cake and open presents we are asking for donations to our tax deductible account that will help pay for the adoption costs of getting Leonid and Masha home. Any amount is greatly appreciated and every penny counts. We are saving all our spare change and asking friends and family to do the same. It all adds up!

What I did not mention is that in Eastern Europe 4 is not a happy age to be if you are in an orphanage. You see they have baby houses, older child orphanages or internats, and adult mental institutions. The special needs children get transferred to the adult mental institutions most of the time. Four years old is the age when most are transferred...sometimes younger sometimes older. It just depends on the area they are in, if there is enough room in the orphanage they are already at and a number of others reasons.

The link at the bottom of this post takes you to my craft page on facebook, all sales go directly to adoption costs!!/pages/Crystals-Creations-for-Adoptions/189209751143940

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Bows, bows and more bows!!!

So I've been making hair bows to try to make some money for this adoption. I've sold quite a few but you've got to buy the supplies to make them ,actually sit down and make them and then sell them for not a whole lot of profit! lol I like making them though, it gives me something to do to keep my mind occupied instead of constantly thinking about the looming total amount of money needed, or if Leonid aka Grayson is doing ok and if Masha is thinking about us as much as we think about her. Bad thing is between paperwork for the home study and dossier, trying to do fundraising, making crafts and then just keeping up with three kids here at home now my house is starting look a little yucky! So after I get our home study in the mail which btw is supposed to be today and we can finally apply to the US government for permission to adopt from overseas hopefully this week I am taking a few days off to clean my house, catch up on laundry and then Jared and I are taking Ashlyn to Main event on Saturday to go bowling and play games. We have gift cards from there we have had for months so I figure go ahead and enjoy a day with my hubby and Ash while we leave the two little ones here with the grandparents! YAY! Well anyway we got a new picture of Masha today from a friend who is adopting two kids from her orphanage now, she looks great and we were very happy to "see" her again! I'm still hoping for new pics of Leonid from another friend who is there adopting a little boy from his orphanage, he's in a different part so she may not get to see him again but I'm still hoping anyway! Dont forget we have an auction going on now on facebook to help with our fees so please check it out, I posted the link on two previous posts!!! These are some of the bows available in the auction now!!!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Photos of some of the items in our facebook auction!!!

These are some items available in our facebook auction going on until the 21st of Nov.
There is a link at the bottom of this page!!!
Please share this auction with your friends and family!
As of today lots of items have no bids and some have very low bids!


We also have a fundraiser going on through Just love coffee the link is below!!!