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!!!