Saturday, December 22, 2007

Sadly I share our Levi has died but...

Early this am our dear Levi died. Paul stayed downstairs all nite with him and at 4 am Sat. Levi passed.... It has been a sad day here . Each child has dealt with their grief in their own ways... Lily thru humor, Josiah thru nonsense ways, Mya thru deep, heartfelt aching tears for her Levi. Most of the older ones in private and lots of tears..... Paul and I as well. When our vet called yesterday to check up on Levi... I shared that our kiddos have seen so much death in their pasts... some of it not very positive and we now have a chance to walk thru this valley with them and share a more positive experience about death.... Then tonight I was on frua... one of my adoption chat and support groups.... This was in one of the threads .... . Please go to it and you will see how I know that the Lord loves us and he understands even our pain in the death of a loved one or a pet. Thank you Jesus for caring about us.... All of us have watched and listened many times tonight and it has helped to be reminded of the Lord's love and understanding.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

from our daughters blog

My parents have a plaque on their mantle that says...
"All because two people fell in love"Today marks my parents 31st wedding anniversary...Wow! My Mom called me this morning and told me that one of their dogs, Levi, was at the vets office and was very sick. My Mom and Dad had originally had plans to spend the day together and drive up to Pennsylvania. We'll, being who they are (for those of you who don't know them, their love for animals is only beaten by their love for children) they canceled their plans to make sure Levi was taken care of. I started to get sad for them because their special day was "ruined". But then I thought about their 31 years together...31 years of caring for animals and children and anything else that ever needed care and love...and changed my mind about their day being ruined. No, they are doing just what they love to do, and doing it together. Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!p.s. Levi is really sick with an auto-immune disease, but doing better after a blood transfusion. If he continues to improve he gets to go home tomorrow

My dear husband and one of our "grand" children

Paul is swinging with Ava.... He is the love of my life and we
celebrated 31 yrs. on Dec. 19..... Almost all of the pictures
that have Paul or I in them has a child or 2 or 20 in them :)

Not many of us alone.... I thank the Lord for giving me a man
who loves the Lord and children and animals... as much as
I do. Here is a cut a paste from one of our daughters blog...
thanks Jenn for the sweet words.... It also shares about an ache
our family is walking thru right now. One of our "puppies" actually
almost 8 yrs is very ill. He was very swollen around his neck and
head Wed. am just as Paul and I were leaving for our anniversary
celebration... We took him to the vet thinking it was an infection
and has turned out to be very serious... an autoimmune
disease that is killing him. He had no platelets or red blod cells
when we got to the vet. You would not have known how ill he was.
We left him and our vet said short of a miracle Levi would die. Well,
they have given him a blood transfusion and steroids and othere meds.
He was doing so well last nite we were able to bring him home. However
he is dying ... this only bought him some time. He is home and comfortable
but can die anytime... already his tissues in his mouth are getting white
again and so it may be sooner than later. He has no energy but is still
as sweet as ever.... Needless to say the children have been a mess
and very sad about our Levi. Even our older grown children have an
ache for him.... We had taken his mother in while she was pregnant to help at our vets and the mom had 13 puppies instead of the 7 shown on the xray.... We kept 2 puppies - Levi and Willie. So if you care about animals please pray for our Levi and for our family as we go thru a loss of one of our "family".

Uncle Joseph and Ava

Joseph is sharing the experience with Ava.... She loved being out
and it was a gorgeous day for being outdoors...

Christmas Tree Outing

Some of the kids and grandma and grandpa out searching
for our trees... We cut 2 for our home and one for the grandparents.
No snow on the ground yet... We have a tree that is huge and is in our
sunroom. Then we have another by our dining table. We are off from
our homeschool till after the new year. We are enjoying getting
ready for Christmas... The kids get so excited .

Our USCIS approval day visit to Pitt., PA

This was outside the Pittsburgh office of the USCIS we have to use.... on the day we got our approval for the next 5 children. Our dossiers have been in Ukraine for a couple of weeks now and we are waiting for news about them. Ukraine just had new elections for a prime minister and the person that won is more friendly with the West ... hopefully this will help with adoptions in Ukraine. At least that is what we are hearing...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

After our feast on Thanksgiving

Luke is 7 days post op on his nose "job" for his
cleft. He and Joseph had surgery on Nov.
6 for their noses and both are doing well.
We have lots to be thankful for this
Thanksgiving.... Luke is walking, our
"grand" children- Tyler, Drew, Ella, Ava
and Ezra, our approvals for the 5 new kids,
our dossiers going to the countries where they

6 of them smiling and full....

pumpkin time

Here are a few of the kids pumpkins sitting on our back deck at sunset.

I love the holidays

It is definitely more busy and there is lots of excitement in our home now that the holidays have begun.... Having all the children how can one not be excited too.... I love celebrating and sharing the birth of Christ, Thanksgiving and being together. The older kids always ask what can we get you mom? My best gift is time spent with me.... The holidays are busy but there is so much fun and joy as well. Someone once asked me, " How do you do it all at Christmas ?" I shared I try to have as much "joy" times thru activities where we can worship and experience joy during the holidays. It is busier but I can feel the love and joy in my families heart so much during this season.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Our Goliath was conquered

I wanted to give a huge praise to the Lord .... Today we got our approval letters for 5 more children- 2 from Uzbekistan and 3 from Ukraine. I had asked for prayers and the Lord has answered and answered in a big way. We are celebrating around here this afternoon! Ever since our letter came 4 weeks ago... we had prepared documents, letters of support from our doctors and surgeons, insurance company, our school board about our home schooling, and our hearts for the Lord's will. We had our appt. on Tues., Nov. 6. We took all the children and were able to present the requested new homestudy (now our 3d one) and all the supporting docs.. Paul also presented a wonderful power point presentation to the head of Pitts. office. Our approval was dated as granted that day... The day we asked for prayers. We are so grateful to all who have supported our love for these precious children. We feel the Lord has moved once again in a mighty way to help these children who are special. We feel so priviledged to be a part of his loving these kids. It has been an awesome journey. We are thankful everyday for this.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Leah, Cate,and Nataly

Birthdays- 2 special stories to tell

I just celebrated my birthday this week and I wanted to share 2 stories that 2 of my children did. The first was my daughter, Cate who has been home 1 yr. and 10 months now. On my birthday nite she came to me and gave me a big hug... and started to cry saying to me, " I never had a momma before in Ukraine and I so happy that I have one now." When I went to bed I found a card she had made for me and it expressed those same sentiments.... I too am so happy to be her momma. She was born to a 14 yr old child and had always been in the orphanage from birth.... So she was right but I know she meant more than just that. What a wonderful gift she gave to me.

My other story is about my daughter, Leah also here just 1 yr and 10 months. Last year on her first birthday with us, 9/11-- for a week before her birthday she was out of sorts, not at all her easy going self. We always ask ahead of time of the child, "What do you want for your birthday and what do you want to eat on your birthday?" She would always get silent and really struggle we could tell. Finally, a few days before her birthday I figured it out.... No one had ever celebrated her birthday before. This was her 13th birthday and she was really uncomfortable having things done for her. So I assured her we wanted to celebrate her and the gift she is to us..... with lots of encouragement. Finally she said I would like to eat chicken with bones on it ( we usually eat the boneless type ). So of course we had lots of chicken with bones ...actually Paul bought so much that we ate it all week :) She could not come up with anything she wanted though. At the time we had been praying and collecting medical information on a little boy from Hungary we were very interested in adopting and just waiting to see if our coordinator could get the mandatory 6 week in country stay changed for us. His name was Csaba and a real sweetheart. I had pictures of him all over the house for the kids to see.... She walked over to the computer and took a picture of Csaba and brought it to me and said," I know what I want now for my birthday.... I want you to adopt Csaba." You can imagine me now... of course tears filled my eyes and I looked at Paul and he was the same.... What 13 yr. old would ask for such a gift? I am always amazed by these dear children and their compassionate hearts.

Now on to another subject.... We finally got a response back from the USCIS and they want to have lots more information.... really their intent is to deny us the ability to adopt more special needs children... irregardless of the fact our homestudy and social worker has fully supported and checked out all they were suppose to do.... They did this before when we trying to adopt Luke....Forunately the Lord has had other plans.... We are gathering letters from our doctors, insurance company, school board, and others who know are children and we are planning to show them that their prejudice against special needs and large families is just that. In reality we have the full support from many officials who work or have a part of our children's medical care and oversee our homeschool. It is a battle that is not just ours but is fully the Lord's and we are grateful for all the support they have given us. They also gave us just 30 days to respond while they took months to reply to us about this. More on this later.

We also heard from our coordinator for our Uzbekistan boys that a law was made in Aug. that prefers families not have more than 8 children..... It is not necessarily a stopper for us there but we are praying about how to proceed ... My heart goes to the boys and I need to feel the Lord is in control not a gov't or official as far as adopting them. So it has been a week of preparing our "defense" so to speak to our own gov't as to why we have a heart for special needs children.... Paul was off all week working on collecting and writing for this.... So please pray for this need.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Luke celebrating his 6th birthday

Here is a "real" superman to me... our Luke celebrating his 6th birthday ... first time ever walking in 6th yrs.... It has been a long year and a half but he is doing great.... He is my hero!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Ava and Mary Kate

Ava and her momma (our daughter) Mary Kate
as she discovers some of Nanna's flowers...

Joseph, Naty and Ben- Baptised in August

We rejoice with Joseph, Ben and Naty after they were baptised .

Our cutie- Ava by the pool

She loved the pool this summer... age 7 months

on our way to NY

climbing a tree by the Hudson River

The big kids put up each little kid... this was Lily's turn

3 day field trip to the Hudson River

our sweet Ella and Ezra

Here is the new big sister and her favorite brother :)

releasing the butterflies

October Update

It is almost Oct. and we have much going on.... First we have been sailing along with our homeschool.... I challenged some of my children to get thru their math books and get up to their grade level and 2 have done a full book and are moving up one grade level .... woo hoo. The little ones are perfecting their reading skills and this is always a much better time after the initial beginning... we are in the swing of things as they say. We studied butterflies and I will post a pic of us releasing the ones we watched thru the stages.... New life is always exciting around here.

Speaking of new life... I was going to NC to visit my daughter, Jenn and her family on Sept. 14. Her church was having a baby shower for her ( She was due Oct. 10). She called at 2 pm and said she thought she was in labor and she was.... Ezra was born early Sat. am... healthy except for some jaundice and 4 weeks early. Her first ( Ella- now is 22 months was born 5 and half weeks early while we were on our adoption trip). So I was glad we did not miss Ezra'a birth. I was able to help out and we rejoice in this precious life.

We also have another "grand" daughter- Ava who was born on (my husband- her pawpaw's b-day) and she is almost now 9 months old.... We also have 2 grandsons born to our oldest daughter. With the number of kids we have we could have lots of "grand" babies :)

We are still waiting for our approval letters from USCIS and have escalated our request for them to adjudicate them ... as one of our children may age out. Anyway we have a peace about it as we know the Lord is in control... It is hard to think that the children have to wait longer.... without us because of our gov't red tape... the USCIS is not my favorite gov't entitiy to work with.... I think they are very insensitive to the needs of children and adoption.

We are looking forward to the cooler weather and all that it brings... campfires, pumpkins , hot soups, and falling leaves to play with.... I love the change of seasons and so do the kids.

We had our daughter, Anna at the teen cleft clinic at Hopkins and are very happy with their next recommendations... We will begin working on her jaw surgeries in a yr.... Our next surgeries will be for Luke's cleft and another nose and lip for Joseph's cleft. We have not had any surgeries since Luke's leg in April and the break has been nice.... Now we start once again... but the changes are amazing .

Luke is continuing to amaze everyone... He walks . It is so hard to imagine him not being able to walk upright and we are so grateful to Dr. Standard for his work with children like Luke. The Lord has gifted him with the skill of a surgeon and a heart of compassion.... We have been blessed by him and his team.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Sept. 2007 update

I thought it was time that I shared an update. We start our homeschool Tuesday and the children seem excited to be starting again. It will be good to get back to the routine however I miss the easiness of the summer routine.

Luke is now walking without his braces or walker.... He does not need to wear the braces except at nite. We had his check with Dr. Standard Aug. 25 and were given the great news he only needs to wear the braces at nite.... This is months ahead of what they expected and so we are rejoicing that Luke is doing so well.

We just started a new church 3 weeks ago and feel so at home and challenged by all the wonderful teaching and people there. We already knew some. Today I met a little boy who was adopted from Guatemala. I had been able to help his parents with their paperwork and all so they could adopt him... It was one of my "made my day" experiences to see this happy family together...

We are in the process of adopting 5 more children.... from 2 diff.countries at the same time. We have our dossier almost done for our 2 little boys from Uzbekistan and a sibling group of 3 girls from Ukraine that we have been trying to adopt for 3 yrs now. We are only waiting on our approval letter from USCIS I 600 A... It should be here any day now.... and then we wait for our paperwork to process in country and be asked to travel for the adoption. It will be interesting to see which country we travel to first for our children... Uzbekistan or Ukraine. It is all in God's hand .

Monday, August 6, 2007

Some of the Bunch ... I love their smiles
How come we have so many pics of these two?
Mya and Luke... the love of each others lives
Here they come ya better watch out
This Easter at Jenn's
Part of our homemade soccer
Our 5 little ones- Leah showed them how to make the rings out of dandilions . Isaac, Luke, Mya, Lily and Josiah

some favorite pics of our blessings

Paul and the boys visiting our daughter and her family Easter 2007

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Luke standing for the first time ever at age 5 yrs and 5 months

Ben and Joseph

Luke in his first fixator at almost the end and leg straight

Naty and Leah

10 months later and 5 from Ukraine

We took 10 months to continue our adoption journey and this time it would be in a new country Ukraine. We first heard of our Luke thru a friend at our agency. She said some people had met a child with many medical needs and they were raising money for his heart surgery. We saw his picture and we asked can we adopt him? At first they did not think the director of his orphanage would agree because we were such a large family. However, the Lord again had other plans... He said we could and we got together our dossier again in 1 month for our adoption of our Luke. Luke had a vsd ( hole in his ventricle in his heart and he needed his aortic valve replaced or repaired). This was urgent but the NAC ( director of adoptions for Ukraine) was very difficult to work with. We were paper ready in April 2004 but she did not allow us to travel until Sept.... Luke also was born with his right leg fully attached to his back. He has a spinal hernia and his l leg was webbed and had a severe clubfoot. He also had a severe cleft lip and basicallly no palate. He has had some cleft lip revisions and repairs to close his clefts. He had his heart surgery within weeks of being home and is doing well. In June 2006 we began his leg repairs. With an 18 hr surgery to straighten and loosen skin, ligaments and place an external fixator on his r leg. He wore that for 6 months and then it was removed and his l leg and foot was also done and placed in another fixator for 4 months. After lots of pt, and hard work on his part he walks... in full leg braces and is beginning to walk without them too. He has done this way earlier than expected just like Mya :) We also adopted Nataly. She was 11 yrs old and had a difficult beginning with her very abusive mother, who is now dead at the yg. age of 29 of alcohol poisoning. While at the orphanage she was in we met a boy who had a cleft lip/palate who was 15 yrs old. We had pretty much said we would not return to Ukraine because the NAC director was very difficult to deal with. So we were shocked in 7 months to hear that the director had contacted our coordinator because a surgeon who was going to repair Vadim's cleft lip had spoken to her and he heard that a family was interested in adopting him and he thought it better if that happened and the surgery was done here. This was so unusual that we knew the Lord was moving us towards this child and another trip to Ukraine.... funny how you say "never" and the Lord turns it into when. We again were paper ready quickly because Vadim had turned 15 and we would not be able to adopt him if he was 16. We traveled in Nov. 2005 and spent 5 long weeks there but we were blessed with Joseph- 15, Cate-13 and Leah-12. Joseph- Vadim had the cleft palate/ lip issues and terrrible speech. Cate had been in the orphanage all of her life. She was born to a 14 yr old mom. Leah's past was much like Naty's. We have had 2 surgeries for Joseph and he needs some more in the future to correct his cleft issues. He has speech and is transitioning to adulthood as a fine yg. man who gave his life to Jesus just this summer and feels a call to missions.... maybe back in his home country. Cate and Naty have also given their lives to Jesus. They have all transitioned well into our family and we feel so blessed to have them. They are working hard in school and are catching up to their grade levels.

The 6 from Russia

We heard of our son, Jacob thru a hosting program and friends who had adopted thru this agency. Jacob had been hosted 7 months earlier and was not adopted yet. He had severe scoliosis and was having trouble breathing. He had even been hospitalized because of it. We got our dossier together in record time and traveled to Vladikavkaz, Russia for him and 2 other children.... ( We heard of him in late June and traveled Sept. 5). This was to the Chechnya region very close to Georgia. We met our Isaac who was the age of 5 but the size of an 18 month old . We were told he never talked... never uttered a word the 5 yrs he was there. We had him for 2 days in Moscow and he was speaking Russian to his sister, Lily. ... Then just 6 weeks later he was totally english speaking. A few yrs later we asked him why did you not talk.... His response was priceless....," I did not have anything to say." He had major dental needs and when he came home he had to have 4 hrs of surgery in a hospital to repair and remove teeth, and gums . He lost most of his teeth (baby) but it did not affect his weight gain.... He would eat everything and was able to gain weight and some height... However, he is still short in stature. Lily was in the orphanage with Isaac. She was 2 yrs old and has esotropia (severe-crossing of her eyes, no depth perception and was in glasses and bifocals for farsightedness). She is also very small but full of life...

While on a visit to our agency to let them meet our new children we were shown a picture of a baby with hip dysplasia that no one wanted... there were those words again..... She was very small and paralyzed on her l leg. They wanted us to help find a family for her... We took one look at her picture and knew she was ours... She is our Mya. Thus we began the paperwork for her adoption. This was at the end of Oct. and we got a call on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving about her. We had to wait for the 12th family to decide to adopt her or not.... They said if we could get our paperwork in by the Monday following Thanksgiving we could go on our first trip in Dec.... For this to happen we had to get an updated homestudy, police clearance and USCIS approval.... all in a short few days with a holiday.... God saw us thru and the USCIS director even came in on the Sat to receive our pkg... so we could get the approval Monday.... So away we went to Russia again. When we got there we asked to see children that were hard to place. We met and fell in love with our Anna- she was 7 and still in the baby orphanage with Mya. It was obvious that Anna was a FAS child and she had a severe cleft lip/palate. We also met in another orphanage a 3 yr old boy with kidney problems- our Josiah. We returned in Jan. 2003 and were able to adopt the girls. We had to wait and return for Josiah in April. When Mya came home she was almost 13 months old and weighed only 11 lbs.. They said she would have died by the summer if we had not gotten her when we did. She was taken to several doctors and finally we found out what she had.... polio. She had serial casting, pt, and braces and walks now with no help... but with a diff. gait. She too is a tough little one full of lots of life and love for others. Anna has had several cleft surgeries and her eyes were drifting outwards and has had 2 surgeries to repair her eyes.... Anna's cleft and FAS issues are on going but she too has overcome much. Josiah's kidney problems turned out to be a very large kidney stone that he had to have surgically removed because it was so big ( the size of a marble). He is doing well and thriving . We were able to have surgeries done and therapies for the children and they all have made amazing progress. It has been almost 5 yrs ( Sept. ) that we began our adoption journey into Russia.

Our 12 adopted blessings

The Next 6 - From Russia

Abraham went to public school for the first yrs. home. At first thru a special education program and then the second half of his 4th grade we brought him home to be schooled by us. He has done well and his real strength and gift is music. He plays the piano or any instrument well. He has perfect pitch and a memory for long pieces of music. We feel blessed by his giftings and enjoy listening to his music.

We moved to VA and felt called to get involoved with the prolife movement locally. It started with a prayer request about a mother who was told her baby had a disease called toxoplasmosis which could cause blindness, hearing loss and mental disabilities. She had a routine blood test and it came back positive for this disease. She was being encouraged to abort her baby. At first the doctors for Abraham thought he may have had this disease but he didn't so we felt even closer to this prayer request. As I got off the phone the Lord spoke to my heart and asked....," Would you be willing to raise that baby if it had this disease?" Of course I was shaken at first with my thoughts but then realized that yes I would. I called back and asked if I could speak to the mom. I did and was able to share the name of a prolife ob and to share my faith and then I offered her the opportunity if her baby did have special needs and she did not want to keep this child my husband and I would take it and raise it as our own.... Now 12 yrs later we have been able to minister to 2 more women in this way... As it turned out she went to the new doctor and he repeated the tests and she ended up having a perfectly healthy baby. So did the other 2 women. We also got our training to be foster/adoptive parents and were able to have the opportunity to parent 22 children and we had 9 live with us for awhile.... However, none were we able to adopt. Our heart was forever changed by our time in VA. When we moved to WV we began the process to foster/adopt again. The Lord had diff. ideas for us.... and in just 8 months out of our obedience to his will we adopted our 6 children from Russia.

Abraham on the right with his brother Jacob

My Beginning and I Did It

My first post and my first picture and I did it all by myself. I have wanted to start a blog for years now. Actually I feel I want to write a book about our experiences and maybe this will be my beginning to that. Anyway I am not very comfortable with the computer and so for me it is a big accomplishment to get this much done. It has been only a few years that for my News Year resolution I decided to learn how to email... Usually I would hand write them out and ask one of my kids to type and send it..... So here we go, or should I say maybe we will take a look back . We have a framed saying as I mentioned in my profile that says , "All because 2 people feel in love", and that really is where the beginning of this blog will be.

I have a feeling that this will become very addictive for me... to be able to talk about my faith and my family and children. I was born into a family that there was lots of love and compasion. I had a very happy childhood and felt loved. I also knew the Lord very early in my life and felt his love for me . I also have always loved children even when I was a child I loved watching, pl;aying and creating things for us to do. So I feel the Lord was moving in my heart to fulfill his purpose for me to do something with children even when I was very young.

As I shared my husband Paul and I have been married for 30 plus yrs now and in my profile is our story of our first date and how Paul "passed" my test of loving children. We are childhood sweethearts and I have a soul mate, partner with the same God given purpose,friend, and lover of the Lord and children. We have 5 bio. children- Laura Jeane- 28, married with 2 of our "grand" sons... Jennifer-26 also married and she has 1 daughter and one son on the way...Molly -23 and she lives near by us,Mary Kate-20 she has a little "grand" baby girl born on her PawPaw's birthday and our last bio. is Ben-15. Our first adoption was 22 and a half yrs ago of our son, Abraham from Mexico. He is blind and suffered some brain damage from a severe beating....