Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Gist (The Question and Answer Post)

You've probably figured out that we're home (smile).  We landed late Sunday night.

Ya, action shots are not my phone's strong point.

We walked into baggage claim to have a friend sneak up in back of us and scare me (ya, actually proud).  Our bags made it.  It took 45 hours from the time we left our apartment in Eastern Europe until we entered our house.  Exhaustion has set in...mixed with a ton of loving on our kids.

In processing everything, there are many questions that I've not answered yet.  This will be a fairly factual question and answer post, so bear with me.  I will throw a couple of yet unseen pictures in here and there to make it a little more entertaining (smile).  Our favorites had already made it into previous posts, but there are MANY more!

 If I didn't answer your question, please let me know.  I know I'm full of questions for my friends during their journeys and I just don't want to ignore any.

I must admit, putting the "Do you have any questions?" out on Facebook, some of my friends came up with some very unique questions.
*Hot dogs come in a ten pack, buns come in an eight pack...go!
*Why am I here?
*What color does the number nine smell and taste like? 
Yes, this is the reality of my life (laughing).  Gotta love my friends!!!!

I did get a few other questions (answered below).  I wish I could say they are from my saner friends, but we know the truth, don't we? (chuckle)

This picture (and the next three) are of the travel into the small town (where Benjamin lives for just a little longer).

Question #1: Have you received your court date yet?

Our court date is currently set for May 24th.  This can change and we've been told not to get plane tickets until they verify the date around May 13th. 

If the court date doesn't change, we will leave around May 22nd, arrive in country the 23rd, court on the 24th.  My mom and brother will camp out here with the kids. 

Our first glimpse of the back gates of the institute on our way in town.

Question #2:  Are we going to do three trips?

Right now the plan is to do more like 2 1/2 trips.  Clear as mud...right?

The earlier plan had Thomas and I traveling for the first trip, assuming we completed court the first trip.  We would then leave after court for the ten day required wait.   The second trip to bring Ben home would have been just my brother and I.

Instead, we couldn't complete the court date the first trip.  Now Thomas and I are both required to be on the second trip as well.  Our plan is to arrive for our second trip RIGHT before court.  We then will stay for the ten day wait (instead of going home).  At the end of the wait Thomas will HAVE TO return home.  He only has so much vacation time.  My brother will "change places" with Thomas.  He will arrive the day before Thomas leaves.  We then PRAY it will only take about another week to be able to head home.  Three weeks is a LONG time to be away from my children.  I can't fathom it, but we are trying to do what is best for Ben as well.

Another picture of Thomas while we waited to get the call to go meet Benjamin.

Question #3:Explain the ten day wait?

In several Eastern European countries, a ten day wait AFTER court approval of your adoption, is required.  Some say it's just in case someone has a problem with it.  It really is more of a "getting to know your child" time.  Though not always in the best situations (not with a family) this is the only thing our children have known (much of the time).  The transition can be rough.  Some children have been known to stop eating and drinking once new parents took custody.  It can be very overwhelming and traumatic for these precious ones. 

Sometimes courts will waive this ten day period.  Our region usually doesn't and we aren't sure that would be what God wants from us anyway.  Ben will, most likely, also need time to transition.

Our driver for much of the time while we were in town.

Question #4: Why didn't you stay in country to wait for the court date?

There are a couple of reasons. 
*There is one house to stay in town currently, though they will search out another if for some reason things fall through.  Tatiana (the house owner) was having family come in during the upcoming holidays (May 1st-13th).  The room would not be available then. 
*Thomas only has so many vacation days and he needs to be back for court. 

Question #5:  How are the children that remained at home?

We know any time Thomas and I take a trip at the same time, some of our little blessings struggle.  For ANY child, it is flat out hard.  Our oldest (when he was little and his daddy was in the military) had a horrible time any time his dad was gone. 

Our littles have struggled the most.  Gabe (cracked me up) tried to refuse to talk to us over Skype.  Our little three year old told his sister he wasn't going to talk to us so we would come back.  The funny part is that he'd forget he wasn't talking to us and stop in the middle of a sentence and head out of the screen shot.  Funny little boy....he's doing good.  Rachel is a little more clingy and Jael is doing a little of the angry thing (along with another child).  They're mad that we left and alternate between a little bit of pushing away (disobedience) and getting a little mad (not always directed at us).

We expected it and were prepared. This is NOT a reflection on the child.  We, their safety, left and it's hard for them to process emotionally, even knowing we were coming back.  It's been remarkably calmer than we expected since we arrived home last night.  Routine mixed with special "treats" helped things go so much quicker during our absence.  It gave them something to look forward to and kept a safe feeling at the same time.

Question #6:  How are you doing emotionally and physically?  How's Thomas?

Emotionally I am a little "rollercoasterish"  (Kat dictionary).  So many make adopting sound easy emotionally.  The decision is. The knowledge that this IS your child is clear.  It's the learning the needs of your child....the fear (it doesn't have to be logical) that your just not going to be "good enough"...NOT fun.  Again, with travel exhaustion and illness, it doesn't have to be logical.  Me, logical? Pfffttt (lol).

Physically, I still don't feel great, but better.   I may hit the doctor on Friday if I don't get better quick.   Both Thomas and I are still struggling with the time change as well and waking up in the middle of the night wide awake.  I think caffeine may just make a reappearance and hit "best friend" status again.

Question #7: How are Michelle and Michael, your friends with the appointment the same day that you requested prayers for?

They have made some beautifully exciting decisions and have met their daughter.  We are celebrating with them and PRAISING GOD! Please continue to provide them with prayer cover.

Question #8: I know you were fully funded.  How does the added trip change that?

Honestly, we will need $3,500-$4000 more.  It is not just because of the added trip, but because one of the trips will also be in June (coming back).  This is peak travel season and tickets will go up around then (that's not even talking about the extra ticket).  Also, we will be staying longer than initially planned.  In my honesty...and maybe a little bit of tiredness...this is intimidating to me.

If God places this on your heart,  donations can be made personally, through PayPal, or our Family Sponsorship page on Reece's Rainbow (the button is on the lower right of our blog). 

I will do a specific post about this later this week most likely.  Truthfully, I'm avoiding it a little. 

Yup, I look a tad tired here (check out the bags under my eyes), but I can guarantee I'm SO happy.

Question #9: How are you preparing for Benjamin to come home?

This is one of the reasons we can see why God gave us more time to prepare before bringing Benjamin home and we didn't receive the court date the first trip.  We are SO thankful that God knows better. 

We need to have some time to figure out how to make the atmosphere in our home the most conducive to helping our son. 

We are starting with physical changes we need to make to our home.  Initially, we need to change our living room (the only room with a swinging/hinged safety gate enclosing it) into a more friendly environment.  He needs his world a little smaller for awhile.  Our plan is to remove ALL hard toys and to make it more sensory friendly.  We hope to add a non breakable mirror to the wall (when we can afford it), to make sure all toys are soft (as he needs to learn to play with toys) because currently he throws everything.  Finally we need to limit the toys in the living room as to not overstimulate him.  The rest of our house will just go to a higher level of baby proofing. 

His bed (in our room for initial attachment) will also need to be set up.  We are currently trying to noodle what is best for him.

We also have plans to "train" the older children (and explain to the younger) ways that we can help Benjamin to be a part of the family.  He has no concept of what family is or the correct ways to interact (with no hitting, etc.).  The oldest five can very much aid in teaching him gentleness. 

Sign Language is another area we are focusing on.  We know limited signing, but need to have in place (at the minimum) a sign for each of the children's names.  We want to give the beginning of ways to communicate right off the bat.  We will focus on teaching mommy and daddy, drink, food, and potty first.  He is extremely bright and we feel sign language will be a good way to start. 

I also need to start making calls and sending emails.  I have friends that have been through very similar situations.  I need to sit down with them and glean off their wisdom.  Of course I need to start talking to our doctors and experts as well.  Benjamin will probably need to go through a battery of tests.  He will most likely need both Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy (preferably in our home if our insurance covers it).

Question #10:  What things will Ben (and your family) need when arriving home (his sizes, etc.)?

Though many are wondering, and I will share, our first goal is to get Ben home.  I was hesitant to share, in a way, as the money being raised to bring him home is our priority. 

The size of boy clothing we believe Ben is wearing was lost in the fire during the adoption of Jael.   As many adoptive parents need to do, we will bring two sizes (as we are guessing).  We know his height, but he is SUPER sturdy.  We believe his pants size with be between 4T and 5T.  His shirts will most likely be between 5T and 5/6.  These are all guesses.  We will add the possible shoe size to this post later.  We traced his shoe (that fit rather well), but have not hit the shoe store to check on size.

Since many are wondering, I will put the links to generally what we hope (or need) to purchase.
*Clothing~ Really, he'll need everything.
*Two car seats-Our van is set up with one car seat (for Gabe, Rachel, and Jael) in each of the three rows behind the driver.  Because we will need to put two car seats in the back row now (Ben will be in the front), we have no choice but to purchase the most narrow ones we can find.  Other car seats don't sit side by side and allow for anyone to sit in the seats next to them.  As you know, we need every space we have.  Doing much research, these were the ones we found.  If anyone we know has one of these that they are willing to sell us, we would LOVE to buy a used one (or two actually) that has never been in an accident.
*A mirror that is shatterproof and mountable.  It is something like what is on the link below (the smallest 2'x 2').  This is a want for the future, NOT a need.  He loved the mirror (with soft edges) we brought.  He was fascinated with seeing himself...but he throws things.  We want to eventually get one that attaches to the wall.  Again, we'd love to buy one used.

Question #11: Can you share with us anything else about Ben?

Hopefully I can get a video together soon.  There is NOTHING like hearing his laugh.  He is precious.  Though in some ways he looks young, you can also (occasionally) see his age in his eyes.  You can see the (almost) ten years. 

He eats up the love, but still we can see an occasional glimpse of fear (that ends up turning into "overwhelmed").  His stimming occurs then.  It breaks our hearts when the hitting (usually us), spitting, kicking his legs (not us though) etc. starts...NOT because he's doing it, but because we know he's overwhelmed and scared.  We are just learning what calms him.  It's not something we can't distract him out of.  It's a need to calm him at his core.  Please continue to pray that God calms his spirit and helps him beyond what makes sense to the world or any doctor.  Also, please pray Thomas and I learn what calms him when he does need it.

Though a little blurry, Ben is playing catch here with his daddy.

Question #12: Do you think he will be verbal at some point?  Is it just because of the foreign language that he is non verbal?

Benjamin most likely hasn't been talked to much.  He has never had therapy and has suffered neglect.  He began understanding the basics of what we were saying (or meaning at least) very quickly. He will most likely progress quickly in understanding. 

Right now he is experiencing so much that is 100% new to him, that to get him to focus for very long may be difficult.  We totally believe he will eventually be signing some, but we just don't have enough knowledge at this point to say if he may be verbal.  We can guess (yes, to some extent), but this is all in the God's Hands.

Question #13:When will you put this video together that you keep talking about? 

I'll start working on it today.  I can't promise when it will be finished.  I haven't figured out how I want to put it together yet.  I will post the link as soon as I give my family time (first) to view it and it's completed.  Ben's laugh...NOTHING floors me more.

Question #14: Prayer requests...anything new we can pray for?

Hmmm...thinking on this, I would say that we could use prayers, not only for a quick and successful second trip, but also for the travel back. 

Logically, looking at Benjamin's reactions,  the trip back may not be easy.  We are praying for our Heavenly Father to bless Benjamin with calmness.  You see, everything is very new to Ben.  Combine that with the fact that he gets overstimulated and starts stimming easily....we could use prayers ahead of time.

Also, for continue prayers for our children at home while we are apart.  For God to protect the children physically, spiritually, and emotionally.  Also, our oldest will be on a senior trip while we are away.  Please pray for his COMPLETE protection as he will be out of state.  I remember being a senior...(laughing)...enough said.

Lastly (because we know God will lay this out before us), please pray for the finances.

So that's it.  That's our first set of questions answered.  I can't promise the answers are coherent, but they're answers, right?  Please tell me they count.  (laughing)

Thank you for your continued prayers and support.  We see God continuously working.  Again, if you have any more questions...

"About Benjamin He said:
'Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him,
 for He shields him all day long,
and the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders.'
Deuteronomy 33:12

Prayer Requests

*Please pray that God sustains Benjamin.  Please pray that He continues to prepare his heart while we are apart and Ben dreams of us...knowing ways that wouldn't make sense to the world.  Please pray he attaches and learns to love (and learns what family is) quicker than we can fathom.  Please also pray that God calms him.  This will be scary for him and we pray that God calms his spirit.

*PLEASE pray that satan's hands are tied.  He does not want us (or anyone) to enter that village. 

*Please pray that the village gates are “figuratively” thrown down and God’s love floods the streets.

*Please pray our children at home are safe...physically/emotionally/and spiritually.  Attacks on the kids happened last time we were gone on the trip to bring Jael home.  PLEASE cover them.  Also, please pray for safety specifically for our oldest (Tom) as he will be on a senior trip for a week part of our second trip to Eastern Europe. 
*Please also pray as our children at home try to stay organized in our absence, that things go smoothly for them and time passes quickly.
*Please pray for my husband and I, for our SAFETY and that we remain WELL.  We are going somewhere VERY rural with no one that speaks English most of the time.  
*Please pray for my mom, brother, and friends as they care for our children (safety, smoothness, etc.)

*NEW~ Please pray that the next trip is as short as possible, while successfully completing Benjamin's adoption.  Please pray that the trips have a speed that can only be explained as a blessing of God.  Also, please pray that financially the funds come together quickly.
*Please pray that our trip home with Ben is peaceful and uneventful.  Please pray that calm (beyond understanding) reigns for our sweet Benjamin and that we see what we need to do to help him.

*That ALL paperwork needed is sped (by God's Will) in country (with NO hiccups).

*Please pray that court goes EXTREMELY easy and quick.  It doesn't always.

*Please pray for comfort as we continue to mourn Jonathan.
*Please pray for us to have a connection with the head of the institution. God has given us a love for the head of the institution and the caregivers.  Also, please pray for our connection to those in the village.

*NEW~ Please pray that the head of this institution shows us where Benjamin has resided these last two years...and around the institution and laying rooms.  Our intent IS just to see, and we pray she understands that.

 *Please pray the trip  itself is smooth.  There are NO issues.  That every blip, every ironed out before us.

*Please pray that our lines of communication with our children are successful (Skype, Magic Jack, international texting).  We will be in a very rural region.



  1. i'm fascinated with your journey and just amazed at your wisdom and courage. thanks for keeping us all posted! hope you fully recover soon!

  2. Praying for you and Benjamin during this time! Were you able to show any updated pictures of Aaron and Judd who were adopted from that orphanage to the director so she could know how outstandingly well they are doing now?

  3. HUGS.... PRAYING... Here for you!


In the joy of following our Heavenly Father, we sometimes choose to proceed with a whisper, a verse, or a downright matter how we follow Him, the momentum that follows is like nothing we've ever experienced before.

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