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We’re leaving!

10 Feb

We are leaving at 4:20 AM from the apartment to go to the airport.

Talk about EARLY!
But, I am SO glad to be getting home.
We have 4 hour lay overs for each one – so hopefully we won’t have to rush like crazy people like we did before.
But, I am concerned about Olive on the flights, and during that holding time for the lay overs.
Her patience for waiting rooms has gotten shorter and shorter every time we’ve taken her out – so hopefully she won’t view the airplane as one big annoying waiting room in her mind.
We’re praying that everything will go smoothly, and that before we know it – the traveling will be nothing but a memory!

Welcome home party!

10 Feb

email if you’d like our address :)

Not able to leave…

9 Feb

I am so bummed – we’re not going to be able to leave until Thursday.

There were flights out on Wednesday, but they were very limited, and they would have cost us about $360 more to leave (minimum). Not really possible.
The kids are at home with RSV, and I can not wait to get to them.
Ethan has been crying and overly sensitive, and Evelyn is not interested in seeing us on the computer much – so I miss her very much.
We are going to be doing the medical exam this morning, and then some legal documents at the lawyers after that – and then we have our embassy interview.
I am praying it all goes smoothly.
I’m praying that we’ll be able to find a quick (cheaper) flight out than Friday afternoon, because I am so ready to come home – and I can’t barely stand to be away from the kids and my house and family an extra hour longer than what’s needed to get our adoption done (which will probably be this afternoon!) I’m also praying that Olive will travel well.
She’s and antsy girl that does not like to be still for very long. I am not sure how she’ll handle the flight.

Praying to leave Wednesday!

8 Feb

Karl is going to get the passport with Jasmina right now, and we have our physical exam for Olive tomorrow morning at 9:15. I have been trying to get ahold of the Embassy worker to set up our appointment with them around 11:15 – but haven’t gotten through to him yet. Praying that we do soon! If he can get her Visa back to us same day (he said he was pretty sure he could) then we are going to plan on leaving Wednesday! Yay!

This weekend was a wonderful time of bonding with Olive.
Karl and I were talking – and we can both honestly say (and no, not just to put on a good face) that she already feels like our daughter to us through and through.
My heart melts and aches for her when she starts to pout, and I feel just the same about her as I did for my other kids shortly after their births. Her slobber and goobs don’t even bother me ;)
I prayed, and prayed, and prayed some more that God would allow my heart to be filled with maternal love for her regardless to what ever issues she may come with – and He has been so good to us!
He has shown us His favor through out this entire adoption – and we are so grateful and hope that you will see HIS Glory and Power in our story. Because none of it was done on our own strength.
Most of all I pray that you will see that if WE can do it – anyone can, with His help.
Honestly, we have a modest income, we are young, we don’t have ‘all our ducks in a row’ (I wish!), we didn’t always have much support in our decision, we have young children, and no special credentials to make us superb adoptive parents – and yet we’ve done it. And we’ve enjoyed it!
I pray that people will see the GREAT need for orphan care and adoption – and that people will step outside of their comfort zone and do something to further the Kingdom and provide for ‘the least of these’.
I hope God will use our story to move people to change the life of ‘one more’ orphan at a time.
And I pray we get home soon!

Today is 2 weeks :)

6 Feb

Today is our two week anniversary of being in Serbia…
We have only known Olive for 12 days, but she already feels like my daughter.
It’s pretty neat. I think she likes us too.

Today is SUPER windy outside, 30 something mph winds – so we’re staying in.
Olive seems like she’s worked out a bit of her anxiety about being in the apartment yesterday, lots of lovely teeth grinding, snorting, and sticking her had down her mouth.
Today she’s doing much better – but it’s been pretty low key.

She still grinds when she’s bored though…
She gets upset when you don’t pay attention to her, or if you try and leave her in the room by herself even for a few minutes.
I think she will REALLY enjoy having siblings – she shows a lot of interest and excitement when she sees other kids.

We weighed her today, and she is 18lbs. She was last measured at about 31″ … She is the length of an average 18 month old, and the weight of a 7 month old. I knew she was long and skinny, but it’s strange to see it in those terms.

Oh, and one more thing – she is the FARTIEST baby ever!

We’re praying for us that Olive’s grinding, and over-stim behaviors won’t bother us. We’ve been just fine so far, but hope to continue to be. And obviously, one step better would be for her to cope well, and not need them.

Now here to the pictures:

Playing on the floor the first night ‘home’

This picture is a little hard to look at, because she’s so tiny. But I wanted a picture to have reference of where we all started together- and to celebrate her chubbs when she gets them!

First shower :)

Pretty girl

Giving TaTa a RARE kiss

She still loves to slap daddy’s head

Signing to be picked up…

Being silly on the couch..

Video :)

5 Feb

From the first night here :)

Olive is making emotional leaps and bounds!
She has learned how to cry when she misses one of us, or doesn’t like what we’re doing.
It’s the saddest face I’ve EVER seen.
She also has learned that if she likes something, she should smile, laugh, or ask for more.
One thing she still hasn’t gotten, is to cry when she is hurt.
She gave her self a bonk on the head this morning on the hard wood floors, and even I would have cried from it.
But, no response from her at all.
I’m confident she will learn that soon too.

She has been eating pretty well.
She refuses to eat if it’s not pretty warm though.
We learned that the hard way, after we wasted two bottles. :)
We’re going to take her out the first time as ours!
We are going to get an early dinner, and do some exploring.
We haven’t had time to do that yet.
We have been too busy to do much of anything so far – but this weekend will be a wonderful time to catch up!

Karl got pooped on this morning! lol.
Olive pooped for the first time for us, and she has newborn poop in every way. And just like newborn poop – it leaked out of the top and sides of her diaper. Ohhhhh the days of having a ‘baby’ again! We did find out that size 4 diapers are HUGE on her. They looked ok until the poop. When I folded the diaper to be the right size – and she definitely wears a size 1, or 2.
We brought cloth diapers for her too – but those are most certainly too big. Maybe if we super, duper, super stuff them.

Olive got extremely mad at me this morning… I brushed her teeth, put her in the shower with me, and then cleaned her ears. She was pretty good while it was going on – even giggling in the shower. But when it was all said and done, she was way over stimulated, and cried when I looked at her… it took a nap and some cuddles to get her to ‘forgive’ me. But she’s all smiles again.

She’s here with us!

4 Feb

Today was a LOOOONNNNGGGGG day!
We had the ceremony, and did a ton of running around and waiting in different offices to get the paperwork done.
We were ‘this close’ to not being able to bring her home with us tonight – but thank God I pushed a little, and our facilitator let us bring her home!
She had A GREAT start and did very well.

She seemed like she was making herself right at home.
But this evening as things wound down, and we tried to get her ready for bed – the teeth grinding started.
It’s obviously related to anxiety, and hopefully it won’t be a major continuing issue.
We tried laying with her to put her down, but she wasn’t having it.
We learned tonight that she need to fall asleep by herself.
We will slowly try and adjust her to accepting more snuggles during bed time.
But didn’t want to push it her first night.

There is A TON to catch up on.

Things have just been so busy, and I make a mental note to be sure to blog about this or that – and then forget!
I need to start writing it down.

So here are some things that come to mind:

There is a very nice restaurant behind the orphanage. It’s a diamond in the rough. Jasmina can point you to it from her office window. It’s literally up some steps, turn left, go down a few steps, and there it is. It doesn’t even look like a restaurant. But it is, and it’s so reasonably priced, and has wonderful wait staff and food.

Also, if you wanted to stay in the apartment we’re in – which is very nice now that they figured out what was going on with the crazy electricity – let me know. I can give you the personal contact information instead of the agency contact information you’ll find on line. It will save you 35% because you won’t have to pay the booking fee. It’s a GREAT location. We absolutely love it. And I would say it’s worth the few extra bucks/night to be in this spot. You’re about a 2 mile, easy walk to the orphanage, and if you don’t want to walk – there are two taxi hubs with in a few blocks, and it’s only about 210 dinar for the ride (about 3 bucks).

As far as sleeping arrangements and driving with your new little one – forget about what you’re use to. Plan on bringing a play-yard if you don’t want them sleeping in bed with you, or in an adult bed. Personally we’re having Olive sleep in bed with us if she’ll tolerate it, for bonding. Mind you she’s developmentally like an infant…
As far as the car rides – it’s not against the law to not wear your seat belt, and if you’re riding in a taxi with a kid, they don’t have car seats – and that’s just the way it is. We have rode in the car quite a few times with Olive now with out any child restraints – it feels very weird (and is probably not safe at all) but that’s just how it’s done.

We got the tour of the orphanage yesterday. It broke my heart. There are some nurses who REALLY love the children, and don’t do the job for the money (if there even is any to be made). They are wonderful, and you can see it in the children’s faces. But there are also some not so loving nurses, and you can most definitely see that in the children as well. There is SO much to say, and so many emotions. But, it’s so hard to get it out in words.
I guess I saw what you’d expect to see from an orphanage with very little funding, not a lot of outside aid, in a country that doesn’t accept children with special needs, and who allow the children to be in their cribs for the the first few years of their lives for 20+ hours a day…
It is survival of the fittest, and if you learn to crawl, eat, and walk early – or have a nurse take you under her wing – you’ll do FAIR at best. If not – you’ll spend the next several years in a crib 90% of the time with little or no stimulation.

Bottom line – I feel the church needs to step up and take some responsibility for the situation.
I’m not saying that EVERYONE is called to adopt.
But, how many times do you as a church stop and pray over them? or advocate for them? or give monetary aid? or send missionaries to help? or send gifts for the children? or do ANYTHING really?
It’s not right that forgiveness is mentioned approximately 50 times in the bible – and preachers spend weeks and weeks of every year preaching on it.
And strangers, widows, and orphans are mentioned 60 something times, and you’re lucky to have a sermon dedicated to them once a year. It’s awful.
It seems to me that God thinks they are pretty important to mention them THAT many times, and they’re not mentioned lightly – but as a church we just don’t seem to get it.
It’s not right…

Alright – so off my soap box now.

Back to Olive.
She has been such a trooper. She is going to fit right in with our family.

She is so incredibly tiny – much smaller than we thought!
You can literally see every bone in her chest and every vertebrae in her back.
She is SO skinny, it’s kind of scary.
Any advice on fattening her up the right was, fast!?
She is in 9 months clothing right now at 3 years 7 months.
She is incredibly long, and insanely skinny. She could probably wear 24 month clothing for the length to fit her right – but they would be humongous on her.
The shoes we brought for her were size 5, and they are most certainly WAY too big. I am guessing a 3 or 3.5.
The hat and gloves we brought for her were a 12-24 months, and those are definitely way too big too. I’m again guessing probably 9-12 months.

Our process right now is that she is officially ours as of today!

We have to get her Passport on Monday (which her social worker should bring to Belgrade from Ruma) and we are hoping to get her medical exam that day too.
If not, it will be Tuesday (meaning we would probably leave Wednesday)
If we’re able to do that, we will call our Embassy worker, and schedule our appointment for Tuesday. He said he would try to get us the Visa the same day. If he’s able to we MIGHT be able to leave Tuesday. (praying!)
If not, then it would be Wednesday again.

Our kids are sick at home – and it makes me so homesick!
Evelyn has her first ear infections ever, and to top it off she has a double ear infection with an upper respiratory infection.
And Ethan has an ear ache in one of his ears, and a low grade fever.
They’re on anti-biotics for the first time, and Ethan is having a little reaction to it.
Oh, how it kills me to not be there with them right now!
I am ITCHING to get back to them.

When we skyped with the kids, they seemed to receive Olive well.
Evelyn kept calling her ‘my my baaabbbyyyyy’ – that’s a good sign!

Hopefully she feels the same when we get home!
And Ethan totally recognized her and seemed very excited to finally see her with us!
Olive was more concerned with pressing the buttons on the computer, but I think she will love them too.

Olive is stunned at being in a car!

The mittens we bought her are HUGE! lol. She was very interested in watching out the window. She didn’t act excited, but more concerned. But, today (two days after) she giggled the whole time she was in the car.
This is Olive’s favorite past time in mommy’s lap. She likes to pull my hair out of my ponytails.. and in general just make a huge knot of my hair.

Day 11 coming to a close…

2 Feb

My brain is a little mushy right now because I have a headache and it’s been a long day…
Today we got word that we aren’t going to be able to have our ceremony until Thursday morning.
I was REALLY hoping for Wednesday -but no such luck.
That means that we are likely to not be able to leave until Wednesday afternoon, and considering it costs $150 bucks to reissue tickets, I’m not sure what we’ll do.
Right now I’m feeling like I would give anything to go home a few days early though – so hopefully things will go exceptionally smooth and fast from here on out – and we can leave early.

Today was a stressful day for everyone.
We brought the gifts to the orphanage in the morning, and tried to has out a potential schedule with Jasmina and the center social workers, and for the rest of the time we’re here.
By the time we got all that sorted out, it was about 20 minutes to lunch time and so Jasmina asked us to wait for the tour until tomorrow.
We would have been able to do it this afternoon -but we had to take Olive’s Visa pictures.
So tomorrow morning at 10:30 we are going to get to meet all the kids – and I double checked with her that she will allow me to take pictures of all the kids – and she said yes.

Olive did pretty well WHILE we were traveling and getting her pictures taken – but she definitely showed signs of being stressed out and over stimulated later. When we got back to the orphanage to finish our visit for the evening, she started shoving her hands down in her mouth, and even started teeth grinding. We had never heard that before – so we really knew she was stressed. We had a very quiet and un-stimulating rest of the visit – and she seemed MUCH better by the time we sent her back to her room for the night. Hopefully she will sleep it off, and be back to her peachy self tomorrow.

Too tired

30 Jan

I keep promising updates and video – but I am just TOO TIRED! soon, promise (again!) :)

Tonight I’m a little emotionally spent to blog.
We had to leave Olive with nurses that just couldn’t care less tonight, and seeing my baby girl (Evelyn) at home sick and crying has made me very sad.
She lost the sparkle and excitement in her face when she saw us this evening on skype, she just looked sick, sad, and home-sick. And I have to say I am feeling the same too.
We’ve never left our kids longer than a weekend – and now that all the excitement and adrenaline has gone, I’m just plain ready to bring Olive home, and snuggle my kids.

A little less detail..

30 Jan

It is killer trying to keep up with everything – all the exhausting walking (about 8 miles a day!), spending 6-7 hours in the storage room, and then having just enough time to skype with the kids in the afternoon, check emails and load videos (which takes forever!)… to go to bed and do it again the next day.
I will hopefully be able to catch up when we have Olive in the apartment, and we have more down time.

A few things I did want to blog about for other families thinking about coming here:
1. bring little rolls of toilet paper with you every where you go. Usually there isn’t any in the bathroom by the ‘visitation room’.
2. The kids are double diapered, so when you first meet your bubs – they will look like they have the biggest butt in the world – but it’s just two massive diapers.
3. There are a pack of dogs, and a white misfit dog that you will see occasionally by the orphanage – I wouldn’t pet them, but they are friendly. And the white patchy dog could use some hand outs… because the pack of dogs chase him off every time he finds food. He’ll take it – but you have to be very quiet about it – otherwise you alert the pack, and they chase him off before he can eat it.
4. Consider the idea of leaving this place better than when you came to it. If you’re a Christian family, it’s a great opportunity to SHOW Christ’s love. (I wouldn’t talk about it outright, they might take offense if you don’t have that relationship first) Bring and extra $20 and exchange it for small dinar bills or coins, and give them to the many poor people digging through trash cans and begging in the streets. Be on the look out for little old ladies that need help walking down the street hills… buy a loaf of bread and tie it to the side of a garbage can (that’s the tradition here, and how they feed their homeless and needy, there are no homeless shelters or half way houses for them). Bring a few bucks to buy some dog treats, or to buy bread (very cheap) for the stray dogs…
and PLEASE bring gifts for the orphanage, and the staff! They could really use it! They could use mobiles for the cribs, and things that can attach to the cribs for the kids to play with. They have a bucket in every room of floor toys -but they don’t put them in the cribs. There are a few cribs in each room that have something attached to the crib – but they could definitely use more! When you see some of these children laying in their cribs 20 hours a day doing NOTHING (and some of them just crying and crying, and rocking, and hitting themselves) you will understand why not going out to eat for a month to save money for crib toys is SO important in their lives.
Even if you’re not going to be coming here, you can always seek someone that is – and send money with them to buy them here :) It would make a huge difference.

We are off to our first weekend visit – we’re showing a little late because I just couldn’t get up this morning.
I WILL upload those videos and pictures, and respond to emails soon – we’re just so tight on time :)