Adopting Grace

The journey to bring our little girl home

Browsing Posts in Trusting God

Mountains

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Can you say tired? I did lay her back on the bed before I laid down. This is jet-lag to a "T".

Today marks one week that Leeza and Philip have been home. Their arrival was a bit of a mountain-top experience for our family. It’s WONDERFUL to all be together finally and to see her playing with the other kids is an answer to so many prayers. As I look in the rearview mirror in the car I feel like I’m driving around a preschool, but it’s a good feeling. A tired feeling, but a good feeling.

But you don’t get to stay on the mountain top for long. Reality started setting in Monday as we had to begin teaching her our routine and working through all the odd (to us) behaviors. Since she was put in the orphanage she’s never been around anything that could hurt her. She doesn’t understand not touching the oven because it’s hot or the scissors because they will cut her. She doesn’t understand that you can’t hang off a stool and not fall on your head or lean over a flight of stairs and not tumble down. She says our names about a thousand times a day and we’re not sure what that’s about…maybe just checking to make sure we’re still there or maybe just because she finally has a Mama and Papa to call. She doesn’t understand when Philip has to leave the house so when he had to go back to work today she was NOT happy about it and has asked for him at least once an hour so far. It does no good to tell her he’s at work because she has no idea what that is. She noticed his car was missing and keeps asking if he’s taking a nap somewhere.

Leeza and Josiah helping Kimmie make some banana-pumpkin bread.

She has odd eating behaviors…not the hoarding like we expected, but she’ll chew things up and then want to give them to us. When we refuse to take them she’ll try chewing them again and spit it back out again. She’s fascinated by the mop and vacuum cleaner. Trying to clean the floors today reminded me of having a cat in the house. She just scooted in front of each of them the whole time trying to touch them and play with their cords. When I feel like my patience is just about gone I have to remind myself that she’s only been here a week and she’s doing the best she can to find patterns in what must seem like chaos to her. And just when I feel like I really can’t deal with much more she’ll want a big hug and kiss or she’ll get excited about something little like being able to help us clean up after dinner. As I write this we’re in nap time, which has proven to be a pretty stressful time for her, but I just sneaked a peek at her and Josiah is teaching her how to dress like a superhero (he put a bandanna around her shoulders) and patiently showing her how to play with his train set.

Leeza enjoys holding the bottle for Kasia to eat. Kasia can do it herself, but she never seems to complain about the help.

We’ve also had quite a few questions about the doctor’s visit yesterday. We were blessed to be able to get her in to one of the best neurosurgeons in the country and he gave us a synopsis of how much she can feel and how much function her legs have. He read the bloodwork results and let us know her kidney function is ok (we’ll still meet with the urologist next month, but not for an emergency situation) and let us know her spinal cord is not in any immediate danger. We are to protect her lower back where her spinal cord sticks out a little (obviously) and, as he put it, answer the phone and come to the appointments they set up for us. She has a lot of medical appointments ahead of her and knowing that they are now responsible for coordinating all of it is a major relief since we have no idea what we’re doing. Sometime in December she will go in for a full day MRI session so we can see what’s going on in her brain and spine and within the next 6-9 months he said she’ll end up with major back surgery. The surgery won’t do anything to improve the function she has, but will prevent any further damage to her spinal cord as she grows. We have a lot to learn about what he’ll be doing, but in a nutshell he’ll be detaching the spinal cord from the spinal column (bone) at the bottom of her back so that as she grows her cord isn’t being stretched out and damaged. Right now that sounds very scary and just hearing it knocked me right off that mountain top and my brain starts coming up with all the reasons why this is just going to be impossible. And then I remember how much God has already gotten us through. It was just 8 months ago that we first saw Leeza’s picture and bringing her home seemed impossible. Now she’s playing in the next room with Josiah and I know I can trust that God will get us over this next mountain as well.

Ethan

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The Malone family was instrumental in getting us over here for our adoption. The Dad, Chris, is a volunteer for RR and donates his time to work with families as they get all their stateside paperwork done…all while raising a family and working a full time job. They are in the process of adopting another little boy and were just told that their son’s health is very poor and he needs immediate medical attention in the states, which is not available where he is now. They are working as quickly as they can to get their paperwork done by November 15th so they can travel by the end of November (new adoption cases are not accepted over a certain period during the winter and if they can’t meet this deadline they will have to wait until Spring).  That also means they have $20,000 to raise in a very short amount of time. Below are ways they have asked people to help them. We’ve added Ethan’s ‘button’ to the side of our blog so you can see this cutie!

We are asking for your help in a couple of ways.

1. Pray!
2. If you can help financially, you can go here
http://themalonefamily.us/?p=1608 (all gifts are tax deductible).
3. Paste our “Ethan Button” on your blog and websites. It’s on the sidebar of
our blog or you can go here… http://themalonefamily.us/?p=1601

Thank you.
Chris & Mary Malone

Blessed Again

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The dinner and auction are over and were a huge success! After weeks of not enough sleep we went into it just praying God would make it what He wanted it to be…to bring the people, weather and atmosphere He wanted. And it was beautiful. It rained all morning and part of the afternoon, which concerned us a bit, but God provided a 40 foot donated tent to completely cover all the auction items and a completely covered (gorgeous!) lodge for the dinner. We assumed we’d just have to find the silver lining in a rainy event, but at 5pm as the band began to play we watched the clouds part and wonderful sunshine come through and enjoyed dry weather for the rest of the evening! We had a great turnout, an amazing band, delicious food, totally awesome friends and family to work with and the auction worked! We had tried so hard to be organized so the check out at the end of the auction would go smoothly and quickly and, even with a few hiccups, we got all the prep work done in the scheduled 30 minutes and had everyone checked out in another 30. It was truly amazing!

The support we received from our friends and family was so encouraging and, through them, God provided another HUGE chunk of the resources we’ll need to bring Grace home. Between the proceeds from tonight, the matching grant and donations that have been sent in from around the country we are now at about $18,000! We were told to expect a cost of between $20-24,000 which 4 months ago sounded like an impossible bill, but today is so close to being met. And while we praise God for continuing to provide for us financially, I’m more in awe of how He’s taking care of us on a day-to-day basis through this. It’s been a very stressful time, but just when we think it’s getting to be too much we’ll have a friend call and offer to watch the kids while we do some task or someone else will call just to say they are praying and ask how we’re doing. Others have offered pretty much every resource you can imagine, just when we needed it to take the next step in this process…and all of this is done for a little girl they’ve never met but are praying fervently for. It’s humbling to be in the middle of this whole thing and truly amazing to see how God is working around us and growing our faith. And we continue to pray that He is letting Grace feel his presence as strongly as we can.

By coincidence it was also my birthday. This is by far the biggest party I’ve ever had and one of the best birthdays I can remember. Philip and the kids surprised me on Saturday with an ice cream cake (I’ve always wanted one of those…yum!) and singing and I kept catching myself trying to imagine what it will be like to celebrate next year with Grace here too. I’m really looking forward to it.

P.S. We just got confirmation from FedEx that our dossier was received in Ukraine!

All Falling Together

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The dossier is on its’ way and should be in our facilitator’s hands by next Tuesday!!! It was exciting and scary to put that in the mail. We’ve worked so hard to get all those papers together that I didn’t want to trust some random employee to take good care of it, but I knew I had to. So now we’re watching the FedEx site each morning to see where it is in its journey. So far it’s still just ‘in transit’ but I’m hoping as it continues we can watch it move across the world.

The dinner and auction are coming together well. We have over 50 items for the auction and I want at least half of them. Some of our friends are especially artistically talented and I’m loving the things they’ve made for us. It’s been a ton of work and pretty stressful at times, but then I’ll get a few phone calls or emails and I can see again how God is putting it all together. As I took a few minutes to just sit down while the kids are napping I was wondering why I hadn’t heard back from the Parks and Rec director about a question I had for our reservation and how I was going to manage to do all the work on the day of the auction…and then the phone rings and it’s the director with all my answers. A few minutes later I get another call from a friend who wanted to help with anything we needed that day. I know God is in control and I know he’s going to do whatever he wants with this event, but when we get those little glimpses into how he’s working it’s so encouraging!

Please keep praying for God’s timing in this whole process, for protection for our paperwork as it travels, for good weather for the dinner/auction on Sunday and for Grace’s health and protection while she’s waiting for us. Thank you!

Medical Counseling

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We had an appointment with a spina bifida specialist in Iowa City this morning to talk about what we can expect to face with Grace’s care and what we should tackle first. She was wonderful to talk us through the condition in a more technical way than is easy to find online and to give us ideas of how to start care for Grace when she comes home. Since we could only show her a picture and give her the limited info we have, we obviously didn’t get specifics, but she could tell us that because of her head shape and age that Grace probably has hydrocephaly and a shunt. Basically this means that her spinal fluid is not able to regulate itself like it does in the rest of us and this can cause problems by putting pressure on parts of the brain. One very common outcome of this is that SB kids typically have some form of learning problem, frequently in processing details and working with abstract ideas. However, in her experience they are typically very smart kids who do really well in reading and memory work. She also mentioned that one of the first things we should do when Grace comes home is to get her kidneys checked out because SB sometimes results in urine being pushed back up into the kidneys and this can cause damage. She went over quite a few conditions that could be present because Grace probably hasn’t received treatment for different aspects of the disability…it’s good to know they are a possibility and yet it’s scary to hear all the ‘maybes.’ I found myself several times during the appointment just trying to remember to breath and trust that God will get us through whatever we’re facing.

Although she is a medical doctor, she also has experience with adoption as well and talked us through a few issues we need to keep researching. Like we’ve heard from so many, she told us the relational issues are likely to be harder to face than the medical ones. I had it in my head that I should probably be expecting ‘Big Grace’ to be emotionally/developmentally more on scale with ‘little Grace’ than Josiah, even though she’ll be closer to his age. Dr. McBrien said we should probably lower that expectation to more like 12/18 months old because of how long she’s been in an institution. She also encouraged us to continue looking for pre-adoption counseling so we could be more prepared for the ‘artificial twinning’ of Josiah and Big Grace. They will be very close in age, but will be drastically different in a lot of ways which could cause stress. While all of this was a bit overwhelming to have to absorb so quickly, it is incredibly helpful to be able to think through it now and adjust our expectations and find the resources we know we’ll need soon. Thankfully, we are in an area that offers a lot of excellent medical and educational resources and the social worker that met with us today informed us of some financial help that will offset some of the treatments/home modifications/health costs that we are facing.

On another note, our newspaper interview ran this week and it was wonderfully written. They also did a great job of helping us publicize the dinner/auction. Just a reminder to all you locals that if you’re planning to come we’re requesting an RSVP by July 1st so we can plan accordingly for food. You can email me at kimmie7@gmail.com or call at 319-447-7938. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun and we have some wonderful items that have been donated to the auction. It makes me want to bid on some, but that might be a little counter productive! :)

Plodding Along

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Not much has happened this week, and yet we’ve stayed amazingly busy! I had to call someone from the Department of Homeland Defense to tell them we’d done our prints early or they would have waited to process them until our original date. We have no way of knowing how long it will take them to process them, but hopefully it will be quicker than the original date. There were 17 other families in the system ahead of us so it may take a few weeks. continue reading…

Give It A Try

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Got a prayer request…we’re making an impromptu trip to Des Moines tomorrow to see if we can get in to have our fingerprints done. This is about 3 weeks earlier than our scheduled appointments, but we’ve talked to several families in Iowa who have been able to do this and we’re hoping it works for us. Please be praying for favor with the officials there and that the big kids act good for our friends who so generously agreed to watch them.

Also got a praise…after a bit of an upset with Kasia’s weight (as in she’s not gaining suddenly) I can’t put milk away for her anymore. When I calculated how much milk I have stored it came out to 2.5 weeks, exactly the amount of time that first trip is supposed to take. That’s great, but it means we’d have a problem if I had to stay longer or go back. Philip checked at work today to see if vacation time could be donated so he could take time off without having to go without pay for a month and they said it would be no problem! He still has to do some paperwork and the time has to be donated, but what looked like a huge obstacle last night suddenly seems to be smoothing out again. And so we keep walking through those open doors….

Quick

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I only have a minute, but we have a few prayer requests…

• Our application to Life Song has been received and is in the review process. We are hoping for a rather large matching grant through them and were told it could take 6-8 weeks to hear anything back. We’ve also submitted several other applications with other organizations and are hoping something else might be granted.

• Our appointments with the USCIS office were granted, but for almost 4 weeks out…and on different days. Since we have to drive to DesMoines we’re hoping to get them together. We’re also hoping we can talk someone into letting us in sooner (we’ve heard this sometimes happens). continue reading…

There Are No Coincidences

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Man in prayer

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Something came up in Sunday School this morning that God has been making abundantly clear to us these past couple weeks…there are no coincidences. When you pray for something, wait patiently and then it happens it’s not a coincidence. It’s an answer to your prayer. We certainly don’t always get what we pray for (thank goodness!), but there are those times in your life when you pray earnestly for something that is in God’s will and you see him do amazing things. We find ourselves in one of those times and the only response we can find is one of gratitude and awe. We have prayed to both feel passionate about this adoption if we were supposed to do it…and we do. We have prayed for people to come forth who have used this ministry, adopting through Ukraine and who are local so we might be able to meet them…we’ve found 2 families. We’ve prayed to start finding some contacts within the country and suddenly 3 of our friends and family have told us of missionaries they know living there and we found out today one friends’ Dad has worked with a whole network of churches in the Ukraine for the past 16 years. We’ve prayed that people would offer to help with childcare while we’re overseas and we now have 2 options of where to leave them. We’ve prayed for people to come along side us and help us bear the load of fundraising and the first thing I heard as I walked into church this morning was, “So what do you need? Will you need help with funds? How can we help?” continue reading…

Open Doors

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Sometimes you plan for the big events if your life for months or even years. And sometimes they pop up over night and change everything. The journey that we have just begun fits into the latter category and may change our lives in ways none of us can predict right now. In some ways that’s very scary, but it’s also an amazing feeling to take a giant leap of faith and trust that God will come through for you.

Hands on Globe

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Eighteen days ago I was feeding Kasia and reading some blogs when I came across a post that included short biographies about a couple orphans. Both were beautiful little girls with special needs, but one of them really stood out to me and I haven’t been able to get her out of my head. I kept being brought to tears thinking of what faced this little girl and wondering what we could do about it and why God seemed to be placing her on my heart. The child’s name is Grace, she is 3.5 years old and has spina bifida. She is in the Ukraine and will be moved out of the baby house and into a mental institution when she turns 4, not because she has any cognitive delays but because that is simply what happens to disabled children there. With medical help this child may be able to walk, but instead would be left in a crib for the rest of her life. Philip asked what I was doing and when I showed him I expected him to say that was sad and let it pass. Instead he said we should pray about her and see what God said. The first open door. continue reading…