Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Shameless advertising!

Did you get an Amazon gift certificate this Christmas season? If so, CLICK HERE to see some amazing year end deals! And the best part, if you go to Amazon through this link, we get a small percentage of the sale for our adoption. You get to buy whatever you want and help Carolina come home without doing anything extra. Now that's a great deal!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Merry Christmas...

My husband's family has a tradition of Santa Clause. I know, most people in the U.S. do, but this is a little bit different. It all started with my husband's grandfather, Fred. Fred was a young boy during the Great Depression. People were struggling everywhere and his family was no exception. In fact, they had lost their farm and been forced to live in a neighbor's chicken coop, which they built into a small shack of a house. It was a very ugly year. Fred's father would forage for food so that he didn't take any of the meager meals from his family. He spent his days working wherever he could find work, leaving his wife to build the house. It had no windows, and a leaky roof. The children would wake up to find the blankets frozen to the beds.

Fred's father did some farming work for a man who noticed he never brought lunch. This kind boss sent him home with a bag of flour, realizing they probably had no food. The large family was overcome with gratitude. The young kids were so hungry, they tried to eat the flour raw.

One day, Santa Clause came to town and all the children went to the fire station to see him. As they were standing in line, Fred's older brother told him, "Now you be sure to save whatever treat Santa gives you because that will be the only Christmas we have this year." Someone overheard this. They knew the situation this family was in and they felt moved to help. 

That night was Christmas Eve, and of course, a blizzard rolled in. The children were getting ready for bed after singing hymns of the Savior's birth. Great Grandpa proclaimed, "Well, kids, I think Santa must have forgotten us this year." Then there was a knock at the door.  When the door was opened, there stood Santa Clause. Santa had arrived not in a sleigh, but in a pick up truck filled with food....which was stuck in the snow. Santa had been trying to get out the farm all afternoon and had hiked the last mile or so with the sack of provisions and a few toys on his back. The family was overjoyed. Their children had been trying to eat raw flour, they were so hungry....truly Santa brought with him a Christmas miracle. Literally, their Bread of Life.

In honor of that Christmas miracle, Fred dressed up as Santa every year for his 13 children, and the story was retold. It was a sweet tradition that reminded everyone of the year when Santa had been a godsend. Fred's children grew into adults. One of them is my husband's father, Brent. Each year, when they heard the bells, all the kids would hurry into their beds and do their best to look "asleep." Santa would come and bring oranges and promise to return when everyone was really asleep. Now Brent's children are grown with children of their own. Each of them carries on the Santa tradition. On Christmas Eve, I will take the kids upstairs and tuck them in bed, while my husband slips away. Then we will hear it...the bells. "Quick! Turn out the lights! Santa is coming!" Then up the stairs he comes as the kids try to contain their excitement and pretend to be asleep. "Ho!Ho!Ho!" he says. He visits each child and gives them an orange or a candy cane and then he leaves promising to return when everyone is asleep. At that point I flip on the lights and the little ones squeal with delight that they have just seen Santa. It's very real for them. I manage to distract them just long enough for hubby to make a mad dash to change his clothes and then come out of the bathroom or somewhere else wondering what he "missed." 

It's a fun tradition that we hope our children will carry into their families. One act of kindness can have an impact greater than anyone could ever expect. At last count, Fred had  15 children (13 living), 86 grand childrent and 170 great grandchildren (our little Ethan is #170)  that are all being taught this story of love and charity. I wonder if "Santa" ever knew what an impact his act of charity and love had on this family? 

We would like to wish all of our readers a very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

What we know...

I have been asked by several people for more information on Carolina. I am sure it seems strange, but I actually don't have much information on her. In her country, information is not shared with adoptive parents prior to their arrival. This is done to protect the privacy of the children and their families as many children listed in Eastern European orphanages are not available to be adopted. Many also age out of the system (usually at age 16) and have enough discrimination against them without people being able to look up their names and pictures on the internet and find out they were raised in institutions. The "orphan status" is often a source of discrimination against these kids when they grow up and try to find jobs. The government does photo list the children available for adoption (though it is hardly a comprehensive list as many regions do not update the database). Some adoption agencies and advocacy groups get special permission from the government to list *certain* children who have disabilities and/or need urgent medical care. This is how many American families find these children. Often, families who have traveled to a particular region will get to see other children who are available for adoption and can give personal accounts of the children's personalities to potential adoptive parents. And that is how extra photos and information about some children gets around cyberspace. Real names are not generally used. All children listed with Reece's Rainbow (and most other organizations) are referred to by pseudonyms. So, Carolina was not actually given the name of 2 American states by her birth mother.

Now that I have explained how this works a little bit, I will share what I know. I know that Carolina spent her first nearly 4 years in an excellent orphanage. Although it was not a family, she was loved by her caregivers and by her director. She was well-nourished and hydrated, as you can see by her picture, taken when she was 3 years old. Her description on Reece's Rainbow says that she wore AFO braces on both legs and that she could walk. We also know and can see in her picture that she has strabismus (crossed eyes). I was blessed to receive a document from a blog reader with a narrative from another adopted mother who met Carolina while adopting her son. This is what she wrote:

"...I was only able to see Carolina once. It was during one of our visits with our girls. It was raining outside so we had to visit with them in a play area inside. Our baby house has a big brother/big sister program and Carolina was with a "big sister" in the play area. She was swinging on one of those big glider swings and singing. She was a total doll...and so beautiful. She has gorgeous olive skin...curly hair...and one of those mischievous I'm about to get into something. She was wearing afo's...but I'm not sure how well she walked. She was a charmer...that's for sure!"

There are no other pictures aside from her baby picture. As you can see, it's not a lot of information. But every detail is exciting to us. We pray that she is well and loved at her new facility. We know she has endured 2 transfers since the above photo was taken. Transfers are brutal for these children. I cannot imagine never having had a family, and being torn from the only caregivers I had ever known and sent to another facility with older children and an established "pecking order." Being a newly transferred child has to be frightening.

I am aware that adoption will mean she is taken from her facility and her country. She will certainly be scared. She will grieve. There is nothing I can do about that fact, But I can ensure that this will be the last time she has to leave everything she knows. We will give her love, proper nourishment, proper medical care and therapies for her cerebral palsy as well as her emotional needs. We will spend every day making sure she knows she is loved, wanted and of infinite worth to our family and to her Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. She will have two brothers and 2 sisters, a mom, a dad, grandparents, aunts and uncles. She will have a church family that will welcome and accept her. She will get to go to school. She will one day have the opportunity to go to college if she so desires. She will not be limited by her disability. She will be adored just like our biological kids.

I wish I had more information to share. I wish I had more pictures. But I waited 9 months to see anything more than grainy ultrasound images of my other 4 kids. I will be patient and wait a few more months to see my newest addition.

If you feel so led, even the smallest donation to our chip in or FSP account gets us closer to our daughter.We also have an Amazon Associates link at the top right of the blog as well as HERE. This costs you nothing extra, but we get a small portion of the sale as an advertising fee. Every cent helps. Sharing our cause helps more than you may know and we are incredibly grateful and humbled by your support.