Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ruslan's 8th Grade Graduation & First Concert with Dad!

Rush concert
















Sunday, May 24, 2015

Long Overdue Updates....

It has been so long. I have had several requests to update. Life has been very busy, leaving little time for blogging. Lots has happened: Thanksgiving, Christmas, many many medical appointments, birthdays, end of school, etc. I will just update with a photo dump in a couple different posts to spare you from reading endless paragraphs :) Enjoy! (They re very out of order...sorry! Will try to add captions at a later date)









































Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It has been a BUSY 2 months...and that is an understatement :)

Hello everyone! I apologize, as I have always been a terrible blogger and now that I have 7 children I am a HORRENDOUS blogger lol. I will try to catch up on everything, trying not to leave anything out :) I actually tried to add pictures to this a few nights ago, they would not load but the post published anyway & I did not realize.
 
 
July 20, 2014: D.J. and I left for Ukraine, had my appointments for referrals, met both boys, spent a bit of time in "Brett's" region then came home on August 5th to wait for court.







A visit with Felix

 
 
 
 
August 18, 2014: Court for "Brett" (as he was listed on RR) in Khmelnitsky, Ukraine. His birth name was Valentine (pronounced Val-en-teen) We kept that as his middle name and still mostly call him Valentine. His first name is now Felix and he is just becoming used to being called by his new name. Then the 10 day wait began.

My facilitator &I  at the courthouse
D.J. & I after court






 
August 21, 2014: Court for "Randall" (as he was listed on RR) in Zaporozhe, Ukraine. His birth name is Ruslan (pronounced Roo-slan) and we kept his name as we felt at 15, he should keep it. Although I do wish we would have changed the spelling so that fellow Americans would pronounce it the correct way lol We started the paper chase on this day, because the 10 day wait was waived. We completed most of it & were able to finish the next day on our way out. The following are pictures of the courthouse:



 
 
August 22, 2014: GOTCHA day for Ruslan. We spent the day at a mall in Dnepropetrovsk while my facilitator did some paperwork with another family. He had his first McDonald's and played in an arcade. At the end of the day, we headed to Kyiv where we spent a few hours in a hostel before boarding a train back to our apartment in Khmelnitsky to finish up the 10 day wait.
The Boys Happy Home at Kalinovka

Gotcha!
Telling his friend goodbye.



McDonald's
air hockey with his new brother

Ruslan beat D.J. in ski ball.

 
 
 
August 29, 2014: Paper chase began for Felix, ended later in the day than it should have because there were some paperwork glitches. There was an American family that had previously adopted him but returned him to the orphanage after having him for 2 days. There was paperwork that was not fully reversed so it made the process take a bit longer. By the end of the day, it was too late to drive 6 hours back to Kyiv so we left the following morning.
 
August 30, 2014: GOTCHA day for Felix. We drove back to Kyiv with "Uncle Niko." Our apartment was in Independence Square, which was so nice! And all of the mess from the revolution had ben cleaned up and, for the most part, the square was exactly as I had remembered in from 2012. On our first trip, just a month before, the sidewalks & monuments were still burnt, there were still tire barricades, drunk people loitering, bricks missing from the street, etc. Another adoptive mom said it was cleaned up pretty much over night.


 
The view from our apartment
The view from our apartment
The view from our apartment.
 
 
shopping at Billa
The week to follow was a very tough week. Felix had a lot of behavior issues and looking back, it was likely due to anxiety. He is seven &  had never been outside of his orphanage other than the two days he spent with another family that returned him to the orphanage. Institutionalization does enough damage to a child. Then to be rejected by people who claim that they will be your mother and father does a lot more damage. Now, another person takes him from the only home he knows & says that she is his momma. He hit, he screamed, he tantrumed. I had bruises. And as stressed as I thought I was, I can never even remotely understand what was going through his mind or how scared he was. My facilitator would come over in the evenings to try to help with he behavior issues (yea, my team is that good!)


Shopping at Billa

A visit to the Kiev Aquarium while we waited between embassy appointments



  My amazing fellow adoptive momma Becki got me in touch with an amazing woman, Kim. She was my angel sent from heaven! Kim had recently moved to Ukraine with her husband and four children and started a non-profit that serves orphans in Ukraine. You can read more about her organization Wide Awake International HERE. Kim was such a big help! She helped with language, Embassy visits, babysat while I went to the market and filled out online forms to finish up immigration paper work. As long as Felix had her with undivided attention and she did what he asked, he was good as gold. His world had been turned upside down, and he just needed to be in control. It all makes sense now.

 
 
September 4, 2014: VISAS & APPROVAL TO GO HOME!!! I wasted no time in booking our tickets home.
 
Last night in Kyiv.
September 5, 2014: We boarded a plane at 5:45am. First stop was Frankfurt, Germany. That first flight was not terrible. The next flight, which was 8 hours to Washington, D.C., was a tough one. Felix broke the tray table before take off, cried, hit me & tried to hit other passengers, screamed, knocked a tray of drinks over offered by a flight attendant (I know he was trying to help but WHAT was he thinking???) We got through customs at Dulles then were headed on our last flight to New Orleans. We arrived home at about 8:30. Steve & Tage picked us up at the airport. Just as our first adoption, I did not want anyone meeting us at the airport.

USA BOUND!
USA BOUND!

 
 
 







September 9, 2014: Just 4 days after we arrived home, Silas had his Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery. The surgery lasted about 8.5 hours. He stayed in the hospital 2 days and came home and recovered beautifully. The stimulator has yet to have the effects we desire, but he has only been adjusted twice.



 
 
The next month and a half was a rough transition. Felix still had yet to settle, which was to be expected. Although his behaviors were terrible for me, he was always well behaved and even a different child for Stephen. He seemed to have an immediate bond and respect for his Papa when he met him. About the middle of October, he finally settled down. The tantrums have stopped, the cussing at me in Ukrainian stopped (I now find it a bit comical.) He is cooperative, sweet and an amazing little boy. Frankly, I am surprised it happened this quickly but I am so happy that he is comfortable in his new life. Other families have had months of erratic behavior, his was so short compared to many. I struggled whether or not to share the things that I did but I want to be honest and also let others know that even when a child  may seem difficult, it can always get better.

The week in Kyiv and even after home were some very trying times.  I really need to give much appreciation to many people who helped us through those times:

1. Our awesome adoption community. Many of whom are adoptive mamas through REECE's RAINBOW There are so many  who  held my hand throughit all: the week in Kyiv, the flight home, and weeks after. There are not enough words to describe the awesomeness that I was surrounded by. I had help with anything I needed. I was down in the  trenches & I had countless people helping me. it was incredible.

2. Our dear friend Chelsea who has helped us through the transition at home.

3. OF course our facilitation team which includes my favorite person, NANCY, who I miss talking to daily.

4. Everyone, our friends  and family,  that has supported and kept faith in us through this journey  .




All 7 of our boys
 
 
I will stop here and continue with the next adventure of the Triple Tonsilectomy & Adenoidectomy so that I can justify why we made such a crazy decision LOL