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Friday, October 10, 2014

Finally coming clean. I have PAB.

I have exactly 17 blog posts that I started and never completed. Some because my boys keep me so busy. But mostly because my mind is completely GONE! I have an illness far worse than writers block or pregnancy brain.........I have full blown Post Adoption Brain. This is the worst of the worst friends. I have fallen head over heels, madly, deeply, passionately in love with my boys! I can hardly keep a straight thought typing this post. I am determined to complete this if it kills me! I cannot tell you how amazingly perfect each of my children are. This adoption experience has been the absolute journey of my life. It has changed me far more than I could have ever expected. One day I will share my life story of redemption (it is truly way to complicated for a PAB brain to type up). So lets just stick with the "After the Rainbow" story. ;)

Edgar 3 years, started school this week. His teacher clearly thinks he is the greatest. She scoops him up when I bring him in. Edgar loves school! He stands at the front door all dressed with his back pack on waving "bye bye" to us. We drive him to school and he goes to his teacher and waves bye again. He is signing without being prompted. This is fantastic! He can tell us "eat" "more" "drink" without being asked! He is becoming VERY curious about the house and his environment and his expectations and limitations. He is constantly pushing us to see just how far he can go. He loves to make people laugh! He pretends to fall over and over again just so we will all clap and say "oh no Edgar fell!" He is potty training and doing pretty darn well. He loves his little brothers and tries to take care of them, marching around handing them bottles and toys, and stroking their heads when they cry. He likes to be in charge and randomly closes cabinets and pushes in chairs, cleans and organizes. The biggest Edgar bombshell? Two weeks ago I noticed Edgars arm looked shorter than his other arm. Upon further inspection I realized his right arm was an inch shorter and the elbow did not bend completely!? How in the world had I missed this!!! I brought him in for x-rays and he is scheduled to see an Ortho on the 20th. Apparently he was born with this deformity but there appears to be an old injury involved as well. We will find out if a surgery will be necessary in the future :/ He has OT and ST at school and outside OT and ST. He is still pending strabismus surgery in January. Edgar is the smartest, sweetest three year old I know. I am so proud to be his mommy!

Dunham 2 years. This boy is an absolute Angel! He has the biggest smile I have ever seen. He is the easiest going and my least demanding child. He is so quiet and content sucking his fingers and watching the action. He is eating with his own hands. When he first came home he would not eat solids or hold his own bottle. He holds his own bottle and feeds himself. Apples, bananas, cereal, anything! Next we will work on sippy cup and spoon. He loves us. This is HUGE! He sat on his daddy's lap today playing with his little foot, eating chicken nuggets. He is a son. He is our son. He knows it. He LOVES music. He is quite the dancer. He has grown and finally hit 20lbs. He is a total stud and works the camera ;) I wish my PAB would allow me to emphasize this incredible little boys talents and good looks but it simply isn't the case. God has blessed me with this love fog. It is truly a blessing that allows me to clear my mind of things that are unimportant and focus only on healing hearts, minds and bodies of his beloved children.

Baby Gage 13 mo. My handsome gift from God. The blessing for being obedient. I longed for years for a biological child from my husband. Our older children are from previous relationships. My husband had always said "no". After he opened his heart to adoption, God blessed us with the pregnancy of Baby Gage! Gage was 1.5 months when we committed to Dunham. God has his own plan. His plan blesses abundantly! Far more than our dreams could ever conceive! Gage is a sensitive, thoughtful child. He is observant and careful. The opposite of both his brothers! He is a momma's boy and takes his time before approaching others. He does not like to rough play, wrestle or fight. He likes tickles and cuddles, quiet time and music. He loves anything with a motor (just like his big brother Austin and Daddy). He likes to use his hands and puts everything in his mouth. He will likely stick things in his ear like Bubba (Austin) and wind up dragging us to the ER a time or two. He is beautiful, mysterious, an old soul. He thinks his brothers are hysterical and is innocently oblivious to any differences in their chromosomes. I am certain he will protect them, defend them, and love them for a life time.

I cannot say that every day is perfect or that it isn't hard work. However, I cannot say that it is all that hard either. I am at a point in my life that I am not all that concerned about Starbucks or perfect Abs, driving a Lexus or working to keep up with the Joneses..... I just want to laugh, love, give, sacrifice, please God. If it were ten years ago I would likely be miserable, confused, easily stressed. Now on the worse days, I call a friend, drink a glass of wine, go shopping with my daughter Alexis or talk with my husband or pray to God. Oh who am I kidding! I do those things simply because I enjoy doing them! (:  Life is Good. God is Good. We are happy and the secret is out, I have PAB.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Home Sweet Home

Dunham and Edgar have been home for 4 whole months now! Their smiles are bigger than ever and they have already learned so much! We are so focused on them we have little time for anything else. We are together constantly! We took our first trip to visit family in Alabama this month. The boys loved it! All their aunties spoiled them and their cousins and NaNa too! Today we went to the Fall Corn Maze and had a blast. I think pictures say a million words......


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Just Pics!!

Our Family

Daddy and his three boys

Still in Kiev Ukraine 

First visit third trip

Edgar loves books! 

Edgar is super flexible!

My loves!

First hug third trip, "Mama"!

Dunham going for a ride!

Dunham relaxing in the swing

Edgar being silly!

Big Sissy and Dunham 

Daddy and Edgar napping :/

Baby Gage loves food! 

Sweet Edgar getting fitted for glasses

Baby Gage cooling off and looking serious!

Talking Ukraine politics.....

Their bedroom

Mommy and Edgar!

Typical Morning

Gage hates clothes!!

Edgar and his best friend! 

Another bedroom pic....

Monday, June 30, 2014

Fairy tale or a load of poop? Maybe a little of both!

We have been home three weeks. It was a bit chaotic at first. Trying to catch up on sleep and file with the Ukraine Embassy and all the other responsibilities... We have kept them on somewhat of a schedule and it has begun to stick. The two U boys are in their room and sleep through the night. Although Edgar is sleeping in the playpen since he refuses to stay in his toddler bed and I refuse to put him in a crib. Baby Gage does not sleep through the night yet and is still in our room. Wake up is about 7:30am, Breakfast is around 8am. Then all three boys play in the playroom and I play their Signing Times Videos, until 9:30, then the two babies take a nap while Edgar eats his snack and plays. The babies are up around 11:00 and play until lunch 12:00. After Lunch around 1:30 Edgar takes his nap while the babies play. Edgar is up around 2:30 and the babies lay down for their 3:00 nap. This works well in that I have less little's all at once. At 4:30 all the boys eat their dinner and then play while we eat ours. Somewhere in there they get baths! Sometimes their play time will involve swimming or the swing, store, etc. My favorite time is before bedtime. Daddy and I snuggle with all three boys and listen to gentle music while we give the babies their bedtime bottles. It is so quiet and peaceful. The babies are so relaxed and Edgar takes turns snuggling up to us and yawning. They are so comfortable.

The Boys.....Edgar is such a ham! He is so sweet and is learning he does not have to hit and bite to protect himself or communicate. He understands no, sit, stand, sleep, eat, drink, bye-bye, Mama, and Dada. He says "Mama". He mimics everything we do! He throws his own diapers away and the babies diapers. Just say "Edgar, garbage." and he takes care of it! He is curious about everything and loves to clean! He picks up his playroom and walks around "sweeping". He feeds his stuffed monkey with an empty bowl and spoon. He puts monkey in the desk (like a high chair). He loves all the stuffed animals and kisses, hugs and interacts with them. It is so stinking sweet! His glasses come this week! So excited for him to be able to see! The Dr said he will see the world completely differently and shouldn't mind keeping his glasses on since he is so curious and smart already.... he will love seeing the world! He wears his sunglasses now and doesn't seem to mind them. He doesn't really mind glasses and hats. Dunham and Gage.... not so much!

Dunham, is just amazing! Everyone just loves him! He has this hysterical face we call "fight face" he makes it whenever he is mad. He frowns and his eyes get huge!! He looks very scary! ;) He yells "Ba!" and that is a warning right before "fight face"!! Be afraid! Be very afraid! He greets us with a giant grin every time he wakes up or you pick him up or ......whenever! His favorite toy is the dogs bowls :/  He loves swimming with Big Sissy. (I think he is her favorite) She takes him everywhere! Target, The Mall, anywhere and everywhere! She secretly wants him for herself! He is very strong and can pull himself up on anything and does pull ups when you hold his hands! He is now eating a little bit of solids..... not much but way better than he was. He is really starting to bond with us now and is less moody. It is clear that he has settled in. He and Gage are best buds and Baby Gage doesn't seem to mind all the action! He loves watching his brothers and tries to mimic them. He and Dunham like to play tug-a-war with toys. Gage screaming and Dunham yelling "Ba!" and making "fight face". It seems natural and no one is getting hurt so I watch them instead of intervening. (truth is.. it is so adorable and entertaining)

We use about a dozen signs with them and they are slowly beginning to pick up. Some of the signs are a bit useless.... Gage signs "bird". I would prefer something more meaningful! But I'll take what I can get! I have to say.... I don't know if it is a mix of our past parenting experience, our amazing boys, our incredibly helpful 20 year old daughter, or a blessing from God, but it has been a peaceful transition. It hasn't been uneventful.... Edgar had a bout of diarrhea and made a mess in the playroom. He did try and clean it up with his broom. Thoughtful but not effective. :/  Hubby and I tagged teamed it. I took poop monster to the shower and he grabbed his heavy duty cleaning products. Unfortunately Edgars broom didn't survive the attack and had to be thrown out! Edgar and Dunham had some biting habits from the orphanage and there were some pretty tense screaming sessions from the recipients. Both boys are getting used to the unlimited food supply. They would scream at the top of their lungs, slam their heads and bang on their trays. I have finally gotten them to relax a bit.

Adoption is not a fairy tale. It is hard. Long nights. No personal time. Constant demands. The cleaning never ends! The laundry laughable! I don't know if I would recommend it to just anyone. It is definitely for those with patience. I guess we are getting old and just take it in stride. It is however the most rewarding thing I have ever done! and.... it has only just begun! I am so thankful that God chose me and Marty to raise these three beautiful boys. Then again maybe it is a fairy tale? I pinch myself every day!

Monday, June 2, 2014


Sorry for the long delay.... Our third and final trip started out a mess, Extra flights, lost luggage, long lines in immigration..... On and on. Once we arrived in Odessa the stressful paper chase, court mistakes and general Ukraine ridiculousness kicked in. The first visit with the boys on Monday, Edgar looked worse than ever. He was pale and covered in bruises, bites and a rash. I approached the swing where he is always sitting when the nannies take him out. They plop him in that swing and ignore him in order to keep him restrained. He was looking the opposite direction and I leaned over and quietly said "Vova, Mamas here". He froze as if waiting to hear my voice again. I could see his little mind thinking "did I just hear mama?" I said His name once more and he whipped around reaching and trying desperately to get out of the swing. I scooped him out and he hugged me for the longest time. Quietly murmuring "mama". Later during the visit he attempted to walk into a overgrown area and I scooped him up. He protested saying "mama, mom, ma, mama" in typical whiny three year old style.  Something about this whine made my heart leap for joy. THIS is MY son! And he knows it! A new heightened sense of desperation and fear washed over me as we worked to straighten out the mistakes with the court decree and expedite Gotcha Day!

Thursday morning the corrected court decree was ready and we raced to pick it up and get both boys birth certificates and other Ukrainian requirements filled. As the day drew to an end my facilitator said " we will pick up the boys tomorrow." Well that my friends was the moment I broke. "No we will NOT. These are MY children and I have the court decree and birth certificates to prove it. MY children will not spend one more night in an orphanage. Call them now. I am coming tonight. Period." I had all legal right to remove my children and I was NOT going to willingly let them spend one single night away from their mama. Two hours later the three of us entered that orphanage and took my boys! I was not feeling anything other then pure determination. Funny, I thought I would cry or feel elation of some sort. Nope just raw mama determination. I would have to say my walk out the gate was more of a mafia gorilla march! We returned the next morning to say goodbye and hand over the boys bank account money. I certainly could have used their government funds as we are still short for our tickets home or even to set aside as the boys have future needs. However I needed the orphanage to give me the boys medical information for the US Embassy and other personal items from their files. They can and will be difficult if they want to be. The orphanages expect that money to be donated and the reality was my boys were at a decent orphanage and I was confident the money would be used for the children. The director thanked us endlessly and our translator repeated her lengthy blessings, wishes for happiness, etc. when it was my turn to speak I simply said "Spasiba". (Thank you). I did not have any more energy for Ukrainian hypocrisy.

The boys have adjusted incredibly well over the past four days! Unbelievably fast! I had prepared myself for the absolute worst. None of my fears have come true. They are wonderfully wonderful! :). Learning about their preferences and personalities has been so much fun. Dunham is attached to Genesis like glue! She is always holding him since I am juggling "wild monkey boy"! Dunham is so gentle, quiet and easy going. We still haven't broken the news to Dunham that I am the mama not Genesis. The House family may be getting an eighth child! ;).   Edgar is a wild three year old and thinks being out of the orphanage is "the bees knees"! He has some strange sleeping habits....preferring to climb under the bed and sleep on the hard floor? I tried to put him back on the bed but he insists and falls fast asleep. He will take short naps or fall asleep on the bed but somehow winds up back on the floor! I figure his new freedom is about choices. Something he never had in the orphanage so if you like the floor... Why not? :) Genesis and I marvel at how quickly the boys have begun to heal physically. Edgar's bruises are healing and their rashes are nearly gone. They both eat constantly and the good nutrition has already improved their tone. They are becoming curious about each other and expressing all types of, curiosity, gentleness, not so gentleness! They are already bonding and behaving like brothers and I am incredibly blessed to be an observer.

Then there is Genesis. What an incredible young lady. She has been an absolute joy! She is patient, calm, helpful. She is a great listener and has been a calming "English speaking" presence. She
understood my demand to get the boys immediately and listened quietly when I complained. Never voicing her own aches pains or disappointments. She sat with the boys for hours in the car while I signed papers and juggled bureaucratic Ukraine craziness. Once while she was in the hot car with both boys and a non English driver, Edgar decided to have explosive diarrhea.  The driver must have been tired of the smell because he called my facilitator and she sent me to the car. Genesis did not stress in the least and helped me restrain "poopy pants" and change his clothes while she simultaneously held Dunham! She handles everything with a calm grace and laughs at my lame jokes. She cooks breakfast, makes coffee, feeds the boys and takes amazing pictures! She likes to explore and her curiosity and love for Ukraine pulls me out of my "mission" to take walks, sight see, and simply appreciate the small things. If you are traveling to adopt you MUST bring a "Genesis"! :)

Edgar is stirring from his nap..... Let the madness begin! ;)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Our son "Andrushka"

I am certain the day you found out you were expecting was quite a day. Whether is was planned, unplanned, exciting, frightening, sad..... I don't know. But I know you likely remember it clearly. Whatever emotions you were feeling at some point you wondered just what this child was like? Boy? Girl? Will it look like me or him? Will he have blue eyes? Red hair or blonde? How exciting for Andrushka's older sibling. I know that you were married and had another child, 7 years old. I do not know if that child were a boy or girl but certainly they watched your belly grow..... They wondered about this little life growing inside you. They rubbed your belly and felt the kicks, the hiccups? I am certain as married people you prepared your home for this new little one. Were you hoping for a daughter since you already had a son? Or vice versa? Did you care as long as the baby was "healthy"?

When your contractions started and your healthy baby boy was born full term at 3.5 kilos did you have his name picked out? Did you refuse to give it to him because he was not worthy? Were your mother, sister, husband there? When they told you of his diagnosis, his extra little chromosome did you cry? Did you refuse to hold him? Did you think he was cursed? Refuse to feed him? Did you beg your husband to let you keep him or silently grieve and agree to give him up. What did you tell your family and friends? Did you tell them the child died? Were you ashamed that you would make an "imperfect" child? What did you tell your 7 year old? You knew what the future held for him by sending him away to an orphanage.

 I am torn between compassion, pity, anger, forgiveness, gratitude.... I have lived in your country, your region, ....your neighborhood?....for nearly two months. Have I walked past you? Have I sat next to Andrushka's babushka at the cafeteria? I understand this is a hard life for common people. Decaying post soviet apartment buildings, corrupt politicians, nightmarish transportation, and poverty. I know that this is a hard life. I know it would have been a lot of work. I know that your family, friends, may not have understood or have whispered behind your back....I know because I am living that journey. Gods journey. "All things are possible through Christ who strengthens me". I have fought for your son for seven months. Spent $30k. Flown on 18 airplanes. Hundreds of people have donated, prayed and fought for your son. I have been away from my children and have gone weeks without holding my own infant son.

I want you to know that he was worth fighting for. Only God knows why you couldn't, wouldn't......... I want you to know that he is loved beyond measure. That he WILL do great things and that his story will inspire many other families to adopt. He will bring wisdom to those who see Down Syndrome as a curse. He will love and be loved and he will do all of this just by being himself, our beloved son...           Dunham Andrew Quinn.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Losing Dunham....

January. Things in kyiv were heating up. The stress of adoption was catching up to me, when I received a seemingly uneventful friend request from someone I did not know. We had several adoption friends in common, so I assumed it was just another family being friendly. Moments after accepting the request I received a private message. The message basically read...."we are in country and our child's paperwork is not ready, we received a referral on Dunham. Unless you say otherwise we will accept the referral. We hope this does not affect your process..."  My heart leaped into my throat and I sat stunned. I could hardly speak when I called my husband who without hesitation said "No we will not release him. he is our son." I hung up and called my good friend, sister in Christ, and fellow adoptive mother, ________. Sobbing I asked her what is the "right" thing to do?! I love this child! He IS my son! How can I give him up!? I thought instantly of the story of The Judgement of Solomon. My good friend in her wisdom, experience and stable emotions stated.... "Your son is not in any immediate danger. You are his mother. He will wait for you." I hung up and cried in a way I can imagine a mother losing her child would cry. It is then I knew that he was my child and God had declared him to be. I messaged back the other family. "No, we will not release him......" Several days passed with no communication. My fearful heart ached at the thought they would adopt him. I messaged....SEEN. No response.  I messaged again. SEEN. No Response. Finally a response. "We visited with "Dunham" today. My husband is having a difficult time turning him down....."  WHAT? They accepted his referral? They visited with him? My heart sunk, my throat closed. I pulled over to the side of the road. Hysterical I prayed. I had to work. I again insisted that they turn down the referral. She said that they would. I messaged the proper authorities at RR to let them know I was not releasing my commitment to Dunham. They assured me that he was safe and that the other family would not adopt him. I was angry, hurt, confused, scared. I continued on to work and that day I imagined Christ walking with me. Holding my hand. I moved over in the elevator to make room for him at the next office building I marketed. I clutched my hand imagining he was holding it. I wanted to drop to my knees in front of the world on the sidewalk and plead with God not to take my child from me. Oh it hurt so badly.... I could not even imagine the pain of a mother who has sent her child to Heaven.

The fear remained, as often fear does. It rooted itself into my heart and mind and began to take hold. The enemy was taking advantage. I could not think, eat, sleep, breathe..... I began using my asthma inhaler, that I hadn't used in months. I messaged the other family often to receive reassurance. She asked for my reassurance that we were coming and would not be frightened off by the events in Ukraine. I promised her we were coming! I prayed for them that God would give them comfort, guidance, bravery. I thought of their fear and broken hearts as they learned of their own child's paperwork issues and the frustration, exhaustion and pain they must be feeling. Weeks passed. One day I was extremely low. I called another good friend in process and cried. She was just as concerned about the protests in Kyiv. That is when an image came to me..... It was a beautiful sunny spring day, lovely flowers lined the sidewalk. I was pushing both of my boys in a stroller. It was so peaceful and beautiful and I knew it was from God. I was instantly filled with peace and hope.

When the other family announced their child's paperwork had been cleared and they were bringing home two amazing children that had no other family fighting to get to them, my heart leaped! Hooray for those two children, hooray for their new mama and papa and hooray for my healing heart! May God receive the glory of this amazing family that chose to obey God and trust in his plan for their family! The day we met Dunham we understood the magnitude of just what this family had done for us. The incredible sacrifice it must have been to be in this strange country, tired, broken hearted and confused..... Dunham with his gorgeous green eyes and reddish blonde hair and giant smile must have seemed like an absolute Angel! So tempting and perfect and simple to adopt this wonderful child..... But they did not succumb to the temptations of the enemy. I am certain they prayed, they fought their emotions and they won! They know who they are and they will surely read this blog. I want you to know that we are so very grateful. We pray for you often and ask God to bless your family endlessly for the blessing you have given us. Yesterday I walked my two precious boys in that stroller. It was a beautiful spring day. Just as God had promised. Thank you for giving me that gift.