Tuesday, December 30, 2008

buckle your seatbelts!

Well, we have another date to hope for - Monday, February 2nd!

Everything still depends on Emerson's Center getting her paperwork completed in the next few weeks, but the powers that be are pushing very much for this to be done and our facilitator has asked for our appointment to be on Feb 2nd.

So, we are considering taking a leap of faith and buying the plane tickets (not too big a leap - we'll still book through Golden Rule so we can change them cheaply if needed LOL!) because Binghamton Airport is a ghost town on the weekends, we only have 2 flight options and chances are they will be booked if we wait until the last minute to buy. We might hold out until mid-January to see if things seem to be going well. We'll have to think about it.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers that everything comes together this time and we will be holding our little angel in 35 days!

back again so soon?

Haha, what was that - less than 24 hours!

Sorry for my last grumpy post. I am not a whiny person by nature, it just takes me a little time to adjust. ^_~ I don't think I ever posted the pic above, it was from a couple months ago - the signs say "We love you Emerson" but you can imagine how impossible it was to get the kids to all hold them up at the same time LOL!

So, maybe we'll travel in February. Maybe not until March. Hey, maybe even April or May! But as long as Emerson's heart stays strong, that's okay with us. I went back and reread my post from Thanksgiving, because the quote I posted then is one I need to read more often.

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow."
- Melody Beattie

A little over a month ago we weren't sure if we'd ever hold Emerson in our arms. And although until we do that possibility remains simply because of her heart condition, the fact is that we now have chances in our favor again. And for that, I am grateful, and I will be happy knowing that.

We love her so much and we cannot wait to see her - but that saying is ironic isn't it? ... because we love her so much, we CAN wait. :)

Monday, December 29, 2008

needing a break

Well, we went ahead and told everyone involved in our childcare arrangements to continue with their plans for January. So the first week of February is definitely the earliest, though certainly not the latest... we just have no way of knowing when Emerson's paperwork will be done.

As the day has gone on I can tell how emotionally drained I am right now. Maybe I'm too obsessive a person, when I pursue something I never do it half-heartedly, I put everything, every ounce of me into it... and well, 7 months of that has taken its toll. So, I am going to try to take a break from this crazy adoption blogging world right now, try to recharge my batteries. Maybe while I'm at it I can limit myself to checking my email one or two times a day instead of twenty, right? ^_^
We'll see how long I can stay away - any bets? :)

If you need me, just email - chris@weelilmonsters.com

little update

Well, it seems we probably won't be traveling January 15 after all. It's still a possibility, but there might not be enough time to have Emerson's paperwork ready, especially with the holidays coming (Serbian Orthodox celebrates Christmas on Jan 7 and New Year's on Jan 14). Her paperwork might not be ready until more around late January.

Because of difficulties with childcare arrangements, unless we can have January 15 confirmed by this Friday, it is really best for our family to wait until February. My sister has had trouble with her work letting her out for so long on such short notice since she thought it would be by October/November, so Matt's dad has kindly offered to help Matt's mom with the kids. Grandma had a nursing conference in mid-January she wanted to attend but is willing to pass up to be here for us. Grandpa had a trip to Florida he had planned but is willing to postpone to be here for us. And it just wouldn't be fair to ask them to give up these plans when it's so uncertain if we would get to go Jan 15 at all.

I am definitely disappointed and just so sad over all of the obstacles that seem to keep getting thrown our way... but I know we will still hold little Emerson very soon, and so I just have to adjust my hopes a little. :)

It has been such a rough road, but it will be so worth it in the end!!

231 faces

I didn't have any beautiful words to put in this montage, just 231 of the beautiful faces of Reece's Rainbow.

All of these little ones need families. Down syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Hydrocephaly, Limb abnormalities, cleft palate, general delays and more.
All little ones need families.

The Angel Tree ends in 3 days. The need for families for the millions and millions of orphans in the world will not.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

never enough

I'm only one. But still, I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still, I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

- Edward Everett Hale

It took me several tries to watch this video completely, through so many tears. Thank you, Christine, for this reminder.

Standing in the doorway of our playroom, looking at the mess of new toys that a few days ago sat wrapped beneath a tree, my heart cannot help but ache with guilt, with sorrow. Somehow adopting Andjela, bringing her into the circle of our family, seems like an afterthought, a penny tossed into a bottomless bucket that could never be filled. I know she is meant to be with us, but I cannot help but ask myself - Are we doing enough? Are we giving enough?

At a time when our country feels faced with uncertainty, with turmoil - jobs lost, mortgages foreclosed, bankruptcies filed - we must remember the ones who are truly needy in this world, the ones who wait endlessly for a helping hand. The rational part of me tells me it is silly to give all, for everyone to give all - if we stopped buying Christmas presents the entire retail sector of the U.S. would fall apart, hundreds of thousands of people would lose their jobs and be plunged into the very poverty that brings me tears.

But somehow, we must find a balance. We must examine our own lives and make sure we are doing. Enough.

And the next time you find yourself lost in the stress and sadness of daily struggles, think of these little ones. Pretend for a moment that they are your own children. Because really, they are. You know them. They belong to you. Never fail to do what you can for them. They need you. We all need to make sure we are giving enough... of our pockets, our voices, our hearts.
Because if we don't stand up for these little ones, who will?

Friday, December 26, 2008


We had such a wonderful Christmas! Even though we are still missing one family member, just knowing how close we are to fixing that helps to make the holidays sweeter! ^_^

Even though we were very good this year with our budget, spending a full 50% less than last year (which I know many of us are doing!), we have to give a very big thank you to our wonderful family who helped with the kids' wish lists! Since we expected Emerson would be home by now, she also had many presents beneath the tree... Dawson graciously helped unwrap them and cannot wait for her to come and play with him! :)

Matt and I decided not to get any gifts for each other this year - we are getting the BEST gift anyways, just a little late! - but we did get our annual Snowbuddies figurine to commemorate the addition of one more family member in 2008. Isn't it amazing that we have added one more snowman every year for 5 years? We are very, very blessed! (Click the pictures to make them larger)

I just love Emerson's snowperson - sitting up there on the top, a look of joy, arm thrown up in victory. Finally, a family complete.

As luck would have it, we had 3 children sick throughout Christmas Eve with a nasty stomach virus - we spent the night putting toys together, doing last-minute wrapping, organizing, baking sugar cookies and cleaning up vomit from Parker, Macy and Dawson - ah, life with children! :)

Here are some pictures from our amazing day!

Five stockings.

The spread!

A cottage for Macy (thanks, Bethany, for the tip on Amazon's sale!!)

Table and chairs, just our size!

Thanks, Grandma! (ahem... I mean Santa! ^_~)

Digging in!

A birthday present from Santa? Cade *loves* the movie "Shark Boy and Lava Girl" and of course, wanted a Shark Boy costume. And of course, that costume does not exist. BUT we did find a woman who makes custom costumes and told Cade maybe he could get it for his 5th birthday in February because it would take a long time to make. Well, she was very fast and we couldn't resist the element of surprise!

Since half of our clan was sick on Christmas day, we had to postpone Christmas dinner and instead had a delicious meal of Saltine crackers, plain Cheerios and a few sips of Gatorade. Thankfully, we enjoyed a REAL meal the next night! :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

just to say

Just wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!! :)

The kids are all very excited for Santa's visit tonight, I'll have lots of pictures to share at some point this week!

In adoption news, we have a possible travel date of Jan 15 (we would be leaving NY on Jan 13) but we are still waiting on that final confirmation. Our facilitator is pretty sure (so we are too!) so we have gone ahead and made flight reservations. We have them on hold until next Tuesday when we either need to make the payment or lose the reservation. We are really, really, really hoping we get confirmation before then - we are booking through a humanitarian agency where we can change our tickets for a very small fee if needed, but we'd like to avoid that trouble if possible.

I can't wait to make that very special post that we are officially counting down! ^_^

P.S. Little Dasha's family has been completely overwhelmed with support - in just a few days they have raised the $2000 they were short!!! What a wonderful Christmas present, thank you to all who helped them! What a difference we can all make! ^_^

Sunday, December 21, 2008

an urgent need

You might notice I took down our ChipIn Fundraiser... and in its place is the face of a beautiful little girl in Ukraine. Her name is Dasha and she is being adopted by the Newbold family. This is an amazing family that has really inspired me - they set out to adopt not one but two children with Down syndrome in Ukraine. Their adorable little boy, John Paul, has been home for several months now. They thought Dasha would come home with him but paperwork problems meant she was not available for adoption until December. After a long wait for them, they are finally in Ukraine again for their first of two trips - and they've hit a bump in the road. Adoption is expensive. Adopting two children is VERY expensive. And unfortunately, some information they were given on pricing for 2 processes turned out to be incorrect and they now find themselves $2000 short of what they need to complete Dasha's adoption.

I can only imagine how scary this is for them - our budget isn't even really a "budget" - it's us having exactly what we need, down to the last penny, and if any cost should rise it would tip the entire scale against us. So I feel so badly for this family and if anyone was planning on donating for Emerson, please send some help the Newbolds' way instead. You can click on the "Donate" button below to contribute directly to their account. $2000 seems like an awful lot, but with all of the generosity I have been so amazed with, I know it's not.
Small amounts add up!

Please help bring home sweet Dasha! :)

winter wonderland

Just in time for Christmas, we finally have a decent snow blanket! ^_^
This isn't a lot, maybe just 4 or 5 inches, but that's not bad for Binghamton! (We lived in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains for a few years - now THAT is snow LOL!)

Thank you, Grandma, for the new electric fireplace - I think we found a good place for it in the entryway! We have a wood-burning fireplace in the family room but never use it for 4 obvious reasons ^_^ This one doesn't get too hot!

Here is our dog, Austin, in his element (he's a Finnish Spitz)! :)

And just because I had to share, this is Emerson's "coming home" outfit for the plane trip back to the U.S. (assuming it still fits her!) The white tights are so warm and soft. I cannot wait to see her in it! We are really, really hoping we get our travel date confirmed by Tuesday, but we will have to wait and see!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

maybe soon!

Our little Emerson is close to being put in the Central Registry, possibly by the end of this week or Monday! This is the last step, the one we have been waiting for, before we can receive a travel date! Sometimes there are unexpected bumps at this point so hoping everything can be finished smoothly and we may just have our travel date right before Christmas. I will give you a hint... it starts with a "January" and ends with a "14" LOL! ^_^
Wouldn't that be a sweet present?

We are patiently but excitedly waiting! :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

looking for you

I had to share this most beautiful poem that I came across, "Imena" ("Names") by Mika Antic, a Serbian poet-painter-journalist-bohemian. ^_^ I have discovered that I love his poems, many are directed toward a child and are so sweet, and this one just made me think of Emerson, and all of the other little ones waiting patiently for the right somebody to find them.

You find somewhere some Misa,
some Goran,
you find friends like you
and you stop like that and you don’t believe
that there is somebody like you - the same,
in this different world.
And nothing has to be said.
It’s all known and understood in advance.
Maybe some Miras are looking for you now.
Maybe a Gordana can’t
without you,
reach some colossal sun.

And you don’t even know how many of those like you
tonight, again, don’t have somebody.
And you don’t even know how many of those like you
are preparing for a meeting with you at this very moment.
And you don’t even know who are those, like you - wonderful,
and who have made their pillows wet with tears.
And you could’ve simply met each other
if only you searched a little.
And you step into life with a wrong someone.
With a different someone.
With someone distant.
And Boris,
and Sanja
still dreams only of you.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

poppies blooming

Click on the link above to visit Poppies Blooming (and if you're fast tonight you can enter a giveaway for one of three very cute prizes!)

The Artists Renditions (paintings of photographs) are just amazing and an added bonus - some of the profits go toward supporting organizations for Down syndrome! ^_^ Definitely some beautiful and charitable ideas for Christmas gifts!

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Look what I found Macy doing in the dining room - awwwwww!!!
I cannot wait to get our girls together! :)

a final push!

With the possibility of traveling in a MONTH (yay!!) I have once again started looking at our savings and crunching airfares and everything else. We should manage our basic stuff, depending on airfare (*knock on wood*), but I also still have a little Wish List left of items I really want to bring for the other children that I was not able to have donated - like a few BebePods (not sure how I'm going to squeeze those into our suitcases so if anyone has a magically expanding one, please email me LOL!), a few more oral motor and feeding tools and toys, therapy books and the like. If anyone would like to help, we appreciate it! We don't have any special prizes to spare this time, but I can't say enough how much every little bit adds up. We got this far on "little bits"! Also, if you have any items you'd like to send with us, just email me - chris@weelilmonsters.com :)

Friday, December 12, 2008

few words

After that last long post (sorry, I always have so much to say LOL!) I just had to share - we might be traveling as soon as mid-January!!! We are patiently waiting to see for sure, and honestly I will be thrilled whether it's January or May, but I cannot describe the joy of possibly holding our newest little angel so very soon!

one sweet day

One year ago, at 5:30 AM, with our first 3 children sleeping soundly upstairs, after an unbelievably fast one hour labor in a birth pool in our bedroom, sweet little Dawson was born peacefully into my hands. This is Dawson's story, but it's also my story, because he was the chapter in this novel I carry in my heart that made it a story of hope instead of bitterness. This is long, but it will tell you everything. (Or, you can skip to the end for some pictures!)

The story of how we got to that point, away from hospitals and ultimately away from a doctor or midwife, is another story entirely! Forced to leave a hospital and midwives I loved halfway through the pregnancy because of lawyers and businessmen trying to decide how American women should give birth, unable to get a homebirth midwife in an area where they were mistreated over a decade ago, I was faced with a tough decision and the first sign of what an EXTRAORDINARY pregnancy this was to be! Cade's birth was a c-section but Parker's and Macy's were uneventful Vaginal Births after Cesarean (VBACs) and after meeting with the head of Obstetrics, pleading my case and that of the other women affected, ultimately I was given the choice of unnecessary major surgery and all of its risks and despite the evidence of science, or being alone. I found myself thrust into advocacy and strangely for a while, the spotlight, doing an interview with the NY Post and eventually a segment on Good Morning America, giving authors like Jennifer Block a face to the struggle to improve maternity care in the U.S. all while doing my own prenatal care and becoming my own midwifery student.

One year ago I was both a mother and a midwife, fighting off the intense oblivion that comes with contractions so I could monitor Dawson's heartrate with a waterproof doppler, assigning Apgars, looking for any sign to jump ship and speed the 5 miles to the hospital while Matt took pictures and we both marveled at the wonder of not being in that place, tied to machines, told what to do, shouted at, coerced, lied to, decisions made out of concern for time and malpractice instead of concern for LIFE. In the end Dawson chose the birth he needed. There was no hushed silence as doctors suspected Down syndrome, there was no nurse to pull him away from me, it was just us. Joy. Us.

Dawson's one minute Apgar wasn't great, a 6 or 7 at best, his cry was strong but filled with mucous, typical entrance of a child with Down syndrome. I'd had 2 high-level ultrasounds during the pregnancy that proclaimed him "perfect" but the instant I lifted him from the water my mind whispered, "Why is his nuchal fold so thick?" and a distant question of Down syndrome raced through.

A visit to my former hospital midwives a few hours later had Dawson being seen by two obstetricians, one midwife and countless nurses. In the days that followed he was seen by his pediatrician and more nurses as we went about the usual round of newborn testing and began dealing with some jaundice. No one ever suspected Down syndrome. But my instinct would not let me rest and everyday that passed I found myself examining him, looking for other signs, and finding more and more ... low muscle tone, an abnormally large fontanel, a single crease across one palm, a deep space between his first and second toes. I had never in my life met a person with Down syndrome, but I was a good midwifery student and I could not shake this diagnosis from my mind.

On 12/17 we spoke with our pediatrician about our concerns for the third time, always brushed aside, and insisted he order karyotyping. That day was hard for me. I had checked one of his hands a few days prior for the single crease and found none, but that morning I remembered I never checked the other hand. I did, there it was, and I felt my diagnosis confirmed. I fell into grief immediately and as we waited the next 2 weeks for lab results, I alternated between that intense grief and hope, as others told me not to worry yet. Everyday we spent hours looking at his little face as he slept, debating whether or not we saw an extra chromosome there. By Christmas I had almost convinced myself he was "normal." The day after we received the results and Down syndrome was confirmed.

I know not all families receiving this diagnosis go through a period of grief, but I was a different person then, and I did. I was in anguish. I would hold that little boy against my chest and sob like I have never in my life, sob over what he would never do, over the burden I had laid on my other children, over how our perfect normal existence was shattered just like that, with this tiny little chromosome.

Oh how wrong I was.

You would not recognize that person I was. She was not the person I grew up as, the child that would lie awake for hours at night thinking of how many people must be sick, starving, fighting, dying at that very moment and vowing to grow up and stop it, the teenager that sat with tears streaming down her cheeks as bombs fell on Belgrade, not knowing then how that city would one day call for her. I was not the 17 year old girl who showed up to college in Washington, D.C., ready to change the world. That person was battered, heart wrenching for the homeless that slept on the doorsteps of the expensive shops across the street from the dormitory in perfect Foggy Bottom, infuriated by the privileged rich kids who walked by without a second glance, made bitter by the politicians she found herself watching in action, in committees where humanity seemed to die.

One event, one event sealed that girl's fate. Coming back to the dorm from class one night, finding nearly every student on my floor crowded around one window, laughing and shouting. On the street below, a taxi driver had just finished severely beating his passenger. Over a lost fare, an insult... I don't know. That girl I was was horrified and asked what her fellow students had done. Nothing was the answer. Nothing? These ones, these Honor Program students, these future leaders of our country... nothing? That girl I was screamed, she argued, she accused them, and they all defended and no one cared. They were scared of rushing down to the street to yell at the attacker and too involved in watching the scene play out to shout out the window or pick up the phone and call the police. And they defended their choice.

It was after that event I convinced myself that human beings would always hate, always fight and always act selfishly. There was no way I could help a world like that; it was hopeless. Soon I left my plans for politics, left that school, left that city. I stopped giving money to the homeless - I stopped looking at them at all - I stopped watching the news, I stopped reading the paper, I stopped caring. I became the opposite of that child I was.

Until Dawson. A few weeks after the diagnosis, the darkness I was in began to fall away, all because I loved him. Love was it, it was enough, and it was a process, a process of undoing 7 years of walls. Normal was a word, not a reality. He was not a burden to my other children but a light to guide them to be good people, a light they already recognize I think as I have never seen them so in love with a baby. Whatever else society wanted to call him, he was love, he was perfect. People could change, because I had changed. There was hope still. Finding Emerson, I found so many people doing so many kind things, they joined Dawson in chipping away at those walls.

That morning, holding that baby against me in the warm water, I never could have imagined where I would be one year later, not running from Down syndrome, from difference, from struggle but running toward it... what a year. What a boy. What a chromosome.

I know Dawson's life is much more than a lesson for mine. He has his own lessons to learn and his own story to tell. I just cannot believe I got so lucky as to get to watch it form. And today, tickling those legs that cannot walk yet, kissing those lips that don't say "Mama" yet, and brushing the hair on a head that might never be as "great" as the heads of those people in that dormitory room, staring out that window at injustice and doing nothing, all I can think is ... what did I do to deserve this gift? Where did I go right?

Happy 1st Birthday my Dawson, my perfect miracle, my angel.
You are so loved!

(In the belly!)

(In our arms!)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

pinch me!

Last night I found myself unable to sleep. I was awake until about 3:30 when I finally drifted off, having spent the last 4 hours trying to think happy thoughts for something that was to come at 4:00 EST in Belgrade.

Our facilitator had an important meeting.

And all of the hard work she has been doing worked a miracle - the Ministry has been instructed by some wonderful person I might never know but to whom we will forever be grateful,
to complete Emerson's adoption!!!

I must be dreaming, so please somebody pinch me! ^_^

We still must be patient for her to be put into the Central Registry, and not sure of when we might hope to travel, but I feel like I can breathe again, like I can start looking forward to the next step in this great adventure - healing that little heart so she can spend a very, very long time with this family that loves her so much.

Thank you so much for all of the prayers and thoughts and emails and encouragement! I do not know the news for the other families waiting, but please continue to think and pray for them, that we can all bring our little ones home soon!

I don't think I can ever fully express our gratitude to our wonderful facilitator, I know she has put her entire heart into these children. She has a part of mine forever.

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice.
~ Meister Eckhart

* Update * - the other 2 families waiting for travel dates will also be able to complete their adoptions soon! Ah, that makes my joy that much sweeter! What a day!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

you've got mail

After my last sad post, flipping through today's mail, this fell out from between the Christmas catalogs.

Not in the system, eh? My readers probably know by now how much I love signs. ^_~ Her first piece of American mail, today of all days; isn't that what meant-to-be looks like?

Grateful for all the encouragement and a friend with the wisest of words:

"The good things are worth fighting for."

They are!

holding on

I do not have much information to share except that right now I am feeling very discouraged about this entire thing. There are forces at work beyond my control and now Dr. B has emailed me saying he cannot write a letter for Emerson since he has no detailed medical information, no echo images, no complete diagnosis. I understand and respect that position and really I think her known heart defects speak for themselves. But I am disappointed at a time I don't want anymore disappointment.

I know we will keep waiting until the end, just as she will, but it seems the whole world is against this and having a good laugh at my foolish hope.

This post is titled "holding on" and the fear in me sees one titled "letting go" coming down the line. I will refuse that as long as I can though because I just don't know how to do otherwise.

She is everywhere in our lives right now. Pictures in the dining room, a name on a stocking, an ornament on the tree, presents beneath it, a request in a letter to Santa from Cade, a pink room for two with one crib lying empty beneath her name on the wall, clothes folded neatly and tucked amidst chewy tubes and a dozen copies of "Gifts" in a suitcase gathering dust on the floor, a carseat sitting quietly in the garage, brightly colored Euros locked safely away, waiting, waiting, waiting, on our lips, in our daily conversation, in my heart every minute... how do you let go of that?

A couple months ago we made a double appointment with our opthamologist for the week of Christmas, one for Dawson and one for Emerson. We thought she'd be here by then. We called this morning to cancel hers, Andjela Schafer, but apparently the appointment was never made properly, she wasn't in the system. One more hint? Gotcha. But didn't. And right now, holding on to anything.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Someone emailed this to me tonight, it made me a bit teary but I thought I would share in case anyone else could use some cheering. ^_^

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out to another is to risk involvement.
To expose your feelings is to risk rejection.
To place your dreams before the crowd is to risk ridicule.
To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To go forward in the face of overwhelming odds
is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken,
because the greatest risk of all is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing,
has nothing and is nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow,
but he cannot learn, he cannot feel,
he cannot change, he cannot grow
and he cannot love.
Chained by his certitudes, he is a slave.
Only the person who risks is truly free.

Monday, December 08, 2008

deck the halls!

Posting tonight from the heart of the Infirmary (hahaha - seriously though, we are all still a bit under the weather, though this nasty cold seems to be winding down finally!) ... some pictures of our Gingerbread Man adventure and tree decorating.

We always have a real one, even though having a 7 foot tree in the same space as a 4 year old, a 3 year old and a 2 year old is VERY SCARY!!! Nothing beats the scent of pine though, not even a great Yankee Candle! :)

The picture above is of a very special ornament - it has Emerson's name and date of birth and reads "Born in our hearts"... and we will write in the date of her adoption on the silver star, once that sweet day has come! ^_^

Cookies and candy???

And frosting??!!!!

Oh, Mr. Gingerbread Man, I think you're missing something there...


Ahhh the horror! The horror!!!

The tree


Look, Mom, I've got blue... bulbs! (Hey, this blog is G-rated, you sickos!)

Oh... not-so-silent night?

I wonder if these taste good with banana?

And a Pooh-Bear on top!

Quick, take a picture before the kids start taking the ornaments off!