Tuesday, September 30, 2008

with bated breath

We came into the week hoping for two pieces of good news; a travel date and the receipt of a grant. We still wait for news of the latter, but we did receive news related to a travel date yesterday ... unfortunately, it was not good news.

There has been a personnel change in the Ministry department that oversees international adoptions and we have been told that it will certainly delay all adoptions at this time. We have no timeframe but it seems clear we will absolutely not travel before November, possibly not until December and some families waiting for a travel date will not be going until next year. :(

I cannot describe the sadness and uncertainty that stole over me yesterday; I took down Emerson's pictures and all of my OCD-ish post-it notes with various to-do lists and packing instructions from the fridge. I couldn't bear to take her framed pictures down from our dining room picture wall - she belongs up there, after all - but it had gotten to the point that a request for juice or yogurt ended up with me in tears.

It's amazing how easily children cut to the heart of an issue. When Cade asked me why I was sad and I told him that we had to wait a much longer time to bring home Emerson and that I was worried about her heart, he declared, "Don't worry, momma, I'll ask Santa for a rocket ship and I'll go get Emerson." I wish, sweetie! ^_~

So I'm trying to take it day by day and stop counting down to some unforseen date that just keeps slipping away from me. I hope that I can stay as strong as I pray her heart will. I expect we will miss Macy's birthday or Thanksgiving (assuming we can afford the plane tickets around that time LOL!) but that's a small price to pay.

Now we wait with bated breath on the second piece of news we hope to get this week... it seems we always find out about the grant the first Wednesday in the month so I'm hoping that holds true and we hear something tomorrow. Hopefully it's much happier news! I have an interesting idea for a raffle (well, as interesting as raffles can be anyways heh!) and I would much rather be raising money for another waiting little one than for us. ^_^

Monday, September 29, 2008

hi, mom!

Whaddya think... could this cutie be yours? ^_^

I am absolutely in love with this little man - his name is Ruslan and he is 3 1/2 years old and facing institutionalization in Eastern Europe very soon. He is healthy, walking and just adorable! He even has a $6200 grant!

Maybe your family is missing one smiling member... you can see more info here or email Andrea (here) at bamaroberts@comcast.net for more information!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

the week ahead

Well after spending the weekend with everyone sick and cooped up away from the rainy weather - and missing our first Buddy Walk because of the combination! :( - we are looking ahead to what is likely a very important week.

This week represents our last chance to travel in October... because an important player in the adoption process will be on vacation beginning the following week, if we do not receive a confirmed travel date by Friday then it's fairly certain that we will not be traveling until November.

And we also hope to receive a decision on our third and final grant application. I have done my best to suspend my worry over the financial aspect of this process until this moment, so I am very much hoping I can banish those worries completely this week.

Neither of these things is within our control, so I can only hope, pray and wish with every fiber of my being that both work out in our favor.

And a sweet way to start the week... I made a montage with all of the pictures we have received of Emerson. We love you, Em! ^_^

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

things needed

"The strongest of all warriors are these two -- Time and Patience."

- Leo Tolstoy

It seems hard to believe that we submitted our dossier over 2 months ago. In some ways I wish we had not worked so hard to rush things as it turned out to be unnecessary.

Originally we hoped to travel in late September. Then we hoped for early October. Then we hoped for late October. We still hope for late October.

But because of circumstances within Emerson's country beyond our control and unrelated to our adoption, it seems there is a possibility it will not be until November or later. Our facilitator is still going to push for the date we have requested; we hope she is successful!

It is so hard to fight off the disappointment and the growing sense of panic. Aside from the fact that Macy's 2nd birthday is on Nov. 12th and Dawson's 1st is on Dec. 12th and with Thanksgiving thrown between - all of which I would be crushed to miss - I am becoming more and more worried about Emerson's heart.

I thought about it a lot in the beginning but eventually learned to push it to the back of my mind, to divide this endeavor into two steps and to only focus on this first one for the time being. But now with this first step seemingly dragging on, I cannot help but recognize that every day that passes is one more day her heart has to work furiously to do its job. Every week that goes by is one more week she will wait for surgery and X percentage of increased risk of complications or death. Each day I check my email looking for news, never sure if it will be good or bad. I finally asked our facilitator about something Dr. B suggested - getting her here on a medical VISA and then sending her back. I cannot begin to fathom how we would afford that but the question was hanging there in the air and I had to ask it.

Which relates to my second worry... how much airfare will increase over the next few weeks as the holiday season approaches. If it's a lot, it might just be too much. We are already short as it is, any increase in cost would be a bulldozer to the house of cards we are fighting to build. I cannot believe we have persevered so long to get to this point and the rug still might be pulled out from under us. I feel like a cat chasing a never-ending roll of toilet paper down a steep, never-ending hill.

But to repeat what has become our mantra over the last 4 months - we cannot just give up.

We need patience. A cap on airfares. And a travel date.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

drumroll please....

(not the real card/number - just an example! :) )

Well, our second raffle was drawn without much ado as I was without little helpers - the kids were so tired after a busy day they were in bed by 6!! (Woohoo tonight, though I'm sure I'll feel differently tomorrow morning... oh, say around 4 am? LOL ^_^)

The winner of a customized $100 Visa gift card is ........

Holly P. in Troy, MI!!!

Your card is on its way - thank you and congrats, Holly!

And thank you again to everyone who has supported our adoption through our raffles, our family fund and especially all of those happy thoughts and prayers - I know they are working wonders. ^_^

Friday, September 19, 2008


I didn't get a chance to do the raffle tonight, but will do so tomorrow! ^_^

I decided to use the little time I had tonight to go ahead and submit our third request to Gift of Adoption... we have our quote/tentative reservation for our airfare, but I just can't wait to purchase before submitting the application. We are still coming up a little short of what we need in-country, so we are hoping very much that we are selected for this grant. It would certainly be one less thing I need to stress over! :)

some news

Unfortunately, nothing great. Our facilitator was away at a seminar and is back now... apparently the ministry officials have all been on vacation so she is going to see if they are back next week and talk to them about the adoptions. I hope, hope, hope we get our travel date next week. We have requested October 22nd and have our airfare ready to pay for - just need to make it official.

She also told us that Emerson had pneumonia :( She said she is feeling better now but boy was that hard to read. We did get a few new pictures; Em looks so sad and sick - her expression just screams, "Please come get me!" :(

Time could not move any more agonizingly slow right now.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

last chance!

I'll be ending our raffle sometime Thursday night after the kiddos are in bed. I'll have them help out with the drawing on Friday. :) So this is your last chance at winning a $100 Visa gift card, good anywhere Visa is accepted ^_^

We are up to $415 of our original $600 goal - I'm thrilled that we've come this close!!!

Thanks so much to our supporters and cheerleaders!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

lack of movement

We are still waiting and hoping for our travel date... or any news really. This Sunday will mark one month since we last heard back from our facilitator. I know she is incredibly busy with so many families headed out there soon (I have no idea how she does it by herself!) but the wait is becoming more and more difficult.

It truly feels like it does at the very end of a pregnancy, with your due date fast approaching and not a sign of labor impending. To make it worse, you wake up one morning to suddenly realize you haven't really felt the baby moving much in a few days. You know that most likely everything is fine, that things are just getting ready behind the scenes and one day soon it's suddenly going to be time... but in the meantime you waver between moments of calm and moments of pure panic.

Those moments are tough. The chest tightens and you find it difficult to breathe as your mind wanders to all of the possibilities. Is something wrong with our paperwork? Is there someone who doesn't think we're the right family for her? Will we still get to travel when we hope, the last week of October? Will we get enough notice that we can actually afford the plane tickets? Did she ever have that cardiology exam - is she okay?

I sure hope some sort of news is just around the corner.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

our raffle

I'm not sure if we're going to redo the yard sale or not (we've had yucky rainy weather every weekend it seems), I'm thinking I might just list some things on craigslist and ebay instead. We're still hoping we will get that small grant from GOA and we will try to save and stretch our budget as much as possible. The yard sale just doesn't seem worthwhile considering the work and the weather odds heh!

So, our raffle is set to end next Sunday -
we've raised a total of $360 of our $600 goal!
Thank you so much to all who have participated! ^_^

If anyone would like to buy tickets still, please do so soon - if we stay the same for a few more days I think I'll end it early, so just a heads up. :) I will be posting the winner on the blog and then ordering the Visa gift card and the winner should receive it in 7-10 days.

Thank you! :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

getting close!

We are expecting our dossier to be reviewed in mid to late September... very soon!!

We are so excited about traveling to Belgrade. I think by the time we arrive I'll have memorized all of the historical sites (I might not be able to pronounce them correctly though heh!) This will be my first trip to Europe, Matt's second (he went to the UK in school) and while Belgrade is not most people's first choice, I think it's an incredibly unique and beautiful city and I'm happy this will be my first experience across the pond. Of course we'll also be bringing home a most amazing souvenir. ^_^

I'm not sure how much time we'll have for sightseeing, but we'll do our best. I can't believe next month I will (hopefully!) be posting our own pictures of Beautiful Beograd!

I am finally getting into adoption nesting mode - shopping, packing, daydreaming and trying to learn a whole new alphabet! ^_^

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

does one of these angels belong to you?

We are given one life, and the decision is ours whether to wait for circumstances to make up our mind, or whether to act, and in acting, to live.
- Omar Nelson Bradley

For the next few days, you can view the beautiful faces of Reece's Rainbow, all on one page. The children with red font are in immediate danger of being institutionalized.

If you have ever felt a tug at your heart to adopt not just a child, but a life-changing experience, give in! ^_^

Click here

... perhaps you'll catch a glimpse of the future. :)

Monday, September 08, 2008

a light in the dark

(I wanted to share my entry for Gifts Volume II, the Awareness chapter, just in case it isn't chosen for the publication. It is long - of course LOL! If you slip on something while reading this, it may have been my heart, fallen off my sleeve. Sorry! ^_^)

I sometimes look back at my life before Down syndrome - myself before Down syndrome – and feel as if I have tiptoed through the hedges around someone else’s house and am peering into the life of another woman. Reading through a diary entry from my pregnancy last year, I find myself glancing over my shoulder with trepidation, certain the true owner will come upon me and my nosiness at any moment. I feel as an outsider looking in on a hollow shell of a person. Surely, that person was not me; is not me.

As I close the diary or stop the memory projector in my mind, I am confronted again with what a change the last 8 months has brought about. Really, the word Change falls short of the mark. Down syndrome was a splintering, shattering, mind-blowing, life-ending, life-beginning force of nature I was wholly unprepared for and wholly missing out on. For a few moments it was the worst thing that ever happened to me; for the rest of my life it will be the one thing that was able to wrest me from a self-inflicted darkness I didn’t even know surrounded me.

Humans are emotional creatures but for the most part we have learned to separate ourselves from those emotions. We are never far from them but instead of living with them we walk along on parallel paths, the roads curving together at times before diverging again and again. We all know those moments of connection. A poignant story, an inspiring film, a news report of a tragic event – in those moments of enlightenment our spirits pitch toward one another for a few minutes, a few hours, perhaps a few days. And in those times we feel such a swell of emotion it seems perhaps the underlying meaning of our existence on this earth is just beyond our fingertips, waiting to be grasped. It is those moments where we find our true selves – loving, generous, filled with compassion and light.

Unfortunately, the moments pass. The brief glimpse into the best qualities in ourselves ends and we move on with our daily lives and irritations, swallowed up in our preoccupation with little things, walking in a haze of isolation – head down, hands in pockets, purposeful stride that stops for nothing, for no one. We remain in this darkness until the next illuminating novel or TV miniseries or school fundraiser, matches being tossed in the dark, burning out before they hit the ground.

Loving someone with something special, something beyond the usual, something like Down syndrome, it is to take a match to the ceiling and set it aflame, to live in these moments every minute of every day.

It took me some time to reach that realization and appreciate it; before I could embrace the best qualities in myself I had to battle the worst. Having Dawson made me challenge everything I valued, especially the value I placed on the lives of others. Before Dawson I had resigned myself to the darkness because I had come to believe it was the biggest part of human nature. I believed people were inherently selfish, uncaring, often cruel and rarely able to change. But the nature of a mother is to love. In those few weeks after Dawson’s birth and diagnosis, I sometimes felt I was a spectator at the greatest boxing match in history – my own fears, prejudices and ego versus a simple mother’s love.

In the end, love wins. It usually does.

It’s that fact that tore my life apart and wove it back together into something more beautiful than I could have ever designed alone. To find yourself between fear and love is to gain access to the greatest ongoing struggle of humankind. To feel love win every day for the rest of your life is to always remember that beneath it all, beneath the angry drivers, the bullies on the playground, the disdainful, the hateful, the crime, the war, the lack of compassion… is still just love. And it is always waiting for the moment to rise up and win.

Love challenges our perceptions of what makes a life worthwhile. Before Dawson I hoped for the usual victories for my children. I found value in good grades, college education and a high-paying career. Worth was in a stable family, a nice house filled with nice things and the occasional vacation. I kept a journal of milestones, secretly pleased when they were reached early according to some man-made timetable because I felt perhaps my children would have an easier time reaching all of the goals I set for their lives.

Now my hopes are much simpler – for each of my children to be happy and perhaps for their existence to make happier the life of another. I no longer care about milestones – they are illusive and meaningless – after all, what does it matter when a child walks or if they even walk at all? You need not move a muscle to find and give happiness.

Dawson is not quite 9 months old and he has already fulfilled my greatest dreams for him, and more. He is not quite 9 months old and his existence has already saved the life of another human being. What more could I possibly wish for him?

Five days after receiving Dawson’s diagnosis I was swimming in blackness and not sure how I would ever pull myself out. Five weeks after his diagnosis I was beginning to lift my head and rub my eyes and realize it was only dark because I’d had them closed. Five months after the diagnosis I was sending an email committing to adopt a baby girl in Serbia, four months older than Dawson and also carrying the diagnosis of Down syndrome and the additional diagnosis of a major heart defect.

If there is a gene for hope, it is on the 21st chromosome.

The journey of adopting a child with Down syndrome has only deepened my awareness of love. How can someone remain skeptic of the kindness in others when they see families travel to the ends of the earth to bring home a child that no one wants, a child that will be shut away in an institution, unloved and likely facing an early death? These families are the finest example of how much more can be accomplished if you let a little light into the room. We will make our own journey across the ocean just a few weeks from now and bring back one more victory for love.

Dawson’s arrival broke down walls I spent years building around my heart. Emerson’s adoption has flung it wide open. Some people wonder why we would want to have not one but two children with Down syndrome. Dawson was a surprise. Emerson was a choice. Some people wonder if we appreciate children with Down syndrome more than typical kids. Those people are usually still shuffling around the room, arms outstretched, stubbing toes in the dark.

Every one of my children is a light. They each burn beautifully on their own. But Dawson and Emerson’s lights are a bit different. They are lights that illuminate the darkest corners of our existence, lights by which all other flames burn brighter. They are lights that cartwheel gleefully into our hands, demanding that we open our eyes, our hearts, and at last shake off the darkness in ourselves.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

science, signs and second chances

Finally getting around to posting some pics from our adventure at the ScienceCenter in Ithaca last weekend. We all had a great time!

After such a disappointing fundraising effort with our yard sale, it took me by surprise to be pushing the stroller through a doorway at the Center that leads to an outdoor childrens' exploration area that read above:

Emerson Science Park

I couldn't help but smile and feel my spirits a bit lifted. ^_^

Here are some pics from our day!

The entrance to the ScienceCenter:

In the Emerson Park, Dawson had a great time playing these big drums heh - such a cutie!

All seriousness, Miss Macy playing at the sand table:

Another non-smiling one LOL:

Aunt Chelsey (my not-so-little-anymore little sister!) Isn't she beautiful? :)

An exhibit that featured a beach ball atop an airblower meets Cade. Enough said heheh!

They had so much to do there - the boys even got to touch a snake! We will definitely be repeating the trip sometime soon!

This past week Cade started preK - for a second time heh! Last year's attempt ended in us deciding he wasn't quite ready and pulling him out after a couple weeks. Happily, he is doing great now! He actually looks forward to going and is always deep in play when I pick him up. Carting around 3 other little ones, soon to be 4, not so fun. But well worth it. :)

And speaking of second chances, we've decided to go ahead and hold our yard/garage sale one more time, probably 2 weeks from now assuming we have good weather. So we'll be extending our raffle one more time to make use of the raffle box I worked so hard on. Hopefully second time is the charm! ^_^

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


We got an email from the adoption grant manager tonight - they denied us again for the same confusing reason. o_O

"Less than 50% of the total reported adoption costs have been funded. This includes the assumption that all liquid assets such as savings will be applied to the adoption costs."

I just cannot believe we were denied for this. We only requested a grant totalling 19.75% of our adoption costs. The revised application I submitted actually itemized every single penny we have and where we got it from, clearly showing we've handled over 80% of the costs already or have saved for them.

After the failure of our yard sale, this is such a blow.


* Update 9/4 *

I spoke with the grants manager today. She was very nice and explained that apparently it comes down to the figures in certain fields on the form. Even though I explained on the form that we've paid all expenses to date and have saved for most of the remaining expenses to come in Serbia, all they do is type the amount paid to date and the computer calculates the percentage - which is less than 50%.

So, we're going to fill out the form a different way this time and it will be reviewed the first few days of October. By then we'll probably have bought our plane tickets and we just bought our 3000 Euros for our facilitator fees so we should have spent over 50% anyways.

We're not counting on anything and will continue to plug away at savings and fundraising but I will maintain a little hope that our persistence with this grant will be rewarded. :)

Monday, September 01, 2008

two little words

Next month!