Friday, June 29, 2012

Doctor Visits

The fun has really started, now. We've spent Wednesday and Thursday at the pediatrician's office. We took both boys on Thursday and also, did x-rays of their spines along with the first of four rounds of lab work. The blood work has to be drawn 10ml's at a time, because of the boys' weights, the combined amount of blood needed for the testing we're doing is 45ml per boy. That's a lot of sticks for this Mama, who has a needle phobia. We'll go every 3 to 4 days until all the blood is collected and all the tests are run.

Joseph weighs 26 lbs and the pediatrician said, "Keep doing what you're doing. He looks great!" That was exactly what this Mama needed to hear. Then, he issued us about 8 referrals to different specialists and therapists that we'll need to see over the next few weeks. Samuel also got a clean bill of health and weighs 29 lbs. We think, he's lost a pound or two from the parasite, we're fairly sure we have. He didn't receive quite as many referrals and that's a blessing, all by itself.

Speaking of parasites. One of the things, "they" don't tell you when venturing into this adoption world is that the poop is awful! Even worse, if it contains a parasite that infects the rest of the family, leaving you all tired and sick. That's why you haven't been getting many updates. I'm exhausted. I go to bed most nights around 8:30, if not sooner. We are currently collecting stool samples to find out which parasite we have, so treatment can commence and everyone can get healthy. We're calling the kit we received from the doctor the "Poopy Party Pack." My friend, Jess informed me that we must have the deluxe edition, because she didn't have to do as many "collections" as we're doing. Fun times, ya'll, fun times.

So, there are a couple of ways you can pray. One other is for my heart. I had no idea how difficult it would be to take Joseph to the doctors' offices and repeatedly tell people (nurses, technicians, doctors) that yes, he is 7 years old, yes, that is his real birthdate, yes, we are sure. One nurse asked Eli (my 9 year old) to hop on the scale thinking he must be Joseph. There have been tears and it's just hard. Hopefully, our boy will open some eyes and some hearts to the truth, to the needs of children around the world. Hopefully, watching him grow and blossom will be life changing for some of these people, too. It has already been life changing for us.

They are worth it. They are worth the smelly diapers, the long drives to the "good" doctors, the needle sticks, the tantrums, the training, the 5 am wake-up calls. They are our sons and we would do anything for them. They are worth it.

We're currently helping another family bring home their blessings and they are worth it, too. Please, consider helping them. You can read all about them on The Finishers' Blog.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,

Friday, June 22, 2012

He's a BIG star!

Samuel went to see the Pediatric Ophthalmologist, yesterday. I haven't been feeling great, but really wanted to be the one to take him. So, after our visit with the social worker, she wanted to come out and meet the boys and make sure we were all doing well. Samuel and I loaded up in the van and drove 45 minutes to the doctor.

If you've followed along on facebook, you're aware of how much fun Samuel is, especially in social settings. We joke and say that he is the star in his own reality TV show and the rest of us are just unaware of the cameras. I'll try to do a post covering all of his in country fiascoes, one day soon. Another thing about Samuel is we think he's a little (okay a lot) OCD. Everything needs to be in it's place and if you leave something out, he will shake his Bulgarian finger at you and throw you some serious Bulgarian attitude.

Imagine my embarrassment delight, yesterday, as we're sitting in a waiting room full of people and Samuel decides to chastise another adult. She was reading a magazine and the little postcard insert (to order more magazines) had fallen out and onto the floor. Now, I don't know if she didn't realize or if she was just planning to pick it up before she left. Well, it bugged Samuel. We were sitting in the floor playing cars and he saw it out of the corner of his eye and off he went.   Before, I even knew what was happening, he picked that card up, began to wave it in the lady's face and tell her some things that I'm grateful neither one of us could understand. Then, he marched it over to the shelf placed it where it "belonged" and looked back at the lady with a few more choice words and hand gestures to match. She was very gracious and explained that she was going to put it back when she was done reading. I just apologized and dragged my kid away. 

He also, reorganized the toys and cleaned up some trash. As we were heading back to see the doctor, he turned and waved to the room full of people and blew them all kisses. The doctor said, "Oh, he's made friends already." Sure, he has...they were all happy to see me take my special kind of "crazy" and leave the room, but don't tell Samuel. I'm sure those reality TV producers loved the footage they got, yesterday. All of this was before we went to shop for glasses next door. Samuel did great until he was done and then he threw all the glasses in the floor and we had a battle of the wills about who was going to pick them up. I won. 

As Marty and I laid down for bed last night, I recounted these events and more. He said, "Can you imagine? We almost missed this." No, I can't imagine and life will never be the same. It will be more entertaining and a lot more fun. His comment did make me many blessings have we turned our backs on over the years, because they were too hard, too inconvenient, or just too strange. How many things has God asked us to do that we simply refused and missed the harvest? From here on out, we're YES people. Whatever, God asks...

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Just Being...

Sometimes, it's enough to know that someone will hold you...

Someone will share your place in the sun...

Someone will be there for you to turn to...

When you're ready, someone is waiting to love you..

Sometimes, just being still and knowing is all we need to help us bloom...

They are so WORTH it!

That's all! Really felt like I needed to say, "They are so WORTH it!" We already can't imagine life without them. Everyday, we're settling into our new "normal" a little more. We're falling more in love and learning new things about each other, some good, some not so good. We're here, though. We're right in the center of God's will for our family.

As I type, I'm waiting for dinner to finish cooking and I have one little boy sitting on the floor beside me "reading" his favorite book...

Good thing we're having Italian for dinner...

I have another who's playing with his sister, who he adores. He will inevitably interrupt me in a few with a request to go "potty." That's the thing to do when Mom looks like she's not busy. 

 He's learning most of his English while sitting on the pot.

He runs out to check every so often and blows me a kiss, just to be sure I'm still here. He's busy and fun and as boy as they come! 

That's all...they're worth it. The long journey, the lack of sleep, the new "normal." They're worth that and so much more. I can't even begin to tell you the things I've learned about God's character these past three weeks, while parenting these boys. We're so blessed to have them HOME!

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...they're WORTH it!

Hidden in Christ,

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Miracle

I want to be careful not to take for granted the miracle that is taking place in my very own home. The miracle that I've witnessed on so many other people's blogs. The creating of a family, the restoration of a child (or two), the bond that lasts forever, the very goodness of God. God's faithfulness is on display in our home. His kept promises are here to be witnessed. Not only Joseph and Samuel's lives are changed forever, but mine, Marty's, Eli's and Julie's as we take part in the power of God's love.

Love that heals. Love that grows. Love that takes away pain and brings JOY. Love that trusts. Love that comforts. Love that holds. Love that never ends.

And now these three remain:



and love.

But the greatest of these is love.

God has been better to us than we ever could have asked, to allow Marty and I to parent these four blessings. We're finding more JOY in the journey than we ever thought possible. Thank you for praying and thank you to each one who helped make this impossibility: possible. We love you! You are a part of our miracle.

Be a miracle for someone else, today.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

We're still here!

I'm trying to put thoughts to paper for all of you. I've been updating my facebook with pictures, everyday, but putting coherent thoughts into a blog post is just not happening. I'm tired, in the best kind of way. We've had a wonderful first 10 days home. We've played in the water, gone to the drive-in, played at the park and just been a family. It's been quite wonderful.

Let's see Joseph weighed 24 pounds on the day we landed in the USA and today, he's 26 pounds. I'd guess, he was around 22 pounds the day we picked him up from the orphanage. That's around 4 pounds in 2 weeks, from love and good food. I just got around to taking their heights, today. Joseph is 33 and 3/4 inches tall and Samuel is 34 and 1/2 inches tall, today. Samuel weighed 30 pounds 10 days ago and is holding steady at 30 pounds, today. He really doesn't need to put on any weight, as much as he needs to grow. He's a chunk!

Samuel is signing a long list of signs, probably over 20 signs, now. He's not using his signs to ask for anything, unless we prompt him, but I'm sure he will soon. He is also saying, "Mommy, Dada, ball, more, bird, cracker, eat" and a few others, that I can't recall, right now. He's been a little sad from time to time, but he was well loved and misses his "home." We're doing our best to love him through the grieving process and help him adjust to life in a family. He is a hand full and has become familiar with the time-out seat, already. We love him. Still can't believe he's ours.

Joseph is making such huge strides, I can't even believe how far he's come in two short weeks. He's holding our hands and walking us all over the house. They said he was lazy. I say, he was unloved. He knew and now, he knows better. He's smiling and laughing. His laughter lights up the room. He's learning table manners and we're doing all his feeding for him, for now. He needs to relearn to eat correctly. Honestly, we tried to give him the spoon, yesterday, and he wasn't even interested in doing it for himself. He takes a bottle and has high calorie formula mixed in his oatmeal for breakfast. He's a snuggler! He loves to be in his Moby wrap and gets excited when he sees me putting it on. It's truly amazing to witness this boy blossoming. He was sad and broken and God is restoring him.

I can't tell you how much we love these boys. It's hardwork. We forgot what it was like to change diapers, potty train, feed, etc. Two toddlers at once is a big deal and would exhaust anyone, but we are really loving every minute of it. It helps tremendously that the boys sleep all night in their own beds. I don't know how we'd manage without a good night's sleep.

Now, what you all came for...


Loving his wrap

He loves his Dad's big, red truck!

Playing Little People with Dad

Waiting on Eli to finish his breakfast, so we can play cars.

He's happy!

Playing in the dirt with my sister!

Snuggling with Mom!

Water fun! (and great exercise for Joseph's legs)

More water fun.

His favorite "toy." Daddy's shoe!

That's all for now. I have little one's to lay down for nap. I'm so thankful to be here in this moment with each of my kids. Don't take one minute for granted. They pass so quickly. I'm enjoying the hugs, kisses and laughter. I love being a Mom to these children. 

Please, don't miss a blessing. Love an orphan!

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Boundary Lines

"Don't stealthily move back the boundary lines or cheat orphans out of their property, For they have a powerful Advocate who will go to bat for them." Proverbs 23:10-11

What are these boundary lines? The lines that Mercy and Grace drew out years ago. The lines that define who we are as a Church (believers in Jesus Christ). The line that Jesus drew when He said, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." He went on to say, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me." When the curtain falls and the music fades, what side of the boundary lines will Jesus find us on?

This is Tsveti. I heard the news that she died, yesterday. Tsveti lived her entire life as an orphan. 11 years, she spent in a crib, waiting to be chosen, waiting to be seen. God help us. We've left the boundary lines so far behind us, that Tsveti never had a chance. What did we cheat Tsveti out of? Aside from the most basic of human necessities, like food, medical treatment and good care. We cheated her out of life. By spending time, energy and resources on things that have no eternal value, we spoke loudly, saying that we did not value Tsveti. My heart aches for all that this little one should have been, but I rest in knowing that today, Tsveti is in the arms of Jesus. She is whole and well and finally, she knows that she belongs.

I'm praying that Tsveti didn't live 11 years alone and die in vain, but that she will be the wake-up call that so many of us need, to run back to the other side of those boundary lines. There are so many more waiting.

Like Tania, who is 10 years old. Look at how precious she is. Let's not cheat her out of all that God intended for her, too. Let's decide that she is worth the effort, the sacrifice and yes, the hard work of loving someone who has not been valued for years.

Or how about Clarice? Clarice will turn 13 in July. For 13 years she's waited to be chosen. She's been shut away with other children who have down syndrome and completely cut off from the rest of the world. Imagine how much joy she's going to bring to her family. Imagine holding her hand as she discovers the great, big world around her. Wow! She's amazing. Please, let's not cheat her out of her hope and her future.

There are so many more older girls who are waiting to be chosen. Each one on this page has waited 10 years or more to be chosen, to be called daughter. Let's stop pushing back the boundary lines and taking from them what is rightfully theirs. Let's be a part of helping make the sad things come untrue. Let's be the hands and feet of Jesus. Let's do it to honor Tsveti, to say how sorry we are that we allowed her to die alone, an orphan.

God is watching. He's waiting on us to say, "Enough! No longer will a child die, while I have plenty. I will not  rob an orphan, so that I can have the latest gadget or the nicest car, house, toy, etc. I will not push back the boundary lines!" There is freedom, when we walk where Jesus has called us to walk and more JOY than we can imagine.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,

Monday, June 4, 2012

Welcome Home!

We are blessed with the most amazing friends and family. There were so many times early on in this journey that we felt very alone. That was not the case on Saturday. Marty and I were in awe of how many people showed up for our boys. I wrote a post about how no one came to tell Joseph goodbye on his "Gotcha Day." Well, he'll never again have a moment when someone doesn't show up for him. Our family and friends more than proved their love on Saturday. 

I have to be quick, because I'm a Mom of four, now! I did want to take a minute and acknowledge how wonderful our greeting was. I, also, want to share a video that Rebecca put together of our "Welcome Home!" 


I am loving every minute with these boys. Everything is new and exciting and they keep us smiling. Thank you to everyone who continues to pray for our family and for all who continue to show up!

We love you!

Hidden in Christ,

Friday, June 1, 2012


Two blog posts in one day, while in country. I'm not such a slacker, now. I have to share what happened this evening. We went along with two other adoptive families down to dinner with our attorney, Toni and her brother, Marty. Toni is a really special lady and a dear friend. I will miss her dearly. Our family owes her a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid by us. God will continue to bless Toni as she faithfully serves him.

As we arrive in the restaurant, the children each take turns on Toni's lap and then, when she hands them back to us she says they "officially" belong to us. This was more significant to me, than visiting the Embassy, yesterday. To have this precious friend bless our family with these boys...well, there are no words.

In case you're wondering what Toni does, I have a story to tell you. Part of Toni's job involves going to court and requesting children's files to list for adoption. Tonight, Toni told me, "Mandy, I have something to show you." So, once I had the boys settled, I headed back to the head of the table to see what my friend had brought. She had a stack of papers stapled together. She said, "These are all the lists of children I have ever had files for and the dates when they were requested." She then pointed to the top sheet the most recent list of children and begins to flip to the end of the stack. On the very bottom page she stops and she says, "This is my first list of children that I requested in 2007 and number 31 on that list is Ivaylo."

I could not stop the tears, friends. My boy was on the first list and hundreds of children have been chosen and come home. They get highlighted in yellow once they have a family, so tonight, Toni will go home and highlight Joseph and Samuel's names on her list. Why did I cry? My heart is so broken for my little man. For 5 years he waited on a list. He waited for someone to choose him. We are so blessed to be that family, but I have to be honest and say, "I am angry."

Who am I angry at? The church. That's right, myself included. These are children, children without parents, wasting away, their lights fading, while we collect gadgets and things and chase the latest stuff. When it's all said and done, God is not going to be pleased with the way the Church has handled the orphan crisis. I try not to guilt anyone, here, but I have to say, the guilt lies with us, as the body of Christ. My boy should not have been allowed to go unchosen, unseen for 5 years. What would he be today had someone (maybe us, maybe not) come quicker?

Please, don't leave me a comment about how he was waiting for our family and how God saved him for us. I am thrilled to pieces to be this boy's Mama, but I think that's a lousy excuse for inaction. God wants to set the lonely in families. The way He does that is by the Church being the hands and feet of Jesus. I promise you, if we don't go, then no one will.

Rise up, Church!

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,

I thought...

I thought you needed week in, I have decided that God knew I needed you. I see your joy and your passion for life at a time when you should be a little sad and very confused. I see, in you, how much God loves me. The lesson here was for me.

I thought, I knew a little bit about God's love and his unending grace. I thought, I knew what it meant to be chosen, loved and cherished, not because it was my birthright, but because of Jesus' gift of grace. Then, there you were. I realized once again, that His love knows no bounds. It is deeper and wider and more full of grace and mercy than I can even begin to imagine. From the moment we say, "Yes," we belong to Him and nothing on earth or in Heaven could separate us from our Father's love. That's how I love each of you, today.

Thank you for the lesson, for continuing to teach your Mom about grace. For loving me, just because I showed up. I thought, I was coming for you, but it turns out, I came for me, for more to love, more to cherish, more to call my own, for as long as God allows. I don't know why God chose me for you, but I'm so thankful that He did.

I can't wait to watch you take this great adventure called life. I will cherish all the firsts and all the moments God gives us together. Forever has already begun and I can't imagine life without you...

I am truly blessed that God led our family here. My friend, Brooke, made me this collage and yes, "Motherhood requires love, not DNA." If you think, God is calling you here, please, don't hesitate. I promise the reward is worth ALL the effort, all the work, all the waiting.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,