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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Sooo much more to add...and our exciting news!

I firstly have to apologize for grossly neglecting this blog. We've had a LOT of changes in the past few months and I'll be the first to admit that I've stepped away more and more from social media to focus on our adoption and the kids we already have at home.  With that said let me get you all caught up!

I was able to travel to meet Ava the end of April.  I traveled by myself as I did on the first trip when I met Lance and Elliott. This was a bit of a different experience for me. I had a different translator and since I am with a different in country agency things just are run differently.  I was on my own more so than I had been previously and the atmosphere was...different.  First impression of Ava's city...it is a beautiful sea side city that is a bit touristy, the hotel is right around the corner from Ava's orphanage so we walked to and from her orphanage twice a day.

What did I think of the orphanage?
It is actually a really nice place.  It looks like it has recently been renovated and has many modern conveniences (including a high tech surveillance system) Ava is in a group "apartment" which is basically two bedrooms separated by a large living/dining space.  There is a couch, coffee table, tv, a small ball pit, and a dining table.  This orphanage is a different environment than either Lance or Elliott's in that I was able to visit with her in her group, surrounded by the nannies and some of the other children.

What kind of care do the children receive?
Some of the children spend all day in the main room and have lots of attention and interaction with the staff.  Others, spent the days either in high chairs or cribs depending on their abilities.  Ava is fed with a bottle and while initially she seemed to drink pretty well, I quickly realized that she just can't keep up with the foods and textures to be able to safely take in the calories she needs.  At almost 8 years old her teeth are completely rotted out and the little bits that are left are black.

What about Ava?!
Aside from the feeding/teeth issues, she is absolutely tiny...breakable.  She is much longer than I had guessed, but she only weighs about 17 pounds which makes her just skin and bones.  I suspect she is blind as her eyes are generally glossy and she doesn't seem to look or focus on anything. She is quiet...almost silent actually. She doesn't really respond to any kind of stimulation other than occasionally a sound.  She didn't appear to be in pain or care if I moved or adjusted her to break up the pattern caused by her cerebral palsy. The only time I got a response from her was when I went to lay her down after a few days of holding her and giving her attention, she cried out briefly which gave me hope that she cares what happens to her and she was obviously enjoying being loved on.  At the end of the day I'm just not sure what her personality will show once she starts getting proper nutrition and care.

What does our timeline look like from here?
WELL....that's where this story gets a little interesting.  Remember how I mentioned that I was able to see the other kids in her group?  There was one little boy who spent most of his time in his crib in his bedroom, however I saw him every day when they brought him in to feed him. From the first moment I saw him, he had my heart.  I recognized him right away as one of the little boys I've seen listed before and I couldn't help but watch him. While he has cerebral palsy like Lance and Ava, his is a low tone form.  He is 3 years old and is able to eat well from a spoon, and sits up with some support. He is absolutely precious and smiled back at me when I smiled at him.  On the final day of my visit I asked if I could hold him and he curled into my arms and laid his head on my shoulder. I was absolutely IN LOVE. I called my husband as soon as I got back to my hotel and asked him if there was a possibility to add him if we could adopt him. <3  Which...leads me to our timeline question.  We ARE adding "Nigel" (that's not his real name so don't start calling him that ;) ) to our adoption which has added a few more months to our process and a few thousand dollars as well. We already have the verbal referral for him and are waiting on the official written referral.  Basically the "powers that be" are going to require me to go back to officially visit him before we can move on to the next stage of the process. At this point it's looking like the kiddos won't be home until the end of the year :(

OK! So, there's a lot going on in our family right now, but that's the most exciting stuff for now. I'll work on posting the rest in the next few weeks, but to tide ya over here's a few pics of my first trip to meet Ava (Unfortunately I'm not allowed to actually share pictures of her until she's officially ours.)

Changing of the Guard

The Bird lady

Fish Spa? (Yes, there are little tiny fish that "eat" your feet :O )

Ava's little 8 year old fingers.

The Black Sea

The Orthodox cathedral "Alexander Nevski"


And finally...Here's the little one that we're adding to bring home with Ava:

We have a matching grant to help us pay the fees to get this guy added! If you are looking for a way to help out and want to make a tax deductible donation you can do so here:
http://reecesrainbow.org/101637/sponsorschmitt-2

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Number 6

   A few months ago I received a totally random facebook message from a friend.  It was just a picture of a little boy who looked a lot like Lance.  When I finally took the time to ask why she was sending me the picture it propelled me back into the reality of orphans.  We really needed the last two years to focus on Elliott and Lance and getting them to a place of stability in our home and family. During that time I stopped looking on advocacy sites or following others adoption journeys really because I just didn't have the time. We spent A LOT of time at doctors, therapists, hospital stays, and that was my focus.  So a few months ago (about the time that my friend sent this photo) my husband and I sat down, leaned back, and said "I think we've gotten to our new normal."  and we sighed a deep sigh of relief and rest.... so when I got this picture, I thought "That's cute, but we aren't adopting again." ...except I couldn't help but start looking at the seas of faces that are waiting for families and homes one more time.

...and that was a fact. 

We really started searching our hearts and both came to a place of feeling that God was telling us He wanted more from us.  We have such an easy life.  No, not compared to some people, but compared to the majority of the people in the world and compared to EVERY SINGLE orphaned child...our life is so blessed.  I truly cannot fathom walking with plastic bottles tied to the bottoms of my feet in desperation 


or quenching unbearable thirst like this....
I am blessed. I am fortunate. My life is easy.

Sooo...how did this lead us to Ava. Well, we considered a few children and started paperwork on them actually and when I went to mail the documents it didn't feel right.  I just couldn't.   I asked my husband if he felt that we were supposed to back up and wait and he (my voice of reason) told me no, he didn't think that. So I kept looking and praying for our child while we started the homestudy process. The day the last of us had our physical (a requirement for both the homestudy and dossier) I came home discouraged and planned to call our homestudy agency to tell them we wanted to put everything on hold until further notice.  I got on the advocacy site just one more time ( ;) Yes, I've said that before) and one little girl's big brown eyes stood out.  I couldn't scroll past her, I couldn't look past this face.  I asked a friend to see if she could find out more about her and a few hours later she messaged me with this:


MELISSA!!!!\

I just got the first file I am supposed to work on...

GUESS WHO IT IS

You guessed it! It was Ava. (The whole process from seeing her to finding her and committing to her wasn't quite that cut and dried - but those are the highlights) We committed to her ASAP before our placing agency even had a chance to list her as a waiting child so when we finally got to show her picture to the rest of the world, most people hadn't gotten to see her before. This is the first time she has been listed but she's been waiting for 7 years. Have you ever had to lay in a bed for days with nothing on tv or to read and no-one to talk to? It's hard. It's really not fun after the first few hours. This is Ava's life and has been since the moment she took her first breath. She lays in a crib and waits. I have a short video of her laying in her crib and it makes my heart ache. She lays there trying to find the person who she knows has come in the room with her limited abilities. She waits for them to come close to her and after a bit her mouth starts to attempt to eat. She turns her head reflexively like a newborn and tries to eat only there is nothing there...no-one is going to feed her this time. She's SEVEN YEARS OLD people! She weighs the same as a 5 month old infant. She weighs what Lance did when he came home at 3 years old and had a waist the size of a preemie. Medically, according to her file, she is very similar to Lance. We anticipate her needs to imitate his on many levels and feel so grateful for all that he has taught us and the tools we now have available to be able to help meet her needs and give her the best chance at a joy-filled life.
Thanks so much for taking a minute to read and support us on our journey.
Melissa


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Al

I know, I know...I dropped off the advocacy bandwagon. I will tell you (or maybe show you) exactly why:

I would see a waiting child that would tear at my heart and I would advocate and beg for a family for him/her.  Often times they got families! (Augustin, Sadie, Chad...) Sometimes they only just got to meet their earthly family before going to Heaven.  Sometimes they never found a family or comfort on earth.  It's heart wrenching and emotionally draining.  So I got busy, excuse, excuse, blah, blah, blah...and quit even looking. Until last week when God starting pulling at me again and I LOOKED, once again I looked. Looked at the children, the souls, the lives, that were (ARE) hurting and broken.

I asked -
Why not adopt?
Why not advocate?
Why not sponsor?
Why not?!

Because "our plate is full" (I have to get up around 6 or 7 a.m and love and tend to children all day and often in the night...i.e they give me kisses and hugs, tell me they love me, and for those that can't they smile and cuddle my shoulder)  Hmm...maybe I should have a second plate! ;)
Because we have no money (Sure, we have internet, a computer, clothes that are clean and fit, new shoes, a running car that is safe, food in the refrigerator and pantry, and a home...oh and did I mention clean water, indoor plumbing, electricity...?)
Because we already adopted 2!  (All I can say here is that I am SOOO grateful that God didn't stop at Adam and Eve and say His work was done because He had saved 2)
Because our other children might not want to. (This is a legitimately good reason! Unless, of course, you've talked to your children and they have told you that they would happily donate their prized possessions if it would help bring another child home)
Because people will think I'm crazy! (They probably already do! But even if that's a new development, do I care enough about what a stranger or acquaintance is going to think about me enough to sacrifice a child's life?)
Because my husband says no. (Well, that IS a deal breaker - in adoption you both have to be ok with the decision because without that support it's impossibly hard for EVERYONE!)

When all else fails go to the Bible, right?  What does God say about it?


  • Proverbs 31:8-9(NIV)

8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.9 Speak up and judge fairly;defend the rights of the poor and needy.

  • Matthew 18:1-5 (NIV)

1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
    • James 1:27 (NIV)

    27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

      Now, I looked and I see THIS child: Al




    Al is  TEN years old and about the size Lance was when we brought him home almost 2 years ago.
    This was Lance at THREE years old


    PLEASE ask yourself the tough questions and decide what you can do to help children like Al.