Thursday, June 30, 2011



Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Who are these 2 little people in my house???

Many people ask, so here is a little insight


6 years old

Weighs 25 pounds (gained over 2lbs since we got home)


Spent his whole life laying down in a crib

Doesn't stand or walk

Sits up on his own and crawled for the first time this week

Is not vocal at all

Doesn't cry unless he is in pain or frightened

Doesn't take naps, but does sleep through the night

Does not eat solids, doesn't even know how to chew and swallow

Eats blended fruits and veggies mixed with baby cereal and goats milk or formula, from a bottle

Health wise, his teeth are a mess. Very decayed and will probably all need to be removed. He will need glasses. His medical record stated that he needs heart surgery.

He has blossomed in just a weeks time!


He connects with all of us

Reaches his arms up to be held

Loves to snuggle



5 years old

Weighs 30 pounds

Was in a different building than Gabe (they were not biological brothers) and was thankfully in a group of children that was able to be more mobile

He walks...and RUNS if the door is open :)

Is not vocal at all

Has the most pitiful little cry and will usually do it when he is tired and wants food

Naps and sleeps through the night

He did eat anything while we were in Ukraine,

but as soon as we got home he became very picky. He rejects almost anything but yogurt, oatmeal, banana's and spaghetti

Health wise he seems pretty healthy. He does appear to have cavities but not nearly as bad as Gabe.

He has the.BEST.laugh

He learns fast, already signing "more" and obeys when I call him to come. Sometimes

I love when he comes to me and backs up to my lap for me to hold him

And how he clings onto my neck, or plays with my hair as he sucks his 2 fingers

Both boys seem to have several institutionalized behaviors such as rocking, banging the head, constant rubbing the head, hands twisting and in the mouth.
We have seen these already get less and less everyday already.

Levi seems to get overstimulated with activity but calms right down if we put him in a secure environment such as a stroller or playpen.
Gabe gets very nervous and will cry at certain sudden movements or new surroundings.

We plan to get both of the boys hearts checked as heart defects are common in children with DS, and Gabe's medical records indicated he needed surgery.
We will also have their ears, eyes and such checked out. In time we will look into therapies for sensory disorders and speech. Right now we are using good old fashion love and nourishment.

Both boys are fitting in wonderfully. Of course Sissy is totally attached. She will hold Gabe for hours and loves to get them dressed everyday.

Jude is sweet and caring with them and will ask me again, "who was in a crib their whole life? where did they use to live?"
Zane is kind of indifferent towards them.
He doesn't like when Levi yells, but will stop and let Gabe wrap his little hand around his finger. That makes him very proud:)

Life around here has totally kicked up several notches. With all the diaper changes, food and bottle making, baby toys sprawled all over the living room floor, it feels like having twin newborns or toddlers at any given moment.
Oh but do I Love these boys!! I had wondered if I would at first feel like I was babysitting an would eventually feel like these are MY boys. But it has never felt that way. Gabe and Levi feel just like my other three to me.


They are my sons and I thank God for allowing me the privilege of being their mommy.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

What's in a name

A fellow Reece's Rainbow family left a comment on my blog today.

To say I was touched would be an understatement.

I love to see how God works. I love that my fragile, precious Gabe is already being used to make a difference in this world.

Here is the story

Where Mercy Met Grace

Friday, June 24, 2011


I apologize for being MIA. Things were go-go-go at the end of the adoption in Zap and then once we had the boys during our stay in Kiev our hands were full! After we got home I would finally have a moment to sit at night and blog but it was like reading a book when I'm tired. It just put me to sleep.

I will go back and write in detail about all our adventures with court, gotcha day, the dreaded train ride, our first days with the boys in Kiev, and our welcome home. I even have a video up my sleeve :)

I'm serious, I will. Eventually...

First things first. We are HOME!!!

Jude-6, Gabe-6, Zane-4, Levi-5

We flew out of Kiev Thursday morning at 6:45AM. Knowing that we had to be up at 3AM to head to the airport I decided to not go to sleep the night before. (Bad idea!)
At the airport with our favorite driver/facilitator Nicco
Yes, I am half asleep

Our first flight was about 3 hours to Munich, Germany.

We were all very concerned with how Gabe was going to do. I was ready for a non-stop screaming, frightened child.

While we were driving around to appointments I discovered that when I laid Gabe down in the seat (there are no car seats) he instantly stopped crying. He had also gotten used to being in his stroller. So what we would do is wheel him up to the end of the gate, hold him to our seat, and then lay him down on his seat.
Once in his seat he didn't cry ONE BIT!!! He actually laughed every time there was turbulence. All the adults would have a look of panic on their faces and our boys would be laughing. It was quite funny.

We had gotten 2 different medications to give Gabe to help sedate him but didn't even use them. We did give both boys Melatonin which just helped to calm them.

We had a short layover in Germany which gave us time to eat and change the boys.

While we waited to board the plane there was a father with his sons that looked to be about 12 and 6. They got a big kick out of the way Levi sucked his fingers. The dad was telling his oldest that that was exactly how he used to suck his fingers when he was little.
Levi was getting anxious so I stood up with him and was showing him the planes out the window. He was laughing and snuggling.

The father then said, "There is nothing like mommy".

Wow. He could already tell that I was his mommy.

Next was a 9 hour flight to Dulles, Washington.
Guy, Levi and Genesis were in the seats right in front of me and Gabe.
We also had an extra seat next to Gabe which worked out perfectly for him to spread out.

Believe it or not I would say that that long flight was the best out of all of them.





As we were getting off the plane a gentleman said to us, "Your boys are as delightful as their mother and as tolerate as their daddy". He went on to say how well behaved they were and how he enjoyed watching them.

The real fun began when we arrived in Dulles. We had only 2 hours to get through customs and board our last flight. We stood in the very long passport line, Gabe cried the entire time.

I hope that kind gentleman wasn't in our line;)

We made it through customs with some time to spare and then loaded our last plane for Tampa, FL.

As we looked for our seats we realized that all 5 of us were in seat "B". That meant that we would each individually be seated one behind the other. I told the Flight attendant that we obviously had a problem, unless of course strangers didn't mind taking care of our boys the whole flight;)

We all stood in the very back of the plane while the attendant worked at getting people to move. I was surprised to see people say no, even after he explained our situation. I was itching to just say never mind, keep your seat, and then put my little guy right next to them.

We finally had our seats. Gabe and daddy were in one row. I and Levi were behind them and Genesis was behind us in the middle of a row with an adult on either side.

Then comes the dreaded news before take off. There would be a delay due to weather. You know it's bad when the pilot says, "It's going to be a long wait".

Two hours we waited. That, I believe, was the worst part of the whole day. By this time I was SO exhausted. I found myself trying to keep Levi from touching the man beside him and propping his feet on him, to my head nodding down heavily. Over and over and over again.
I was also feeling so bad for all those that I knew would have been waiting for hours at the airport.

We landed in Tampa at 9:30PM.

Finally we were walking down the hall to all our waiting friends and family!!!!!

We are so happy to be HOME!

I have a ton of video and pictures but I still have to organize it all and get it loaded on my computer. SO many more details and blogs to come...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

It's a Boy! Well, make that Two!

There is this little thing that happened today, I became a mother of FIVE!

I will have to do a whole post on the details of our day, it was quite the ride.

Sorry this will not be a picture post. My family is dying to know details so I need to catch them up! Pictures will come later I promise.

We had court at 9:30 this morning. All went well and we were named parents of

Gabe Artem House (Artem is pronounced Are-tea-M)


Levi Vitalik House (Vitalik is pronounced Vee-Ta-Lick)

After court we had to race, and I mean race, to get to the boys separate places of birth and get their birth certificates.

We then drove to the notary to get the application for the boys passports.

Then we booked it back to Zap to turn in the passport applications. We were in such a hurry because Monday is a holiday here and the offices said they would not be available tomorrow. With the holiday that would mean we would have had to wait till Tuesday to get all these things done. We are very glad we made it today!

Tomorrow we have to pick up the passports, buy our train tickets, and then we will get our boys out of the orphanage!!!

Because of the weekend and the holiday we have to wait till Tuesday to finish the paperwork that needs to be done in Kiev.

Our plan as of now is to stay here until Sunday night. We will take the train to Kiev arriving Monday morning. We will have Tuesday and Wednesday to do our paperwork and plan to board our plane Thursday to come HOME!!!

Off to go book our plane tickets!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A day she will never forget

Childhood memories. We all have them. Some good, some bad.

What is one of your favorites? What is one that you never forgot?

My 11 year old daughter wrote this about our visit at the orphanage today.

She titled it,

"The Day I Will Never Forget"

This morning we drove to the orphanage where Gabe and Levi have spent their 5-6 years of life. We're allowed to visit them twice a day. So first we went to Gabe's building and brought him outside, then my mom and I walked over to Levi's building/room... One of the nannies opened the door, we walked in and saw all of Levi's groupa sitting in what I call "the waiting room". As soon as they noticed us, the kids got so excited! Waving, smiling and laughing... The next thing I see is our little monkey walking out :) My mom and I got down on his level with arms wide open. Guess what he did? Hugged ME. (have I told you how much I love that kid??).

But the best part is still to come.

All of the nannies were taking the children outside... I wanted so badly to go with them! After we brought Levi outside to see his daddy and brother, we took him over to his groupa. Right when I set Levi down he ran to the other lil' ones... We had bubbles and of course a camera in our hands. They absolutely LOVED the bubbles and a couple of them got so hyper that we decided to put it away. We didnt want the nannies getting mad at us. Man were they upset! But after, I played with them and gave lots of hugs =) I wanted to take them all home!!


This little sweetie loved when I would take a picture and show it to her on the screen. She would point out who was in the photo smiling proudly

This little guy was craving attention

Levi's buddies


I especially wanted the little boy with down syndrome that Levi sat by most of the time.

I'm not sure what his name is but I would go tickle him, sit with him and he wanted to hold my hand. So sweet!



All of those special angels are just dying for love and attention! Levi's nannies are really nice. They let us take pictures and in fact, they were telling the kids to look and smile at the camera!
And that was the day I will never forget. The hugging, playing, and making those lonely children all smile and laugh was the best feeling.

Genesis wristband says "147 million" which is how many orphans there are that are waiting for a HOME

Genesis Holding Gabe

I know that many of you look at these orphans and have compassion. You want to help in some way, even if it's small. You know you can't just sit by and let these children continue living without a family.

Our friends Jenny and Eric Monier are about one month away from rescuing their son from an orphanage like ours. Their son also has down syndrome and is seven years old.


Could you imagine not knowing what it's like to ever feel a mommy's kisses or the warmth of daddy's big hugs.

Seven years sweet Dima has waited.

As I sit here in another country waiting for the day I can run my boys out of the orphanage for good, I also miss my two boys that are back at home with family.
My Jude is six years old. I miss him like crazy. He is my sweetheart boy. Very kind and caring towards others. He is such a great big brother.

I can't imagine missing out on those six wonderful years of his life.
He told me tonight on skype that he cries for me and wants to know how much longer before we come home.

Is Dima saying the same thing.

How much longer mommy? When will we be together as a family?

Boys+with special needs+over the age of 3, rarely ever get chosen.

Dima WAS chosen. The Moniers are only waiting on a travel date and they also still need 10,000.

If you have felt that desire to do something. Make a deference in the life of one of these precious children. Here is your chance.

Please visit the Moniers blog. They are doing a color nook give-away along with other things.
That neat blue wristband Genesis was wearing in her post, they are selling those for only 2 bucks.

Help rescue Dima.

My Gabe and Levi can't wait to have a play date with him:)

Sunday, June 5, 2011


I decided today that if the Nannies insisted we take Gabe outside like they did yesterday that we would go, and keep going. 

No, I didn't make a run for the gates, but don't think it didn't cross my mind. 

Yesterday we just sat right out in front of Gabe's building and that's why the Nanny came out and interfered. I wanted to avoid that today.

As soon as we walked in they quickly brought Gabe out already buckled up in a stroller. I did just as I planned and walked him right outside. But instead of sticking by his building I told Guy we should walk on down by Levi's building, out of eyesight of Gabe's workers. We walk the whole grounds with Levi so I know that it is allowed.

Now, I don't want to make the Nannies all sound like terrible people. Actually I have been VERY touched by their compassion for our boys. I had heard stories of how most of them can be towards the kids and that is what I expected. Honestly though, I can tell that they do care about my boys. Whenever we walk by with Levi they always yell out his name, waving and smiling happily at him. Gabe's Nannies have held him, sung to him, rubbed his face. 
The problem is not that they don't care, I feel it's simply lack of knowledge on how to care for them. 
The last thing Gabe needs is harsh and sudden movements, or to be spoken loudly to.
I keep thinking that if they just had more education here on how to treat the different needs of these children, and of course if they had more workers, it would be life changing for these kids. 

We all sat down on a bench and did our usual routine with Gabe of letting him sit to the side of Guys lap and not confine him, while talking quietly to him. I really don't think he has ever been outside. They told us that since he always cries they never took him out of the orphanage for care and would instead have the doctors come to him in his crib.
How often an actual Doctor came to see him I don't know, and how one could possibly leave him in his condition. Well, lets not go there.

He sat on Guy's lap and cried for one hour straight.

Guy didn't want to let him go and so he decided to keep him while Genesis and I went to get Levi and bring him out for his visit.

We were told the first day that we couldn't visit the boys together because they didn't want them in each others rooms to prevent cross contamination. 
We get two visits a day from 10-12 and 4-6.  Because of the no mixing thing we get each boy for only one hour per visit instead of the whole two hours. 

Except for today.

Hey, they never told us we couldn't have them together outside.

When I came down with Levi, Gabe was content. Guy said he stopped as soon as I left. Thanks a lot Guy.

At the second visit I brought Gabe directly outside to the same bench and he stopped crying as soon as we sat down. Progress!

Genesis and I went to get Levi who promptly ran to each of us and gave us a big hug. Oh how I adore him.

We had a wonderful visit.  Gabe was full of smiles. He kept smiling whenever anyone would walk past us, it was the neatest thing. 

It was so nice to have a full two hours with the boys, TOGETHER.

Brothers together for the first time. 

My sons.


To say Daddy is attached would be an understatement

Check out them boxers. This boy is stylin



Saturday, June 4, 2011

Gabe's life

Today's visit with Gabe went fairly well.  He started to get tired at the end and began to cry. He then snuggled his face right against my chest and for the first time he stopped doing all of his nervous behaviors.


I didn't want to let him go. I hate that we only get one hour twice a day with him.


When we came for the second visit I decided that we should attempt to bring him outside. For him to get used to it and for us because sitting in the lobby is not enjoyable at all. The smell of urine and vomit is overwhelming and the constant screaming and moaning of the kids locked in their cribs is heart wrenching. 

I took Gabe in my arms and quickly walked outside as the Nannie was rambling off something in Russian. He of course was crying and panicked.  He will cry with the simplest movement, forget trying to stand up and walk with him. I don't know if he feels like he is going to fall, he doesn't like the change, I don't know but I sure wish I could help him. 

He continued to cry while clinging tightly to me, burying his face in my chest.  A few minutes later the Nannie came out with a bottle of what looked like tea. Gabe refused to take it. This is the second time he refused the bottle when it was just a liquid. It has me concerned about him getting dehydrated. 
The nanny kept rambling on about who knows what and then she took Gabe from me and put him in his stroller. She buckled him in and motioned for us to push him back and forth. All the while of course Gabe is upset. We kept shaking our heads no, knowing that the last thing he needs is fast movement. 
The nanny then takes Gabe and pushes him inside. She takes him out of the stroller and says, paka paka paka. I recognized that word meaning goodbye. We had only visited at this point for maybe 10 minutes. I looked at her, shook my head and said "nyet!" I took Gabe out of her arms and sat on the bench with him.  After several minutes he calmed down. He ended up in Daddy's arms and by the end of the visit I had to get up and walk out (we were past due for our visit with Levi) to get Guy to hand him back to the nannies. 

We have a hard time keeping ourselves from being angry. We look at our 6 year old and wonder how anyone can allow such trauma.


We feel his spine and hip bones poking out and want so badly to feed him. It's all we can do to sit there and not get up with Gabe in our arms and run out of that place to freedom. I can't imagine having to spend my life in the condition that he has. Starving, scared, dirty. Hours and hours enduring the wails and cries of the other children in his room. 

Soon Gabe.

Soon you will know what a full tummy feels like. 

Soon you will sleep in a comfy,clean bed of your own.

Soon you will feel safe in YOUR HOME that is filled with laughter, and fun. 

You will soon know the love of family and friends. 



It shouldn't have taken 6 years for you to experience this. We are so sorry.

This is what a visit can look like. He actually calmed down really fast here. Typically it takes longer to get him to relax. We found that if we sit him facing out and don't put our arms around him right away, giving him space, he will eventually feel safe.

This is his reaction every time we move him. And yes, his Daddy thinks he is a comedian. We take Gabe's condition very seriously but we found that we have to laugh or we would go mad

His food. 6 years old and this is it.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A cool night in Zap

It's so funny how one day here feels like several long ones! When I think about what to catch everyone up on, it seems like days ago, and yet it was just today.

We decided that we would spend the first hour with Levi and the second with Gabe this morning. Our boys are at the same orphanage but in different buildings. They told us we are not allowed to visit with the boys together because they could contaminate each other. Although one day we did have them together when we had our facilitator with us. Shame on us;)

We walked to Gabe's building and tried to go straight back to his room like yesterday. The nannies were all new today, a different shift, and they were pushing us back out to the lobby. We got our translator on the phone to explain that we need to visit where he is comfortable but the nanny argued and said no because there are very sick kids in his room.

I was not happy to say the least and I let them know it by looking at them angry and shaking my head. Oh yeah, THAT showed them.

A worker went over and closed the window. Thank goodness, it was a whole 90 degrees it felt like in there, I'd hate for Gabe to catch a cold.

They quickly brought Gabe out and as expected he started crying and shaking in fear. They put him in a stroller, buckled him up and wheeled him over to us. Guy was able to get them to turn off the lights, we aren't sure if he is sensitive to them being so bright. We all just sat quietly and tried talking with him. After that didn't work, I decided to take him out and hold him. I sat with him on my lap, his face full of tears, hands wringing. We talked, hummed, played music. 30 full minutes went by. I decided to try and see what he thought of the orange, squishy ball I had brought for Levi. I wasn't sure if it would be over stimulating for him. I held it out at a distance from his face and all the sudden he stopped crying. He stared at the ball then turned and looked at me with a smile.

For the next 30 minutes he was calm and interactive. At the end of our visit the nanny brought out a glass bottle with a nipple that had a huge hole cut in the top. It appeared to be filled with some kind of soup. Tomato maybe. Whatever it was he drank it in less than a minute. When it was gone he began to cry and shake. My heart broke. My baby is starving.
I hated to leave him so upset but our time was up.

On our second visit Guy sat and was prepared to hold him. They brought him out to the lobby again but this time he didn't cry! He looked like he had just woken up. He was full of smiles for us.

Half way through the visit Guy tried to hand him over to Genesis and me but he instantly began to cry and get scared. The moment he went back in Guys lap though he calmed right down. It seems that ANY form of change throws him off. Even just simply standing up with him.
I do feel that he is beginning to feel safe with us.

Our visit with Levi was as joyful as always. I think all 3 of us have a smile on our face the entire time we are with our little monkey.

He now goes straight for his favorite spot in the parking lot where the flag is flying from the building. He will look at the flag then walk away, then turn around and come back. I gave him the orange ball and it is now his new favorite thing. We found that he loves anything with a string of sorts. On the ball he can pull out one of the "strings" and hold it.
We fed him a banana and he loved it.

We have to work on manners. He will find out quickly that yelling won't get you far in our house:) I do understand that right now this is the only way he knows how to communicate.

On our second visit we gave him a cookie and juice. I am pleasantly surprised at how well he chews. His tongue doesn't seem to be a big problem for him. At first he couldn't drink from the juice box and I knew he would need something else. Then he surprised us by actually sucking from the tiny straw! By the time he was done however he had juice all down his shirt and on his hands. Then he would put his hands on the road and the dirt stuck to him and made the worst mess. He then touched his face with his sticky, black hands. The poor nannies must have wondered what in the world he was up to to get so dirty in such a small amount of time. But, he is a boy after all, they have that ability.

Funny story. We decided to buy a fan for our room last night. We have no AC and it has been pretty hot here. It's especially hot at night and hard to sleep.
We found a store in walking distance to our apartment so here we are walking with a big box, complete with a handle made out of tape by the service guy at the store.
We couldn't wait to put the fan together and finally have some cool air. Come to find out that the box is missing the fan blades. The funny thing is that we could see at a distance that before the guy sold it to us he took everything out of the box to be sure all the pieces were there and then carefully re-packed it.
Back to the store we went tonight hoping to be able to explain and get the blades. Try doing that in a foreign country! We called our translator and explained the story to her. She said she didn't understand the missing part we were talking about, she didn't have that word to be able to tell the worker but would try to explain our situation. We walked up to the front desk and after several minutes of complete confusion I told Guy to just hand the lady the phone with our interpreter on the line. After they talked, Guy was able to point out the part we needed.
We walked home with the fan blades in hand.

Finally, some cool air.

Guy gets the blades on only to find out that we have 2 front pieces that house the blades instead of a front and back.

I am lying here enjoying the cool breeze anyway. Just be careful not to get to close as the blades are not covered;)

Sorry there are no pictures tonight. This post already took me several hours to write and to upload the video. It's after 1AM here and I really need to get out of this habit of going to bed after 2AM. I do that at home and I thought I would be able to get out of that routine with the time change here. But no such luck.

Goodnight from Zap

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Trials and smiles

What a whirlwind this has been!  We have only been in "Region" since yesterday morning and yet it feels like its been a week!!! 

I now need to play catch up, so if you wanted details, here you go! If you just stopped by for pictures, you can scroll down now:)

Monday morning we had our SDA appointment. It was very short and formal, they asked why we wanted to adopt and why we wanted children with special needs. I wasn't prepared for the wave of emotions I had after seeing my boys baby pictures (they have them attached to their original information on file).  We learned that Gabe's parents really wanted to have children and had Gabe after failed attempts and a miscarriage. However after he was born they saw that he had down syndrome and left him at the hospital and signed over their rights. They were 27 & 28 years old.

The only information they had about Levi is that he was brought back to the hospital when he was 3 months old and left there by his mother. They do not have her name or any other information. We believe that after the mother had him home and realized that he was down syndrome she brought him to the hospital because she felt she could no longer care for him.

Monday night we were able to meet up with four other Reece's Rainbow families. We had a wonderful evening at TGIF's hearing each others stories and talking about our families.

Tuesday we knew we needed to be at the SDA office to get our referrals by 4:00. We decided to sleep in Tuesday since we hadn't really tried to catch up on sleep from the plane ride and time change.  We slept till 11:30 when we got a phone call telling us we needed to be out of our apartment at 12:30.  We quickly all showered and packed our mess of bags. I was hoping to nicely organize everything for the transition to "Region". That didn't happen!  Our driver met us and put all our luggage in his car until that evening at the train station. We spent the next few hours at a cafe having brunch and trying to connect online.  

4:00 came and we got our referrals. Niko then drove us to the train where we had to wait for several hours. Usually we would have another facilitator helping us but they were all tied up with other families so Niko took their place for a bit. He ended up riding the train to Region with us and starting the adoption process Wednesday. He was a wonderful companion and we were spoiled to have him along to translate for us.

The 10 hour train ride was better in some ways and not in others. We ended up in first class cause that's how we ride;) Niko said they were sold out of the others and since he was coming along Guy and him shared one room and Genesis and I in another. I tried desperately to sleep but the constant complete screeching to a halt stops over and over made that near impossible. Last I looked at the time it was after 2am and I woke up at 4am. 

By the way, the sun sets here at 9:30pm and rises at 4am.

We crammed ourselves and our luggage into a taxi like clowns in a clown car and arrived at the Catholic Church where we will be staying thanks to some wonderful friends suggestion! I will write about our stay with pictures soon.

We had less than an hour to shower and get ready to meet our boys.

We arrived at the orphanage and found it full of activity. There were adults and children everywhere and the outdoors was decorated with streamers, balloons, chalk drawings on the roads. They had the children putting on a musical complete with costumes and dance.  We were told that June 1st is "children protection day". 

Because we had Niko as our stand in facilitator our first day wasn't near as crazy as it could have been. We were able to have a good amount of time with the boys and many of the workers were around talking to us and telling us about the boys. 

When we first met Levi he came running out to us. They told us that he is very active. They also said that he is kind, sweet, and happy. 
On our second visit that day (we get to visit twice a day for 2 hours each visit) Levi was so excited to see us. He came right out and gave us each a big hug. They told us that he had been "searching" for us after our first visit. 

We have now had 4 visits. Levi loves to go outside and we are blessed to be allowed to take him all around the orphanage grounds. While we walk around, anytime a worker goes by they yell out Levi's name and wave and talk to him. They seem to really enjoy him here.  We don't feel he is as hyperactive as they made him seem. He will sit on our laps peacefully or sit still if we need to put his shoes on and such. 
Levi is 5 years old and probably the size of a small 3 year old. He seems to be healthy. He doesn't talk at all but does understand when spoken to. He is so full of life, and smiles and laughs constantly. He has totally captured all of our hearts. We can hardly wait to get back to see him in between visits and we find ourselves sitting around talking about all the cute things he does. 

Gabe's visit was very different. After yesterday I wasn't even going to post about it. I was scared and not sure what to do. BUT today was a better day thanks to the many prayers that went up for him after I personally shared with a few friends and family. I honestly believe God answered and gave us wisdom today.

On our first visit they brought Gabe to us and he screamed the moment they walked in the room to us. He is 6 but probably weighs 20 pounds. He is long, about the same length as Levi. He is very,very thin. 
I took Gabe hoping to calm him down but he continued to cry. He would wring his hands constantly and he looked absolutely terrified.  Finally they said that they would lay him back in his crib so we could look at him because the crib is the only place he doesn't cry. 

Here is the video I didn't want to post yesterday

On the next visit we decided to take him outside. He again was terrified. He screamed and cried, tears rolling down his little face the whole hour. His tiny body trembles the entire time as if he is in the worst kind of pain. If I even slightly touched his foot he would scream and withdraw it instantly. If I put my hand near him he would shove it away. 
I came away from him yesterday worried and drained. I worried mostly about how in the world we were going to get him home with the long train and plane rides. I was desperate to know what I could do to help him not knowing if he needed space or should I be forcing him to be close to me. 
We have no internet until late in the evening so I couldn't even look things up online. Needless to say it was a very hard day with a few rays of sunshine from our Levi.

Today's first visit with Gabe went the same. He screamed and trembled in complete fear the whole time. Our facilitator asked us after seeing him with us if we are sure that we want to continue with his adoption. If we felt this wasn't what we were hoping for we needed to back out now. She said that if we don't adopt him he will go straight to the institution (where we know he would die within a year) but she wanted us to be sure we were happy with whatever we choose.
Guy told her that we committed to him 5 months ago and he was our son then, and still is. 

After that visit I began thinking of one thing I had noticed. While watching the ladies get him dressed he was fine while he was in his small room, even with me in his sight. As the ladies walked him out and turned the corner to the lobby, that is where he instantly began to cry. I had thought it was after seeing us since we were new faces, but it seemed to be the room.  I asked my interpreter if on my second visit I could call her and have her ask the ladies if I could please stay in his room while we visited. Now, they never let you do that normally. They do not like people to be back in the rooms at all and will make them stay in the lobby only. Thank God though that they agreed to let us come back. We sat right in the small hall by his crib and when they handed him to me he acted a little afraid, wringing his hands strongly and on the verge of crying. We sat very still and talked quietly to him. He slowly started to relax as Guy made silly faces at him and copied his little movements. Then, amazingly, he LAUGHED.

I honestly didn't think he even connected to people. We sat there for an hour not moving him and he began to relax more and more, even stopping wringing his hands. Eventually I would touch his face and after a few times of him moving my hand away he actually took my hand and placed it on his face. 
His eyes are severely crossed and flutter constantly, I don't know how much vision he even has like that. I am also sure that his ears are bad. 6 years of laying in a crib drinking a bottle cannot be good. 

We plan to spend half our visit tomorrow in his room again and then the other half we will walk to the next room. If that works we will do it again on the next visit and start moving further and further from his room. My hope is that he will find his comfort in us and not fear when we take him away from the orphanage. We will also try some music tomorrow, maybe the constant sound will help him. 
Gabe will definitely need a lot of care. But after today I believe that he will one day flourish. He seemed to connect with us and bond after just an hours time. Imagine what weeks will do. 
Please keep Gabe in your prayers. Pray that he will continue to bond with us. Pray that we can get him home without major problems. Pray for direction for Guy and I on what the best treatment is for him to help him feel secure and safe. 

I just went and read all the post from many of you on Facebook. I am now sobbing thank you very much. I could not ask for a more sincere, loving, encouraging, AMAZING group of friends and family. Your words about Gabe will carry me through this journey and I will hold on to the promises of my faithful, loving God. With Him, and your help, we will see His will be done in our lives and our boys.

Love you!!!

And now for the best part

How can you not smile around this boy???

Gabe warming up to us

He was very comfortable with Daddy

Daddy kept making him laugh, music to our ears

Sissy wanted to hold him so badly and so we tried it with the last 5 minutes of the visit. I'd say he didn't mind at all:)

Levi LOVES to go for walks! He has these shoes, (girls sandals but we won't tell him) they squeak when he walks and he gets such a kick out of them.



He discovered the flag today and all he wanted to do was stare at it. He would get up to walk away from it but then turn right around and sit and stare.


Levi makes this sound that I said sounds like a rapper so daddy started to do it and then would yell his name "Levi!". He would just laugh hysterically!!


I think someone is in love:)



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