Thursday, October 18, 2012

Vika's 1st Year

Happy 1 Year Anniversary, Victoria Faye!  Here's some random thoughts on our first year together.
The adoption process is kind of like a marriage ceremony. It's exciting, fun, and okay, it can make you a nervous wreck, too. Then comes the marriage or real-life. Living with a new little person requires adjustments and learning on every one's part.  I think her parents have had to grow and change just as much as Vika has. And that's a good thing.

First morning waking up to a new life.

What can I say? She is amazing. In the past year she has learned to eat and chew normal food, hold her own in a house with 3 other rowdy kids and a dog. She can now communicate some of her basic needs through sign language and oh yeah, learned to understand the English language.

Having her has shown me what compassionate kids we have. All 3 have welcomed her,love her, are proud of her, and sometimes fight to play with her. I gotta admit, that warms my heart and I think it's extremely good for them.
Millie still thinks she's Vika's mother/teacher/caregiver. Honestly, I don't know if I'll ever break her of this. Fortunately, V. has learned to tolerate Millie's fussing over her pretty well. Many times I go up to their room to see what they're doing and find Millie holding a learning session with V. her captive audience. Most times of the day, you can find them together.
Vika has really blossomed, particularly these last few months. Attachment issues? Not this girl. Sensory issues? Nope. Institutional autism? Uh-uh. As Gabe and I like to say, 'we got a good one.'  She does have a good amount of spunk and naughtiness thrown in for good measure, as it should be.
This little girl has brought so much
fun, laughter, and opportunities for growth into our lives. She is possibly the world's best cuddler.  She has turned into such a happy, smiley, loveable child.  Sometimes I wonder how we got along without her. I marvel at our Lord's graciousness in meeting our needs along the way. So many times, I thought "What are we doing?! Should we really be doing this?!"  We are about the most flawed people you could find, and yet, He blesses us with such a darling of a child. Praises, that's all I can say. 
We love you, Viccola. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

An Apple a Day? No, Thank You!

Strange title for a blog post, aint it? Well, here's why.  As some of you know, we have becoming devotees of the Feingold diet in our family. We've been on it for several weeks now and have seen some really wonderful results from it.  On FG, there's Stage 1 and Stage 2. We are, naturally, on Stage 1, but I'm chomping at the bit to go to Stage 2.  The only real difference in the two deals with something called 'salicylates.'  Don't ask me what this is exactly. I haven't a clue. All I know is this is found in many natural foods: apples, grapes, tomatoes, berries, certain spices. All good stuff, right?  For some people, though, salicylates can cause health and/or behavioral/learning problems.  This is why FG has you avoid these foods on Stage 1. During Stage 2 you can slowly and carefully re-introduce these foods, one at a time, to test for any possible reactions.
Me, being the inpatient person I am, decided we were ready to try some apples/applesauce.  Of course, I could have been influenced by my two preschool daughters' teachers, who are asking if I can send in appleasauce for snack. I'm already the crazy mom to them, I'm sure, who's asking that my children not use fingerpaints, lotion, or hand stamps.  (If you do FG, get used to certain people thinking you're a nutjob). So, yeah, I admit I rushed into Stage 2 a bit.  And besides, they're apples, for pity's sake! Surely my kids won't have a problem, right? Here's what I observed after a day or two of eating the stuff.
Vika, who had gotten to be such a happy, bubbly, laughing little thing the last few weeks, became, well, grumpy again.  Easily irritated, crying over trivial things.  I swear it's true.  Could apples really cause this? I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't lived it.
And then there's Millie. Prior to our apple experiment, she was amazing us daily with new sounds. She was able to sit still for longer periods of time.  She was becoming a new child. For real.  Enter apples, the sounds stop. she's back to her pointing and grunting for everything.  The familiar frustration of driving with her in the backseat returns.  Hearing her little sounds of wanting to tell/show me something but only being able to guess what it is. Before I was at least getting a beginning consonant or vowel.  How weird is that?
On the behavioral side of things, now I would tell her to do something and she would cross her arms, shake her head, and make sort of a 'nnnnn' sound. That's 'no' for her.  The tantrums returned, along with the screaming.
Mommy had made a big mistake. Fortunately, I was able to almost immediately link these behaviors to the apples. Problem is, apparently, this evil potion, chemical, whatever it is, salicylate, takes a long time to completely clear out of your system. It took 5-6 days until I noticed the kinder, gentler, happier, smarter children returning.  And yay! they're back!!
Let me tell you, I am dying to be able to cook with tomatoes again. Hands down, the hardest food to do without. No spaghetti sauce, tomtao sauce, regular pizza sauce. Ugh. No fun. Or let me rephrase that,  we're thankful to have enough food to fill our bellies, but it sure would be nice to have regular pizza with tomato sauce again. Please, Lord, someday?  But, after the failed apple experiment, I'm not in that big a hurry. Pleasant, teachable, vocalizing children are far more valuable.  

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Reason #1

 Reason #1 why I love the Feingold diet

Quiet children!  I am often amazed these days to look up and see my children involved in their various pursuits and I didn't even realize they were in the room. Homework gets done, chores get done, play goes on and peace is maintained. Did you think that today's children were capable of being quiet? I'm not sure I did. Don't get me wrong, they can be loud. I wouldn't want children who weren't capable of getting a little rowdy, but overall, I am discovering a quietude in them that's new for us. And I love it!

Monday, October 1, 2012

It's been a long, long time. I thought it was about time to dust off the old blog and share some things that have been going on with our family.  I should probably give a rundown of everything that's been happening the past few months, but that is way more work than I have time for now.  Instead, how about some pictures of some things we did this summer with no particular theme, just Summer '12.  Here ya' go!

Checking out Lake Superior.  So so beautiful.

Visiting some of the waterfalls around Munising, MI. 

 My boy. He looks so much like my dad here.

 We took a boat ride to view some actual shipwrecks in Lake Superior. And we got to steer the boat!
Dutch Village, Holland, MI. The highlight of the dance was definitely when one of the dancers' wooden shoe flew off and landed in the nearby pond.  Exciting stuff.

Taking a break to cool off with Dad's soda.
Eva and I visited the Dunning Historical Museum in Plymouth, MI. They have a Lincoln exhibit with an actual lock of Lincoln's hair!
Another famous couple.
 Eva, Eli, and I toured the Jiffy plant in Dexter, MI and we got free stuff!!
Millie and Vika at the Detroit Riverwalk.
 Gabe and I went on a whole weekend date. We took in a Tigers game.

Visited the Detroit Institute of Art.  An awesome place to visit. We couldn't see it all in a few hours.
Visited Belle Isle.  Honestly, the aquarium was really sad.  Maybe one day it will be restored to its former glory.

 We cruised the Detroit River on the River Princess! The Motown show was good, but we did not do the Soul Train line but did enjoy watching others with a little alcohol in their system do it.

 General Motors world headquarters shot taken from the boat.
Now for some odds and ends.
 Kensington Metropark - When toddlers attack.

My super-duper-garage-cleaner-uppers.  Guess which one is not as eager to do his work?
And now, another sad installment of "what happens when dads dress kids." Truly a noteworthy entry.

Our Russian sweetheart loves the water. Can you tell?
I hope you all enjoy these few snapshots into our family's life this past summer. Another entry soon!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Good morning, friends.  I promised a little more detail on why we decided that we would not continue with our adoption of "Spencer." Well, better late than never.   I guess our hesitation all started a few months ago when I became very unexpectedly pregnant. A few weeks later, we found out it was a miscarriage. 3 weeks after that, I had a very scary, traumatic trip to the emergency room.  All is well now, but these events left me physically and emotionally drained.  I guess they took the steam out of us.  This was one factor in our decision.

The other, and really more important one, is the needs of our current children, particularly our 2 little ones.  Vika, who came to us through adoption last year, is doing very well. Yes, there are areas where we are all still adjusting since she came. We are still learning the best ways of parenting her. She still gets overwhelmed by too much commotion. We are trying to teach her more appropriate ways to ask for what she wants/needs. But overall, she has done very well.

It is our youngest bio child who is causing us the most concern right now.  She has some needs/behaviors that consume most of my energy daily.  If you know us or have followed this blog at all, you are probably aware of what those are.  We are exploring the best ways of helping her. But honestly, she is the child that causes me to feel like I'm a new parent. Like I don't know anything about raising children. She is a mystery child to me in many ways.

The decision that we made to not go forward with the adoption was exceedingly difficult. What would happen to Spencer?  It took us a while before we had the courage to make that call. To back out because it really seemed best for our family.

But we did.  And here's the good part. The very same day we notified RR of our decision, another family had already stepped forward to adopt him!! Did that make our decision easier, oh yeah! Spencer will have a beautiful family that has loved him for a long time.  And it really did confirm to us that we had done the right thing, for him and for us.

So this story really does have a happy ending. Spencer will have a family. And our family, well, we will be busy with the 4 blessings we already have.  We are looking forward to doing some things that we've put off for a few years.  With saving for adoption, the almost 2 years our last adoption took, paper-chasing, etc.  our lives have kind of revolved around adoption for the past 3 years. We've put off doing lots of things with the kids because we didn't want to spend the money or couldn't take the time.  So, we're going to try to kick up our heels a little bit, maybe get some things done around the house.  God led us to Vika and has really blessed us with her. We are looking forward to what He has in store for us next! 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hello all. I am writing with some sad news today. After much wrestling and prayer, we have decided we can no longer continue with our adoption of Spencer.  We have some definite reasons that have led us to this decision. We are currently on vacation, so I must be very brief here. I will write a longer post when we return fully explaining how we came to this decision. Thanks for your understanding.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Someone's been a baaaaadd blogger! I know this update is way overdue. Somehow organizing my thoughts with 4 kids is way harder than it was with 3. And by the time the kids are all asleep and I have the time to write, well my brain's asleep too.  So with that apology out of the way, here's where we stand.

Last week, we were finally able to get our application (and check!) off to USCIS. For those of you who don't know, that is the federal agency that must approve our family to adopt and bring an international child into the country.  We should be getting our fingerprinting appointment in a couple of weeks or so to complete that process. 

Our dossier is almost complete - we just lack a couple of documents.  Maybe by the end of this week we'll have those in hand and I can take the whole pile of documents to the Secretary of State's office and get them apostilled. After that, we'll ship them off to a certain Eastern European country. After that, well, we wait for an invitation to travel.

We don't know much about the place where "Spencer" is (not his real name, btw).  No one from Reece's Rainbow has ever adopted from there. We have no idea - is it a institution? - which usually means a place that's not very nice to put it mildly, or possibly an older children school-type setting, which would certainly be preferable. We know one thing, this little boy needs a family and a real home. He was almost certainly abandoned because of one thing - he has Down Syndrome. A pretty sorry reason, but that's the reality in his country.  So as we wait, we pray that God would already begin to prepare his heart to blend into our family. And our hearts as well - to love him and accept him as one of our own. Thank you so much for your prayers and support toward that end, as well. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Good Tuesday morning to you all! Here in SE Michigan it is a stormy, cloudy morning. The sky is the kind that fools me into thinking we might actually get some real thunderstorms, aka the Oklahoma kind, but that never happens :(

On the adoption front, we are scurrying around collecting documents for our dossier. I had forgotten what a headache (not to mention time-consuming) it can be trying to convince various officials to give you exactly what you need or else you cannot bring your child home.  We are making steady progress, thankfully, and I'm relieved to discover that this Eastern European country is not as nit-picky as a certain other Eastern European country.

Perhaps the most exciting development of the last week, though, has been Vika starting school!!

Really?! Yes, really!

Here's her on her first day with her wonderful, capable teacher.

The last year I've truly learned to appreciate those special-education professionals who understand and accept my little girls.  I've always thought of Millie's school as "the happiest place on earth" because the teachers and staff seem so positive and excited to be there.

In other news, a kind fellow-RR-supporter has offered to run a Pampered Chef fundraiser for us to help us with the costs to adopt Spencer.  Here is the link to the site where you can go to purchase some items with a percentage of every item going to our adoption. You know Pampered Chef is good stuff, so go check it out:  Just enter my name - Melanie Jim for host at checkout.

Many thanks!!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

I know, it's been a long time since I've written an update.  Life around here is full, to say the least.  But we are making good progress in bringing Spencer home. Our home study update should be finalized this week.  We will then begin collecting our dossier documents. I admit to being a little unclear on the process, since this is a new country for us. Things work quite differently, I'm told.  So, luckily, we have very competent people to help us along and so I'm confident we'll be fine.

Now for the good part (pictures!)

Someone had a birthday! The chocolate frosting was definitely a hit.

Looking like a regular American kid.

My attempt at a picture of all the kids.  As you can see,Vika does not the enjoy the posed picture.

My boy. We bought him a new helmet, and oh-yeah, a new bike. I think he's much more excited about the helmet.

One preschooler - 2 hairstyles.  Too cute for her own good.

Getting in some practice before she starts school (this Monday!).

Oh my goodness, how much do we love this little sweetie!

Thanks for reading! I'll try to do a much better job of keeping up with things here. If you're able to, we really could use your prayer and financial support to bring Spencer home.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

So sorry to those who have been waiting for an official announcement of an important upcoming event. And I've been searching for the inspiration to write just the right words. Something touching, inspiring, witty, anything fitting for the occasion, but such words allude me just now, so I'll just say it: "We're adopting again!"
I can hear some of you saying, "Didn't you just bring a child home late last year?" Well, yes, we did, and yes, we're just crazy, brave, big-hearted, whatever enough, to do it again.  It's really hard to forget sooooo many children that are essentially locked away in an institution. We can be a family to just one more.

So,we are excited to introduce you to the little guy who, if all goes according to plan, and it pleases the Lord, will become the newest member of our family:

Spencer!  Well, at least this is the nickname he's been given on RR.  We don't know his real name at this point.  But, isn't he so cute? The long-hoped for brother for our only son.

He is also in Eastern Europe, but a different country than last time. We can't state what country publicly, but if you're curious, you can certainly ask us personally.

He's almost exactly a year younger than our son. He's now 5-and-a-half. He was recently transferred from the baby house where he spent his first years. We don't know exactly where he is now. It could be the institution or it could be an older children orphanage. Hopefully we'll learn more details as we go along.

We now begin the paperchasing all over. But, I'm assured this dossier is much less detailed and time-consuming than the last country's. 

We're excited. A little disbelieving that we're actually doing this again.  We have a much better idea of what we're actually taking on this time which takes much of the fear away.  Now I just have to figure out how I'm going to take 5 kids to the grocery store and how I'm going to fit them all in our car. It's going to be an adventure!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Last Time I Was Here......

I promised you all a big announcement. This is not it. 
But it occurs to me that I haven't posted any updates in a while, so here goes.

Several people have told me they were praying for us, especially in regards to my post about Millie.  Let me say, I have been noticing some changes in her in recent weeks.  She doesn't have any new words yet, (only just Momma), but she does seem to be producing some new sounds more frequently. More verbalizations overall. Mind you, she still can't imitate someone else when you ask her to, but still, new sounds are good.

Still trying to get some private therapy for her. I was quite naive in dealing with insurance companies, never really having much experience in that area. After how many conversations, I was finally told they will not pay for apraxia treatment. Sad, frustrated Momma. Not done fighting and praying on this front. Just taking a break while I muster up some more strength to re-enter the fight.

Still, Millie just seems happier overall now. She has not been constantly into mischief the past few weeks. Maybe she's just maturing. Whatever the reason, I'm so thankful. I feel like I can relax more.  She's also really accepted her new sister now, I think. We're not seeing the jealousy we saw at first.  So often now, I'll catch them just happily playing together.  Of course, Millie sees herself as the much older sister and is often trying to mother Vika. It's not extreme like it used to be, though. For instance, check out Millie and Vika's little dance number. Can you just see the enthusiasm on Vika's face?

A quiet moment with my littles.

I love my little Millie! She has the cutest habit now of blowing kisses when she leaves a room. Especially when she's about to do something naughty!

Both little ones are still in diapers and whenever I suspect Millie has a dirty one, she always points to Vika as the culprit. Every time. It's kind of a joke now. 

BTW, anyone have any surefire ways of interesting a 3-and-a-half year old in using the potty?  Our checking account would appreciate it. I felt sure she would be the one to train a little bit earlier. I'm kind of a fail in that department. 

Our little Vika continues to do amazingly well. Today is her 4th birthday!  We're celebrating tomorrow though. 

  The last week she's had the most horrible cold. In all my years of mothering, I've never seen so much mucus come out of a child's nose for so many days. Poor little thing's nose is so red and raw from so much wiping and suctioning. Finally, today it seems she's getting better.


She doesn't usually nap, but I guess with her sickness this week, she was just so tired. Anyways, caught her taking a little snooze on the floor.

We have her surgery scheduled for getting tubes in her ears in late February. So hoping that will help with the almost constant drainage and improve her hearing, as well.

And may I add, she's just about the cutest thing around?  Sometimes when I pick her up and feel her squishy little body, I can hardly stand. I just want to eat her up!
At this very moment, I notice that she's managed to get her pants and diaper off and is trying on her sister's shoes.  Now, she's going for a stroll, sans diaper, but wearing one boot.  Excuse me for minute, I'll be back!
Now where was I?  Oh yes, V. will also be starting preschool soon. At least I think she will. We have already been there 4 times to get her evaluated. Four! Really? And we're not done yet.  Honestly.  In the school's defense, I guess they're not used to dealing with Russian-speaking, post-orphanage-dwelling, preschoolers with Down's syndrome.  
Okay, that's it for now. Check back soon for some good news. I promise.

Big News!!

Stay tuned for an exciting, crazy, wonderful announcement. 

Coming very soon!!

Friday, February 3, 2012


I see the question in people's eyes, even though it's rarely spoken -only by one acquaintance (bless her heart) who rather rudely blurted out, "Why?" when she found out we had adopted Vika.  The unspoken question is "Why would you want to take on such a responsibility? Don't you have your hands already full enough with 3 children? Isn't she a lot of trouble?" Most of the people we know well are actually very nice, Christians, in fact, and probably understand already the value that God places on all human life. Regardless of IQ, appearance, national origin.  

Still I know the question is there. So, just for the record, here goes.  You may think we're a bit crazy for spending tens of thousands of dollars and much more in energy and time to adopt a child with Down's Syndrome.  Truth is, I think you're a bit crazy if you don't.

Not necessarily a child like Vika, but any child. I mean, really, what could be better?  You've gotta to spend your life on something. You know what makes me happy? Seeing Vika "get" something, like a new sign or sort of saying a new word or learning how to give a kiss.  

Especially when I consider where she would be if she were not here. She would be clamoring for the attention of one or two caregivers and left to herself the vast majority of her waking hours. Rocking on the floor perhaps or staring vacantly at the ceiling. And when she leaves the baby house, the conditions would probably be far worse. 

We get to be a part of changing her life. That's so exciting to me.  And yes, fun. 

Goodness knows, adoption is not for everyone.  If you have zero desire to adopt, you probably shouldn't. But if the idea of adopting a little one who really needs someone  tugs at your heart, maybe you should give it serious consideration and prayer. Maybe you should consider turning your life upside down and allowing chaos to reign for a little while until everyone adjusts. Maybe you should say goodbye to your fear and hello to faith that God will supply all your needs when you go where He sends you.

If you are intrigued in the slightest, go now to       Maybe, just maybe, there's a kid there who really needs you.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Welcome To My World

In my world....

I get LOTS of attention!

I can go around naked all day if I want to.

In my world, I get to eat ice cream for dinner! (well, once or twice a year)

In my world, I get to express my emotions.

I get to lay around as much as I want.

I get to travel to exotic places, like Oklahoma!?

I get to be reunited with old friends (that's "Ivan", now Samuel from my groupa). If our friends could see us now! Pretty cool!!

I get to "push people around." Sorry, for the lousy quality, a videographer, my mom is not.

But mostly, I get to make Mom and Dad's day with smiles like this.  My life is good!

I also get to see lots of doctors. Lately, I've been to the cardiologist. My heart looks perfect! Yay for me!

And the ear/nose/throat doctor.  Looks like I'm gonna need tubes in my ears. Boo for me :(   But if it will help me to hear better, it will be worth it. 

I'm also getting evaluated to get ready for preschool. Lots of people are interested in helping me grow and be all I can be. I love this place! 

I still have trouble chewing my food, my mom is working on getting me some help with that. Maybe one of these days, Dad and I will get to have a burger together. He would love that.

I can't say any words yet, but I'm so smart I've already learned how to sign "more," "eat," "drink," "all done," and "good." I am a master imitator. I can play the "tickle game" with the best of 'em. I even know how to "shoot off my little-big toe." Don't ask, it's something my Daddy taught me, he's funny like that. 

I've been blessed with a family of my own, but so many children are still waiting.  Please visit  and consider being a family to a child listed there or helping another family bring their child home. Then you can help make another child's world a whole lot better.