Saturday, November 24, 2012

One month home

One month has already passed (nearly) since Kendyl came home.  I don't know that we could love her more.  It isn't an unrealistic love either.  It is the real deal, sometimes frustrating, sometimes breathtaking, always worth it kind of love.  Her resilience continues to astound me.  She just takes everything in stride.  In the beginning she was emotional and would tear up and wipe her face continually if something upset her.  That was the first week.  Once her body adjusted to the time change she was far more even tempered.  Nothing seems to shock her.  She doesn't ask many questions about what we're doing and why, she just floats along in a happy little sing-songy way.  She is a merry little soul. 

I have to say I'm learning far more Russian than she is English but this is just the first month.  Obviously it will have to go the other way at some point but I wanted her transition to be easy (er) on her and new house, new fam, new life is enough without adding new language to the list.  It is happening though.  Attention Kendyl: we all speak English over here.  Oh and the name change.  We called her Nastya for the first few days just for ease and then Chris gave her "the talk".  The first of many.  He explained that in America we all have two names and that his two names were Christopher Jared.  She asked "what are my two names?" and he said "Kendyl Anastasia".  After that she was Kendyl.  Just a few hours later we were all (most) in the bathroom brushing hair or teeth and Chris said, "Where's Kendyl?" and she said "Behold!  Here I am!".  Love that girl.

Kendyl has been through two holidays already, well three if Veterens Day makes your list.  Halloween was great.  She was all in as soon as she heard the explanation.  Just this past week we had Thanksgiving and that wasn't as unusual as Halloween but still she took it in stride.  She isn't a big eater (she's a whopping 30lbs at 4 years old) so I didn't expect her to embrace the feast that is Thanksgiving but boy was I wrong.  She sat atop my lap and put down forkful after forkful of pretty much anything.  The yams and marshmallows weren't her fav but everything else was.  We're trying our best to fatten her up but the pediatrician (a friend of ours) said it may just be genetics so as long as she stays on her own curve we're okay.  She has been way more willing to eat whatever is served lately.  If it is on the plates and the bros are good with it she usually is too. 

The troops as Robgirl, Batman, Robin and Batman.  
 
Brothers.  Brothers and sister.  What to say there?  She likes her siblings.  She is more fascinated with baby Jaymes now.  She'll touch her while she's nursing and is, of course, baffled by breastfeeding.  She still doesn't want Jaymes to be too near her for fear she'll pull her hair but she likes her and notices the things that make Jaymes laughs and encourages those laughs.  She'll repeat the tone and words i use when I say "Ohhh Jiminey" when I refer to Jaymes and her baby needs or antics.  I hoped that Kendyl would understand somehow that Jaymes is a baby and babies need a little more momma than the rest of the crew.  She seems to have picked up on that.  I don't want her to think "oh mom just likes her more".  Today was a good example of that.  I was nursing Jaymes to sleep and Kendyl was close by.  I carried Jaymes to her crib (the girls share a room) and Kendyl followed.  The moment I set Jaymes down and stood up Kendyl threw her arms in the air in true Mary Katherine Gallager style and said "mozshna na rooki!" which means "May I in your arms?".  So we merrily embraced :) 


Working with Daddy.

Sundays in the park

5 kids is a lot of kids

Teletubbies in Russian on Youtube.  Bravo.

Arts and crafts time

Kielbasa.  Her one true love.

Little K has been through two ear infections since she's been home.  No fun.  Minus the pictures you get when you're too tired to eat your sandwich even if it did have kielbasa on it.

Little brother's birthday party.  1st jump house experience.  Loved it!  

Pinata, loved it, until she realized she was going to miss the candy since she couldn't see it all.

Luckily one kind hearted little boy hooked her up, big time.

Turkey day!  Friends and feasting, what more can you ask for?

She likes thanksgiving.
 
There is nothing I love more than holding Kendyl.  A. she's virtually weightless.  2.  She wants to be held and 3.  She's missed years of proper momma love already.  We've got so much to make up for.  Just tonight, I again nursed and rocked Jaymes, and then went and snuggled and laid with Kendyl.  She just wallows in the love, her and I both.  I haven't seen her do her self stimming (self soothing) for a long while now.  She used to hold her arms up in front of her, bent at 90 degree angles and rock side to side with her whole body.  I'm totally convinced it was a learned thing.  Something she picked up just from seeing other kids do it.  I could be wrong though.  If the child doesn't get enough stimulation throughout the day they have to do something to meet those needs before they can escape to dreamland.  Maybe she's been bored for years.  I can say the time we spent with her in her most recent institution was terribly monotonous.  Routine is key yes but that place was just plain boring.  Point is, she doesn't rock back and forth anymore.  I was watching her tonight as I patted Jaymes to sleep and she does all the normal kid things like mess with their pajamas and parachute their sheets and see how fast they can swing their braids side to side.  Goober. 

This coming week is Kendyl's appointment with the mega eye doctor.  Can't.Wait.  Having rather poor eyesight myself I long for the day when she can actually, really, truly see.  Forget the lazy eye, I just want clear vision for her.  Even if it is in just one focused eye. 

All in all we love her.  We love her so much.  She's too easy really and if I eat those words so be it.  She'll still be ours. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

To my home, and beyond!

At this moment 3 out of my 5 children are napping.  Ahh breathe in the silence!  One of those 3 is 8 months old so best I not waste too much time inhaling. 

This is the post to recap Kendyl's arrival and first few days home.  She and Chris flew from Moscow into LAX and then to PHX and then up to BOI.  They arrived at 11.17pm on October 27th.  I went to the airport with the children (Boston, Monroe, Foster and Jaymes) and a few friends (Beth, Josh, James and Olivia and Jamie) and some family (Grandpa Jerry and Grandma Deanna) met us there.  There was a kindhearted photographer who donated her time and talents to documenting our homecoming there too. 

We had a sign we're made for her which read "Welcome Home Nastya" in Russian and we brought her a balloon that said "Its a Girl!" and a bouquet of flowers and a tiara.  I thought it might be overkill but turns out she completely enjoyed all of those things and really latched onto them. 

We did the photos there and then everyone dispersed and we made our way home as a family of 7.  Leaving the airport Chris asked Nas, "What do you think of the car?" and she said "I like the car" and then he asked "What do you think of your brothers?" and she said "They were in the airport and they followed us here".  Haha.  It was true. 

Driving home I couldn't help from peering constantly in the rear view to see that little face glowing in the light of the Elmo show.  She was actually and really in our car, in her seat. 

Back up a step to add, she didn't really hug me or anyone at the airport.  She was interested in staying near Chris and that was about it.  I've seen reunions at the airport where the child is hugging siblings and grandparents, aunts and uncles so I guess I kind of expected that.  Hindsight though I'm glad she didn't.  I don't want my kids to hug anyone they don't feel inclined to hug, myself included.  In the moment though, yes, it did sting a little to get shut down.  More on that later.

So we make our way into the house at probably 12:30 or 1 and the boys try to tell her what goes where and what not but basically we let her explore.  We show her her room and Foster shows her how he jumps from atop the changing table onto her bed and Nas says "He jumped onto my bed".  Good sign.  The bed is hers.  At first she was concerned she'd have to sleep in the crib but Chris explained how that bed was for Jaymes and it wasn't a big deal. 

We went out to have a bedtime snack of Reese's Puffs and while she sat at the counter amidst her brothers Chris asked "do you like the cereal?" "yes." "do you like your brothers?" "the brothers are good." 

So we went downstairs and like we usually do we brought all the children into Roe and Foster's room to apply some pjs and brush their teeth.  Everything felt totally normal.  We knelt, we said our prayer and then hugs and kisses.  Nas chose to hug only Chris and said she'd hug Boston tomorrow.  She did allow me to hug her but only by standing near me.  So we tucked the boys in and then walked upstairs to tuck her in.  That was pretty much it.  Jaymes woke a few times in the night which is usual but Nas stayed asleep.

The morning was like Christmas morning.  We stayed in our pjs, played with our toys and at a big breakfast.  The boys were excited to show her all the house has to offer and it was fun to see her realize she could pretty much go wherever and do whatever but then always come back to be sure we were still close by.

Later when I was in my room nursing Jaymes to sleep Boston came in to chat and I asked him what he thought about having a new sister.  His response, "awesome." All the boys have this fascination with her, like they're meeting a celebrity.  Boston's take on it is to be there for her and help her if she needs it and show what is fun.  Monroe and Nas have more of a teacher/pupil dynamic and he seems dedicated to teaching her how to speak English.  He attends speech himself so he's actually pretty good at it.  He was the first to treat her like a sibling though, swiping her toy or complaining about something she did.  He's a realist.  Foster is enchanted by her.  He compliments her constantly (clothes, hair, shoes...) and is always trying to sneak in a casual hug.  Darling little brother he's turning out to be :). 

After nap we went to the park and when we got into the garage Chris said "can you believe it?  A car in a room in our house?!?!?!" Nas said "as it should be".  Love it.

At the park things were normal.  We played, we did the swings, we raced each other and had pine cone fights.  Just the regular stuff. 

She doesn't eat much, and I'll let her decide when she's ready to dig in but for now we just keep offering what we're having.  Monday Chris made blini which is crepes for her and she loved that.  Russians LOVE crepes, oh and hotdogs. 

Our routine feels very much the same except that now we have some long dark hair to style and some tights to put on.  Oh and Chris is speaking in Russian half of the time.  She is starting to favor me over Chris, wants me to hold her, carry her, feed her.  All good things since he'll be back at work next week. 

She did ask last night "when are we leaving?" (asked Chris) and that packed a punch but this is an adjustment and she's entitled to her opinion.  That was last night and it wasn't 7 hours later that she climbed into our bed (on my side) and snuggled in for a few more hours of sleep. 

When we went to pick up the boys from school (she loves playing on their playgrounds while we collect them and the teachers love having her stop by) Fos was yelling the the fence "Nas-Ti-Ahh!" over and over until she walked right to him, smiling.  Cute.  We'll have the big talk soon about the names and probably start using Kendyl or Nastya Kendyl tomorrow.  She sure is sweet and easy going and fun to have around.  Oh and adorable.  That helps. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

She's officially ours!!!!!  All we need to do now is bring our little lady home!!!!!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Full Circle

On September 19th of 2011 I began writing this blog on behalf of our family to benefit our adoption.  On September 19th of this year we will stand in front of a judge and petition to adopt our little girl.  What a journey it has been.  So much has changed, so much has transpired and my goodness how we've grown. 
When we started this whole process a year ago, we had our sights set on a little girl with Spina Bifida.  A little girl who had spent all five years of her life waiting.  We were captivated by her and more than willing to do whatever it took to bring her home.  Finally after mounds of paperwork and signatures and hoop jumping we were invited to travel.  Two days, TWO DAYS before we departed we received the devastating email that will never be forgotten.   Our little lady was being adopted domestically.  Two days.  Our hearts were crushed and our momentum paralyzed.  We knew the story wouldn't end there so after being brought to our knees by such devastating news we folded our arms and we prayed.  We knew the Lord was with us and we felt His strength and comfort like never before.  The journey wasn't over.
We traveled on to Eastern Europe two days later and me the facilitator there.  Together with her we narrowed down to search to about 4 little girls who met our homestudy's criteria which was female with special needs ages 4-7.  I'd asked the Lord to give Chris "an immediate connection" to the child since that is sometimes harder for fathers than it is for mothers.  He used that exact phrase concerning one little girl in the selection of 4 and I knew.  She was meant to be ours. 
We prayed for confirmation and the words barely needed to be spoken before we knew this was our child.  The Lord being as omnipotent as he is placed both girls at the same orphanage and we were allowed to meet and know the child we were originally pursuing.  At the time that was so difficult, to be holding what you wanted for so long but knowing you can't actually have it but He knows better than I do and looking back now I am so unbelievably grateful for those moments we had together.  Time enough to know her, to hold her, and time enough to know she had the strength and spirit to blossom wherever she was planted.  That was a gift. 
We will never stop loving her and and forever indebted to that little face for drawing us in and showing us what we were capable of and the strength we didn't know we had.  We're forever blessed because of her.  Thank you M for leading us far across the ocean to our little girl.  It could have only been you.
Again the Lord, being so remarkable in his ways, was able to weave a more magical story.  The daughter we will stand before the judge for in just a few short days was listed as having cerebral palsy and strabismus which means lazy or crossed eye.  After meeting her on that first trip we modified our homestudy to approve us for not just the one child with SB but another child with CP.  We read books and studies and made connections with other parents who have a children with CP.  We knew her case was mild but we wanted to be prepared.   After initially welcoming a child with SB who was wheelchair bound we were shocked at the thought of a adopting a child who could walk.  That in and of itself was an unexpected blessing and with four other little ones at home it certainly would make things less complicated.  Needless to say we would have happily parented a child who was wheelchair bound. 
Now here we are on our court trip and we learn day one what we expected all along.  Our little girl doesn't even have CP.  The crossed eye and her poor poor vision (like her momma) are all the medical issues we'll be dealing with.  We haven't even digested the news completely.  All of it seems too easy.  Not to mention the bond between us, each time we visit her we are reconfirmed that she is our daughter.  I could go on and on about every moment when we know AGAIN how she is meant to be ours.  It was always her.
So when I look back to a year ago, to our naivety and our determination I can't help but smile.  Little did we know.  I can say for sure that when the Lord asks us to go and we go it is on His terms, not on our own.  I suppose part of me thought in the beginning "we're doing His work, this is what He wants us to do so it will probably go just like *I* expect it to.  Haha!  One of my favorite artists says "God plays his flute we all dance along".  We're the characters in His story, not the authors.  Even still He is looking out for us and for His children and the story that unfolds when we step out in faith will always be a good one, screen worthy even and it doesn't end there. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

If you'd like to purchase a puzzle piece to help bring our daughter home please click the chip in above. The pieces are 3.00 each and you're welcome to purchase as many as you'd like. Each piece purchased will have the name of the purchaser written on back. We'll frame it in glass on both sides so we can always remember who contributed. Please comment either here on the FB group how many pieces you'd like. Thank You all so much for your support. This is really happening!!!!!!!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Our paperwork is in her country as of today. :) next up: translate, submit, travel. Boom, baby!

Monday, April 16, 2012

So close! We're in the end zone now, I can feel it. Our dossier is being sent to Eastern Europe this week. We had a couple setbacks with a few of the papers and the way they were notarized. All is in order now and the next step once it arrives in her country is translation. I'm not sure how long that will take (1-4 weeks at most I imagine) but as soon as they are done it will be submitted to the Ministry of Education which is their version of DFS. Then they make an appointment for us and our agency will notify us to say when the appointment is. Typical notice is about 2 weeks to a month. Exciting stuff, no?! Our court dossier (there's a registration dossier which is the preliminary one and it is submitted first) is also done and being sent for translation at the same time (this week). That means as soon as we have our appointment at the ministry of education and receive her full history we can go meet her, accept the referral and our court dossier will be immediately submitted. They have to give you a court date within 8 weeks of submission so depending on how busy they are we'll either be back in a month or two. In a perfect world we'd travel first in May, again in June for court and bring her home 30 days later in July. Wouldn't that be awesome??? We'd have to get her a suit ;) If nothing else we hope to have her home by her birthday which is just 4 days after mine on August 28th. It is gonna be quite the party ;)! Just an update to let you all know where we are. Hopefully the next news is big!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

There's our pretty girl. Sitting and waiting and ready for us. Now that we have all the paperwork completed we are just awaiting an invite to travel from her home country in Eastern Europe. We've got all our agency fees and in country fees accounted for. The only thing we need help with are the three flights we'll be making to Eastern Europe. The cost for two tickets round trip is roughly 2500 and that doesn't include the costs of visas. If you would be willing to contribute, click the link on the right of the page. If you have airline miles you're willing to donate please contact me directly: gretgillette@gmail.com Our little lady is currently being treated for issues related to her spina bifida, namely urology. The sooner we get her home, the sooner she can receive the care and support she needs. Can you imagine being in a hospital without your family's support? It breaks my heart. Lets get this girl home!

Monday, March 19, 2012

The last piece of the puzzle is here! Jay's passport came today. There's nothing more entertaining than a tiny baby passport. She looks like a miniature convict. I hope customs doesn't get suspicious! Here's recent picture of our little lady. Can't wait to see her in person!
We're 6 visits away from 10,000 blog hits. Thank you for all your support. It is great to know we're not alone in this.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

It is done. The dossier that is. Actually both dossiers (doh-see-aye) are done. There's one for Registration and one for court. They've left the building and are on their way now to her home country for translation and submission. There is nothing left for us to do. It feels great to have that part over with. It was harder than I thought it would be. I hate paper chasing, turns out and I really don't like nagging people and asking multiple times for them to do one thing. So glad it is over with! Now though, the worry sets in. Luckily we have prayer for that and I'm sure all in good time we'll have our first travel invite. We get to make three trips in all. One to accept the referral (of course!) and one for court and then after court there is a 30 day wait before the decision is final and we can come collect our prize. Until then we will try to live our normal lives and not act like our minds are elsewhere in a foreign land. We just can't wait. We're getting close little lady. I know you don't know it but your people do and we can't wait to thank them for keeping you safe and happy until we get there. These boys are excited to have you. They've got your room all ready and your toothbrush too. I'm sure they'd even let you lick the bowl. First.
We love you!!!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Two steps forward... One step back. Today's step back came in the form of my age old nemesis, the homestudy agency. These people...grr. After having an assignment for more than a month I contact them and offer to gather the information myself just to speed things along. The information was concerning rights of the adopted child in our home state. So I get the info, hubby writes up the summary and emails it to them. Simple, right? Well rather than getting back to us with the completed document I end up contacting them after 6 days of hearing nothing and then they mention that the other two docs I needed from the copy of their license and letter of good standing are also going to be a problem. Their license expires on the 23rd of this month so we have to wait until they get the new license (two weeks) before we can complete the dossier. Oh and they have no idea what a letter of good standing is. The super amazing international agency filled them in on that one but I imagine they won't have one ready for me until I nag it out of them. I hate nagging. Just do your job. On a more positive note everything else for the dossier is completed, ready to be apostilled and sent for translation in the little lady's home country. In the mean time I will introduce our littlest lady who was born on February 1st. She was 8 days early which was great for me.
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Z9KF8ueMlXI/T1kp_jYrAYI/AAAAAAAABog/Mi-b2jJkKug/s320/IMG_0052.jpg She was 7lbs 4oz and I believe 19 inches long. Her birth was fantastic, probably one of best natural hospital births, at least in my experience. She's a fabulous addition. The boys love her to death but they like me are now anticipating the arrival of their other sister. All three of them know they have two sisters and are begging to have both of them home. We can't wait to our face next to hers in a photo and for her to meet her little sister and get to see pictures and videos of her brothers for the first time. That will be a fabulous day. Thanks for all your encouragement. We're close but STILL no cigar.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Are you kidding me?!?! That was an ENORMOUS donation. I literally almost fell out of my chair when I saw how the fund had grown. Then I had goosebumps and then the tears came. We don't know who to thank exactly yet but let me just say it is so wonderfully encouraging to know that we aren't in this alone. Knowing people believe in us and her and her right to have a family means so much. It builds us up and provides that extra boost we need. There are so many people who second guess a decision to adopt; thank heaven for you kind souls who see the dream and help make it a reality. Every dollar gets us that much closer to her. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Approved!! It came today! Our USCIS approval came TODAY! That means the government has given us the go ahead to bring an orphan into our country and our family. All the homestudy hard work paid off and all the necessary information was present for them to give us the go ahead without needing any extra info. This is the last big piece of the dossier. We're so close to submitting all our paperwork to the little lady's government. Pretty soon we'll be on a flight to meet the sweetie! Oh and a HUGE HUGE thank you to those who donate! All these funds will go directly toward our flights. I can't believe we're this close!!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

USCIS
So we sent in the "petition to adopt an orphan" and we got a letter today saying they've cashed our check and will soon be notifying us of our appointment for fingerprints.  This is the final step in our dossier so it is very exciting.  Just knowing our paperwork made it to them safely and that I suppose everything was correct is a huge sigh of relief for me.  I felt like a mom on the first day of preschool barely able to hand that envelope over to the UPS man.  I'm sure it is twice as nerve wracking with the dossier but I look forward to that. 
I am missing our sweet lady so much these days.  Yes, I've never meet her but we got some recent pics the other day and just seeing how much she's grown makes me long to be there that much more.  I love knowing that we're close to being invited to travel but passing day I wonder "am I doing all I can?".  She is going to mean so much to our family.  I love the responsibility of raising daughters and all that that entails.  I can't wait!  I can tell she is spunky but kind-hearted and I long for the day when all our personalities can come together for the ultimate family blend. 
I have now reached "term" with this pregnancy (37 weeks) so my family is here awaiting the birth and helping with the day to day until then.  We're making steps in the right direction.  Holidays, new baby, new daughter.  You're next on the list sweet girl!  We love you.  Now will you please encourage your dad to decide on name??  For the first time in 4 children he's not letting mommy choose.  I'm sure he has something outstanding in mind for his little princess we just need to encourage him to decide. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Homestudy, CHECK!!!!!!!!!
Picked up that little beauty today in all her gleaming black and white glory.  I've never loved a document more.  I promptly shipped one copy off to the US immigration office (expedited of course) and now all we have to do is gather a few copies of our doctors' licenses and we're good to go.  Ahh so refreshing!!!!  Finally the ball is back in our court.  We're coming little lady, we're coming!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

S.L.O.W.L.Y but surely...
Patience may be a virtue but it certainly isn't one of mine.  The latest official "done" date of our homestudy is the 4th.  The homestudy agency got it sent down to the international agency who made a few changes and sent it back immediately.  Now the homestudy agency is retyping it and collecting all the necessary paperwork that is to accompany it and they say they'll have it ready for pick on Wednesday.  Wednesday after 1.  After 1??  I'll keep my fingers crossed.  The entire dossier is waiting to be submitted as is our application to US immigration which can take a few weeks to process.  I will be one giddy gal when this whole homestudy is done and we can put this agency on the back burner for a few months til we get our gal home.
So our plan of having our dossier complete by the end of the year didn't happen.  We'll do our best to take it in stride and not be downhearted by things we can not control.  I joke that being pregnant while adopting actually works because it keeps you from going too nutso about one or the other.  God willing we'll get our dossier completed this month and we can turn all eyes to the belly prize for next month while we wait to hear when we'll get to travel.  Sounds like a pretty good plan to me!
 To my sweet little lady patiently waiting for something more- know that we're are doing our best and that we wish everyday we could just grab a flight and to be closer to you.  Whatever it takes little lady, we'll get there and we'll count the minutes until then.  We love you!!!!