Feb 26, 2013

Aiden||Forty to Forever

I'm so late on this.  So, so late, I meant to have this posted this morning!  I apologize because it means you all have LESS time to enter this giveaway then I had hoped.  And you really don't want to miss it.  No really, it's the coolest giveaway I have ever seen with many [many!] amazing prizes.  I've entered in for many of them on several different days. Today is a special day though, so check it out!

First go here [it's Aiden's day and I never get sick of this story] The goal is to raise $400 for Aiden today [the money is so needed!] and they are no where close to the goal. -Day 12: Aiden for the Killen family.

Second go here and take a peak at all the cool prizes.  Games. Gift cards. Pearls and diamonds.  It's all there and it is all awesome. - The giveaway.

Third go here.  Because you are going to want to enter.  And there are tons of easy ways to enter.  Plus you can donate a couple $$ to get even MORE chances to enter.  Rock it.-  How to Enter.

Go. do it.  Help my love get home.  & win some awesome prizes. You can thank me later.

Feb 22, 2013

Lunch comes in a can [sometimes]

Some days when your family is feeling extra blue (like when the car broke down...again!) you need to break up routine. The other day we really needed that.  

So we cut schoolwork short. Made cinnamon buns. And had a can lunch.

Does anyone else have canned lunches? If not you really need to. 

We packed up the kids and headed to the grocery store to buy our lunch.  Everyone got to pick what they wanted to eat.  The only rule?  It had to come in a can.  If you want to eat pie filling so be it, but it has to come in a can.  Thankfully no one chose the pie filling 'cause we would of had some crazy children on our hands!

Here is what we came home with.  I posted this picture on facebook saying this:
Guessing game! We are having a can lunch. We have MomJulissa, Joshua, Gergana, Abigail and me eating today. Who picked which can??

#1-Chicken noodle soup. #2-Canned peaches. #3-Garlic and hot pepper tuna. #4-Zoodles. #5-Chipotle tuna. #6-Dried tomato tuna.
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Unfortunately no one guessed correctly.  What can I say, we have some random can pickers in the family! It makes this game a little hard to play.
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Our routine was mixed up enough to save our day [and our moods!].  That makes it another successful meal. Yay us!

Feb 20, 2013

Will you hold me?

-"Will you hold me?"-

How do you say no to that? Despite the fact that Sister is about 10x bigger than she was when she came home, she still wants to be held sometimes. She is heavy. She is tall. She is wiggly and gets right in your face. Despite all that I just can't say no to her. I look at her and imagine her at age 5 or 3 or as a newborn.  And I see her sweet curly head living all alone in her various orphanages and imagine all the moments that I didn't get to hold her.  All the moments that she didn't get to be held. The loss is so great it makes me want to mentally curl up in a fetal position. We missed so many moments.  

For 8 years our family went through life, happy and normal as could be.  But during that time a little girl on the other side of the world went through every moment of every day alone. 

So I say yes. 
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She is heavy and tall, doesn't know how to sit still and gets in my face. 
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But she's my sister and we're making up for lost time.  So I'll hold her while I can.  Soon enough she will be way to heavy for me to pick up anyway.

Feb 16, 2013

Feb 14, 2013

Remembering Ksenia

Last Valentines day we honored a special little girl by celebrating her birthday.  We didn't know her official birth date.  However we knew she was turning nine sometime in the month of February.  We chose Valentines day to celebrate her (who doesn't love an extra excuse to eat sweets??) because what is more perfect than to celebrate a birthday on a day filled with pink hearts?  You can read more about Ksenia's ninth birthday here: Happy Birthday Ksenia! We were so filled with hope that day.  It was finally her turn to be seen and I was so sure that by her next birthday she would, at the very least, have a family fighting to get her out of that institution.

A few months later all those hopes and dreams for Ksenia came crashing down.  To make a very long story short, we lost track of Ksenia.  I don't know where she is.  She might of passed away (and considering how she looked in her most recent picture that is a very a strong possibility) or maybe she was adopted which isn't nearly as likely.  For whatever reason she is no longer adoptable, and there is no way find out why.

I was crushed when I found out.  I felt like I failed her.  I have mourned her [likely] death.  Precious girl. She is never far from my mind but I have finally come to a place of acceptance. Wherever she is I pray she knows she is loved and not forgotten.  Her story has inspired many people and I hope many more people to come. I still hope and pray that she will reappear for adoption and my eyes are always watching for her. But if that never happens I have peace. We have a God who loves Ksenia way more then I ever have. Because of her I have learned to fight harder for the children that still have a chance.  I am thankful for her.

Today we celebrated her birth again.  She was remembered and celebrated.
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Ksenia.  You are never forgotten.
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Feb 13, 2013

Hold on to your hats

G: Can you help me with this word?
Me: Sure!  Bring it here.
G: I can't!  I'm to LAZY!
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Hold on to your hats people.  This girl is coming through 
*tongue in cheek*

Feb 8, 2013

The reality [part two] || Reece's Rainbow waiting child

Read part one.  The Reality.

When we were still in Kanani's country the adoption facilitator told us... 
"The institution here is not good.  It is very bad.  The children should not be there, but they are"

That struck me and I desperately didn't want Kanani to see the inside of that place.  However things don't always happen like you hope.  Kanani has been living in this institution for several months now.  That scares me.  Some people don't understand why this is so serious.  Or maybe they just can't grasp the concept of children in mental institutes.  It's like something from an old horror movie.  I can assure you though, it is very real and it is happening this very minute. It is happening to Kanani.

Two families adopted from Kanani's institution this last fall.  Their children are home safe now, but they had to leave so many children behind. They have walked the halls of the building. They know how real it is. They don't want Kanani to stay there any more than I do.  So they are willing to share what they know.  To paint the picture of Kanani's life for us. To hopefully help us really see.  

This is where she is living.  This is real. It's her reality.
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Family #1

  "Fields of downcast sunflowers. Fields and fields down miles of dusty, straight dirt road. It was late summer when we were there and the sunflowers were shriveling, near death for the winter. I couldn't but help make an analogy in my mind before we went to visit the place where Kanani is. Miles and miles, 50 I believe, of driving swerving through occasional traffic. Dusty dirt road turned to a hidden away gate, hidden away behind tall weeds and in obscurity. Who knew about this place where Kanani is at? We had to ask many locals the first time we visited and not too many people knew where or what it was. Hidden. We went through the gate after our driver and the gate guard squared it off with a couple of words, and we finally entered. The building was long and looked like an old hospital from the outside. Our facilitator was in shock at how bad it was when we got there. She kept telling us, "this is now adoption, this is rescue." "We sat and waited and finally entered. The inside had lots of plants and was somewhat welcoming....except for the smell. Except for the skittishness. We were carefully shuffled to different locations to not see anything. I did see some things. Crumbling concrete steps...concrete everywhere....some wood too...children who sat down and watched me from afar....craving attention from the deepest place of their inner being. Craving attention. All alone, not knowing what to do with themselves. Very little supervision. Screaming, urine smells, tiny tiny little beds. No place for children.
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  One little girl walked back and forth from her room like a caged bird, watching me from the window. I wanted to cry. I will never forget it. All the little boys lined up in a row, watching me. A group of teenagers 'talked' to me outside and they hadn't bathed in days and days. I felt so sorry for their feet. Their clothes and shoes were rags. They smelled and their teeth were very bad, but they wanted my attention so badly. Rooms with little beds in little rows. Just like I saw on youtube. The bathroom smelled very bad. No bathtubs, just little spaces where they spray them down quickly and move on. Our little one was afraid of showers for weeks. Where is Kanani? I know from my own child that her hair is shaved, she is hungry and slowly starving to death, she is laying in a crib by herself all day long, day in and day out. I know she has nothing and is facing a slow death unless someones gives her a better life.
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   Our daughter was only 22 pounds at six years old when we adopted her, and her bones stuck out all over. It was very noticeable when I used to give her a bath. She looked emaciated. Her entire rib cage, collarbones, and the tops of her shoulder blades stuck way out, and didn't have any fat on them at all. Our one year old weighed more than she did. 

   She is doing great now. The love of a family changes everything for these children. She is a happy, smiling and sweet child...she loves us to throw her in the air and to tap on the drum to songs with her...to hug her tightly before bed and to sing to her. She had recent surgery and we are joyful she is showing signs of gaining some sight. She is empathetic  and even tries to console my husband by tapping him lightly on the arm when she thinks he is pretend crying, playing around with the other kids. She is a child like all other children that needed a chance and love, just like Kanani desperately needs."

Family #2

   "We had to go up several flights of stairs to get to our girl's floor, and it is always locked from the outside. They would spend 10 to 20 minutes to find someone to go and unlock the door. 
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   You walk in the floor and the smell is so bad, but it is even worse when they hand us our daughter.  I really don't think she had ever been bathed here. The smell, I will never forget the smell.

   The room that we were allowed in was the first room off from the door so we didn't see much. But we could here the sounds of people, and the moans and the screams of the others that lived there. One day a father came to visit his daughter while we were there and they were visiting in the same area as us. The daughter was tiny, and lifeless, and bed ridden.  The card the director gave us said that this institution was a children's rest home. In my mind that reminds me of a place to go to die. 

   Our daughter was super thin, her head was shaved, but she was in high spirits. We had a translator with us and he talked to the person that monitored all of our visits. He said he was told to not let our girl join in activities because she was not behaving appropriately, so she sat in a crib all day. Once our daughter knew we were there to love on her, she tried to do the same thing with the care taker, the care taker wouldn't have anything to do with touching her, holding her, they were just there to monitor us. They absolutely would not touch her, if she tried to get in their lap they felt very uncomfortable and would not let her near them.

   Our daughter was small.  She weighed in at 28 pounds at her first doctors appointment 2 weeks after we got home. Her stomach was sunk in, ribs showing. She was 6 years old."
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That is Kanani's reality.  You can't make this stuff up.  It is so very real.
It is urgent.  She needs a family to get her out, now.

Feb 7, 2013

The reality || Reece's Rainbow waiting child

Last May I met a group of babies that forever changed my life.  I remember tearfully calling my mom back home asking her "What do I do?  Do I just forget about them?  How am I supposed to help them??"  Sadly she didn't have any answers for me and I spent the next couple of days in turmoil.  I couldn't look the other way and forget them, but I so desperately wanted to.  It seemed to much for me to handle.  Thankfully I was able to spend several more moments with those babies spread over the course of the weeks I spent there.  I didn't get to spend as much time with them as I would of liked because of scheduling.  But that is perfectly okay, because the moments I did get were enough.  Enough to fall in love.  And there was no turning back after that.

Now, nine months later, all of the babies [that are legally adoptable] have found families.  Families that love them dearly.  They have all been chosen.  All of them except one little girl.  Kanani.  

It seems like not many people have noticed her.  Yes, we have been able to raise her grant to a little over $3,000 since she has been listed for adoption.  However it seems that only a few people have grasped that fact that her situation is urgent.  So very urgent.  She needs a family.  Now.  I understand that there is a lot of need in this world.  When I logically think about it it makes sense.  But my heart screams the opposite.  "Why is everyone going about their lives when she is living a nightmare?  How can you just smile and nod when this innocent baby is living this life?  She is so young.  So innocent.  She does not deserve to be there!" 

So please, I'm begging you.  Just listen.  She deserves at least that much.  This is reality.  

Her reality. 
I don't know how old Kanani was when she arrived at the baby orphanage [Where I met her last May].  But I do know that this orphanage was a decent place.  Yes, it was still an orphanage.   But it was good one.  We would drive through the city to get to it.  Through apartment buildings and past moms pushing strollers with their babies.  We would turn down a tree lined road and pull around the back of the gated orphanage.  We would park in the small parking area.  Right next to a playground.  Yes, a playground.  And a nice one!  It was new and accessible for children with special needs.  Almost unheard of in this country. It seriously rocked.
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[the above child is not an orphan.  If anyone was wondering.]

Right through those windows is their groupa.  So many precious babies living in those rooms.  That is where Kanani spent the first four years of her life.  Windows open with the wind and sunshine welcome. 
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The orphanage also had a special needs preschool for community kids living with their families (hello awesome!) we always saw moms with their children coming and going.  A little boy with CP was about the cutest thing ever, it made me happy to see him enter and than leave the orphanage with his mom each day.

The orphanage grounds were clean.  A little run down in places, but this is Eastern Europe.  We had freedom to walk all around the grounds.  The orphanage was surrounded by a small wall, apartment buildings surrounded on all sides.  We always saw mothers walking past the front gate with their children, going about their day to day lives.  I didn't get to spend much time inside the building but what I saw was clean and decent looking.  I didn't even notice a smell walking through the building.
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The nannies were nice.  The ones we met that is.  They had the babies outside in strollers whenever we saw them.  They were holding the children, talking to them and interacting. They were more then happy when we asked if we could take pictures and say hi to the little ones.   
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[above baby is now home in America!]

That is when I met her.  She hadn't been outside with the other babies the other days.  So when I saw a new face over with the babies, I made a bee-line towards her.  Sweet, sweet darling.  I noticed her vision impairment right away.  She is missing her left eyeball.  And her right eye has vision issues (optic atrophy) but we have no idea how much vision she actually has in that eye.  

She was sleeping when I met her.  But I was able to rub her head.  Her sweet head with her thick hair.  Her hair is so course with a terrible chopped hair cut.  We asked the nannies what her name was, until they told us her name we honestly weren't sure if she was a girl or a boy.  But once we heard her name, we knew.  A beautiful name for a beautiful girl.

I only spent a few minutes with Kanani.  But during those minutes I was able to lift up her blanket and take a peek at her legs.  They were so thin and stiff.  She was wearing tights. Her skin was so smooth and pale looking.  Her sweet pursed lips were a nice rosy color.  She didn't have a lot of chub on her but she wasn't small.  She was the same age as another girl there and much taller.

This is Kanani.  She is real.  This is her reality.
[Kanani is sleeping in the stroller. The other baby is home with her family!]
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While in her country we asked the adoption facilitator to please check if she was adoptable.  If she was, we would find her a family.  Several weeks after I arrived home in Canada, Kanani was listed for adoption.  Praise!  With this news we found out her birthday,  April 2008.  Meaning she had turned 4 that past April.  Children were transferred from her orphanage at age 4, her time had run out.  She would be transferred to a mental institute any day.  A few months later we got word that the director at the orphanage was holding her for as long as possible before transfer, giving us more time to find her a family.

Several weeks ago I got the news.  Kanani couldn't stay there any longer.  She had been transferred.  My nightmare had come true

This was her reality.  But she now has a new reality.  And it is so much worse then you could imagine. 
Give me a while, and I will tell you all about her new reality.  I knew it was bad, but didn't realize how bad.  I'm sick thinking about this sweet girl there.  Wasting away.  Just wait, your heart very well might break. In the meantime, please pray for Kanani.  Pray.

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