Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Hello to you at the end of this absolutely GORGEOUS day in mid-May!!! I'm loving the sun we're getting lately!! Mark and the boys took in a baseball game last Sunday. Charissa and I took in a beautiful praise and worship concert. I'm a hibernator normally during the winter (actually anything under 70 degrees ;) so these sporadic warm Spring days are fun for me to see the SUN!!!

Some of you will remember that about 15 months ago I wrote of how God had been working in our hearts and challenging us to step out in faith and open our hearts and home to older orphans, so very close to being put out on the streets on their own to fend for themselves. We truly thought our family growing days were over until that time of hosting an older orphan from the Ukraine and God speaking to us through her and the others on the hosting adventure trip. We realized that while we no longer felt we needed more children, there were about a bazillion children also residing on this big blue ball with us that truly NEEDED PARENTS!! So, we embarked on a very different faith walk, stepped out and said, "Here am I, LORD."

Our first and greatest hurdle was the reality that our hosted "summer sister" was one of four sisters. We took several months just searching our hearts to see if we really felt we had it in us to raise a total of 8 children!!! We decided that if He took us there, then He'd be faithful to carry us through. After all, in the Word it says He will never leave us nor forsake us. Well, no sooner had we begun our paperwork, than a friend contacted us from the Ukraine (she was there adopting her son) to let us know that "our girls" were being adopted by another family from the states. We were shocked but happy that the girls had found their forever family so soon after being freed for adoption.

After that, we just sat back and waited. Were we being called to the Ukraine? Or were we being called to older child rescue? We explored several different options while waiting to hear His voice down one of the paths we were exploring. Then, one day last October, the 27th actually, our dear friend, Amy, called to tell us she and her husband were home from Russia with their new son, Alex. (Amy was our Daniel's foster Mom when he was an infant.) She then proceeded to tell us that their biggest regret was having to leave his best friend behind. She told us how heart wrenching it was watching their final good-bye. Then, she proceeded to ask us if we'd go get her!! Okay God, we're thinking we just heard your voice...

After many hours spent with Amy and Dan looking at photos and discussing their trip, we discovered that Alex's best friend also had another friend, the same age, there in the orphanage. And, that it was quite a small orphanage, so that if we brought home Alex's dear friend, we'd be leaving this little girl without a buddy her age and developmental level. So, as of this time, we're open and seeking to bring home two 11 year old girls with a seizure disorder. We've been working on this since that day back in the fall, but just a couple weeks ago had our homestudy approved in the wake of all that is going on in Russian adoptions. So, we wanted to share our news with you!!

In International adoptions, it is wise to be prepared, so we have actually been approved to adopt four children, just in case... There may be siblings to one of our girls. And, as a rule, Russia prefers not to break up sibling groups. So, we are just trying to be ready for wherever the Lord leads. No, we still can't imagine parenting a family of 8, in case you were wondering! But, we'll learn as we go, if need be. We've got some time between now and then to also get some additional education in regarding the issues we'll most likely be dealing with adopting older children, such as attachment issues.

Well, to keep you updated on how our work is coming on our orphan rescue project (aka: older child adoption ;) I'm updating my blog. See Penny type :) Our friend that directs an adoption agency recommended I start a blog last year to help keep friends, family and fellow orphan-hearted peoples up to date on what is the latest haps and prayer needs. Please stop in frequently and keep in touch. I love to hear from you!

When Dan and Amy were in Russia still, they met a man who feels so very strongly about getting Alex's buddy home to the States that he has been working hard to help us raise the funds needed. We have received a little over $28,000 so far. But, I am really excited because we've come up with some great ideas just brainstorming with friends!! As I've said, there is no way we could do this on our own and we really are hoping you'll join our orphan rescue team!! Do you have any creative ideas for raising funds?? A homeschooling family that are our friends held a bake-sale for us and made $170 for the girls' adoption fund!!! Are you or your teens involved in a group that would be interested in doing some sort of fundraiser for us?? There are so many types and we can send you flyers or pics, whatever you need to help promote your project. Are you involved in a youth group, service club, couples group, etc. that would pull together and do a dinner, movie night, car-wash, bake-sale or silent (or not so silent) auction, or pass out flyers for a fundraiser "day" at any of the many food places that participate in those very generously?? Can you designate some of your eBay sales to this rescue of precious human lives? Many high schools require service hours for graduation, could you or someone you know "adopt" the girls for your/their hours?? Our adoption agency is a non-profit 501(c)3 agency. So, we qualify for tax-deductible donations. Speaking of taxes, have you considered giving a gift or tithe from your income tax refund?

We truly cannot proceed in this adoption without a team effort. If you've ever felt the tug to help orphans, but were not sure how or were not going to adopt yourselves, we'd love for you to jump on our bandwagon and give us a hand in this concert!!! The more the merrier!!! The more beautiful music we can make together. There are so many types of instruments in a band and everyone has a distinct part. If your part is prayer, please pray. If your part is having a garage sale for Russian orphans, THANK YOU! If your part is collecting recyclables for the girls over the next 3-6 months, you go!! If your part is hosting a lasagna dinner in your home for 5 couples, enjoy!! (to do this simply: buy a Costco lasagna, salad and bread, charge each couple $20 and you've just made $100 for the girls, WHEE!!!! And had a date night, too!!) What about getting your Sunday School class together to hold a huge garage sale, or bake sale or both?? How about skipping a few lattes for the saving of a life? Can you send this blog address along to others in your circle? Now, that's an easy one! Will your church allow a pocket change collection for the adoption?? (Tape their pics on a large water bottle and set it out each time the church is open.) One girlfriend hands me her pocket change every time we run into each other!! How awesome is that? Do you have a hobby that could make a little extra money to bring home some girls in need of a family?? Not everyone is a piano player. Just find your instrument and play and we will sing our THANKS as we proceed because the Lord asked you to help in this way or that, and you did.

We already, so early in this process, feel the love for these orphans from so many of you as you stop and ask "How's it going?" Thank you for your care!
We love you and so appreciate your hearts, Penny

P.S. Will you please send this blog address to those in your address book?? If everyone helps a little, through prayer, giving and spreading the word, they'll be home in no time. Also, if you know of companies looking for tax-deductible donations, we'd love to be considered ;) We have a formal proposal packet to offer to potential large donors. Let us know if you need one.
And, another thing: you can reach the Daytons at
On Facebook, we are at Jewel's Adoption Extravaganza.

P.P.S. I, personally, am sending this note to almost 500 of my closest kin and countrymen ;) If each of those receiving it, just from me, would collect/donate/raise $88, our rescue fund account would be complete, the girls will be home in no time and EACH donor would be a forever hero!! We realize that some of you can give $8.80 and some of you can give $880 or even $8,800. We gratefully appreciate any amount you can share to help save these precious lives!!!

Will you please help these children become a part of a forever family that they
may no longer be called orphans, but, rather, chosen children?
If you can help, please send a check (no amount is too small!) to:
God’s Waiting Children
1865 Herndon Ave., Suite K125
Clovis, CA 93611
and put a note designating it for “Dayton” in the envelope
Most of all, we ask you to
please pray for us to be able to bring home the rest of our family soon.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

We Are The Truth

Today is the day that bloggers all around the world are sharing the truth about adoption. Unfortunately, the occasional bad seed spoils the world's impression of adoptive families and this has been one of those weeks. Sadly, a seven year old boy was put alone on a plane headed for Russia this past week by his adoptive "mother." There are so many resources available to families in pain, whether adoptive, foster, or biological. Apparently this family may not have sought out the care that they truly needed. I, as so many others, have my opinions, but I was not there so I'm not blogging about my thoughts on that tragic decision. Instead, in response, those of us with successful adoptions are responding and crying out with our fingers to let the world know: WE ARE THE TRUTH!!!!

Let me tell you our story. Grab a mug of your fave drink and relax. I type slow but I have hours until my bedtime and I have a story to tell. Enjoy...
I told my mom when I was a young child that someday when I grew up I was going to have a large family just like ours (I was fourth out of five children) but one of MY children was going to be adopted because I wanted to give a home to a child without one. We knew no one adopted, I have no idea where that idea came from! Was World Vision doing their television
specials back in the mid-1970's?? Your guess is as good as mine!

Fast forward a decade and I am 18 years old, graduated from high school and in the Philippines on a short term mission trip with Teen Missions . During the week, we are building a 2 story cinderblock addition on the back of a church which will become a Christian school. And on the weekends, we are singing and doing puppet shows at churches and in orphanages. I fell head over heels for those children with their big chocolate eyes!! Just wanted to pack them all up in my suitcase and whisk them home with me right then!! I did resist the temptation and instead filled my bags with seashells and such. But, only because the staff at the orphanage explained to me that most of the children there actually had parents that were a part of their lives. They just could not afford to raise them at home. So, several times a week, one or both parents would come for tea with their children living in this "home." I found that all out by asking if I could return in a few years and adopt from their orphanage after I was married. That summer, I also had the blessing of getting to know a child sponsored by World Vision . She was nearly my age and lived next door to the church, so we saw her and visited with her quite a bit. She was so very thankful for all the opportunities that World Vision had offered her growing up as a sponsored child.

About 18 months later, I went on a weekend trip down to visit a couple of orphanages in Ensenada, Mexico, with some friends from our church. One of the orphanages we visited was . My fiance, Mark, was also on the trip and together we fell in love with America (say it with a Spanish accent, BEAUTIFUL) a precious, musical preschooler!! Every time we saw her, she had a musical instrument in her hand!! We talked about what it would be like to have a child older than the length we'd be married, of all the funny topics to bring up! We then talked to the orphanage staff and found out that, basically Americans were not allowed to adopt from Mexico. And, certainly they would never be allowed to pick out their child! So, home we went, with no further thought or plans to adopt. After all, we were getting married, we were young and healthy, we'd be having children "of our own" (a phrase I now dislike, because of how it is used to discount adopted children as if they are NOT my own!!)

A few months after our Mexico trip, Mark, my high school sweetheart, and I married. He was 24 years old and I was a ripe old 20! Seeing as we were getting old fast, we decided to let God work in our lives and be willing to have children from the day we wed. Or maybe by our first anniversary, or maybe it'll be our second, or third, or ......... We finally conceived our first biological child when we'd been married 17 and a half years! Our precious Glory has a blessed story all his/her own and is currently and forever more dancing and singing and praising God on those Golden Streets. Someday, we'll hold Glory as we've given Glory to God in the highest, on Earth peace on whom His favor rests, and in that we rest.

Meanwhile, on the adoption front... After we'd been married several years and I'd been volunteering as a Crisis Pregnancy counselor for years, we realized biological conception was not in the plan for our family. Dontcha just love the irony of our lives sometimes??? God has quite the sense of humor! So, we conceived another plan! Adoption! Novel thought in our families as we still didn't know any adoptive families, or at least realize that we did. We were told we had no infertility insurance and that the test needed would cost on the realm of $5-7K. "Well," we thought, "we could give a child in need a home for that much money, why spend it on a test that could tell us, 'This is why you may not be conceiving and it may or may not be solved by doing this and it will cost this much, da da da da da da!!' " So, we took the question to our parents and laid it on the table... And, were told to take the test. So, we started adoption proceedings! Leave and cleave and all that jazz! Never mind that counsel of the wise thing, we threw that out with the bathwater ;) The whole biological link thing did not really speak to Mark and I. It was really never something that bothered us at all. However, offering our home to an orphan, now that got us charged up. We loved the idea!!

So, we embarked upon our journey of faith. We saw this as a way to grow our family but also as our mission in life. I opened up my huge Crisis Pregnancy Resource folder, flipped to the section marked adoption agencies and called around California trying to find the cheapest international home study we could find. We were, after all, living on a carpenter's wages. We chose an agency down in Orange County, about a 2 hour drive from here, but were assured that distance didn't really matter. We completed our home study and asked them not to find us a child. We had friends all over the world as missionaries and had put out the word and were just sure that one of them would find our baby. In our mind, we always thought we'd have four little girls right in a row. Our own little women. And, in our mind's eye, our little girl had black hair and beautiful chocolate skin! And these thoughts were pre-adoption planning!! Pretty funny coming from a green-eyed Scot and a lanky blonde hair blue-eyed Dutch boy!

While we waited on God's hand, we had many false starts. We've lost many children over the years and know, for the most part, it is all in God's hands and have faith and trust in Him, even when we don't understand. There are 4 precious girls out there, Amanda, Jeannie, Mary, and Connie, that do confuse us when we think of the why's, but it is not all for us to know on the underside of this weaving we call life. When we get to the top and can look down upon the weaving He Masterfully wove and called our life, we will see that we needed the dark thread, the dark shadows to make the brights stand out all the more!! And, again we will give Him the weaving and lay it at His feet giving Him the praise and the glory.

On Palm Sunday, 1994, we were walking across our church campus when along comes a friend, Laura, and she says, "Amy's in the church, and I think she has your son with her." We looked and one another and continued on. Along comes a second friend, Carol, and she says, "Amy's in church, at the back, to the left, and I think your son is with her." Hmmm... So, we head for Amy, wouldn't want to miss this date with our future son, of course! When we walked up to Amy, she was engaged in conversation with someone else so we headed straight for the double stroller. I come around the stroller, lay my eyes on this little baby boy and my heart fluttered! God spoke to me so very clearly in that moment and I knew, "This is my son!" Mark, on the other hand, thought, "That is the ugliest baby I've ever seen!" Sitting next to him in the stroller was a GERBER baby and we didn't even notice him until Amy turned around and told us he wasn't available as his family was getting him back soon. We were like, "What other baby?" Hadn't even seen the poster child. Daniel's biological mother had used Methamphetamines for the entire pregnancy and the poor thing was just so frail and small and going through withdrawals at that point with a shock of dark brown hair going every which way due to about 76 cowlicks! So began our love affair with Daniel! He was 3 weeks old. On Monday, we called our agency and told them that we'd found our son in our own town and asked them to please issue us a foster license in case we can get him moved over to our house. That foster license cost us $400 and before it even arrived in the mail, for various reasons, we found out it would not help us in Daniel's case. We felt so bad, as if we'd misused funds God had entrusted to us. However, the story was not yet over.

Late in July on a Friday afternoon, the day after our Foster License actually arrived in the mail, we got a phone call from our adoption agency. They were apologetic in their tone as they said, "We know we are not supposed to be looking for a child for you. But, would you be interested in a little preschool age boy from Russia? He has blonde curly hair and blue eyes." Hmmmm, sounds like Mark, I think. Long story short: they had just gotten home from Russia with all of their families that had been ready to adopt. One of the families had ended up with a very sick Mommy while they were travelling and when they arrived home, the family doctor told them to give the children (they'd adopted 2, girl & boy) back to the agency as he tried to make his point that she was dealing with a chronic illness that wasn't going away. They had a bio-son so gave the boy back to the agency. That is our precious Drew!! We picked him up on Monday. When we walked into the room, I was shocked at how petite he was! He weighed 18 pounds! I went over to where he was standing, very interested in the puppies outside the glass doors and he turned to me and reached his arms right up to me and raised his face and looked at me! The ladies in the room were completely in awe. I was clueless! He was extremely autistic-like and had not, in the three weeks they'd known him shown interest in any person, only the vehicles. He'd never been outside of the orphanage and later, we came to believe he'd never been out of his crib! He looked at the world with his chin on his chest and out of the side of his eyes. We were told he had a club foot and had been born at 25-26 weeks as the result of an attempted illegal abortion. He actually had Cerebral Palsy and Mild Mental Retardation, Children's Hospital would eventually tell us. Our personal belief is that he got the CP at birth due to the trauma, the MMR in the orphanage due to malnutrition, and the autistic behavior in the orphanage due to lack of stimuli and also vaccinations due to his weakened immune system just not being able to handle the preservatives/aka mercury in the vaccines. But, we love him to pieces just the way God made him!!

The day after we got Drew began the longest year of my life. I wholeheartedly know that God delivered Drew on that day on purpose. I was already head over heels for Daniel, now 3 months old, and his biological mother had been granted reunification and visitation beginning the day after Drew's arrival. So, every Friday, Amy and I and our 3 children under 2, Drew, Daniel and Angie (Amy's other foster baby, now adopted and a miracle to be alive at 16 because of her genetic disabilities,) all with special needs loaded up and made the all day journey to Long Beach for visitation. Sometimes the bio-mother showed but mostly she didn't over the following year. And, had I not been so completely wrapped up in Drew's medical care at that point, I know I would have been a basket case going through that year of visitation! Amy made this huge commitment and sacrifice to us to make the drive to Long Beach every Friday because Daniel's Social Workers kept trying to get him moved closer to Long Beach. Amy believed as strongly as we did that Daniel was meant to be our son, it was just a matter of time. The week before court, the bio-mother tossed her hands in the air and goes, "If I just KNEW there was a family out there that would love him as their own, I'd give up this charade!" I was sitting just across the livingroom from her and slowly raised my hand in the air like a timid student and said, "S_____, that is why we're here. We love him to pieces! He and Drew already think they are brothers. That is why we've been here weekly for the past year." Her jaw dropped and she was shocked that with Drew's special needs we'd even consider adding Daniel to our family. On court day, we all loaded up again, drove down to Long Beach, picked up both bio-parents and took them to court. The judge made a miraculous decision based on the fact that we were Daniel's secondary caretakers, even though we weren't on L.A. County's waiting list and bl/bl baby boys were their most requested child. He made it VERY clear to the SW's that this was not about a waiting list but a child!! HEAR HEAR!! Sure enough, Drew and Daniel are 51 weeks apart in age and arrived in our home 51 weeks apart from one another, both at almost 17 months old.

Christian came along when Daniel was 18 months old to Daniel's bio-mother. She fully intended to give him to us at birth right up until the birth went so smoothly and she said, "The birth was so easy, maybe raising him will be also." So, we committed to long distance mentoring of her parenting him. She was 10 years older than us but needed the guidance and support. We would send hand-me-downs and photo coupons with just enough cash to get his portrait taken. Stuff like that. And, when he was 13 months old, we were invited to her younger sister's wedding. So, we got to meet Christian, but were very sad to see that the wedding attire she had him in was a size 4 sweater with the sleeves rolled up triple! He was a cutie, nonetheless! Ten months later, she phoned us and asked if I'd come pick him up for a while. "It's so hard being a single Mom, I just need a break." So, I loaded Drew and Daniel up and we went to get Christian. He did not know me but went with me without complaint. We stopped on the way into town to buy him some shoes. His birthday passed without even a call. This saddened me to no end! A couple weeks later, we heard from her again and she was ready for him back. This continued for 6 months. Each time, buying him shoes. The third time, the store was closed when we pulled into the parking lot and at 2.5 years old, he knew the routine and started crying because he couldn't get his shoes. One of those calls had been on Daniel's birthday, she had no clue. I just told her we were a bit busy with other plans that day, but we'd be down first thing in the morning. As it turned out, she'd been able to stay sober from about 3-4 months pregnant, when she found out she was expecting again right up until he weaned himself that first weekend she called me. She could not remain sober for herself, even after 28 months sober, the draw was too strong. Just after Christian's 3rd birthday, he was officially a Dayton!! Barney boots and all!!
Have you noticed we weren't doing too well on our plans?? Our four black haired brown-eyed girls, had morphed into God's 3 blonde hair blue eyed boys!!! This actually caused us to go through some grieving as we let go of our dreams and embraced God's plan. I always wanted people to ask me if I'd adopted. Having children that look just like you doesn't tend to lead to those conversations. So, I began them myself!! We loved the way God had built our family and let our children know how blessed we were by their presence in our lives.

Several years passed and several losses occured. Some so painful, we asked our County Adoption Social Worker to toss our file, not willing to deal with the pain. However, she was very wise and chose to put it away in a drawer instead. She was a veteran, one of the rare ones that stuck around for many years!! In fact, our Charissa was almost Chiarra after her!! One day we did call her and say we truly did want to try again for a daughter. We specified Asian or Hispanic, under 3. Because she had filed our file instead of tossing it, we were put at the top of the list because of the approval date on our file. One day, a worker for the day calls us with a Safe Haven newborn. Loooooooooooooooooooong day and long story, but the mother changed her mind and we didn't get her. I haven't mentioned it but we had also decided years ago that we bonded so well with toddlers that we would leave the newborns to those families feeling so desparately the need for a newborn. So, while we were frustrated with the day we'd just lived through, we breathed a sigh of relief. Not a newborn, ahhhhhhhhh. We'd been married 17 years, had preteen boys, etc. etc... Then, not two days later, we get a call from our Laura Chiarra and she says, "We think we found her and she's both!" Woohoo!! We knew it was her!! She was 23 months old and Asian and Hispanic!! Perfect, just what we asked for!! I picked her up early the next morning in L.A. She was asleep when I took her. And didn't wake up until weall stopped for a snack an hour later. No fuss at all. She just looked at me and I unbuckled her and took her into the restaurant. Where she proceeded to clean the tables and windows with all the littles napkins she could get a hold of!! I called my girlfriend and told her and she said I'd adopted a mini-her, instead of a mini-me!! She is my dear dear friend and she's Mexican and when we're camping and stuff together, Stef takes care of my disorder ;) Thus, the mini-her comment!!

Over the next 6 weeks, I lost 17 pounds trying to keep up with this little wind turbine! We said she reminded us of the Tasmanian devil, zipping around destroying EVERYTHING in her path!! Another girlfriend jokes that when she had us over for the 4th of July a few weeks later, she lost 10 pounds in a couple of hours trying to keep up with her!! Her name at the time was Serenity. That was between the hours of midnight and 6a.m!!! After she'd been here for a while, one day it just hit me like a 2x4, the simplest of facts pulled together to show me the handiwork of God!! This was early summer after our Glory had moved on to glory! Glory was named that because of the verse mentioned above. Before we ever knew we were miscarrying, God kept placing that verse on my heart: Give glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace on whom His favor rests. When we did miscarry over Thanksgiving, we had such unbelievable peace, truly a peace that passes all understanding! You'd think we'd have been wrought with grief, after 17 years, finally conceiving, etc. etc. However, we'd lost several precious children here on this Earth andthey went to families that had we seen them in the park, we'd have packed up and found another park! This precious child was being delivered straight into the hands of the most perfect Father EVER!!! We had confidence that this child was completely safe, unlike our others. So, we felt God had given us such amazing peace here on Earth, and that we were giving Him our Glory, thus the name chosen. Fast forward about six months and we add a new daughter into our lives and just before her birthday, I realize her 2nd birthday falls on our baby's due date! And then I realize, all in the same split second, that her name means PEACE, her name is Serenity!!! God not only gave us spiritual peace, He gave us a little girl named Peace that shares the same birthdate with our Glory in Heaven!!! WOWOWOWOWOW!!! is exactly what came out of my mouth at that moment and then my hubby thought I'd lost it :)
Needless to say, WE ARE THE TRUTH. We are not living a fairy tale life, but don't tell our Princess that. We have three teenage boys and a little pipsqueak that thinks she rules those big boys! All from adverse backgrounds. And, we are now on our way to Russia to rescue more children. It is not an easy life, but God doesn't promise us an easy life! He promises never to leave us or forsake us. Family is about commitment. Carry on.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Fotos, Fotos, Fotos, ahhh! Flying out the door on Friday again!

Just found this sign at a discount store a couple weeks ago!
What a find, only wish I'd had this when my 3 sons were small
and we had social workers in our house at least once a week!!

I tend to be a procrastinator in some areas of my life. And, have found that I get things done at the last minute pretty well, though I do realize I add stress to the family this way and need to resolve this unbalance somehow as I grow up, whenever that happens. As if the time crunch helps spur me on or something! Weird, I know! Anyhow, that's what happened last Friday (3/19/10) when I was trying to get out the door to our little church's Spring Women's Retreat. I wasn't planning to go to the retreat this year, much to my dismay, as it was our 22nd wedding anniversary on Friday, so I thought I should honor my hubby and hang out with him. Only, he knew how much I long for these retreat times away in God's Country, with the conversation of ladies and crisp mountain air, a nice hike, etc, etc. So, he leaned over in church on the Sunday prior and said, "Just go, we can do dinner anytime. The retreat's only once a year." WOOHOO!!! You don't have to tell me twice! Thanks!!!
Just the two of us! We can make it if we try, just the two of us, You & I!
(Grover Washington, Jr, circa 1981 :)

Meanwhile, we needed about 10 photos of different areas of our home and of the residents of our home, aka: THE FAMILY to submit to the judge in Russia!! Sooooo, the first photo I sent to both of our social workers from both the placing and homestudy agencies, was the one up top, lol!! I sent it on a Monday morning, just to help them start out the week with a giggle! It worked!!
We are family!

For the next almost 2 weeks we worked on getting just the right photos figured out, posed (or rooms cleaned,) taken and processed to submit to the judge in Russia. Just as I thought I had it all figured out, I decided to send, via e-mail, the photos I thought we'd use, to our agency and ask what they thought. I sent what I thought would be a great set, only to find out I needed to scrap about half of the shots and redo them. Our little dog had been helping me with the photos and showed up in most of them. I was the only one home when I took the photos and being quite a social critter, she was right along side me! Well, actually, she'd go plop on the couch or bed or wherever I was aiming at, waiting for me to be ready to move on. Turns out, we shouldn't share our love of our pup with the judge JUST IN CASE she/he doesn't share our love for the canine in our picture! By the time I'd thought of asking our coordinator whether or not this "great" set would work and found out they wouldn't work, of course, we'd lived in the rooms again :) Back to square one! Where's my sign?!?

So, on Friday, I was going about my business of packing and mothering and had been told by Mark that he'd come home early so I could get off "work" early and head up the hill to the retreat. I had completed the retakes of the photos and wanted them in the mail, but wasn't too worried about it as I knew our Social Worker wasn't totally ready for them yet, so I wasn't going to worry about them on what was to be my first day off in a while.

However, that all changed with one phone call! I called our placing agency's Russian coordinator (referred to as social worker earlier in the post) to check in to see how things were going on her end as I'd asked her to look into some details for me over in Russia and in the midst of the conversation, she casually mentions that our Jewel is in the hospital following a seizure episode. Now, in Russia, an orphan may be hospitalized for something that here, as families, we can care for them at home under the same diagnosis. Simply because the orphanage staff doesn't have enough arms to mother, nurse, feed, educate, etc. But, in this case, we don't know if that's the case. Perhaps it is serious. Perhaps Jewel is quite ill and is all alone and feeling miserable. We don't know. Regardless of how she's doing, she is only 10 years old and in the hospital without any loved ones there to reassure her of their love for her and to comfort her fears and insecurities. To simply let her know she's loved and missed back at home! This did not hit me until about 10 minutes after we hung up and THEN it hit me like a ton of bricks! I started crying and there would be no leaving for the retreat until I had completed my next step of the adoption paperwork! Regardless of the homestudy social worker's speed, I was getting the photo documents in the mail that afternoon! So, I collected my photos, my paper, some rulers, and my adhesive and set to work, making two identical sets of 10 photos each spread over 5 sheets of plain white paper. When they say identical, I take that literally, so I had rulers going every which way to make sure all of my borders were equal. Once all was said and done, I was off on another of my Friday night dashes! And off to the retreat! But, first I updated my Facebook and Jewel's Facebook pages in order to rally the prayer support throughout the weekend! I may never know how she weathered this experience, now that she has a loving team over here willing to lift her up in prayer. But, that's okay, our Heavenly Father knows and cares and is taking care of her.
This I do know, without a doubt.
He also knows we need another nearly $45,000 to complete this rescue and I believe He has that in someone's pockets here on earth just looking for a treasure to invest it in. We just need to meet, I know of a Jewel that is priceless!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Fast Fingerprinting for the FBI last Friday

Last Friday (3/5/10), as we were hurriedly trying to get out of the house for a quick camping/dirtbiking weekend, we went and got our fingerprints done first. Now, this is quite the big deal for us because getting the six of us out of the house for a weekend is usually quite the ordeal, (we think we're doing good just getting to church before the first song ends on a Sunday morning. Once the new little ones arrive, I guess we'll just have to start the night before getting ready, oh wait, we already do that ;) so we never plan extras into those days that we're leaving town!! Doesn't make for a pleasant Mommy and Daddy if we are feeling time pressure along with the added pressure of a long drive ahead after an already long day. And, for this trip, we were both going to be driving so that Mark's fun 1947 JEEP WILLYS could come along, also. It doesn't fit on the trailer so it needs it's own tow-vehicle. Which, by the way, gives Mom a bit of a chance to catch up on my reading (currently on Autism) via audiobook since all the kiddos want to ride in the RV. WooHoo!!(Don't tell them I said that ;)
However, we'd chosen our agency, been accepted as clients, and knew that those fingerprints were going to take a loooooong time to get processed at the FBI so we really wanted them on their way before we were on our way. And, we did it!! We'd already lost 6-12 weeks processing time on this adoption while we were in discussions with another agency that we were hoping to use. They got cold feet and we had to move on and find another agency to get these girls home.
Mark and I met, children in tow, at the fingerprinting place, which also serves about a hundred other functions apparently, such as mail boxes, money orders, various shipping modes, local billboard and on & on and on & on... Our man Saul was very gracious with our small crowd in his small storefront on top of his normal business crowd for a Friday afternoon. And, as soon as we were done and had laid down our cash, the dash began. Mark and the children went home to finish the dirtbike trailer pack-up and I went over to UPS to try and ship our fingerprints.I did say, "TRY," right?? Of all the funny things, the main UPS hub in our area doesn't have the capability to print a pre-paid return envelope, which I was told to include with our prints in order to help with the return shipping timeline!! Both of the people that work there are friends of mine, one from church and one through Special Olympics and church. So, I always choose to go there if I have anything to ship so I can have a little catch-up time. We all agreed that it seemed a bit odd that they could not do something that a contracting location could do! So, we had a bit of a visit, a bit of a chuckle and back to my dash! Found a UPS Store, did my business, including writing
URGENT: ADOPTION on the outside of the envelope in big fat red pen! Hopefully that finds us mercy and puts us near the top of someone's pile!!
Ran home, having been gone longer than I'd hoped and realizing I needed to feed my family which has become a bit of a challenge, one I'm up to, Thank you, Jesus! Last time I did a massive dietary change was 20 years ago and I was the chronically ill one! This time we're attacking all the little critters that are disturbing my Autistic, ADD, ADHD, and prenatally exposed children! See:
if you are curious. The evidence amazed us! And we are working the protocol as a family.

Friday, January 29, 2010


The ups and downs of adopting had me going every which way emotionally this past week, and a bit physically, too!! It felt just like being on a roller coaster many times as the week progressed. Wanna ride with me? Do you get queasy?? Hold on tight ~~~~~~~~~~here ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
we ~~~

SATURDAY'S ELATION: As in running for the coaster, first ride of the day, gotta beat the crowds, high five-ing your friends...

Our meeting with our Home Study Social Worker went great!! Everything seems to be in order and she actually liked us, or did a great job acting the part ;)
It is amazing the difference in feelings I'm dealing with this time around. We've adopted many times and been thru myriads of home studies and I have always been very nervous. I don't know if it's age that's relaxed me, or experience, or the fact that int'l home studies seem to be a bit more laid back during the interview portion as opposed to County. But, I actually felt a bit of confidence rather than gut-wrenching nervousness. And, definitely more relaxed. Didn't even get a migraine after we waved good-bye!! Now, that's progress...

SUNDAY'S BREATHER: A time of refreshment, catch your breath, knowing there's another thrill around the corner...

A great day in church and lunch at Costco, our favorite bistro ;)
Then, the guys went out to play in the mud in Dad's 1947 Jeep Willys and on Drew's quad. Charissa and Mom rested a bit and then watched the beginning of Hans Brinker/The Silver Skates, a classic we'd never seen. A friend called and before we could even get into conversation, she remembered we weren't supposed to be on the phone! We were supposed to be on our way to church! She was working in childcare and we were supposed to be on our way to drop Charissa off so the rest of us could attend a special winter class on God's Design for the Family. Okay, so it wasn't that much of a breather but when you're on a roller coaster, do they EVER give you enough time to really catch your breath between loops?!?!?!

MONDAY'S DROP: I'm not gonna cry, I'm not gonna cry, I'm not gonna cry...
This roller coaster is not gonna beat me, I'm braver than anything it can throw at me.
That was what I kept telling myself anyway...

The phone rings and it's the Founder/Director of the placing agency that we've chosen to work with. This is a huge agency but they don't act like it. And, they are the best, so I'm waiting on pins and needles for their answer as to whether or not they'll accept us as clients. The founder's sister has, at this point, told me it's a go, but I've received no contract so I'm still shaky~bakey (can you tell I live in the California desert by that phrase? ;). I answer the phone and after she identifies herself, I'm thinking, "This could be very good or very bad."

Yeah, it was very bad! She was calling to tell me she just didn't see how they could do my adoption for me and weren't willing to take my $$ if they didn't feel they could succeed. The problem is that the region our Jewel lives in REALLY does not like the paperwork from the region I live in. And, it is one of the most difficult regions to work with, period, regardless of where you live. I took a deep breath, fearing I was careening right off the track I was on and was very careful to listen and make sure I got the message. Then, I repeated what I thought I'd heard to make sure we were communicating properly and if what I was hearing was correct.

I was hearing right, shucks! Another deep breath... and, out comes, "So, my girlfriend that lives 10 minutes down the road from me just did this with an agency that did not know their business near as well as you and she succeeded and they've been home for 3 months now. WHAT IF I go over to her house and we copy every piece of paper that she was required by the judge to submit in order to succeed? And, I send it to you? Would that help you consider helping us?"

"Well, just three months ago?? Same judge?? YES, That very well might help." she says. I am holding on tightly to this track and not letting go this easily! I knew from the beginning that this would NOT be an easy adoption. But, is it worth the life of a child? What's a few months of inconvenience in exchange for the life of a precious child destined for doom in just a matter of a few years??

So, I get on the phone and call my girlfriend and she just had an appointment cancel so we plan to spend the day together on Tuesday going through her paperwork like good track inspectors would!

TUESDAY'S CLIMB: Once you've dropped, it's a lot of work to get back up to ground level on those large coasters!

So, chugging right along, we read, analyzed, organized and photocopied a mountain of paperwork! We worked for 6 hours straight, while corralling kiddos. I came home, fixed dinner for the family and then headed out the door to a 2 hour appointment with our Chiropractor discussing a new nutritional plan (for the ADD, Autism, OCD spectrum) we're going to be embarking upon shortly. Back home and on the computer by 9p.m. in order to type up an organized Dossier documents list to go with everything we'd photocopied. I work till midnight and have only completed my responsibilities list, I still have to do the one for the home study agency tomorrow. After an 18 hour climb, I head back into the depot for some rest.

WEDNESDAY'S EXCITEMENT, JITTERS AND PANIC: Finding joy in these loops, for the most part, because I know every one brings me closer to the Jewel at the end!!

I spend a good part of Wednesday morning organizing and typing up the Home Study Agency's responsibilities list that the judge required in my friend's adoption case. Yes, this is all stuff that the placing agency is supposed to do for me, but I'm doing what I can to convince them to represent us as clients in Russia. There aren't very many agency's working in the region we're going to and this one is top notch!!

As we straighten up the house for the Social Worker's return visit tonight, my strong-silent-type son asks in a slightly jittery way, "What is she going to ask us?" I tell him she'll most likely ask what he thinks of his parents adopting another sister. His answer floors me as if I'd scripted it myself for him, "I'll say I think it's cool we're going to rescue a kid out of one of those orphanages and it's good to be getting our sister a sister." Great answer, hold onto that thought!!

So, does she ask him that?? No, too predictable! She wants to know how they'll help their new sister adapt to a busy household with 3 big brothers and 1 little sis! They answered as a team and came up with they'd be practicing some Russian, helping her learn English, how to ride a quad, how to surf, etc. etc. Then along comes Princess Charissa and gives a huge list including teaching Jewel how to be a princess; mermaid; fairy; work in the kitchen, both real and imaginary, dance ballet, read English, and on and on and on and on...

After she leaves, I sit down to read the next of my online adoption training classes and all the guys leave for lap swimming. I get Charissa to bed and sit back down and am only going for a few minutes when I have this feeling that I need to look for Jewel online. I know that, supposedly, countries frown on their children being posted all over the net, but for some reason I cannot resist the feeling that I need to search for her. And, I am no computer whiz!! So, why I thought I could attampt to find an orphan from the other side of the world is beyond me, unless it was a little Holy Spirit prompting. You see, it has been 3 months since we found out about her, yet still don't know officially if she is adoptable. So, all of this work could, potentially, be in vain. However, I found her in just a few minutes, just THREE websites later, and immediately felt, "I'm gonna throw up!" My emotions were just so shocked by seeing her much younger face, and were already on overdrive by all that had happened earlier in the week and there I am looking at her face in an old pic! She's been waiting on that database and in that orphanage for her forever family for YEARS!! And, I still cannot believe I, with my simple computer knowledge, was able to track her down that fast. But, at least we now have the confirmation we desired, she's listed as adoptable!!

It's 12 a.m. I've been going since 7 a.m. time to shut down! I will finish this ride later...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

First Social Worker Call!

Woohoo! Tonight at about 5p.m. our social worker calls to introduce herself and see if we can get together on Saturday for our first meeting. Okay, so we're supposed to be on our best behavior with social workers writing up our homestudy to be read by anybody and everybody involved in this rescue right?!? Soooooo, how do I answer? "Hold on just a second while I get out of bed and check my calendar." AAARRRGGGHHH! I burst into laughter realizing what I'd just said and that she probably had immediate first impressions of me on the not-so-favorable side of the scale and quickly explained that our heater was broken, it was below freezing outside as we'd experienced a bit of snowfall already today, and that I'd decided the bed was the warmest place in the house and I'd just declared I wasn't going anywhere until my hubby had fixed the heater. And, now I was joyfully getting out of bed because of her call! Thankfully, she joined me in laughter!!

We celebrated the phone call with Blueberry pancakes; real maple syrup; my friend, Missy's homemade wild blackberry syrup; and smoothies!!! Of course, when I handed Mark his smoothie while he was working his little heart out on the heater thermostat, he says, "It's freezing outside and in, don't ya think hot tea would have been more appropriate?!!?" HA HA!! Don't rub it in...

So, we are on our way!! Our SW comes out Saturday and I'll try and keep my foot out of my mouth. Wish I could keep a few other feets out of mouths around here, also. But, I'll just have to leave that in the Lord's hands and a have little flesh colored duct-tape on hand. :o) Or, maybe those big red wax lips?? Hmmm...

So, I'm sitting here at the computer a few hours later as all of the children were mostly in bed (Charissa and Daniel's beds have springs just like Tigger's tail in them and they get tossed out several times each evening before getting themselves successfully tucked in for the night) and Mark had said, "Be right back." I'm thinking he just ran back to the Depot for another heater part and I sit down to work on one of my online education classes necessary to complete this adoption homestudy. After a bit, he walks in with a space heater!! Does this mean my heater is NOT getting repaired tonight?? YUP!! He gets it all set up in the hall, blocks off the livingroom and kitchen doors, explains to the children that they have to leave their doors open tonight and goes to bed! So, I'm sitting here typing away completely bundled up in the cold living room and I go down and ask him if we're practicing for our first trip to Russia. "Nope, it'll never get cold enough here to say we're practicing for Russia." Oh, thanks, that really makes me anticipate our first trip which will, most likely, be in winter!

Charissa wants to know if we can roast marshmallows on the space heater tomorrow!!
Nope, we won't be home, we'll be at the dollar movies or in the thrift stores seeking out central heating so our noses won't be blue when Dad gets home from work :o)
That is, if the kids can convince me to get out of bed and get dressed in this igloo we call home! Wait, I know! I'll have one of them move the heater into my room and get it toasty before I venture out...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Paperwork Pregnancy

I've heard the term "PAPERWORK PREGNANCY" tossed around in regards to all of the crazy paperwork that needs to be done in order to become parents when you adopt. It is really quite unnerving to think of all of the hoops we have to jump through in order to help out children in need. (And, don't get me started on how immature, irresponsible or even dangerous parents are either producing numerous children they cannot provide for, or getting their children back out of foster care at alarming rates! And without even a hint of the level of paperwork and training that foster parents have to go through in order to care for those same children.) I'm all for protecting children and I totally "understand" that that is the purpose of our flaming hoops. But, I've jumped through these hoops so many times, you'd think they would give you a few less hoops if you are a repeat offender, (oops!) I meant rescuer! For instance, I've been told that during the course of this adoption, we will have to repeat our fingerprint/criminal clearance process several times. Is that just in case that over the course of the next 6 months we decide we don't like our normal little My Three Sons (and a princess) lifestyle and up pops a latent urge to just pop over into the COPS realm so we can really shine on TV?? No, no. It's because not all of the people, or better yet, gov't bureaucracies, involved in helping us rescue an older orphan or two don't believe in trusting one another on whether or not we're "cool". Or "sick" as I've recently been informed by my boys is the new "cool!" Ugh!

So, we're jumping through flaming hoops at a remarkable rate according to our home study agency, Chrysalis House, Inc. We're in our first trimester and I'm watching my waistline, hoping it shrinks, rather than grows throughout this pregnancy!!! I'm also hoping and praying for a premature delivery date! Our friends' agency took 18 months to get their son home and we are feverishly working to do EVERYTHING in our power to get Jewel home before her 11th birthday early this summer!!

My biggest CHRISTmas gift this year was calling Kaiser on Dec. 23rd, the first day I had my paperwork packet in hand, to schedule our required physical exams and having them return my call having made room for all FOUR of my children to have their physicals done within about 2 hours of my original phone call!!!! Whoa Nellie!!! Never could I have imagined that amazing gift!!

One big huge speed bump that is really causing issues for us is the choosing of guardians if something should happen and Mark and I cannot be here on earth to finish raising our children. It's not that there aren't completely competent amazing people in our lives that we'd trust with our children. No, it's that we've chosen to serve those children of God that have prenatal exposure issues, primarily. Our children are pretty much a special needs crew and there are a lot of them by today's standards. It's an issue we've discussed on and off for about 15 or 20 years now and have never come up with a solution. God is good and we're still here and they haven't been orphaned again, as of yet. But, we know very well that it just takes a twinkling of the eye and God can call us home. Yes, we do know this and we do know we need to prepare. We do know it's a stewardship issue. We do know all of these things, but the knowledge doesn't make it any easier. Finding someone that God has called to the same level or type of commitment to special needs orphans isn't a common occurrence and if you find them, do they already have a houseful?? It's a tough one, alrighty! However, the clock is ticking and this is the last piece of paper we have to complete in order to finish our homestudy paperwork. Definitely a difficult part of our pregnancy that has to be worked through, and, like yesterday, already!! Yikes!

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