Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Three Little Pumpkins - One year home

Hard to believe this month will be one year home for us with Leza, Nico and Misha.  In ways it's been a crazy year but in others really rather calm considering.  We've not made as much progress as I had hoped, but we have progressed from where they were when we came home last Dec. 

For instance, take Leza.  I had really hoped to be able to communicate with her more.  She's still basically nonverbal, and honestly she may well be for a long time.  I hope and pray not, but the reality is, you can't undo 4 years with little to no therapy over night.  That being said, she has made great strides figuratively and literally.  When she came home she could neither feed herself or walk without assistance.  She can now use a fork and spoon, she can chew her food, something she did not do when she came home, and she can walk fairly well.  We do think some of her delays are due to strabismus, or crossed eyes, and that the knee cap on her left leg will slip completely off to either side of her knee making her gate somewhat awkward.  Both her eyes and her knee are now being considered for surgery since glasses and physical therapy have remedied neither.  She just had a well baby checkup and the doctor reports that she is growing well and looks great!

Nico too has grown quite a bit since coming home.  He was 17 pounds last year and he's now 25 pounds.  He's gone from size 6-12 months to size 18-24 months.  He's leaning sign language and can sign "more please" and "thirsty".  His only consistent spoken word is "eat" and the boy does love his food.  Although Nico can feed himself and chew, he has a hard time keeping the food in his mouth when he's chewing.  We recently requested feeding therapy for him and speech for him and Leza.  We're hopeful that it will help.  Since coming home Nico too has learned to walk.  He does really well. 

Misha has grown by leaps and bounds.  For a baby who could not crawl, walk or feed himself one year ago, Misha has amazed us all.  He can now run, climb up the 5 foot ladder to our playground fort, hold his own cup and feed himself with little assistance.  His arms and hands continue to be strengthened and more mobile.  His core strength is amazing, and I do believe he could be a gymnast with the ability and agility he demonstrates.  Although his vocabulary is not as developed as I had hoped, he does understand everything we tell him.  He is currently getting PT and OT once a week, and we're hoping to add speech therapy to help him catch up developmentally.  Misha is also scheduled to go to Shriners Hospital in February.  He's going to need to have his feet, which are clubbed (yes he's running on clubbed feet!) fixed either through surgery or serial casting.  I'm hoping for the later.  His right wrist and elbow will also need to be straightened and I'm hoping that too can be done in the least invasive manner.  We shall see. 

So, we really have made great strides although they do not appear as I originally imagined.  God has a plan and He's in control.  I trust Him to put all the details in place and as you can see in the picture below, part of the plan was to bring home two more girls.  But that's anther post to be updated at a future date =)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Here We Grow Again!

Hi all, Yes, you read that right.  The Robinson family is growing again!
I've tried to add pictures of our beautiful darlings to this page, but blogger is not cooperating.

Here's a link to our Family Sponsorship Page (FSP) on Reece's Rainbow which will show you just how gorgeous they are.

Both of the girls we committed to this time have the same diagnosis as Misha and if you've met him, you know just how inspiring he is.  His accomplishments have encouraged us to pursue Aubree and Laelia.  Although they do have Arthrogryposis, the manifestation of it in their bodies is different than his. 

"Laelia", who is almost 2 years old, is only affected in her legs. We will not know to what extent until we meet her and get her to a specialist.  We are told that she is "a very beautiful and smart girl, affectionate and well behaved" by those who have met her.  Of course "Laelia" is her pseudonym and the name we have selected for her will be announced once we have passed court. 

"Aubree", who just turned 15, is affected slightly in her arms and more severely in her legs; however, her upper body is very strong.  She is currently in a wheelchair but has expressed the desire to walk.  We are hoping that once she is home, the specialists will be able to help her realize that dream.  Because she has been listed on the Reece's Rainbow website for so long, and in an orphanage for so long, many have met and fallen in love with her.  We will be keeping her given name, adding a middle name, and will let all know what it is once we have passed court.  You can read more about her here. 

We are very blessed and very excited.  Thank you for your prayers, encouragement and support through this journey.

Jode and Kelley

PS - we have a $500 matching grant going on right now.  Every dollar donated to our FSP, also linked above, will be doubled up to $500.  Our FSP needs to read $2251.99 to meet this goal.  Please share, pray and donate!  Thank you!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Be Slow to Speak

I’ve been taking a poll as to how many other adoptive parents feel the same way I do before I said anything.  I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just me being over sensitive.  In chatting with many I have come to the conclusion it’s not.  So, I’m going to put this out there.
Please think before you speak about and around my children.   I’ve heard many statements in front of my kids, or within ear short, which are hurtful. 

For instance, “I’m just going to take this one home with me.” 

Now why would you say that?  Yes, they are cute, but you must have no clue what sort of trauma an adopted child may have gone through, some in several homes before finally being adopted, some abandoned in orphanages for many years and now you want to add to their already, possible, insecurity by making them wonder if someone else is going to take them yet again?  And even if the adorable little one you have in your arms is too young to understand what you’re saying, his/her older sibling is probably close by and is now worried that someone will “just take him” or his/her baby brother or sister.  After all, Mommy and Daddy just brought them home.  You also must have no clue how much time, tears, persistence, prayer, paperwork, patience and money it takes to complete an adoption.  There’s no “just taking” anything. 
And then there’s this one.  “How can you do that at your age?” 

Really?  Do I look like I have one foot in the grave?  Honestly, I can better do this at my age now, than I could have 20 years ago.  I have a lot more parental experience and much more patience.  It also floors me that anyone would think that caring for our children is difficult.  Until just recently, I was an international business woman, managing many projects across many countries, to include the personnel, all at once.  Believe me, taking care of my children is a breeze.
And what about this one?  “Do you have help with them?”

Why? Help because they do . . . what?  I know many, now days, who think six children are a lot, but it wasn’t too many generation ago that multiple children, meaning more than the 2.5 average, was normal.  This is our choice, and what we feel God has called us to do.  If it’s not yours, then more power to you.  Like David said to King Saul, I can’t wear your armor.  What God has called us to, He has also equipped us to do.  It’s my opinion that you’re the one who is missing out on the fun.  We believe the more the merrier!

I was also told of a statement made around my children, while they were standing there, in regards to their being adopted and another child being a bio-kid.  Please don’t do that.  God knew our kids before they were born, and whether bio or adopted, he knew they were to be ours.  He created them just for us.  They are no more or less part of the family because of their adoption.  Are you any less a child of God due to your adoption into the family of God?
I have many more statements from people which have made me wince and scared my kids, but I won’t write them here.  Suffice it to say that you really need to think before you speak in all cases, but especially around my kids.  Believe me when I say, and some of you have heard this, those are fighting words.  I’d hate to have to go all Momma Bear on ya! ;-)

James 1:19 says we should be quick to listen and slow to speak.  Listen to your inner self. If it would hurt your feelings, don’t you think it hurts me/my children too?
I’ll get off my soapbox now.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Visual Adjustment

Have you ever run into someone you've not seen in awhile and although you knew they looked familiar, it wasn't until they reintroduced themselves that your visual of them shifted and the old picture in your mind's eyes was replaced by the now version of how they really look?  I think that's how adoption is.  You go into it with ideas, visions, of how you think things are going to be, but at some point, you have to adjust those visions to reality.

Many parents think they are going to pick up there child and instantly be in love with that child, but in fact, although we love them with the love of God, sometimes the parents may not even like the child.  I know! <gasp> That's just awful, but let's face it, sitting up at 4 in the morning with little Johnnie or Susie can tax even the most patient of parents.  We get frustrated with the child, and frustrated with ourselves.  We think we're awful parents because how could someone not love this child, but in reality, it's normal.  Given time we can grow to love the child and them us.  We are prefect strangers usually. 

So parents don't berate yourselves when your precious little pumpkin seems more like a little stranger, a little stinker of a stranger at that.  Give yourself and your new youngin' some slack and realize that relationships take time to build.  Adjust your vision of how you thought things were to match how they are.  It may not be the reality you envisioned, but it may be better than you could ever have imagined!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Our Little Princess Part II

Today we got an amazing report on Leza's health the magnitude of which cannot be understood unless one knows the whole story.
When we committed to Leza we only knew that she 
had heart surgery and Down syndrome.  We didn't know how cute she was because the pictures we had did not show her face.  She is beautiful. We found out some of her diagnosis when we got to our first appointment at which time we were told that she had gastro surgery at some point, no one was quite sure about that, and that she's had open heart surgery. It wasn't until we met with her doctor at the orphanage that we got the rest of the story.
Prior to ones meeting with a child, the parents are told as much about the child's medical and social history as is known.  We learned our first day that she was born without her colon being completely developed and that right after she was born she had surgery to correct it.  Then when she was 2 she had another surgery, and a colostomy due to some complications.  The colostomy was repaired and she has been fine every since.  Her heart had two holes in it.  The upper one repaired itself over time, but the lower one required surgery.  The surgery was successful, but Leza was also diagnosed with congestive heart failure. 
Heart failure does not mean the heart has stopped working. Rather, it means that the heart's pumping power is weaker than normal. With heart failure, blood moves through the heart and body at a slower rate, and pressure in the heart increases. As a result, the heart cannot pump enough oxygen and nutrients to meet the body's needs. The chambers of the heart may respond by stretching to hold more blood to pump through the body or by becoming stiff and thickened. This helps to keep the blood moving, but the heart muscle walls may eventually weaken and become unable to pump as efficiently. As a result, the kidneys may respond by causing the body to retain fluid (water) and salt. If fluid builds up in the arms, legs, ankles, feet, lungs, or other organs, the body becomes congested, and congestive heart failure is the term used to describe the condition.  Because of this, Leza was on medication that for all intent and purposes, she would most likely have to take the rest of her life.  However, God
Today we were told that Leza could come off her medication!  She no longer has this diagnosis and her heart looks wonderful.  Do I believe it's a miracle? You're darn tootin'!  Could the original Dx have been wrong?  Maybe, but not likely knowing the doctors who attended her prior to her adoption.  We serve a BIG God for whom nothing is impossible.  All glory and honor go to Him!  Amen!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

God is in the Details

Have you ever heard the saying "The devil is in the details"?  I'm hear to tell you that just aint true.  We serve an amazing, detailed God.  If you don't think so, just think about the human eye.  The other day I had an eye exam, my first in six years, so the eye doc wanted to dilate my eyes.  Once done I was talking with the eye glasses person, in case I wanted a pair, and my eyes started hurting really bad.  She told me it was because I had them dilated and got me a pair of those stylish sun glasses.  Yes, that's sarcasm. 
So driving home I was thinking about the amazing eye and how the iris dilates or retracts (not sure if that's the correct term) in order to let in or keep out the appropriate amount of light.  I thanked God for such an amazing detail in this human body and when I did, He reminded me of something that happened while we were in Ukraine.  Something I've wanted to share with you, but for some reason not until now.  I guess it's one of those "Mary things" where she pondered them in her heart.  This was one of my ponderings because it was so personal, that it really was only a big deal to me even though it was a very minute detail.  Today as I was trying to take a nap I felt a nagging that I finally needed to share this.  Maybe you are the one who needs to read it just for today.
By Dec 21st of 2013 I had been in Ukraine adopting our three children for almost 6 weeks.  I was tired to say the least, had been sick, was feeling better, but still recuperating my strength.  When I don't feel well small things seem to matter more. Jode had been in another region, springing two of our babies from the orphanage and arrived the next morning, very early, in the region where I was.  Our precious Leza was celebrating her 4th birthday that day, Dec 22nd.  Since this was her first birthday celebrated in her family, I wanted it to be very special.  I had purchased her an adorable outfit and Katherine and Asa were coming to help us celebrate.  Katherine is a photographer and was going to capture this very special day for us so of course, I wanted it to be perfect.  Now if you know anything about us Southern Mommy's you know that our daughter's ensemble is not complete without a coordinating bow in her hair.  Not only did I not have a bow, I did not have a rubber band to get her hair out of her face.  Poor little pumpkin all dressed up in her pretty pink and purple and her hair was covering up her pretty little face.  Until . . .
I had gone to the kitchen to make a cup of tea.  I made tea for myself several times a day since it was very cold while we were their, and I happen to love tea.  It's comfort food for me.  There was a cute little wire tea cup holder in our apartment with about four tea cups hung from it, and I had used those cups so often.  So while I'm making my tea, fretting about Leza's hair and planning to make a trip to the open market, you can imagine my surprise when I turned around and saw it.  I know it had not been there previously.  I would have seen it after all, the wire tea cup holder only held one tea cup at present because the rest were either in use or needing washed.  So how could it have gotten there?  Who could have put it there.  I asked Jode but he had no clue.  So I wept, silent tears, but tears of immense thankfulness, for my God who knows my heart, even the smallest detail.  It was small, very small, perfect for a little girls thin hair.  A perfect white rubber band which made this Mommy's heart sing. 
God has a way of saying "I'm here, and I'm working on your behalf down to the smallest detail."  I'm so thankful that He is.  When I'm discouraged about the big picture, I remember that He cares enough about me to make sure I had a small white rubber band.  God is in the details, even those that matter to only me. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

We're Home and All's Well

Hi All,
I know it's been a long time since I posted, so I wanted to update you.  I'm sure you can understand that we've been just a bit busy. I'll start with the kids. 
All six of them are doing well.  We had a bit of regression in Ian upon our return but that was to be expected.  He was the baby and now there are three more who are "younger" than him developmentally if not chronologically.  He's doing better now that we've been home two months! 
Gavin is learning to be a little less animated around the new littles and that personal space is important.  His "regression" upon our return was shown in anxiety, but thanks to caffeine, yes we give him coffee to help calm him down, he's doing much better.  We tried using lavender essential oils in a lotion, but unfortunately it caused an asthma attack.  We also take him, as well as Ian and Flora, out by themselves so that we have some personal time with them. 
Flora is being little mommy which we knew she would.  We're having to teach her that although she wants to play with and mother all four of her smaller siblings, she cannot pick them up or tote them around.  I say smaller siblings because although Gavin is younger, he outweighs her by at least 10 pounds.  She does not try to tote him around!
Misha, who we call Mr Fussy Pants, is quite opinionated.  He will definitely let you know if he does, or does not want something or want to do something, like go to sleep.  When he first got home he would SCREAM at the top of his lungs, which were quite substantial considering his itty bitty self, and he would do it for extended periods of time when laid down for bed.  No amount of appeasement would suffice.  However, he has stopped doing that, finally, and usually goes right off to sleep with the rest of the boys.  He's a picky eater and does not like too many fruits or veggies so we are having to find inventive ways to get them into his diet.  He is smart.  Very smart, and has learned to stand without the use of his hands since they are the weakest part of his body due to his arthrogryposis.  However, with all the tenacity of a pit bull, he is learning to use them and strengthen them in order to feed himself, play with toys, and wrestle his sister's pacifier out of her mouth!  He's learning English quickly and adds new words to his vocabulary daily it seems. He amazes us and we couldn't be more proud of him. 
Nicolai is becoming more affectionate.  He will snuggle and cuddle now where in the beginning he really was not interested.  He's learning to actually play with toys rather than just throwing them, although he still thinks it is hilarious to throw whatever is closest to him so that we have to pick it up.  He's walking very well and being the size of an infant, he looks absolutely adorable toddling across the floor.  He's learned to be more patient when we're eating.  Initially if he smelled food, he thought he should be eating and would throw an absolute fit, trying to climb my leg, while I was cooking.  Now he's pretty good about waiting until we're all at the table and have said prayer.  He does not throw a fit when eating any more and he waits to chew what's in his mouth before getting another bite although we still have to only give him one bite at a time since his eating habits are that of Sesame Street's Cookie Monster.  He has learned to hold his own spoon, get the food to his mouth and hold and drink from his own cup.  He also is no longer throwing it on the floor in between drinks.  He's babbling new sounds in the past few days much like an infant would do which is great.  He has not done that previously.  Now I know you may be thinking, most kids do that, but trust me, these are huge milestones for him.
Leza is coming out of her institutional behaviors more and more.  We are seeing less stemming and more actual attending to her surroundings.  She's walking almost exclusively and not so much scooting.  She can also eat using a fork/spoon and drink independently from her own cup.  These are great strides for a little girl who would not even hold something in her hand two months ago.  She's playing with toys, the baby doll she sleeps with and she will actually look at a book.  Previously she would push anything away that was placed in her lap or hands.  She's learned a few words like Momma, Dada and Nite Nite and loves to sing (la la la la la).  I have started vocalizing with her and she will initiate it herself at times.  We gave her a binki to chew on in an effort to get her to stop grinding her teeth.  It's working pretty well.  She's maintaining eye contact more and more, and her eyes are becoming stronger.  We still feel she cannot see that well, in part from her strabismus, crossed eyes, but she may also be near sighted.  She has an eye appointment next week. 
Jode and I are doing well. Well, sort of well.  I've been sick off and on since early Dec while we were still in Ukraine.  I'm sure this past years' experiences have put a strain on my immune system in spite of my efforts to boost it.  I'm still battling something, but with six littles and two of them in school bringing home whatever is going around, it's sure to be a battle.  Jode too has been under the weather a little, but this too shall pass. 
Now I want to brag on Jode a bit.  Through all of this Jode has been working on his degree in Nuclear Engineering Technology.  Yes, Nuclear Engineering.  I know what you're thinking, he's that good lookin' and smart too?  Uh huh, that's what I thought when I first met him.  Too good to be true! ;-)  He'll be graduating in May with honors, 4.0 to be exact. He's already started applying for positions and has his first follow up appointment March 11th.  I couldn't be more proud. 
I think that's it for now.  If you've not seen any of our most recent pics, all of the kids are doing amazing, really.  We are very blessed to have each one in our lives and we are very excited to see what God has in store for each of them.
In closing, may I ask that you please remember to pray for Ukraine.  The country is on the brink of war and our hearts are breaking for the people there who we came to know and love.  Please, please keep them in your prayers. 
With love,
Jode and Kelley and family