Friday, March 26, 2010

"Hi, Shadow!"

Bridget has always loved her shadow. We're at the beach, and she discovered it on our deck today. She was captivated by the way her shadow looked when she swung a frisbee from side-to-side. "Hi, Shadow!," she would shout from time to time.

Bridget is loving the beach. She keeps saying, "Mommy, shoes. Beach!"

She is our honorary and official flip-flop washer. She's got complete control of the foot shower by our deck. Got sand on your shoes? Bridget is your gal :).

Here she is watching Max & Ruby and eating her snack of Goldfish in the late afternoon sunshine:

Stay tuned for more from the beach...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Leaving Soon :)

We found out today that we will be leaving in less than 2 weeks for Alina's country! Our appointment with the State Department of Adoptions is on Thursday, April 8th. We are thrilled and overwhelmed at the same time. There is so much to do!

It is hard to believe that we are so close to meeting our new daughter.

We are enjoying a few quiet and relaxed days at the beach before we come home to finish preparing for our (even bigger) trip.

Please keep us in your thoughts as we move forward in the final phase of our journey to Alina...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Look Who We Met!

We had a wonderful surprise last week when we found out that we were next in line to get the T21 Traveling Afghan. The best part is that it was hand delivered to us today by a very special delivery person:

We were so happy to have the chance to meet our blogging friends Sarah and Joyce--now friends in real life :)!

Bridget and Sarah hit it off right away. Bridget wanted to hug Sarah--tight--and pat her leg. You can see their immediate connection in our pictures from this morning:

Handing the afghan over:
Bridget tried to give it back :):

Sarah showing Bridget the journal that travels with the afghan:


I could have watched the two of them all day. What a great way to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day!!

*Don't miss their posts about the day (including more pics). Find those here and here :).

Friday, March 19, 2010

Making a Difference

Loren Eiseley was an anthropologist who wrote extensively. This story has appeared all over the web in various forms, usually without credit given. Sometimes it is a little girl throwing the starfish into the ocean, sometimes a young man, once even an elderly Indian. In any form, it is a beautiful story and one that resonates with people all over the world.

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made a difference for that one."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


How many rolls of toilet paper can I cram into my laundry room cupboards? It looks like we are going to find out!

I can't seem to shake the nesting instinct, and I am stocking my house as though we will be unable to get supplies of any kind until next Christmas :). I even pulled out--and used--the steam cleaner that has been sitting in our upstairs hall closet for the past two years gathering dust. (I knew there was a reason I purchased that thing!)

We are only 3 1/2 months into our paper pregnancy, but we're already within weeks of meeting our newest little one. In a typical pregnancy, I am just beginning to get over the morning sickness.

I may not be posting much over the next couple of weeks, although I will certainly post any big news, such as a travel date ;).

We are headed south for a family vacation, where we'll spend most of our time building a huge sandcastle, enjoying the sunshine (and each other!) and collecting seashells. Just what the doctor ordered :)...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Our Little Blondie...

...needs us. Soon. Look at this sweet little face. We are lucky to have a new picture of Alina. Her head is still shaved, but from the little bit that has grown out, it appears she is a blonde...something new for our family :).

Pictures of orphans are functional in nature, for the purposes of documentation. I can't wait to photograph her through a parent's loving eyes, taking care to capture an expression that reveals a little bit about who she is. (I hope she doesn't mind having her picture taken, because I am sure it will be like having the paparazzi over here when she comes home.)

Right now, Alina is an orphan, with nothing of her own--no family of her own, dressed in someone's old clothes. She hasn't known what it means to be able to trust that someone will always be there for her. She hasn't known what it means to be valued as an individual. It breaks my heart to see that in this picture, even though we already knew it.

We cannot wait to hold her and love her and tell her she's finally home. We cannot wait to get her into our arms and begin to restore her to the child she should always have been.

We are ready to begin our new journey. I hope she is ready for us :)...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Now, the Wait Begins...

I woke up to find a message from our facilitator in Alina's country saying that our dossier has been officially submitted! So we are just waiting to hear a travel date, now :). It will be several weeks before we know when we will get to meet Alina, but still, we're over-the-moon happy to reach this huge adoption milestone.

Thank you so much for all the prayers and well wishes. We are so blessed!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Alina! We're coming for you soon...

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Notes from PT

Today, Bridget had her weekly physical therapy session at school. Her PT sends a note home each time she works with Bridget. In the note today: a list of the things they worked on together (jumping, going up and down curbs & stairs, tiptoes, running, standing on 1 leg, balance beam, kicking, playing catch). There was also a little note at the bottom of the page:
"Bridget becomes jealous when I work with other students which motivates her to impress me :)."
Bridget, jealous? Interesting. I wonder what she'll do when we bring a new little sister home from Eastern Europe in May...

Monday, March 08, 2010


It is amazing how much a person can process in the blink of an eye. When we react quickly to something, we often say we are acting on instinct. We also use the word intuition. But it's more than that.

When you
blink something, your subconscious mind assesses, calculates and concludes something, and then alerts your conscious mind to a decision--thoughts, emotion, knowledge and experience all come together to give you direction, or to give you an answer.

We've been asked how we came so quickly to the decision to adopt Alina.

Did we fall in love at first sight? What was it about her that tugged so strongly at our hearts? Did we thoroughly discuss all aspects of adding another child to our family before committing to adopt her? Did we mull over the pros and cons of international adoption? Did we consider what impact adopting another child with special needs would have on our family, and on our other children?

I knew as soon as I saw her sweet little face that
we were going to be Alina's forever family. I couldn't imagine having her ornament on our Christmas tree each year, always wondering if she was healthy, or warm, or smiling, or feeling loved. Chris was drawn to her, too. But the short and most complete answer to the question of how we arrived at our decision: we blinked it.

Without sorting out each issue individually, Chris and I both synthesized a large amount of information in a very short period of time. We knew our hearts--and our instincts--were telling us to bring Alina home to us. Luckily, we came to the same conclusion and neither of us felt the need to consider our options for an extended period of time. We both knew that
the blink was right.

We have talked since about all of the things which we both knew when we decided that we would be Alina's

Her picture--the only one we have of her, still:

The version on the left is what we saw on Reece's Rainbow. It is not a good picture, quality or otherwise. Alina's expression is blank, her head is shaved and her little lips are really chapped. But through that picture, we both saw a diamond in the rough. We took that picture and mentally dusted it off. And what we saw beneath was a beautiful, amazing and able little girl.

It was an absolute blessing that the picture looked yellowed and grainy. It made us stop and notice her.

This little girl needs a family and she will be overlooked because of this picture, was all I could think when I first saw it, so I went to work right away on color correcting and lightly editing the photo (version #2, on the right).

Chris and I were looking at a picture of a little girl who is considered "severely disabled" in her society simply because she has Down syndrome, and we know that she was most likely abandoned because of that diagnosis.
We both saw so much potential in Alina and know that she deserves opportunity and happiness as much as anyone else. We have the desire and ability to offer her the chance to pursue her dreams.

We have no idea what she is able to do at this point in her life, and it really doesn't matter how independent she is, or how she is limited. We aren't looking at her thinking, What can she do for us? We're focused on what we can do for her. We know she will add her own light to our group and enrich us all in ways we could never imagine. Love adds--it never takes away. We both firmly believe that.

We have a first-hand example--in Bridget--and know that people with Down syndrome have many abilities.
Alina is sure to have her own set of challenges and skills. We all do.

Alina is just a little bit younger than Bridget. We have researched therapies, medical care, financial planning, education, nutrition, etc. for Bridget and have already found our way through many aspects of having a child with Down syndrome.

We have a wonderful pediatrician and school system. We are surrounded with people who care about our family and who believe in us--and in our commitment to living a life
filled with love.

We already have a house full. What is one more :)? And we already have a child with Ds. That's no big deal for us.

We have the benefit of knowing that having Bridget as a sibling has only enhanced the lives of our other children. They adore her. They all quickly agreed that Alina would be welcome and well-loved here, with us.

In the blink of an eye, all of these things came to mind. We knew right away that we we're taking a gigantic leap of faith.

We know now that it is also a giant leap of love.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Funny Girl, Part II

Bridget keeps us smiling. There are so many things I wanted to add to that last post--things that make life with Bridget interesting and fun. And none of them have much to do with the extra chromosome :). So here they are, some other things I love about life with her:

-She always notices if I hit a pot hole, speed bump or curb. Oopsie, she says quietly from the back seat. She also shouts Whoa! when we turn corners.

-She knows what she wants (and doesn't want) and is always thinking about how best to get her point across. At dinner one night recently, she was trying to get out of eating brussels sprouts. The conversation went: Bridget: Mommy, hot. Me: No, Bridget, they are not hot. Bridget: Mommy, Eewww.

-Bridget surprises people (us included). Whenever we go through a drive through, Bridget sits silently while I am ordering. She must be listening intently, because she waits until the order-taker gives the total, and then she shouts O-K!! BYE!! The people at the window are always laughing when we pull up.

-She is persistent and polite at the same time :). If she wants a cup, for example, everyone should be prepared to hear her requests for that cup over and over until said cup is retrieved. She almost always adds a very sweet Please to the request, but her eye is on the prize. Anyone who answers her calls for help is rewarded with a hearty "Que" (Thank You) or a Job! (Good Job).

-Bridget takes great care of her baby dolls and stuffed animals (and a 12-inch Spiderman action figure). She likes to get them comfy with pillows and blankets and books. She feeds them, rocks them, kisses them and takes them for walks. It is not uncommon to look in our family room and see a doll lovingly tucked into the doll pack & play, or to see Bridget come around the corner pushing Spiderman in the doll stroller.

What things do you love about life with your kids?