Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Just Pics

Just like three of the cutest little girls ever.... How did we get so lucky??

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Interesting....came across this article from ABC news about the same thing I was talking about in my last post.


I have so much to say about this, but I think it would take a VERY long time!!

I will save that for another post.....

Just saying my heart is breaking about this. People just do not understand what they are missing. :((

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Here's an article that might give you some insight into the culture we adopted our girls from.
If your curious....

I found this through the link of another RR family and I thought it was really interesting and thought provoking and worth sharing. The perspective is so different there, but yet in some ways, very much the same.

Here in this country, we think we are better somehow because we don't just put "these kids" into an orphanage or whatever and forget them... But the reality is, we are killing them here. The statistics of abortion for babies diagnosed prenatally with Down syndrome is staggering! Are we really better off here in the good ol' USA?

Or are we really MUCH. WORSE. ???

I don't know. What I do know is that there are many issues in that article that can and need to be addressed. But read and decide for yourself. And maybe, just maybe...you will understand and be moved to DO something. (adopt, pray, donate, adopt, pray, donate, adopt... :))

Here's the link

And the article copied...

«Even clergymen do not adopt abandoned handicapped children»

Ladies in Zaporozhye often refuse to abort pregnancies with severe fetus pathologies and later they abandon their handicapped children in the maternity hospitals

Author: Natalia Smuglyuk, http://www.subbota.com.ua/, translated by Elena Guda, www.deti.zp.ua Published: 2011-02-11 10-00-00 Viewed, times: 37

No people in Zaporozhye have ever wanted to adopt a handicapped child.

Ladies in Zaporozhye often refuse to abort pregnancies with severe fetus pathologies and later they abandon their handicapped children at the maternity hospitals

Down’s syndrome, hydrocephalus or hydrocephaly, physical defects: these are the diagnoses that sound as sentences for future parents. What should mothers do in such situations? Should they give births to the children thus condemning their families to suffering? Or maybe they should have abortions and violate the corresponding table in the religious decalogue? The choice is always painful. The Ukrainian legislation, the Church and the conventional morality of the society confuse people rather than assist in determining their positions.

She took a look at her little son… and abandoned him at the maternity hospital

The recommendation to abort her pregnancy Svetlana, a graduate of Zaporozhye Engineering Academy, took as an offence. Her fetus was diagnosed as having Down’s syndrome.

— We wanted a child so much! What is bareness follows? What if the doctors are wrong? – Sveta was crying talking over the phone to me. I want the child!

After the delivery Sveta took a look through the window of the children’s intensive care ward at her small son having the Down’s syndrome, a heart defect and a lot of associated deviations and understood that she wouldn’t be able to cope with such a burden. Thousands of USD and years of terrible work would be needed for the child’s rehabilitation. So she left the infant in the maternity hospital.

In accordance with Zaporozhye obstetrician-gynecologists, 80% of the children born with different pathologies are eventually taken to the regional infant’s home “Sunshine”.

People in Zaporozhye do not adopt handicapped children

In the “Sunshine” I was taken to one of the wards arranged for abandoned children. All the beds are occupied – there are no vacant places. Each of the small children has three or four of the diagnoses I haven’t even heard about. In the corner of the room there is a dark-skinned and curly boy lying on a bed. Saliva runs down his cheek, his head is shaking; his eyes are very large and… blank. The nurse carefully wipes his face with a kerchief and starts to talk to him. I feel a lump in my throat and tears are coming into my eyes. I leave the ward.

Zaporozye inhabitants very seldom wish later to take their abandoned small children back, in accordance to Galina Galkina, the Chief physician of “Sunshine”. There have been only five cases of this kind during 20 years of her of work in “Sunshine”.

The only chance handicapped children have is new parents. But in Zaporozhye so far there have been no people wishing to adopt a child with special needs, only foreigners do this.

— Even clergymen do not adopt abandoned handicapped children, to say nothing of ordinary Zaporozhye citizens – sighs Galina.

After disabled children leave “Sunshine” they are transferred to different boarding houses specializing in the area of their diagnoses. They stay there until they reach 18 years of age; some stay until they are 35. Later they are taken to specialized retirement homes. Thus they die there: knowing nothing about their parents.

They will never be able to walk and to say «mummy» and «daddy»

Doctors of the regional clinical hospital work with abandoned disabled children on a regular basis.

— Children are brought to us with severest complications caused by their pathologies – Elena Krayevaya, the head of the diagnostic department, tells “Saturday plus”. Mental activity of such small children is often so much impaired that they will never be able to walk, to say “mummy” and “daddy”: they just take their food, breathe, defecate and that is all. Some of our patients being 3 years olds weigh only 8 kilograms! But however “difficult” the children are we never give up fighting for them.

By the way, a day of a child’s treatment in the intensive care costs the hospital about 1,5-2 thousand UAH. Some children spend as long as three or four months there.

No one is immune against fetus pathologies

No one is immune against fetus pathologies. Fortunately, Zaporozhye doctors can identify development defects on the early stages of pregnancies.

— Skeletal anomalies, central nervous system pathologies, heart defects can be identified. Chromosomal pathologies can be suspected, Down’s syndrome, for example, - Svetlana Sokolovska, chief specialist of the health protection management in the area of ultrasound diagnostics and obstetrics, tells “Saturday plus”. – In case a development anomaly is detected, the medical consultation assists the family in making a correct decision: either to give birth to the child if there is hope he can be rehabilitated or to abort the pregnancy if the identified pathology is incompatible with life and will lead to severe disablement.

Loved by their parents and happy!

There are a lot of families with disabled children in Zaporozhye. They are loved by their parents and happy. There are ladies who do not raise any alarm and do not plan to abandon their children in the children’s homes being pregnant with children with special needs; they read specialized literature and prepare for maternity however hard it might be in future.

I consider the issue of whether to give birth to a child a private affair of each person. But when one does make a choice one has to be honest with him/ or herself.

A personal opinion

Galina Galkina, the head physician of the regional infant home “Sunshine”:

— To some degree I am able to understand those mothers who have abandoned their “difficult” children, because a socially hopeless child is a tragedy for any family. But it is unethical and immoral in accordance with religious dogmas to form the public opinion such that women would consent to abortions. To my mind, each person should make decisions independently and should bear full responsibility for the results of the decision.

Father Michael, the head of the church department responsible for social and charitable assistance to the needy public in the Saint Protection Cathedral:

— The Church gives its blessing only for childbirth. An abortion is a great sin. It is an infanticide. Any birth of a child with some disabilities is a kind of an ordeal in our lives. I’ve been working with families having disabled children for more than 15 years. Believe me, their parents love them very much and are happy with each small part of progress and success of their children. As for those mothers who abandon their children I should say let them rather abandon them than kill them. These children will have families in the children’s homes.

Advice of a specialist

Elvira Goncharenko, a doctor – geneticist of the Zaporozhye center of family planning:

— It is necessary to perform ultrasonic scanning during the first term (11 through 14th week), second term (18 through 22nd week) and the third term (32 through 34th week) of the pregnancy. There are symptoms which occur and disappear within certain periods. If during the examinations performed within these periods any deviations are detected then the pregnant woman should get a geneticist advice. The best variant of all is to come to this doctor in advance and to plan the conception.

To plan does not mean only the wish, it includes medical examination and observation of certain rules: not to drink alcohol, not to smoke, to consume products rich in vitamins. There are a lot of problems which can be resolved prior to the beginning of a pregnancy.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Looking Back...

I was reading in one of my old journal notebooks today and came across an entry marked 2-12-10. In it I talked about the kids being home from school again (in our school district it seems like the kids are off all the time...), how Madalyn was doing (she was still working on sitting up on her own), and how grouchy and frustrated I had been feeling. And I wasn't sure why. We were still foster parents at the time and I had been wanting another placement, specifically, a couple little girls. We hadn't had a placement in over 5 months and the placements we'd had were just not quite right for us. I had been really spending a lot of time on the Reece's Rainbow website dreaming of and falling in love with some sweet little faces. Here is a quote from part of my journal entry:

"It just seems like the things I want are just out of reach always. I would like to adopt the little ones in Eastern Europe, but it just doesn't seem possible. Besides the fact that you have to fly over there...and that would stress me out badly, but Mark isn't totally convinced to do it and it's a lot of work, money, etc. But it would be so worth it I know! I pray God will show us the way and bring Mark to it if it is His will and show us something different if we need to do something else. I know in my heart we are supposed to be doing something and we would really like another little girl with DS to grow up with Madalyn."

I would never have imagined on that day, one year ago, that I would be sitting here blogging about it, with my 2 new daughters sleeping in their beds down the hall. God was whispering to me, telling me about it, but I just didn't know it yet. It may not be that meaningful to all of you, but it is just amazing to me! How God is at work in our life and we don't even know it! And now looking back on the last 2 years of our life, it is so neat to see the pieces and how they have fallen into place. I could even talk about what was happening 2 years ago today (Feb 09). And how I was pregnant with Madalyn and how I knew something wasn't quite right with how I was feeling and it would be a month later that we would find out our baby girl had Down syndrome. I never dreamed 2 years ago today that we would have 1 little girl with Down syndrome, let alone 3! (But that is another post...)

It was on Valentine's day last year that I read Meredith Cornish's post about the first 2 little ones they adopted from EE to my husband, and I couldn't even get through a sentence without breaking down in tears. And I believe that God used that post (please read it!) to move in my husband's heart as well. (Thanks Meredith for that post! You never know who is gonna read it and be inspired! :) And we were privileged as well while we were in EE adopting the girls to get to meet Meredith in person!) Pretty cool!

Anyway, it was after that that things really started moving and within about a month we had committed to adopt Anna and Victoria. I am so happy and thankful to Him that even through our fear, we were willing (and able) to follow His call to adopt these 2 little girls. Looking back now it seems so easy, but it was NOT at the time. I was very afraid and sometimes doubted that we would ever be able to complete the adoption. As a matter of fact, I wasn't totally convinced until I was actually in the girls' country and saw them for myself!

It is also awesome that here in our little southwestern Colorado community, so many people now know about these precious orphans with special needs and about Reece's Rainbow! We are so thankful for what God has done in our lives and that he brought a beautiful baby girl with Down syndrome into our life so that He could show us two more!

And I'm thinking that there is another reason for all this and that someone else around here is gonna adopt a little Reece's Rainbow angel... or two. :)) Just saying.

Our Sweet Birthday Girl

Our little miss Anna Michal Faith turned 2 years old on February 10th!
And we had a party to celebrate!
It was the first birthday party she has ever had.
Nobody brought her cake or gifts for her first birthday last year.
Nobody ever even visited her at the orphanage the whole time she was there.
And most likely, nobody even knew which day was her birthday.
My heart breaks because of that. My heart breaks for her birthparents who willingly let her be deposited into an orphanage because she was deemed unworthy, unlovable, and a burden to their family and to society. I wish they knew how so untrue that is!!
To not know what a bright, beautiful, smart, loving, outgoing, and amazing child they gave birth to and the precious blessing that she is... The thought of that is just almost too much to take in.

We hope that they will know someday where their daughter is. That she was adopted and that she has parents and a family that think she is the most wonderful thing ever! Maybe someday, her older sister will want to know about her and find her. Wouldn't that be amazing?!
But until then, we will continue to enjoy her and love this special little blessing that we have been given!!

Here's a few pics of all the girls in the beautiful dresses that their very talented Granny made for them!

Such sweet girly girls!!

Here's the whole group waiting for cake...

This is my favorite picture! Sooo funny! Anna loving the cake.
And Justin helping...
Everyone was enjoying the cake I think.

Toria was mostly just enjoying the silly kids making a big mess around her. :))

Madalyn getting a bit of help from her big brother.

Notice Justin's hand in Anna's cake again. Hmmm..

So good!

Happy 2nd birthday little one! You are a precious and wonderful blessing!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Love you, Colorado

We got home on Wednesday. From Denver. We left Tuesday and we live 7 hours away. It was one of the longest trips we have ever made from the Mile High City, and we have made many trips there in the last several years!

First of all, I have to say traveling in Colorado in February is always risky! You just never know what the weather is gonna be like and especially the roads...

But I love Colorado!! I have lived here most of my life and I really think it is one of the best places to live in the world!! I know that may seem like quite a statement, but its true! If you don't believe me, try living here! We don't have tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, tidal waves, tsunamies, etc. :) I think you get the picture. We do have to deal with snow, blizzards, avalanches and stuff like that. But really...isn't that worth it? (I may not have said that a couple of days ago when our trip home from Denver that should've taken 6-7 hours took 2 whole days!) But anyway, one of the mountain passes we had to cross on our journey home closed because of a winter storm. There was tons of snow and high winds that made the snow even deeper. So we got about 2 hours from Denver and had to stop. Oh well. Its just the way it is...

We really loved spending the extra time with the kids!! However, it is a lot of work to travel with 3 babies! Oh man, just the planning that is involved is enough to exhaust me! :)

We were really impressed with the Ds clinic and the people at TCH. As always! If you live anywhere near Denver, I highly recommend taking your little one there! Dr. Hickey is great and knows a ton! So does the speech therapist and the physical therapist! They are amazing!!! The whole team is phenomenal working together!!! And so helpful! We are definitely glad we made it up there with the girls....even in the middle of winter! :))

Oh, and one of my absolute favorite parts of being there was getting to talk about the girls' adoption and about Reece's Rainbow! I was really excited because the LSW who was part of the team asked us about it and if we had adopted the girls through RR. I was so excited to know that she had heard of them and we were able to chat about adoption and what happens to these little angels who are not adopted. We also talked about Sophia, a little one who came home last summer, as she has followed Jen's blog as well! And I even left some Reece's Rainbow brochures and magnetic business cards with them to share with anyone who comes into the clinic. I believe that this type of place with people who have a heart for children with Down syndrome and the Ds community is the best place to advocate and raise awareness for the orphans because so many times, the families that choose to adopt a child with Ds are the ones who have been blessed with a chromosomally enhanced angel already!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE being a part of this Down syndrome community! It is a special group reserved only for those whose loved ones have that extra chromosome and I feel special and included to be a part of it! :)

You too, can be part of this special group! :))

Adopt an orphan with Down syndrome!!!! Join in the efforts to help raise funds for a family that is adopting. If you need help choosing here are a few: Danil or Ivan or Lera. To help a waiting child, choose Sonya or Lilly or Hailey! There are so many to choose from!! And there are so many ways you can help and be part of the group! :))

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Superbowl party Westbrook style...

Not your typical party, but a party nonetheless.

Now, it would be more of a party if the San Diego Chargers were in it!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yup!! Any Chargers fans out there??

Our family is spending this Superbowl weekend at a motel in Denver... Fun!!!

On Saturday, after driving for 6 or 7 hours straight, we made it to Golden just in time to watch our son, Jordan, wrestling in a dual match against a young man from Fort Hays State University. He wrestled great!! He was ahead, then got caught in a bad spot and ended up losing some points and was unable to make it up. He lost 6-2. He did really well and we are proud of him!! He was wrestling with a sore throat/cold and had to fight that as well. The guy he wrestled is ranked #7 in the nation at that weight ( 165 lbs) and he has beat this guy before (at the Wyoming Cowboy open, 6-3). Well, this is the way of wrestling... we can't wait to see how the rest of his season goes!! Praying for an All-American in the family this year... :))
Jordan is 3rd from the left.
shaking hands..

Anyway, on Sunday, in place of the Superbowl....

Justin decided to watch Toy Story 3 instead...

And then he was joined by a couple little girls...
Anna smiling and Madalyn trying to "get in" the movie...

Toria just being smiley! :))

Little Miss Anna

More Toria...eating her foot!

And finally, it's bedtime!!

We have a big day tomorrow. The girls have an appointment at The Children's Hospital tomorrow morning. (At the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome), read about it here.
We are really excited about the girls' appt! Can't wait!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bath time progress....

Baths are usually great fun for kids. But not so much for this little girl.

Our litttle Victoria had her first real bath back in October. (Her first bath with us anyway.)

She did not enjoy it at all!! I don't have a picture because she was so unhappy with it that we just got her cleaned up as quick as we could and got her out! :))

Here's a pic of our first night at the apartment with the girls.... :) Reminiscing...ha!!
It was Gotcha Day, and the girls had been so good and easygoing and quiet all day long as we traveled around the city, in very heavy traffic, going here and there. We finally made it back to our apartment about 6 hours later...
It was such a LOOONG day!!

Isn't she so cute with her short little bangs?

Sacked out in the car on the road in Ukraine...

Anyway, we put Anna in the tub and she loved her first bath!
Here's a cute video of her first bath in Ukraine!

Here's a pic of Victoria in the bathtub yesterday!!
She has come such a long way! Three months ago, she would scream and scream when we gave her a bath. She was terrified! But she has very gradually gotten better and has graduated from the infant bath tub to the regular tub!

Yesterday, she did not even cry once as she sat in the tub alone (without me having to hold onto her constantly), swished her hands around in the water and even grabbed for a toy.
Here are a few pics I was able to take. It's so exciting that she was able to sit alone so I could take the picture and she actually seemed to enjoy the bath!
I know, it seems like a little thing, but to me and her, it is HUGE! I love this little girl so much!!! She is amazing!

And your ears will hear a word behind you, "This is the way, walk in it", whenever you turn to the right or to the left. Isaiah 30:21

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Psalm 139:13-16

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.