Monday, October 31, 2011

A Teenager in the House again

Sam, you turn 13 years old today!  Wow has time flown!  It doesn't seem that long ago that you were small.  My little Halloween baby. 

Here you are on the left with you twin cousins Jesse and Joshua.  You have always loved hanging out with them!

Before you were born, we had promised your older brothers (and Jesse and Josh's older siblings) a Fall carnival party for that day, but you crashed the party!! We didn't get to have it and they have never forgotten that!   Lol I'm pretty sure they forgave you for it though!  ha ha

Here you are on your first birthday.  You wore a cow costume that Granny made for you!  So cute!

You have been growing up so big and fast! Here you are with Mark Daniel.  When he came along, you loved being a big brother!

And you were very loved as a little brother!  Here you are with Roy and Jordan.

You are growing up to be such a wonderful young man.

And such a loving big brother!

Here you are a couple years ago with Bumblebee (aka Mark Daniel) and your cousins Jesse and Josh again!  Trick or Treating with them has almost become a tradition for your birthday.

And last year...
(it's you behind the mask)

We also got to spend your birthday with your cousins Madison and McKenna last year! Super fun!!

What a blessing you are to us!  
And the rest of your family.

We know how much you love those girlies!

We love you so very much!
And we are so looking forward to watching you continue to grow into an amazing young man!!!

Happy 13th Birthday Samuel!!!   We love you!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Our Blessing of Down syndrome and a Poem

When you have given birth to a child who has Down syndrome (or other special needs), it changes you.
Completely and fully. 
Our daughter Madalyn in the NICU right after birth and after her surgery for
Duodenal Atresia and Tracheal Esophageal Fistula

You view life in a whole new way. Nothing like you ever did before.  You join this new "club", whether you wanted to or not.  Sometimes you figure out it's a place you really kind of like to be.

For the most part. 

You have joined an exclusive group, but not by choice.  This group of folks who have experienced the same kind of grief as you... the loss of your child.  Not a physical loss, but a loss nonetheless.

Of the child you thought you were going to have.

All the while experiencing this joy you never knew before. Maybe you even have a little bit of guilt for having grieved at all.

Because your treasure is so amazing.

Madalyn age 1

Even through all of it, (and because of) all the things you have had to endure because of these "special needs", you realize what a gift you have.  You know you are reallly not the one who had to endure the worst of it.  She has.

Madalyn after open heart surgery at 7 months.

But you could not imagine being given a greater blessing. 

 Madalyn.  She is a sweetheart and a precious gift from above. 

I came across this sweet poem and I thought I would share it.  We continue to be so thankful our extra special blessings and as always encourage others to adopt a child with Down syndrome!  It will bless your socks off!!

Heaven's Very Special Child

A meeting was held quite far from Earth
It was time again for another birth.
Said the Angels to the Lord above --
This special child will need much love.

Her progress may be very slow
Accomplishment she may not show.
And she'll require extra care
From the folks she meets down there.

She may not run or laugh or play
Her thoughts may seem quite far away
So many times she will be labeled
'different,' 'helpless' and disabled.

So, let's be careful where she's sent.
We want her life to be content.
Please, Lord, find the parents who
Will do a special job for you.
They will not realize right away
The leading role they are asked to play.
But with this child sent from above
Comes stronger faith, and richer love.

And soon they'll know the privilege given
In caring for their gift from heaven.
Their precious charge, so meek and mild
Is heaven's very special child.

by Edna Massimilla

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Wrestling and Down syndrome

If you know anything about us, you know we LOVE wrestling.  And if you know anything about us, you know we are excited about Down syndrome.  Soooo it would make sense that we think this is Super Cool!! I love reading articles like this.  People with Down syndrome are just like anyone else, they can do anything they put their minds to!  :))  Check this out...
Team embraces middle school wrestler with Down syndrome
Billy Wolfbrandt, left, has fun wrestling with teammate Danny Chung, right, during practice at Faith Lutheran Middle School.
Billy Wolfbrandt is one of the strongest wrestlers on the Faith Lutheran middle school wrestling team
Click here for more pictures.
Eighth grader Billy Wolfbrandt, in white, practices some wrestling moves on teammate Danny Chung during practice at Faith Lutheran Middle School.
Billy Wolfbrandt can't stop smiling as he goes through wrestling practice with the rest of his Faith Lutheran Jr/Sr High School teammates.
It doesn't matter if he is conditioning, stretching or learning new moves, if he makes a mistake, his teammates tell him. If Wolfbrandt, an eighth grader with special needs, requires more time to learn moves, the coaches work with him. When he scores points, cheers and high fives are aplenty.
Wolfbrandt is arguably the most-liked person in the wrestling room. He is inspired by the competition but likely not as much as those around Wolfbrandt are inspired by him.
Neither Wolfbrandt nor Faith Lutheran will allow his Down syndrome stop him from pursuing his passion for sports, particularly wrestling.
"It's been a thrill seeing him wrestle," Wolfbrandt's father, Lew Wolfbrandt said. "Everyone has been so accepting of him and he's just had a blast doing it. Part of what works with him is he feeds off the hard action of wrestling. The soft-touch and delicate sports doesn't do with him."
Billy Wolfbrandt is one of four students at Faith Lutheran Jr/Sr High School's middle school involved in the Mark 10:14 Program, which includes special needs students in regular classroom environments and in extracurricular activities.
Other students in the program have participated in the school's art club, computer club, choir, and basketball and track teams. Billy Wolfbrandt decided to play football and wrestle.
"He's always liked sports," Lew Wolfbrandt said. "He likes watching it on TV. He's a hard one to sit and watch a football game with because he's yelling at the TV the whole time."
As a seventh grader, Billy Wolfbrandt played flag football and wrestled. This fall, he played on the Crusaders' eighth-grade tackle football team, seeing game time as a defensive tackle and on special teams.
Though he was somewhat uncomfortable at the beginning, Billy Wolfbrandt grew accustomed to being knocked down and wearing heavy pads. Teammates would make a habit of forming a circle around him and cheering.
But he has made his biggest strides in wrestling, his father said.
Last season, Lew Wolfbrandt said, Faith Lutheran wrestling coaches would inform opposing teams of his son's condition. His opponents would compete at half speed, allowing him the opportunity to execute moves he had learned.
But this year, Wolfbrandt has advanced enough that opponents wrestle him the same as any other match.
Faith Lutheran coach David Keavin still periodically teaches Woflbrandt moves at a slower pace than the rest of the team, but the coach said Wolfbrandt has improved "three fold" from a year ago.
"Last year, he was new to it and didn't know how to control himself in the wrestling room, but he's gotten a lot better," Keavin said. "He's got the fundamentals down now. It's easier trying to teach him a move when I say certain wrestling terms. Now he understands them and he'll do them right away."
Keavin said Billy Wolfbrandt, who wrestles at 140 pounds, is one of the strongest wrestlers Faith Lutheran's team has and opponents struggle to take him down. The coach hopes he will continue to wrestle at the high school level.
"I hope to see him there," Keavin said. "I've talked to the (high school) varsity coach. He's glad to have Billy when he gets to the high school level. They'll get him matches just like I do, and he should have the same fun he has up there as he does with us."
Lee Segalla, who is in charge of the Mark 10:14 Program, said Billy Wolfbrandt has continued to progress since joining the program, adding participating in athletics in a big reason for the success.
Before he joined the Mark 10:14 Progam, "he didn't know many kids or know much about school, but now he knows almost everyone by name and he does very good in class," said Chase Povlov, one of Wolfbrandt's classmates. "It's good he's trying to do what everyone else is doing, and I think it's really nice he's on the wrestling team."
Lew Wolfbrandt said one of the biggest rewards about his son's participation in sports is watching how much teammates, coaches, opponents and fans have welcomed his son.
"He hasn't won a match, but if you ask him, he's won every one of them," Lew Wolfbrandt said. "Last week, he scored a bunch of points and at the end of the match the whole crowd cheered because when he gets up — win, lose or draw — he puts his hands in the air with a big grin and was happy he was able to compete."
Christopher Drexel can be reached at 990-8929 or
For the actual article, click here.
I just think this is awesome!!  Go Billy!!   :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Down syndrome Creed

My face may be different
But my feelings the same
I laugh and I cry...
And take pride in my gains

I was sent here among you
To teach you to love
As God in the heavens
Looks down from above
To Him I'm no different
His love knows no bounds
It's those here among you
In cities and towns

That judge me by standards
That man has imparted
But this family I've chosen
Will help me get started
For I'm one of the children
So special and few
That came here to learn
The same lessons as you

That love is acceptance
It comes from the heart
We all have the same purpose
Though not from the start
The Lord gave me life
To live and embrace
And I'll do it as you do
But at my own pace.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Waiting Boys

Okay, here are some of the waiting boys listed on Reece's Rainbow.  All these boys are in China and all of them need families!  Please consider if one of these little guys is meant to be yours.  And if you can't adopt right now, please consider donating to one of their adoption grants.  Even $5 helps.  Money shouldn't have to be what stands in the way of these little ones finding a family.  So the more money that we can get in their accounts, the more likely they to be adopted!!

Teagan is a cutie pie!  I bet he would really blossom and develop quickly if only he had a family to give him the attention he deserves!

Boy, born January 20, 2007

Because Teagan has Down syndrome, his physical development, intelligence and mental development developed slowly and was delayed compared to kids of similar age obviously, especially motion and flexibility of his limbs were slightly poorer. In recent years, with the efforts of this institute and foster parents, he can stand by holding onto objects, walk slowly. Now according to his growth foster parents offered him speech rehabilitative and limb training every day.

Teagan is shy, has a ready smile, likes to listen to music very much. When music plays all of his attention is attracted. When being glad he will swing his body following the musical rhythms. He likes to play toys very much, in particular toy cars are his favorite toys. We hope that he who is shy could become more and more active.

Jimmy is really in need of a family!  If he doesn't find one soon, it is possible that he may not be able to be adopted at all!  :(  Please consider this sweet little guy!

 Jimmy, Born March 30, 2007   

From a missionary who visited with him in May 2010: " Jimmy is a delightful three year old with Down Syndrome. He is decribed as being quiet and playful. Jimmy doesn’t walk by himself yet, but he can get anywhere he needs by holding onto furniture and walls. He only says a few words, but understands so much more. Jimmy has a close relationship with his foster father. When foster dad hugs him and raises him up, he laughs happily. Jimmy also loves the outdoors. When foster mom takes him to pick up his older foster brother from school, he raises his head in his stroller, looks at the sky, and laughs heartily. He is curious about everything. "
Update in July 2011: Jimmy, now four years old, has been on the shared list for a long time … At the time his file was submitted, he didn’t even walk yet! Now he runs. When the file was prepared, he didn’t speak at all. He’s still a man of few words, but he does call those in his foster family by name … If his family doesn’t find him soon, they may move him out of his foster home to make room for another child who they feel may have a better chance at a family."
More photos available, along with full medical records

Silas is sooo cute!  I love his glasses!!!  Oh my goodness, he looks like quite a character!  Sounds like he is doing really well, too!

Boy, born May, 2007

Silas has Down syndrome. He is very bright and has excellent verbal skills for a child with Down syndrome. He likes to sing and perform. He is doing well at kindy. He has good relationships, but is a little cheeky, lively and has a strong will.
More photos and video available, along with full social history and medical records

Caleb (China) is as precious as they come!!  Oh he is adorable!

Caleb Born November 29, 2007 
From a missionary who visited with him in August 2010: “ Caleb is extroverted, active and restless. He has a ready smile, enjoys playing with other children. He loves listening to music, watching cartoons. He is energetic and likes being outdoors!” More photos available, along with full social history and medical records

Luke is older and he really needs to find a family!  He looks like he is really needing a mommy!

Boy, Born July 24, 2003

From a missionary who visited with him in August 2010: “ Luke is a sweet boy who came to the orphanage at the age of 4 years. He began their “Half Heaven” kindergarten program and is doing well. Luke is able to eat and ress by himself, is potty trained, and plays well with others. Luke is very fond of music. He is physically active, and medically healthy”.
More photos available, along with full social history and medical records

Henry is such a little guy.  He is not quite 3 years old yet and it would be the perfect time for a family to bring him home.  He is super cute too!

Henry Born November 20, 2008

From a missionary who visited with her in August 2010: “ Henry is so cute! Totally healthy and chubby, and will do great in a family.”
More photos available, along with full social history and medical records

All these little guys are just precious.  Like I said above, please consider adopting an orphan with Down syndrome! 

I know... it can be scary and overwhelming to think about going through the whole international process. It can also be scary to think about how your life might change by bringing a child from an orphanage home. And if you don't already have experience with DS, it might seem even more challenging. What will it be like?  Will they be able to bond to your family?  Will you be able to bond to them?  Will they have all kinds of behaviors and issues that you can't handle?  There are so many questions.  And it definitely requires alot of research and reading and learning about all those issues!!  For sure don't go into something without researching and learning all you can about it!!!  

But I am also here to say that it is totally worth it.  Our family would not be the same without our daughters.  We are so glad we stepped out in faith and adopted the girls.  Was it hard work?  Yes!!  Was it sometimes not so easy and very stressful?  Yes! 
But it was oh so worth it!  :)

Dirty faces and all.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Adoption Update

First of all, I wanted to say THANK YOU!!! to the people who donated to our FSP!    Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!  I know this is a bit late, but I have not forgotten!  It was so exciting to see that $0 go to $125!!!   So thank you very much from the bottom of our hearts!  It is awesome to know that people who don't know us (and who do) are so very generous!!  :))  Every dollar helps us get closer to our girl!!  :))

We are still waiting on our homestudy to be done. We have been told we should have the first draft by this Friday, and I am really hoping that will be the case!  Then if everything looks okay to us and our placement agency, it has to be sent to the State of Colorado to be approved.  That is one of the requirements of our state.  I'm hoping that it won't take too long to get that part done, because I am very anxious to get our stuff sent to USCIS.  I have "heard" that I800A's are being processed relatively quickly lately.  I'm hoping we can get ours in while this is still the case.  If there's anyone reading this that can either confirm this or has experienced something different recently, please leave a comment and let me know!  :)   The quicker that part is done, the sooner we can send our dossier! 
Our dossier for China seems to be somewhat easy I'm excited to say.  Although I use the term easy loosely.  We are not done with it yet, and my only other experience with putting together a dossier is the one we did for Ukraine.  And anyone who has adopted from Ukraine knows that Ukraine's dossier is certainly not easy (kind of a big pain in the rear really). Ha! 
It seems like things are moving super slow.  I know, it's only been a couple months.  And I really wish I had some updated pictures of our girl.  But since I don't, I will have to just share this one again.  I never get tired of looking at her sweet face!  I just wanna go get her and give her big hugs and kisses!  I want to get through all of this time consuming paperwork and just bring our little girl home!  I absolutely cannot wait to meet her! 

Isn't she just so beautiful?!?

Well, that is about it for my update.  Please pray that our homestudy gets done super fast and that we can get through the USCIS part quickly too! Thank you!!

It's hard to believe we were back in Ukraine on our 2nd trip last year on this day getting all the last pieces of paperwork ready so we could pick up our girls from the orphanage forever!   And a year ago today we FOR SURE weren't thinking we would be sending our paperwork back to USCIS to bring another daughter home!  :)  But I'm so glad we are!!!  Thank you God for allowing us to do this again!!
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.