We are adopting two adorable girls who have a little something extra, Down Syndrome!
We are excited to add them to our family.
We will use this blog to update family and friends on our adoption progress and fundraising efforts.
Just joining us? Click on the 2011 posts in the archive to find out why we are adopting the girls.

Americans Banned from adopting Russian children

Several people have been asking, here is our adoption update. The Russian government's congress has passed a law banning all international adoptions by American citizens. It still needs to be signed by Putin, the president. He says he supports the bill. We do not know how this will effect our adoption. Our adoption agency told us tonight that our adoption will become official on Dec 29th but because of the holidays we will not be able to get the girls passports and bring them home until mid Jan (as planned). The ban (if signed) goes into place Jan 1st. We do not know if this means that we will have just made it under the wire because our adoption was complete in time or if it means that we will not be able to bring home our girls because we were not able to get the passports in time. We are hysterical and very, very, worried. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do but wait and pray.

Court Decision!

We are officially the parents of Alisa and Hallie! Huge sigh of relief! We will travel mid Jan to pick them up. The judge stated that they are no longer waiving the 30 day waiting period in this region.

Pics of Hallie

Here are the pics from our last two visits with Hallie.  We will miss our girls soooooooooo much.  Leaving Hallie's baby home, knowing that we would not see our girls for over month, I completly broke down.  Adoption is soooooooooooo hard.

Pics from 3rd Visit with Alisa

Thank you for making comments!  I love to read them!  Here are the pics from our 3rd visit with Alisa. 

Putting on the rat costume and Mom's coat again.  This girl loves to dress up!

This laughing doll was by far her favorite toy we brought.  We left it with her.

 Blowing up balloons with Dad.  This went really well and she learned how to blow the balloon!  This will be a huge help in speech therapy!

But the funnest part is letting out all the air!

Food.  The way to every child's heart (works for men too).

Cold Weather

So many people have been asking me about the weather and how they should pack.  It is hard to say, it really depends on the family. 

For us, we really have not needed much more then a warm coat.  We have been outside very little.  Just walking from the building into the car.  But that is because we have been soooooooo busy.  Driving out to Oyash takes 2 hours each way.  All together, with a 2 hour visit, it is 6 hours.  Then we take a 2 hour lunch break and then we head to the baby house.  Because traffic is so bad, it takes a half hour to get there.  Combined with a 2 hour visit, it is a 3 hour trip.  We come home, we take a nap (jet lag) and then eat dinner.  Our day is done.  No time really to walk around outside, be tourists, visit much, etc. 

Tonight we had more time because today we only visited Hallie at the baby house and had lunch and court prep with Anna.  So we decided to walk around town and see what we could see.  It was COLD.  It was well below zero with the wind chill.  We wore our big boots, big coats, thermals, sweaters, scarfs, hats, gloves and we did pretty good.  We did get cold after an hour and our faces were bright red. 

So if you are just going to the baby house once a day you are going to have a lot of time on your hands and will want to pack warmer clothing.  If your child is further away, you might not need much because you won't have time to get out into the weather.

We have been HOT most of our trip because Russians like to really crank up the heat.  So make sure that you have layers you can take off.

If you are staying at the Novosibirsk Hotel do not stress too much about getting just the right clothing size for your child.  Across the street there is a store call GJ.  It has all the clothes you or your child could need at very reasonable prices.  It has snow pants, coats, boots, shirts, pants, socks, shoes, everything for children and adults.  The price of a winter coat is $30, boots are $15, long sleeved shirts are $9 (all for children's sizes).  But Russians are very worried about staying warm, so they will not release the child to you from the orphanage unless they are dressed SUPER WARM.   Of course this is an issue only for trip 3 as you cannot take the child out from the orphanage until then. 

I hope this helps!!

Saying Goodbye

There are no words to adequately express the pain that I am feeling right now.

3rd visit with Alisa, 2nd with Hallie

Today we got to visit both girls!

The road out to Alisa's orphanage was super icey!  We saw several car accidents along the way.  But fortunately, we made it there safe and sound.  Alisa was not nearly as hyper this time, it gave me hope that we may survive the plane. She actually focused her attention long enough to play with some toys (musical ones are her favorite). Towards the end of our visit she became a lot more affectionate to us as well which warmed my heart.  Due to road conditions, we will not be going back this trip.  We left not knowing this which made it better because otherwise I would have been quite hysterical saying goodbye again.  It also helps that she happily plays with us and then happily leaves us.  She seems content with the strange Americans coming and going. 

Hallie was kind of tired this afternoon but just as adorable.  She has the most beautiful smile!  She loves rattles and when mom sings.  She HATES bearing weight in her legs.  She is just a super mellow, happy child though.  The girls really are total opposites in many ways!

Alisa's orphanage has asked that we bring children's walkers (little up to adult size) on our next trip.  So we will be madly searching for them. 

Hallie's orphanage told us that 70% of the children adopted are girls so they have LOTS of boys who need families.  Most of the children we have seen at her orphanage have been boys.  Hallie's orphanage has children up to age 4.  Anyone missing a boy?

I am really missing my kids back home today.  It gives me such comfort that they are being lovingly care for.  Thank you sooooooooo much to those who are so generously helping!!  I can't wait to get back and hear about all their adventures.  I do not do well away from my children (the only trips my hubby and I ever make are for adoptions because we hate being away from them).  It is such a strange torn feeling not wanting to leave my girls here but at the same time, I can't wait to get home to my children there.  It will be a sweet experience to have everyone together so that we can feel whole.

There have been no comments, so I am not sure if anyone is reading.  Maybe I will hold the pictures from today hostage until I hear from you ;).

First visit with Hallie

Oh my goodness I love this squishable, snuggly baby!  She grew soooooooooo much over the last 5 months!  She can now sit on her own and she is crawling!  I am so thrilled she is making progress.  She looked healthy and happy, much to our huge relief.  Her head does look very big (and flat on the back) so we will still need to follow-up on her hydrocephalus when we get home but she is doing so great.  I think I will finally be able to chill out a little and stop constantly worrying about her.  She is so affectionate, adorable and entertaining.  I know I will not get anything done when she comes home because she is just too much fun to watch.

The kids are going to adore Hallie.  I think she will become very spoiled.  She will also be able to hold her own against Jonathan because when she grabs something like a toy (or Mom's glasses) she has such a hard death grip that there is no prying it from her tight little fingers.  Good skill for a large family.

Since her orphanage is close to our hotel, we know that we will not have to cancel our visits.  We cannot wait to see her again and kiss those mushy cheeks.  Here are pics, enjoy!  Note, in most of the pics there is an orange weird toy.  I bought this and KNEW that she would love it.  Everyone in my family thought that it was creepy.  It was her FAVORITE!


As we left the orphanage and said goodbye to Alisa, I was not sure if we would see again on this trip due to the snow.  So I left her with a bracelet hopefully to remember us by.  We love you sweet girl!

Alisa, visit 2

When we arrive at the orphanage, the regular room we normally visit with Alisa in had a broken window so we were guided to a play room.  Soooooooooo much better!  I am going to request this room more often.  It had lots of fun things.  Alisa's favorite was the ball pit.  It had books, toys and things to do.  I am really impressed with the quality of care the children at this orphanage get compared to the many orphanages we have seen throughout the world.  They seem to have many more resources.

We had a great time visiting.  She again was super hyper and all over the place.  She seems to enjoy being with us but has figured out that we are just fun people that come and go.  She happpily said goodbye to us this time and ran off to her group.  It is beyond her comprehension what it is that we really are and how much we adore her. 

Here are a couple of pics.  She is really hard to take pictures of because she won't stay still for an instant.

2nd Day Driving to see Alisa

Well, the snow has decided to assert its dominance.  TONS of snow has fallen in the last day.  This made driving out to Alisa's orphanage quite difficult.  We had white out conditions several times, the road was covered in snow and the driving was very slow.  This made for a long and stressful journey.  But also stunningly beautiful.

We are supposed to drive out again today but I am not sure if we will be able to make it due to the conditions.  I hope that was not the last time we will see Alisa this trip.

I LOVE the little log cabins in the villages.  They are such a refreshing change from the massive cement apartment complexes of the city.  It is nice to see the culture survive.  Here are some of the homes in the village surrounding Alisa's orphanage:

Aren't they adorable??  Finally after a very long drive we arrived at Alisa's orphanage!

PS: Thank you for the prayers.  Kevin recoved quickly from his illness and was able to come to see the girls.  But now I have it and envy your prayers.

Sick Hubby

Kevin has become very sick.  He will most likely be unable to attend our visits with the girls today.  Please pray for him to be healed very quickly.  Thank you!


Among the many orphanage donations we brought to Alisa's orphanage today, we donated 2 sets of new crutches.  Crutches at home are around $17.  Crutches in Russia are around $150.  This is extremely cost prohibited for many, including orphanages.  It was a joy to give these and replace the very beat up ones they had. 

This is Nadia.  She was one of the recipiants of new crutches.  We spent some time with her getting her crutches adjusted to fit her just right.  She is a beautiful, beautiful girl with a gentle spirit.  She is 14 and her only special need is that one leg is significantly shorter then the other.  Because of this, she will spend the rest of her life behind insitution walls.  She is in Alisa's orphanage where there HAS NEVER BEEN ONE ADOPTION BEFORE, NEVER!  She seems like an adorable girl who just needs someone to love her unconditionally.  Does anyone know who her parents might be?

Nadia was not who we brought the crutches for, we hadn't met her before this trip.  We actually promised new crutches to a wonderful teenager we met at the orphanage on our last trip.  Her crutches were in horrible condition, literally falling apart.  Her only special need was a unrepaired club foot.  Sadly though when we inquired about her, we discovered she had been transferred to the adult institution.  We were too late.  During our long 5 month wait to return, she had turned 18.  Our promise was left unfulfilled.  A beautiful daughter of God with the best personality has been lost to the world.  Locked away with her broken crutches.  This work is literally about redeeming lives.  More parents are needed.

Let me tell you that adopting from this region is not recommended.  There are 3 trips now that are mandatory, both parents must travel.  It is expensive, it is far away, it is time consuming, it is hard, it takes a year to complete an adoption.  There are many, many reasons why you should not do it.  But look at Nadia's sweet face.  I look at the children at the Oyash orphanage and it breaks my heart.  I want to scream to the world that THEY ARE SO WORTH IT.  THEY DESERVE TO HAVE THE LOVE OF A FAMILY.  They need someone to be willing to pay way too much, take way too many trips, go where no one is willing, be inconvenienced, wait a long time, do way too much paperwork, take off their shirt for medicals, etc, because otherwise they have no future.  THEY ARE WORTH IT.  PLEASE come, PLEASE bring home a child.  PLEASE spread the word about these forgotten children. 

And to my children at home, we must never forget how blessed we are to have the love of a family.  It is family that makes life worth living.  There are so many children without someone who cares deeply about them.  Who have no kisses.  Who have no Christmas or birthdays or things that belong to them.  Who have no one who will love them and be there for them no matter what.  Family is the most important thing in this world.  Those who have a family must never forget how lucky we are.

First Day with Alisa

Guess who we saw today? 

The drive out to Alisa's orphanage was GORGEOUS.  It was very beautiful in the summer but in the winter, with the snow and the aspens and the log cabins, it was so charming.  We could also see a lot of more of the little villages along the way because there were not leaves on the trees to obstruct our view.  If I lived in Novosibirsk, it would definitely be out of the city in an adorable log cabin. 

Alisa took a little bit more time to warm up to us and was not nearly as affectionate this visit.  Broke my heart a little.  I fear that she remembers us and remembers that we come and then leave.  When we finished our visit, she really wanted to leave with us.  I do not like this system at all.  I really think it harms bonding to have us come and play for a week and then leave for 5 months only to show up again and play for a while and then leave.  How is she supposed to trust that we will love her forever and never leave her??  I also think it harms bonding a little on our end because we feel we have to guard our hearts so they don't shatter into a million pieces like last time.  I wish the government officials understood the heart ache this system causes. 

Despite all this, we had a delightful visit with Alisa.  She is SO BUSY!!  She has NO attention span and is constantly jumping from one thing to the next.  She is going to keep us hopping.  I wonder how we will ever survive the 30 hour plain trip with this ball of energy. 

We worked on signing again and she really gets the concept very well.  She learned "more", "train" and "water" today.  With a little consistancy I think she will pick it up quickly.  She talked a lot today but our translator cannot understand her so it is hard to say if how much she speaks.  She did imitate a few of my words though like "bubble" and "water" so I am hopeful.

She also grew a lot since we saw her last.  This makes me happy as I know that she is being fed well.  We think she is about 5-6T.  She seems just a little bit smaller then Tate and they are the same age so that is really good.  I had forgotten how small her head looks into proportion to her body though.  We are definitely going to need an MRI and find what is going on in there. 

Alisa is all rough and tumble activity.  She is going to get a long great with the boys.  I think she will really like playing ball and wrestling with them.  She has no tolerance for quite activity like reading or coloring.  She is going to be challenging in school.  I am thinking maybe a mom and me music class might be a better first step.  She also really likes playing dress up which is a big hit at our house so our kids will all get along fine.

4 am

4 am and we have been awake for a half hour.  Got to love jet lag!  Breakfast isn't served until 7:30am.  But fear not, I bought sour cream and onion chips and chocolate last night.  Nothing better for the soul then sweet, salt and creamy combined with lots of fat.

Hello from Novosibirsk!

After 30 hours of travel, we made it!  It is really weird that we left on Wed and arrived on Friday.  Not only did we miss Thanksgiving, we kind of skipped it completely.

This time around we are staying at the Novosibirsk hotel.  For those following after us, I would recommend it over the Sibir.  It is equal in quality (and both offer a nice breakfast) but much closer to the grocery and restaurants which is a major plus in the winter. It is across the street from the beautiful Trans Siberian Railway Station (pictured above). The internet also is much more reliable and faster.  For either hotel though make sure you get at least a business class. The Sibir was nice for the summer as walking along the cafes was fun.  In the winter, you just want to get where you need to be.  The weather is not too bad though.  It is a nice 20 degrees and not humid.  Reminds me of winter weather at home.  The wind chill does make it a bit colder but nothing most Americans who live with snow aren't used to.  I actually like Novosibirsk in the winter more then summer.  It is prettier with snow covering everything, the pollution is not nearly as bad with the snow falling and the heat of the summer was pretty unbearable with no one having AC.  Everyone definitely has heat in the winter though!  That is one thing to know, dress in layers!  It is cold outside but way too warm inside since everyone seems to crank up the heat.

We spent the entire day today having medical exams.  We went to one specialist after another.  Warning to future adoptive families, I had to be naked from the waste up in several exams. No privacy gowns!  Being naked in front of strangers in a Russian hospital is not my idea of fun.  Fortunately, all the doctors were women so it wasn't so bad.  All the exams were very quick, kind of a joke and super easy.  That is until we got to the psychiatrist who I really thought may fail us because she thought our family size was insane.  For future adopters, we brought our blood work and x-rays and neither were accepted.  Don't waste your time.  Anna did say it would be good to bring the x-rays printed out (instead of on a disk like we did) with the results translated as often the x-ray machine is broken.  But in our case, they were not interested in what we had.

All the clinics and the hospital were run down, out-dated, post-communist cement structures.  Their medical equipment was much the same.  They do not reuse needles so that is good.  It is sad to see how obsolete their equipment is.  This area in Russia is known for its excellent medical care.  I would hate to see what the rest of the country is like. 

Everything in Novosibirsk is HARD.  The traffic is terrible so it is difficult to get from one place to another.  There is no parking anywhere.  The snow plows try their best but there is no place to put the snow once they plow it.  They do not shovel walks at all.  I did see some parents pull their children on old fashioned sleighs down the sidewalk and it was adorable!  I cannot imagine being in a wheelchair here as nothing is accessible and to get to anything you need to walk on majorly cracked sidewalks and up many stairs.  I have thought a lot about Clarissa and how difficult it would be to even take her outside here.  I am so thankful that we have rules about accessibility in the US!

I have seen some of the most beautiful furs while here.  The coats, hats and boots are simply gorgeous!  Nearly everyone wears the traditional Russian fur hats.  For men, the bigger the hat, the better.  It is funny to see little old men wearing enormous fur hats.  Not even Texas can compete with the hat size around here.  As in the summer, everyone is dressed much more formal then we do in the US.  I am starting to realize why Eurpeans refer to Americans as slobs.

Well I am exhausted and going to take a nap before dinner.  Tomorrow we go to Oyash to visit Alisa!

Kids, I love you and miss you!!!  Be good to each other while we are gone!  We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving at Grandma's house.  Thank you Elyse and Mom for taking care of the kids!


Miracle Naomi

My daughter Naomi is the spotlight child this week at school in her 3rd grade class.  As part of that, I needed to write a letter about Naomi to be read to the class.  I thought I would share it here for those who are considering special needs adoptions.  Not all children recover as quickly or as completely as Naomi did, but ALL children are MIRACLES.

Naomi is a MIRACLE.

When Naomi was not quite 2 we adopted her from Haiti.  She was very tiny.  She had been at a really terrible orphanage.  They did not take good care of her and she did not get enough to eat.  At almost 2 Naomi was the size of a 6 month old baby and could only do things that newborn babies can do.  She could not hold up her head, roll over, sit, crawl or anything because she was so tiny and so sick. When we got to the United States, we immediately took her to the doctors who said they thought she only had about 3 days to live.  But they didn’t know that Naomi is a MIRACLE!  She lived and has been full of life and energy ever since!

All the doctors and specialists told us that Naomi would never learn to crawl or walk.  They told us she had a condition called severe cerebral palsy and would be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life.  But they didn’t know that Naomi is a MIRACLE!  Naomi quickly learned to sit, crawl and walk. Then she learned to ride a bike. Then she learned to dance.  Then she started performing on stages.  Then she started taking cheerleading.  Naomi is an amazing athlete.  You should ask to see her muscles sometime, they are HUGE.  Naomi is a MIRACLE.

The doctors told us that Naomi would never be able to talk or play or interact much with others.  They told us she had really bad damage to her brain that would it hard for her to understand the world around her. The specialists said because Naomi did not have love when she was a baby, she would have a hard time attaching to her family.  But they didn’t know that Naomi is a MIRACLE!  Naomi quickly learned to love her family with her whole heart.  She is always the first one in our family to volunteer to help others.  She loves serving her family.  Naomi is very affectionate to her family and her mother enjoys her hugs and kisses.  Naomi is very good at cheering people up when they are sad.  She is nice to all her brothers and sisters.  Naomi is also a fantastic friend and kind to everyone.  She is fun to play with and is good at sharing.  Naomi is a MIRACLE.

The doctors told us that because of Naomi’s brain damage that she would have a very hard time learning and would always be behind.  They said that in her mind, she might stay a tiny baby.  But they didn’t know that Naomi is a MIRACLE!  Naomi is extremely smart.  In fact, she is the youngest child in your class because she was so smart she skipped Kindergarten.  She loves to learn and she does very well at school.  Naomi also loves to read and often stays up way too late at night reading in her bed.  Naomi plays the piano and her teacher is so impressed with her ability to quickly master difficult and beautiful music.  Naomi is a MIRACLE.

When Naomi came home she did not even know how to suck a bottle.  She was being fed through a tube.  Then when she finally did learn to eat, she would only eat foods that were completely smooth and were white (like plain yogurt, mashed potatoes and cream of wheat).  But Naomi was a MIRACLE.  Today Naomi is adventurous and is always willing to try new foods (she loves anything super spicy).  She also enjoys new experiences.  She is brave and goes on the scary rides at Lagoon, enjoys white river rafting with her mom, and is an amazing swimmer who is not afraid to jump off the high diving board.  Naomi is a MIRACLE.

Naomi has been such a huge blessing to our family.  We love her so much.  She is fun, spontaneous, loving, smart and adventurous.  She bubbles over with energy and excitement. She makes our home a fun place to be.  She is truly a MIRACLE every day in our lives.

3 Trips :(

The passport agency just passed a policy that NO ONE will be getting their passports before the 30 day waiting period.  We will for sure have 3 trips.  And because of government shut downs due to the holidays, the soonest we will get the girls is the end of January.  We are soooooo sad :(.  Please pray for their health and safety while we wait on government madness.

We leave in one week to go to court and visit our sweet girls.  I am now not looking forward to it.  Leaving the first time was SO HARD.  Leaving them again?  How will I possibly have the strength?

We need your help!

I know I have asked before, I know you have fasted for us before, but we really need the powers of heaven!! The passport office is saying that they will not issue any more passports to children who get their 30 day waiting period waived (they are insisting that they wait the 30 days anyway). Our daughter Hallie's very life is in the balance here. She has untreated hydrocephalus and a heart defect, both of which need immediate surgery. If they will not issue our passports she will have to wait until the end of January to come home (everything shuts down for their holidays). We have already had one daughter DIE of hydrocephalus (a treatable condition) because her adoption took too long. I have FAITH the God can change things. I KNOW the power of prayer. Will you please fast with us this Sunday? Will you please exercise your faith on our daughter's behalf? I have seen miracles and I know that God can do great things. Please pray that our girls are issued their passports when we travel and they will not have to wait 2 more months for us to return for a 3rd trip.

Please pray!

We have our preliminary hearing on Wed.  This is the final review of our paperwork before we travel (it will happen Tues night US time). If all gets approved we leave just a week later on Nov 21!

Also, please pray for a family there now.  They got their 30 day waived and were hopeful that meant they could bring their daughter home.  But now the passport people are not issuing her passport until the 30 days is over.  :(!  They find out for sure tonight if they will have to return home without her.  Not only will this be devastating for them, but it will also mean we do not get to bring home our girls until the end of January at the soonest :(. 



We just found out we have $2,000 in adoption expenses that we didn't know about :(.  I feel like the big check writing just never ends.  I know it is for a good cause and it will be totally worth it, it is just hard not to feel taken.

And this comes directly after having to pay $1350 for our visas!

Everyone wants a piece of us :(.

Travel Date!

We have a travel date!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

We leave Nov 21st!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And it looks highly likely that we will be able to bring our girls home.  The judge seems willing to waive the 30 day wait.  We are on cloud 9!


Our paperwork was FINALLY accepted!  Now we wait for a preliminary hearing.  Once that is done, we get a court date. 

In the meantime, Siberia gets colder.  I think by the time we get there, it will be well below zero.  This makes packing more complicated as we are only bringing carry-ons (warmer clothing is bigger).  The rest of the luggage will be orphanage donations.  All of our children have come from hot countries so you could fit several outfits in a very small space.  I am going to have to start researching thin but super warm materials.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Sweet Deal!!

Ok ladies, I have decided to sweeten the deal! Anyone who wins 7 hair clips at our $1 Hairbow Auction will get an adorable hairbow holder for only $1! This could be a great gift for as little as $11. Retail it would be worth at least $40. https://www.facebook.com/1HairbowAuction

$1 Hairbow Auction

Hey friends! Due to our recent papework problems we have had an additional $300 in adoption expenses we were not expecting. To help cover these costs I am having a $1 hair bow auction. Great deals you cannot get in any store!


Rejected Again

Our paperwork got rejected again :(.  This time they didn't like the title of the person at the county assessors office who signed it.  I am starting to feel picked on.


We were FINALLY submitted to court last week (Russia passed new laws requiring new paperwork that we needed to do).  Unfortunately, one of our pages was rejected and had to be redone.  That got sent off this week and is supposed to arrive today.  We are hoping they can translate it tomorrow and submit it on Monday (you can only submit on Mondays).  Then we wait for a court date.  Considering I was planning on the girls being home July/Aug they are WAY past their curfew and are going to be grounded for at least a month ;).

Traveling Yet?!

No, not yet.  New paperwork requirements were passed in Russia.  So we need to do the new paperwork before we can be submitted for a court date.  Sooooooooooo sad :(.


We have all the money we need to bring home the girls!!!!!!!!!!!  MIRACLES DO HAPPEN! 

Thank you so to all those that helped!!

We are assuming the 3rd trip being waived, if not we will need to pay for the 3rd trip. Please pray that the 3rd trip is waived so we can be DONE FUNDRAISING and our girls can COME HOME!

Look at that beautiful thermometer!!

Another Miracle!

Remember how Alisa is this VERY FIRST EVER child with special needs over the age of 4 to be adopted from her region (domestically or internationally)??  There are now TWO saved children!  A sweet mommy traveled to meet her new 5 year old daughter this week.  She is ADORABLE and in the same orphanage as Alisa!!  Brought tears to my eyes.  I wish we could FLOOD this institution with adoptive families.  Why don't we start by finding Katie's family??  She is a FABULOUS little girl.  She is sweet, great with other children, high functioning, great fine and gross motor skills, and so much more GORGEOUS then her pic on RR shows!  She is also my daughter's best friend.

Only $500!!

We are only $500 from being full funded (if our third trip gets waived)!!  Can you believe that we can come this far??  THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to everyone who has helped.  No matter how big or small, it all adds up!

We have approximately one month to raise the rest.  Considering how far we have come, TOTALLY possible! 

God is so wonderful!

Need Ideas!

I need a brilliant fundraising idea! I am so out of fundraising energy and ideas.  Look how close we are!  Look at the right hand side of our blog (scroll down a bit) and you will see our thermometer.  We are so close, yet I fear this last little bit will be the hardest as everyone who is willing has already helped.  As long as we get our 3rd trip waived, we are only $1000 short! PRAYING PRAYING PRAYING we get the third trip waived, not just for the extra money a third trip will take but I honestly do not know how I will possibly leave our girls again.

So do you have a fundraising idea?  Please share!

We have already held a couple of auctions, sold bracelets, sold yard hearts, sold Mary Kay, had a garage sale, sold a ton on KSL (like craigslist), cut way back on our expenses, gathered spare change, borrowed $5,000 (it is what we expect from the tax credit this coming year), gotten LOTS of donations from Reeces Rainbow and friends (THANK YOU!).  We also held quilting and photography contests that failed miserably (win some, lose some).  What's next?

Long Overdue Update

Sorry it has been so long since I updated everyone.  There really has not been much to say :(.  We are still waiting for a court date.  The latest estimate is that we will be traveling the 2nd week of Sept but it could be as early as the last week of Aug or it could go well into the fall.  The judge took the summer off so we are waiting for her to come back so we can get a court date.  Waiting is hard!

Alisa's Birthday

Tomorrow is my daughter Alisa's birthday. She is going to be 6. Tragically she will not be with her family playing silly games, eating way too much cake and being the center of a ridiculous amount of attention :(. So to celebrate her birthday we are asking everyone to please either go buy a slinky or a pair of shoes (any size) for her orphanage, we are gathering both to bring in Aug. Or if you prefer, you can just donate the money for a slinky or a pair of shoes to http://reecesrainbow.org/29924/sponsorgrove and get a nice tax write off. Please help us spread the love!


Missing our girls terribly tonight.  We do not like the idea of them sleeping so far away from us.  We wish they were snuggling in bed with us.  Having a hard time this evening.  Wishing they were being loved, not just taken care of.

Super Funny!

This was hanging in our hotel.  Can you find the funny mistake?


Sorry the videos were not working before!  We could see them in Russia but I guess they didn't work in the US.  I reloaded them so they are working now if you want to scroll down and watch them!

Novosibirsk Tips

This list is going to be totally RANDOM but they are all things that I thought would be helpful to know for those who follow after us in Novosibirsk adoptions.

*There are MANY MANY children with DS and other special needs of ALL ages that are not represented on RR.  If you feel drawn to this region but not necessarily to a particular child, PLEASE consider a blind referral (meaning Russia assigns a child to you that meets your criteria).  It may be that child's only chance of getting adopted because no one knows they exist.  If the child is not yours, you can reject the referral and ask for another one.  If you meet the child, and they are not yours, you ask to be shown another child.  You can also get very young babies this way because it can take a long time for kiddos to get on the database but most of the children who have DS are relinquished at birth.  They do have to be made available exclusively for Russians to adopt for 6 months but after that they can be adopted by foreigners.

*Everyone we have worked with so far has been GREAT.  Do not be afraid to meet with government officials, orphanage personnel, etc.  They really want these kiddos to be adopted into families.

*Do not bring a ton of cash!  Our agency told us to bring $3,000 in crisp new bills.  We exchanged only $200 into rubles because we just wanted a little to get us started and we didn't know if the exchange rate in the hotel was any good.  We only spent $100 of it and that was only because at the end of the trip we were thought, "Crap!  We have all these rubles we need to get rid of!"  Everyone takes credit cards so we never needed any cash.  Ok, that is not totally true, I bought a mirror from a little street vendor for $3 and I needed cash for that transaction.  Otherwise, all the stores, restaurants, the hotel, the corner ice cream stand, everyone takes credit card.  And the exchange rate was much better on our credit card then we could get anywhere in Novosibirsk.  I think it is DANGEROUS to carry that much cash unnecessarily.  So this would be my advice:  if you love to spend cash and do not want to use your credit card that much, bring $1000 in cash.  If you run out, you can use your debit card at no-fee atms to get more.  If you are like me, I rarely carry cash anyway and much prefer just to hand them plastic and not have to figure out foreign currancy, I would only bring $500 in cash to just have in case of an emergency of some kind.  But honestly, if you brought $100 in cash, I think you would be just fine too.  Anyone have advice for Moscow and money? 

*The Hotel Siberia is very nice.  If you are traveling in the winter, you can get a really good deal on a very basic room.  If you are traveling in the summer, it is worth paying the extra money and getting a Business Deluxe room because you will get A/C.  TOTALLY WORTH IT!  Springs and Summers in Novo are HOT and no one has A/C so you will spend your days out of your room frying.  Especially if you need to make the long 2 hour drive to Oyash in Kate's car which has no A/C and she is worried about you rolling down the window more then a crack because "you might get sick".  Coming back to a cool hotel room is worth any extra money you need to spend and then some. 

*Traveling during the summer costs significantly more then the winter but is a lot more pleasant.  We already discussed the hotel will be more, flights are also go way up as soon as the 3rd week of May hits.  I think no one in the right mind travels to Novo unless they absolutely have to in the bitter cold and so all the summer flights tend to book up quick and be more expensive.  You will also spend more money because you will enjoy going out in the warm weather visiting restaurants and shops.

*Novosibirsk is very, very fashionable.  The women all look like super models, seriously!  They are thin and gorgeous and dressed in beautiful dresses all the time.  Women dress much more formally in Novosibirsk then we do in the US.  It will really not be appropriate for you to wear jeans, or shorts or T-shirts.  Skirts, dresses, dress slacks, slack capri's, nice blouses are the way to go.  The clothing shops in the area around the hotel are all very high end fashion and are fun to go through but honestly in my stay-at-home life I could never justify the prices since typically I am wearing some prechewed food or snot as accessories.

*In front of the hotel a little ways you will find stairs that go underground, take these.  It is a tunnel to get under the busy street and across to an adorable street.  Stay on the left hand side as that is where all the good restaurants and shops are.  I highly recommend spending some time in these restaurants.  They have fun outdoor tables so you can people watch and the food is really good.  We especially loved a Chocolate Patiserie.  Not only does it have great chocolate but they also have great salads, crepes and sandwhiches.  Just to warn you, stay away from the cafe with that is lime green.  We ate there (the food was AWESOME) but shortly after we ordered, they brought out big opium hookas and everyone started smoking opium.  We ate inside (because the outside was full) and the opium party took place outside so it did not really affect us much but it was quite shocking.  There is also a great market on this street that has lots of western products that you will recognize. 

*At the end of the street, you will find Lenin Square and a large very nice park.  We spent lots of time there because it is a refreshing break from the grind of the city.  It also has restaurants.  The pizza place in Lenin Square next to the big fountain was not very good at all, stay away.

*Definitely go under Lenin Square!  Under the busy streets of Lenin Square is an underground mall in long skinny tunnels.  Super different and very interesting.

*We plan on only bringing one outfit for each of the girls on our next trip.  Kate showed us a HUGE store for children with great prices.  Our plan is to save the luggage space for orphanage donations and take the girls to this store when we pick them up and get them clothes that will actually fit because we can try them on.  This place is MASSIVE.  Imagine Ikea or Home Depot but with kids stuff.  There had to be 150 different kinds of strollers!

*Many public bathrooms do not have toilet paper.  Also at the orphanage they use book pages as toilet paper.  So it is a good idea to bring some with you at all times.

*Almost everyone in Novo smokes and there are no non-smoking sections to anything but the hotel rooms.  I suffered greatly because I am allergic to smoke and it is everywhere.  If you are too, I just happened to bring allergy meds and cough drops along and they helped greatly so I would strongly suggest the same.  Even still, I have had a terrible cough and burning lungs for the past 3 days. 

*In Novosibirsk, all children wear hats or scarfs when they go outside.  So make sure you either bring several with you or the HUGE store has HUGE selection of them.

*People in Novosibirsk are BIG on ice cream.  Seriously, when you are walking down the street every third person has an ice cream.  Ice cream vendors can be seen every 10 feet.  I asked Kate what all the ice cream stands sold during the winter and in a confused tone said, "Ice cream!  We love ice cream year round!"  So yes, even in 30 below weather, they love their ice cream.  Consequently, many of the restaurants we found to have amazing gelato.  Definitely worth a lick.

*Buy a few water bottles (you can't drink the water).  Then at the hotel they have places on each floor where you can fill them up with drinking water for free.  The water bottles at the hotel and airport are EXPENSIVE.  They are very reasonably priced at the ice cream stands and the market.

*Bring pens with you all the time.  We were constantly having to sign things or fill out things and no one (but us) ever seemed to have a pen (including government officials and agency reps). 

*Most of Novosibirsk is grey, cement, post-communism, ugly.  But as the pictures above show, just when you least expect it, you fill find a little treasure.

I hope that helps!!  Feel free to send me any questions you might have.