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.

We are in love!!

NAME ALERT:  We have discovered that Alice (RR name) or Elena's (name we chose) real name is not Alyssa (as we previously were told) but Alisa (pronounced Aleesa).  We love it, it fits her, she knows her name and unlike Alyssa we do not think it will be confusing for our daughter Clarissa (who has cochlear implants) so we have decided to keep it.  Sorry we have been so confusing.  So from here on out, she will be referred to as Alisa.  Just to further clarify, she is the 6 year old :).  We are trying to decide if in the future we will call her Alisa or just Lisa.  Stay tuned ;).

Mara (RR name) or Maria does not at all respond to her name (or really any sound at all).  We highly suspect she is deaf and so she is not at all attached to her name.  So we are considering new names.  We have to decide on a name by Friday.  Because in sign language, your name sign is identified by using the first initial in some manner, we are thinking of using a first initial that we do not already have in the family.  We are kicking around names that are short, easy to write (no curvy letters like "s") and easy to pronounce since we feel these will be major assets as we think she will have significant delays.  Feel free to leave suggestions only if you are in no way offended if we do not pick your choice. ;)

Now onto today's events.

We are madly in love with both of our girls!!  Things went soooooo well visiting Alisa!!  She was a TOTALLY different child and we were in a much better place as well having had enough sleep.  She is going to fit in fantastically with our bunch.  She is such a funny girl!  Her facial expressions are constantly bringing us to laughter.  She is quite smart and understands everything being said to her (in Russian).  Her gross motor skills are right on target.  She will need some therapy with her fine motor skills in that she does not have a pincher grasp nor can she color.  She is easy, delightful, and has the sweetest disposition.  She is already learning several signs well having just been with us today.  She is GREATLY going to benefit being in a signing family as she can't really say words and so she will finally be able to communicate her wants/needs/thoughts. Today she learned fish (for fishy crackers), please and more with great proficiency and retained them throughout the 4 hour visit.  AWESOME since they have not been signing with her at all.

It was very sad to leave her today as she desperately wanted to leave with us and was not at all interested in going back with her group.  In fact, she suddenly sat down in the hallway and refused to move.  Broke my heart!!

We saw many more children today and lots more areas of the orphanage. For the mom who asked, we did not see Evelyn today but the facility is HUGE so that does not mean that she is not there.

They DESPERATELY need new safer play equipment.  If anyone has any connections along this line, these kids deserve a safer place to play.  They did have some rather creative things to  play in though.  For example, they have bathtubs full of water in the yard that the kids can play in like little swimming pools, cracked us up!  Overall the orphanage is in very good condition and they are really trying their best to provide a good life for these kids.  I was feeling very positive about the place until I discovered non-mobile area of the orphanage.  This is where the kids go if they cannot walk.  There are many kids with cerebral palsy and other disorders.  It was AWFUL.  The kids are very, very skinny and confined to beds.  Older children look like babies.  Their joints were filled with contractures from lack of stimulation.  I walked right in and stared holding, touching, loving these children much to everyone's distress.  I didn't care.  These children responded instantly to any affection with big smiles and open arms, desperate for human touch.  I stayed for about 5 minutes and then was kicked out.  I left in tears, feeling helpless and hopeless. A number of my children if they had been born in a different country could have been confined to rooms like this.  The problem is that the caregivers have no vision of the life possible for these children.  They assume that if their bodies don't work, then their minds don't either so the care is irrelevant or at best just basic needs.  My daughter Clarissa is deaf and has severe cerebral palsy.  She goes to school, gets straight A's, has friends, is an amazing horseback rider and despite her body not working, she has a full meaningful life.  At this place, these children are not afforded any possibilities.  It is HEART BREAKING.  I need to find a way to get them out or get help in.  But how?  I am so upset. I need to find a solution, I need to be their opportunity.  How I wish I had millions.  How I wish I could just gather them all up and bring them to the US.  How I wish I could fly the caregivers to the US and show them Clarisssa and her life.  WE NEED TO INCREASE SPECIAL NEEDS ADOPTIONS TO THIS REGION, WE NEED TO INCREASE THE EDUCATION.

So let me tell you why you should adopt from region 8!

*WACAP (the adoption agency we are using) is AWESOME.  I have done a number of international adoptions and they have by far been the best.  They hold your hand through the whole process and are just simply wonderful.  They will also give a $10,000 grant to any family who adopt a child from this region with significant special needs.

*This region provides monthly subsidies to children with special needs that goes into a bank account for them to collect either when they get a family or when they turn 18.  We were told to expect to recieve $2,000-$3,000 per girl.  This was a big surprise and will greatly help with adoption expenses.

*You can adopt 2 unrelated children and WACAP will WAIVE ALL ADOPTION FEES for the 2nd child. 

*The city is easy to manuever, very modern and has all the amenities of home. 

*This region is well known for waiving the waiting period for special needs adoptions.  We have been told repeatedly that we should expect it to only be 2 trips but that it may be 3 trips (although that has never happened so far for a special needs adoption).

*The Dept of Education here is WONDERFUL.  They have done everything with great speed and are very accomodating.  We were well recieved and thanked repeated for adopting special needs children.

*The process is short.  From start to finish we are expecting our adoption to take less then 9 months.

*The needs is HUGE.  There are sooooooooooooo many special needs children that are not even on the RR database.  And their future without adoption is that of being forever institutionalized.

Ok, enough of that, here is what you all came for: ADORABLE PICS!  By the way, if you want to see larger versions, just click on the picture.


  1. Hi Kelly,

    Have you seen Catherine? She's the little girl in the pretty red and white dress on RR. She is 7 years old now and has blonde hair and also has Ds. She is on the right of my blog. www.amyandsons.blogspot.com I met her when I was in Elijah's orphanage in 2009. She was being transferred the very next day. I am assuming to the place where you are right now. I'm so happy that you have gotten to see this place. Because my faciliattaor didn't know anything about it when I asked her back in 2009. She ahd never been there.

  2. So glad to read that visit two went better with Alice/Elena/Alisa (tee hee). I totally understand yalls concerns over names and why you are deciding to change. She looks SO much better today, and obviously has realized just how lucky she is to be getting a momma and daddy! Congrats!

  3. I love seeing her smiling again. Thank you for sharing the visit and for all the information about region 8.


  4. I love names, so I thought I'd throw out a few suggestions. These range from old fashioned to unique, since I don't know your style. Here are the names, complete with my notes haha: Bay, Beth, Dru, Hannah (long, but only three letters to learn), Ida (paired with Rose or something cute), Leah, Leigh/Lee (the first is a little more complicated), Lucy, Rae, Rose (short but has an "s"), Wren/Ren. Just some ideas to get the ball rolling!

    So glad your trip is going well! (I found your blog through RR.)

  5. Belle suggested "Kelly Jr.", or "Peanut". Vic likes "Amy" or "Lizzy", Liza said "Abby" or "Char". Ethan is partial to "Sprinkle Sugar Pie".

  6. How about Ivy or Lily. Alisa is ADORABLE!!! Oh my gosh...she IS "all Grove"! Love love love the photos. All my love to you and the girls.

  7. Hooray! SOOO happy all went well with visiting Alisa this time. ;-)

    Jill would be easy to write. I'll try and think of some other names, but am too tired right now.