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We have a new adventure coming up! I can't wait to share it with you all!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Denzel

Denzel made his Angel Tree goal of $1000! Now he just needs a family!

I've talked about Denzel before. He is on my mind so often. He was in the same room as Evan when we were there. Out of the 9 children and adults, he was one of the most alert and responsive. He was always watching what we were doing and chuckling at the antics of darling Sasha (who is sadly 21 and too old to be adopted although he is the size of a toddler). Denzel's birthday was in January 2001, so he only has one year left to find a family before he is stuck in a laying down room forever. He has a single year before he ages out. He has been moved to a different facility where he has started to deteriorate.

This photo is from Denzel's profile at Reece's Rainbow. http://reecesrainbow.org/65205/denzel

Denzel has an NG tube going through his nose to make it easier to feed him. In America he would almost certainly have a G tube instead. These sound scary but they are really NOT a big deal at all. They make feeding and giving medications easier, the maintenance isn't difficult, and you don't need to worry about the kids pulling them out like with an NG tube. Do you see how Denzel's hands are often tied in his photos and videos? That is because he will quickly pull out the tube if he is given the chance. We saw him do so on a couple occasions. I can't blame him, since I would certainly do the same thing.

Denzel has gotten thinner and paler since this photo was taken.

Since he was swaddled so often it was hard to get an idea of how much use he did have of his hands. It was clear he could get them up to his face and his mouth, and he had the dexterity to remove the tube. His legs were very thin and seemed very tight. I've been told he has a shunt but I don't have any additional information about that.

So these are all facts. Facts are great. More facts help families make better decisions about which kids  they are or aren't able to provide for, always keeping in mind that so much will remain unknown. Let's talk about feelings now.

This is during one of our visits to his orphanage. You can see how his hands are kept away from his NG tube and also that he is so interested in his surroundings.

How does it feel to parent an older child who has spent an entire lifetime confined to a crib? How does it feel to hear hope from one doctor and resignation from another? How does it feel to see unbelievably progress and frustrating regression, sometimes on the same day? It has brought the most breathtaking joy to our family that I can imagine. Let me say that again. Even the hardest days with Evan are filled with more joy than I can describe. As much as my faith in humanity has been destroyed by seeing the way he was left wasting away in a crib for so many years, that same faith is being restored by seeing how he grows and heals every day. We are hitting new milestones. Regression is happening less often. (Medical appointments are still tough sometimes.) He has grown so much!

 He is not the same child my husband saw on his first visit. When my husband first met him, one of the staff picked Evan up and put him in my husband's arms. Evan cried. He cried in terrified, heart-wrenching screams of agony. They told my husband he was always in pain. Nothing would help him and he would never get better and we should pick a healthier child from the group our other boys were in. Obviously my husband stuck it out, and kept visiting Evan, and accepted the referral. We brought him home. Now he loves to be held. With the exception of medical appointments, he no longer cries. He plays with toys, and laughs, and babbles back and forth with us. Even when things have not been easy, they are rewarding and meaningful.

This is from one of Evan's first visits. He was so scared. He did not want to interact at all. Denzel is much more open and interested in his surroundings than Evan was at the orphanage.


It is hard to imagine how many ways you will find joy. A year ago I found joy in these things. Letting me slip a spoonful of food in before we started our bottle was a huge step I was so thankful for! A smile and laugh when I playfully interrupted his stimming by holding his hand and moving it faster or slower, a chance to let him look outside and me inside during those times he hid in stimming. Obvious excitement when he knew from the familiar sounds of our routine that his food was coming. Becoming more comfortable with our family trips to the library or park or church. My heart melted the first time Evan rolled himself onto his sister's lap to snuggle when she was sitting on the floor near him. These days seeing Evan eat all of his meals from a spoon, relax on the couch, just smile and be happy within our family, these things make me smile all the time. More than a year in a family, a year filled with small miracles and progress, have changed Evan so much.

I was so thrilled the first time Evan grasped something we put in his hands. Every small thing is worth celebrating.

Would Denzel's journey look like ours? I don't know. I'm sure it would look different in a lot of ways, just like our journey for our other boys is different than Evan's. I think it would be just as joyful. I have talked to a lot of other moms who have adopted kids from bad places, from laying down rooms. (Autocorrect tried to make that tombs. Appropriate...)  I have seen many moms talk about how it is hard work. But I have never seen moms who didn't say how thankful they were to have their child safe in their arms. Denzel needs a mama and papa to love him and fight for him and take a chance on him.

After Angel Tree, Denzel's grant account stands at $2018.90. You can donate to his grant or view his Reece's Rainbow profile at http://reecesrainbow.org/65205/denzel .



Monday, December 28, 2015

3 Days Left For Denzel on the Angel Tree!

Do you remember Denzel? He was in my sweet boy Evan's room at the orphanage. His crib was in the corner on the opposite side of the room. I loved how he would smile and laugh with one of his friends. He has been transferred to a different place and I'm worried about him. I posted a little about that HERE.



He is very lucky to be on the Angel Tree this year! He and many other children were chosen to have a chance to get some extra exposure and grow their grants. When you make a $35 donation on the main Angel Tree page you get an ornament with his photo on it. I treasure all of my ornaments. I can't wait to add his to my collection! During the year I keep them on my dresser where I can see them. They remind me to pray for each of the waiting children, and I also give prayers of thanks for the kids who are now in families!

Denzel's Angel Tree amount is $515.90 right now. (His entire grant, including the amount he had before Angel Tree is $1532.30.) The goal is to raise $1000 during Angel Tree for as many kids as possible before the new year begins! Check out Denzel and the other kids!   Only 3 days left!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a great holiday. We certainly did! Here are all of our kids sitting still in one place! Asking for them all to look at the camera was too much, as anyone who has tried to take a picture of more than one kid at a time will understand. We are so thankful for all of our amazing kids!




And here are Theo, Barton, Evan and Orion. 


I am blown away by the difference in this picture compared to their older photos. These kids are doing so well. Theo still loves all things Thomas the train, plus firetrucks. Barton looks like such a hipster! He went to see the new Star Wars movie and he loves to tell me that Star Wars is awesome. Evan is eating all of his meals from a spoon now, after drinking from a bottle for his whole life. Orion is still growing like a weed! Their old photos look so different. I found a few to compare just how much they've grown.


Theo used to be a lot smaller and less confident.

This was in our apartment waiting for passports!

Even though it is blurry, I love this picture. This was our first morning home! My daughter in the middle had just turned 7, to give you an idea of how small the boys were! Orion is on the left and Theo is on the right.

Barton was so small and shy. He has grown into himself and grown up so much.

His first picture with his papa!

He is so tiny! This is in the apartment right after leaving the orphanage for the first time!


Evan was so small and frail. I am shocked by how skinny he was. He used to be so easily overwhelmed but now he loves to sit on the couch with me.

This is on his 11th birthday while we were traveling home. That shirt and the other clothes he wore when we left the orphanage fit one of my younger sons when he was only 2.

Here we are in the orphanage getting him ready to leave. He was such a wee thing and he was so confused by everything going on, but also so happy to be able to stretch out and roll over beyond the bars of a crib. 


I'm sure I've said it a few times, but Orion is as tall as I am now! He is definitely a gangly teenager who doesn't always know where his body is in space because he has grown so quickly.

This was taken on our court day after we passed!

This was in our apartment waiting for passports. He is not only smaller, but his face looks so young.


I can't wait to see what the next year brings for our kids. We might also have another surprise in store, so stay tuned! 2016 is going to be awesome!

Superman Was Adopted and Ukraine Heart Shirts For Sale

I found some leftover shirts while I was packing! We are getting ready to move to a new (much bigger!) house in a new state for my husband's employer. I am so excited about this house. We are going to have a lot more space. Right now though, I am packing like crazy. I found the shirts from when we were fundraising for our last adoption in the back of a closet. If you missed one last time around or you would like another, here you go. They are $20 including shipping. Send me an email to kayleighbloom@gmail.com letting me know what size you would like. I can take paypal or I have a youcaring account set up if you would prefer paying through that.

Here are the available styles, colors and sizes:

Superman Was Adopted shirts
Adult
size Large 1 red, 1 blue, 1 sapphire

Youth
size XS 2 blue
size Small 2 blue, 2 red, 2 sapphire
size Medium 1 blue, 1 sapphire
size Large 2 red
size XL 1 red, 1 sapphire


Ukraine Heart shirts
Adult
size Small 3
size Medium 2
size Large 4
size XL 2
size XXL 1

Youth
size Small 5
size Medium 2
size XL 1

Saturday, December 12, 2015

My Heart Is Breaking

I am scared. I am so scared for the kids we spent time with when we adopted our boys. There are many other kids in need, but these are kids we spent time with. These are the kids our children grew up with. We have so much love for them. There are a few different things going on with orphanage 50.  http://reecesrainbow.org/category/waitingbycountry/ee-1/orphanage-50

Some of the boys were transferred to a different place a couple years ago. They need families and some of them are aging out. I don't know them as well, but other people have spent a lot of time with them. The second orphanage has the Happy Homes where Orion and Theo used to live. The homes may be turned into foster families. It sounds great but the kids would be sent back to adult institutions at 18 and couldn't be adopted. I'll talk more about them another day, but it isn't too late to start the process for them. The deadline keeps changing and a family could still step forward for them. Right now I'm praying my heart out for the kids at the third orphanage, the orphanage with the bedridden kids. A few kids have recently been adopted from here. I saw them more than a year ago at the old institution. They look much worse coming out of the new institution. I am trying to process my shock and horror. 

I am scared some of these kids will die. The bedridden kids who our Evan used to live with were all transferred the day before we left. I will never forget watching Denzel get lifted out of his crib and laid on a mat on the floor to wait while the cribs were broken down. He had smiled and laughed every time the boy in the crib next to him did something funny. He had a feeding tube in his nose and he was swaddled to keep him from pulling it out. A few years earlier before a charity stepped in the children there were all very thin. He is shockingly gaunt in his older photos. He had gained weight before he was transferred. I don't know how he is doing now. 

This is an older photo of Denzel from his profile, not a current one.


"V." was one of my favorite kids. His crib was next to Evan's. He couldn't move his body very much but he could smile. He loved when you paid attention to him. One of his favorite things was to get a chance to be propped up in a wheelchair to go down the hall to the bathtub and come back. That was the only time he was ever out of his crib. He would be bursting with excitement as he left the room. His legs were twisted and one of the state hired nannies got frustrated trying to put a new pair of pants on him during moving day. It wasn't his fault. He is such a good boy. This is a picture I took of him when we were there.  


This is a new photo of him. He is on an air matress in his crib at the new orphanage. He can't move his body on his own to shift from side to side and he is spending all of his time on that matress in that crib. I really hope his skin isn't breaking down. His face was filthy and he looks so sad.


He needs a family so badly. He isn't listed but he IS available for adoption. His birthday is in 2003. I am praying that he will be okay. There is another boy with the same name and birth year who is at the same place and also available to be adopted. I'm worried about him too.

Sweet little Phoenix was another one of our favorite kids. He was so snuggly and had such a big smile. He is tiny, not much bigger than a toddler. You wouldn't believe that he is already 13 years old. He is also skinnier now at the new facility. He would do so amazingly well in a family. Bedridden kids can seem scary. They aren't! Over and over again I have seen families bring these kids home and they add so much joy to the family! Evan is actually the easiest of our kids! It is so worth it. Phoenix would be such a great son.

This is also an older photo, not a current one.

I don't know what to do. I'm praying for more families to come forward before kids die. I'm praying for things to get better because there are kids there who can't be adopted. Reign aged out before anyone knew it because of a mixup on her listed birthdate. She is there right now. There are kids whose families still have rights and aren't available for adoption. There are kids who are available for adoption but no one knows about them because they aren't listed.

I'm really at a loss right now. I'm so thankful we were able to add Evan to our adoption at the last minute. He was not in a good place. Laying down rooms are never a good place. No child, no person, deserves to live like that. But this transfer was supposed to move the kids into a better equipped facility. They had already survived many years after transfer out of baby homes into an institution mixed with children and adults. I am truly worried that the kids are going to slowly start dying, one by one. I don't know what Evan's fate would have been at the new orphanage. I'm thankful we will never know. 

I'm still left wondering what the fate will be of the children he spent his life with. I hope some of them will have the chance to blossom the way Evan has. He is so loved. These kids could be too. They just need families.




Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Long overdue update!



It has been a long time since I have updated. The only way I was able to post updates with photos was with our very old desktop computer. And those of you with kids will know what happens every time you try to sit at the computer to do something! But, it turns out, there's an app for that! Hopefully this will make it much easier for me to keep everyone updated on all four of the boys we adopted and how they are doing. For now I will post a photo review of the last year and tell you that they are here and growing and loved. These start in last October and continue through to the present. Those of you in the Reece's Rainbow facebook group have likely seen them as I shared many within the group, but in case you missed them, here you go! Warning, pic heavy!!! 



Late last fall we started teaching the boys at home. We found that our small local school was having trouble with Orion's impulsive behavior and with the ESL angle on top of their delays. We homeschool our other kids so they were excited to see what we do at home every day. We may send them back to school in the future once they have more English. They have learned so much here with us!


Theo practicing counting and matching.


Orion is examining one of our schoolbooks.


The boys loved last fall. There were a lot of new and different holidays for them. 


Evan was very happy to come outside with us. He wasn't fond of the leaves crinkling, but he loved the sun.


Barton had fun playing outside with everyone. At this point he was still a little shy and overwhelmed by our busy family, but he was enjoying things from the sidelines.


Theo dove right in. He had a great time getting messy and playing with the leaves.


Barton's pumpkin!


Orion's pumpkin!


Theo's pumpkin!


Evan practicing eating things using his new feeding and therapy seat!


Orion stopping at McDonalds on his way home from an appointment!


Halloween last year! Barton was a little confused at first, but he liked it once he started getting candy! Theo loved it! Orion was a very convincing pirate, if you couldn't guess. Evan was overstimulated pretty quickly, but he joined us for some trick or treating.


We moved from fall into winter. Barton really came into his own as he settled into our family. We celebrated a few birthdays and Christmas, plus took everyone on a trip to the circus. We kept things low key but everyone had a really wonderful time.

Orion showing off his glasses!


Barton turned 17! 


Merry Christmas from all of us!



Evan has grown so much. He was still putting on chunk at this point, but pretty soon after this he started getting taller. He now wears clothes that used to fit Orion!


Barton at the circus!


Theo at the circus!


Orion at the circus!


Everyone together! We took up an entire row of the balcony! I didn't get a picture of Evan by himself because he was so busy rocking to the music that he didn't hold still, but he had an amazing time too! An incredible friend of my husband's joined us and had all of the clowns come meet the kids. It was such a fun time for them.


Orion's birthday! Yes, he really loved the blue frosting on his cake!


We survived our first family stomach bug. Yep, these pictures were to celebrate the first day after that where I didn't have to clean up after anyone. Hint: large family laundry is insane! I love it, but oh man.

Theo grinning big!


Barton feeling better!


Orion, impish as always, even after being sick!


Sweet Evan, still resting a bit.


Then comes spring! We do all kinds of fun things like jump in puddles. Some of the boys took convincing to play in the mud. Some didn't! Then came Easter as a family, and a new baby. Spring was a very busy time for us!

Orion supervising from his vantage point!

Barton learning how to splash from his younger brother, our resident puddle expert. He was so unsure when he saw the other kids jump in, but he had the biggest smile once he realized it was okay to go play and get dirty!



Theo loves mud. He needed a serious bath after this, and then the bathtub needed a good scrubbing! Totally worth it for him to have this much fun though!




All of my boys for Easter! Aren't they the handsomest bunch?

Family picture!


Barton playing outside!


Theo having fun in the grass!


Orion raking! You can see that this is when he started to shoot up like a weed! Oh my goodness did he have a growth spurt! When he came home he was about the size of an 8 year old, and now he is the same height I am!

Summer came with lots more time to play outside and a few more birthdays. 


Theo loves these chickens. He could sit and talk to them for hours.


Barton is looking extra fancy here. One of his sisters decided he needed a flower to decorate his hair to look like hers.



And here he is working very hard on a toy house he is building! 



Orion is showing what the top of Barton's house will look like.


Just sitting here, big man on campus. He has grown so much!


Theo's birthday! 


Look how big Evan has grown too! This kid brings me so much joy!


Theo with his new baby brother! All of the boys were so happy to have a baby in the family, but Theo just dotes on him. There has never been a teenage boy who loves babies more than this. And yep, messy house in this picture. Real life folks. ;)


Here is Theo again doing one of his chores. Or at least he is supposed to be doing it! I think he got distracted by the tv, but I can't blame him. Happens to me too!


Orion is planning a menu here. Don't let that smile fool you though, he was probably up to mischief a couple minutes earlier!


He is also our Blue's Clues audience participation champion! This kid can yell out "a clue" loud enough for the neighbors to hear. I managed to pull him away from the tv for a smile here.


Here comes fall. Almost caught up!

Fun drawing with chalk! You will notice they all look like shaggy dogs. Haircuts happened a few days later!


Busy working!



Loving the sun on his face!


Theo with his buddy again. They are so unbelievably sweet together.


Here is Orion working on math with his sister. I was trying to take a picture without them seeing me.


But they caught me!


Great coloring Orion!

Halloween costumes! Theo is a firefighter and Orion is Elmo!

Barton loves Star Wars so he is Boba Fett! He was much more excited this year!

Evan was a Star Trek officer!


Here is the whole family together. They were quite the crew!


We took everyone out to eat before trick or treating. Yep, we take all of them out to eat at the same time! This is the Chinese buffet, one of our favorite places to go! Theo is here enjoying his food!


Barton and Orion loved the blue ice cream!


Evan was my buddy and sat with me. 


Orion and his sister built a leaf house. It was huge!

Later Theo, Barton and their other sister rolled around and knocked it over! 

Here is Evan with one of his little brothers. The other kids asked him to roll in the leaves too, but he wanted to stay and talk to Evan. Evan still thinks the leaves are too crinkly to sit in, but he did have fun holding some in his hands this year.

This here is what it is all about. This is special needs adoption at work. This is love.


And last but not least, our new family vehicle! The kids love it!


We have had a lot of great times, sometimes some hard times, but through it all we love these boys!