Friday, December 30, 2011

Welcome Jubilee

Jubilee has been home for nearly 2 months. Her arrival brought a lot of changes to our home. Rainan eager in excitement for her new friends arrival needed to work through their roles with Mom and Dad. While they complain when they are apart they often try to re-establish with one another who is the "boss." Each of them hold such incredible strength and exuberance and we are working on cooperation and affirming their little hearts.
Advent was a perfect time to wind things down with the outside world and bring Jesus into focus. We used this time to play with baby Jesus in our homemade manger under the tree each night and sing songs to him. Jesus was ever so patient as they took turns caring for him with the occasional dropping and tug of war. I chuckled inside thinking of how brothers and sisters in Christ often fight over Jesus, determined they are right and forgetting all is nothing without love.
This year we made a homemade wall hanging tree with ornaments numbered 1-25. Each day we prayed for a country and family (or two). As we took this time together, I could feel a growing connection and warming of our love towards the nations, the lost, the brokenhearted, the orphan, and our brothers and sisters in Christ who so beautifully display His love. These are the kinds of traditions I want to hold to, not just at Advent but all year long. Lord will you establish this in mine and my children 24/7?
We pray that Jubilee would know what a gift she is. She is precious. She is funny. She is tender. She is beautiful. But most importantly she is LOVED.
Please do keep her in your prayers as the Lord would lead you. We will be taking her to the Spina Bifida Clinic at St. Louis Children's Hospital in late January for a couple of days to do a thorough look over. She also needs some pretty heavy dental work done under anesthesia at the hospital. We are praying for her that this will not be as extensive as they currently believe. Thank you to each of you who had a part in her adoption. So many people and many strangers from all over the country sent prayers and blessings to usher her into our home. This is such an act of love of God and his heart. We are definitely feeling adjustments as a family and this is okay and to be expected growing to six, three with special needs and one a toddler. There is grace abounding for this!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Update on Maxim

We went private when I went to Armenia last April because of an agreement with our adoption agency and so since that time I basically ended up not blogging anything at all. Today it became official. Jubilee Celine Kacirek is our daughter and beloved sister. I will share more about how things are going for Randy in a separate post but first an update on Maxim and his first year here in his family. Can you believe it's been 10 months already?

Here's my baby 11 months ago!

As I shared in previous posts, Maxim has been a JOY! He's all boy and loves light sabers! A bit too much perhaps. He played baseball on Miracle League with his sister Grace in the spring and loves to hit balls outside. He's very proud of his hitting.

His last game of the season landed on his 10th birthday and I don't think he could have imagined a better day! He received his medal, got a picture with the mascot, went out for pizza and then on to the zoo. Yes, we went ALL out!

He never could have dreamed of a camel ride. Have I ever mentioned how fun it is to watch this child discover?

He discovered the joys of splashing in the water and thanks to our neighbor Maxim became rather confident and accomplished with swimming with his floaties and jumping in the pool. He's praying we get our own someday.

Face in the water and everything!

So many firsts to celebrate. He had a special visit from his GREAT grandma Hartman and spent the week getting to know her.

Caught his first fish with Dad!

Had a blast at Grace Haven's Crawdad Catch in the Creek in July with his special friends.

Time for School to Start

Maxim has come so far in learning. When he first came I taught him how to put together a 4 piece puzzle. Now he does 200 piece puzzles. He has mastered his numbers to 20 and well on his way to 100. He's getting his ABC's down pretty firm now and overall really tries hard with his school work. There are so many pieces he just didn't get to participate in so he LOVES doing music and singing time that I do with Grace and Rainan. It is very toddlerish, but it's really his introduction to sing a longs, rhymes, movement. When we go to this activity I see the three and four year old in him that never got to do this stuff. The boys are kind and do not point out to him that he's doing "little kid" stuff. They have been able to recognize that these are the things he missed out on and needs to get to experience. Now if Maxim had any idea that this was way below Holden and Liam's participation, he would absolutely not do it so I am thankful he gets to explore this time with his sisters.
He loves to watch the boys do their science experiments and learns right along with them.

So on to some of the deeper things Randy and I are learning about our boy who was once a hidden treasure...

Maxim ALWAYS smiles. Hardly a problem, right? I mean after years of working through settle holds and meltdowns, this is the DREAM child, yes? And for a long while I thought this way. There were some "off" moments but I chopped it up to language or just not understanding what was going on.

Then one day it all sort of gelled together for me in prayer time. I had been puzzled over an incident at lunch. Rainan, sitting next Maxim, began choking on an orange. It was moments before I noticed something was very wrong. Maxim was watching her as he ate...smiling. I ran to do the heimlich maneuver, it didn't work. I began pounding on her back and it wouldn't come out. So I flipped her over and put my hand in as far as it could and got a pinch on the end of the piece and was able to pull it out of her throat. All of the kids were feeling panicked and watching carefully. When it was all done and we knew Rainan would be okay, the boys looked at me alarmed and said, "Did you see Maxim?" Gently we asked him if he knew what happened. "Rainan almost died." he replied as he continued chomping on his turkey sandwich. "Were you scared?" I asked. "I am hungry." he said.

This is the most vivid example I can give you to explain some of the situations that have been happening. He avoids anything sad. We've been working with him on understanding feelings, letting him know it's okay to experience those feelings. So many people comment to him on his smile. He is very well aware of this as it's almost always the very first thing anyone says to him. I'm sort of hoping people stop. I know strange, right? Since he has heard it so much he sort of plays it up and well, it may not always be genuine. And really this is where we are starting to explore more. When he doesn't get what he wants now, he's not as fast to just say okay. He's beginning to argue and test a bit. At first I was like, oh no, the honeymoon is over. But then very softly I heard a voice say, "It's okay. He's waking up." This is the emergence. These are the steps through healing. And so lately we have been dangling around in these emotions a bit and I am allowing him to feel them instead of quickly try to remove, fix and move on.

He's beginning to share more details of things from his past. He told me that he took medicine to sleep at night and during the day for his nap. (The things he shares are pretty matter of fact without emotion at this point.) I remember him being groggy if I came to see him a bit early at the institution. I can't help but wonder what role if any taking a sleeping aid night AND day might do in addition to the many things he was lacking. Bits and pieces, here and there, is coming forth and in time I am meeting Maxim, a more fuller Maxim with depth and ideas and concerns. I'm eager to hear his longings, his pain, his hidden thoughts. Those things that my other children have always been able to share. It's a working out that I see already happening through the emergence of showing of tears and disapproval. He fell into my arms and shoulder in tears yesterday and stayed there a while. I just held him and didn't say a word. And in that place I knew something was happening inside of him. He was staying in that place and allowing himself to feel and he pulled back and looked into my eyes for a long while. I was so thankful that he didn't have that plastered smile but a softened face with eyes that were searching into mine. Then he leaned forward, kissed me and gave me a sincere, "I am sorry."

I am so thankful to be on this journey with him. He teaches me so much about hope and inspires me in patience to be able to wait in prayer for these good things. He waited nearly a decade for his moment. How many people do that? He is an encourager. He demonstrates the miraculous to me through this. When I see his willingness to keep going and going, I am spurred on in my own faith to be able to parent his little heart well. If God can do all that he is doing with the background Maxim had, he can surely enable me to give more, love more, wait longer and be okay with not always having an answer. I've learned when in doubt, a hug goes a long way.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What I Can Tell You

This is on the door entering Bethlehem House.

Holden and I have been in Armenia a few days now. We are slowly adjusting to the 10 hour time change but no difficulties adjusting to falling in love. We truly are tickled to meet our little Dolly.

Just to clear up some confusion I will give a little recap.

Dolly is not her real name. It is the name assigned her to keep her information private. The agency gave it to her. Some of you know her real name from private conversations but if you could please not list that on the computer anywhere we would be thankful.

Dolly is 3 and was born with spina bifida. Randy and I committed to adopt her in October of 2009, when Rainan was a little baby and months before we knew Maxim was coming on the scene. So while Dolly may be new to some of you she has been growing in our hearts for literally years now and we have anxiously awaited every video and photo update we receive.

Dolly has lived in a convent with the Sisters of Charity since she was one month old. We have totally trusted God with all of the details of all of our children so when we committed to Dolly we actually didn't know what her living conditions would be like. She has had more attention than most orphans and her care has been administered with love.

Only since a few years ago have children began to be adopted from here. I believe Dolly will be the 5th or 6th child. The sisters expressed to us how they love the children and care for them but these children need the structure of a family and who will help them grow to become who God designed them to be. All of the children in their care have down syndrome or spina bifida.

The home is small with several small rooms inside but you don't feel shut in at all. It is peaceful and filled with laughter and joyful worship to the Lord. Today one of the sisters was training me in how to give a catheter to Dolly. As she lay there we can hear outside our door the celebration of the sisters and Father's around the table joking and breaking out in song. Soon Dolly breaks out into a loud joyful song herself. She sang to me most beautifully in Armenian. I have been thanking God that she has been singing the love of God her whole life.

Dolly has no feeling in one leg and a little in the other. She can use her stomach muscles and get one leg up from a lying down position and the other she can raise slightly. You can see that they have taken great care to help her become mobile.

Here you can see Dolly decided I needed to eat an olive. She would not take no as an answer!

She took to Holden almost immediately!

Dolly is a little squirt! She is squishy as can be and silly too.

Sister Micha was teasing her yesterday that I was Sisters mama and she was going to the US with me. Dolly said very emphatically, "No, Beata (our translator) can be your mama!"

As she was carefully focused on trying to tie a shoe she looked up and said I love you in English. Then she looked to Beata and asked her in Armenian to ask me if I loved her too. GULP! I was so taken aback that she would ask that. I said yes of course so much! So she looked at Holden and said in Armenian, "Him too?" Holden looked at her and said I love you Dolly. BE STILL MY HEART! Can I tell you my chest cavity had to grow to make room for my enlarging heart.

The other fun part for us is that Dolly understands English! That's right! She has been raised learning armenian, russian, english and polish! So sometimes I say something to her in russian and she answers in russian! This has made communication great when she feels like cooperating. She keeps speaking to me in armenian and can't figure out why I don't know all of the languages she knows. She's a smarty pants!

Thank you for praying for us! We have decided that in order to be able to keep our close friends updated we would make our blog private until the finalization of our adoption which will be in 4 to 6 months.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

"I am Maxim Joseph!"

I can hardly believe that time has passed as it has! I saw this picture today and it struck me. This is the first time he laid eyes on us. Can you imagine what was going on in his little mind? A family? For me? ME?!

It turned my thoughts to conversations I had with officials in Ukraine. Most commonly the question is, Why? What is in it for us?

My answer at the time, not very eloquent but true, is Love. Love just loves. It doesn't see disability and is not burdened.

It's with such delight I get to share with you our newest photos of our most precious Maxim Joseph. His light shines so bright, I might need to warn you to put on your sunglasses! Here my friends, is what is in it for US!

Maxim has this natural gift for building and balance. He likes to play with blocks and legos and surprises us with his designs.

He has moved on up to 70 piece puzzles. Grace is feeling the pressure! LOL

Maxim loves going to Holden's basketball games. (Holden is number 23.) He cheers loudly for both teams. He waits patiently and at the end of the game he runs out onto the court running around- dreaming of his time to play on a team. The officials have been so kind to let him have a basketball to dribble and Randy lifts him up to make a basket.

Watching the relationship develop between Maxim and his siblings has only deepened our thankfulness. Richer and deeper our faith roots grow. Broader and wider we are able to spread as we have seen the goodness of God. Listening to their laughter, watching them care for each other, encouraging one other, every "You can do it!" and "Good job!" reminds me of the tender encouragement God has given to us when we weren't sure if we could, but we still tried.

Maxim is learning it's okay to try new things and he has a whole team of cheer leaders rooting him on!

For a Valentine treat we took all of the kids to Chuck E. Cheese. It was after this trip Maxim announced, America is good! When Randy tucked him in for bed that night, right as he was about to close the door, Maxim sat up and called out "Papa, Chuck E. Cheese! God job!" followed by two thumbs up.

Last week we received an amazing and historic snowfall. There was no way Maxim would miss this!

Here's the "getting ready to meet 18 inches" photo!

He got a little excited and slipped. Don't worry. He was heavily padded and laughed the whole time!

Liam's Angel

Holden resting in his mountain of tunnels

This has been such a fun time of creation for Maxim. Watching him blossom, well this is our joy. This is what we get. Seeing his humor develop, his own ideas and his love for life, well it makes this mama cry everytime.

He has the same bedtime routine every night. He's to go to the bathroom before heading to his room but each night when he goes in he doesn't come out! Randy has to call and call for him. Then he goes in after him to find him sitting on the toilet pretending to have fallen asleep. When Randy "wakes" him he laughs and laughs. He's silly. He's funny. He's perfect.

All of these things about Maxim we love. But his heart we care for far above anything he can do. Here's how Maxim ministered to mine recently.
The other day I handed a photo of him from when we first met at the institution. He looked at me and said. "I am Maxim JOSEPH!" You know what? There was power in that. I heard: I am not my past. I am not who anyone says I am. I am not my circumstances. I am who God made. I have been ADOPTED. I am free from fear of man, fear of what the enemies plans are because I belong to LOVE Himself. That's what I heard in Maxim's message. He had no idea he was preaching to me. His sermon started with "I am Maxim Joseph." And he ended it most eloquently. "God is good."

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will- to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. Ephesians 1:4-5