Friday, May 30, 2014

One Day/Five Families!

This past Wednesday was shaping up to be a challenging day.  Andy and Beth would be out town and Dow had a full day of work, and Pat Amerson (who helps me every week day) had to leave at 1:00.  On top of that, I had a very important important at 10:00 am (had to have my hair cut and colored!).  What looked to be a very difficult day ended up being full of blessings.  I had five different families help out in different ways.  Christy Colee came to the house during the all important hair appt. to help Pat; my neighbor, Hope Mardre, came after Pat left to play with Will and Hope while I napped with Lena.  Hope even brought a friend and her son who she had already made plans to visit with.  Then Hope went to Davis and Sara Denney's house to play and eat dinner.  Brad and Kelley Phelps brought dinner and Ann and Mary Evelyn Amster came to help give baths and get the kids in bed.

I went to bed feeling very blessed and loved by my Heavenly Father by providing through His children who also love me!  Thanks to everyone who helped that day!

First Lake Experience!

We spent the night at the lake last Sunday night.  Now we have a twin mattress for Hope and a queen mattress for Lena and Will in our bedroom at the lake.  The same room that was built to be our private retreat!  They did well at night and loved everything about the lake (minus Lena and the wave runner).  It is just a challenge keeping up with them!!!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Little Reality!

So far, I have published cute pictures of the kids with us having fun and enjoying doing new things with them.  And we have done a lot of that.  There have been a lot of great times but there have been some  "ugly and low" times too.  I don't want to sugar coat our past three weeks because it has been hard and exhausting!

Will has a hearing impairment so he talks really loudly and A LOT!!!!!  Can I say it gets a little annoying at times - do you get the picture?  Every English word is said over and over and over and LOUDLY, did I mention LOUDLY!  He also loves to tattletale especially on Lena and boss her!  He is quite the pouter and attention seeker/demander.

Add Lena to the pot!  She is like a two year old in and 3 and 1/2 yr. old large body (she weighs more than Will or Hope).  We've had to child proof our entire house and she still takes one on one looking after.  She can get into anything!!!!!  She is strong willed and can be gone in a second.  She knows no boundaries.

Will and Lena do not know how to play or pretend and they have no interest in tv or computer ( iPad apps for a little while sometimes).  Mostly they like activity and lots of it!!!!!!

Throw Hope in there who is used to do being center of attention for five years and is  very sensitive.  She is now having to share toys, take turns at home and share Mother and Daddy, Dow and Beth and not eat in bed or drink her milk cuddled up on the couch.  She too likes to tattletale and gets her feelings hurt very easily.

Adjusting is hard but so far it is all normal stuff that we expected for the most part.  But it takes lots of patience - in fact supernatural patience and love that comes from the Holy Spirit to get through the day. He is supplying and a lot of friends are praying for us daily.

I just don't want to mislead anyone and let them think this is all fun and games, because it is not!  However, there is a Peace being provided by the Holy Spirit that we are right in the center of His will.  As I have been reminded so many times, it is the best place to be but often the hardest and most challenging place to be.  Why?  Because He wants us to be dependent on Him!  Had I rather be lying on a beach in beautiful resort or eating at a cafe in Paris or sailing on a cruise than caring for my new extended family?  No, I am content!  Did that contentment just happen?  No, God has been preparing me for this journey.  Why do I want to be in the center of His will?  He bought me with the greatest price of all, He redeemed me, He adopted me, He will never forsake me, He is the great promise keeper. All glory and honor to Him.

 Also, He has provided so many people to walk this journey with us.  In fact, Sunday morning I was home alone with Lena and she was being such a "stinker!"  I cried out to the Lord and said I need a break (notice I didn't nicely and humbly ask).  Shortly after I got a text from Andy that said the Colee family wanted to take the kids swimming that afternoon.  Thank you Lord and the Colees!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Gotcha Day, May 6 - by Andy

May 6th is "Gotcha Day" for Will and Lena. This was the day our family had been awaiting for a long time - the day that Will and Lena would leave behind their lives in eastern Europe and become part of our family. Excitement was high that day a few weeks ago in Chisinau, Moldova, as we were driving to Will's orphanage. When we are almost there, our agent, Albina, calls and asks if we have clothes for the kids. We had packed clothes for Will and Lena but they were back at our apartment - all the way across town. Albina explained that the kids could take nothing from the orphanage - not even the underwear they were wearing. We turned around and went back to get new clothes. About an hour later we get to the orphanage.

Will said his goodbyes to friends and caregivers - including Ana, who had cared for him since he was seven days old. Then, he stripped off his old clothes and put on new. Leaving his home for the past six and a half years, Will Birchfield walked out of the orphanage with new clothes and a new name!

We then load up and drive to Lena's orphanage where we go through the same steps. She takes off layers and layers of old clothes, puts on new outfit, and walks out of the orphanage as part of our family. To me it was a striking, living picture of what Christ has done for us. He has replaced our filthy rags with robes of His righteousness and adopted us into His forever family. In Christ, we are now and forever children of the King of kings!
Will getting changed

Lena getting changed

Saturday, May 24, 2014

First Swimming Experience!

Today we took the kids to our neighborhood pool and they loved it.  Lena was fearless and Will grinned from ear to ear.  They also got to meet their pastor, Brother Jay Wolf, at our house tonight.  Bro. Jay couldn't keep up with Will on eating pizza and ice-cream; actually none of us could!  It was a big day jam packed with fun things.

Hope, Beth, and Lena


Lena jumping to Daddy

Daddy giving Will are ride

Brother Jay with Will and Lena

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hope's 5th Gotcha Day!

Hope celebrated her 5th Gotcha Day today!  It is so hard to believe that five years have gone by since we brought this sweet little girl home.  Every year we celebrate by releasing a balloon for every year she has been home and let her choose the restaurant.  In this past year, she discovered that steak is her favorite food in all of the world!  And it truly is!

Hope cutting up her own steak - notice broccoli has not been touched!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

More Pics!

We are hanging in there but everyday is exhausting.  Thanks to everyone who is bringing meals!  It really helps so much.  Thanks also to everyone who is continuing to pray.  We feel like we are making progress and look forward to making more.  We found out Will has at least a 60% perforation in each drum which probably impairs his hearing which may be why he talks soooo loud.  They are having lots of new experiences and keeping us busy.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Quick Update and Pics!

Will is adjusting remarkably well except for the dogs and he is making progress.  He got his hair trimmed up today and a Nike hat to replace the pink Minnie Mouse hat he found of Beth's.  He insists on pulling his pants up to his arm pits and tucking his shirt in!  He wants constant attention and has a desire to please.  He is incredibly bright and is learning English quickly.  We are teaching him to use an inside voice since he is just naturally loud.

Lena is a bit more challenging in that we think she has had very little discipline or structure.  She is very head strong.  She has come a long way with a spitting habit.  We are still working on hitting, pinching, and pulling hair but we are making progress.  She can also be as sweet as she can be a stinker!

They had their first outing today which was at Chick fil-A.  We went mid morning when it wouldn't be so crowded.  Lena had some incidents with a few other children but overall it was a good experience.

Beth and her friend, Katherine, took Will and Hope to Academy, Target and got Will's hair cut.

Every night I am extremely tired but at peace knowing we are doing what God has called us to do.

I am sad that my Daddy didn't get to meet Will and Lena.  Will (William) is named after my Daddy and Lena was my Daddy's grandmother's name.

Hope, Will and Mr. Chip

Katherine, Will, Caroline and Hope

Beth, Hope and Will

Lena in sports bra and pink boots with sunglasses - yes, she put that stylish outfit together all by herself

Will on his first bike

Looks like trouble

Sweet Lena!

Will and Lena playing in the sand

Will getting his first haircut - thank you Mrs. Layla!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Pictures of Home!

Well the crew made it home on Saturday, May 10th.  I have to say Lena and Will looked a bit more lively and energetic than Andy, Dow and Beth.  Nothing can really describe the long plane trip home with children who have basically never been out of their orphanage!!!  But they made it!  Hope was beside herself with excitement - giddy in fact waiting on them!

We stopped in Tiger Town and got a bite to eat at Moes and met Andy's parents there.  They took Dow back to Auburn and we headed home.

The night was quite challenging because Will became out of control when he saw our three dogs.  I don't mean a little panic attack; I mean terrified to death and screaming and crying!  It was  a long time until bed!

I also learned around 9:15 pm that my Daddy had passed away around 9:00 Saturday evening.  He had been sick for a number of years with so many issues but he had a fall earlier this week that left him in a very desperate state.  Our family didn't realize how badly he would decline but we were all planning to see him within the next couple of days.  However, God's plans were different and he "moved" to Heaven Saturday night!  I thought I was ready, but I guess one never really is when it happens.  Thankful to have had an earthly father that taught me about my Heavenly FAther!

I am sharing some pics of the kids and will update again soon hopefully.  Sunday was a good but busy day!  We appreciate everyone's prayers and interest so much - love being part of God's family!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Friday, May 9, 2014

Today, Dow, Andy, Will and Lena set out on a field trip of sorts to an area about an hour away from Chisinau to experience some history of Moldova.  Beth stayed at the apt. to study AP European History!  The kids did well.  Lena fell asleep on the way back to the apt.

As I write this, they are on their way to the airport for their first leg of the trip home (it is 4:40 am in Moldova).

Below is a pic of Dow, Andy, Will and Lena but the remaining of the post and pics came from the internet.

Orheiul Vechi, also known as Old Orhei, arguably Moldova’s most fantastic sight, is an cultural, historical and archaeological complex located about 60 km (35 miles) northeast of Chisinau, Moldova’s capital and 10 km (6 miles) to the southeast of Orhei city. This valley, shaped by Raut River, is one of the top attractions in Moldova, with a pristine natural landscape featuring huge limestone outcroppings. There are several ancient monuments and buildings set in the valley, from various historical periods dating from the 10th century BC to the occupation of the Golden Horde in the 14th century AD. These ancient fortresses and early Christian monasteries are among the most unusual sights in all of Eastern Europe, and a museum at the site provides further information and exhibits.

Cave Monastery. View from the bank of Raut river
Orheiul Vechi Monastery Complex is carved into a massive limestone cliff in this wild, rocky, remote spot and draws visitors from around the globe. The Cave Monastery inside a cliff, overlooking the gently meandering Raut River, was dug by Orthodox monks in the 13th century. It remained inhabited until the 18th century. In the 18th century the cave-church was taken over by villagers from neighbouring Butuceni village. In 1905 they built a church above ground dedicated to the Ascension of St Mary. The church was shut down by the Soviets in 1944 and remained abandoned throughout the communist regime. Services resumed in 1996, though it still looks abandoned. Archaeologists have uncovered remnants of a defence wall surrounding the monastery complex from the 15th century.
In addition to the unique archaeological structures at Orhei Moldova, the small town of Orhei is also one of the country’s most popular attractions. This charming town offers accommodation close to Old Orhei for those who wish to stay the night. Guests can stay at Vila Roz Guesthouse, enjoy friendly hospitality, and get the chance to sample local Moldovan cuisine.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Thursday, May 8, 2014!

They had a much more relaxed day today.  They had a translator stay with Will and Lena while Andy, Dow and Beth picked up the passports with Visas.  When they returned, Lena was waking up from a nap and Will had been resting.  The children were more settled today and easier to manage. I got to FaceTime with all five this morning.  Will can say "how are you doing?"  and he likes to say "momma."  He also like pointing out the others to me.  Lena gave me some big smiles and talked a little.   Hope and I got to FaceTime with Andy, Dow and Beth later this afternoon once the children were asleep.

Andy suggested we get supplies to "toddler" proof the house even though Lena is 3 and 1/2.  She is very curious and a climber.  It will take Will and Lena awhile just to explore our house and become comfortable with it.  But who can blame them?  They have basically been in the same environment day after day of their lives, so new things are really, really interesting to them.  We will have to strike a balance somehow.

Tomorrow morning they are headed out to the countryside.  They want Lena and especially Will Marin to see what their country looks like outside of the city.  Their plan is to eat lunch along the way home and start packing up tomorrow afternoon.  They are ready to come home and get the looong plane trip behind them.  The trip from Chisinau to Frankfort is about 2 and 1/2 - 3 hours.  Then there is a very short layover in Frankfort and then the ten hour flight to Atlanta.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

After a rough night, the kids woke up in a pleasant mood.  With the day planned out and expected to be a much less stressful day, the kids got ready for the day.  They were taken by a translator for another appt.  Then Andy got a call that he had to be at the US Embassy immediately to change the names of Lena and Will from their birth names to adopted names.  Things went downhill with that call.  Andy thought he had done this but then was informed that he didn't go through.  Then the doctor who conducted the medicals on the children, insisted Andy sign the forms before he would release them to the US Embassy.  Headed back across town to the doctor's office, they got stuck in a parade on the main road downtown.  Then when they got to the US Embassy, Andy realized he had to basically redo the app for their Visas which is about 20 pages.  They were late for the 2:00 appt with the Consul General but she was very gracious.  He took an oath that all documents were correct to his knowledge and he was given original documents - court orders, reports, birth certificates, etc.  Passports with Visas are to be picked up Thursday morning.

Afterwards, they took a long walk with the kids getting both Will and Lena traditional Moldovan shirts for souvenirs .  Then back to the apt. for a supper of mac and cheese, bread, goldfish and bananas.  They got ready for bed.  Lena fought sleep very, very hard just like Hope did for months but finally gave into exhaustion.  Will watched Elmo and finally went to sleep.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

GOTCHA DAY, Tuesday, May 6, 2014!

Today was GOTCHA DAY for Will and Lena.  After a rough start and a few false starts, Andy, Dow and Beth got Will this afternoon and then Lena late afternoon.  Neither one had trouble saying good-bye but I know they will grieve over the loss of their relationships in the coming days.

Lena and Will were quite a handful to say the least and getting them to sleep was very, very challenging.  I hope to give more details tomorrow of Gotcha Day but I think it will be a day long remembered for Andy, Dow and Beth!

My favorite pic so far.  Will and Lena leaving Lena's orphanage!

Will saying goodbye to his caregiver who has known him since he was 7 days old

Lena and Beth

Will and Dow

Will and his best friend, Tanya

Lena and her caregiver, Rodica

Lena and Will fast asleep after a lot of hard work!