Saturday, June 5, 2010

Making Mud Pies

What do you get when you give your children some old kitchen utensils and pans?  Why mudpies of course!!  What a blast they had! Kept them busy all day.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Meeting the Mouse

We spent our Memorial week down South visiting the famous mouse that resides in the Happiest place on Earth.  It's always such a treat to be there.  The kids really enjoyed themselves and Emily especially is quite taken with all the Disney characters but there is one in particular that she loves...

Minnie Mouse.  She loved seeing her so much that she got back in line again just to see her one more time.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sharing our Journey...Speaking our Truth

*Important Update: Adoptions are still continuing between Russia and the United StatesThis post was written when it looked as if Russia was suspending/possibly closing all adoptions to US families. 

 I am the proud mother to three children, one of which would not be possible without the help of the US and Russia.  It is through adoption that our daughter is a part of our family.  We love her with all our hearts and are so profoundly changed because of her life and all the lives of the children we have witnessed through adoption and the children we met that are still waiting for their families.

Here is a shortened rememberance of that second trip that brought Emily home.

Two years ago I was frantically and excitedly packing for the trip to go to court for Emily.  We didn't know at that time if we were going to bring Emily home that trip or have to make one more trip later that month to bring her home and wouldn't know until court. Recent events at that time was causing our region to change their policy regarding intercountry adoptions from 2 trips to 3 and unfortunately we were getting swept up in that change.  So we packed with the hope that it would all go well bringing everything we would need for Emily and all our gifts for the babyhome and the caregivers hoping this would be the trip we brought Emily home.

The morning of court...visiting Emily one more time.  It was hard to believe that court was finally here and in just a few hours we would know if we would be Emily's parents forever.

We went to court with another American family we were traveling with from our agency.  Our court appointment was after theirs so we sat nervously waiting with our translator.  We sat down next to a 12 year old boy whose parents were in court across the hall.  Because of his age he got to tesitfy in his adoption if he would like to be adopted by his new family.  I remember he said he was nervous to talk in front of the judge but that he wanted to be adopted by his new family and to have a mother and a father. I was so touched by this child and he gave me the courage to not be nervous.  Court was a very positive experience...lots of questions all translated first and then our answers were translated.  We were asked just as many questions from the judge as the DA. The pediatrician from our babyhome and the social worker both spoke on our behalf giving their recommendations for us to be Emily's parents.   We shared our photo album, everyone seemed satisified that we would love Emily as our own daughter and provide her a good home and future.  After an hour of court proceedings the judge left to deliberate and the verdict came back in after 20 minutes  We were declared her parents and could take her home that trip due to a breakout of chicken pox that had hit her babyhome. Oh...the joy, the euphoria...we were thrilled!!
Here we are out to lunch celebrating with the other family from our agency that also was bringing their daughter home, our translators and another American family that was traveling on their first trip.  So much fun that lunch!! Everyone was on cloud 9 because we just didn't know if the adoptions would go through and if we would get to bring our children home that trip.  Everything was in the hands of the court and we were all just so grateful!

Photos from Emily's living quarters where she spent the past year of her life.  Two rooms for eating, playing and sleeping.

One of Emily's caregivers that wanted to say goodbye to Emily that day as she couldn't bare to do it tomorrow when we took Emily home.  It was so made me cry as our translator translated.  It was clear how much Emily was loved by all our caregivers and that is what made it easier to leave Emily on our first trip. But we still couldn't wait to get back and bring Emily home.  Even though Emily was well taken care of, it wasn't a family or a home it was an institution and there was a sadness in her eyes that was hard to see.  Sean and I would try so hard to get her to laugh because when she was laughing and fully engaged with us the sadness wasn't there. The time we spent with her gruppa we witnessed that the children were all cared for and that adoption was favored for the children. They seemed to understand too that this was no life for a child.  That every child deserved their own family to love them.  They were happy that Emily had a home now and asked we come back again for another child.

That was probably the hardest part about being in the home...seeing all the children.  There were rooms where the children were older.  Children live in the babyhomes from birth to 4 years and then if they are not adopted at 4 they are transfered to the older children's orphanages (4-16 years) where life is much harder..think Lord of the flies.  I was told that the caregivers worry about children becoming too emotional or dependent on the caregivers that if they have to go the older orphanages they won't be strong enough to survive life there.  And the children that were more of a worry, more of a heartbreak were the ones that had any kind of special needs.  At 4 years if they were not adopted they were transfered to an institution where they would never have a chance of leaving again.  Children there would become bedridden and no more care, education would be given to them. It's a death sentence. The most terrible injustice, so horrifying.  There was a little girl with Downs in Emily's gruppa that always came right over, so smiley, so happy...crawling, standing, babbling, cute as can be.  I wanted to take her home.  I hope her family found her.

Today Russia has announced that they have suspended all adoptions to the US.  My heart breaks for all the children left behind in the babyhomes and orphanages all over Russia that have already been referred to American families or potential American families. My heart also breaks for all the parents caught up in this.  I can not imagine the nightmare.  I can not imagine not being able to bring Emily home.  What would our lives have been like without her?  I shudder to imagine.. Please let this suspension be temporary for the sake of all.  Institutions are no place for children to live. Children need love and families. Just looking at Emily's sad little face and her eyes in the babyhome and her eyes's clear how much she's come to life since being home in a family.  Here's the article...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

URGENT: Call to Action

I received the following letter from my adoption/placing agency from the Joint Council on International Children's Services (JCICS) regarding the recent horrific actions of one American family to abandon and send their Russian born child back to Moscow all alone.  They are asking for immediate help from any and all people tied to the adoption community to help save intercountry adoptions.  You do not have to be an adoptive parent just a supporter of adoption to sign the letter to both presidents.  Please sign before tonight so that the letter can be given to the Russian President Medvedev before he lives the US.  There are so many children and parents-to-be lives that are hanging in the balance waiting to become families. Please don't allow this one family's wrongful deed end forever million's of children's dreams to be loved by a mommy and daddy. This is urgent and time sensitive.  Please help.  More info on

April 12, 2010

We Are The Truth

A Campaign and Call to Action

The outrageous treatment of Artyem by his adoptive family has rightfully resulted in outrage by
the Governments of Russia and the United States and all who care about children. The tragedy
has cast a light on intercountry adoption that says it is not safe, the system failed and adopted
children cause insurmountable problems. The heartbreak of Artyem Saviliev’s abandonment has
once again elevated a singular incident to a level which may result in the suspension of
intercountry adoption. Suspending adoption, even temporarily, will only cause thousands of
children to suffer the debilitating effects of life in an orphanage.
You, the community of adoptees, adoptive parents, adoptive grandparents, child welfare
professionals and child advocates know that the outrageous and indefensible actions of one
parent are not indicative of how children are treated by adoptive families. You know that
families who encounter difficulties do not simply abandon their child. You know that help is
available, that solutions are found and that families can thrive. And you know that suspending
adoption does not protect children but only subjects them to the depravity of an institution…and
an entire life without a family.
You, the adoption community know the truth. You live the truth. You are the truth.
Join our campaign to bring the truth to light and help children in need find a permanent and safe

What You Can Do:

1) Sign the letter to President Medvedev and President Obama: The letter asks both
Presidents to ensure that intercountry adoption continues uninterrupted and to
aggressively investigate and prosecute anyone involved in the abuse of children. You can
sign anytime, but doing so before Tuesday night would help us get the letters to both
Presidents before President Medvedev leaves the U.S.

2) We Are The Truth – an adoption blogger day: To ensure the world knows about every
successful adoption, on Thursday, April 15, 2010 blog about your adoption or the
adoption of someone you know. It doesn’t matter if your adoption is with Russia,
domestic or otherwise international. Let the world know your truth!
117 South St Asaph St ' Alexandria, VA 22314 USA ' Tel: +1 703-535-8045 ' '

3) Tell Your Truth with Video - make sure the world sees, hears and feels the

thousands of successful adoptions from Russia by:
a. Send Joint Council your successful Russian adoption video via email to
i. Video should be a maximum of 3 minutes.
ii. A release must be sent to Joint Council or we cannot accept your video.
For a copy of the release, click here.
b. Joint Council will translate the video into Russian and post it on our YouTube

4) Tell Your Truth with Words and Photos
a. Send Joint Council your successful Russian adoption story via email to Send us your stories through:
i. Photos (please do not send more than 10)
ii. Essays (maximum 500 words)
iii. A release must be sent to Joint Council or we cannot accept your story
and/or pictures. For a copy of the release, click here.
b. Joint Council will then compile the stories and pictures, translate them into
Russian and post them on our website and/or blog.

5) Share Your Truth
a. Joint Council will post, forward and share your stories via Facebook, Twitter, and
blogs. Joint Council will be updating our YouTube Channel and Facebook page
as the stories get compiled and translated, please subscribe to us on YouTube,
Twitter and Fan us on Facebook.
b. You do the same by posting on your Facebook, Twitter, blog and website!
Want to help more?
• Are you willing to speak to the media about your Russian adoption? If so, please email with the following:
o Your name(s)
o City, State of residence
o Contact Phone Numbers
o Contact Email
o Short 4 sentence bio about your adoption
• Do you speak Russian?
o We are in need of individual volunteers who can help our staff translate the videos
and text quickly. If you are interested in helping, email Joint Council at
• Do you live in the Alexandria, VA area?
o Joint Council is in need of short term volunteers over the next two weeks, email if you would like to volunteer.
117 South St Asaph St ' Alexandria, VA 22314 USA ' Tel: +1 703-535-8045 ' '

Monday, April 12, 2010

A few minutes of bliss...

These pictures were taken a few weeks back at school and are a little blurry.   Emily loves to swing and is enjoying a few moments in the sun on the tire swing.

Such sweet moments of childhood.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Emily's Birthday Party

Emily had her first birthday party with friends.  Her friends from her school class, a few close family friends and family also celebrated with Emily.  It was a fun day of painting, bubbles, birthday cupcakes, presents and smiles. 




You go Girl! We love you!

Emily turns THREE!

My little girl is growing so fast right before my eyes!!!  Can you believe Emily has been home for almost 2 years now?  Wow! What is Emily like at 3?  Well...she is a little ham. She has such expressive facial features, loves to be so silly and is constantly talking from sun up till sun down.   She especially loves to talk to her little fairies at our nature table, take good care of her baby dollies, ride her two wheeled bike, and climbs like a monkey.  She loves to wear cute shoes, fun clips in her hair and give us directions.  She is a mommy's girl through and through but of course loves her daddy and brothers too.  She is tough but can be shy in new environments and with new people. Such a little cuddle bug she is...loves to be held and snuggled. We are so blessed to be Emily's family.  What a little joy she is!  

My how she has changed! Here is Emily at 13 months the first week home and Emily now at 3 years old on her birthday morning.

When Emily woke up we had crepe paper curtains hanging from her door, a few small presents and birthday sign on the table and her favorite breakfast of eggs, bacon and orange juice.

After dinner Emily blew out her birthday candles and opened her special present...a new pink bike!


 Happy Birthday Em!
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