Travel Dates!!!

 Monday, May 12, we received word that we had travel dates! Our travel dates are May 31-June 7. I read the email at 6:30 in the morning. My first response was “thank you, Jesus!” My next response was, “Oh no!” The girls’ play is May 31st and their dance recital is June 7. We had already decided that if our travel dates fell between the play to the dance recital that Kevin would travel to Bulgaria alone. We discussed it, but I NEVER thought it would really fall that week.

 I was actually on my way out the door for a run when we received the email regarding our travel dates. Kevin and I chatted briefly and then I went on my run. While on my run, I think I cried for the first mile. I actually thought I was going to hyperventilate from crying while running. For the next three miles, however, I prayed. As I was praying, I felt a peace that only God can give. I knew without a doubt that sending Kevin alone was the way God had it planned from the start. God knew that our girls needed me at home.

Regardless of how it all works out, Levi will be home for good on June 7!!!  

Adoption Fundraiser

I have plans to post an Adoption Trip #1 recap – but we arrived home on the 11th, my birthday was the 12th, we jumped back into school on the 13th, and then Daphne had a birthday on the 17th.  Lots of fun and craziness!  I will still get to that post, but for now, I want to share a fundraiser that is going on right now.  

We were contacted by Todd from Sidney Street Sales in St. Louis.  Todd and his wife sell mid-century furniture and each month they donate 10% of their proceeds to an adopting family.  Our friend, Katie Mohr, had given them our information so we are blessed to be that family for January!  

If you are on facebook, their page is https://www.facebook.com/sidneystreetsales/

They are having their big sale tomorrow!  Check it out if you have a chance!  They have a lot of really cool stuff!

We Are Here!

We arrived in Eastern Europe on Sunday evening.  Our flights were very uneventful – they were all on time and all very smooth rides.  I mentioned on facebook that I am pretty sure I am not meant to be a world traveler.  That 9 hour plane ride just about put me over the edge.  I think traveling over night was so confusing to me.  My body felt like it should be sleeping so I kept falling asleep but because we were, obviously, sitting up, I couldn’t stay asleep.  I tried 3 separate times to watch the movie (one that my parents had actually just recommended), Now You See Me, but I couldn’t stay awake.  Kevin, of course, took it all in stride much better than me.  Ha!  For the record, I am also not very adventurous when it comes to my food!  Kevin – who is the pickier of the 2 of us – has actually been much more adventurous.

Our visits with Levi are going really well – they are basically the same thing every day. We get there around 10, take him from his room, and then we are escorted (Kevin and I along with our translator) by the head nurse to a little room/office to play and get to know him. We hold him, talk to him, play with him, etc and then they bring his lunch around noon. We have fed him lunch each day – we were told he is really picky – we have definitely seen that. He doesn’t like his fruit – each day that is what he spits out or won’t even let me get it in his mouth. He is super mellow – it takes a lot to get a laugh out of him, but he hasn’t fussed at all yet either.

Levi is a serious thumb sucker (and if you know our family, you know that finger sucking is a Swinigan trait!)The staff doesn’t seem to want him sucking his thumb – we can’t figure that out. Almost like they want us to think that they don’t let him, but he is VERY deliberate about it. When he is tired, he rubs his eyes, puts his thumb in his mouth, and snuggles right up – so we know he has been doing this for awhile!

It doesn’t seem like he has anyone in particular that he prefers. The caregivers all fuss over him – he gets lots of hugs and kisses, but he doesn’t seem to care. This is really hard for me. While I assumed this would be the case, it is really sad to know that he hasn’t had one constant person in his life. This is probably why he doesn’t fuss or cry – he learned early on that crying doesn’t get him anything. There was no mommy or daddy responding to his cries. We are praying that this doesn’t affect his attachment to us once we get him home – or if it does, that we will know how to help him.

We took a handful of toys for him to play with while we are – we noticed that he really doesn’t care about them. He is more interested in interacting with us. Our hands, hair, faces, etc – seem to keep his attention more than anything else.

Today was particularly interesting – we had to take him to get his picture taken for the visa. Our translator is also our driver so he drove Kevin, me, Levi, and an orphanage worker to a little Kodak shop. I will post a picture, but he was all bundled up as if he was going out in snow. Since most of you have dealt with arctic temps this week, you may find this amusing. It was probably 40 degrees. Seriously – he was in a snow suit. I am pretty sure we had a pink one very similar for Norah when she was a baby. Also, it is not required that you use a carseat. I am so serious! The roads here are really bumpy and the drivers are crazy – and here we are in a tiny car with a baby and no carseat. Those of you who know me well, know that I am OCD about my kids in carseats. Daphne faced backward until she was 2 1/2 because that is when she FINALLY hit 20 pounds (that was before it was recommended that kids stay rear facing until 2).

Physically, we are really pleased with his development.  Don’t get me wrong – he is VERY delayed, but he is actually further along than we thought based on the information we had on him.  He can sit unassisted for a few minutes at a time.  He is great at tummy time – his upper body seems fairly strong.  He can support himself and lift his tummy when placed on his hands and knees – however, he can not get himself onto his hands and knees along.  We actually thought that he couldn’t even sit without any assistance – and that was it.  However, he is only a little over 15 pounds – at 2 1/2 years old.  He has been checked by a cardiologist (several times), endocrinologist, and a kidney doctor (no idea what that doctor is called) and all the doctors said everything looks fine. The orphanage staff just thinks he is picky – as I mentioned above.  He will obviously be thoroughly checked once he gets to the states but hopefully, just getting him out of the orphanage and into our home will make all the difference in the world.  Oh, and a random side note – he has hair IDENTICAL to Daphne’s hair as a baby.  Not kidding.  And he has a dimple in his chin – a Leitch trait.  He seriously looks like he belongs in our family!

Unfortunately, we can’t post any pictures of Levi on any kind of public page so for now you are going to get a picture of Kevin and me!!!  We 3 more visits with Levi before we leave and I can honestly say that it is not going to be easy.  Thankfully, we know we have a lot of people praying for us so we are counting on the strength that only God can give to get us through the next 4-6 months before we can bring him home!  

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Verbal Referral

We have been waiting for our verbal referral.  The “normal” timeline right now is that a family’s dossier is submitted to the IAC, 2 weeks later they receive their verbal referral, 3 weeks later they receive the written referral and travel dates, and then travel dates happen 4-6 weeks later.  

We had a hit a point where we were starting to wondering why it was taking so long to get our verbal referral.  We have heard the waiting is so hard, but as busy as we are, we hadn’t felt that – until last week.  This morning I had prayed that I would be a peace no matter what the timing is.  I know that God’s timing is perfect.

About 30 minutes later, I checked my email and had an email that said this, “Not only has your dossier been approved, but the written referral was signed today and you have TRAVEL DATES!!!!”

What?!?!  Are you kidding me?  Praise Jesus!  We really thought we would be traveling the end of January/early February.  Now we get to travel sooner than that.  

It will definitely be a crazy month or so as we get ready for Christmas and to travel to Eastern Europe!  

Adoption – The Back Story

Many people have asked us when and how we decided to adopt so I decided to blog about it -starting at the very beginning.

Adoption is something Kevin and I have talked about for a long time. . . even before we had any of our girls.  At the time, however, it was just a “someday” thought.  Over the last several years, adoption was something that was on my heart especially, but as each of the girls were born, we focused on supporting other adoptive families in various ways.

About a year ago, the calling to adopt – for us – became a little more specific and a little louder.  We both felt a nudging – something we, again, talked about but just sort of pushed it to the side, saying, “If it happens, it happens.”  I don’t know, maybe I thought God would just drop a child into our laps.  Then as we would pray for other adoptive families, Norah would say, “We could do that” or “When are we going to adopt?”

I think the nudge turned to a shove one Sunday when we heard a sermon on Matthew 14:22-33.  If you have never read these verses, I encourage you to do so.  This is the section that talks about Jesus walking on the water.  Peter saw Jesus, stepped out onto the water, and began walking to Jesus.  When he doubted, he began to sink.  Jesus reached out and caught him.  Several things really spoke to us in this sermon.  1 – I want to stay safely in the boat and watch the miracles from a distance.  Do NOT ask me to step foot outside the boat – I KNOW I will sink.  Someone else can do it and I will sit back and enjoy their “story.” 2 – I am full of doubt.  Why step out to begin with if I think, before I even step out, that I will sink?

To those doubts, Pastor Terry reminded us that Peter KNEW it is better to be with God out of the boat than to be in the boat without Him.  We know a lot of people will wonder what in the world we are doing when we already of 3 kids and are very busy.  They will think we should stay in the boat, but, as Pastor Terry also reminded us, God saved us so we could live in an adventure of faith.  What are we doing in faith?

After church that day, Kevin and I talked and we both knew that God was doing something in both of us.  “Shoving” us in the right direction, maybe.  We do know – like Peter – doubts will come.  We will just have to trust that God will see us through.

Back to the child dropping in our laps – so we know God was calling us, but still just said “when it happens, it happend.  We just have to be patient.”

I read a commentary recently by Warren Wiersbe on Colossians, “We must never think that patience is complacency.  Patience is endurance in action.  It is not the Christian sitting in a rocking chair, waiting for God to do something.  It is the soldier on the battlefield, keeping on when the going is tough.  It is the runner on the racetrack, refusing to stop because he wants to win the race.” As a runner, the end of that quote really stuck out to me.  After I have spent months training for a race, I don’t quite at the hardest part of the run.  I KEEP going because I have trained and I want to finish.

Same thing goes for us as Christians.  God has been preparing Kevin and I separately and as a couple for a long time to be obedient to whatever He calls us to do.  Why would we quit now – just because this is bigger than we expected?

Another Sunday, Pastor Terry said, “Sometimes we have to carry God’s plan before it comes to fruition.”  We had to step back and ask ourselves, in regard to this calling to adopt: Are we living the life God has called us to or are we sitting back just waiting for something to happen.

At this point Kevin and I both knew that adoption is something God wants for our family.  We know that it is not an easy process  – there will be trials but we also know that if Christ has called us to do this, He will carry us to the end.  Our job is to trust His plan.