Saturday, October 29, 2011

Almost Done with Raising Funds

I am the world's worst fundraiser. I hate it...and I feel like there are people that have a bigger need than I do. I have the ability to work extra shifts and add money to the adoption fund where some people do not have that opportunity. Having said that....I am exhausted! I have worked 19 extra shifts in the last 9 weeks to get the rest of the money we will need to get to our boy, plus a little extra money to run our home while we are not working. So, I did the calculations today and I am only about $2500-$3000 dollars away from needing all the money we will need and I am so thankful that we are almost done. I cannot wait to actually spend time at home with my babies instead of working! Please pray that I will last until we can go get him!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dossier is in Country!

Our dossier is our little man's country and it should be submitted to the SDA ASAP! I am hoping that they have everything they need and that all the documents are good and hopefully the paper chase is over.

I was so stressed out about traveling and leaving my two little men behind (my two oldest ones probably won't realize that we are even gone), but for some reason, I am at peace about it. My mother is going to take off work and stay at my house for 7-10 days and then my sister is going to finish the rest of it. I was so worried that the boys would be shuffled back and forth from here to there and throw in missing mom and pop, I was terrified that they would be scared and unhappy. I feel so much better that my family loves them enough to not only agree to watch them, but that they are going to rearrange their schedule and make the boys as comfortable as possible. That makes my heart happy!

Starting a full ten day work week tomorrow, so I will post as soon as I get any new information.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Absolutely Beautiful Verse!!

"Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important." (1 Corinthians 1:27-28)

Day #22-Sorry I didn't post yesterday

I had a BUSY day yesterday....worked, then went to a fall festival....then fell into bed without turning the computer on! Mentally and physically exhausted!

Someone left a message calling Andrey UGLY and it has bothered me greatly. I know that I should not let stupidity bother me, but it did. All that poor child has been through and been without and someone then calls him UGLY. I am shocked and I can't believe that people still exist like that in the world. Well, today's blog post is to tell you some things that I think are beautiful about my baby....

1. His perfect almond shaped eyes that criss cross every which way they can
2. His perfectly kissable lips!
3. His mega tongue!
4. His cute little ears!
5. His little chubby fingers!
6. His cute little button nose!
7. His sweet blonde hair!
8. His little outie belly button!
9. His tiny little foot!
10. His totally SQUISHABLE cheeks!

I LOVE THIS BOY just exactly the way he is (we will attempt to fix his crossed eyes, but only because it will help him see better-not because I don't like them)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Day #20...What a day, what a day......

On a happy note....I FINALLY received my guaranteed overnight letter SEVEN days later and our dossier is on it's way across the ocean! I committed to Andrey on August 17th and mailed the dossier on October 20th. Pretty good, huh?

You know yesterday was my birthday, right? Guess what I got? Something that Sean Carmichael said would never be purchased>>>>> a VAN! I have tried multiple times to buy a van and somehow Sean always talks me out of it. Well, today he did not...he actually traded his car in, too so both of us have different cars. I love this van. The doors automatically open, it has a DVD player in it, navigation system and leather!!! It is awesome! That shows how old I am that I am this excited about getting a mini-van.

Anyway, sad news tonight. Can't tell you anymore, but please pray that this situation can be resolved and that hearts and minds will know what the right thing to do is. Pray for discernment for me and my family, as well as others. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Day #19-Random Thoughts

First of all, sorry for yesterday's post...

Today is my 39th birthday. I have never been one to really celebrate birthdays, but my hubby is taking me out to dinner ALONE for my birthday and I am EXCITED about it. I very rarely get excited about events, so it is a big deal. Now, on to what I want to say. I woke up this morning and the first thought in my head was "You are 39 years old...what are you thinking trying to adopt again?" I felt so old and so blah this morning....thinking I really did not have enough energy to take on another "baby". Caden is 3 but very much like a little baby (and I love it!). Cole is 5 but like having a tall toddler! Satan was really doing a number on me this morning. Then I turned on the computer, went straight to Natalie's blog ( and there he boy in an Arkansas hoodie rolling his little car and beating on his drum and all that doubt instantly faded! I can not tell you what it means to me to have this young woman over there with him. When I was adopting Cole and Caden, I had a couple of older pictures and that was it. I had no idea if they were even alive at the time of travel to meet them. It is so comforting to know that he is ok. With all the stuff going on in UA right now (not issuing travel dates) I would be INSANE without Natalie over there with him. I love her heart and I love what she is doing. Please stop by her blog and support her. I cannot imagine having that much courage to do what she is doing at her age.

Check my boy out in his hoodie!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Day #18-Oops...about forgot to post!

We went bowling tonight and had a great time~~~So many little and BIG cuties with DS there! Almost midnight and 6 am comes early!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Day #17-Caden Goes to School....

Caden started school today. He LOVED it, but was so tired that he could not even walk to the car when school was over and came home and took a 3 hour nap! HA!!! He is in Cole's classroom and Cole didn't know what to think about Caden invading his space. It will be interesting to see how this dynamic works out.

On the adoption home-front...The Golden ticket was received in Nashville on Thursday last week, they apostilled it and sent it right back in the envelope that I sent (overnight) and it should have arrived on Friday. Well, still have not seen or heard from it! I called the post office and they have begun an investigation, but in the mean time...I still don't have my one last paper. If I don't have it by tomorrow, then I will make the 4 hour (one way) trip to drive there and get it done on Wednesday. Please pray that it comes tomorrow because I don't have the time or energy to drive to Nashville.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Day #16-Caden's Birthday!!!!!

My baby is 3!!!!!!!!!!!! Can you believe that??? It seems like just yesterday that he could not even sit up on his own. How time flies! I love this little monkey and I cannot explain how much joy he has brought into our lives. He is a HUGE blessing and I am so happy that we said "Yes" to add on a second boy....makes me sick to my stomach that I almost said no. I worked today and we just hung at the house today after I got home. Caden got a set of drums and a fancy smancy shopping cart for his birthday. We are having his party next week, so I will post some pictures then.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Day #15-Blogging is kicking my butt.............

My brain is half functioning. I have worked 13 of the 15 days of this month, had the Buddy Walk, finished my dossier and have attempted to put something on this blog remotely related to Down syndrome! I am completely blank here! How about you watch this wonderful video????

Friday, October 14, 2011

Day # 14-Fun facts about Down syndrome

Totally stole this from another blog (All about the Enskats-ssshhh...don't tell_


* That 1 in 5 children with DS play a musical instrument? For children older than ten, that number doubles. One of five children with DS sing in a choir or vocal group, for children older than ten, it is every one in three...

* Two out of every three children with DS like to draw and/or paint pictures

* Approx. 9 out of every 10 individuals with DS listened to someone read a book more than three times a week between the ages 2-5

* Approx. 7 out of 10 children w/ DS use total communication (signs, etc) between the ages of 2-5

* Approx. 7 out of 10 kids with DS saw a speech therapist two or more times a week between the ages of 2 and 5

* Approx. 1 of every 3 children with DS older than ten rides a bike without training wheels

* Seven of every ten individuals with DS older than ten participates on an athletic team through Special Olympics

* Two out of every five individuals with DS participates on an integrated athletic team.

* According to their families, 3 out of 5 individuals with DS know how to operate a computer.

* One of every three individuals with DS older than ten w/ DS reads the daily newspaper on his or her own

* Seven of ten individuals with DS older than 10 read books on their own for personal enjoyment

* One of two children with DS go to school in a mainstreamed class.

* 3 of 5 children with DS participate in school activities that are open to all students.

* According to their families, 1 of 5 children with DS talk on the phone with friends more than three times a week. For children older than ten, that number doubles.

* One of three children with DS write email regularly

* Two of three children with DS over age ten have a boyfriend or girlfriend!

* Approx. 7 of ten children with DS pray on a regular basis.

* According to their families, approx. 7 of 10 individuals with DS imitate characters from a television program or movie

* Approx. 2 of 3 individuals with DS older than 10 prepare their own breakfast each morning.

* Three of four individuals with DS older than 10 make their own bed in the morning.

* One of two individuals with DS (older than 18) work in a non sheltered workplace

* One of five individuals with DS (18 or older) lives on his or her own

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Day # 13-Tongue Thrust

Tongue thrust is the pushing of the tongue against the teeth while swallowing or at rest. The average person swallows 2000 - 4000 times per day and exerts pressure with each swallow. This can push the teeth out of alignment and may cause distorted speech sounds. I read an interesting statement today...."Often falsely accused of being larger than those of its non-Down syndrome tongue, the tongue in people with Down Syndrome is actually not larger than normal, it just is not as well controlled by the muscles responsible for it." And with that, I will leave you with this.....

What do you think???

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Day #12-Golden Ticket is HERE

I received the golden ticket today and it has been overnighted to Nashville for apostille with a overnight return envelope so hopefully, I will have my dossier completely finished and ready to mail to that certain Eastern European country by Saturday! Can you believe that? We completed our entire dossier (including homestudy) in 6 weeks (including USCIS approval-which normally takes 6-8 weeks alone). I can feel and see God in this whole thing. It is awesome. Now, to see if the SDA will actually start issuing appointments and travel dates is a whole different ballgame~

I will leave you with a picture from the Buddy Walk....

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day #11-You Wanna What???

So, I had introduced my idea about adopting a child from Ukr**ne with Down syndrome to Sean and he had agreed. I was on top of the world. I could not wait to go get him. I literally stayed up 'til all hours of the night reading blogs of people that were either in the process of adopting or who had been there, done that. I then saw a couple of pictures of the other kids in the same orphanage with Cole. Two of them caught my eye....Caden (known as David back then) and Emory (who's family is there now getting him). I was really starting to seriously think about bringing two home. Why, of course, it was for their benefit. They would need someone to play with. Blah.Blah.Blah. I mulled it over for several weeks and then one night I decided to show Sean a blog about a family that was adopting THREE babies with DS (one with Leukemia-plus they had 3 kids at home already). I was just feeling him out, trying to study his reaction. "They are insane!" "They have really lost their minds!" "There is no way that you can take care of that many kids!" "How in the world are they going to afford it?"....(me-"adopting another one while you are there is only about $4000 more." "One is more than enough!" "Those are very brave or very crazy people!".......(me-"Well, you know it is really quite the deal if you adopt two.")...."Shut up! We ARE NOT adopting two!!!" (me-silent)....."Stephanie, I am serious....get it out of your head......we ARE NOT adopting two!!" (me-"Okay.") So we finished our dinner and I didn't mention it again that evening. The next day, though, I sent a picture of Caden to Sean's phone with the caption "Poor little fellow doesn't even have one dollar in his grant. Should we at least donate since you don't want him?".....No reply.......Sean gets home from work and is very quiet and just kind of mopes around. I am convinced that he is mad at me for my text. I ask him a couple of times what was wrong..."Nothing." forward a couple of days. He comes into the bedroom and says "How do you get to that stupid website you are always looking at?" I show him. He goes down to the family room with the other computer. He comes back up a couple of HOURS later. He says..."Is all that stuff real?" (me-"I think so.") "Well, do you really think we could adopt more than one?" (me-"Yes, I do.") "Well, I think we should get Emory and Caden (David)." (me-"WHAT?? Are you crazy? We can't adopt three babies!!! Have you lost your mind?" "Well, let's get at least two and you choose which one." (me-"Grrreeeaaattt-so now I have to look at those two and PICK one!" To be continued...........

Monday, October 10, 2011

Day #10-How I ended up with my boys in the other room......

This may part of a series...

I have not birthed a child with DS. I have not had the news delivered to me while pregnant or shortly after birth that there was something "wrong" with my child. I have never once cried over the diagnosis of DS. Down syndrome means something different to me. I am not comparing my journey with DS to anyone that has had to deal with it in a different way.

For me, Down syndrome is a beautiful, wonderful thing filled with so much more than I can even describe. I LOVE DOWN SYNDROME! I know that sounds crazy, but it is absolutely true. Every patient with DS that I have ever cared for as a nurse has touched me so deeply and I have received nothing but pure joy from it. Sean's uncle Mac was a superstar. He was my first personal experience with DS and I wish he was here to see his legacy. He made me wish that I could birth a child with DS, but I could not and did I start thinking about adopting a baby with that little extra something. Enter Cole. I saw his little face with those chunky cheeks and almond eyes and it was DONE. I called Sean and told him of my desires and he laughed. I did not laugh. DEAD SILENCE. "Have you lost your mind?" "The kids are almost grown." "We are almost done." "He has Down syndrome." "Really?"....."Where is he?"...."How old is he?" "He is a REAL orphan." "Really?????"...."Where the h*ll is Ukr**ne?" "Have you lost your mind?".....(30 second-1 minute pause while he is looking at the picture that I text him of Cole)....."He sure is cute.".....(another pause)...."That's a big commitment."......(another pause-me still not breathing)...."Okay, let's go get him." I finally breath and say "Ok, will do". I will tell you next time how I introduced the idea of adopting TWO!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Day #9-Can't believe I am still blogging.....

Today was our local Buddy Walk and I think it was quite a success! They brought Cole, Caden, and James (from Russia) on the stage and introduced them to the DS community and told the entire audience about Reece's Rainbow and what they do. It was pretty cool! They gave each one of the boys a UT football to welcome them to East Tennessee. Cole and Caden enjoyed the Buddy Walk, except they skipped their nap to go and by the end of the day, it was O.V.E.R. On a happier note, both were bathed and in bed ASLEEP by 8 pm.

Sean helped set up a table/booth for Reece's Rainbow and we told our "story" many times today. It felt really good to get out and let the world know what we know-that having a child with Down syndrome is a blessing! Sean worked so hard today and I am really proud of him (he is also bathed and ASLEEP-hehehehe).

Working a 12 day stretch at work so I do apologize for the short postings, but at least I am posting. I am not sure I will make the 31 days, but I am going to continue to try!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Day #8-Knoxville Buddy Walk

Caden says "Please come to the Knoxville Buddy Walk tomorrow (Sunday) October 9th at the World's Fair Park!"

I should have my golden ticket tomorrow and I am going to get it apostilled by end of the week and then we will be sending off the dossier. Hope to be traveling by mid-end December!!!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Day #7-Atlantoaxial Instability (AAI) in children with Down Syndrome

I thought I would put some information about one of my biggest fears on here regarding things that are "common" with kiddos with Down syndrome...

AAI denotes increased mobility at the articulation of the first and second cervical vertebrae (atlantoaxial joint). The causes of AAI are not well understood but may include abnormalities of the ligaments that maintain the integrity of the articulation, bony abnormalities of the cervical vertebrae, or both.

In its mildest form, AAI is asymptomatic and is diagnosed using X-rays.....Symptomatic AAI results from subluxation (excessive slippage) that is severe enough to injure the spinal cord, or from dislocation at the atlantoaxial joint.

Approximately 15% of youth with DS have AAI. Almost all are asymptomatic. Some asymptomatic individuals who have normal X-rays initially will have abnormal X-rays later, and others with initially abnormal X-rays will have normal follow-up X-rays; the latter change is more common....

The neurologic manifestations of symptomatic AAI include easy fatiguability, difficulties in walking, abnormal gait, neck pain, limited neck mobility, torticollis (head tilt), incoordination and clumsiness, sensory deficits, spasticity, hyperreflexia...and {other spinal cord} signs and symptoms. Such signs and symptoms often remain relatively stable for months or years; occasionally they progress, rarely even to paraplegia, hemiplegia, quadriplegia, or death. Trauma rarely causes the initial appearance or the progression of these symptoms. Nearly all of the individuals who have experienced catastrophic injury to the spinal cord had weeks to years of preceding, less severe neurologic abnormalities....

Most importantly, symptomatic AAI is apparently rare in individuals with DS. In the pediatric age group, only 41 well-documented cases have been described in the published literature....

Asymptomatic AAI, which is common, has not been proven to be a significant risk factor for symptomatic AAI....

The efficacy of the intervention to prevent symptomatic AAI has never been tested. Sports trauma has not been an important cause of symptomatic AAI in the rare patients with this disorder; only 3 of the 41 reported pediatric cases had initial symptoms of AAI or worsening of symptoms after trauma during organized sports participation. Members of the SO Medical Advisory Committee think that more such sports-related injuries occur but that they are being overlooked because of a lack of information about the association of AAI and spinal cord injury among health care providers. This claim has not been substantiated with published research.

(information from

So, what this information says to me is GET YOUR KID CHECKED!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day # 6-

This is what Down syndrome looks like on a karotype (fancy name for chromosome study).

This is what Down syndrome looks like NOT under a microscope!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day # 5-People First Language

I am probably going to get a lot of slack from this, but here goes....

I am not sure I totally agree with the EMOTIONS behind the people first language. Of course, I want my children referred to in the most positive way possible, but am I going to get fighting mad when someone refers to them as a "Down's child" or "Down syndrome kid"? No, I do not get mad. I do sometimes, depending on the situation, say "well, really, he is just a regular kid...who happens to have Down syndrome." But that is about as far as I go. I don't want to protest or educate the world because it just does not matter that much to me. I have bigger fish to fry than to make sure that everyone is saying everything just so so. Now, if the "R" word or something like that comes up, yes I get offended and YES I LET THEM KNOW, but most people (or at least the people I associate with) have never heard of people first language and have no idea that what they are saying would offend someone. Yes, I know some of you are saying "well, educate them", but I don't know if I am willing to start a discussion over something I think is a minimal problem when I would rather address things like the "R" word...Make sense??? But anyway, did want to point out that People First Language does exist and many people feel very strongly about it and we should all ATTEMPT to use it to keep from offending others (my good deed of the day-lol)!

On a happier note, I am going to Nashville in the morning for fingerprints and I have been in touch with my congressman's office and they say I should expect the golden ticket in 7-10 days. I will believe that when I see it!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day #4-Cole Update

Let me tell you about Big Man Cole....he is the sweetest human on this Earth. He is the complete opposite of Caden (not that Caden is not sweet, but he is very different). It is really odd that they were raised in the same environment and yet, came out so differently. Cole likes to sit back and take things in, check it out really well, then decide if wants to participate or not. He has grown a ton, now wearing size 5T slim pants (wore a 2-3T last year), but is still quite skinny but very TALL. He is 90% on the height on the growth chart and 25% on the weight. He signs quite a bit....Mom, Dad, potty, hungry, thirsty, more, all done, please, but he has NEVER EVER asked for one single thing since he has been home. He would still literally sit in his room all day long and be perfectly happy if we let him. His favorite activity is jumping on his trampoline and eating. I don't know why he is so skinny because he can eat and he will eat anything and everything....except deviled eggs. He gagged and cried when I gave him one-lol. I worry more about Cole than any of my other kids because it would be easy for him to get lost in society. Caden demands attention and gets what he wants....Cole would literally lay and starve to death before letting you know he was hungry. He is a beautiful child, with olive skin and gorgeous chocolate brown eyes. He sucks his tongue to go to sleep and has never slept past 630 am since he has been home. It doesn't matter if you skip nap-time, keep him up until midnight, nothing....we are getting up at 630 am no matter what. He is "potty trained" or more time trained I guess you would say. He still wears a pull up, but it will usually last most of the day and he almost always wakes up dry, but he again, does not ask to go to the bathroom. You just say "Cole go potty" and he will go to the bathroom, pull down his pants, use the bathroom, pull his pants back up and go on about his business. Pretty cool, huh? He is healthy as a horse, has only been sick once since we got home and has a lot more endurance that little Caden man. He also has cute spikey hair!!!!


Monday, October 3, 2011

Day # 3-The Creed for Babies with Down Syndrome

Just because I love this poem....

My face may be different
But my feelings the same
I laugh and I cry
And I take pride in my gains
I was sent here among you
To teach you to love
As God in the heavens
Looks down from above
To Him I'm no different
His love knows no bounds
It's those here among you
In cities and towns
That judge me by standards
That man has imparted
But this family I've chosen
Will help me get started
For I'm one of the children
So special and few
That came here to learn
The same lessons as you
That love is acceptance
It must come from the heart
We all have the same purpose
Though not the same start
The Lord gave me life
To live and embrace
And I'll do it as you do
But at my own pace

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Day #2-Down Syndrome Awareness

Ha! Even if I don't do another least I did MORE than one!

Anyway, Today's topic......Being loved by someone with that extra chromosone!

If you have never had a hug or kiss from a person with DS, I highly recommend you do so as quickly as possible. It is breath taking and will melt the hardest of hearts. Cole and Caden kiss and hug with everything they have. Caden's little chubby arms are only about 10 inches long and you would think that he would not be able to even get them around your neck-and you would be completely WRONG! Those little dynamite arms will squeeze your head off as he is planting a delicious, sloppy kiss right smack in the kisser. No cheek kisses for these guys!

Seriously, while I do get annoyed at some of the misconceptions of people with DS (always happy, love music, love church, etc.), the thoughts that they are usually loving is completely true with my little guys. Love just oozes from them and they won't let you get by with some little hug or a quick kiss if you are in a hurry. They have a philosophy of "slow down, big hug, big kiss...then GO". I love it. I can't tell you how much I look forward to those hugs and kisses.

Down syndrome means so much to me. Sometime this month, I am going to actually write a long post of how this syndrome has directly affected me and my life. So, today's question is...."Have you hugged someone with Down syndrome today?"

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Down Syndrome Awareness Month!

Today is the official start of Down Syndrome Awareness Month and I am going to attempt to do the "31 for 21 challenge"....meaning I should blog everyday in the month of October to increase awareness with all things DS (notice the word attempt). Anyway, I am going to write out what Down syndrome means to me and how it has personally affected my life, but not today. Today I am going to write that I have the most wonderfully made two additions in my family, and that there is another wonderful little sunshine waiting for us across the sea, and I am thankful and honored to know and mother these children. I am truly not worthy!

On the adoption homefront, we are still waiting to hear from USCIS. I am going to call our congressman to see if we can solicit some help there to get things moving a little quicker....that is, as soon as I try to figure out who the heck that would be (save your comments for how I should be more involved with politics-not going to happen).

I have so enjoyed getting a glimpse of Andrey this week due to the missionary that is over there right now ( I can't wait to get my hands on him. He is going to be 5 in December, but looks/acts like maybe a 8-12 month old. He has some pretty moderate to severe institutionalized behaviors, so that will be interesting to get those to go away. Anyway, that is all for now and I hope that I will post again tomorrow!