Friday, March 25, 2011

Story of the judge who said no!!

This is a friend's friend story. I do not know these people, but I would love it if we could help them:)

The Story of the Judge Who Said No

Please feel free to share the following on your blogs. It is a summary of our adoption journey so far. Please help us spread the word. We are hoping somehow someone will be able to help us.

Two years ago Greg and I began praying for God to do whatever he wanted with our lives. We handed him a “blank check” so to speak, and told him to cash it. He opened our eyes to children with disabilities wasting away across the ocean in Eastern Europe. We joined God and started our adoption journey.

Our family is more than equipped to handle a child with special needs. I have a degree in Early Childhood Education. I am a member of the Board of Directors of Best Buddies of Alabama. I have volunteered for RISE and Eagles’ Wings. All of these organizations serve individuals with special needs. My husband I have close friends and family who have special needs and we are a big part of each other’s lives. Our wedding party included some of these special people. Our involvement with individuals with special needs led us to adopt a child with special needs; specifically, we chose Down Syndrome.

As we prayed over the faces of thousands of orphaned children with Down Syndrome, we ultimately chose a little boy named Sergey from Russia. Eight months later, as we neared the finish line of our adoption, one of Sergey’s family members in Russia stepped forward to adopt him. We were heartbroken for our loss, but God showed us that we were following him, and his ways are perfect. We knew we still wanted to adopt, so the way we saw it, two children would find homes because of our journey…Sergey went to his family and now we would choose another child to come into our family. We took great comfort in knowing that God could see this when we first committed to Sergey! We were honored to be a part of his plan.

Shortly after losing Sergey, we received a new referral with a grainy photo of a four-year-old blond-haired boy wearing pink glasses named Kirill. We were instantly in love with him. We had to re-file a lot of our paperwork because of the change in referrals and regions of Russia, but we were fast and we thought we were looking at three more months at the most until we would have Kirill home.

That was well over a year ago.

Since then so many things have happened. A tragic story of an adoptive mother sending her child back to his country alone on a plane with a note pinned to his shirt rocked our world…he was from Russia. Adoptions in Russia came to a screeching halt. Kirill’s region stopped processing adoptions for eight long months. The judge refused to accept any Amercian adoption cases until an official treaty was signed between the United States and Russia.

Even though we wouldn’t be able to finalize the adoption in court until the treaty was signed, we were allowed to go visit Kirill and sign our official petition to adopt him in August 2010. We fell more deeply in love with him. This was our son.

During that time, we found out that Kirill is the first child from his region EVER to be adopted with Down Syndrome. A birth mother keeping her child with Down Syndrome is unheard of in this area of the world. Adoptions of children with Down Syndrome just don’t happen there, these children are literally hidden away from society in orphanages and mental institutions. As our process continued, it became apparent that Kirill would be a pioneer. If our adoption was approved, it would pave the way for other children with special needs to be adopted from this region.

Then, a miracle happened around Christmas and the judge in this region suddenly changed her mind and began processing American adoptions again. We were elated. Could this be the light at the end of a very long tunnel? I was somewhat nervous about Kirill being the first child adopted with Down Syndrome from his region, but our agency was very confident that if we got a court date, our adoption would be approved. In seventeen years, they had never had a case rejected IF the family was issued a court date. We were told not to worry, so I didn’t. After meeting the judge’s requests for several supporting court documents, we were finally granted a court date-March 17, 2011. St. Patrick’s Day…I was thrilled. This would be our new favorite holiday! Our son was coming home!

Our other son, Clayton, who had just turned three when we started this adoption process, has prayed fervently for his brother. He is now almost five. When we told him Kirill was coming home, oh my…we had an excited big brother on our hands! At one point he even went to his room, dumped out his toy cars and divided them into two stacks…one for him and one for Kirill.

Last week, as we sat in the courtroom and suffered through five agonizing hours of difficult questioning, we were not prepared for anything but an approval of our case. Two doctors, two social workers, and the Minister of Children’s Services all made very strong statements on our behalf. They fought for us. Hard.

But when the ruling was read, the judge said, “Your application to adopt is rejected.” The basis given was that Kirill was “not socially adaptable” due to his “medical condition” and he was better off in an institution than in a home with a family. As the judge read her ruling, she stated several times that we were a good family, that we met all the criteria to adopt a child, but that she would not approve our adoption because Kirill has Down Syndrome. She told us that we could adopt another child, because legally our application had no problems according to Russian adoption law. She said she would approve our adoption for a “typical” child, but not this child. Why? The only reason? Because he has Down Syndrome. Even though we were approved by our home study and by the USCIS to adopt a child with special needs. It makes no sense whatsoever. Denying a child a family because he has Down Syndrome is a violation of human rights at its most basic level!

It was like a terrible dream. We were so unprepared for this outcome. As we left the courthouse in a mental fog, the doctors and social workers that had testified came to us and said, “If you appeal, we will fight for you. Appeal. Fight this decision.” Of course we were going to appeal…I could no more walk away from our biological son, Clayton, at this point. Kirill is just as much my son.

So here we are, asking God to move the mountain that is standing between Kirill and us as we appeal to the Supreme Court in Moscow. There are also three other families who are in various stages of adopting children with Down Syndrome from Kirill’s region; one of the families has a court hearing set for next week.

We are hoping that someone will hear our outcry and help us bring our son and these other waiting children home. His adoption will set the precedent for many other children in his region. There are 98 children in his orphanage with special needs alone. It is one of many orphanages in this region that houses children with special needs. This is about more than just one child, the lives of hundreds of children with special need are at stake. Please help us.

(This story taken from "Our Eyes Opened")

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Shattered Image...........

So a good friend and I have been discussing for months now reality in blogs. Life on a blog and how different it is from real life. I feel like mine is pretty open to what happens around here. But have thought that you all don't necessarily see the ugly. So not that I want you all to think that my life is not all that and a bag of chips. But I DO want you all to see that my life well it's good, but there is some ugly(it's just real). Like the fact that my kids don't always obey, or the way Bryce and I disagree. Well sometimes it's just down right ugly. Does it negate the fact that we are still 100% committed to each other? Well of course not. We take our vows VERY VERY SERIOUSLY. And it's not entirely because we made them to each other. Why it's because we stood before the God of the Universe and pledged ourselves to each other before him. I fear the wrath of God more than I fear the wrath of Bryce. So many people, sadly to say a lot of Christians do not anymore. And we wonder what's going on with our youth and Nation. Ok this is NOT a marriage post....:) There have been times when I did not think that I have been fit to be a wife and mother. But when I get that feeling I pray. I used to go to the telephone. So someone could tell me my self worth. But now I go to the throne of Jesus. He tells me I am the apple of his eye, that he LOVES me and will NEVER leave me, he says if I draw near to him he will draw near to me.....It's the way things are. I DEPEND on Jesus for everything. I NEED him for everything. Sometimes there is chastising. HE does that to the people he Loves. Only because he wants to see me grow. To have victory in areas I have struggled, to overcome. To hold my toungue, to love and not hate. Jesus is why I can love, be a decent wife and mother. Jesus is why I can love friends, and family enough to give myself. It's all about him. So this my firends is my REALITY. It's not always easy nor do I expect it to be. There have and will continue to be disapoinments. But if I keep my eyes on him, those will only last a little while. Becasue joy comes in the morning!!! So friends...please don't hide behind a fence, image or mirage. Just be you, let Jesus live in you. And you won't have to hide anymore. Oh the Victory in just being you and not what others think you should be is... well it's FRREDOM!! I love all of you!!! Have a wonderful day...Remember we are Blessed to be a Blessing:)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

PW + MM = My Valentine's 2011

OK there was this city girl, that met a cowboy. They fell in love, got married and had 4 babies. Oh AND she was from the city....moved to the country and became Pioneer Woman. I LOVE HER!!!! Some of you worry about me and my minor obsession with PW. But to all concerned, STOP. She is my friend. Maybe just in the cyber world, but none the less my friend. I feel like she is one of my best friends. And guess what? I am not the only one that feels this way about her and her incredible family!! She has this small blog . You should check it out sometime...Jk about the small part. It's a goldmine of information, photo tips, life stories, oh the Mike stories they make me smile, and just a few recipes. Just a few? Are you kidding a platthera of recipes. I was hooked when she showed a picture of every step of the way. It was life changing for me. Do you know how many times, I have been making something new, and wondered what it should look like? Well she eliminated that for me, and for that I will always have a special place in my heart for her. I was introduced to her blog 4 years ago, when really there was not much traffic. Those were the days. She now gets a million hits a month, and I am sure there are even more now. It has been such neat journey to share with her the explosion, and popularity of her blog. She wrote a cookbook and I went to her signing. I had never been to a signing before. I had so much fun. Met some friends, well what else do you do in line for meet people, Totally a gift of mine:) When she announced her Love story release I looked for her book signing schedule. Once again I made plans to attend. My husband gave me the book for our Anniversary gift, but insisted that I get a date to go with me. You see it was on Valentine's day. How awesome was that? My husband gave up his Valentine. It was pretty special and I came home with a special present for get your minds out of the gutter. It was a cigar humidor that he has wanted for a long time now. I took 2 lovely teenage girls with me. Lynsee and Korrin, they were so much fun. And on the date I found out I was both of their first dates. We had fun shopping, eating at the Purple Cow. Then standing in line. Oh I meant I stood in line they are both book worms and had fun wondering around Borders for an evening. They would come check on me every now and then. I met more new friends. I was able to meet up with an old friend from high school. Karie and I had not seen each other in 20 years. That was so much fun, new and old favorite:)Oh I got to see MM's cousin Mateo and his lovely Bride Teresa again. I think their just as great!! PW, is so gracious, kind, loving, fun, and my best friend. Oh I already told you all that. Well her husband, MM the one responsible as to why some of us have bought our husband's Wranglers. Jk......Well he is just a true gentlemen. He stood in line for hours signing books with no comfortable table or chair. He just stood there, gave everyone their moment, took pictures for us to brag about, smiled and did the same for the next 500 people. Oh the night was wonderful.....and I am so Thankful to my wonderful husband for giving me that gift on Valentine's...Enjoy the pics everyone!!!