Just when we thought that our plate was full in life, God dished us up some dessert!




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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

We have a new son---Stanislav Thomas Thibault

I can't show you any pictures because we are running around like crazy. We had court at 12noon, before that ran around getting things lined up. Court was a breeze. Just wanted to know how we could possibly take care of 8 kids and 2 of them DS. (I don't know....I guess I will find out:-)

After court you have to patiently wait while they make 10 copies of the 10 page document, sew them together by hand, gluw with elmers glue some special seal on them and then stamp them several times in several places before the judge then signs. Wow...me and patience do not go together when you have a whole bunch of deadlines to catch and hope and pray that people will be in their office when you get there. We got his new birth certificate, got his passport, made it home for dinner (quite hungry after all of that.) Stas got his first bath...didn't mind it a bit.

Ricky loves Stas and was very pleasantly surprised to see him in his room when he woke up. He has been nothing but loving. AMEN!!!!!!


Feeding Stas will be interesting. He doesn't chew, just swallows mush. He drank at the orphanage from a giant teet-like nipple. Huge with a huge hole. We don't have that.

Will post again when we can.
Got to get to a train....

Thank you all for your prayers...you are the best.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sights in the orphanage...from Dan

For any husbands who aren't sure about this whole adoption thing, I thought I would show you my take on the orphanage. I hope I can interest you in coming here. The sights are very interesting.


A view of the bench that we spent a lot of time on with Stas


Of course the boat that the children love to play on


Here is our Israeli friends that we just met today. He found the place very interesting too!


Here is a picture of Gretchen and Stas


And here, I just wanted to show, um, the need for some painting

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tisk, tisk!


This is why boys need a mother!

Look what happens when I leave for 2 weeks. I'm putting Steve up to this nifty idea. The text read "Stay in Europe. I think there is another airshow next weekend, too."

Can't wait to be home!

Saw Stas this morning. I just love that little boy!!! Ricky kissed, and kissed and kissed him today. Halya arrived this morning, yeah. She liked to see the progress that Ricky has made with Stas. She left last weekend when Stas was still torture to Ricky.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dull day for blogging

Sorry guys, nothing exciting to post today.

Dan and I just got back from the beach. We decided to walk. It was crazy warm. We had no swimsuit, though I wouldn't have looked that bad on this beach it seems ;-) We left Lizzy behind to stay with sleeping Ricky. Good thing. It was no place for her!

Ricky still has diarrhea. Really eager for that to be done!!!! He is not a bread eater...he loves fruit, veggies (cucumbers and tomatoes at every meal here...hope you like them, I do!), and their sausage (glorified bologna, but very good and fresh). That is not a good diet for a boy with diarrhea. We will all survive under a week of this, right?

Halya will be on a train tonight and be here by morning. Look forward to seeing her again.

We did not visit Stas today. We took a break from the orphanage---not Stas. I miss him. I want him, but I want him out of there. It has a certain smell I never care to smell again. I can't describe it. Quite frankly, it is depressing.

I want him to smell fresh air. I want him out. I want to bath him, I want to dry his hair in a towel and scrub his head and fluff up his hair. I want to sing rock-a-bye baby to him after I dry him in a towel...and make the cradle fall...ever so gently. I want to put a real diaper on him, not a rag drooping between his legs held up by a sash tied around a one-piece sleeper with strings hanging over his shoulder. I will put a fresh outfit on him, and he will have a lot of outfits. I will sing to him and he will get on a carpet and crawl to his hearts content!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No one will stop him. And...get this...I will let him have a draft!! A nice big draft whenever the wind blows and it will make him feel good. He will have his own crib when he sleeps and then when he wakes he will have run of a house, not another playpen in another room to hang out in. No one will step on him, and he won't step on anyone else...okay, I can't guarantee that.

Aah...to be home.

Please Lord, bring us home soon. And also Lord, bring these other children to homes soon. Please Lord! My heart hurts for them.

A note to Stas' caretakers

This is a letter that I wrote and had translated to Stas' caretakers. I would like to make a generic one to give to Reece's Rainbow for parents to give to the caretakers of their children when they say goodbye and thank you. I will talk to Andrea about that. Fr. Andrew has also recommended a book to the caretakers that they are very interested in reading. It must be in Ukrainian if he has read it and recommended it. I thought it would be a good gift to give along with a letter when you say goodbye. Imagine the impact that such a book could have to help change the culture here...one baby step at a time.

To all of Stas' caretakers-

I want to thank each person who has cared for our little Stas since he has come to Solnitchko. He is a precious little boy and we feel blessed to have him as our son.

MANY people in Ukraine have asked us why we would want this boy when he has Down syndrome. I would be happy to explain to you the many reasons.

We already have a child with Down syndrome and we love him so much! We adopted him one hour after he was born. His challenges make him no less important to us. In fact, he is everyone’s favorite. Now—we will have two favorites! They are very special people. Adopting him was one of the best decisions we have ever made! He has been such a blessing. Although he has had medical challenges he is now doing very well. Even with many medical problems he would still be a huge blessing!

These special people teach us so much! Many people look at them and think they are not very smart. They are actually the very best teachers we have. They are teachers of our SOUL! They teach us to have good hearts. What good are we if we have all of the intelligence in the world but we don’t know how to love? We are a Christian family and we believe that when we look in the face of these children, we are looking into the face of Christ. The Bible says “what you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you have done unto me.” When I look into the face of these children (or adults) with special needs, I see the face of Christ. I hope that you also see His face in these children. It is so much easier and more meaningful to care for them when you do. We are called to treat them as we would treat Christ Himself.

Stas will have a family that will love him very much. He has had people praying for him for a long time. Friends and family and neighbors are very excited to meet him and to love him.

In the United States, children get therapy starting at birth. This helps them very much which is why at 3 years old you could see our very active boy. His muscles were very weak at birth just like most other kids born with Down syndrome. He received/receives physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech/oral therapy. Physical therapy works with the large muscles of the body, especially the trunk and stomach muscles of the body to hold them strong. Occupational therapy helps them do the smaller movements that are necessary to play with a toy, hold smaller objects, feed themselves and write or use their fingers well. And finally, Speech/oral therapy at a very early age helps them chew and eat properly, move their tongue properly and form sounds to talk. These therapists are very good, but much of the therapy they get is just from their life in a family: playing, walking, talking, and just by everyday stimulation and interaction. Because most children with Down syndrome are slow to speak, it has been believed that they don’t understand what is said to them. This is not true. They just take a while to learn to form their words. Children are now taught sign language at an early age so they can “talk” to people and communicate their needs. Our son knows probably over almost 300 words in sign language!

I want you to know that I have been praying, many times a day, for a long time, for all of Stas’ caretakers and for their families. Know that you have received many, many prayers!!! We will continue to pray for you. We will continue to pray for the care of these special children.

I wish I could hold, hug, rock, and kiss every one of these very special children! They are so precious, even when they sometimes require so much work. When you think of it, give them a kiss from me. Tell them you met someone who loves them very much and someone who is praying for them!!!

Thank you again for all that you have done for Stas!

With gratitude and many blessings!

The Mama, Papa, and family of Stas

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Free Massages today at the orphanage!

We brought some lotion, baby bath and powder to a different group today. Another group that has some special kids in it. Here are Taya and AnnMarie. They both got massages on their arms, legs and face. They got a little backrub and even a tummy rub! It is amazing how these sweeties just perk up and interact more after being rubbed, touched....just stimulated.

We have seen Stas improve in just the last 10 days. We rub him, tickle him, squeeze his cheeks, make him work to sit up in the stroller or on our laps. What a difference it makes. He is still a little squishy pile of love, though. He should be easy on the train and plane because he can't get away from us. He loves to just cuddle in as you can see in many of our pictures. We will have to separate Ricky and Stas though I think b/c Ricky still has a good streak of jealousy.





Friday, June 25, 2010

Can you say I-N-T-E-R-P-O-L???

Oh Yeah!!! Alas...it is done. The lawyer's office was closed by the time we got word that Interpol was finished so now we wait until Tuesday to find out if we can get a Tuesday date (Monday is national holiday----remember, they like their holidays?!!)

Stas checking out the outside worlds



I bet you didn't know...(a lot of things that they know in Ukraine, but I will wait to tell you all of them)

...that if you were to sit in the chairs that face along this walkway you will get sick because their is a draft (I wish!!!!!!!!!) in corridors. So we were told to move to the center seats so we don't get Stas sick. Ooooo-kaaaay?!


...you will get sick if you sit on a cool surface. Lizzy on a 85 degree day was sitting on the front step of the church and was told to get up b/c she will get sick. Fr. just saw me sitting on the stairs (because the internet was working there and their was a prayer meeting going on in our regular room) and he told me "cold" as he pointed down and "sick" so he relocated me at a table in the conference room. Believe me, I was liking the cold! I love Father, he is very sweet. They are truly loving here and ALWAYS looking out for our well-being.

...Borscht is NOT a soup, it just looks, tastes and resembles one.
...Borscht is always eaten before a meal and you eat nothing else until it is gone. (It is very good so I don't mind)
...You do not put buckwheat or rice or croutons in your soup...you just don't :-)
...bread is sacred. You can leave anything else behind on you plate, but don't leave bread! This goes back to the famine imposed by Stalin 80 years ago. Also, because bread is a lot of work to make and you can live on bread for a long time even if you had nothing else.

Dan drinking (and toasting) Fr. Andrew as they drink warm milk...because it came straight from the cow!!! Gross. Tasted fine but it came straight from the cow!


This is great...Valia, who is from Zap, lives now in Wisconsin for the last 8 years and was talking about her friend who started an organization to bring awareness about Down syndrome to people and this friend has a logo with a Down syndrome footprint and the word "Awareness"...Check this out!


Halya is staying with Genya in Kyiv and will be back on Monday where we will go through the plan of attack to get everything done in one day....(reminder, we are in Ukraine... :)

Bye for now....love you kids....thanks to whoever is helping them!

May I interest anyone in this beauty of a boy?



Yesterday's adventure....

My little wobbly walker.


Fr. and Valia loving Stas!!



Making friends, I think. A peace offering!




Well, it seems the “adventure” was a little different than I thought. We skipped the maternity hospital b/c their wasn’t enough time. Fr. Andrew and Valia drove us to the orphanage and they came in with us. We needed Valia as our translater ;-) and Fr. Andre tagged along. I won’t go into any details here, but it was a “good” experience.
We finished at 6pm and waited for the taxi. And waited, and waited, and waited ( I could write that a lot!!!) At 7pm we thought maybe he got the hours mixed up, he will be here soon. We had no phone, no phone numbers, no idea how to tell us the church (they wouldn’t know anyway!), no way to communicate….Lizzy and I felt pretty darn helpless..we were. So we prayed, we played, we prayed, we prayed, we watched our videos, we laughed, and prayed…we figured when dinner hit Dan would know something was wrong. A half hour late wouldn’t trigger a shock b/c Alexander likes “propositions” (that means I have an idea of something we can do or somewhere we can go….and off we go…no say!), but I hoped an hour late Dan would be hopping in the car for me or something. Okay, 8pm I thought we have one more hour of light, and certainly at worst the darkness would trigger Dan to worry. Well, at 8:15, Alleluia!, Fr. and Dan showed up! As it turns out, Alexander was busy, and sent another Taxi to get us. Um, and just how were we supposed to know that. Well, he told Dan (who he probably thought was with me) and then you would think that taxi driver would say to the two Americans sitting on a bench for 15 minutes while he was watching “taxi Alexander” or “taxi American.” Something? So….we made it back after 2 ½ hours and everyone was relieved. Fr. gave me an extra phone…I think he was very worried. I had bouts of angst…and then I would think…”no, Dan wouldn’t let us sleep on this bench….right?!?!?”
Supposedly tomorrow Interpol will work on our (everyones!) document and get them by the end of the day….or by Tuesday, as Monday is a holiday here. Oh no…another holiday!!!! They like holidays here. Our flight is scheduled for next Friday, if it wasn’t for this Interpol document we would be home this (!!!!!) Friday…oh well, what are we going to do.
Amidst frustration…what can you say but it is all worth it for this precious boy. He will have what God intended for him, a family to call his own. We are so blessed to have him joining our family. God is good! You kids are going to eat him up!! Hopefully he will grow on Ricky, as long as he doesn’t get his teeth on Ricky first!!
Blessings!
Mom/Gretchen

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Adventure....

This trip has been an adventure. We are so fortunate to be in a place (the Church) where they look out for us. They see to our needs, yet we are also independent where we want to be. We have the same driver to and from the orphanage everyday, Alexander,with whom we have interesting (with struggling language barrier) political conversations. :-) Lenin, Stalin, Obama :-)...communism, socialism, capitalism....
We go to mass daily, have people here praying for us profusely, they feel our frustration, and apologize (truly) for the system.

Dan and Lizzy are currently at a women's clinic to see the tv screens that they have put up in the maternity areas to show fetal development. We love it. We donated 5 more for the hospitals that are asking for them. A couple will be used, with Genya's influence in Kyiv. I will go with Valentia and Fr. Andrew to the Maternity Hospital when they get back to see what it is like. I can't imagine. They will then drop us off at Solnichko. This work with the tv screens is done through Chalic of Mercy. I think I will check them out right now online. She is really a dear young woman!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Day 6 with Stas---Communism lesson

So, it turns out that the US can't help because the US Interpol has nothing to do with the Ukraine Interpol process. The SDA has resubmitted our paperwork...uh huh....and now we will see what happens. It is all computerized so it should be done quickly. Interesting how my friend who was here in March also had her paperwork not get processed b/c they were on "vacation."

Today Dan and I went to get Stas' passport pix taken. Very cute. A groupa worker went with us.

What a treat it was to meet a beautiful young woman today--Valya or Valentina. Fr. John told us this a.m. that we would see some people coming on a pilgrimage from Medjugore. It turns out the young woman is from Zaporosche (I spell it different every time I write it!) and lives in the Wisconsin. She started a ministry called Chalice of Mercy to help bring supplies to hospitals and to do pro-life work where she can. She is absolutely beautiful...inside and out.

She gave us an interesting lesson on Communism in Ukriane and how the desires of Lenin and then Stalin made its effect on Ukraine. Fascinating yet awful. Lennon had every church taken down in Zaporosche. In other major cities he let one stay so he could say that he didn't take them all down---"see!" She explained how it came to be that those with disabilities became locked away. Many of you know this...but work was everything and you had to be productive. It seems that our little kiddos predecessors weren't productive and only a hindrance on society. So, away they went. What we see in the orphanages the fallout of Communism. We saw factory (huge!!) after factory today that Alexander drove us past. Crazy.

While I am dying to finish up this process and get home (!!!!), there is one little light I have ahead of me IF we are still here in Zap on Monday. She offered to take me to a Maternity Hospital...wow...a high-risk OB nurse (former--too busy with kids now)on a Ukrainian Maternity Unit. The abortions are done on the same unit. Imagine that! They have been able through their efforts to get large screen tv's in the maternity ward to play on a continuous loop video of the developing baby in utero. I like it--a lot!!!!

Maybe I can reciprocate and have her as my translator at the orphanage??? We will see.

The experience of staying at the church, living among Ukrainians and "talking" to them throughout the whole day is more than a blessing.
I am too tired to post Stas' passport pix. Ricky is crying down the hall from his bed.
video

Passport pictures today!





Photos:
Stas is such a happy boy!!!!

Next is AnnMarie (someone please come and get this little love!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

And finally, Taya, precious!! A big smooch, and lots of them!!!!

This afternoon Dan and Lizzy (I guess) will go get Stas' pix taken for passports. We have a pass from the director's office to take him. I'm guessing this is his first time out of the orphanage since he first arrived there. I wish I could go but I will stay back with Ricky sleeping. I will get pictures and video. We got a little outfit for him to wear for his special outing. (a Ukrainian purchase.)

Today we hung out with the group under the trees that has a bunch of kids with special needs. There are 4 with DS and many with CP. They mostly look like babies but I am guessing that most of them are pushing 4 or even more. Visited a bunch with AnnMarie and Taya. Way beautiful!!! I told Taya that her mommy and daddy are coming soon and I told AnnMarie that she will have a mommy and daddy, I just don't know who yet. She has THE most beautiful big, bright, blue eyes. Gorgeous!!! She was playful as I put a piece of a toy on her head and she tried to reach for it. I put it back and she knew the game. She smiled and laughed and liked to play pattycake. They sure tie those bonnets tight!!! Wouldn't want them to breath, Oops, I mean fall off. I'm not sure why the bonnets are so necessary in 80 degrees and in the shade, but okay?!?!

Funny things to learn about Ukraine. DRAFTS are bad, bad, bad. The first day when we went in Stas' room they had the breezy crib room door closed. All of the windows were open but they worried about any of us being in there b/c of the draft. They will steam in a car before they will open the window to get a draft. I love that Alexander lets us keep the windows all the way down.....

More later, b/c it is 2pm...lunchtime!!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Interpol LOST the document?....oh my!!






But, it is the feast day of St. Thomas More, so we should get this all squared away soon. I have many here at the church praying for our situation.

The SDA got it, sent it to Interpol, they got it, voila....magic....gone! We have Sen. Klobuchar's office working on it and the SDA. Sound like a good combo? Actually, Klobuchar's office has been helpful for such things :-)

What a great day. We had a morning visit which was nice. Dan, Ricky and I hung out with Stas for an hour this a.m. and Lizzy and I this evening. Stas is an absolutely squishy doll, with piranha teeth. I don't think he has gotten a whole lot of oral care to say the least. He just wants to hug and lay his head on my chest. Way too cute. Kisses form Ricky today....somewhat hesitantly, then eventually rather joyfully, hands in the air dancing b/c he was such a good boy for doing so. (Because we applauded him of course!)

Saw plenty of Anastasia and "Russel". Oh my we had such a good time with them. Jenny V.--Anastasia copies everything that i do...she will be great at sign language it seems. She follows commands. Example, when we were playing with bubbles, I gave her the lid and motioned for her to give it to Lizzy. She happily hands it to Lizzy. She tries to copy my mouth motions, played patty cake, and all sorts of things. Oh, she is craving to be touched and held. She will be a major lovebug!!!

Russel is just way too cute and would make some mommy or daddy very, very happy. And how happy that mommy or daddy would be to have him. So cute and tons of pix now. He talks fairly well it seems. "Spa-see-ba" (thank you) he says (without the s--it is hard to say) "ba-bee-ba"---pretty good. I will have to talk in person to both of the moms to give you all sorts of details!!!! They are great players!

Enjoy the photos---AND please, please pray for Interpol document to surface!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Monday, June 21, 2010

Please pray!!

Trouble in Kyiv getting our Interpol which is the international background check. We could have been home by the end of this week (Saturday) but we don't know why the Interpol clearance isn't ready. The head of SDA said that people in that agency are vacationing and they divide up the documents and ours could be on someone's desk. Yippy. There is a way we are trying to locate it, but we are in Ukraine, remember. Some word today maybe.

Ricky getting better with Stas. Feeling like Groundhog Day (the movie) as I saw another adopting parent say....ditto. Love Ukraine, love Stas, love vacation, but love my family at home better than being here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please pray for our Interpol document to be found. St. Anthony...please pray for us to find it and please pray for the people to find time to do it :-)

Taya, AnnMarie and Russel are way, way cute. Will fill requests as soon as able. Internet is spotty and have opportunities here and there....

Blessings.
Gretchen

We're waiting on word--Day 4 with Stas in morning




Some photos for now...explanation later. It is mealtime, the bell rang.









Sunday, June 20, 2010

Day 4--Morning AND MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH!!

We went to Mass, had breakfast, left Lizzy behind, took Ricky and left for the orphanage at 10am. The orphanage (the baby house which Stas is in is up to age 4 or 6 years old depending upon who you ask) is called Solnichko (or "sun".) We were late getting there because Alexander likes to take side trips. Perhaps you recognized this Jodi?? This is his line, "ah, ten minutes, market, okay?" That is a rhetorical question! He plans on taking you regardless of your thought. It is sweet because he really wants to show you things and to speak English. We ended up with a 1/2 hour visit because they wanted him back at 11:30am to eat. It was just as well. Ricky had a diarrhea diaper while we were there---contained. Then at 11:29am we smelled something coming from Stas. Yes---bad diaper---somewhat contained until they took him in the room and let him scoot across the floor with just his diaper on. Oh my, that explains a lot. At least they put a diaper on him for us to take him out.

MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH: Ricky wasn't miserable seeing Stas today. A little disturbed initially, then he even patted the spot next to him on the outdoor play equipment--the truck bench. My trick is working!!!! He is fine when we can see him for a couple hours a day, what about when he comes on the train, plane, and automobile, and even home with us???

On the way back to our "hotel", aka church, we stopped at another market to look for cucumbers for Alexander. They were too expensive--13 cents for a little cucumber if I did my math correct. We went back and put Ricky to bed to learn that now he had a bad diaper---NOT CONTAINED! Ugh. No Halya to interpret right now as she went back Kiev to be there for tomorrow a.m. at the SDA. So I motioned to Fr. that I needed to wash laundry. He must have thought that when I was waving my hands in front of my nose I was just telling him that I will smell if I don't do laundry. He said tomorrow. I realized that it is Sunday...therefore no unnecessary work. I totally understand, respect and appreciate Fr's point. Feeling as though my donkey fell in a hole and i needed to get it out (you have never smelled Ricky's diarrhea diaper????!) I called Halya and she talked to him. He understood after talking to Halya, too. After talking to his superior, we had a washing machine. It is a good reminder to me about the honoring/keeping Sunday as a day of rest (where and when you can.)

I will stay back to hang clothing on the line. Dan and Ricky to orphanage and we will see where Alexander takes them this afternoon. Beach??? Yeah right. Tomorrow though he wants Lizzy to see the museum before our afternoon visit. He also wants her to eat liver because he said she needs it. He is probably right but she will throw up again....just thinking about it. He bought some at the market and I'm wondering if he will come back with some prepared.

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to you my dear dad, and to you Harry, my dear father-in-law, and to any other father reading this. Fathers are great...we need more good fathers in the world. The type that love their kids with their whole heart, provide for them and raise them to love and serve God. I am grateful to have a husband that fits all of these qualities.

Dan is a great dad! My love has intensified, once again, when I see him love this new little stranger who we will call our son. This is our second Father's Day in a foreign country adopting a child. 10 years ago we got our little love Jenny from Guatemala. Her Gotcha Day was Father's day that year. I remember it well! Here is Jenny:


Thanks Dan--I LOVE YOU!

Thanks for life Dad--I LOVE YOU!

Thanks for Dan, Harry!--I LOVE YOU!