January started out so sad. Russia had banned the United States from adopting their children. We were mere weeks from being home study approved. We appealed the region. We waited. We prayed. We cried. Nothing. As it stands today, we are still banned, and our precious boy grows up alone in an orphanage, destined for an institution.
Then we found out I was pregnant. I will fully admit that I wasn't thrilled. I was in the middle of an adoption, I was fighting for Nico, I was tired, I assumed we'd have yet another girl and felt like I was in some sort of Groundhog Day of parenting. I love my girls so much, but doing the girl thing over and over and over and over again was starting to get to me.
February brought my birthday and I got to see our newest little one for the first time. All doubts and fears melted away when I saw that little heartbeat. We also got our home study approval.
In March, we made the difficult decision to move on and use our approval for another country and another little boy the same age and diagnosis as Nico. He was a little boy that had many people shouting for him, but he was continuously looked over, year after year, just like Nico was.
The perfect house fell into our laps and it was time for us to move while in the midst of paperwork and morning sickness.
In April, we celebrated Lily's birthday and Easter in our new home, and we finally got some of our dossier sent to Ukraine. We were getting close to fully funded. Everything was coming together.
May brought the news that we were having a baby boy! Everyone was so shocked that we were having a boy and that we intended to continue the adoption. We thought we'd travel while I was pregnant, but we were met with delay after delay after delay.
We also got news that very day that an angel had raised $5,000 for our adoption and we were suddenly fully funded. I ugly cried like you wouldn't believe.
June brought Charlotte's 2nd birthday and the girls entered summer vacation.
July my sweet friends took the big girls to Disneyland and they had a blast. Amelia got to spend her 8th birthday there, lucky girl. We had originally thought we'd be in Ukraine for July, so we had set it up to have them stay with them for the trip, but that didn't work out thanks to the FBI. Haha... But, our dossier was officially submitted at the end of the month, and the wait began.
My uncle Garry also got very sick this month and was moved to hospice. My entire family spent a little over two weeks at the center together, laughing and crying and being what a family should be. It was beautiful and heartbreaking all wrapped into one.
In August the girls started school, my belly grew and grew, and at the end of the month, we started to have some pregnancy issues. Nothing serious, thankfully, but my water was low, then it was fine, then my blood pressure started creeping up.
My uncle passed away mid-month and my family grieved. We miss our sweet Garry.
September was riddled with hospital and doctor visits to check on the baby. My BP stayed high and I was miserable. I was induced September 18th, when I started having worsening symptoms.
Samuel Francis was born and I finally got the type of birth I wanted. No epidural and fast as usual.
In October we celebrated Samuel's baptism, were blessed to be godparents for Peter and celebrated his baptism the same weekend, and we celebrated Tessa's 4th birthday. Tired yet? I was. But was glad to see everyone right before we left.
We then celebrated Halloween and All Saint's Day (early).
November rocked my world. Was I really leaving my girls and flying 6,000 miles away with my husband and newborn son to Ukraine of all places? I had never even been out of the country, except to Tijuana for a couple hours and I don't think that counts.
Two wonderful families took the girls (2 each family), and the next day we got up early and headed to the airport.
After 24 hours of travel, we arrived in Kiev. We went grocery shopping and then settled in our apartment. The next morning, we had our government appt and got to see our boy's file.
Two days later we met our boy.
Or first meeting was full of joy, as we were surprised by how big he was and he was just so sweet.
We then spent 2 weeks visiting him in the orphanage and waited for court.
2 months to the day that Samuel was born, we had court. I will admit, it was pretty scary. The judge seemed to be trying to talk us out of adopting him, and of course we did not want to walk away. I was terrified he'd say no. But he didn't. He said yes, and we were so happy!
I spent Thanksgiving in Ukraine, and this was my feast. It was also my meal every other day until I left. Haha... Except the salad, I found a delicious Greek salad right after that. Oh how I miss the feta (and all other dairy from Ukraine).
It wasn't fun, I will fully admit that. After 4 weeks in the same room, it's just time to go home. But it was good for bonding, and I'm glad for that. I'm forever grateful to fellow adoptive parents for keeping me sane while I was in country. Especially Carla, who was a total godsend and we'd FaceTime often.
December brought Gotcha day and it was amazing. Maks did great, and 2 days later, we were on a plane.
The Ukraine team was wonderful. Got us out fast (by Ukraine standards), and we were well taken care of.
The beginning of the scariness that is 3 flights with two kids. Alone. But on our long flight from Frankfurt to Denver, we were blessed to be seated next the the kindest man ever. Without him, the 10 hour flight would've been far more ugly.
(If, by chance, you ever stumble across my blog, know that we are forever grateful for your help and kindness on that flight.)
An airport employee helped us through customs and a nice woman helped us through security.
Our short flight from Denver I was deliriously tired and kept nodding off by accident. Every time I'd do that, Maks would grab the guy next to us. Oops. As the plane started its descent, I started to cry. I couldn't stop. I couldn't believe I was so close to holding my girls again. I tried to pull it together, but I couldn't.
Another kind man helped us off this flight. He said he had a son with Down syndrome and that he'd be honored to carry him off the plane for me. We were so blessed on this trip.
And then we were home!
The girls had their school Christmas concert 2 days later, they were on Christmas break a couple days after that, and we mostly stayed home all of break. We celebrated Christmas.
The kids are loving their new brother and the trip was like a reset button on our lives. Which I will blog about soon.
We celebrated 2014 at home and let the three big girls stay up. Lily didn't make it to midnight. Tessa was delirious by midnight. Amelia did fine. We watched movies together and went outside to see fireworks. Next year I'll try to have the forethought to actually get good snacks and games and actually have a little party with the girls.
Happy 2014. I am not worthy of the blessings poured upon me in 2013. I pray constantly that I will become a graceful mother, guided by Mary, with my eyes on Jesus. My children deserve it, and that will be my only resolution for the rest of my life.