Friday, May 25, 2012


Today we got a most wonderful item in the mail:

Seth's new birth certificate!
I love so much that the birth certificate looks just my other kids'.  To look at that piece of paper you would think I birthed him.  I love that it doesn't mention "adoption" or "former names".  None of that.  I am listed as the Mommy, Jed is listed as the Daddy.  BAM.  Take that! (not sure why I got all in your face on that one.  I just felt like it.  BAM.  Felt like it again.) :)   

There's something else that I noticed on the birth certificate that brought a smile to my face.  I have all Seth's birth records and such, but I had never taken notice of the attending physician for Seth's birth.  Well, I looked on the certificate and lo and behold it's someone beyond special to us!  The doctor who delivered Seth is the same doctor that delivered Addy and Ezra!  I loved her.  She wasn't able to do Havalah because she became a hospitalist after Ezra was born.  This is the same doctor who noticed a strange spot on my leg while prepping me for Addy's c-section, removed it even though I didn't have a consent, and then realized later it was a fairly advanced melanoma.  This doctor literally saved my life.  That's another story for another day, but let's just say she is a pretty important person to our family.  To think she was there when Seth came into the world brings tears to my eyes.  God is so good.  What a Redeemer.  I just love Him.

In the envelope along with Seth's birth certificate was a letter from his lawyer that says his case is now closed.  


I'm saving that one for the scrapbook!  Okay, I say that as if I actually scrapbook.  I should say "I'm saving that for the drawer of special Seth items!"  Let's be honest here.  
It just feels good to be done with it all.  Jed and Seth were gone earlier this week and it felt surreal to let Jed take Seth out of our state without written permission from DHS.  We almost felt like we were being sneaky!  Jed kept asking me if he needed some sort of documentation to take him alongDid we need to tell anyone?  Nope!  He's ours, free and clear.  

Aaaah, big sigh of relief.
God is so good.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Wall of Fame

May 18,2012 Update:  Rose was found!  Today we learned that God moved and answered our prayers.  Rose has a family working towards bringing her home.  Praise God!!!

If you've been to my house you know I'm not a super fussy home-maker.  I like things picked up and clean (as clean as you can get with 4 little ones, 2 bunnies...blah blah blah...excuses...), but I'm not picky about decor or "the look" of my house.  I like my house to feel cozy and welcoming.  That's what's important to me. I want others to feel like they can cozy in and stay awhile.  No need to worry about rings on the coffee table, there's already dried playdough on it that has been stuck for longer than I'd like to admit.  When I want to change things up a bit and move the furniture I don't dare do it on my own.  I have no eye for things like that!  Jed is better at it.  We rely heavily on our friends Eric and Hannah for any choices having to do with paint colors and room rearranging.  Eric and Hannah are moving away soon...that makes me nervous. 
 I can't do it on my own!  I just can't!!!!

There's one spot in our house that I think is just beautiful.   To the casual observer it might just look like a bunch of scribbled on pictures tacked up on the wall.  To us it's much more than that.  Those pictures represent lives that we have grown to love and care about.  It also represents answered prayers.  It's a faith-building wall for me!

When we first discovered Reeces Rainbow back in the Fall of 2010 I had each of the kids pick one child from the site that they would pray for.  We printed out the pictures, the kids colored on them, we hung them up and started praying.  I wrote about what happened here.  To sum it up, God answered our prayers in big way!!!  One after another the kids on our wall were picked by families and snatched out of death into life.  We rejoiced with every single answered prayer.  It was so incredible to see God at work.  He really does answer prayer, folks- and my kids got to witness it. 

A couple days ago Jed noted the wall looked pretty empty.  Yep, he was right.  Time to pick out new kiddos to pray for!  Today was the day.  Each kiddo had their turn at the computer with Mommy.  They chose, on their own, who they would pray for.  It was so cute to hear the reasoning behind their choices.  

So......without further ado.....

(The names of the children listed here are not their real names, but names given to them on Reeces Rainbow to protect their privacy) 

Havalah's pick:
 Havalah picked Lanie because "She has glasses like me and she has a baby like me!"
Isn't Lanie a doll!!!  She was just recently listed on Reeces Rainbow and I hadn't noticed her yet.  I'm so glad Hava did!  Lanie will be 6 years old in August and lives in Eastern Europe.  Here's what's said about her on Reeces Rainbow:
Developmental delays; moderate level of hearing loss
Monitored by cardiologist:  auricular septal defect, but no restrictions.  History of tuberculosis of lymphatic nodes in her babyhood.
Laura is very quiet, deliberate, she likes to play individual games. She builds towers from the toy-blocks, puts the pyramid from the rings, likes to play with Legos, flips through books, tears to pieces sheets of paper, she takes items from one box and puts into another.  The functional playing dominates in her games.  She is interested in various toys and activities. She explores the surroundings, likes to smell the objects. The focus of attention is not sufficient, she gets quickly distracted.
Fron 2011 Report:  She is eager to communicate with adults. She does not differentiate between familiar people and strangers. Her language is incomprehensible. She likes to look over and notices the details of the clothes and jewellery. She watches her surroundings and actions of the other people. She says some meaningful words: “bye”, “mummy”, “what’s here”, “I want to poop”. She tries to repeat the words and movements: clapping “katu-katu”, “viru-viru kose” (it is the game played counting the fingers). She understands some of the words, which describe the movements. She can show the clothes, which she wears, and some parts of the body also. She tries to take off and put on her shoes and socks, to button the buttons. She performs simple tasks. She feeds herself and drinks from the cup independently. She draws the lines on the paper and is very interested in these lines. She has started playing story-games: she carries and cradles her dolls, makes the porridge and tea on the sand, offers to drink it and etc.
Sweet Lanie is trying so hard!  It sounds like she has so much potential.  Could you be her Mommy?

Ezra's Pick:
Well, if you know my Ezra at all it won't be hard for you to discover why he picked this little lovebug!  Ezra absolutely ADORES his little brother Seth.  He knew he wanted his choice to be a baby boy with Down Syndrome, and when we saw a baby named Seth the choice was made.  Ezra is in love.  I think I might be too.  :)  Seriously- they don't get much cuter than this little Seth!  Seth lives in Eastern Europe and will be 2 in July.  Please, please help me find a family for Seth.  He is so young.  If a family is found soon he will never see the inside of an institution.  There is no future for him if he's not adopted.  I can't bear to think of this sweet, chubby little face sitting, rocking, bored in an institution.  Let's get him out while he has a chance to thrive with Early Intervention and the arms of a Mommy and Daddy! 

        Addy's Pick: FOUND!!!!
SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!!!!!!!  Rose is too adorable for words.  I can't stand it.
Here's what Reece's Rainbow has to say about her:
Diagnosis: Down syndrome
Sweet Rose is 4 years old now.  She has been living in a foster family her whole life.  Isn’t she darling!?   With a glowing smile she waits for her forever family.  She has had surgery to correct some valves in her heart, she is healthy now.  She is described by her caregivers as happy and affectionate.

Full medical info avail from the agency partner.
  • Single parents may adopt
  • No family size restrictions
  • Both parents must travel to the country and stay until completion of adoption — approx 5-7 weeks (one parent may leave after a week or two)
  • Estimated total cost $21,000-24,500
  • Multiple unrelated children may be adopted together
Addy"s Second Pick (She's like her can you pick just one!):
Addy loves the children with Down Syndrome.  You should have heard her as she scrolled through all the pictures, "Mommy, oh look at this one!  Oh this one is so cute!  Oh I love her..." And on and on and on.  She kept coming back to Gemma, so Gemma it is!  Gemma turned 5 in January and she has already been transferred out of her baby house. :(  I'm so happy Addy chose her.  She's one of the ones I've never noticed before and this sweet little one needs our help.  Please pass her photo around.  You just never know!  It only takes that one special person seeing it to change Gemma's life forever.  She has no future at all if she's not rescued.

Mommy's Picks (Yes, I know, I have 3...what's a girl to do???):
You've probably heard me talk about Heath before.  :)  Heath is pretty special to me.  He's a "Lost Boy".  Oh my word, when we were there, in Heath's orphanage I was looking around constantly to see if I could catch a glimpse of him.  No such luck.  You can read about last month's miraculous visit to the Lost Boys here.  Heath has many people around the country that love him very much and would totally get behind any family that committed to going after him.  You would not be alone in this rescue operation.  Please consider Heath!
Here is his summary on Reece's Rainbow:
Heath is an eleven year old boy with Down Syndrome. He is tiny in stature. His feet hardly reach the edge of his shared wheelchair. Because of his age, he has already been transferred from the stimulating environment of his baby house to a dull and underfunded mental institute for boys ages 6-18. He is no longer the youngest boy in his group, but he is certainly among the smallest.
Heath is not a recent transfer. He has lived in the stifling boredom of institution life for a long time. He has lost the vivacity of life at the baby houses. In his three years at the institute, he has been given nothing of his own. He has not seen a book or a toy. He has never been gathered into anyone's loving arms. He is a very lonely little fellow in desperate need of love and comfort.
We have few other details on Heath. He has been seen in a wheelchair, so he may not be able to walk. We don’t know if or how well he talks, or any other details on his medical condition. We do know that he is a cute, chubby-cheeked, dirty and neglected lonely little lost boy who needs a mother more than almost anyone else in the world.

Next up....
Hanson is another Lost Boy.  He lives in the same orphanage as Heath.  Hanson is 7 years old and will be bedridden for life if something doesn't change.  Hanson represents the burden and passion that God has put in our hearts.  He lays down.  He most likely never sees the outside of his crib.  He most likely never feels the sun on his face.  That will be his fate for the rest of his certainly short life if he is not saved.  Sweet, sweet boy.  Please look beyond the horrible outfit he's in.  Please look beyond the disability and see the child of God, created precious in God's sight. His beloved baby...this can not be his destiny!!!  There are certainly many challenges facing Hanson's parents (I know they're out there!) once they get him home, but I know God will give abundant grace and joy in the journey.
Here's what Reece's Rainbow says about Hanson:
Don't mind the pink shirt, this is a boy!  
From his medical records:  Congenital defect of the central nervous system, rachischisis of transverse part of spine, internal hydrocephalus, ventriculoperitoneostomia, flail legs (low extremities paraparesis).
Hanson has been transferred to the mental institution already.  He is living in a very rural place, and is a "lost boy" now.    Hope someone will advocate for him!

Last, but certainly not least!!!

My Boy
Oh my dear, sweet Aiden, the child of my heart.  Last spring, after Jonah was taken home by his family, my pick was Aiden.  When everything fell through I was sure Aiden was the one meant for us.  God had other plans.  I love this boy so much it hurts.  No, we've never met.  I love him still.  He sits alone, he pokes his eyes for stimulation.  He sits alone.  I am desperate for him to find a family.  Aiden is the one babe on our Wall of Fame that has stayed.  All the others were snatched up by their families (Praise God!), but Aiden stuck around.  I love seeing his sweet face on the wall, but oh how I wish I had a reason to take it down.  I know why he keeps being passed over...his family just hasn't seen him yet! :)  Please help me find them.  I know right now I can't be his mommy, so I'm desperate to find the one who can.  Are you his Mommy?  If not, can you help me find her? 
Here is his Reece's Rainbow file:

Boy, born May 2007
From a volunteer who spent several months at this orphanage:
Aiden is visually impaired (I'm not sure if he has some vision or if he is 100% blind). Aiden has some more significant delays however it is difficult to tell if he is cognitively delayed for medical reasons or if his delays are simply a result of institutionalization / lack of stimulation. Aiden engages in a lot of self-stimulation such as poking his eyes, tapping his head on the side of his crib, rocking back and forth, etc. When I first met Aiden he was able to walk around the edges of the crib holding on to the sides, but he would not walk independently, even while holding on to someone's hands. As I worked with him however and he grew to trust me he began to take his first steps and now he loves to walk! Still, at least while I was there, the workers never let him out of his playpen.  Aiden does not speak but he responds to his name and I believe he understands simple directions. He is not toilet trained but he is learning to feed himself.  Aiden is difficult to engage. He doesn't initiate interaction but when you play with him/tickle him, etc. he is full of smiles and laughter. I believe that this boy has way more potential than can be seen right now. Whoever Aiden's family will need to be persistent about getting in his face in order to force him to engage and patient with what may be slow progress but I believe that with the consistent love and stimulation that a family would bring this little guy has all kinds of potential.

From a missionary who spent several months at his orphanage at the end of 2011:
Aiden is a complicated little boy. His years of minimal attention and probably some sensory issues seem to be the biggest of his struggles. He does at times hit his head or bite his hands to self stimulate. He let me hold and comfort him when he hit his head harder than he meant to one time, which was a great sign as far as attachment and trust goes. I like to refer to Aiden as my "mouthy" boy. He loves to chew on hard toys, and he very much enjoyed holding a slinky in his mouth and shaking his head to make it fly back and forth. He does not seem to have any vision at all. He navigates fairly well despite his lack of sight. His favorite thing ever is to be tickled. He has a wonderful smile and laugh. He will need a lot of attention and stimulation to help him to recover from all he has experienced, but I think he would really blossom with the right family!

More pictures available.

There you have it!  If you've stuck with me this far I applaud you.  Please help me pass the word about these babes.  We would love it if you would pray with us for God to protect them and keep them until their families find them.  We are believing that He has a plan and a purpose for each of them!

You can click on any of the names below the pictures to go directly to their page on Reece's Rainbow.  

I can't wait to see who we get to take off the wall first!!!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Where Do We Go From Here? (AKA Now What?)

We've been home a little more than a week now.  That was fast!  I'm elbow deep into diapers, homeschooling, and "happy heart" chairing (our main method of dealing with meltdowns around here.  "Oh, go sit in the happy heart chair until you can change your attitude and have a happy heart."  Seth and Havalah have spent an unfortunate amount of time in that chair this past week.  Gotta love resetting the boundaries....), and Jed has been back to work since the morning after we landed.  The question everyone is asking us is fresh in the front of our brains: 

"Now what?"  

Gooooood question!  Here's what I can tell you for now:
1.  We know God wants our family in Ukraine.
2.  We don't know exactly when we will get there.  We have a couple pesky things like a mortgage and jobs that need to be dealt with.  :)
3.  We don't know how long He will want us in Ukraine.  We are open to 2 years or 20 years.  We won't try to figure that one out on our own.  I know for me personally, I will have to go with the mindset that I am there for good no matter how long we actually stay.  I will have to root my hear there in order to be focused, otherwise I'm a grass is greener type of gal.  

So, for now we wait on the Lord for His next steps for us and prepare however we can in the meantime.  I've been like a crazy person this week purging my house.  If we know we will eventually be leaving, we know we'll have to get rid of a bunch of our junk.  Why not start today?  I mean really, do I need an entire tote full of nursing school care plans and assignments?  Heck no.  Do I really need doubles of every single picture taken in college?  Probably not.  My hair was really bad then anyway.  I don't need double the reminders.  I also had chipmunk cheeks.  Really!  I showed Jed a picture and he said it looked like I was storing food for winter in my cheeks.  Gee thanks...but it's true...I'll be the first to admit those were not my cutest days.  What else would you expect after 4 years of living in the dorms and a really severe allergy/aversion to exercise? (I hate pain) 
Oh my, the things we have saved over the years kill me.  Have you ever gone back and read old journals from junior high and high school?  If you need a good laugh or encouragement about how far you've come, read a few old journals.  Oh the humiliation!!!!  As I was sitting alone in my room reading old journals I actually found myself looking around in embarrassment as if someone would walk in at any moment and discover all the never-gonna-happen crushes I had back in the day.   I think I better burn those suckers before Jed finds them.  He'd never let me live it down.

Another step we've taken towards preparing for Ukraine is finding a Russian tutor!  We haven't met her face to face yet, but we found a woman who is a believer who agreed to teach us.  She was a teacher in Russia and has lived in the States for 7 years.  Before moving here she taught English to Russians, and Russian to Russians, but she's never taught Russian as a second language before.  This should be fun!  We are very motivated to learn and know it is essential that we learn as much as we can in the time we have.  We will meet her next week and get that ball rollin'.

Emotionally it's been a hard week for me.  I'm happier than happy to be with my kids.  I'm so happy to see family and friends.  All that is wonderful and amazing.  There's just one problem.  I left a ginormous piece of my heart in Ukraine.  I know Jed did too.  It's just really difficult to have seen a part of the need and to know it's still happening today, right this second, and we aren't there to help.  I'm not saying we are the saviors, or we can fly in and  fix everything there with our magic fairy dust, by no means am I saying that.  We just know God called us to that work and we want to help, hands on, right now.  But, at the same time we want to continue waiting on the Lord and letting Him guide this thing.  His timing is everything.  His plan is at work and we want to stay right in the middle of it and not make our own way.  It's emotionally tiring though.  I want to just stick a For Sale sign in my yard tomorrow and be done with it.  Good thing I've got Jed to reign me in.

So, that's where we're goin' from here.  We'll keep you posted as things continue to unfold.  In the meantime I'll just keep weeding through embarrassing reminders of 1994-2001.  If you were my friend at any point during that time, shame on you for not telling me my hair was so bad.  On the other hand, maybe I should thank you for looking past my wings, perms, bandanas, Patty Duke flip, and HUGE bangs and loving the real me hiding behind the fluff.  :)

Good night!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Home Again, Home Again Jiggity Jig

Whenever someone says "Home again, home again" I always think of my friend Cody.  When we lived together after college she would always say that as we pulled into the driveway, "Home again, home again, jiggity jig!"  That was a bit of a side you more than words Cody.  :)

So, we made it home safe and sound late Wednesday night.  Now I'm up quite early blogging and Jed already left to go exercise.  Jet lag can actually increase your productivity, you know- or it can cause you to fall asleep on the couch at 7:15....before the kids are even in bed.  Yikes.

Being with our kids again is unbelievable.  Oh my word we missed them like crazy.  I know the Lord was totally in this though because although we missed them, it was never unbearable.  We were able to focus on what God was doing where we were at because we knew our kids were loved and cared for at home.  My mother-in-law rocks the house.  Seriously, she took such amazing care of our babies.  Every time we skyped they were so happy and so excited to tell us about their adventures with Grammy.  We are so blessed by this gift she gave to us.  Love you Grammy!!!!

We are happy to be home, but already missing Ukraine.  We left a big part of our hearts there.  I don't know how God did it, but it's like He supernaturally knit our hearts with the believers there.  Some people we knew less than a week, but if felt like we were old friends.  It felt like we had history together...and we had just met.  Crazy.  I guess that's how it goes when your hearts beat for the same things.  We were so blessed by the friendships we found in Ukraine.  Honestly, that wasn't something we expected.  We were going with a heart for the orphans there and were surprised to find many kindred hearts along the way.  We miss them already.

God alone knows exactly how this story is going to play out.  We know Ukraine is in our future, we just need step-by-step instructions about how that is going to come about and what it will look like.  At the conference, on our last night there, an awesome new friend from UK Vineyard was praying for us and he felt like God wanted us to dream big, not to think the dreams God has given us are too big, basically not to hold back.  He also felt we needed to know that the resources and provision would be right there when we needed it.  We've heard those promises from God many times in the past few months along this journey. It was so great to hear it again.  Thank you Lord that you know just what we need, right when we need it.  I'm not sure if you all remember, but the first verse God gave us on this journey was in
 Isaiah, chapter 54:

“Enlarge the place of your tent,
    stretch your tent curtains wide,
    do not hold back;
lengthen your cord, strengthen your stakes.  
 For you will spread out to the right and to the left;
    your descendants will dispossess nations
    and settle in their desolate cities."

We'll keep you posted as this journey unfolds.

Before I go, I wanted to give an accounting for the money that we took along for orphan care.  It was given by all of you and I want to make sure you know where it went!  Thank you thank you thank you again from the bottom of our hearts for your generosity.  Really, after seeing the need firsthand, and the people God is using to be the hands and feet to meet the need, you can be assured that this money will be used wisely and 100% will be used for His children.  He's got some awesome workers out there doin' the stuff!

So, here's the accounting; if you have any questions or want any more clarification feel free to email us at johnson commune AT gmail DOT com (no spaces).

We went with $2200.
$70.00- charge at airport for extra bag carrying donated items for the children
 (craft kits, fluoride varnish, stuffed animals, exercise balls...)
$200.00- donation to Mission to Ukraine, specifically for their work in the Romaniv Orphanage
$70.00- to pay for the trip to see the Lost Boys (Praise God again for that miracle!!!)
$400.00- bought diapers and soda (a very special treat!) for the Lost Boys
$750.00- left for Slavik and Alyona to pay for 3 future visits to the Lost Boys.  When they go they normally take a large team of people, clowns, etc.. so they have to rent a van.  It costs about $250.00 a trip just to go there.
That leaves $710- this money was left for Slavik and Alyona to buy needed items for the Boys when they go on those next 3 visits.  After the visits Alyona will let us know that they went and what they bought to take along with.  When she shares that with me I'll make sure to pass it on to all of you.  They really want to be accountable and we trust them that they love the boys and will use the money in the best way possible.  We love those two and you all would too!!!  :)  

So, there you have it!  That money was given with such love, compassion, and generosity and we know that as Slavik and Alyona go they bring light and darkness is defeated.  Praise God for His workers in the fields.  Our prayers are so important...keep it up!