--An Orphan No More--


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday..

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The results are in.....

We finally got the results back from Everlyn's "chromosome analysis." Surprise...she has Down syndrome. LOL!

Actually - we did get a bit of a surprise though. Before and during her adoption, we were told that she had "suspected mosaic Down syndrome" or "slight Down syndrome" or "Down syndrome, but not deep" (my personal favorite.) Well, she does not have mosaic Down syndrome after all. But she does NOT have non-disjunction Down syndrome either...that is the most common form accounting for about 94-95% of all cases. This is the karyotype you see with 3 pretty little 21st chromsomes lined up nicely at the 21st "pair."

Nope - our girl has to be a bit more complicated. She is believed to have a Robertsonian translocation 21:21. What does THAT mean? It means instead of having the nice little trio of 21st "chromies" lined up, she has something more to the effect of "siamese twins and a singleton." Yep - two of her 21sts are stuck together, sitting nicely next to a third 21st.

What does this mean for Everlyn's health and development as opposed to mosaic DS? Not a darn thing really. :o)

Our tiny dynamo has gained TWO lbs in the past 6 weeks! WooHoo! Grow sweet girl grow!!!

And because I know you love pics, here are a few new favorites!!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Holiday Card Sneak Peek!

Here's a peek at our holiday cards. A special shout out to my friend Hillary for helping a stressed out mama (me!!!) out with these!

Holiday card side:

Adoption announcement:

I will try to post more soon. Our big move is in a week, but I do have a job lined up! YAY! I accepted a position on child/adolescent psych at Vanderbilt. :o) I will fill you in more in a bit.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Grab a Kleenex...or three....

This song is so appropriate for us this Christmas since Everlyn now has a family...to tuck her in, to celebrate her (January) birthday, and so much more!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

We've been home more than a month!

I can't believe it! We have been home since November 2nd. It seems like we JUST got home...but also seems like Everlyn has always been a part of our family. Odd....

We got Everlyn's Certificate of US Citizenship in the mail! It's official! Some days I still have to pinch myself....(perhaps I am just shocked we survived it all! LOL)

I have to apologize for the lack of pictures on the blog recently. Life has just been NUTS lately with the move and everything. I promise to be better once we are settled - and I am sure I will have lots of Christmas pics to share! :o) A good friend took the pics for our holiday cards so I will post a "sneak peak" when I get those back...

I hope everyone in blog-land is enjoying the holiday season. My shopping is DONE...okay, I have to pick up one more item...but I know what it is and that is half the battle. I just need to wrap it all and get it under the still-needs-to-be-decorated tree. Geesh...always something to do. :o)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

doctors, doctors and....more doctors....

Everlyn is a trooper. I have taken her to just about every doctor you can think of...and have upcoming appointments for the ones you can't even think of...

General ped - Everlyn had her first visit with our awesome pediatrician the day after we got home. I think I posted about this appt, but she did well and we were told she looked GREAT! :o) And they took 6 tubes of blood...or something like that. It was a lot from such a small person!

Ped cardiology - We saw a terrific pediatric cardiologist at one of the local children's hospitals. The doctor was very sweet and could not hear a murmur at all, but wanted to check her over more thoroughly. They did an EKG (which was normal) and an echocardiogram. The echo showed that Everlyn was born with two holes in her tiny heart - a PFO (patent foramen ovale) and a VSD (ventricular septal defect). We were told about the PFO while in Ukraine, but we were told it had "resolved" on its own. The VSD was a surprise. Well, it turns out BOTH tiny holes have closed on their own so Everlyn needs no intervention and no more trips to the pediatric cardiology center. YAY!

Ped endocrinology - We got lucky and this appointment can wait - her initial labwork our pediatrician ordered showed that her thyroid is doing its job. We were told in Ukraine that she was hypothyroid. The physician who did her Embassy medical exam even said her records indicated she was taking a low dose of Synthroid. Well, no one at the orphanage ever mentioned her being on medication so who knows........ So, we will repeat this bloodwork in a few months and see where we are then. Until then, this appt can wait! :o)

Allergy/immunology - We think Everlyn is allergic to "something". Milk maybe? We aren't sure, but sometimes she spits up. Other times she breaks out, especially on her little hands. The allergist ordered some bloodwork that I have not had drawn yet...I am waiting to see if any of the other doctors we plan to see want labs so we can minimize the needles for my sweet girl.

Ped opthalmology - When we were in Ukraine, Everlyn's eyes "dripped" almost constantly, especially her right eye. And they would get "goopy" at times. I wondered about a blocked tear duct. Now, it seems better, but I plan to still take her since children with Ds can have issues related to their eyes, vision, etc.

Ped dentist - Everlyn had her first dentist appointment already. She and her siblings...yes, I took all FIVE kids to the dentist at the same time...came out of there without one single cavity! WOOHOO!!!!!!! She is just now getting her top incisors and is missing a baby tooth in the bottom right side. Dentist says it could mean it is just missing...it could mean it is late coming in. He also said she may or may not have that permanent tooth. We opted to skip x-rays since it doesn't really matter and there was no real reason to "traumatize" her with more "baby torture" that day..... :o)

Ped GI - I need to make this appt. Poor girl has some GI issues. Not sure what exactly. She spits up, has oddly icky-smelling poo (aren't you glad you read this blog entry...?), etc. We shall see what the GI doc has to say... I am stumped really. Maybe the milk thing? I will keep you posted.

Dermatology - Yep, this poor little girl has eczema and gets random rashes. I haven't taken her to a derm yet, but I need to make an appt for her. ((sigh))

Genetics - We likely won't have to see a genetics doctor, but we did have a chromosome analysis done. I was told it can take 2-3 weeks to get those results. We were told she had "suspected mosaic Down syndrome", "slight Down syndrome" and "Down syndrome, but not deep." (I am sure something gets a bit skewed in translation. LOL! Basically, because she is "healthy" and rather high functioning (other than speech, it is hard to find a "delay" with her), it could just be assumed it is mDs as opposed to Ds. Out of curiosity, we just want to know for sure...and it should go without saying that the results do NOT matter to us. We just want to know.... My pediatrician says his money is on mDs....we shall see!

Did I miss any???? :o)

Aside from all of that...which is NOT a big deal in the grande scheme of things...Everlyn is doing so so so well! I can't wait to see her face when she sees our Christmas tree for the first time! Eric has it put together (at our new house in TN), and it is just waiting for me to decorate it. It is a 12 foot tree so she will either be mesmerized by the lights, or terrified by the sheer size of the darn thing. Either way, it is fun to experience things for the "first time" through her eyes.

I have a couple more weeks of work. My last night is December 17th. We move on the 18th. Ahhhhhh............ In the end, it will all be worth it but right now my head feels like it may explode with so many "to-do" lists and such. Pray for my sanity! Moving with 5 kids (one being new), to a new state, a week before Christmas...it should TOTALLY be illegal!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Today I am thankful....

...for these five amazing blessings! :o)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I love naps!

I personally RARELY get one, but nap time just might be my favorite time of day.... You know that feeling...when the moon and stars and the entire universe align and BOTH 2-year-olds nap at the same time. Ahhh.....bliss! Of course, I generally spend this time doing laundry, straightening up, etc. Not exactly "down" time, but fabulous nonetheless.

Here is a pic from nap time today. Is there anything on Earth sweeter than this? I think not...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Our poor neglected blog....and some updates for you!

Well, I get the "Crappy Blogger" award. I had the best of intentions. I had planned to blog every day, or at least every other day, once we returned home. Well.....I am WAY too busy these days.

Here is a little glimpse into what is going on in our world....

1. Eric has a new job. He LOVES it and it is going very very well. (He manages a natural stone company - granite, marble, etc).
2. Eric's new job isn't in St. Louis. It is in Nashville, TN...aka NashVegas! :o)
3. Eric is already working there.
4. For now, I am a pseudo-single-parent to five kids ages 8 and under. Yeah, fun stuff!
5. We try to make it to Nashville as often as we can for a few days here and there.
6. I still work full time nights as a charge nurse on an adolescent psych unit in St. Louis. (My mom watches the kids on those nights...no worries).
7. We are MOVING to Nashville in December, right before Christmas.
8. We have a new house there.
9. We need to sell/lease our house in St. Louis. (UGH doesn't begin to describe it.)
10. I need to find a job in Nashville...something part time would be good. And something I love is strongly preferred. :o)
11. We are adjusting to a new family member - that is going very well!
12. Everlyn has some doctor's appts to go to in the next few weeks (ped cardiology etc) so stay tuned for that update.
13. I am usually done or almost done with Christmas shopping by now. Nope...NOT even close this year.
14. I am sick. I am always sick. I have been sick since a week before we left for Ukraine. I can't seem to totally "kill the funk." 4 rounds of antibiotics isn't doing the trick. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. :o(
15. I need to get the kids enrolled in school in TN. They are SO excited to start at their new school and meet new friends. (And I am excited FOR them). I think a fresh start and "change of scenery" is going to be great for the entire family.
16. I have to pack up our entire house. Let me just tell you...five kids accumulate a LOT of stuff. We are de-cluttering some things, but man oh man, we have way more "stuff" than should be legal....
17. I need to get Christmas pictures done. We plan to send out a dual Christmas card / adoption announcement this year. :o)
18. And even with all of this to keep me busy....I have started thinking about Everlyn's 3rd birthday party. Even though she is going to be 3, she has never had a birthday party. She has never had a birthday cake, she has never blown out candles, she has never had birthday presents...or balloons. I wonder if anyone has ever sang Happy Birthday to her...or even acknowledged her special day? Well, she is going to have a party in January, and I am trying to decide what exactly we will do to celebrate her "first" birthday with us!

I will try to be a better blogger, but forgive me for the next month or so as I try to "survive" the madness that is my life right now. But....life is good!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Homecoming Pictures!!!

Well....here they are. A few pics of our homecoming will follow this brief blog post! :o) All along, I had planned this big elaborate homecoming post, but honestly....I don't have time to give great detail. LOL! I will say it was a LONG day (that started off terribly), but Everlyn was an angel on the flights and in the end, WE MADE IT HOME...and that my friends is all that matters!

We are adjusting to life as a family of seven. So many changes for us (with more to come) but Everlyn is adjusting VERY well and the other kids love having her around. Life is hectic...and laundry is never-ending! LOL

OK - here are some pics:

Home at last!

Happy to be done with planes!

Meeting her siblings and cousins for the first time!

Emersen was so excited to meet her new "baby sister" that she cried...which in turn made Mommy cry!

Mommy with her 5 kiddos. Daddy is absent from these pics because he had to go out of town for work at the last minute. :o(

This is one tired girl after a 30 hour day with just a couple of naps....

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Welcome to my new normal....BUSY! :o) We were busy before but I think busy is just our "normal".... Surprisingly I am not super stressed out (yet)...although my house does look like a bomb went off...and it does bother me. But I am trying to embrace the mess... LOL!

We got home around 630pm last night. I will save the "homecoming" blog post for a time when I have more pics to share. My awesome friend Hillary took some for me and I am waiting to get them from her....

Here is a sneak peek from my sister though. Me with my 5 kiddos! :o)

I took Everlyn to see our pediatrician at 9am this morning. Dr. Carney was very impressed with her immunization records and said she looked GREAT! He heard no heart murmur (she reportedly had a patent foramen ovale at one point but it has "resolved") and said she was 75% for height and almost 50% for weight on the Down syndrome growth chart! YAY! She would have been the 5% and 3% respectively on the "typical" growth chart. He did order some labwork to check her thyroid since she is actually on Synthroid for hypothyroidism (although no one mentioned this to me until our medical exam for the Embassy appt - lovely.) He also ordered a CBC, lead level, HIV, RPR, etc etc etc. She was such a trooper despite having FOUR tubes of blood taken! We did not do a karyotype at this time but will in the near future...this is a chromosome test to determine if she does indeed have mosaic Down syndrome (as opposed to "traditional" Trisomy 21). Our pediatrician is thinking she does indeed have mDs just by his examination of her but who knows... And honestly, it does not matter one bit to us!

Here she is leaving the pediatrician's office. Two shots and four tubes of blood won't keep this happy girl from smiling!

We had a busy day on our first day home. My sister and her 3 kids are here. We ventured to the mall. Oh wow - poor little pumpkin isn't too sure about the mall. I think she gets a wee bit overstimulated at times. And who can blame her....the 4 stark white walls of an orphanage are vastly different that a busy shopping mall!

Here is Elliston and Everlyn cruising around in their stroller. Elliston loves his new sister but doesn't love strollers... LOL!

Here is a shirt I found on the clearance rack at Gap! YAY!

I am sure tomorrow is another busy day so I am going to head to bed. Detailed homecoming post will follow in the next few days I am sure.... :o)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

We're HOME!!!!!!!!

I am beyond exhausted, but we did it...we made it back HOME!!!!! Yay!

Everlyn has her first pediatrician appt in the morning (bright and early...ugh!). I will have a LOT of blog about tomorrow. But tonight, I need SLEEP...in my own bed! :o)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Day 30 - WE ARE OUTTA HERE!!!!!

I should really be sleeping....or packing. But, nope. I am online.

I cannot believe this amazing, incredible, scary, awesome, frustrating, unbelievable, seemingly-never-ending journey is ALMOST over. At 645am Ukraine time, we will be on a plane headed home...where our journey as a family of 7 will finally begin!

This adoption journey has taught us so much.

People comment on how blessed Everlyn is to have a family...truth is, we are the ones who have been blessed.

People say we "saved" her....I truly believe this precious little girl has saved us.

We cannot wait to get home and introduce her to her sister and brothers who have wanted her...prayed for her...and loved her, when all we had was a photograph. Now...she is real. She is their sister....forever.

God is so good!

Sunday, October 31, 2010


I had REALLY hoped we would be home by now so Miss Everlyn could trick-or-treat with her sister and brothers. Oh well - she will be SO ready next year!

Since we missed the festivities, Everlyn took it upon herself to "create" a costume out of the sheers in our apartment here. They are designed to separate the living area from the bedroom. She saw them and thought "Costume!"

Warning....the following pictures contain a scary amount of CUTE! You have been warned....

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Day 28 - Are we there yet???

Yep...that's how I feel... "There" being HOME of course!

Today was pretty much like yesterday. My mom walked to McDonald's and got us lunch. I stayed at the apartment with a napping Princess. Again...glad someone is sleeping so well! :o)

Then we met up with other RR families at a German restaurant here in Kiev. The food was great and we had a private little room all to ourselves! Maybe they were being accommodating of our large group...or maybe they were trying to hide all of these rowdy Americans! LOL!

The street outside the restaurant was closed, there was live music and lots of LIGHTS. So, yes...I took pictures!

Tomorrow will be much the same. Groundhog Day....again. Monday we pick up her Visa and Tuesday is GO HOME DAY! We pretty excited that another family is on our first two flights with us. YAY!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Day 27 - A day of rest

Today we did NOTHING. Yep, nada. Ok, so yes we ate and played and napped. Well, Everlyn napped. With all of the excitement we've had, we figured she just needed a day to unwind. (Or maybe WE needed a day to unwind.)

We did walk to a nearby pizza place for lunch. As usual, ordering was fun. :o) They have an English menu, but don't speak English so lots of pointing and nodding...and praying when it arrives it is something close to what we wanted...and edible. It was perfect...AND GOOD.

We are hoping to maybe walk around a bit more tomorrow, depending on the weather. I would love to take Everlyn to a toy store several blocks from here. It is the one we went into when we were here in Kiev waiting to travel to her region to meet her. Oh the memories! LOL

Sorry - no new pics. (I know...total waste of a blog post, right?) I promise to give you a dose of adorable tomorrow.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day 26 - Embassy appt, medical exam and meeting with friends

Today we took Everlyn to her Embassy appointment and applied for her Visa! Then "Uncle Nico" took us for her medical exam (required to issue the visa). All went well and we should pick up her Visa at 2pm Monday and fly out at 645am Tuesday morning! WOOHOO!!!!!

Then we came back to our apartment and decided to walk a block to McDonalds. :o) This girl LOVES her some french fries. Then back to the apartment for a much needed nap. Poor girl was so tired she fell asleep in the floor while playing. (For the record, I did not get a much needed nap.....)

Then, we arranged to meet a few other Reece's Rainbow families at the now infamous TGIFridays for dinner. It was so awesome to be able to chat with other families and of course, meet all of the CUTIES!!!!!

So, Friday, Saturday and Sunday are just "free days"....too bad I couldn't spend those days AT HOME....but we are SO close. Finally! And now we know there are other awesome families here...that SPEAK ENGLISH! Bonus!

And I just want to say, I feel SOOOOOOO incredibly blessed by this little girl. She has been just amazing and I am grateful to be her mommy!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Day 25 - It's GOTCHA DAY!!!!

And we've GOT HER! :o)

I posted pics on Facebook but do not have time to copy them here or to "officially" blog right now. We decided to skip the overnight train b/c our driver (bless his heart) offered to drive us there by car which will take half the time. Costs a bit more but the train is so.....train-like! UGH!

I promise once we get to Kiev around bedtime (and I get sleeping beauty to bed), I will give details and make a "proper" GOTCHA DAY post!

Just wanted to let you all know....we have our girl!!!!!!

OK - here's ONE pic....playing one last time in the playroom floor while mom gathers the last bit of important papers.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day 24 - Paperwork and a Passport

That's what we accomplished today. We completed all necessary paperwork and were able to get Everlyn a "red" (one-day) passport. YAY!

Tomorrow is the BIG DAY! That's right....it's GOTCHA DAY! I am so excited! :o) I will post pics as soon as I can - I promise!

We will be headed back to Kiev on the train tomorrow night. Then it's Embassy appointment and HOME...we could fly home Saturday, or it could be Tuesday, depending on what we can accomplish at the Embassy. But either way, it is SOON!

OK - for your viewing pleasure, here is the world's most adorable passport. No really....it does NOT get much cuter than this. I didn't even think we would get this today and was told not to worry about clothes for her today. But the opportunity arose to get this done so the baby home dressed her and a caregiver even went with us. Prepare yourself for insane cuteness....and yes, the passport number and birthdate have been blurred intentionally to protect her privacy....

Monday, October 25, 2010

Day 23 - THE WAIT IS OVER...sort of....

Yes folks, today was Day 10 of our 10-day waiting period! WE MADE IT! Yippeee!

But our "wait" is not entirely over. Tomorrow is a day of chasing papers....court decree, new birth certificate (with OUR names listed as her parents...brings about odd emotions honestly), closing her bank accounts (yes orphans have accounts here that the government makes periodic deposits to - this is donated back to the orphanage), something about a tax ID number and trying to get her passport. Some regions do "red" passports which are done the same day...other regions do "blue" passports which can take 4-5 days. YUCK! I am not entirely clear which "color" our region falls into to be honest. Purple maybe? :o)

With all this paper-chasing, I was told WEDNESDAY would be Gotcha Day! While I am SO excited, I am a little disappointed that I have to wait ONE MORE DAY. OK, so I am a lot disappointed, but what can do???? We are planning to take gifts for the Director and staff, fresh flowers, cookies and bananas for the kiddos as well as a large gift bag full of clothes/shoes to donate. It will be like a party! :o) I hope to get lots of cute pictures to share! And yes, her outfit is all ready to go! I can't wait to say goodbye to "Orphan Couture's" fall line....

With this delay (yes, one day is a delay to this travel-weary momma), instead of flying home Friday as I had hoped, it will likely be Tuesday at the earliest due to Embassy holidays and the weekend. Darn it.

So - that's about all I have tonight. Visits today were fun. I will add a few pics which will look a lot like yesterday's since she is sporting the same coat and hat....

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Day 22 - One More Day....but...

Today we are 90% done with our wait. Tomorrow (Monday) is Day 10 of the 10-day waiting period. HOORAY!

I know Tuesday will be a busy day gathering the paperwork we need and I assumed (foolishly perhaps) that it would also be GOTCHA DAY. When speaking with my facilitator today I mentioned wanting to be sure I had her outfit ready for when we took her from the baby home on Tuesday. She replied that "maybe Wednesday" would be the day that (finally) happened, but "not Tuesday" because there is so much left to do. I would be a big fat liar if I said I was not upset, frustrated, disappointed and sad. I mean....we went to court, we waited our 10 days, NOW can I please have my baby, thankyouverymuch? I guess it doesn't work that way. I told her we are "ready to go".... Still praying that by some miracle (which I think it may take at this point) we get everything done that needs to be done, can get Everlyn from the baby home, and hop on the overnight train to Kiev....all on Tuesday. Wish us luck!!!

Everlyn was a bundle of energy today. Our morning visit was outside, while we spent the afternoon visit indoors. I had my "real" camera for the morning visit so I got some cute pictures. I didn't bring it to the afternoon visit and wouldn't you know it...they had her dressed so cute this afternoon so I snapped a few pics with the crappy iPhone camera. I will include a couple of those too...because when it comes to pictures, I think blog followers prefer quantity over quality, right? :o)

Here are some pics from this morning:

Here are some pics from this afternoon (she was apparently out of smiles by then, at least for the camera):