"We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life. But those who make their journey home across time & miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us by God's very own hands."--- Kristi Larson

Our little princess!!!

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Journal - Our Final Visit

Today we were allowed to see you one last time before we leave.Since Podolsk is in the same direction as the airport, we went to see you before the flight. We were allowed to lay a blanket down on the floor and you really enjoyed that. Today you would reach for me. What a change from the quiet little lady we met on Monday. You enjoyed laughing and playing with the stacking cups. You did not stack them but enjoyed chewing on them! Yum! We had 2 hours to play today. Daddy was amazed at how interactive you were today. You loved dancing to Daddy's Blackberry tunes. When it was time to leave I handed you to the doctor. She said you would both stand there till we left. I walked down that long hallway and I could not bring myself to look back at you. I could only imagine what you were thinking watching us walk away.The thought of leaving you in that hospital is overwhelming.As we leave you I am left wondering if this week with us was just another abandonment for you. We both feel like we were in shock.This all feels like a dream. What a great week we had playing with you and getting to know you.I will pray that you will be returned to the orphanage soon.

We now are at home and are waiting on the phone call about our court date.I have to say that this stage of the wait is the most difficult yet.After leaving you , we have decided to combine trip 2 & 3. The thought of leaving you again would be too difficult. I pray everyday that court will be earlier than September. I also pray that the Lord will keep you safe until we return to you. I hope that you are filled with the knowledge that you are loved beyond measure and now belong to a family.

We Love you,
Momma & Daddy

The Journal - Day 4

Today, I came alone to see you. I could tell it was killing Daddy to miss the day with you. He went to work today in Moscow. I traveled to Podolsk with Alex and Violet. They have taken such good care of us this week. I have not once felt scared or unsafe. I do not think you were feelng well today. You spit up a few times, but despite that I could see you had fun playing with me. We put a blanket on the floor and you had a little more freedom. You really love your baby Einstein musical book. You also played with your bunny we made for you at Build a Bear. You smiled a lot more and babbled a lot more too. You rocked yourself a couple of times but that will all change when you get home. The doctors at the hospital said you must have a strong immune system because you have been there twice for exsposure to an illness and not gotten sick. I did not get to feed you today because you had already eaten. After our visit, we went by the orphanage to drop off your things we brought for you.They all said what a wonderful little girl you are. I met your main caregiver ,Alla, and she was very sweet. I could tell she cared about you a lot. We will not get to see you on Friday as we have our 8 doctor medicals in Moscow. We will have our final visit with on Saturday before leaving for the airport.The thought of heading back home without you is going to be so difficult. In just a few short days you have captured such a big piece of both of our hearts!

The Journal - Day 3

We arrive today a little late for lunch, so we do not get to give you your bottle.When the doctor comes in to bring you to us she tells us that you seem alive with emotions. She said our visits have been very good for you and you are showing so many more emotions.We pass you back and forth and have a great time playing with the toys we brought.When we lean in to give you kisses you cringe. It is hard to imagine that you are unsure about what a simple gesture of love is. Daddy leans in a tickles your foot and there it is the biggest smile and giggle that we have ever seen. We are thrilled! You have made us work really hard for that first smile. Leave it to daddy to know just what would work. We got some great pictures of your beautiful smile.We also got a better view of those six teeth that you have been hiding.You love the butterfly rattle that makes all kinds of different sounds.You seem to like anything that makes noises. That is good because we are a loud family that lives in a noisy house!
After our visit today we went by the orphanage to drop off our clothing donations. The director was on vacation but we gave them to the orphanage doctor. She was thrilled and very gracious. She said that you were a wonderful little girl and you could tell that she was fond of you.She said that you look like me. I did not realize how nice that was to hear. What a compliment. She told us that she has seen a photo of your birth mother and that she was very beautiful. I would not expect anything less because you are such a beautiful little baby. I can only imagine how difficult it was for her to leave you. She knew that she could not take care of you and wanted only the best for you. One day I will help you find her so that she can see what a wonderful young women you have become.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Journal - Day 2 with Baby Boo!

We arrive at the hospital today before lunch. When they bring you out today you again are wrapped in many layers of blankets.I immediately go over and scoop you up. They allow us to go into the office to have our visit.There is no where to set you down and watch what you can do so we take turns holding you.We brought a backpack filled with books and toys for you to look at. You loved the baby Einstein book with music and noises!It does not take us long to realize that we have a little dancer on our hands!Daddy plays music his blackberry and you dance,jump and shake your head to the music! The doctor enters the room with a bottle of formula. You grab it and off you go.I have never seen a child suck so furiously. As I hold you in my arms you are gripping my fingers so tight and your eyes are rolling back in your head.Every few seconds you open your eyes and look at me as if to see if I am still there.You can hold a bottle like a pro but you allow me to feed you. I can see that this will be a great way for us to bond.When the bottle is empty you continue to suck .I take it out and you grab it and jam it back into your mouth. I can tell that you are still hungry.At this age in the states you would be on more than formula. When I asked if you could have some of the Gerber puffs that we brought they looked at me like I was crazy.Did I mention that you have a full set of teeth !
You continue to entertain us with some babbling and dancing. When we ask you questions you shake your head no . Very Cute! You are sitting on my lap when I realize there is something wet and really warm on my leg. Yeah ...you peed on me! The nurses ran in and get you changed. I laughed . They do not know that I am the mother of two boys and used to all things gross and crude! The boys have prepared me well for just about anything.I wore my "pee pee" jeans proudly the rest of the day. It was kinda of like you had marked me as your momma today!
At dinner tonight we both found it hard to eat wondering if you were still hungry.Our hearts are heavy thinking about you stuck in isolation at the hospital. It sounds strange but we will be happy when you are returned to the orphanage. After much discussion you will be Ava Alexandra. A new name , a new beginning .

The Day We Met

I cannot believe that today is the one year anniversary of meeting our sweet Ava. The time has flown by so quickly and I have watched her transform from a scared ,shy baby to a confident ,spunky (that sounds better than stubborn!)little girl. Our lives were forever changed when we walked into that hospital in Podolsk.That first week ,I had taken a journal with me to take notes after each visit with Ava.

Day 1

We went to the MOE today to get our official referral. We waited for a couple of hours in a long hallway for our turn to be called in. We waited with two other American couples. One of the families were with CSS and shared their knowledge of the IA process.Our translator Violet left us with Svetelana as we waiting for our invitation to go in the back.Finally, we were all called back to a small room. There was a round table in the center of the room and we all took a seat. On both sides of the room were four ladies working on computers.We sat in silence for what seemed like an eternity. It was the most nervous silence that I have ever experienced. A lady entered the room with two large files in her hands. She sat them on the table and began speaking Russian to S asking which family would be going first. S pointed at us. I glanced down at the file but I did not see a photo on the front. She opened the file and took out a sheet of paper with a lot of data and at the top left hand corner was a small black and white photo.She then turned the paper around and started reading the data in Russian.They all kinda sounded like Charlie Brown's teacher! S was translating but I was focused on that little photo.I recognized you from the database. It was the same photo that I had see everyday for months. I was totally shocked that you were so young and blond/light eyed. We were open any ethnicity and up to 24 months. We expected a brown-eyed beauty that was at the top end of our age bracket.This was definitely proof that God has a sense of humor! Always remember EVERYTHING IS ON HIS TIME AND IT IS HIS PLAN!
We were then given all the basic info about you .Then they asked if we would like to met you . Bret said I yelled out "Yes" before they could finish the question.We then drove to Podolsk. We arrived at the gates of the baby home located in the middle of the town of Podolsk.Violet took us inside past the guard. When you walked into the yard there was colorful murals painted on the walls and play ground equipment scattered throughout the grounds.In the backdrop was a large two story building.When entering the building we could not help but notice the silence. Violet took us straight to the directors office where we learned you were taken to the hospital due to a fever and exposure to the chicken pox.Violet was determined we were going to see you today so after much persuasion the clinic granted us permission to visit you. So we were back in the car and heading to the hospital.When we arrived we were shocked to see the conditions of the hospital.We went to the last building in the back where they kept the children. We rang the door bell and Violet worked her magic. We were asked to wait in the hallway while they went in in the back to get you. We had hired Dr. M to come and evaluate your medicals. I have to say I was scared to death!I managed to maintain that "deer in the headlights" look all day!

Minutes passed and this doctor that was no taller than 4'6 comes walking out with something that looks half her size wrapped in many blankets.She laid you on a table in the hallway and began unwrapping you. Layer by layer whatever was in there was getting smaller and smaller. Then there were two big beautiful grey eyes just sizing up each of us.I was shocked to see how tiny you were. You were one week shy of your first b-day and weighted what your brothers weighted at 3-4 months.We studied each other for a few minutes and then I scooped you up.You did not cry at all.They explained that you had been there for 21 days in the "box".I think you were glad for the human attention and change of scenery. Dr. M evaluated you as we helped and watched.We were amazed at how bright and alert you were. We would give you our fingers and you would pull yourself up. Small but very mighty! You made excellent eye contact and studied every detail of our faces. But you were completely silent and had a frown on your face. Dr. M talked to us about your medical report.You had a lengthy list on your medical: PFO(small hole in between atrium's of the heart) ,rickets ,pulmonary stenosis, premature at 36 wks , 4.4 lbs at birth, delay about 3-4 months,angel kiss on your forehead and large stork bite at the base of your neck! Dr. M felt the hole was closed because he could not detect a murmur and all of you other issues would resolve with good nutrition and the love of a family.Before we knew it ,it was time for your nap . I walked out of that building in a daze. Where was my sign . I just knew that God was going to give me a sign that you were our daughter.I had seen your picture on the datbase countless times but I would always just pass it over. When we got in the car Violet asked what we thought of the baby. Daddy jumped in and said "When can we take her home". Well, that was my sign ! This man was terrified of a baby with a heart condition.He walked out of that building and knew without any doubt that you were our daughter. You managed to wrap that man around your finger in two short hours. You definitely beat my time! I leave there with so much on my mind it is difficult to process it all.All that I know is that I have just met my little girl!

Monday, July 6, 2009

1st Trip To The Beach!

Ava had her first trip to the beach this past week. She had a blast digging in the sand and looking at the shells. She has really been bonding with Nick lately. Jake is her clown that always entertains but Nick is older. They have been spending more time together since school has been out for summer and she is forming a great bond with him. It is really wonderful to see!

We are so excited to be approaching our one year anniversary of meeting our sweet girl! Time has really flown by.I just look at her and it seems so surreal that we have been blessed with such a wonderful bundle of joy!