Here are my little ones at home, raking fall leaves in November. I always love the annual raking of the leaves with the kids. It was awful to miss this, but Hannah took some great pictures.
There's a lot of raking, and then a lot of jumping and throwing of leaves. In the end, I don't think the yard looks a whole lot different than when they began, but that wasn't the point anyway.
And then a beautiful Fall Shoot by Hannah:
and one more makes SIX!
Pretty soon we may have to get a bigger scarf!
Here is Levi giving out some fruit and treats we brought for the people at his institute. The man is the Director, and he is a wonderful man.
Levi saying good-bye to one of the nannies.
Levi was one of the youngest in his place, and he was well loved by all. Roma here was particularly heart-broken to see Levi leave. He cried and cried.
He gave Levi a gift when he left. It was this pair of socks that he had knit by hand himself. This is a precious keepsake.
This is outside of Micaiah's orphanage on the day we picked him up.
A little boy ready to go home to America!
Hannah went with me for the homecoming trip which turned out to be 16 days. She was a great companion and quite the trooper. It was a long and difficult process but I am thankful I had such a great helper with me.
One of the few pictures I have of us arriving home. I could have collapsed right there and not moved for a week.
Here are some home pictures of Levi. He has fit in wonderfully. He is a pleasant, happy, obedient, polite, cooperative and kind little boy.
He had no trouble learning how to ride a bike.
Levi loves chickens.
And boy does he LOVE a bath! He gets very excited about a bath and you'd think he were in a swimming pool! I can't wait to see what he does in a pool next summer.
And now time to go and get a Christmas tree. A little late this year, but better late than not at all. Levi likes to take care of the little ones. He's got natural compassion.
My handsome boy.
It's wonderful to take the opportunity to repay Canaan for his many photo bombs over the years!
Trimming the tree.
Canaan began college classes five years ago, at the age of 16. (You can dual enroll when you are homeschooled.) He graduated December as a Physical Therapy Assistant. This is a great career for him, and he graduated as one of the best in his class! He also graduated debt-free and paid for almost all of his education himself, without financial aid, loans, grants or scholarships. He has worked hard at part-time jobs since he was 14 years old. We are very proud of him.
Her cake was made to look like a big cupcake.
She got footie jammies and a new apron.
The director of Levi's institute told us that the best thing we could do for him was get some chickens. Whenever they didn't know where Levi was, he would be out with the chickens. And this boy really loves chickens. We looked into the possibility of getting a couple chickens for him, and then soon after we got home we had a HUGE package delivered to our door. It was a chicken coop! We could hardly believe it! Two of our wonderful adoption friends from online who had advocated hard for Levi now had sent him a chicken coop! Now all we had left to do was find some chickens!
We researched and found that silkie chickens make very good pet chickens. They are hardy in the heat and cold and have a mild temperament. Then don't mind being held and are very tolerant, and on top of it all, they are really cute and soft!
We got three, two partridge and one red pyle. The white one is Cauliflower, and the other two are Snickerdoodle and Panini.
Levi was a very happy boy.
Biscuit meeting the chickens. Just one more creature we've brought into our family that Biscuit has to make friends with when she'd rather eat them.
Candice doing schoolwork with Kiki.
Donut loved the Christmas tree. She ran right up it the day we put it up.
On Christmas Eve, Donut met with a tragic accident and is no longer with us. It was devastating for those of us who loved her, and she was very loved. She had a very sweet temperament and she seemed to know when someone was sad and needed a little purring kitty to cuddle up with them. It will take a while to get over her. We all remember her sweet little habits. Such a sad thing to happen, and on Christmas Eve no less.
The Christmas Card
The Christmas card is out again for another year. We had considered not doing it this year, given the circumstances, but we pulled it together at the last minute.
I will try to have the link up to the card soon.
Levi had no problem climbing a tree once Maggie showed him how.
He's a funny little boy. He found this little tutu of Maggie's and he wanted to wear it. We wondered why and then he communicated to us that he thought they were like chicken feathers, and he wanted to pretend to be a chicken. It reminded us a bit of Ace Ventura. We say that he reminds us of a cross between Ace Ventura, Rocketman, Mr. Bean, and Elf. :-)
And wow did he love the swing. I thought if he swung any higher he would have wrapped right around the bar! He would swing higher and higher, laughing the whole time.
Christmas morning for Levi. I did not get enough pictures, but it was precious seeing his dear reaction to each thing. We do not do a lot for Christmas, but we do stockings, and his stocking had some treats and cars and coloring books and such, and each thing he was absolutely delighted to discover, and would ask us, "Levi?" He had to be reassured that the things were for him.
Adding to the sweetness, somewhere along the line someone taught Levi to take good care of his things. Every thing that we have given him he has carefully put on his shelves, or lined up under his bed. All his animals are arranged on his nightstand, and his books piled neatly. He did all of this on his own.
On one of his first days, he kept asking people to draw pictures for him (mostly of chickens), and then he would disappear. After a few hours of this, he called me to come up to his room. He brought me in his room and very proudly held both his hands out to show me that he had been hanging all the pictures up on the wall to decorate his room. It was hilarious. I cracked up. He used stickers to hang up the pictures. He also hung up a picture of the nativity that he got at church and he really loves it.
And I always joke with him about how nice his side of the room is and then I point to Canaan's side of the room (below) and say, "Ack! Braht!! Messy messy messy!" And Levi laughs. It's amazing how much he understands already. When a person has a desire to communicate, and to understand, it can happen very quickly. Levi almost always manages to communicate to us what he wants or needs. He is creative too. He understands that we don't understand him, and he really tries. He also repeats words that we teach him, and more often than not, remembers them. It makes me laugh to overhear him saying things like, "oh, Kiki, be nice, be nice!" His accent is awesome too. I hope he never loses it. He can roll his R's into next week. He has five brothers, but Canaan is the only one who he calls "Braht" (Ukrainian for brother). And he pronounces it "brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrraht". It's adorable.
Micaiah's story is a sad one. It is hard to explain everything, and impossible to say all of our emotions and feelings about all that has gone on. There was very little known about him when we heard about him. The couple of people who had met him, had met him years earlier, and of course everyone wants to think the best. The only official diagnosis listed on his profile was spina bifida, and we knew that it had never been treated and that he was in a wheelchair.
In every adoption, there are many unknowns, and you go into it knowing this. I suppose what was more disconcerting in this case was one, that the unknowns were so great and significant, and secondly, and more importantly, the unknowns were not unknown.
Even when the doctor at the institute went over his diagnoses, we were told that he had occasional bladder or kidney infections due to the fact that he was in diapers. This made sense. Once he was in a cleaner place with more reliable and modern care, we could make sure that didn't happen any more. A little over a week after coming to America, the boys had their first appointments at the pediatrician. The next day we received an urgent call to take Micaiah to the emergency room at the children's hospital as quickly as possible. He was in kidney failure, and his heart could fail at any moment.
And from that day has unraveled the long list of medical issues with this broken boy. It all began with spina bifida that was never corrected or addressed. This caused kidney problems that accelerated into a chronic renal failure and many other complications. He has had many infections, causing scarring in tubes. His bladder had never been emptied and had been carrying about two liters of urine constantly. The pressure pushed up on other organs causing other problems. And the latest is that they have discovered heart problems from the constant high blood pressure and increased heart rate from the chronic kidney issues.
It was very possible that Micaiah could have had a heart attack on the plane home, and we would have had no idea what was happening or why. We did not know about the kidney disease at all. It was not until I was home and reading through our documents that I discovered the many official diagnoses that Micaiah had and were never disclosed to us by anyone. Not by the doctor at the institute, or by anyone else along the way who knew. And why did I not read this earlier? We did not receive the translated document until the day before we left the Ukraine.
I am still incredulous that someone could be aware of the seriousness of his condition, and allow him to board a plane with people who had no idea that he had this condition. I do not know why this happened, or what their reasoning was, nor does it matter now.
Micaiah has been in the hospital for many days and they continue to find more problems every few days. His kidneys will not recover, and he is currently on dialysis, likely to require dialysis three times a week when and if he is ever discharged. With all of his other health issues, it is very likely that he will not be a candidate for a kidney transplant.
Art visits Micaiah every day in the hospital (although it is not in our town) and spends several hours with him. The rest of us visit when we can. These pictures were taken from Christmas Day. He is obviously in much less discomfort or pain, and his coloring has improved. He continues, however, to have little to no interest in anyone or anything.
We only met Micaiah a few times in the Ukraine, and each time we attributed his behaviors to nervousness and institutional behaviors. It has taken time to get to know him better and see that there are greater issues at foot than simply these. We provided him with a tablet, hoping that he would learn some English and some games. He was only interested in one thing: he handed me a jump drive full of Ukrainian songs, and I loaded as much as I could onto the tablet. Since then, all that he does is listen to the music. The people at the hospital have tried very hard to get him interested in other things and activities. On Christmas Day "Santa" came by and brought loads and loads of gifts for him. We could not believe the stacks of things all over his bed and on the shelves in his room. But he had no interest in any of it. He just listens to his music.
Even when we come to visit, the kids try to talk with him and interact with him, and he rarely looks up at anyone. Levi tries to talk with him, and he will not answer. You can see below the stacks of gifts on his bed, and all of us around, and how his focus is on the tablet only.
And we do not know when he will be getting out of the hospital. The doctors have no speculation yet either. This is difficult for everyone. We do not know what we will be facing with him, but it is all obviously far from anything we expected or imagined. It is hard to even know how to think about it all yet. Right now we are taking one day at a time, praying for wisdom, strength and guidance.
A Bright Spot
I was so sad about Donut, and about all the other things we have been facing here lately. On the evening of Christmas Day, Canaan, Candice, and Hannah went out. They returned with this little thing for me. A kitten can't heal everything, but she certainly has brought some joy into this house.
I named her Rhubarb, and call her Rhuby. She is adorable, hilarious, affectionate, and sweet. We are all thoroughly enjoying her.
She plays hard and sleeps a lot.
She's very small and I suspect she may have been taken from her mother a little too early. She loves to curl up in the coon skin hat with a heated pad under her, or curl up in Hannah's hair.
Isn't she pretty?
Sleeping in a doll bed by Silas.
A sherpa lined coat will do.
And while this hardly scratches the surface of the past couple of months, it covers the highlights, and hopefully brings up to date those who are interested. Praying for good things in the New Year, and thankful for all that we have.