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our scrawny angel and sweet girl: at last!

The gravel crunched as we pulled up to the baby hospital where our little one lives.  We got out of the car, and put on our purple booties to cover our shoes, and stepped up the concrete stairs, smells of porridge and floor cleaner in the dark stairwell.  We saw three toddlers, one ran to us, but her bad leg made her fall hard just before she got to me.  I picked her up and looked at her, giving her a hug.  A little boy with no use of his legs crawled up to Andrew, “Dada!” he said as Andrew picked him up.

Some women came and took the toddlers out, and then we saw our son.  They brought out Elijah to us.

His face was shining and smiling as he looked at us, flapping his arms to reach us.

“You guys really came back for me?”

We scooped him up and covered him with kisses, he squealed with delight.  His face had changed a bit, and two crooked front teeth greeted us from his smiles.  His body was like skin and bones, not any bigger than when we left a few months ago, his skin dry.

We took him into the “toy room” and undressed him to put his cutie outfit on from grandma b.

Which is when I saw how tiny he really was, it was a bit shocking.

16 months

But heck, he does tiny well.  He is just precious in our eyes, and we know he will plump up when he gets home.  And who doesn’t love a tiny baby?  🙂

Doesn’t he look kind of like a little American boy in this picture with his cute little outfit?

Baby boy had a dreadful cough, and a thick runny nose, but despite it all, his smile will light up a room, and he wanted to tell the world that he was happy mama and papa came back.  This boy truly amazes us by how resilient he is, how smart, how happy despite his situation.

I walked to his room to get his toy we left last time, and I heard a panting cry.  Over and over a baby was sceaming out from their room in agony and distress.  I slowly walked down the hall, and peered into a room, and about 9 pairs of eyes looked up at me as I hesitantly entered.  I saw the little one, screaming, in the corner.  As I approached, I noticed something was off–the baby had no diaper or pants on, which is very uncommon here.  As I walked closer, the screaming child lay on her back, and then I saw why.  Her diaper rash was so red it was almost purple, and in her distress, she lay in her crib, alone, with mittens over her hands, screaming and panting for breaths.

It was too much and I ran out.  I started crying a little, “Are you sad?” Dasha asked me, “No,” I said as I picked up Elijah.  I didn’t want any of the workers see me crying as a reflection on them or on our son.

I am not sure these pictures do justice to how tiny he really is.  Even Dasha and Sveta were surprised by his size.  Our tiny angel.

We played everything, and he soaked in the time.  We stacked blocks, we crawled and read books.  He loved to pick up toys and throw them.  He and Finley will be best buds.

I gave him a sip of my water, and he cried and squealed for more.  He cried and arched his tiny back onto the floor begging for more water.  I don’t think the babies are given water to reduce diaper changes, which would explain the dry skin.

Then little one started to get tired.  He is used to being in his crib, and only his crib so it was hard for him to get comfortable in our arms.   But you see, little one, mama and papa are persistent, and God sent us to you to teach you how to be a baby.  A baby who knows what it’s like to be held and loved, and trust in adults.  To trust that your needs will be met, that you will be given food and water, and that you won’t go hungry.

And after just a little while of struggling and “cuddle therapy” time, and singing him a few songs, he brought his thumb up to his mouth, and nestled down with mama.

Papa wanted some Elijah cuddles too.

Sleepy boy

Right before he was about to doze off, his nannies came in and said that it was time for lunch.  I squeezed one more packed of healthy food into his mush and we slowly fed him, we were careful to take our time so that he could get every drop.

We said goodbye to our tiny love, and hopped in the car, off to lunch.


We went for a pizza lunch with out two gals, then walked over to Maria’s new school.  I had mixed feelings about her being moved to the house for “older children,” and had even more mixed feelings when I saw big teenage boys hanging out in the door step.  As we rang the bell, I thought about Sveta telling me about Maria crying at night, wondering if we would be coming back.  Did she know we were here right now on her doorstep?

90 kids live here, and when we opened the door, there where kids everywhere.  I didn’t even see her come up, until I heard, “Mama!” and felt her grab onto me, wrapping her arms all the way around me, burying her face in my stomach so I coudn’t see her face.

She was crying, and wouldn’t let go.

(Sorry these pics are so blurry, it was so fast)

We hugged and hugged.  We brought her into a room with the director and sat with her.  “Maria, we missed you so much!  We are here now, we love you so, so much sweet girl.”

“I miss mama and papa”

I pulled out my phone to show her a picture of her new room, all to herself, her pink walls, her own bed with flowers on it, the books and cloths, her baby doll and she started crying again.  I am not sure she likes her new school.

But her tears didn’t last long.  We pulled out a hello kitty coloring book, some crayons and a jump rope for her.

“Mama and Papa are here now, Maria.  We love you so much.”

Maria and papa kept coloring together, and I poked my head out into the big room with lace curtains from floor to ceiling.  Then I saw Vanya!  He must have transferred schools with Maria.  His whole face lit up when he saw me, and started doing his best acrobatics.

If we were approved for one more child, little Vanya has our hearts.  We love this funny, sweet, happy boy.

I started talking to some of the bigger boys, some 16, who looked much like adults living in this orphanage.  But once I started talking to them, I realized.

They were just little kids.  Soften spoken, shy, kind, respectful.  They told me they wanted a mama and a papa too.

Ouch, my heart.

They wanted to come live with a family too.  Andrew and my heart are really heavy for these big kids, because they truly are just kids.

We played with the kids, they all wanted to talk to us.  We took their pictures and they asked us to print some out for them next time we come.

As you look at some of the faces of these precious children we met today, I want to share with you some real statistics for orphans in their country.  Its easy to respond numbly and see the statistics in terms of just big numbers… but when we allow ourselves to become personally involved and risk the greif that follows awareness, they become more than mere statistics… they become real children with real hearts that ache for their parents and real bodies that hunger for care.  Every single child that makes up the thousands or millions is a precious child, just like Maria and just like Elijah and just like Finley.

–Every 2.2 seconds another orphan ages out with no family to belong to and no place to call home.  These studies also show that 60% of the girls become prostitutes and 70% of the boys become hardened criminals.

In R and the Ukraine, studies have shown that 10% – 15% of these children commit suicide before they reach age eighteen.

Their sweetness would surprise you

Another R study reported that of the 15,000 orphans aging out of state-run institutions every year, 10% committed suicide,

5,000 were unemployed, 6,000 were homeless 

and 3,000 were in prison within three years…

I pray for our own hearts to continually be stirred for them.  To never forget when we come home.  These children need our prayers, they need advocates, and they need men and women to stand up for them.

We asked to go up and see Maria’s room and the kids were all so excited they were in a tizzy.  They hugged us, and held our hands and stared into our eyes.

 These boys love Andrew so much.

And when it felt like we had just arrived, it was time to go.  “Goodbye, mama,” Maria said, showing us her good English with a proud smile on her face.

Before we left, we walked back to the room with all of our stuff we had given Maria.  The girls looked at it all in awe, “Ohhhh, Maria,” they said as they gently touched the books and crayons.  (We will give them all the donations tomorrow 🙂

Kate is the only child out of 90 listed on RR.  Please donate, share, pray.
Oh my, what a full day.  We are pretty tired, and our hearts are a mix of happy and heavy.  Goodnight and Paka!  (It’s night for us!)
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  • Kristi October 8, 2012, 12:54 pm

    Oh my goodness, Amy, your family is simply beyond beautiful!! Your children, all three of them, are gorgeous. I love reading your blog. And thank you SO MUCH for the new pictures of Kate!! <3

  • Lauren October 8, 2012, 1:59 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing…it is so easy to get caught up with the sweet baabies that we forget about these older, beautiful “babies” still waiting for a family. Praying….<3

  • Jaime October 8, 2012, 2:15 pm

    What a beautiful, heart-wrenching story! If you are going to see the little one with diaper rash again….I don’t care if this is medical advice. Go get a tube of neosporin, tube of miconazole (yeast infection stuff), and tube of lotrimin (then you’ll have antibacterial, anti-yeast, anti-fungal). Squish it all in a tub together and you’ll have a ghetto version of Newman’s all-purpose nipple ointment. My son would get blistering diaper rashes, and this is the only thing that helps. I am praying for this precious little one. Thank you for this empowering, celebratory, heartbreaking post. I pray your little ones will be home with you before long!

  • Five Foot Mama October 8, 2012, 4:03 pm

    There are no words… I can’t imagine just how hard it must be to see all of this in person! I have tear-filled eyes just reading this post and seeing your beautiful pictures. It is so sad to think about children just like my own, not having a loving, stable home, and a family who cares about them. And the statistics about orphans you gave are absolutely horrifying.

    Good luck with everything. I sure wish that each and every one of those children find great, loving homes.


  • Rebecca Higgins October 8, 2012, 5:07 pm

    Precious to see the smiles and hugs Maria and Elijah gave when they saw you! My heart and my prayers are right there with you! I know only all too well what it means when orphans age out of the system there. May God be with you!

  • Siervas del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús October 8, 2012, 7:09 pm

    I have been following your story from the time you committed to Maria…and have been waiting so long to see you finally able to go and get her. She reminds me SO much of one of my sweet girls–I work in a girls orphanage in eastern Bolivia and we are always so happy when our girls get families (it doesn’t happen a whole lot, and families from the US unfortunately can’t adopt, but it does happen every so often!). Congratulations to all five and I will be following and praying along!
    In prayer,
    Sr. Anna

  • Amanda October 8, 2012, 7:40 pm

    What a beautiful post! So happy for you and your sweeties! Praying for you all and the little ones there. My heart just went numb in the last post when the girl told you no one was coming to adopt the children there. Oh God why can’t it be me?

  • Amanda October 8, 2012, 7:42 pm

    What a beautiful post! I’m so happy for you and your sweet ones. I’ll be praying for you all and the little ones there. My heart just went numb during the last post when the girl said no one is coming to adopt the children there. Oh God, where is everyone?

  • Krista October 8, 2012, 10:31 pm

    Hi Amy! I am in Home Group with your sister-in-law, Ashley. I just wanted to let you know that we are praying for all of you! Your sweet little Elijah and beautiful Maria are just precious. We are asking that God goes before you and makes a way to get your babies home very very soon!



  • Kelly October 8, 2012, 11:38 pm

    What a bittersweet post. Sweet, sweet Maria! I can’t imagine what is going through her mind right now. Little Elijah looks so precious laying his head down on you sucking his thumb. Each time I read your blog I am filled with tears, some happy and sad. Thank you for sharing your journey with us!

  • Kelly October 8, 2012, 11:38 pm

    What a bittersweet post. Sweet, sweet Maria! I can’t imagine what is going through her mind right now. Little Elijah looks so precious laying his head down on you sucking his thumb. Each time I read your blog I am filled with tears, some happy and sad. Thank you for sharing your journey with us!

  • Laura Marino October 9, 2012, 3:47 am

    Thank you so much for sharing Amy! Little Elijah melts my heart. I can see how tiny he is. Tennyson is his same age and after I read your post, Tennyson woke from his nap and when I went in to see him standing in his crib, I really saw the difference in size! You are right though. When he comes home, I’m sure it will take no time for him to catch up! What a sweet moment for him to be loved by you guys. Maria is so sweet 🙂 I hope she knows now that you guys aren’t eaving her. That you really are coming back for her for good. I’m sure she is in the “too good to be true” stage. I can’t wait for that moment when you pack up her things and leave the orphanage for good next momth! Tell me more about Vanya. He is such a handsome boy. How old is he? Does he have any special needs? Is he a relatively healthy boy? I know you probably don’t know too much, but I’d like some details if you could get some. I never thought about adopting an older child, but he does stick out to me. Could you take a really nice photo of him next time you go in? Like a good and clear close up? I can’t wait for all the kids to get their new things tomorrow! They will be so happy :)What a blessing you are in their lives. If only just to let them see that dreams really do come true. EVen if it’s not them getting adopted, it makes it seem possible and hope is what keeps people alive.

  • Rebecca October 9, 2012, 4:37 am

    I am a new follower of your journey, and I am already so in love with your family! Will this be the “gotcha” trip, or is this just a visit?

  • Shari October 9, 2012, 3:49 pm

    Can’t wait til you get these two home where they belong!!! Thank you for sharing so often, you are such a great writer and photographer, I always look forward to new posts!

  • Tonya Garrick October 11, 2012, 11:17 pm

    Thank you for sharing. My heart is broken for these children who are waiting. We’re adopting 1 from Korea and I’m so excited, but my heart is so sad for the other sweet children who need families, too. There’s no way to read about them and then do nothing.
    Blessings to your sweet family!!

  • Natalie Avilez January 10, 2014, 9:57 pm

    I am in tears reading your post! Erika sent me the link and told me how she would love to know you and Andrew better. God is so good! We are so blessed to have your family at Beaumont and to have Maria a part of our Beaumont family. I also went to Beaumont as a little girl and I know she will carry many wonderful memories of her time there!
    Mrs. Natalie….Happy Reading!