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A week of growth and firsts // 4 weeks home

With her eyes shut tight, her hands clasped with mine,

“Jesus, thank you Maria home.”

“Thank you,” I said, and she raised her skinny arms up, bursting with joy, up to the sky, then around me with a hug, and we both started laughing before I tucked her in.

It was just the night before, while we prayed for Kate to find her home, that I showed her a picture of who Jesus is, and told him what he can do.  She looked in awe.

I just wanted to share, be sure to never disrupt birth order while adopting–some recommend don’t adopt a child older than your eldest.

I mean, they may ask to spend all morning playing stuffed animals together in the same crib, their laughter filling your house.

Your adopted child may teach gentleness to your previously oldest child while they play, joyfully.

Your son may start becoming bilingual, and when you serve him small pancakes, he may shout out, “MALINCKY!” and when looking for papa, he may say, “G’dia papa?” (He may teach her to say, ‘No HANK you,’ instead of ‘No thank you.’) 

lunch outside with my best friend.
We had such an amazing week, we got to do so many ‘firsts’ with them, dentists and other things we have been wanting to since the day we met them this summer. After each visit, we marveled at these incredible people in our lives, helping our children.  We truly live in an amazing day and age to adopt children, to help them reach their fullest potential, and it is so fun.

We have a lot of big things to celebrate this week, but I want to start with Elijah.

See this boy?  Well, in the past four weeks, he has gained 3 pounds.

That may not seem like a lot, but it is actually a growth of 20% of his original body weight, which is huge!!!

Turns out families are good for kids

The first week he was home, he wanted a liquid diet, milk, water and formula–he completely refused the spoon even though I so badly just wanted to feed him.  But he was still gaining weight, so I kept feeding him bottles.  He would then eat those expensive squeeze packed foods once in a while–but the cost!  The next day my friend called to tell me she had boxes and boxes of squeeze happy baby food from her husbands work, did we need some?  What a cool coincidence, huh? 😉 Haha, just exactly what we needed to help him the most.

So we freely gave him so much food, and this week he has resumed eating off a spoon!  I think that previously, eating off the spoon in the orphanage was stressful, quick, do-or-die–shoot, it stressed me out when I saw babies getting shovel fed.  And now, at meal time, he looks at me, he smiles, he is not stressed or worried, and he eats, and he laughs, and he’s so happy.

 I have been nerding out making baby food.  I always loved doing that for Finley, but for a child who so needs all the nutrients, it is so fun.  This week he had; butternut squash/cottage cheese/ oatmeal mixture.  Cauliflower/creamcheese/chia seeds/banana mixtures, and a trail mix/kale/boiled egg yokes and wheat germ (Crazy right?  He loves it)  And when we saw a 19 on the scale instead of 16, we all started cheering, even Elijah.

Who is this boy who learned how to sign, ‘milk.’  This little boy who held up a harmonica as if it were a phone, and pretended to talk, then held it to my ear.  This little boy who is growing, and thriving.   I suppose every child’s most special need is a family.

Check me out!

This week, after the doctors we made popcorn and hot chocolate while watching a Christmas movie by the fire.  Best part?  It was raining outside.  No, best part was our family. 

Maria had her first dentist visit, I was nervous for her because she and all her friends at the orphanage had teeth that looked pretty rough.  But, she popped right up in the chair, ready to go!  Our dentist is amazing, family friends from Andrew’s old church and they were so sweet with her–she did great.  They gave her a pink timer and she loves using it while she brushes her teeth.
The little black spots are gone, and she loves showing off her beautiful smile now!

She is leaning English quickly.  She is daily more confident and joyful.  She knows to come to us when she is stressed, instead of turning into herself.

 There are so many little girls in the world who need fathers, but this one has one, she she will be forever blessed, protected and loved by her papa.

Even though he’s goofy

//Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!//

There is a need for families.  A need for families to take kids into their arms, their homes and allow them to grow and heal.  Sometimes I think it can be hard to get out to soup kitchens and serve the homeless when you have tiny kids, but you can still serve those in need within your home by adopting.  If you are making dinner already, if you are driving kids to school or the park anyways, if you have a toy box, a roof, a family, you have everything you need to radically and forever change the life of a child.  To break cycles, to give hope and a future.  And in the process, God makes beautiful things, and you get to be a part of it.

Advent Calendars (Savannah and Amelia stopped by, they asked if they could move in…yes! 😉

Adoption; all the cute, none of the stretch marks … or
Adoption; all the fun, but no middle of the night feedings…
I could go on for days…

I think for Finley, adopting two siblings who he can instantly play with has been his greatest joy, his greatest opportunity for growth.

Laughing and running after a ball, playing puppies.  Andrew and I loving every, single moment.

She is such an awesome big sister–she is helping them blow up balloons.  No seriously, such a good sister.

But the ones who are blessed the most are Andrew and I.  Most days we can’t believe our life is real life.  We are having so much fun, so purposeful, it’s so sweet.

After the beach today, we walked to the end of the long pier and ate at Ruby’s.  Finley and Maria shared a kids meal, Andrew and I split a burger, and Elijah, well, just slept.  

We saw helicopters and pelicans.

Oh how God loves to restore brokeness.  Oh how He loves to give to his children, while drawing them closer to him, the best gift of all bringing his intimate love. 

I say go for it.  I say dive in.

When we found out about the terrible news in Connecticut, we also found out other news.  As I read the sad news, my kids celebrated their news that ‘Finley’s Baby‘ Beatrice, who he always chose to pray for, who has no eyes and no nose, got a committed family. 
  And as I was saddened for the children who instantly died, as well as for the millions of children slowly dying in orphanages, moments like these where people chose to rescue the ‘least of these’, fill our family with such joy and hope, despite our crazy world. 
“My baby goes home!” -Finley

 Hurry home sweet Beatrice!  We love you, and we cheer that you will soon be loved the way you are meant to be, the way God created you to be.  Finley is still praying for you.

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{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Kimberly Dumlao December 17, 2012, 8:04 am

    Elijah is a completely different boy. It warms my heart.

  • Kym December 17, 2012, 12:45 pm

    Crying some serious tears of joy right now! i am so excited to hear that Elijah is gaining weight, that Maria and Finley are so tight, and that Finley’s baby got a family! I love these pictures, so much joy, maria looks like she is practically bursting wit it. Her sweet heart radiates. God is good. 🙂

  • Carla December 17, 2012, 3:46 pm

    Such sweet pictures! I love your adorable little family 🙂 We now have dates to bring our 6 year old home! Thankyou for encouraging and providing a positive glimpse into older child adoption.

  • The Idaho Neumanns December 17, 2012, 7:20 pm

    I absolutely love reading your blog! The picture of Elijah on the swing by the ocean is amazing! Thank you for your scripture references too, they really hammer your adoption message home, thank you. We have a two week old biological son right now and the thought of sleeping through the night with no stretch marks was a brillant use of words! I also like that you and your husband were able to get away and have date nights in a far away land while adopting. And how you so insightfully recommend to adopt two or more kids at once since it is the travel costs that make the bulk of the fees and if you are already traveling for one child, go for more! Thank you for your blogs, they really are a testimony to Christ’s love.

    • The Tiny Team December 19, 2012, 6:05 am

      Awww, thanks so much! Oh yes, I remember those night of being up…adoption works for us on so many levels, haha! And yes, we miss Russia, and we miss traveling TO Russia, crazy, right??

  • thiscrazyhope December 17, 2012, 7:23 pm

    Thanks for the update! Beautiful photos and I’m glad to hear she’s adapting well to the family… So joyful! Glad she gets to spend her real first Christmas with her forever family! 🙂

  • squigglyrainbow December 17, 2012, 9:39 pm

    Hi Guys! I had a dream last week that we came to the US and we met you!!! How amazing! I am crying reading this post, the blessing I feel reading, the blessing on your lives touches my heart. I feel as if we are expecting. We posted our forms off in the mail, the first step for us! xx Love to you all xx Rach

    • The Tiny Team December 19, 2012, 6:04 am

      SO FUN! We should make that happen and come visit down unda’! THAT would be FUN! WAHOOO!!! SO excited for you guys, you are going to bless and be SO blessed 🙂

  • Amanda December 17, 2012, 10:10 pm

    I don’t even remember how I found your blog but I love it. You are a beautiful person inside and out. What a wonderful little family you have and how lucky you are to have found each other. Best of luck to all of you.

  • Bon Bon December 17, 2012, 11:21 pm

    Oh my goodness, your family is such a picture of beauty and hope and restoration! God is soooo good! xoxo

  • The McNeish Family December 17, 2012, 11:42 pm

    Just beautiful!!! The joy in those little faces is all the confirmation anyone would ever need to know that adoption is a blessing!! Lots of love to your new family!

  • Carla December 18, 2012, 1:13 am

    p.s I just thought of something that just might come in handy should Elijah go on a spoon feeding strike again. A mommy that lives about 1/2 from me developed and sells these refillable squeeze bottles for homemade baby food, smoothies, apples sauce, yogurt etc. Here’s the website. I have a couple of them, they’re not as big as the ones the babyfood comes in but the bonus is you can fill it with your own stuff. http://www.squishysnakpak.com/

  • Kat December 18, 2012, 5:34 pm

    Duly noted-the birth order thing. 🙂 Thank you once again for sharing your joy. Beautiful beautiful beautiful. Your posts remind me to steal an extra snuggle with my baby in the night rather than lament that she’s woken up again. MERRY CHRISTMAS to all of you! And God bless.

  • Leah December 18, 2012, 9:06 pm

    I love reading your blog. You have been the hands and feet of Jesus and it has inspired me and my husband. We have two children right now but adoption is definitely in our future. We can’t wait to share with you when the time is right! I look forward to your posts and always finish reading them with a smile on my face and tears in my eyes.

  • kenwylie2012 December 18, 2012, 10:07 pm

    I really love your blog. I love the simplicity and joy and love for God. I am always encouraged! =] We are in the process of adopting also (through RR) and anticipate our little one being a little older than a year when we get him in a few months. I really like your baby food ideas…can I ask where you get your recipes? Or do you make them up? I’m anticipating we’ll be doing pureed food for awhile and I’m planning to make my own but not sure how to figure out how to make it the most nutritious…would really appreciate your input! Thank you very much and thank you for sharing so much joy through your blog!! =] –julie

  • Joolz December 18, 2012, 11:26 pm

    Ah, you did it again – you made me cry! I was okay until I got to Elijah’s chubby double chin pic then the tears started.

  • Laura Marino December 20, 2012, 6:14 am

    Beatrice is the same baby that stuck out to us on Angel Tree! I showed her to Keiffer and said, I want to sponsor her this month! So ironic that that is Finley’s baby too 😉 I am thrilled that she has a committed family. Hard not to love her.

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