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Sweet, sweet life// 2 weeks home

“Oh my gosh,” Andrew exclaimed, all of us in the boys room, close to bed time, “Oh my gosh, I think Elijah has a poop explosion, oh my gosh…”

To which Maria and Finly burst into such huge laughter, they are literally laying on floor, before they pick themselves up to hop around papa, who is trying to change the teeny baby, who himself is cracking up.

“Ok, well, he’s officially grown out of size 2 diapers,” he tells me and he holds Elijah away from his body as he carries him to the bath tub, two laughing kids right behind him each step of the way.

Finely, Papa and Maria line up the edge of the bath tub, being filled with warm water, and piles of bubbles, and as our tiny love splashed in the warm bubbles, I saw him look up to three adoring faces, what a change for such a little boy.  But, also what a changed little boy.

When we got home, I wasn’t sure it could get better, but with each passing day, we learn new things, our children grow each day, we learn what best suits each kid, and we settle into family, and well–what can you say about that?

Putting the Vlad Motor Inn to shame with this borsch we made, seriously 

All my children take a nap after lunch at the same time.  I put Finley down, rock Elijah to sleep, then read to Maria and rub her back before she drifts off, “I love you, mama.”

“I love you baby.”

Maria wakes up from her naps first, and we have been able to do a little activity while the boys still sleep, and sleep–it’s a special time that I get to spend with her, pretty sure I am more blessed than she.

One day this week, with the rain streaming down our windows, I put on my apron, and pulled out the matching apron made just for her, and asked her if she wanted to bake muffins with mama.  She was giddy, and jumping up and down.

“Yes, mama!  Yes!  Thank you, mama!”  She has no problem showing so much joy.

 I asked her to watch as I measured one cup, level it, and added it, then allowed her to do the same, as I watched, “Good job, wow!”  She learned how to crack eggs, what flour is, she learned about measurement, and you would have thought it was the best day of her whole life.  When Papa got home, she presented him the muffins, so proud she was bursting.  She listen to me as a bragged to him how well she did, beaming.

 One day, her children and husband will be so, so blessed–just as we are blessed now.

Over the weekend, Maria and I went to a Christmas tea with an orchestra and fine china.  The night before I showed her pictures of what a tea party is, and layed out our dresses, she was so excited.  We did her hairl, and even let her wear a pearl necklace, she felt so special.

Maria’s first Christmas Tea party with mama
My sweetheart at her first tea party

Maria is a gift, and it is a gift to us to be her parents.  Even just being within a family has caused her to grow so much in the last three weeks.  Within one person, she is such a mix of ages.  I think she is finally feeling free to go through many of the stages she had always been denied.  At ten, she loves playing baby dolls, loves being held, loves being taken care of, loves playing with her baby brothers.  We allow and welcome it, she is free to be her, and we see growth through it, a maturing in her little spirit, we see a new balance and confidence that wasn’t there before.  But even with her growth we are parenting a child who has had much abandonment, much heart ache, and too much change for any one heart.  Grief is a very normal, and healthy part of adoption, and one day last week, she asked to listen to Russian music as she gazed at a picture of Kate.  I pulled her into my arms and rocked her as she sucked her thumb.  She has always had to change, always had to say goodbye, but this time is different, because she has parents to help her through it.

A tear slipped down her cheek, soaking into my shirt,

“Mama no bye bye?”

I stroked her hair, “Mama no bye bye.”

She typed this to me on my phone:

“For ever and ever,” I told her.
Maria loves her siblings, and it melts my heart

And she loves her papa.

Communication is very easy, most days we forget we don’t speak to same language becasue we communicate so well.  But sometimes we pull out the phone, and will have long coversations.  “Maria, what is your favorite food?”


“Maria, what is your favorite thing in your whole room?”

She spoke in Russian into the phone, and showed me, her face alive with giggles and urging me to read,

“Like everything!” it read.

Our animal lover

Over the weekend a friend gave us their daughter’s old bike for Maria, and she was just so happy.   She was really wobbly on it at first, but now you should just see her go!

We have been having so much fun in the afternoons in our street.  Our sweet neighbors have even been joining us.  I mean seriously, so fun.  I just love the ages on my kids.

Is it possible for a 2 year old and 10 year old to become best friends?  Recently when we went to the park, it was filled with other kids, and Maria and Finley were suddenly glued together, without looking at each other.  She needed his confidence, he needed her stature, and together they slid down slides and swung on swings, I’m not even sure they were aware.  Sometimes he gives her a run for her money, and he’ll flip out when she tries to get him to come with me, she shrugs her shoulders, and she and I just laugh.  “Finley…” we say, with a smile.

Finley is daily a new boy after our adoption, I could write a book about the changes I see in him, this thing truly is about the good.  Things we’ve prayed for his little heart, are becoming parts of his little being as he lives life with Elijah and Maria, that just weren’t there before.

And if you’ve ever wondered how an adoption will affect your biological children, all I have is pictures–

First hand sharing experience, which is already a part of her being.

Today, Maria was too scared to go down a really big slide, but then Finley wanted to.  Maria told him she’d go with him when he asked, and together–they slid down that huge slide.  At the bottom, she lifted him safely onto the ground.

Finley is still our most demanding child.  I’m also pretty sure he is our most special needs child, since he has the special need to break dance in the middle of the doctor’s waiting room while Elijah sits perfectly on my lap, and Maria giggles at him into my shoulder.  He has the special need to clear out all sound barriers within the tiny office when he stubs his toe, meanwhile Elijah gets 7 viles of blood taken and barely makes a peep.  But I believe this adoption was one of the best things that has ever happened to Finley, he is growing so much, just as they are.


Someone asked me recently is it hard.  Is it hard to parent them, to have three kids now, to have such a mix of ages.

And the answer is no.  Our life is not hard.

I think about the people in my life, the people I have met.  The women who I have gardened next to on the hills of Fiji who have spent their life being sex trafficked, raped, their teeth punched out, now being healed in this safe haven, and who smile at me through gapped teeth because of the joy God has placed within their hearts where there was once void.

I think of the children left in the orphanages.

I think of Katie Davis, living away from the home and country she grew up in, raising 14 girls as a single mother while simultaneously serving and feeding hundreds of children and people around her, praise to the creator on her lips.

And I think of our little home, my husband, who I love and admire, probably more each day, our family, and I don’t think one bit of it is hard.  Our life may look different, but it is good.  Just too good that I am mostly certain I don’t deserve it.  And even though  I am also mostly certain we are unqualified, I guess that’s who God likes to use best, because then we can ask Him how to do it.

Andrew ran them through the street after the parade in a curvy line, “What a great dad,” someone commented as the kids shrieked with laughter.  I agreed.  Meanwhile, Elijah was passed out in the carrier.

Although our life may look different than the average person where we live, it is not hard.  I feel my daughters tears, and praise his name that they land of the shoulder of a mother who loves her forever.  I hold the body of a tiny boy, crying in my arms as he learns he doesn’t have to rock himself, and feel his little body become soft in my arms, his head sweaty against my chest, his fuzzy hair slicked back by my hand, and I praise Him for allowing these children to know love and comfort.

Pacifier training this little birdy, his thumb nail is about to fall off! Poor thing only had his thumb as comfort for a year and a half, but no more of that!

I am thankful for the expereinces in my life that will forever let me know my life is not hard, but filled with blessing, and moments where I can’t help but to thank God, aloud.

I have written before how to process to adopt has brought us very much freedom from things in this world, well, now we are feeling a new kind of freedom.

“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver,” Dr. Maya Angelou.

I want to write more details about what we are specifically doing for bonding for some of my friends in the adoption process, but the only thing I can offer right now is the example that Jesus has given us, which is to give and then, give, and to trust so much that you can only just enjoy and not worry, or calculate. We are not the healing gurus, we can only serve out of love, to have fun, enjoy, to pray and give thanks, and that’s when we see the most growth in each of our children, the most fun and most bonding.  We also feel freedom from ourselves, which is good cause we aren’t that great 😉

Also, our children don’t need to be anything but themselves.  The love we find in Jesus daily allows us to not need our children’s love.  We don’t need them to fill a void in our hearts, to make us feel good, to make a holiday special.  While we don’t need their love, we love them, and we would give up our lives for them in a second, but they are free to be themselves, two little ones just learning what love and family mean, and that no matter what we offer love.

//Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. //

We haven’t quite yet read all the books, and to be honest, we just always try to have fun and play, cause that’s what childhood is about, and if any child is going to feel comfortable or good, it’s when they are playing and relaxed or laughing.  We may not have finished the laundry, but we did make a special trip to a field where all the kids rode bikes for an hour, while Andrew and I held hands, praised new moves, laughed and kissed boo boos.

Daily blessing us more than one could even believe
 As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. 
It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.
//Colossians 1: 10-12//

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  • Molly December 4, 2012, 9:44 pm

    So just when I think I’m having a bad day, your post reminds me that my “bad” is nothing compared to what these kids have gone through. Thank you for that reminder.

    I love seeing happy happy pictures of them.

  • Patty December 4, 2012, 10:05 pm

    Beautiful… just beautiful! Dec. 27 can’t get here soon enough! Love you all SO much!

  • Jen December 4, 2012, 10:32 pm

    The Joy in your household is palpable. I’m greateful for your posts; it inspires me as a mother. And, would you please write a book? Cause I will buy a ton and give them to everyone I know!!

    Yay- that is how I feel after reading…. YAY!! =)

  • Jane@flightplatformliving December 4, 2012, 10:53 pm

    oh my goodness you utterly and totally got me again…your joy, love, beauty, your kids….oh those heart stoppingly beautiful kids of yours, your grace, your words, your pictures!!! i am so happy to have read that, it will be in my heart forever…your story is with me and i am better for it! thank you xxxxxx

  • Kimmie December 5, 2012, 1:53 am

    Your story feeds my heart and soul. Love love, love. Eagerly await each update. Your lovely lil family is warming hearts all over he world~!

    Squishy hugs



  • Sarah December 5, 2012, 2:17 am

    Ya, what Jane said! ♥

  • lizzielou December 5, 2012, 2:42 am

    I am SO glad that I found this blog, I dont remember how I did but I am so glad, these children are so amazing, these children of yours are beautiful. There is something so so special about them and the joy you are all experiencing. I never thought I could do “older child” adoption but your sweet Maria makes me think otherwise. What a beautiful story you have unfolding. Praise God from whom all blessing flow. So so happy for all of you. Love to you from canada

  • Elizabeth December 5, 2012, 3:18 am

    Hi Amy, you don’t need to post this. I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your posts. Your children and family are beautiful and I love how you make the adoption process seem so much more accessible to the average person! It can be so intimidating and you really break it down in an important way. It gives me courage and makes me feel like it really is something that I can do someday. Thank you again! You are also so right on that we need to realize how very fortunate most of us are. Just having the ability to live a peaceful life and parent our children is something we should never ever take for granted. I work for a non-profit that provides intensive mental health services for victims of political torture and my heart breaks again and again for what our clients have gone through. Men, women, and children that would give anything to have the normalcy that most Americans take for granted. “Hard” is so relative…

  • Betty December 5, 2012, 3:48 am

    Your posts are so inspirational! The love that is bursting from your words and pictures just melts my heart. Adoption is something that I have been thinking about lately, and your journey has provided so much insight for me and my husband. Thank you!! Your family (of 5!) is in our prayers. God Bless.

  • Rebecca Higgins December 5, 2012, 3:50 am

    Beautiful! The photos show the joy that radiates from each member of your family. The outward changes in Maria and Elijah are so visible. God bless you all as you experience this adventure together!

  • Grace December 5, 2012, 5:35 am

    You are such a positive person! I don’t know you but I love that about you! I was introduced to your blog by a friend, Naomi Lo. She and I went to the same teaching credential program in San Diego and she told me that she and her husband know you. Anyways, I have 2 little kids and whenever I’m having a hard day, I like to read your blog entries because it makes me happy. Thank you.

    • The Tiny Team December 6, 2012, 4:53 am

      Oh hi Grace! I am so glad you came by to say hi! That means so much


  • Katie December 5, 2012, 6:36 am

    Tears again. I just finished writing about the first year after I met my A… our hard start… her broken heart… and then I read this and I was reminded of how He makes all things new, and how that broken little bird, just like your little girl, managed to find such joy in life even after a rough start. I can’t say this enough… I’m so glad she has you. All of your kids are lucky really – those fun, day to day memories are what stay with kids for the rest of their lives… but Maria never fails to bring tears to my eyes because she reminds me of my girl. I’m thankful too, and glad, that your babies are home with you. And you write beautifully. Thanks for lifting my spirits tonight… for reminding me of the happy times.

    • The Tiny Team December 6, 2012, 4:52 am

      Your sweet one sounds like an angel, what a little blessing I know she was, I can just feel it.

  • Lou December 5, 2012, 6:40 am

    You guys just fill up my heart with such joy. It has been a hard but worthwhile journey so far, and now you are finally a family together you are on another journey or learning and loving one another. I truly believe that the learning comes easy if you allow the loving to just ‘be’.

    Love Fins scary face on the photo around the table at the top of your blog. He is just such a character and it is wonderful to see him embrace his new siblings with such ease. So often small children can be resentful when a new child comes into the family and steals away some of their attention – or at least that’s how it appears to them – Of course Mummy’s and Daddy’s are designed with the built in capacity to have enough love to go round no matter how many siblings there are, the children just don’t see it straight away, but Finley looks like he has taken it all in his stride, which is a wonderful testament to you and Andrew as parents.

    Such a wonderful loving family Amy. Such a pleasure to know you (even if only through blogging)

    Lou 🙂

    • The Tiny Team December 6, 2012, 4:50 am

      Thank you, Lou!! Would you believe that that is what Finley does when we ask him to smile? haha, yep, that’s his camera smile!

      love you guys!

  • Teresa and Andy December 5, 2012, 11:00 am

    Our Elena is much younger than Maria, but she also loves baking things. I’m sure part of that is kid’s natural inclination to want to help out doing adult things, but I think part of it is her orphanage upbringing. We tend to take for granted that we can open up the cupboard and make muffins or pancakes or whatever whenever we wish, but imagine how magical that must be to someone who hasn’t *had* a cupboard, and may not have ever even seen food prepared.

  • jade December 5, 2012, 5:58 pm

    Maria has captured my heart! What a gift she is! It is a blessing to read your updates 🙂

  • Alison @ Notyetwhatweshallbe.wordpress.com December 5, 2012, 10:57 pm

    So very sweet 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  • Kym December 6, 2012, 3:11 am

    maria, finley, and elijah are all so beautiful. i’m so glad that everything is going (above and beyond) well! reading your journey has made me fall in love with your family. you rock!

  • Cherbos December 6, 2012, 4:15 am

    I have read Katie Davis’ book, and I wholeheartedly agree with Jen who suggested that you write a book about your experience with adoption as well. You are such a gifted writer I think you would inspire so many other families to adopt! And for those of us who do not qualify to adopt, you continue to inspire us to support the families who adopt from the sidelines through prayer, donations, etc. Thank you again for sharing your story with us!

  • Stephanie December 6, 2012, 3:58 pm

    Man…your writing is always so good…like others said, if I need to get inspired and get out of the weight of the day I come here and for a moment I am swept away…I just have to figure out how to stay swept away!!! God is good…kids are beautiful!!!!

  • Elle Bee December 6, 2012, 6:06 pm

    Lovely beyond words Amy! Thank you for helping me with my perspective. This was really helpful for me today: “The love we find in Jesus daily allows us to not need our children’s love”.

  • Gloria Hsu December 7, 2012, 1:19 am

    Could you write a post about the children left behind and if they are available for adoption? Thank you!!!

  • Emily G. December 7, 2012, 5:00 am

    You guys are an amazing family. I’m brought to tears by every post-this time by the screenshot of your phone with Maria’s wish. The kids are so adorable together.

  • ~CCC December 9, 2012, 8:22 pm

    your posts always make me cry. so beautiful!

  • coffeewithbetty.com December 10, 2012, 5:27 am

    I’ve been following your posts these past few months and finally decided to comment. LOVE this all! We adopted our baby this year (totally blessed, fast, crazy, amazing adoption) but reading your story brings tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing your story for His glory. <3