Thursday, April 15, 2010

We Are The Truth

Last week, a 33 year old single mom from TN had her mother send her 8 year old adopted son back to Russia because of behavioral problems. This sounded like a made up story when I first heard it and I couldn't believe this actually happened. There are many better options here in the US that this mother could have taken that would have been better for the child and the many families that are in process of adopting from Russia. Now, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Child's Rights Ombudsmen have called for a suspension on adoptions from Russia to U.S. citizens. I can't imagine having this happen during our process with Vera. Even harder to imagine is how the families who have taken their first trip and met their child feel. The wait between the 2 trips is hard enough, I can't even imagine.

Today is Adoption Blogger Day - part of the Joint Council on International Children's Services Call to Action - We Are The Truth. We want the world to know that the thousands of successful adoptions in the U.S. far exceed the few horror stories that you hear about in the news. Here is our story...


I didn't grow up always knowing that I would adopt a child. But, when my husband and I had troubles getting pregnant with child #2, I started looking into adoption. That is all it took. After that, we knew we were called to adopt a child. So, the goal was no longer to get pregnant, but to dive into the adoption paperwork.

Our plan was to adopt a child from Uzbekistan, but God's plan for us was to adopt a little strawberry blonde girl from Moscow, Russia. We started our adoption process in January 2007, Vera was not even born yet. The process was not easy in any way, but God taught me a lot along the way.

Ryan and I traveled to Moscow in November 2008 to meet our daughter. We were expecting to meet a child that had darker features since this is the type of child we had expected from Uzbekistan. Thinking this type of child might be harder to place and this is the type of child we intended to adopt, that is what we expected. We were shocked when the 4 women at the MOE office showed us a little black and white picture of a girl and said she had red hair! After going to her orphanage and learning all about her, we finally got to meet her later in the day at a Russian hospital. I will never forget that experience of seeing this tiny 13 month old strawberry blonde girl for the first time.

On December 12, 2008, a Russian judge declared Ryan and I the parents of Vera Marie Wolland. Ryan, Kiara, and I spent 10 days waiting for Vera to join us when the decree would be final. Traveling by foot and Metro to and from the orphanage to visit with her are times our family will never forget. Vera became a US citizen when our plane touched down in Chicago on December 30, 2008.

So much has changed for Vera since joining our family. She was described by the doctor at her orphanage as a watcher and a quiet child. She is basically 180 degrees from that now! She is loud, loves to be part of the action, and is a comedian. She has learned to walk, talk, and be a part of a family. She has a sister that loves her more that anything.

It isn't all easy. She is a very strong willed child, that tests her parents every day! But, we love her more than we could ever imagine. God also provided me with extra proof that Vera was always meant to be a part of our family. Strangers will comment on how much she looks just like me!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Vera has now been in the US longer than Russia!

Wow, we have finally hit that milestone of Vera being with us longer than she lived in Russia. Ryan can't believe that has already happened, but to me it feels like she has lived with us longer than she did in Russia. (Maybe that is because I am with her all day, every day! :) )

She continues to be quite the personality! She does everything to the extreme whether it is running or giving a hug! I think she will be a comedian, she definitely likes to make others laugh and she feeds off of that. She has continued with speech therapy twice a week and has made great strides. I can't wait until we see my sister next month to see what she thinks since she hasn't really been around Vera much since she started therapy. She can now even say a 4 word phrase! She loves speech and her teacher. When she sees her get to our house she will say "Joy here" over and over.

Friday, March 5, 2010

What a trip!

Over the last year I have really gotten into couponing. It is so fun to get a fantastic deal. I think I had my best shopping trip yet. I spent part of my afternoon matching up my paper coupons with the coupons I had loaded on my Kroger card with the items on sale. Then, Kiara and I headed to Kroger after dinner.

When they rang me up at Kroger my total was $101 before giving them my Kroger card and coupons. Out of pocket I paid $32. Plus, I got $3.50 out of the Catlina to use on my next purchase. Kiara counted my items and said that I had 44 items. That means I paid $0.65 an item! The only things I didn't use coupons on were the milk and I got 3 pounds of ground beef half off because the sell by date is tomorrow.

I had to share. I see people online have these type of shopping trips and was kind of getting frustrated that I never could.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

1 year home!

This post is a little late, but better late than never! As of December 30, 2009, Vera had been home with us for 1 year. It has gone so fast and Vera has changed so much! You can read about our trip home HERE.

The month of December was a busy one, of course. Christmas was much different from last year for us. We had many family gatherings, church, and lots of presents to open. Much different than last year when it was just the 4 of us eating Christmas dinner at the McDonald's in Russia! You can read about our Christmas in Russia HERE. We enjoyed being home for the holidays. Vera wasn't much of a fan of Santa. As you can see, the only way we got a picture was including Ryan in the picture.

Below are the girls with Great-Grandma Edna.
Our family of 4 above. Below is the girls on Christmas morning. Go HERE to see some pictures from our belated Christmas morning last year.
Instead of a gingerbread house this year, we made Rice Krispy houses.

Vera also experienced her first movie this month! She saw Alvin & the Chipmunks. She did great! I couldn't believe she stayed for the whole movie. Ryan was prepared to leave and go to Dollar General while Kiara and I finished the movie.
Vera also got to play in the snow. She wasn't too sure of it at first, but it didn't take her long to dig right in!
These 2 are my most favorite girls! I love that they love each other so much. Kiara is a great big sister. Very rarely does she get tired of having her little sister around. Vera also looks out for Kiara. If I give something to Vera, she then points to Kiara and says, "KiKi". She also gets very excited when we go to pick Kiara up from school. I don't know what Vera will do next year when Kiara is gone all day!
Vera continues to grow and change right before our eyes. Last year she was a baby, now she is a little girl! Vera has been getting speech therapy for about a month now. She LOVES it! The therapist comes to our house twice a week and brings 2 big bags of toys with her. She is saying more and more each day. She attempts to point out different colors and it is hard to know if she knows them or not. Half the time she gets them right and half the time she doesn't. She also loves to count. She also has learned her shapes and will point them out whenever she sees them in her environment, especially a heart.
She is still a handful, but I think a lot of that is her personality. She is very strong willed and likes to push her boundaries as far as she can. Lately, I think we have reigned her in a little better by being more consistent and united in our discipline.
It seems unreal that just a year ago we were just returning from Russia with this little girl. That whole experience seems so long ago.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

1 year ago, today...

...Vera was in our arms forever.

December 23, 2008 we took Vera into our care. December 12, 2008 we were officially her parents, but had to wait out the 10 day waiting period to take her into our care.

We love you, Vera! You have blossomed into such an outgowing, sweet, passionate girl. We can't imagine life without you!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

November happenings...

Kiara had a friend birthday party at a local tea room. They have a room that is painted in a castle theme and is adorable. The girls all got to dress up in princess dresses and crowns. Then, they all got their makeup and nails done and then we cut into the castle cake. Kiara had a little Thanksgiving program at school. It was so adorable! They were each dressed up like pilgrims and Indians. They sang 5 songs and guess who you could hear above all the others?! Kiara did such a great job. After that, we played Turkey Bingo and then they got to eat the turkeys they had "stuffed". Vera was very happy that there was an empty seat at Kiara's table. My sister's entire family was able to come home for Thanksgiving. It was fun to have everyone together. We celebrated Vera, Kiara and Kyndall's birthdays and we exchanged Christmas presents. Check out my sister's new knitting skills!

The month ended with a couple of Thanksgiving gatherings. One on Thanksgiving at my grandma's church. It is a huge family reunion with aunts, uncles, cousins, great aunts, 2nd and 3rd cousins. A lot of people were able to make it this year and it was great catching up with everyone. Vera did great at her first Thanksgiving. She loved all the people and the attention. She would just tool around from one person to the next. Then, on Sunday we got together with my dad's side of the family. Fun times and way too much food, of course!Vera is now 25 months old and has been home for 11 months. She is talking more and trying to say more words. What a difference a month makes. We will be starting speech therapy in a couple of weeks, so that should be interesting. The nice part is that the speech therapist will be coming to our house! She is still in love with LaLa, or Elmo. She imitates everything including how Cookie Monster eats!! I can tell she is just soaking it all in and learning everyday. She has the best giggle! I love to hear it. She is very picky now about who is doing things for her like putting on her bib. When Kiara is around, she usually insists on Kiara doing most things for her. Luckily, Kiara enjoys that and I hope that continues.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Home 10 months...

First, I must apologize for my lack of updates! Our life has been so busy. But, we are having fun, so that is what matters. So much has been going on, so I am going to put it all into this post. So, buckle up, it is going to be a long ride.

Ryan and I took a short trip to Key West at the very end of September. We were able to do this thanks to both grandmas and some great friends. It was wonderful to get away and spend some one on one time with my man.
At the beginning of October, my sis came home for a visit. We had a great time! She spent a lot of time with me and the girls and it was so fun. The other night Kiara told me she was wishing on a star and that she wished that Aunt Dani was here. So sweet!Next came Vera's second birthday, but her first birthday with us! I don't think she completely gets the concept of a birthday yet, but the rest of us were excited. We gave her some gifts on her birthday and then had a big party for Vera and Kiara a week later. Kiara's birthday is at the beginning of November.
Since Vera didn't have a 1st birthday party, we let her dig into her cake. She didn't go as crazy as I thought she would!

Along with all of that I was able to fit a trip to the Ozarks with some girlfriends for some shopping and fun girl time! Sadly, I don't have one picture of us from the trip. We also got our pictures taken by a good friend and wonderful photographer. If you want go HERE and you can see a few pictures from the photo shoot. It is going to be very hard to pick!

Vera had another first this month. She had her first haircut. She did really well, as long as she had a lolly pop!Vera had an evaluation done by a speech therapist. She is delayed enough to qualify for services, so hopefully we will be starting some speech therapy soon. But, they said she is doing great for only being here for 10 months. She really has started trying more words lately, so I am not sure how long she will need to be in therapy.

Of course, this is October, so we visited the pumpkin farm to pick our our pumpkins. Then, we decorated them and went for the less messy route.

Last in the month came Halloween. Kiara was a cheerleader for her school party and the party at church. On the day of Halloween, she decided to be a bunny and Vera was a duck. Trick or treating was a lot of fun. We were out for about 2 hours and have way too much candy in this house now. It didn't take Vera long to figure what we were doing. Even better than the candy were the dogs that would also come to the door. At one house, Vera got into the house and was trying to kiss the dog! The man called for his wife to come and bring the camera. Around the corner came 3 people and a couple of cameras.
Vera is doing so well and I can't believe another month has passed already! She is such a sweetheart. Every time I am talking on the phone she needs to kiss the phone when I am saying goodbye. She has become a hugger. She can still be a bit aggressive, especially when she is tired. Vera has a new love in her life, ELMO! Poor Jack has been replaced. Vera is more obsessed with Elmo, or LaLa as Vera says, than she was with Jack!
Vera doesn't slow down. Lately, I have had so many people remark about how busy she is. It is nice to hear because sometime I feel like I should be able to keep up with her better. Thank goodness for LaLa or Vera would probably never sit still!

We went for Vera's 2 year check up and she is almost at the 70% mark for both weight and height. I am glad she is growing, but I kind of miss my little girl!
I will leave you with a picture of my supermodels!