Bracelets for Our Brothers
Help Us Bring Our Brothers Home
Where's my money going?
Posted on November 30th, 2016

​"When I approach a child, he inspires in me two sentiments — tenderness for what he is and respect for what he may become." 
  — Louis Pasteur, French chemist and microbiologist 
Many people are moved by and are sympathetic our story because they realize the tragedy of our circumstances.  That tragedy is real.  The separation is real.  But, the greater tragedy is that, so long as these children are in their orphanage, they are not being given what they need to have a successful, happy, fulfilling, moral, and rewarding life.  There is hope, however, because these boys have a chance at all of these things.

If you'd like to know what your money is going towards, keep reading.  I finally have the courage to reveal some very personal things.  I feel I owe it to my readers and our backers to know the potential for what lies ahead.  Many adoption bloggers stray away from revealing personal information about their kids, their past, etc.  It's their story to tell, so they leave it alone.  And, while that may be true, it's also my story.  It's our story.  I will always reserve some level of privacy for both of my children, but the truth has set our family free.  So we will continue to be truth tellers.

Let's start with some basic facts:
Stella (age 9 at pick up) was 39 pounds and not yet 4 feet tall, wore size 5T clothes
Stella today (10) is now 61 pounds and 4'2'', wears 7/8
Evvie (age 13 at pick up) was 73 pounds and 4'6'', wore 7/8 clothes, some 10s
Evvie today (still 13) is 86 pounds and 4'8'', wears 12s and 14s

Stella and Evvie at pick up could not:

Speak English-- only about 5 words in English, none of them nice
Count very heigh in their native language
Use table utensils effectively
Did not understand the purpose of toilet paper
Did not have any sort of dental or hygiene routine
Could not add or subtract, even one digit problems
Stella was functionally illiterate, even in her own language; Evvie very limited skill
Could not count money
Could not perform any chores or basic tasks around the house of any kind
Could not dress themselves without assistance
Could not tie shoes
Perform basic gross and fine motor skills that other kids their age could do
Could not follow multi-step directions, even in their native language
Could not regulate emotions when angry, sad, or upset
Could not tell time or read a calendar, did not understand seasons or months
Saw no purpose in school, education, or learning
Could not engage in any imaginative play, they just stared at toys not understanding
Could not engage in any creative endeavor really
The list could just go on and on

TODAY:
Both girls have exceptionally great receptive language skills in English and can speak well
Can count well above 200 in English and understand numbers higher than that
They've mastered all utensils pretty well except the illusive knife!
Have much better hygiene habits and are so happy about it
Can add, subtract, and Evvie is currently working on multiplication, division and fractions
Both girls are working on reading, Evvie is currently decoding words at a 4th grade level
Both girls can count money, and enjoy earning it through household chores
Both are doing well dressing themselves and making good choices about clothing
The growth in gross and fine motor skills is incredible-- look at the bracelets!
Much better at following directions, even some complex ones in English
Have great coping skills for regulating their emotions of grief, anger, fear, and sadness
Can tell time on a digital clock, Evvie is learning on analog clock (calendars are still hard)
Both love school.  They are leaders and actively engaged in class according to teachers.
Evvie will likely make A/B honor roll this quarter if she keeps it up!

What else are they doing?
Evvie is learning to play the violin.  She has her first concert tomorrow.
Evvie is swimming competitively year round, she attends many practices a week.
Stella is on a running team through her school.
Both girls enjoy caring for our animals and do an amazing job
Both girls have learned how to engage in imaginative play and enjoy toys and crafts

Now, the anecdotal: 


I will never forget this moment as long as I live.  After about 48 (very sleepless) hours as a family, it was breakfast time in our apartment in Sofia.   I asked Evvie in Bulgarian if she'd like juice or milk, to which she responded angrily "F*ck this!", gave me the finger, and sat down at the table.  She was so incredibly proud of herself that she'd managed to speak some English and was certainly trying to shock me.  She got milk and a smile from me.  Later I locked myself in the bathroom and cried, but you can't show fear!

Today, Evvie has a grateful spirit about all the food and drink she gets as well as all the other opportunities being in a family afford her.  I never expect my children to be grateful-- they don't owe me anything.  Having a family is a fundamental right every child should have.  But, it sure is nice to hear "thank you" so much.  She enjoys going to the grocery store and helping me make selections.  She enjoys being involved in the preparation of food.  She would never dream of speaking to me or any other adult this way now.  Haven't seen that finger come out in a long time either.

Stella's rage and aggression manifested itself differently.  She would scream and rage for hours on end without let up.  Throwing things, breaking things, and would sometimes try to self-harm.  Because she would try to self-harm, she had to be restrained sometimes.   She would physically harm Neil and myself during these time.  We left Bulgaria covered in bruises.   

Now Stella is an affectionate, loving young lady who has learned a whole group of coping mechanisms to deal with her emotions.  She hasn't attempted to self-harm or harm her parents in a long time.  She has learned better ways of expressing herself and her feelings, even non-verbally.

I could go on and on about the improvements and progress we've seen in 8 months.  I can't imagine what the future holds for them.  We picked up two very sad, angry, rejected children who have both now transformed into happy, resilient, driven young ladies.  I could not be more proud of them.

When you give to our fundraiser, you are helping us to continue to provide them the medical care (OT, PT, CBT, immunizations-- they never received any), tutoring, resources, and extracurricular activities they need and deserve by not depleting our monthly income and take out loans to pay for this adoption.

When you give to our fundraiser, you are providing an opportunity not only for these siblings to be reunited and two boys to have a family, but look at the progress you just read about.  I have no doubt the same miraculous transformations will happen in them.  They want it.  We can see it in their eyes when they've sent us videos.  They want this opportunity, and we thank you for helping it to be possible for them and for us.

We know the work is hard.  It is challenging.  It is tough.  It has tested me to my core.  But, I prayed a sincere prayer before we committed to our girls.  My prayer was that God use this experience to fundamentally change who I was.  Before becoming their mother, my priorities were way out of whack, and I had very little purpose outside of my work.  I am busy, but now I live a much more balanced and happy life.  I have learned, through them, the value in everything.  They have changed how I live, how I teach, and how I view the world we live in.  So, prayers answered.  Prayers are continuing to be answered because I know that through this calling, I will continue to be tested, challenged, stretched, and brought to my knees.  

Bring it.

And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.​" Mark 8:34








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