Mia's Homecoming video

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

It feels like HOME


 3 years ago today this happened…..


After 6 months of waiting and working so hard to get this little girl home, and 32 days in a foreign country away from our other children, we finally came HOME! We had anticipated this moment for so long and it was even better then we could have imagined!

This video of her homecoming is one of my most treasured possessions because it captured these sacred first moments of love, the first moments when Mia finally felt like she belonged.

Mia had waited for this moment her whole life

We stepped off the plane and in an instant an abandoned, lost little girl, stepped into a world with friends, sisters, parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles, who loved her.

She had no idea how many people had rallied around her family to get her HOME!

I will never forget the overwhelming gratitude and love we felt that day as we witnessed the miracle of a little girl finally finding her HOME. 

“If you knew how lonely my life had been
 and how long I've been so alone,
 if you knew how I wanted someone to come along
 and change my life the way you’ve done.

It feels like home to me....
It feels like I'm all the way back where I come from...
It feels like home to me...
It feels like I'm all the way back where I belong.”

What greater way to celebrate this special day then to continue Mia’s miracle, and help another little girl come home.

This is the Enger Family.



Pat and I were friends in junior high but over the years lost contact with eachother until one day, not long before we started our journey to Mia, my husband started telling me about this new co worker of his, Pat Enger.

It is amazing to watch how the common threads of our lives weave together to create miraculous events in ways we could never have imagined.

Mia’s path has now led Pat and Tiffany on a road to Ruthanne.

Ruthanne also has down syndrome and was abandoned at birth to live out her life alone in an orphanage in China.

This is from Tiffany about Mia’s part in the road to Ruthanne:

When the Cox Family first brought Mia home three years ago I was so thrilled for them. I was so impressed by the strength, dedication and faith they invested in ensuring Mia could be raised in a safe and loving family environment. I watched them in awe, and a little bit of envy, as I have always dreamed of adopting a special needs child but lacked the knowledge and courage I needed to make my dream a reality.  I saw this sweet family do what I always knew in my heart I wanted to do, and they gave me the knowledge and the strength of faith to move forward with adopting a child in to my own family.  I think I was afraid of the unknown, but seeing first-hand the process of adopting a child with special needs and watching this beautiful new family bond and grow over the past three years has inspired me beyond measure.  I dont think I would have had the courage to start my own familys journey towards adoption if I had not been so inspired by Mia and her family.  I believe with all my heart that there are others who have also been inspired by Mias story, and I pray that others will be inspired by my story as well when it is completed.  The true and lasting love story of an adopted child with special needs and her family touches the lives of so many in miraculous ways, and spreads joy whenever it is shared.  I feel so blessed to have been able to be a part of the beautiful story of Mia and her family. Now, three years later I find myself writing my  own similar story....

The Engers are stepping out of their comfort zone and taking a leap of faith to bring this little girl into their home, and they need our help.

 We want Ruthanne to feel this same love that Mia feels.


We want Ruthanne to feel like she is home.


So in celebration of Mia’s 3 years home with a family, we want to continue the miracle and pay it forward by hosting a fundraiser for the Enger family and Ruthanne to help her come HOME!

We want to pay it forward with a simple 3 FOR 3 Fundraiser

 $3 donations to celebrate Mia’s 3 years home, 

There are 3 ways you can help:

Finding 3 people to share this story with 

Finding 3 people to donate $3

Donating $3 yourself (or whatever amount you can)

Let’s continue Mia’s miracle and make a difference in the life of another little girl and the family that is stepping out in faith to call her their own. Let's help another little girl  be able to enjoy the blessings of  family and freedom like Mia has.

You may donate through Reece's Rainbow HERE
  
or through the donation button on the side of this blog.

To read more about the Enger's story go to their blog HERE



Monday, May 19, 2014

At the beginning with you




How has it been 3 years since we met Mia for the first time?

I have been emotional all day today as I think about the events of May 19, 2011.

Our faith, hopes, and prayers were all wrapped up in the innocent face of a 4 year old little girl, abandoned at birth, yet destined to change lives along her path.

Words are failing me as I try to express the feelings of that day.

To witness a child change from abandoned and alone....to loved and cherished.... is really more then words can say.
It has reached the depths of my soul and changed me in ways I could never have anticipated,
 and I am forever grateful for this little girl, for the path that brought her to us, the people in our lives because of it, and for the journey we are on together.

So today, a video with perfect lyrics to these feelings, will do more then my words could contrasting the lost little girl we met 3 years ago, with the shining star she was meant to be.



I often wish I could relive our moments and experiences through the adoption process, because they were so tangibly life changing in ways I don't think we will ever have the opportunity to feel again.

Most of the time when I look back at all that happened in that time, I feel as if it was an out of body experience.

The sights, the sounds, the smells, and the feelings of that day all come flooding back as I recall what it was like to watch this little girl enter our lives.

Standing hand in hand in the middle of a strange room, having left all that we know behind, Kris and I anxiously waited to hear the footsteps coming down the hall of the orphanage caregiver who had gone to retrieve our girl from her groupa. As the door opened and we saw her sweet face for the first time we were both in tears.

It was the beginning of a whole new life for all of us.

Dad's perspective of that day: (taken from the day we met her)

"Meeting Kareen for the first time was... PERFECT! This day had been in the works for months now and I had gone through every scenario in my head how it would go down; would she look at us and turn around and run, would she bawl her eyes out because she didn't know us or want us near her, would she run up to us and give us a huge hug and a kiss and completely understand what was happening, would she not be able to comprehend at all what was going on and would just sit there quietly, or what would this day be like. In addition to the fear of how she would react to us as a couple, I had the additional fear of how she would react to me as a man. I always assumed (correctly) that most of the caretakers would be female and that she wouldn't have had much interaction with males. Because of that I feared that she would not bond well to me and that our relationship would take a long time to develop before she was accepting of me as a father figure in her life.

Well, going into this with all that fear, concern, and uneasiness, all it took was 10 minutes from this little angel to melt her new daddy's heart and assure me that everything was going to work out just fine. The moment that she walked through those doors and our eyes met all fear and concern just went away and I knew that this moment was something I'd remember for the rest of my life, just as the moment when each of my daughters were born. After only a few minutes of interacting with her, she came over to me and gave me the biggest hug. Again I just melted. The next day, and after only a 10 minute visit on day 1, we picked her up and started walking outside to play with her on the swing set and she pointed to me and said papa, which is dad in Russian, and I just melted. That same evening when we had to take her back inside and leave for the night, and after a couple of her big hugs we handed her off to the care taker and she turned around and tried to get out of the caretaker's arms and reach for us. I melted once again.

It actually almost seems like an understatement to say that the past few days of this journey were Perfect, because they were so much more than that. I feel that each and every moment has been blessed with a spirit of love, which has made them eternally perfect. We have felt the love and support of all our family and friends through each step of the process and especially the past week as we have been here. It has been overwhelming to read the comments and words of encouragement from everyone through blogs, email and other means. It has truly blessed our journey and we are eternally grateful for each and everyone of you.

Looking back at a few thoughts I had written down at the first of this journey I see that the Lord has provided in so many ways and has made this journey possible. A lot of people have asked why we decided to adopt and what led us to this decision. I have often wondered the same thing and asked myself the same question. The answer that I have been able to come up with is that we really never had thought about adopting. To us it wasn't really ever in our cards. We had 3 beautiful girls and were doing just fine as a family. Sure we have wanted to have more kids and it has been a struggle for the past few years but we weren't to the point of discussing adoption yet, as we felt that we had a lot of different options still to pursue. But somewhere along the way there was a different plan for our family.

My wife received a very strong impression and feeling that we should adopt this little girl. When she approached me about it I was very taken back and concerned about what it would mean for our family. I was concerned about how we could afford to do something like this. I was concerned what it would mean to our daughters and how they would react and accept this new challenge in our lives. I worried about if I could love another child that wasn't my biological child. I guess you could say I wasn't all hands on deck at first. But after weeks of thoughtful discussion and prayer I received my own confirmation that this was right for our family and that we should go forward. And at that point the only question now was whether we would choose to listen.

Well we did choose to listen, and it has probably been the most exciting and at the same time humbling experience of our lives. Exciting, because did you see my wife's last few posts? Enough said. Humbling because we have been on the receiving end of countless donations in all forms. And also been the beneficiaries of countless and endless prayers that have reached the heavens on behalf of our family and this little angel half way around the world.

I am so grateful for my wife and her ability to listen to the spirit of the Lord when it calls. If not for her we would not be on this journey, and I hate to even think of what fate used to await this little angel, this daughter of God.

We know that the challenges of adoption are not over and that there awaits a lifetime of new challenges and experiences for our family but for now we are living in the moment and enjoying these experiences and feelings as they come. And knowing the support that we have around us, that we have felt so overwhelmingly the past week, we aren't scared about the future because we know that it will work out as the Lord has planned for us. Thank you all again for all your love and support. It has been such a blessing
!"


Every year from May-June I love going back and reliving our time in Ukraine because it reminds me of so many tender experiences that we would have missed out on had we not taken the leap of faith to go find this little girl. It breaks my heart to know that the city we were in 3 years ago is in complete chaos now. The city Mia called home for 4 years is in turmoil. Who knows if the orphanage is still standing? Who knows where all the other waiting children are now? Although after being there for over a month, we were more then ready to come home, that place will always be sacred to us. And as my heart breaks for the people of Ukraine and especially the children left alone there, I can only pray for peace for them, and continue to share Mia's miracle in hopes that other children will be saved. So for those who are new to our story and blog, I will try and re-share some of these old posts over the next few weeks. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

7 years ago today my story was rewritten




February 19, 2007 was a life changing day. 

A tiny little angel came into my life and captured my heart. And in doing so, brought with her a new "normal" adding a new chapter to my story that I would have left out. 




Breezy girl you were that little angel. On this day 7 years ago, you rewrote my story.


Where do I even start writing to you about your birth day?




How do I even begin to express or articulate into words what you have brought to our lives?


You changed my life in ways I never thought I would be thankful for.

Your smile says it all

Its truly magical


and lights up any room


As papa mike says, each new person that walks into a room is Bree's new best friend.



You do not judge, you do not see differences, you just love with an ability I never knew was possible.



You just "get it"


You get what life should be about....


Love...
real,
unconditional, no strings attached,
love,


laughter,



hard work and perserverance,

and pure joy.


Whenever your birthday rolls around and I think back to that blizzardy february day when you came into our lives,


 I often wish I would have known then, even a blink of what I know now, because if I had, my tears would have been for very different reasons.




Instead of being tears for what I thought I had lost, they would have been tears of joy for what I was really given.



the fears and the worries of what down syndrome would mean in my life would have been replaced with excitement and shouts of joy that I get to walk along side you in this life.

When you were born people would often ask how we were going to handle this and dad would say "She might be a little different, have her own challenges, but what kid doesn't?"



After 7 short years of being blessed to be your mother, I have only begun to learn all that you are hear to teach me.


when you were born the doctors pointed out the features that were typical signs that you had down syndrome 


such as your almond shaped eyes, 



your flat bridge on your little nose, and 
your space between your toes....



all things that at the time set you apart as having something different...something very foreign to us.....something we were scared of...

but now those special features are what make you who you are and 
we love them oh so much!





You are the definition of true beauty.



You're the best thing I never knew I needed


and you continue to remind us of that as you continue to touch hearts and open minds all around you.



You rewrote my story when you were born and you allowed me to be part of a world I never knew I wanted to be part of.

A world where differences are ok, in fact they are celebrated, and where my idea of "perfect" was reinvented to something so much better then I had written in my book. And your version of our story was better then I could have ever imagined.



A world where people come together and hearts are softened as we get to be the ones to witness God's precious souls walking among us here on earth



Because of you Bree, I have friends and experiences that I would never have had without you.

You teach your sisters important life lessons that they could only learn growing up along side you, things that as I parent I could only hope to be able to teach them, and you do it just by being you.




If people could really know what it is like to have a child with down syndrome, they would pray FOR it, not pray to take it away.



Not because it makes life easy, but because it teaches us all to reach a little deeper inside ourselves and find what we are really capable of.




It teaches us all what life is really all about.

You teach us that



We talk so often about how Down syndrome has influenced our lives, because it has...but it is not who you are Bree. but rather something that you  have, but because of your extra chromosome, we have had so many opportunities and so many experiences that we never would have had without. We have many friends we would never had met, we have had many opportunities we would never have had, and now we have another daughter who we would not have if it wasn't for you, Bree.
I have always felt you were Mia's guardian angel because without you in our lives, we would never have found Mia. You changed our hearts and opened us up to a world we never knew we ever wanted to set foot in.
You are  the reason we were led to Mia and the reason we knew we could say yes to Mia

I can only imagine the conversations that must have gone on in heaven between you and Mia as you looked forward to your lives on earth. You must have told Mia that you would go down to earth around the same time,
but would not find eachother for 4 years, until mom and dad were ready. You must have told Mia that she would feel lost for a time but that one day all that would change. I am sure you promised Mia that if she would just hold on, that we would come for her and that you would both have a family together.


Down syndrome has changed our lives.


Little did we know in those first moments, hours , and days of this new world, that it would change our lives FOR. THE. BETTER.

The last 7 years of your life have taught me that what we often fear in the unknown actually turns out to be the greatest blessing we could have ever known.


The unknowns that we were so caught up in at your birth have turned out to be anything but scary.


They have turned out to be blessings, not burdens


"Life’s a story that is all twisted and turned
All that matters is the lessons we learn.
'Cause we’re all unfinished songs..." 



I am forever grateful Bree that you are part of my song. Words cannot express how lucky I am to be your mom! It is truly humbling!



Happy 7th birthday to the little girl who we should all strive to be more like! 


"If you're lucky enough to be different, don't ever change."
-Taylor Swift-