Mina is a precious little girl recently rescued from an orphanage in Eastern Europe who is now finally home with her forever family! She had been without a mother or father to love her & care for her each day. No one to rock her, kiss her gently or tell her she's loved. She is blessed with an extra chromosome known as Down syndrome, which for her that meant a life of being viewed as worthless in the country she was born into & a life without hope. Because of this her parents gave her up at the age of 6 months when they found out the diagnosis & from there her life progressivly went down hill. We are the Gower family residing in OKC who recently adopted this little angel. She was extremely malnourished and unable to do just about anything when we first met her. She will be 2 in January & is the size of a 3-6 month old weighing 14lbs. She continues to amaze us at how quickly she is progressing with love and nutrition. She has learned to sit up, roll over, feed herself finger foods, hold her own bottle and loves to interact with toys and other children. Her life has changed so much in such a short period of time and will forever be changed! Thank you Lord for putting a burden on our hearts to rescue this little blessing and making her apart of our family!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Our trip to Kiev

We are finally here!! We have Mina's passport & we headed for Kiev at 1:30 this afternoon. It took much longer to get here because it has been pouring rain all day & lots of traffic. We also stopped for some supper with Rostik.

The girls slept the first hour or so of the trip and the rest was spent trying to keep Myla entertained. Mina did great. She was just along for the ride & loved watching out the window.

Once we get out bags all brought up to our apartment we are going to bed. These are sleepy kiddos and I'm a tired momma. It is almost 8pm here. Glad we made it safe and sound!!

Our sleeping beauties!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Groceries for all future adopting families

So after our struggle to find the right kind of grocery items and figuring out through trial and error we thought we would compile a grocery list for any future adoptive parents. The brands may vary a bit by region and everything but we thought that people could have an idea and read the words on the packaging to find what they need where they are. Hope this helps!!

The best bottled water we found... and trust me we tried a lot. This one tastes like filtered bottle water and not tap and it has no bubbles!

We tried lots of juice and this brand is the best. Several brands tasted like sugar water and not at all fresh. This one is supposedly 100% juice and tastes like it. They make all different kinds (apple, orange, grape, pineapple, grapefruit, etc.)

This is instant coffee. I'm not a coffee drinker but Jim is. This is his favorite instant coffee out of the ones he has tried here.

This is ketchup. They have lots of bags with pictures of tomatoes on them and we have tried 3 different bags. One was chunky tomatoes, one was like spaghetti sauce, but this particular one is ketchup.

This is the cheese we found to be the most like cheddar. It tastes the best when it is melted or cooked in something. Grilled cheese is great or scrambled eggs with cheese! Yum!

This is real butter.... NOT margarine.

This is salt. Couldn't find any salt shakers. Our driver helped us find this and it is just a box of what he calls Ukrainian salt :)



These are 2 different flavors of Ramen Noodles. They are both great. Mix a bit of butter, some vegetables, and scramble an egg in it to make it a bit more healthy. Definitely reminds me of home!

Cross between mayonnaise & miracle whip

Milk tip: always check the date on any type of dairy you buy. Lots of it will be expired

Hope this helps!!

Packing 2 head back 2 Kiev!

This morning we got a phone call from Marina. Mina’s passport will be ready at 1 for us to pick up tomorrow afternoon and then we will be on our way to Kiev. We spent today packing our bags and getting things ready for us to leave. We will get settled in to another apartment once we arrive in Kiev and then Wednesday morning go to the US embassy to do Visa paperwork and her medical. As far as we know Thursday we will go pick up her Visa in the afternoon and then Friday we will be flying home! Yay! Can’t believe it’s just a few days away. We got our plane tickets changed today and we will be departing Kiev at 6:45am and arriving in OKC at 7:19pm on Friday. Crazy to think that full 19 hour flying trip can be done all in one day but once you take in to account the 8 hour time difference it makes sense.

So we decided to try Mina in a sink bath since Myla had already had a shower earlier today and Mina slips and slides all over the big tub so we thought this might be easier on us all. Well here is some precious pics of our girl in the sink splishing and splashing and getting clean then next thing you know our little Myla has once again taken her clothes off and wants to get in the bath with Mina. Well as mommy is explaining to Myla that she has already taken a shower today and the sink is to small for her dad plops her in for the humor of it all. So there I was cracking up taking pictures of our 2 girls in a small sink taking a bath. Of course they didn’t mind & Myla didn't stay in long :)

And here's Myla :)  he he

Mina has been doing great holding her bottle and is doing so much better sucking.  She actually sucks now and it doesn't end up soaking everything in sight.  Yay!

Playing with her stacking dolls!

Mina & Myla playing together on the couch while dad gets a few minutes of shut eye

Sorry about all the naked pics of Myla... she is always taking her clothes off when we are at home. Myla is showing Mina her book and telling her all about the people in the pictures.

Here's our precious girl sitting up all by herself with a big smile!! I love this girl!

And now sticking her tongue out at everyone :)

Another video of our awesome girl sitting up great all by herself and she is feeding herself Gerber Puffs! We are so proud of her each and every day. She has come such a long way in such a short time!

This is the picture of her taken a little over a week ago by Svetlana for the US Emabassy.  I believe this will be her Visa picture but not 100% sure

I am so excited that we are getting so close to coming home and that we have our little angel with us each day. She is such a blessing and joy to be around.  She is livening up more and more each day and is developing her own little personality.  She has been smiling lots more and is also learning patience when it comes to eating and somewhat when she is full.  Before she would cry and cry if she saw any of us eating something and she would eat and eat and eat until her tummy would be bloated as hard as a rock and we knew she couldn't feel good so we had to moderate the amount we gave her at a time and just fed her more often. Now she is starting to get to where she will decide when she is full and she will stop eating on her own and won't get upset when we take it away so that is good! Like I mentioned before she is doing much better with drinking from a bottle and it doesn't spill and run all over her face and clothes anymore.  She has a lot more control of her tongue and is doing a much better job sucking. We are so so proud of her!!

She is also not waking up as many times and crying in her sleep at night.  Before she would wake up every hour and stir and cry and babble and make all sorts of noises all throughout the night.  Now she is sleeping much more peacefully and doesn't usually wake up at all in the night till 6:30 in the morning when she is ready to get up.

Family and friends we can't wait to see you all when we get home and share our little ray of sunshine with you! She is truly a precious precious girl & can't wait till you get to meet her.

If any of you missed my last post (or I should say 2 posts ago) there is several more pics of Mina since she has been here with us in the apartment.

Thank you all for following along and for all your sweet sweet comments.  I look forward to getting on and reading your encouraging words each day!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Precious Orphans~ Adopting 1 child does not change the world... BUT for that 1 child the world will change!

Ok.... so I first heard this statement at Ruslana's (Eliana) banquet and it touched my heart.
Adopting 1 child DOES NOT change the world....
BUT for that 1 child the world will change!
Adopting Mina will not change the life and outcome of all these other children here.... it will not make their lives any better but for Mina her life will forever be changed. She will forever be loved and cared for. She will forever know what it feels like to have a mommy and daddy to shower praises and kisses and hugs on her. Her world will forever be changed!
It is so hard for me to see all these other children and think unless someone comes for them their world will not change, their lives will not change, their future will not change, they will never experience love of family, they will never be fed enough to nourish their little bodies, and sadly many of them may die. That just breaks my heart! I just wish we could love on them all, kiss them all, hug them all, sing to them, read books to them, play with them.... although I know it is completely impossible! There is soooooo..... many orphans in this world! It is so hard to look in the eyes of one of these children, kneel down and hug them or hold there hand and think and imagine what they must be thinking, what they must be feeling, and wondering will they even still be here... will they even still be alive a few years down the road. Oh how I wish so badly I could change the world... I could change the lives of all of these precious innocent children. That the little girl that bangs her head on the wall in Mina's groupa will no longer have to do that for stimulation, that the little boy that always greats us at the door will no longer get in trouble for just wanting a second of love and attention, that these little babies won't be left to lie on their backs and never learn to sit up or walk.
I pray that through our adoption journey others may come to realize the need for adoption and the need for these orphans survival. I pray that God would embrace each and everyone of these precious angels with His love and comfort them. I pray that God would stir the hearts of His people to hear the calling and to receive and perceive children as gifts and blessings from Him. That our eyes would be open. That we would look at these little ones and think Wow.... God you made a beautiful creation, this child is wonderfully and perfectly made, this is a special blessing and gift of Life and I will gladly say Yes and accept such a precious gift!
I can't imagine if we hadn't said yes to accepting Mina as our daughter. My mind thinks and wonders.... how much time would she even have left to survive in her current situation, how long would it take till her tiny frail body gave out on her, how long would she just stare at the wall and what thoughts would fill her mind. Would she ever learn to sit up on her own, or walk, or talk... most likely not. Would she ever smile, and laugh, and cry tears of joy? Would she ever know what love and kisses felt like?
I praise you Lord for putting a burden on both of our hearts that we could not ignore. That no matter what negativity came our way you continued to reconfirm to us that we are on the right path and we are doing what you have called us to. I praise you Heavenly Father for protecting our little girl and keeping her safe till we could get to her. I praise you for calling us and blessing us with this precious gift of life and thank you for giving us the most precious blessing there is in the world. I thank you for giving us a glimpse through your eyes and feel the hurt and burden for these children. I can't even begin to imagine how all of this must hurt you. I pray that you never let us shake and ignore all these tragic things but that we would continue to do something about it. Please make the things that matter most in life always be more apparent and the things of this world disappear in our hearts.
I remember the first day we met Mina looking at her thinking oh my goodness what in the world did we get ourselves into. We had thoughts and envisions of what we thought she would be doing developmentally by now, how big she'd be, what she'd look like. We thought for sure she was sitting up because that is what we already where told and we thought since she has been working on crawling surely 6 months later she'll be crawling by now or close to it. Which I firmly believe she was able to sit up when her parents brought her to the orphanage when she was 6months old and probably getting close to crawling but then after left in the orphanage no longer experiencing the love of her parents, no longer being individually worked with on a daily basis and just laying down on her back all day everything she could do went down hill. Jim and I together thought are we really going to be able to do this, have we completely lost our minds.... but of course looking at that tiny frail malnourished body and all these months of loving her and dreaming of her being our child we couldn't look at her and say no we are just going to leave you here and hope for your survival... because the odds in her survival for years to come are slim to none. There is no way in our hearts we could ever do that to this precious girl! In just a few weeks time it is amazing to see the leaps and bounds she has already made. It is amazing to us that she is already doing such a great job at sitting up and that she is smiling, laughing, interacting with her sister, and loves playing with toys. She seems already like a totally different girl than the one we met a few weeks ago. I can't wait to see all God has in store for her and all the progress she continues to make.. I look forward to helping her develop and grow and do everything she can do! And I am so thankful that we get to be there and experience these changes with her. She has already melted our hearts and already has daddy wrapped around her little finger. We are so thankful for the blessing and gift God gave us in giving us this little girl and entrusting her life in our hands! What an honor it is to be her mommy & daddy!
There are so many precious precious children that we saw in Mina's orphanage and there is children left without parents ALL OVER the world who need someone to say yes to them. Here are a few pics of these precious children who we got to see, smile at, wave at for a brief moment to pay them a bit of attention and show them that they are worth far greater than the way they may feel. 
  Some of them might have a parent or family member that may come visit them but several of them never have anyone that comes for them and I can't imagine how forgotten they must feel.  They would get big smiles and grins, wave, blow kisses, call you momma and papa and all the while my thoughts and mind wondered what each of their future will hold.
For the special needs children will they be transferred to an institution far worse than the orphanage they now reside in. Will any of these precious children end up tied down to beds or pass away before they get to that point or from malnourishment.  For the ones that get older and reach 16 resulting in them having to leave the orphanage to make room for the others will they turn to crime, prostitution, or commit suicide.

  • 60-70% of boys will become involved in crime for survival after leaving the orphange
  • 60-70% of girls will become prostitues for surivual after leaving the orphanage
  • And 1 in 6 will commite suicide before their mid-20s because of hopelesness

When I looked into the eyes of these children my thoughts and prayers for their innocent lives wondered what hope or hopelesness they might experience in their future to come and my heart breaks for them.
What precious babies, children, blessings, gifts from our God above just waiting for someone to come for them so that they to might have a better changed life as Mina and so that for them there world may also change!

If anyone is considering adopting I encourage you to step out in faith, trust in the Lord, and just say yes. You will be receiving one of the greatest gifts on earth!

Since our angel has been with us!

Today has been a day spent lounging around the apartment just spending time all together as a family.  It has been very cold here the past few days and it is way to cold to take this kiddos out because we didn't pack a lot of wintery clothes for them. So we just stayed home, watched kid movies, played, and spent time together.
I got a call from Marina this morning and she said that it looks like our passport will be ready to pick up Tuesday so we will pack tomorrow, pick up our passport Tuesday and head straight from their to Kiev. Once in Kiev we will get settled in another apartment where we will stay our last 2 days here in Ukraine and then on Wednesday morning we will go to the US Embassy. Thursday we will finish up stuff and be able to head home on Friday. So that is the plan!
So finally the pictures and videos you all have been waiting for.  Our precious girl has been with us in our apartment for the past 4 1/2 days.  Sorry I've not been able to keep up with pics and postings. 
Here's lots of pics of our special moments with our new blessing!
First morning (Thursday) waking up! So sweet!
Myla hugging & snuggling with her baby sister.... so excited she is here! Every morning when Myla walks into our room and sees Mina on the pallet she gets so excited and says Mina really loud and runs over to lay with her on her pallet.  She absolutely adores her little sister & it just melts my heart!

Mina playing with a yellow balloon on a stick

We had a special blanket made just for Mina to show her all the love & support it took to bring her home.  There are many quilt squares with loving words, scriptures, and prayers for our little girl.  We are so grateful to all those who helped make this blanket possible for her.  To my mom for working so hard sowing the front of the quilt together to make the squares for people to sign, for all those who offered loving words and messages to fill her squares, and to my wonderful cousin Alex who stayed up late late late and worked so hard for us to get the quilt put together with a beautiful ruffle trim so that we could have it in time to take it to Mina.  We are so thankful for all those who blessed this little girl in giving her something she can cherish for life and look back and see the Love that brought her home!

She absolutely loved the big pink bow and card my cousin tied around her blanket for her!

Friday morning waking up!! Here is where Mina has come in our room and layed down beside her sister on her pallet.

Myla playing a game while sister watches.

Intently watching

Myla thinking Mina is thirsty. She always makes sure she never goes without a drink :)

So this video was much longer but I cut it down.  Notice how well Mina is sitting up.  She sat there for about 5 minutes without anything proping her up.  She is doing great and will sit up for several minutes at a time. So proud of her!

YouTube Video

Friday afternoon Jim took Myla out for a daddy daughter play date! :)  She needed to get out for a bit after all the time spent in the apartment. She had such a blast with her dad.  This was them at NY Pizza!

Driving a car!

YouTube Video

Playing in one of the many play zone areas!

Jumping on the trampoline

YouTube Video
What a fun fun day with daddy she had!!

Here's Mina trying a Gerber biscuit for her first time and she LOVED it!! This kept her well entertained for close to 20 minutes and she just about ate the whole thing.

Think this pic is so funny!

Video of Mina enjoying her biscuit!

YouTube Video

This is how Mina will fall asleep (either that or laying on her belly.) But then she moves and moves and ends up all over the place despite the many pillows. I have even had to move her back on her pallet in the middle of the night when she has ended up on the hard floor.  She always kicks her blanket off no matter how many times I put it back on her during the night.

And this is one of the many positions she will wander to in the middle of the night while she sleeps.  Notice her head is the opposite direction and up against the wood door. 

This morning laying on daddy!

Just a random pic.  This is the hallway to our apartment & that was a bat on the wall above the door hanging from the cord