Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Shopping with Papa

Scene: Papa and Axel, pushing a grocery cart through our local store. Items in blue were signed in ASL.

Axel: Hey Papa! How 'bout (scratches chin) Hmm...spaghetti!

Papa: No. Not today.

Axel: Hey papa! Icecream?

Papa: We have two gallons of ice-cream at home.

Axel: Chocolate?

Papa: Yep, it's chocolate.

Axel: Want cereal?

Papa: Sure! You pick the cereal.

Axel: Papa! I want pizza...please.

Papa: Axel, are you hungry?

Wanna know what I love? I love that Papa and Axel could take a trip to the grocery store and communicate with one another. I love that they had conversations. I love that they love to spend time together. I love that there is love. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Not even 12 hours

Axel and Angela both had surgery on their eyes 12 hours ago. Both had stents put in their tear ducts. The tear duct system makes a loop.

The stent is looped through the system then sewn into place inside the nose.

Axel only had his left eye done, as well as ablation of some lashes that were growing inward into his eye, causing chronic irritation. Here's what the stent looks like in his eye.

Angela had this same surgery done when she was 8 but she pulled the stent out after a couple of weeks. They're supposed stay in for 6 weeks. Today Angela had both upper and lower ducts in her left eye, and lower duct in her right eye. Because she is missing the upper duct in her right eye, that one just has a lower stent with a "foot" holding it in place, which you can't really see. (and I can't get a picture of.) The doctor tried to reconstruct a duct on that eye but she just doesn't have enough space to place one.

However, their surgery wasn't even 12 hours ago and she has already pulled the stent out. Can you see the difference between hers and Axel's?

Guess I'll be calling the doctor tomorrow morning, because this puts her cornea at risk of being scratched.


Crab Boil

Going through my pictures from the summer, I realized I never blogged about the trip Axel, Asher and I took to Philadelphia! While the original purpose of the trip was a check up at Shriner's Hospital in Philadelphia, really we made it all about friends!

My very good friend Coleen has hosted us nearly every time we go to Philly. She picks us up at the airport, drops us off when it's time to go home, lets me borrow a car to get back and forth to the hospital. She is just the best kind of friend ever.

I have known Coleen on the internet since Angela was around 9 years old. That's about the time her son Nolan was born with Down syndrome. Since then we've grown to love one another's kids via the net. She has supported us through three adoptions, plus all the ups and downs of raising a kid(s) with Down syndrome.

Anyway, one of the things Coleen made sure we experienced was a crab boil. Ok, really it was her fiancé Phil and his buddies who got the crabs, but still...

Now, we live in Minnesota. Our sea life is much different. Well, because it's lake life, not sea life.

First, there were A LOT of crabs! 

Gotta keep them cool or they get too active and want to climb out and run away. 

Put them in the pot... This water had all kinds of spices and stuff in it.

Cooked crabs!

Axel thought the crabs were pretty cool. 

The guys ate late into the night. 

 Asher didn't really care about the crabs. He loved the roar of the boiler thingy though. LOL He ate some of the crab meat but was more interested in running on the trampoline. Axel,  however, LOVED the crab! He ate quite a lot. I ate plenty of crab legs, which is about all my mind could handle eating of the crab.

All in all it was a great time. So glad my boys got to experience this! Someday Dean needs to go crabbing with Phil and his buddies.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Why I'm Boycotting School Open House

photo credit:

Every year we do it.

We go to the school "Open House" night. We drop off all the crap that will fill the kids' desks and cubbies, fill out 500,000,001 forms, write out hundreds of dollars worth of checks, and let the kids see their classrooms.

I'm not doing it anymore.

I'll tell you why.

I hate it.

I hate that there are always hundreds of people crowding the hallways. I hate the chaos. I hate the filling out of forms while my kids dance around the room getting into crap. I hate the writing out of all the checks. I hate that we have to be in three schools at one time, but none of them are close to one another and it takes at least an hour at each school. And no, we can't just "divide and conquer" because Dean doesn't "do" forms. He just doesn't.

This year I just said, "No." to school open house.

This week I have gone to my kids' schools during the day and collected the forms I need to fill out, and I brought the kids along. The halls were quiet. At midnight on September 2nd you will find me filling out those forms, and then I will put them in each kids' backpack for their teachers to find on the first day of school. And I bet if I miss something, I will get a little reminder later in the week. ;-)

This year I have paid all lunch and sports fees online.

This year I will not be dragging my post-institutional children through anxiety inducing crowds. And to be honest, I am probably more anxious than they are as I try not to loose them in said crowd.

My kids do not even realize we missed this event at their schools. I'm ok with that.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Vacations or Trips?

I read a great article today about taking vacations trips with your kids.

I have to say, my kids are really good about taking trips. Yes, they are amazing. With XM radio in the van, Radio Disney is piped to the "way back". This leaves me free to carry on (mostly) uninterrupted phone conversations with people I rarely get to talk to. (using my hands-free device, of course.)
2012 trip to DC

All our kids love restaurants. They are all about the ordering, and the eating, and the free refills. They eat just about anything and the like to try new things. We have a *slight* problem getting a certain 13 year old to use public restrooms but hey...if he wants his bladder to burst in the car, so be it!

It is for these reasons I love to take road trips with my kids.

The road part. I like the road part.

What I don't getting to our destination. That is when the hell happens. That is when they are no longer restrained to seats in the confines of a steel cage that is the van. That is when I have to watch to make sure Asher and Abel aren't drowning themselves any liquid visible to them. Oh, and the pool.  That is when Angela cannot handle Axel being within arms reach of her, never mind that he was for the entire drive which has been as long as several thousand miles! It is when my eyes must be in 220 directions at once while carrying on a conversation with someone who wants details besides "yes" and "no", and also wants me to remember what they said.

We didn't take any trips this summer. We were too busy enjoying ourselves.

** This post was based on Steve Wiens' post about about vacationing with kids. Please go here to read what he had to say!

Guess what!!!

Soon there will be some new Serbian princes and princesses finding their way to families here in the U.S. I am just *slightly* excited about this! I'm even more excited that two of the kids will be within an hour drive from me, which means there will be eight Serbian kids here in MN!!!

I'd like to introduce you to the Olson family. They have just started blogging about their journey. Please take a little trip over to their blog and welcome them to adoption and special needs communities!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Well Good Morning!

This morning I went out to sit in my favorite chair. I found my little friend waiting for me. Do you see him?

Let me get closer. 

 I brought him out into the sunlight to get some more pictures, but I had to hurry. It's about 90* already this morning and these little guys don't like the sun.

It's nice to have friends over to share the morning with. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Caring for Serbia's Kids

When we were in Serbia for Abel's adoption, I was thrilled to learn of the changes made in the facility located in Belgrade. It is formally known as the "Center for the Protection of Infants, Children and Youth", referred to as Zvescanska (Zvez-chonska) by the locals.

The facility has hired brand new therapists, who were thrilled to show me the new sensory rooms that had been donated by a local NGO. The rooms include the kind of equipment the best therapy centers in the US strive to have. These rooms are a therapist's dream. The staff from Zvescanska were hoping to receive training very soon to learn all the ways they could utilize these gifts! They are eager and excited! They have a state-of-the-art space, and they are ready to help these kids!!

One of the biggest problems faced by the children in Zvescanska, and that the therapists are trying to work with,  are severe feeding issues. Most of these are caused by lack of oral stimulation as infants and archaic force-feeding methods for the infants and toddlers.
Photo Credit:

While there are changes being made for the younger kids, the older kids are left with mouths that cannot function properly. (We are still working to overcome both Asher and now Abel's feeding problems!) The therapists and I talked at length about some of the things I do with my kids to work on these problems after adoption, and they told me how they are working with the kids of Zvescanska.

One of my most valuable tools is a Z-Vibe. 

The Z-vibe provides a wide range of sensations for oral stimulation, encouraging tongue movement,  lip movement, swallowing, and...well the list goes on. I use my Z-Vibe almost every day for both Asher and Abel! 

The  speech therapist from Zvescanska was very proud to show me that she has **A** Z-vibe. Yes, that's right. She has ONE. One single, lone Z-vibe to be used with several hundred children. The few tips she had left were all chewed up by the constant use. Some were really not safe for use anymore. Her battery had died a couple months before and they can only be purchased in the US. She wanted to order more batteries but discovered the $6 battery costs an insane amount of money to ship from the U.S. 

I want to solve that problem. I went out on a limb and I made a promise.  I promised I could get her more Z-vibes. I promised I could get her more batteries. I promised because my readers helped me collect 300 blinking toothbrushes for the same kids back in 2011. 

My friend Mary Borojevich, COCI board member and director of COCI-Serbia, is headed back to Belgrade in a few weeks. I want to be able to send the needed Z-vibes with her. 

I have created a wish list on Amazon for the items needed. (please note the thumbnails on descriptions are not always accurate!) The shipping address is included, as well as the Federal Tax ID for your donation to COCI. The deadline for shipping is September 20th. 

Thank you SO MUCH for considering helping the kids of Serbia. The staff are working so hard to make the changes necessary. They really cannot believe there are people here in the U.S who care about these kids. Lets show them just how much we care!

***8/26*** Thank you to the person who purchased the batteries!!!

Blessing at Costco

It's insanely hot here in Minnesota today. 103* heat index with high humidity. If you're in Texas this might not be "hot", but for those of us on the tundra, it is miserable. We recently got a Costco membership but haven't been there yet, so in an attempt to stay cool ANd keep kids busy we decided to take the kids.

We wandered the isles looking at stuff.  (Is it always insanely busy there on Sundays or was it that everyone else had the same idea?) The little boys know they are to hold either side of the cart and are mostly good about staying put with a little reminder when we stop to look at something. Abel was doing great even with the crowds! Angela was having fun with all the edible samples that were being given out and showing Axel how that worked. We get a few stares now and then, as you can imagine. But, maybe those stares are not for the reasons I think?

At one point I left Dean with the cart and kids so I could go have a look at the cakes. (they have the BEST cakes there!!!) Angela followed because she spotted a table where cake samples were being given out and she wanted one in the worst way. I was just discussing this with her when a woman came up to me.

"Excuse me. You don't know me, but I've been watching you and your kids. They're amazing. Please take this, get them some ice cream or something when you're done." and she placed some folded up bills in my hand.

I thanked her for blessing us. I was reminded that people are not always staring at us because our family is "different", but because sometimes our kids are just plain amazing. They are well behaved. They clearly love one another; Angela doting on the little boys or making sure Axel gets a sample from every table. Axel helping me with the cart or offering to lift heavy things, each one wanting to hold Dean's hand, then my hand. They are just GOOD kids. Our three new kids, look how far they've come!! Sometimes when we're out I want to put a sign on them that reads, "You have NO idea where I was X months ago!"

Thank you God, for blessing us today. And if you are reading, thank you for coming up to me. It truly was a blessing to us, and the kids enjoyed DQ for lunch on the way home, something that isn't really possible for us very often lately. It was Abel's first DQ EVER in his entire 10 years. It's the first his post-institutional behaviors have been far enough behind us that we could attempt it.  He loved it! The joy on his face as he got that first taste of hot fudge. Priceless!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Four Months Ago

Can you believe it? Can you believe Abel has been home four whole months? It has gone so fast!  It seems like a lifetime ago, but also like yesterday all at once!

Four months ago we introduced our new son to the world. 

Here he is today! Like a butterfly opening it's wings for the first time, so it is watching Abel learn about the world around him. We love you son!

Business, as in busy-ness

Usually I spend the summer getting all the kids medical check ups done so I don't have to do them during the school year. This year several kids need some things done under anesthesia and I was trying my best to get it so each kid only had to go under anesthesia at once, AND so I could spend as little time at the hospital as possible.

That was a fail.

Instead, I couldn't get everything scheduled until this month, and Abel's are all spread out over a couple of months.

So here's what the line-up looks like.

August 29th, Angela and Axel will be having stents put in their tear ducts. Well, Angela is also having reconstructive work done on one eye lid (she's missing both upper and lower ducts on that side) so hers is a little more involved. She had this same surgery done when she was 7 but she pulled the stents out after 2 weeks so we decided to wait until she was older to try repeating it. Two kids but minor procedures so we should be in/out of the hospital relatively quickly. Angela is excited she's getting an I.V. (yes...she loves to have an I.V. Goofy kid!)

September 12th Abel will be having all of his dental work done. Many teeth pulled, some restored, and what's left will be cleaned. I cannot wait to get this done! I wanted to do it a couple months ago but we were trying to get all the specialists coordinated and it just didn't work out.

October 14th Axel will be having minor dental work done under anesthesia. He's petrified of the dentist so this is much quicker. We should be in/out of the hospital in a couple of hours.

October 22nd Abel will be having his tonsils and adenoids out. I am not expecting an easy recovery for him. He'll also be having an ABR (hearing test) done. His hearing appears to be fine but it's good to get this done since he'll be under anesthesia anyway. Unlike my other kids, he does NOT have a high pain tolerance.

We have a couple things coming in November too, but I'm waiting to get the dates.

And Asher? Well he just lucked out, didn't he?

Friday, August 23, 2013

What Do You Discuss Over Lunch?

The best questions from kids come out of left field.

(note, this conversation was a combination of ASL and spoken English.)

Today during the lunch, straight out of that black hole in left field, Axel says, "mom. Asher a girl."

Me: No, Asher is a boy. What is Angela? Boy or girl?

Axel: Boy

Me: No, Angela is a girl. What are you? Boy or girl?

Axel: Girl

Me: (a bit surprised by his answer because I'm pretty sure we've discussed this.) You are a boy, Axel. What is Abel?

Axel: Abel boy

Me: Right! What is Asher?

Axel: Girl

Me: Axel, if a person has a penis, they are a boy. Do you have a penis?

Axel: Hmmmm yes. 

Me: Does Asher have a penis?

Axel: hmmmm (scratches his chin) Yes.

Me: So his he a boy or girl?

Axel: Asher boy.

Angela: (Very excited!) I have a penis! I'm a girl!

Me: Angela, you have a vagina. You are a girl, just like Mom.

Angela: (smacks self in forehead) Oh my gosh I forgot!

Ok, clearly we need to do some body awareness teaching! I know we covered this at some time but remedial teaching is in order. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Bed

My visit to the IKEA store today was weird. It was weird.

Angela and I went in search of two specific items: a mattress for her new bed and a Malm bed frame for Axel in the boys' new bedroom.

When walked up to the bedroom show floor to find the number I needed for the bed, I was met by a store employee who asked if I wanted that bed. I said yes, but was confused on the price. It was listed at $179 but on the website the bed is $99.

"Oh, this is for the floor model. This bed is being discontinued. The $179 is for everything you see here. The bed, mattress, bedding (duvet, duvet cover, fitted and flat sheet, sham and pillow cases), two pillows and a throw blanket. Do you want it all?"

I quick ran the numbers in my head.


"Great, I'll get a couple people out here to get it on a pallet for  you."

We waited for just a minute before a couple staff showed up with cart thingies. They put each end of the bed on a cart and said, "There ya go!"

"Umm...that is the whole bed. You aren't going to take it apart?"

"No, this is for 'as-is', which means we don't take it apart."

"Ummm...hmm...I don't know if it will fit in my van assembled."

"Well, down at customer services there are tools you can use to take it apart."

They pointed us down the isle "Just follow this path and you'll run into the elevators."

"You mean this path, the one that zigzags through the store?"

"Yep. Here's the ticket, and I put my number on the back just in case they question you about all the stuff on here because we don't often sell them as an entire set like this." "This" was a fully made bed, with the bedding and pillows in place, ready for someone to climb into and take a nap.

Picture Angela, my purse around her neck, following me as I push a seven foot bed through a crowded IKEA store.

.... only each end seemed to steer independently and it is was I could do to not crash the thing. If you've ever pushed a hydraulic pallet jack around, it was a lot like that.

Have I mentioned the store was busy and the isles packed with people? "Excuse me. Umm...excuse me? Thanks. Coming through...with a bed...a whole bed. Yes...yes they are making me push an entire, fully made bed through the IKEA store."

We finally made it to the elevators where I had to turn the bed sideways to make it fit. We paid for the bed (yes, pushed that fully-made bed through the IKEA check out) and the guy told me I could find tools at the customer service desk.

We went to the customer service desk. "I was told someone here could help me load this in my van, or take it apart so I can get it in there."


The customer service people were not going to be much help.

A customer waiting said, "Where's your van? I'll help you load it." He and his wife were about in their 60's. Angela and I ran to bring the van around to the loading area.

Between the three of us (and eventually two IKEA staff helped lift it) we were able to pull the car seats and seats out, arranging things just enough so the bed would mostly fit, then we tied down the tailgate. Thank you so much to Marietta and her husband for their help today!!! Clearly the IKEA people weren't going to be of much assistance.

Even with all the messing around, we got a great deal on the bed and mattress! We absolutely could use two more pillows. Now, if anyone needs a set of twin bedding,  (duvet cover and sham) I have one for sale! It looks just like this. ;-)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Decisions on Bussing

When we moved here Angela was in 2nd grade. Because the special ed. classroom she attended was not in our neighborhood school, we didn't have an option for her to ride anything other than Special Ed. transportation.

Then Angela moved up to the middle school. She started out on the regular bus but due to some "issues" she was having, I started driving her to school instead. In 8th grade she started back on the regular  bus with her typical peers, which she loved.

Angela continued on the regular ed. bus for 9th and 10th grade. But, at the end of her sophomore year, during the last couple weeks of school, she started making comments about some things that were said by other students on the bus. None of it was serious, at least not what she repeated to me, but it did raise some red flags. I talked to her teacher who talked to the bus driver who had similar concerns and made some changes.

Lets talk about vulnerability a bit. Angela is a 17 year old girl with significant cognitive delays. She rides the bus with near-typical teenage teenagers...lots of them boys. She loves to sit in the back of the bus where the "fun people" sit. Do you see where this could go?

Eventually the school year ended, we moved into summer and I didn't have to think about the bus anymore. But suddenly we're only a couple weeks from school starting. I have huge reservations about sending Angela on the regular ed bus this year. What about her peers from the special ed class? Which bus do they ride? Will she stand out from them if she's riding the special ed bus again?

I asked around. Turns out some of the other parents have had the same fears, only sooner. So, my reservations were validated, and I made the decision to put Angela back on the Special Ed. bus this year. Then I remembered something: Angela could care less what bus she rides to school! As long as A bus shows up to pick her up, she's thrilled.

This year the bus schedule will be awesome! All four kids catch the bus within 5 minutes of one another. We'll be the only house on the street with busses lined up. I think we'll make it the morning coffee stop for the drivers and bus aids. ;-)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Ready, Set....GO!

This time of year is tough for us in our house. Summer school is done. The kids are SO over playing in the sprinkler and going to the library. Every day Axel says at breakfast, "School today tomorrow." Angela asks, "How many days until school starts?" about 37,245 times per day.

Here it is kids!!!

While the kids are going stir crazy, this is the time of year panic sets in for me. There is much to be done! I need to take inventory of all the kids' clothes. Who needs jeans? Who needs underwear? Do the winter coats still fit? There are school supplies to be purchased and an entire forest worth of trees worth of papers to be filled out! Every year I vow to stay organized through the entire year, but in reality I know it will all fall apart by about November. Still, I try.

I'm a bit envious of my homeschooling friends. They are all incredibly organized and keep their kids learning throughout the year, something I happen to suck at.  But they also don't (usually) have to get kids out the door at precisely the right minute to catch that darned bus! I'm happy to say that last year we had only one missed bus. That means 539 buses were caught on time! Pretty amazing, I think.

This year my big goal is independence and getting everyone out the door on time! Having four kids with Down syndrome, and Angela and Abel having severe ADHD, a functional schedule is crucial to successful, calm mornings. Having spent the past 27 years getting kids out the door, my kids with ADHD have always proven to be the most difficult. If the morning is chaotic and unorganized my kids tend to get over stimulated which means I have to peel them off the ceiling to get them refocused, which slows us down tremendously. Here is how I have things set up. (And if you are an adopting family, this is very helpful when you're traveling and have someone else staying at your house with your other kids!)

Over the years I've found it's very important for me to have the clothes organized in such a way I can easily see everything. I guess I'm a really visual person! I happen to detest dressers for several reasons, the biggest being the clothes just get lost in there. Instead we have a family closet (everyone's clothes in one place) and everyone's clothes on shelves.

I've set up the kids rooms for them to help them be independent. On Sunday nights we go through the 5 day forecast on my weather app. We pick out an outfit for each day of the week, plus underwear and socks, and head upstairs.

In the bedrooms I have daily clothing stackers. These I labeled myself but you can find pre-labeled daily clothing organizers on amazon and several other sites. (You can also find some neat daily organizers!) Notice this is visually pretty boring? For my kids who have ADHD and are easily distracted, having toys or other items to catch their eye when they're supposed to be getting dressed can cause major interference to the almighty schedule.

Every morning my kids get up and grab their clothes for the day. This is an awesome time saver because there is no hunting for clothes, socks, etc! This also worked very well when Dean and I went to Serbia for Abel's adoption. At the end of the week our caregivers needed only needed to wash those clothes and put them right back in the stackers for the next week.

The only problem we have run into with this system is when Angela decides what she picked out on Sunday doesn't match her mood for the day. I have the same feeling when I pack for a trip and think, "I might not feel like wearing this next week, so I'll bring a couple back-up outfits." She is a girl so I cut her some slack. LOL

While the kids are getting dressed in the mornings I'm in the kitchen getting breakfast and everyone's meds set out. On Sunday nights I put all the medications into dispensers for the entire week for each of the kids. That way on school mornings when I'm getting breakfast on the table I'm not messing with18 different pill bottles! Instead I only need to grab the dispenser for each kid and hand them out.  (When I'm traveling I put out the meds for the entire duration of the trip.)

Breakfast is an organized affair. The kids come to the table as they're ready (Axel is always last because he is so.very.slow! He seems to spend a lot of time in LaLa land and has a tendency to get "lost" walking from one room to the next!) We talk about what is coming up for the day, mostly because Angela reminds me of everyone's schedule, because she knows every detail! Thank you God for combining ADHD with OCD.

As each of the kids finish eating they head to the bathroom to get faces, teeth and hair done. It's pretty much an assembly line process! Sometimes Angela likes to help the other kids while I clean everyone's glasses and get Angela's hearing aids on.

When they're done in the bathroom the kids grab their stuff for school. I used to keep everything by the front entry but it just got to be too much. (Oh how I wish we had a mud room!) Instead their backpacks and jackets are kept in their rooms.

Shoes are kept in a holder in the entryway. 

Next to the front door I keep the various schedules which includes everyone's bus times. This is particularly helpful when I have a caregiver getting kids off to school in the morning. I have the schedule written down to the exact minute, including when each kid needs to be walking out the door.

Axel is the most difficult to get out the door on time. He does not have ADHD. We aren't sure if he has ADD or if his 10 years in the institution did that much damage. Its not unusual for him to be doing something like putting on a sock, then notice a scrap of paper on the floor, and since he loves paper, well naturally he has to pick it up, turn it every which way, touch it to his face, then find a pocket to stick it in. So for him, a visual timer helps keep him focused on the task at hand, which is usually something like tying his shoes.

Probably the most difficult element of the school year for me to deal with is the paper. Oh My Heck do schools go through a lot of paper! When the kids come home in the afternoon they remove all the crap papers from their backpack and deposit it into the basket. I'm supposed to go through this stuff every day, but by the end of the week it's obvious it doesn't actually happen. Instead the end of the island is covered with school papers and mail, while that cute little basket buried at the bottom. Papers + me = disaster.

So how does this system work? Well, I can get all my kids up, dressed, fed, clean and out the door in 50 minutes. Angela usually only takes about 30 minutes, and Axel needs to really be pushed to make that 50 minute mark. He needs more like 90 minutes but it's not happening. Asher and Abel are pretty speedy!

That's it. Thats all there is to it! Sounds easy, doesn't it? (insert sinister laughter here) Getting four kids with Down syndrome out the door isn't really a problem for me. Throw in some ADHD and a few very big personalities into the mix and it certainly can be a challenge. I have found keeping a pretty strict morning schedule is the best way to beat the morning clock and get every kid out the door and to the bus on time!

Monday, August 12, 2013

13 Years

Thirteen years ago, in a hospital in Kragujevac, Serbia, a little boy was born.

His parents were devastated the day they were finally told the news of his diagnosis.

The words "Down syndrome" hung in the air, suffocating them.

Surely the doctors were wrong? They sought another opinion. They traveled to another city to get current information.

They took him home and loved him.

He was their boy, and they loved him just as they loved his older brother.

But raising a child with Down syndrome in Serbia was a complicated affair. Who would care for him when they went to work? Where would he get therapies like speech,  occupational and physical therapy? There weren't a lot of options. Really...13 years ago...there was only one option.

They made the most difficult decision they could possibly make. The social workers and doctors told them it was "for the best".

Then, one day, they were told about these same kids who are born in the U.S, who go to school, get jobs, live life like everyone else. They can be productive members of society.

Not knowing what lay ahead, taking a step in 100% faith covered in anguish, they signed the papers allowing their child, their son, their baby....their be taken to the other side of the world.

But who? Who would want a child like this?

WE DID! We CHOSE YOU dear Axel Djordje!!! We KNEW you were destined to be part of our family.

That very first day I met you, I had no idea what God was doing behind the scenes.

I was enamored with you, but I didn't know yet that I was your mother. There were some things that needed to change first. Like the fact Papa didn't know he was going to be a dad again!

Just a few months later I was back on your doorstep. This time I was there to bring you home. This was the first video your papa got to see of you.

You were such an amazing little boy. Ten years old!

We wish we hadn't been there for your first 10 years. We wish you could have stayed with your birth family. We wish they would get the joy of your hugs every morning. 

The day came when it was time to take make it official. 

When I signed those papers in a tiny office in Serbia, our lives changed forever.

You were so full of joy that day. You had no idea what lie ahead. 

Finally the day arrived when it was time to say goodbye to Serbia. Oh the journey we would travel together!

And finally...finally you got to meet your papa for the first time!
Just a few months later you were already a different child.

From that day on you've kept us on a ride like we had never dreamed. You brought with you some hidden surprises. 
 photo AxelMRI.jpg
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But nobody could hold you back! You had a lot to show us!

When the halo came off you FINALLY had the chance to enjoy this new world of yours!

We have so many things to be thankful for on this day. Thankful to God for leading us to this young man. Thankful he was kept safe during his time in Serbian institutions. Thankful for his birth parents who took that leap of faith, at the expense of their own hearts. We know that today, on the other side of the world, as we celebrate Axel being part of our life, there are three hearts who are aching. 

We love you Axel!