Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sunday Pictures

It is hard to take pictures of Sam and Sarah.  They don't understand why they have to be still and smile.  But today I got some of the cutest pictures of Sam!

He posed himself

Little businessman

I had to get a picture of Sarah and her Norway outfit.  It was quite chilly this morning so she opted for something warm!

I get to church early so Shad can go to Sunday School.  Then I can take pictures of the little ones before anyone gets there.  Sometimes if I wait till after church somebody might have an accident & require a costume change!  It happens.....

It is chilly today.  I went for a walk after lunch and was miserable till I hit about 2 miles then it was perfect.  I don't like to be hot but I don't like to be cold either lol.  I can NOT stand to wear heavy jackets or turtlenecks.  When we lived in NYC, I could hardly stand to button my jacket no matter how cold.  I get very claustrophobic-I guess living in Florida we aren't used to wearing much clothes LOL  It's even hard for me to wear long pants, it just seems like too much material on me.  Capri pants are ok but i generally live in skorts or shorts.

We celebrated Jon's birthday early today.  It was a little quiet since our oldest son wasn't here.  He has finals this coming week but worked as a camera op this whole weekend in Orlando  He works free-lance for a college friend of mine occasionally.  What really made me happy is he got the job on his own with them.  Only after he was hired did they realize he was our son!  He also works for two other companies free lance as well as weekly for the college in media services.  He stays so busy but he loves what he does.  This weekend his food and a hotel room was included.  He loves that!  I do too, I hate to worry about him out late driving!!

Well hope you have a great start to your week tomorrow!!

!!!!!!!  Our church took up an offering today for the Druz orphanage in Ukraine and we met our goal of $150 so they can be fully funded for Christmas!  !!!!  Our folks are so generous-we had to make up just a little out of another fund.  But I love their hearts.  I shared like 2 minutes about what we'd been asked to do and people gave even though they hadn't expected to have a new project today!  It is a blessing!

If you still would like to give to Life 2 Orphans please do there are other orphanages that need help!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Prison Ministry

Today was the prison's annual Volunteer Banquet.  Technically I'm a volunteer but I usually only make it to the banquet LOL  Jon works at a very unique prison.  It has several mental health units, a hospice unit, a medical unit and an elderly  unit. 

 He has developed a strong volunteer base, I think he has the most volunteers per inmate ratio in the state- or he had the last time I heard the statistics.   While Jon is a conservative protestant, his volunteers come from every religion and christian denomination.   He tries to have a volunteer for each religion/denomination represented by the inmates, so their spiritual needs can be met if they desire it. 

The volunteers are very committed.  It's a lot of work to go into a prison, paperwork, time involved and travel.  Even coming through security takes awhile.  Jon has been at this prison for 8 years and for 8 years I've been seeing the same faces every year at the banquet.  It's very good to see such commitment. 

This is Jon's 20th year of being a chaplain and he absolutely loves his job.  The administration and staff are good folks to work with, people have a good work ethic and are pleasant.  He has support of the chapel programs by his warden and assistant wardens. In fact today's meal was made and served by staff who came in on their day off!   His prison is very rehabilitation and restorative based.  .They want to help the men to be ready to go back to the outside world with good skills!  They don't want to see them unless they come in to volunteer AND that happens!  I met the most pleasant man today who by God's help has turned his life completely around.  He's been out a few years and his life is going great.  He is fully serving the Lord and in ministry.  He is now a volunteer at the very prison he was in!  I LOVE stories like that! 

Jon surprised me today and brought me up on stage.  He told the group that I supported him and made it easy for him to do his ministry.  I had a few minutes to talk and shared to them how much Jon truly loves what he does.  I shared that when he first became a chaplain I was not too thrilled because I was more on the "law and order side" as a probation officer.  But over the years how I've seen how the chaplaincy can make a difference in inmate's lives. 

The main speaker was another chaplain who is actually a Ukrainian!  It was good to have some time to talk with him.  Plus he is a good speaker.   It was a good banquet and everything went great. 

If you are interested in prison ministry, call your local prison or even county jail and ask for the chaplain's office.  They can tell you how to apply to volunteer. 

Well I don't know if you've seen the news but there was snow in Florida....about 200 miles north of us!  But it is COLD here- my thermometer  reads only 58 degrees. Yall know we are not used to that!  It's supposed to be cool for about two weeks.  We usually don't have this kind of weather in December.  Usually we have a few weeks of cold weather in January but this is nice.  We get to wear our cold weather clothes for a few days:)  I just bought Sarah the cutest fleeced sweatshirt.   I'm rather addicted to buying her clothes.  I can't hardly buy Selah any clothes because she has nurses that adore her and she has a fan club LOL  Her closet is not as deep as my closet but it's only a little smaller and is filled with clothes.  I have to buy the practical things for her.  Selah is a little bigger than Sarah but they have such totally different body shapes that they seldom can wear the same clothes.  Shad and Sam are the same way.  But we are looking forward to our little winter for the next few days before we get back to regular Florida weather. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Biological Family

As an adoptive mom sometimes it is hard for me to think that my adopted children have biological parents.  For me, I feel the absolute same about them as I do my biological children.  I'm not saying that to sound like some type of perfect mom, it's the truth.  But the reality is the Sarah, Shad and Selah have biological families.

In the girls' adoption we were given a little information on their parents, their names, birth dates and addresses.  We also know a little about their siblings, names and birth dates.  Selah has a brother and sister who were adopted in Ukraine.  One of her sisters was adopted in the USA and we have a little contact with her family.  We also know some information on how the girls came to be in the system and when they went into orphanages.  Ukraine allows parents to give up their children for several reasons so it is not against the law.  In fact it is often recommended to the parents if a child has special needs.

In China it is different.  It is against the law for parents to give up their children.  We do know the details of Shad's situation from the time he was found.  I was honored to be able to go to the very spot he was left by his parents.  My heart just broke, I cried so hard that even the taxi driver tried to comfort me.  Driving there my stomach was churning, once we got to the spot I got out and took pictures.  It was a busy area and believe me a big blond crying American got a plenty of attention!   What blessed my heart is that there was a police station only halfway down the block from where he was left.  That showed me his parents cared and wanted him found quickly.  It meant a lot to me that they took him to such a safe place.

For years I'd thought about looking up the girls' parents.  So one night I was waiting up for the boys to get home from the movies and I took all of their names and looked on Facebook.  I came up with someone I thought was related to Sarah and I sent a message.  My message was just something along the line of "We have an adopted daughter who has a similar family name.  Could you possibly be related?"

A few days later I got back a gracious response saying that he would try to help me.  Then I was asked if  I was speaking of Vicky.  My hands shook so much because that is Sarah's Ukrainian name.  I knew immediately this was a relative.  I wrote back "YES" and the response was "she is my daughter"  !!!!   WOW!

I had found her birth father!  We had a beautiful emotional conversation via Facebook messenger.  The tears were running down my face.  I was able to tell him how much we love Sarah.  He had some regrets but I was able to share with him that we actually knew how they must have felt when Sarah was born.  We had gone through the very same thing when Sam was born.  It was a very scary time for us.  I was able to give him information about Peter's Anomaly and how very rare it is.  They had no one in their families that had Peter's Anomaly either, just like us so they were shocked when she was born.  Also I was in Ukraine for almost two months and I realize that there are no resources for families with children who are blind.  I could totally relate to the feelings they had plus I know that families are encouraged to put their children into programs in Ukraine.

We have been able to share some things about our lives back and to.  I LOVE knowing a little more about Sarah's history.  I LOVE Sarah so much so I also love her father!  He is now a part of her life.  I send him pictures and videos.  I hope one day to be able to have some contact with her mother too.  I've seen a picture of her and Sarah resembles her very much.  We have to translate our conversations so sometimes it's a little hard for me to understand and I'm sure it is the same for him.

We pray for him that God will be with him and protect him.  We feel honored that we have contact with him!  He said that God worked out all the everything for Sarah and I feel exactly the same.  I would love to meet him one day-who knows?  Maybe we will have the chance!   I feel like he is our relative now.

God allowed us to adopt Sarah- He moved in all of the details.  What an honor that she is our daughter.  I'm so grateful to her birth parents for giving her life and doing the best they could do for her.  She is a true Joy. 

The last few days I've been so sick with sneezing and coughing.  Last night i went to bed early and Sarah started calling for me "mama Mama mama"  Jon had to play with her and take her mind off me:)  Then today I had a doctor's appointment and our sitter said she kept asking for me even though she was happily playing.   Once i got home all she wanted was to sit on my lap and wrap her arms around me.  She is just absolutely precious.  I always say if no one else loves me Sarah does:)   I'm blessed to be able to care for her now and be her Mama!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Druzhhkovka Orphanage Christmas Cheer

We've been a part of the international adoption community for 12 years now.  My experience with Shad was good-everyone was pleasant and helpful.  My experience while adopting the girls and after has not quite been that good.  It has caused me to step back from much fund raising outside of the few ministries I know to be above board,  Several times I've given money to families who ended up not adopting the child I was raising money for.  That has been very disheartening for me.  The last few years I've mostly raised money within my church and friends for projects for orphans

Also the great need and hurt in the orphan world has taken my breath away and broken my heart.  It's so hard to do much to make a change.  We do have a good friend who runs an orphanage in Haiti that I've been able to partner with.  We have another friend who runs a ministry to street kids in the Philippians and our church denomination has an orphanage there also that we are involved with. . 

But I'm determined to get back to advocating more for adoptions & orphan care! 

So this blog is about Life 2 Orphans a humanitarian charity that helps the children left behind in Ukraine.  They have several programs.  Both of our daughters had individual caregivers who worked with them that were sponsored by Life 2 Orphans.  I think it made a huge difference in their lives! 

This Christmas as every Christmas Life 2 Orphans will be providing Christmas for children all over Ukraine who are in orphanages and institutions.  I've committed to give towards the orphanage that our daughters would be at if they still were orphans.  Because of the war their orphanage/mental institution was closed and the children/adults were all sent out to other institutions.  Most of the children I knew including Angela the girl we have supported for 6 years ended up at Druzhhkovka.  It is a very good place and many of the children I know have made great strides there. 

You can donate by going here

Or by mailing a check to
 Life 2 Orphans
6326 East Sandra Terrance Dr
Scottsdale AZ 85254

Our church will be taking up an offering on Sunday and I was able to send $200 from some funds I had already received.  I'd like to send another $150 there are about 300 children there so that's really about $1 a child!   I'd be so thrilled to hear of donations to them.  If you donate can you just comment and let me know?  I'll share how much our offering is on Sunday also.  I'd love to bless these kids.  Little things mean alot. 

Thank you for helping me reach out to orphans!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Fall 2017

Look at me blogging two days in a row!!!

And y'all know we had a Cat 3-4 hurricane go right over our house didn't you?  That was "fun"  We were without electricity for 3 days.  Our big house generator decided to die on us too.  Evidently the condenser went bad !  For over 24 hours we didn't have water as we are on county water and they ran out of gas to fuel their generators.  We actually did quite fine as a family (plus we had Steve's college roommate) 

To be honest I slept on the floor with Sarah as the storm went over.  I woke during the eye of the storm because it got so quiet.  When the winds came back I did think our porch was gone but there was absolutely nothing I could do about it so I went back to sleep!  My husband says I must have a pure conscience.  I have slept through every hurricane we've gone through LOL  We didn't have any damage just limbs down.  We did have a dead tree removed hours before the storm hit.  We'd been on the company's list for awhile but they were amazing to get out and get it down before the storm!  I am sure we would have had issues with it had it not got taken down. 

Our nurses maintained their shifts thankfully.  We had to charge some of Selah's equipment in our cars but we worked everything out. 

I've lived through quite a few hurricanes but this one did get me anxious went I went to the store ahead of time and there was nothing on the shelves.  I buy in bulk so I didn't really need alot but I did buy us some comfort food that we don't usually keep at home LOL   When i got back from that trip I needed some type of anxiety pill!!!  I had to make myself calm down and quit freaking out.  cause I didn't have a pill! 

We discussed going to a shelter  but we were told years ago by our county's emergency management to shelter in place due to our circumstances.  The days leading up to the hurricane as the predictions for our area keep getting grimmer- I did contact them but the alternatives they gave us were not something we felt comfortable with doing.  Basically our family would have had to split up and that was not a consideration for us.  I prayed that we made the right decision and God gave me some peace.  Looking back I know we made the right decision and having gone through this monster we probably will always stay home.  We do have hurricane proof windows and that's a biggie. 

Here are some random pictures from this fall.....

Shad and me watching the eclipse.  We made friends with all the folks around us by letting them borrow our glasses. 

One of my BFFs- my college roommate and me waiting for the eclipse.  We had such a fun day!

While we were waiting Shad picked out his birthday present. A drone!  It's a really good one this is a picture of our backyard. 

Here's some pictures of our area.  Jon and I continue our walking/hiking  Our basic goal is 10,000 steps a day but we really try for 15,000.  He often hits it. 

This picture is not far from our house.  The "hill" is actually dug out of the ground where phosphate was mined.  It looks pretty doesn't it?

Leaving my neighborhood one morning

On a walk down our road.  Yes we live in the swamp and I love it

Near our house

So after having this kit for over two years...I FINALLY finished it with the help of the above pictured friend LOL  

We have some special moments on here
At 12 is our recent family picture
1 is a picture from our wedding of Jon's whole family
2 is Jon, Steve and me around Sam's crib the day after he ws born
3 is feeding the gators at Gatorland
4 is the moment I was handed Shad
5 is us in Hondraus
6 is Jon and me in Cuba
7 is us at Gettysburg
8 is us at Chimney Rock
9 a Halloween party 
10 is very precious to me
It's a picture of all the kids at Honeymoon Beach before the accident.  It was truly one of the happiest days of my life
11 the moment we met the girls! 

these are some wonderful memories
I'm so thankful for my family

Ok we have another kitten HOPS  We are still not completely sure of it's sex.  I think it's a boy.  Hops has a bob tail and is handicapped.  His back legs do not work normal.  He hops around and is adoreable.  I took him to the vet and it is a genetic thing that happen to bob tail cats sometimes.  overall he's healthy and we sure have enjoyed him.  He fits right in.  He has no idea he is handicapped LOL  He is very bold

Steve had his 22nd birthday.  He was busy so we went and took him lunch at college

Sam loves his big brother

Our beautiful alma mater & our son's school of choice:)

The next weekend was Homecoming 17
we have not gone in years but now that the little ones have respite care we were able to go.  
Banquet on Friday night

So fun to see folks that we hadn't seen in years!

Southeastern has a football team now and our son is the producer.  We watched him work for awhile.  Amazing to think I have a son doing this! 

Lots going on

He started as a camera op.  I'm pretty sure he likes working in his nice cool studio now LOL  Florida football is HOT!  I mean it's a good 90-95 degrees on the field!!!

There was a funny moment when I couldn't hear the announcer and I texted him to turn up the sound.  For some reason he and his crew thought that was hysterical :)

Thanksgiving weekend we all went for a walk in the woods

I found some new swings on line for Christmas.
Kids who are blind actually crave vestibular movement and they can get it by swinging.  
Since we finally have wonderful weather and the kids can be out every day I gave her her two new swings early 

Sam likes it too

She also got the green one on the left.  she likes it too but she likes her old swings also

This is the 3 of them at Urgent care last week.  I thought this picture was cute

Church a few weeks ago

I love Sarah's dress.  Thrift store find:) 

Selah at church in her new dress  She had just gotten out of the van and was processing everything.  Normally she is much more relaxed

Sarah playing with her favorite sound toy in her Christmas shirt and leggings 

Jon and I at a Christmas Banquet last night.

So just a few pictures of us to show y'all we are still alive and well!

When I first started my blog I really enjoyed blogging.  I just wrote for the heck of it-never really thought anyone much would read it.  Then it became an issue when we were adopting because of ALL the craziness that goes along with Ukrainian adoption.  Not so much the Ukraine government but other people in the adoption community.  I put it on private for quite some months.  

Then after the accident happened this blog became my way to put my thoughts down and to cry out to God.   But obviously there was so much I could not say because you never know how someone might take things.  

As time went by the reservations I had about the adoptive community grew-I withdrew myself from many groups and really kept my on line interactions with many people I actually knew in real life.  

There has been so many things that I've wanted to share but sometimes have felt I didn't have the words to share but I think I will be writing more in the future.  I write for my own self and maybe for my kids to read later on.  Sometimes I write because of the absolute madness in this world on so many levels.  If you want ot continue following me please feel free to. Thanks!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Mission Trip

Lord have mercy I have not posted since August!  Yes we are alive and well!  We've had a wonderful fall.  No real health concerns but the last three weeks everyone in our house has gotten sick.  Jon was admitted to the hospital for 4 days for an undetermined issue that started with chills and fevers.  While in there he also had a terrible rash on his leg.  He tested negative for everything in the world and they tested him for a few crazy things since we've been out to the country a few times in the past year or so.  He responded to the antibodics so we never really got an answer, all his bloodwork was good.  Then the next week Sam got sick, then Steve came home sick for Thanksgiving break...then Sarah, then Shad, then Selah....then ME!  I really thought I'd walk away unscathed LOL  but mine wasn't too bad.  It seemed each person was less sick than the preceding one....I guess we watered it down!

Today Selah was having a test at St Joe's Hospital.  We are hoping she will be eligible to have a Bacolfin pump installed.   She takes it orally for stiffness.  However Jon and our nurse got over there and the doctor decided not to do it as she had spiked a fever.  This has been such a long process- many appointments and issues have come up including having to buy a whole new life for her van.  (It wouldn't work one morning when we went out to take her to an appointment!)  I'm disappointed she wasn't able to have the test.  It requires a small amount of sedation so they can give her a shot in her spine.  So we will be rescheduling this. 

I PROMISE I will post more.....I've actually saved some pictures/videos to post....

But I want to share something very important to me.  Our oldest son will be going on his first foreign mission trip on his own with his college to Haiti this summer.  He will be working in a special needs orphanage.  I'm excited for him.  He needs to raise about $1000 more to pay for his mission trip.  If you'd like to help him, I'd really appreciate it.  Steve has always been such a big help in our family.  He's been there to step in when we needed him from a young age and it's taught him alot or responsibility.    He's learned to make decisions and take care of things.  He is the guardian of our children if something were to happen to Jon and I (God forbid!)   So if you've appreciated him all these years, if you can please show it by donating.  The link is

or you can mail a check to him

Steve Clanton 
PO BOX 302
1000 Longfellow Blvd
Lakeland Fl 33801

Thank you so much!!!!!

(And NO I'm not wanting him to become a missionary LOL)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A Car Ride

  As always car rides with kids tend to bring out the best conversations.  It has happened with both of our older boys.  Today Shad and I went to the library and had time to talk.  He had been hearing some news of what happened this weekend in Virginia so we talked about it.  Shad has always been interested in the news and world events.  He asked me what a "white supremacist" was and said he'd never heard of it before.  He then asked me about the other two groups of people who were there, BLM and Antifa and what they believed.  Then he said "Well all of them are wrong!"  and he also said none of them would like our family.  He was shocked that some people thought the president was wrong for saying all sides were to blame.

Out of the mouths of babes....

I almost don't want to add to this post because it was so simple and true what Shad said but I have to say I totally agree with my son!  We've faced discrimination because of Shad a few times so we actually know what it is like to have our child treated different because of his race.

When you love someone you don't see their race or handicap (if any)  This is the honest truth and kinda weird but I don't see Shad's race or his eye loss unless I'm looking at a picture of him.  (yes that is strange but I can see it in pictures but not in our real life!  I also notice my other kids differences in pictures but not in the real world)  He's just Shad to me- my son.  A few years ago I had actually convinced myself that people probably didn't think he was Asian because I did not see it.  I told a friend that and she laughed and told me that he did indeed look Asian still!  I think being Asian is great so don't think I'm dissing Asians, I just really became color blind to it because I loved my son so much (although he can get on my last ever living nerve just like his older brother can!)

Some people say it's wrong to be "color-blind" because we should see and respect the color of a person.   In my home I'm color blind without thinking about it.  .  I feel like I used to do it without thinking outside of my world but over the past few years color & being politically correct has seemed to become such an issue.

Love can make a huge difference but we live in a fallen world and I don't expect that too many BLM and White Supremacists will start hugging each can happen between a few people and I pray that it does but I'm a realist.

Until a few years ago I thought most racism was gone from our country.  I'd encountered some living as a white woman in a mostly black neighborhood in NYC.  There was one shopkeeper that was obviously racist towards me.  Over the moths and years he became nicer to me because I think he saw me for myself not just a white woman.  Back then it was exciting to live in a very diverse area of NYC with people from all over the world living together.  I felt like we were just one big melting pot.  But it seems like in the last decade racism has grown to new levels.  It's sad!

It's on both sides of this recent conflict.  And quite honestly I feel that all of the combatants were there to cause trouble and deserved each other!

It's strange how conflicts seem to take a life of their own and snowball- some people have way too much time on their hands for sure!  Now all of a sudden we have to tear down Confederate War memorials.  That is just crazy!  I feel like I'm living through the Twilight Zone.  History is History.  I don't agree with every statue and monument that is in the US (for example a monument in Seattle  to Stalin who killed millions or the one to Margret Sander the founder of Planned Parenthood who was so very racist that she spoke and talked about how abortion could rid the world of blacks!)

I'm going to speak out as a voice of reason in my sphere of influence.  Just because I may see something differently I'm not a racist.  In my life I was never afforded "white privilege" nor do I feel guilty for something that took place over a century before I was born!  My family history doesn't include any instances of slave ownership.  Even if it did, I can not control things that happened 100 years before I was born.  It's crazy!

Any psychologist or counselor will tell a person it is not healthy to have bitterness in their hearts or to continue looking back on an incident in the past.  As a country we need to look forward and not allow any side to drag us down.  Unfortunately the media can't be controlled but if we quit watching it 24/7 it might be healthier (for me too)