Journey to Julia Video

James 1:27 – “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction”

Thursday, December 30, 2010


It is 9 pm and we are all together again.  We picked up Caleb, Tom and Julia up this evening at the airport.  She did really well traveling across the globe.  We will post more details in the upcoming days and pictures of Julia with the rest of her brothers and sisters.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pictures, gotcha day, and other stuff!

Hey Everybody! Forgive the lack of blogs from the in-country side of things. Thanks to Mom, though, you guys have been able to keep up with all of our comings and goings. But I'm back with the general run-down and showing plenty of pics!

So Christmas Day 2010 was Gotcha day for us! The orphanage asked that Julia stayed until the afternoon so they could celebrate Christmas with her and say goodbye. My heart really does break for those ladies.

Even though they were happy to see someone come who was just as in love with her as they were,  I can imagine how tough it must be to say goodbye to someone you've taken care of for four years. Our time in the orphanage was pretty quick, but during that time, another little girl captured my heart.

This is sweet Sonya from Reece's Rainbow. she is too darn cute for words to describe. She wrapped me around her little finger and I got to play with her for a good 10 or 15 minutes. The meeting was indeed a bittersweet one though. Besides having to leave her without the comfort of knowing she had a family on the way, the countdown to transfer is coming up very quick. Someone needs to step forward for this adorable little girl. She has so much potential and beauty inside and out.

Once we got back to the apartment with miss Julia, we spent the night adjusting and enjoying each other's company. Julia adjusted like a duck to water ,and mealtime and playtime were no problem. When bedtime came, it was a little tougher, but given the circumstances that she was in a completely new environment and all, she did pretty well.

The next day was already departure from Julia's Region. After walking down to the church me and Dad had went to the day before and saying some prayers, we headed back home and started packing. After that was done, our good friends the Winkles came over for a visit.

We were all happy to see each other one last time, and Julia definitely liked them a lot. It was very hard to say goodbye. They had had us over for an awesome dinner on Christmas Eve, and they had been great company and support in general. From there, Tatianna and Valentin took us back to the train station, and we all said our goodbyes. Tatianna and Julia spent some great time together too :)

From there we boarded the train back to the Capitol. Julia was a little bit cranky because she was still running on her orphanage schedule, which we obviously couldn't follow with trying to pack up, board trains and whatnot. Once we were in the capitol, our good friend/driver Nikolai picked us up and brought us to our apartment....

Which is quite gorgeous!   It was also nice to have a bed for one exhausted traveler to crash on. ;-)

The Next day was one of two U.S. embassy visits. Our first stop on the first one was to the embassy itself. After filling out a few forms and meeting another adopting family that had the courage to bring their five kids (besides the two they were adopting), we headed over to the U.S. Medical Clinic. The wait there lasted a good hour, and was a bit frazzling for all kids and parents involved. After a quick checkup, we went over and had a nice meal at a little cafe attached to the clinic.

We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out in the apartment, catching up on laundry, updating pictures (just click one of the ones in the post and you'll see my full album), and giving Julia her first bath (which she loved!).

Today was one more quick visit to the embassy for Julia's American Visa. We were there for about an hour, and got to meet some other adoptive families while we waited. Tonight we are scheduled to have dinner at a nice Italian restaurant with some other Reece's Rainbow Families.

As this trip draws to a close, so much is thought of. I can't believe it's only been 10 days. This trip has certainly taken up a lot of time and energy,  but it's all totally been worth it. We have met so many great people. I could really sit in these buildings all day just to meet these beautiful people who walk through those doors, following a call from God. I am really happy to be going home to my family.

At the same time, though, I think the trip  has changed me personally. I have so much I want to say and do for this cause now, for these little kids who can't speak for themselves, who need a voice.

Please pray that all goes well in the coming hours, as we fly back home to the US, and have a happy New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Embassy Appointment and Bath Time

We just skyped with Tom, Caleb and Julia so we have a little update on their day.  The appointment at the Embassy and the clinic, where Julia had to have her pre-going home physical, all went fine.  Tom and Caleb are learning so much about Julia now that she is with them full time.  One thing they have learned is that when it is Julia's meal time, you better have a meal made for her.  She is pretty much happy if she is fed on time.  Tom gave her a bath today and he said she loved it.  In fact, he said she was a crazy girl in the tub and seemed to really be enjoying it.  While we were talking with Caleb for a little bit, Tom was trying to get Julia to sleep for the night by rocking her in the stroller.  She did fall asleep and it was so cute to see her over the computer.  Tom is doing such an awesome job taking care of Julia and finishing up the adoption process in EE.  I'm so glad Caleb is there to help him.

We had a "little" blizzard here on the east coast last night.  Actually, I think some of the drifts were about a foot or more high.  I had a friend come and plow most of the driveway and then a neighbor came over and helped me with the rest of the clean up.  The kids, here at home with me,  had a chance to play in the snow.

I found out today that a friend at our church has a ton of baby equipment that she would like to offer to us.  I was blown away.  She has a high chair, pack-n-play, exersaucer and car seat for us.  She also offered us a toddler bed, since Julia will be getting our three year old son's crib and he will need a toddler bed.  I am so thankful for her generosity.

Our family has truly been blessed through this whole process.  We are so grateful to God, our church, our friends and our families.  I was explaining to my children the other night how God has truly shown us many of His miracles during this journey.  We are all forever changed.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Back in the Capital

Tom, Caleb and Julia are back in the capital.  The train ride from her region was a little rough.  Julia was o.k. the first two hours and then she decided she was done with this part of the adventure.  Well, they had about 5 hours left to the journey, so Tom and Caleb tried everything to comfort and distract her.  Snacks ended up being the solution.  This girl loves to eat!

Embassy visits will fill the next two days and then they will head home on Thursday.  Please pray that Julia will be relaxed on the plane rides.  The flight from Germany to D.C. is long as it is, imagine adding an unhappy little girl to the mix. Yikes!

Thank you all for your prayers and support.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas news from Eastern Europe

Tom and Caleb picked Julia up today after she attended her own Christmas party in the orphanage.  We were able to Skype with them and things seem to be going really well for them and Julia.  Tom said she ate a huge dinner.  She ate the meal that Tom prepared for her and then she dove into the meal that he had prepared for himself and Caleb.  What a relief that she is eating well.  The only challenge Tom had tonight was getting her to go to bed.  After several hours of trying to get her to go to sleep, she finally gave in at 11 pm. 
They will all be leaving Julia's region tomorrow to head back to the capital city.  They will have two US Embassy visits to make and then, hopefully, they will be headed home early Thursday morning.

We had a nice Christmas here at home, but we missed Tom, Caleb and Julia greatly.  We are so grateful that she is officially our daughter and with Tom and Caleb.  We can't wait until next Christmas when we will all be together as a family.

We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.  Happy New Year to all!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Video cuteness and the best Christmas Ever

Dear Friends.  Tom here, interrupting Caleb's excellent blogging coverage.  He is sound asleep in bed where I need to get back to myself.  Had some network challenges getting videos uploaded, but they are ready now.  Switched them to my Vimeo album because we were having some other technical glitches with uploads under his album.

Every father should be this lucky!

Miss "J" demonstrating her awesome fine motor skills.

Julia New Ring Stacker from Tom Lococo on Vimeo.

Miss "J" doing what she really enjoys the most - biting things.  Not in a bad way, just in a way that gives her some comfort and allows her to explore things orally until we can get her little eyes better focused.  We see glasses in someone's near future.

When our luggage was delivered tonight our facilitator confirmed her passport will be available Friday which means the last remaining impediment to Gotcha Day is just about clear.

It is looking increasingly likely that Gotcha Day will be Christmas Day, the day that Jesus Christ was incarnated as man, yet still God, in the form of an innocent baby in Bethlehem.  It reminds me of our Lord's words that we will see him most clearly in the eyes of every poor child or person we serve.  This Christmas I am seeing that most clearly in the deep blue eyes of this little baby girl in Eastern Europe.  Thanks to Him for this moment, and to the heart of a mom for orphans that would not rest until justice had been done for at least one of the "least of these".

Merry Christmas to all.  We are looking forward to being amongst our friends and family in the US soon to start a whole new year together, with blessings beyond measure.  May God bless you all this Christmas.

Patience and Miracles

Hello Everyone. Hope you're all in the Christmas spirit and ready for the day to come! Over here we are making ourselves our own little set of Christmas celebrations for the day, and it feels very much like Christmas at home, just without our precious family :(

Today's visit with Julia was one of the best, but at the same time one of the shortest and hardest. We got there a little late as our driver needed to get our facilitator to a couple places as well, and pick up the Winkles so they could visit Bohden and Yuri. By the time we got there, the Winkles and us had already lost about half an hour of our time. Julia was in a very happy and interactive mood today, and just as we were really (and I mean, wholly and entirely) getting comfortable and playing really really great with her, her caretakers came in a half an hour early to get her for lunch.

While it may be better that she got her meal when she did, it was very sad to have our visit halved today. We so wish we could bring her back to the apartment with us. We really totally want to be able to play, laugh, and be with her all day. But for now, we are learning a lesson of patience and trust that God will take care of it. On the plus side though, cute videos and pictures abound.

Julia: "Your hanging me upside down 20 minutes after  giving me cheerios? Gee, the workers are right. You Americans ARE crazy."

Another positive note: Julia's passport will be back from the country's capitol tomorrow and we could indeed be looking at picking her up Christmas Day or the day after. Please pray we can have our sweet little Julia in our arms soon!

P.S. - Our luggage arrived today!!!! Now we have American food to eat and clothing for our baby girl.  Yeah!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Another Crazy Day

Hello Everyone. Sorry if this post seems a tad late as opposed to my usual schedule. I have spent the last 2 hours filing and organizing the tons of photos from the last three days or so that had accumulated into a giant mess. It feels good to be organized again :)

Anyway, Today was another full day of events. things started off with Julia, and the visit went well, even though she was a little cranky because of a little head cold going around the orphanage. We yearn to be able to play with her all day long and cater to her every need. None the less, her funny little personality and cuteness still keep us coming back.

Julia's chair climb from Caleb Lococo on Vimeo.

We got to share our visit with The Winkles, who are adopting two little boys, Yuri and Bohdan. So precious. They are so much fun to hang out with and we had an absolute blast of a night, walking around town and having Pizza at my parent's favorite pizza place, Celentano's.

Delish. Later that night, we toured the city in all its Christmas-glittering glory. It was simply gorgeous.

Christmas Tree in Freedom Square from Caleb Lococo on Vimeo.

Tomorrow will be a day of visiting and getting ready for a certain upcoming gotcha day! Please pray that the passport comes back from the Country's capitol soon so we can finally complete our adoption of sweet Julia!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Exhaustion, Perspective, and hours sitting in a BMW

Hello Everyone! Happy to be back a-bloggin' about all the happenings in EE. Me and Dad are exhausted from a crazy day of paper chasing and visiting with a very special little girl. But without further adieu, let's get to the happenings of today!

So as you can tell from the title, a lot has happened today. Me and Dad got a nice early start to our day and were out the door to join Tatiana (our facilitator) and Valentin (our driver) for a day of driving around like mad men getting all papers necessary to finish the process of getting Julia her Passport and other important forms.

First stop was the court house to pick up the court decree that Jules is officially ours! So excited to be through 99% of the gauntlet and finally seeing an end in sight. From there, a matter of getting Julia's birth certificate in order to get her passport. Getting this, however, felt like a process in and of itself. Tatiana was in the office by herself for about an hour and a half before she called Dad in from Valentin's sporty little BMW. Her and Dad were in there for another half hour or so, but when they came out we had a birth certificate and an adoption Decree!

           During that time, though, I thought about a little fact of the whole story that surrounds these special orphans  I hadn't before. I knew that most of the time they hung out in their cribs, and got taken out for meal times and diaper changes. I was getting seriously annoyed just sitting collecting dust in the back seat of a sports car for two hours. These precious little souls sit in the same place, looking at the same surroundings, almost 24/7. It's not something that comes immediately to mind, how tough something like that can be. But I felt like  I had a new perspective on what my little sister's life had been like, and I won't forget it.

       From there came a mad dash for a quick lunch before moving on to bigger and better things. Me and Dad made good use of our 15 minute break, exchanging currencies and grabbing a quick meal to go from the local McDonald's. After that came the real meat of the day! Julia was going to need her picture taken for her passport, and hence we would be picking her up and bringing her around to enjoy some time together! A nurse came with her and we spent the rest of the afternoon (about 3:15 to 6:15) spending time with her while we got all of her passport stuff together. Because we were in constant motion,  I don't have any good pictures for you :-(  We will have a normal visit though tomorrow, and  I will have plenty of new pictures of our baby girl then.

      I really broke the ice today with her, and she seems a little more comfortable with me which was a very satisfying feeling. We snuggled together in the car some while Dad caught some Z's on the way back to the orphanage. When we had to give her back tonight it was a little bit harder to do. We should have her in our arms forever by Christmas or the day after though, so our spirits are still high and excited.

After that, we did a little bit of grocery shopping in Dad's favorite store, Billa.

                   (It's officially strange to walk into a store and have NO English labels :D)

Thank you all again for your supportive comments. We appreciate them as you guys go through your own processes, adjust to life with your new additions, and counsel us newbies as we learn along the way. 

I will have new pictures of Julia tomorrow and will have plenty of pictures posted to a public web album VERY soon. See you then!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Finally Here!

Hey Everyone! We are finally in country and are so happy to be! As Mom posted earlier, me and Dad had a flight cancellation on the 19th when snow in Europe was slicking up all the runways. They put out cots and some type of chocolatey-granola  bar-like thing and TONS of water bottles, and a few people took some. Needless to say though, the airport in Germany was a crowded building full of mayhem.

Some people who saw that other flights to their destination were available stood in line for 4 hours+ just to be wait-listed. Flight gates were changing constantly, and hence people were running in every direction just looking to reach their long-awaited flight. In the end, though, me and dad got on a flight and were in country very quickly. From there we took another long trip, this time in the form of a six-hour train ride. We had our car almost entirely to ourselves, and we caught up on some much-needed sleep. Once we got to Julia's district, we were met by a very nice driver who spoke very fluent English. He then took us to our apartment, which exceeded my expectations entirely.

Albeit internet connections are very tempermental, it is an awesome place to stay for our trip.

From there, we got our first visit with the princess herself! We were so excited to see her. (I have a couple videos qeued up for upload on vimeo, and will post them when they are available. Pictures will follow as well.).

Going to Julia! from Caleb Lococo on Vimeo.

Julia's district over all is a very metropolitan city with everything we need to get by for 10 days or so. But there are many cultural differences I am yet to adjust to. I come from a family of non-smokers. None of my relatives smoke any more either. So being in a country where the smell is not uncommon is a bit odd. In the same respect, we in America truly are so priveleged with our resources. Whenever it snows, you can expect plows to come through at any moment on the double. Here, ice is ice and snow is snow, and you walk on it anywhere anytime. The sidewalks are literally caked with a good two or three inches of snow and ice that form a very hard, very slippery walkway that makes you feel like you're in March of the Penguins or something. But on the whole, i'm just happy to be in the same country as my little sister :)

Tomorrow begins the paper chase to get Julia with us ASAP. Please pray that all moves smoothly and that we can be home soon!  We even bought a stroller tonight to cart her around the city and through the airports on the way home.

(Editorial comment by Dad - isn't it too cute to see brother and sister finally united? Can't wait to get the rest of the crew in on the snuggling).

Sunday, December 19, 2010

They have arrived in Julia's country

We just got a text from Tom and he and Caleb have arrived in Julia's country.  They must be beyond exhausted!  Now they will catch a train to Julia's region.  Those poor guys.  I hope they can get a good rest on Monday night so that they are ready for their hectic day on Tuesday collecting up all of Julia's documents.

Thank you for your prayers

We just recevied a text from Tom that he and Caleb are boarding a plane for the capital of Julia's country.  In short, the getting to go where they need to go :)  Once they get off the plane, they need to board a train to get to Julia's region.  This will be a trip that they will never forget!

Thank you, again.

Stuck in Germany

Tom and Caleb left yesterday for EE to bring our Julia home.  They have been sitting in an airport in Germany for the past 12 hours, trying to get to the capital in Julia's country.  Severe snow storms have hit this area of Europe and the airlines have been brought to a stand still.  I'm thinking of the families this past summer that were effected by the volcano ash that was floating above Europe.  Snow or volcanic ash, if it isn't one thing it is another!  Tom has sent us an e-mail explaining what it is like in the airport.  They have set up cots and put out water bottles and Twix bars to keep the "masses" from getting too cranky.  I wonder how that is working ;)

We would appreciate prayers for Tom and Caleb and all those traveling during this difficult time.  I know there are other RR families who are traveling right now too.  Some for their first trip and others returning to bring their children home.  Let's hope that everyone reaches their destination safe and sound.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Trip #2

Hello, everyone.  Sorry for the silence during the past couple of days.   Tom and I arrived home on Tuesday night.  Wow, it was great to see our children.  We had missed them so much.  It was great to be back in America as well.  We are so blessed in our country.

The past couple of days have been a whirlwind of getting ready for Trip #2.  Tom and our oldest son will be returning to bring Julia home.  Our son (who is 15 years old) is so excited about this trip and can't wait to meet his new little sister.

Grandma and Grandpa have returned to the warmth of Florida.  We are so grateful for the help they gave us while we were away.

Tom & I want to thank all of the people who have helped us during this adoption journey.  We have been blessed with financial support, prayers, and friends & family helping out with the care of our children at home.  We know that all of the help has made it possible for us to bring Julia home.  Thank you!

So, once Tom and Caleb are back in Julia's country, I'm sure they will be updating the blog often.  We will miss them on Christmas, but we know they are bringing home such a beautiful gift with them, Julia.

Please join us in praying for all of families that will be apart this Christmas for many different reasons.  Also, please pray for all the children around the world who wait for a family.  Maybe by next Christmas they will be home with their new Forever Families.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

On the way home

We're back in the capital after a quick and uneventful train ride.  We're back in the same apartment we stayed in our first night in country, so things are looking comfortingly familiar.

Here is a shot of the difficult parting at the last visit with Julia before we left.

In one of our last walks around the local city it was snowing heavily on Saturday afternoon.  Saturday is the day local brides get their pictures taken in the local parks.  Even when it is freezing out!

From Adoption Trip 1

This spot kept reminding us of the scene in "Mary Poppins" where they all hop into the chalk paintings in the park.

This footbridge is a popular place for wedding shots, when it is not covered with ice that is.

The strangest thing was watching brides smoking and spitting while waiting for their pictures.  Interesting!

So tomorrow we make a quick stop by the US embassy to sign some papers and then first thing Tuesday we fly for home.  America - here we come!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Court Day - Part 2 - two heart attacks and a decision

Ok - it's Friday night over here, and we already told you the big news earlier in the day.  The way the court day happened was almost as interesting as the outcome.

Our appointment was for 11am.  We were picked up in the city at 10am because the driver also had to bring a couple other officials needed for the adoption hearing to the courthouse.  As we sped out of the city at around 65-70 miles per hour, a policeman on the side of the road motions for us to pull over.  The driver nearly locks up the brakes on the highway, slides off the pavement and through a few potholes.  We start wondering if this whole altercation is going to make us miss our court appointment.  We find out later it was a dispute over speed limits, and they claim we were at least 10 kilometers per hour under the published speed limit and the police are just harassing them. That was heart attack number one.

The courthouse is a long two story brick building in the middle of the countryside.  There are always cars and people swarming all around it like you would not believe.  In all prior visits, we have never been allowed inside.  As we enter the building there is a metal detector active that you have to walk through and a security guard standing by.  Everyone sets it off, but no one is stopped or examined.  Interesting.

We are led to a waiting area in the upstairs hallway.  All doors on the hallway are shut at all times, but people come in and out of each door about once every 30 seconds.  It all appears quite comical when you can't read any of the signs and have no idea what is going on.  We wait for a while and the facilitator briefs us on some questions we may get and how the hearing will proceed.  Shortly all our party has arrived but we have not been called yet.  It's about noon when our name is eventually called.  We enter the courtroom, but still no judge.  We wait for another 10-15 minutes and then he appears.  He reads the introductory papers on the case, and then calls a five minute recess.  Hmmm.  The interpreter politely tells us "no one knows what is going on".  Ok - that clarifies things.  Eventually the judge returns and proceeds to read through a number of documents and recommendations regarding this adoption from the orphanage, local administration and state department.  Everyone is giving us a green light.  We are called to answer some basic questions - name, date of birth, address, occupation and why we are adopting this child.  The judge calls a fifteen minute recess to issue a decision in the case.

Snow is falling heavily outside the window as we wait for the judge and his two assistants/witnesses to return. Everyone makes small talk about the weather and what it is like where we come from.  We actually get to talk to our facilitator more then we have since we have been here about her adoption work and the orphanage in general.  Then the three men return and begin to read their official decision.  No big deal, right?  This is when heart attack number two begins.

As the judge reads the first couple paragraphs our facilitator's jaw drops, she sighs loudly and shakes her head.  We look at her eyes for some sign this is going to be ok.  Nothing but a look of fear and confusion.  In a few minutes that felt like a few years I start playing back in my head.  "What could we have possibly done to cause this judge to deny or delay this adoption?"  No answers come.  He continues to read and the courtroom is dead silent.

Then our facilitator's face begins to relax.  She translates - "Child's new name will be Julia Mary,...  this petition is approved,...".  A wave of relief washes over us.  We're done.  Julia will be our daughter if nothing adverse happens during the ten day waiting period.

What was the fear and confusion about?  Communication problems.  The judge is speaking Ukrainian.  Our facilitator's primary language is Russian.  She is struggling to convey it all in English for us.  She thought he was saying no to our adoption petition, but he was speaking about something else.  The joys of international adoption.

Sorry for the long story, but it demonstrates what international adoption is really like.  It is long, complex and confusing, and at every moment it hangs on many people doing the right thing.  Any misstep or miscommunication along the way can halt things temporarily or permanently.  In that moment everything hung on that judge believing that it was in this little girl's best interest to move across the sea to a new life with a new family in a foreign culture.  Thank God he did.  The administration even said we are "very good people".

The courtroom was strictly business.  No teary pictures with the judge or anything.  A couple quick hand shakes and congratulations.  Here are some smiles outside the courtroom afterward.

So another major step is behind us.  We got to spend the evening with Julia and celebrate this little moment.

See her big smile at the end?  We think that is because she knows court is over.  ;-)

Stay tuned for the trip home and the beginning of Trip 2 to bring Julia back to America.

Julia Mary has a new family

In the words of Christian musician Matthew West, there's one less lonely orphan in the world tonight.

We passed court today around 1:15pm local time! We'll tell you the whole hilarious (and scary) story of how it happened later today after we go see the little angel. For now, know how relieved and grateful we are to be through this major step of the adoption process.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Stacking cups - the next generation

Our assigned visiting time at the orphanage is normally 10am-Noon.  And we are almost always late because of the never ending "DOC-u-mehnts" that have to be delivered here there and everywhere and signed, which our driver usually does on the way to the orphanage because the courthouse is nearby.  So when get there, sometimes we have to wait for them to "prepare" Jenny.  Sometimes she is sitting waiting in our usual meeting place for us.  Today we were close to on time, and she was all ready sitting there waiting for us.

We walk in the door and start greeting her with her birth name and nicknames as we usually do, and she starts laughing, babbling and reaching up to us as if to say "where have you been - welcome back".  We actually had just been there at 6pm last night.  The shouts of welcome were not momentary.  It went on for about five minutes.  All the nurses were coming in to see what she was making the fuss about, and giggling about the way she had latched onto her Mama.  If you want to see what she looks like going on at a great rate, here is a new video from today after she proudly climbed up into a nearby office chair and sat herself down.

Today was sort of an early Christmas for Jenny.  We were pretty sick of the toys we had brought for her and played with for the last eleven visits, so Tom hiked across town after our visit last night and picked up a couple little surprises.  The main one, is a combination ball, stacking bowls thing that you can play all kinds of games with.  This video doesn't quite do it justice, but she loved it and played with it for quite a while on her own.  The whole set nests inside itself with a little yellow ball with a jingle bell inside in the center.  It reminds us of the Russian nesting dolls so popular in this part of the world.

The other gift was a Little People farm set with a tractor, cow and cute little farm girl in a pink dress.  That was not good for much except gnawing on the girl and cows feet, so we mostly stuck with the stacking bowls.

Snacktime was the usual frenzy of hunting for Cheerios and clawing onto the juice cup for dear life.  In this video, you can catch a few glimpses of her happy smiles when we managed to pry the cup off of her face.

Our final accomplishment of the day was trying to take a mommy/daddy/daughter shot of the three of us since we don't have any yet.  There was no one in the room to help, and we didn't have a tripod, so we improvised using a nearby desk, and continuous shooting mode on the camera to take 10 shots in 10 seconds and hope one would come out good.  Jenny proceeded to be a wriggling worm the whole time resulting in some comical shots.  Here is the closest we got.  See the album link for some other interesting iterations.

From Adoption Trip 1

In other news, our travel is all booked and confirmed for returning home next week, and for Trip 2 that will commence with 4 days of being home.  Can't wait to see our family and home.  Feels like we have been away forever.  Can't wait to get our little Christmas gift and baby New Year all wrapped in one home to the family.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Stacking cups are fun!

It's late, were tired - not a lot of energy to blog here.  We had an afternoon visit because Jenny had something going on in the morning.  (What, we do not know).

Of all the toys and books we brought, the stacking cups are definitely the biggest hit (as they were for our little guy from Ethiopia).

Julia Stacking Cups from Tom Lococo on Vimeo.

That's all for tonight!

Monday, December 6, 2010

We have a court date!

Not as early as we had hoped, but we have a court date and time.  This Friday the 10th at 11am.  Our little buddy was so happy, she sang us this song.

Julias Song from Tom Lococo on Vimeo.

There were other good signs today as well.  When we came in they had her sitting on the floor in he middle of the room.  She made signs to Patty to pick her up, and when she did, there were lots of hugs and kisses to go around.  On this, our tenth visit, she seems to be recognizing us some.

The visit was rather short because of the time we spent at the courthouse signing documents and getting things ready for court.  During the playtime that followed we got some more serious shots of her to counterbalance the wacky side demonstrated above.

And then there was this....
With that tonsillectomy to leave you with, we can say this.

The end of Trip 1 is in sight.  Trip 2 will be following on very closely.  With the Lord's blessing, this little angel will be celebrating New Years with a new family in a new country.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Joy of Food

Today we saw Jenny in the afternoon because they have swimming time on Saturday's apparently.  Patty took the morning to watch "A Christmas Carol" (Albert Finney's Scrooge) and Tom got caught up on work for his job.

We brought a couple different toys to liven things up.  One was a full size beach ball which surprisingly she was not so interested in.  The other is a set of stacking cups which we had brought once before but she was getting confused thinking they were for drinking.  We allowed her to play with them, and gave her a snack including a drink from a real cup to illustrate the difference.  Here are some of the priceless faces that resulted.

And then came the snacking frenzy...

Eating Time - Cheerios from Tom Lococo on Vimeo.

Drinking Time - Apple Juice from Tom Lococo on Vimeo.

And Jenny wasn't the only one enjoying the available delicacies. We went out to dinner for Pizza and Italian food, and then to the local equivalent of Starbucks coffee house ("Coffee Life") and enjoyed a cappuccino and some dessert.

So no one is starving over here tonight.  Talk to you all soon.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Visit #8

Today our visit with Jenny was short.  The traffic was very busy on the way to the baby house and we also stopped at an administrative office to do some paperwork.  Our normal visiting room was not available so we spent time with her in the main reception area.  We played with toys and practiced her walking for a little.  She likes to get her "airplane" rides from Daddy.  We thought we would give her the day off from the camera flash,   so no new pictures today.  We will be visiting her tomorrow in the afternoon instead of the morning.  We will update all of you and hopefully, have new pictures.

Once we got back to the apartment, we treated ourselves to a lunch at a cafeteria.  The food is good and they have English subtitles on the menu.  This is always helpful.  Then we went to check out a local coffee house.  Luckily, the young girl behind the counter spoke some English.  She was very kind and helpful.  I was able to get a decaf cappuccino and Tom got a decaf latte .  Yay!  We also had a slice of a yummy chocolate raspberry cake.
That's all for today.  Please pray that we get a court date soon.  Thank you so much.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Visit 7 - and answers to questions about our story

Today we visited with Jenny for the 7th time.  She was so full of life and laughter.  Here is a video and picture that captures that light.
Playing on the Bench from Tom Lococo on Vimeo.

It's funny how many questions you get about adoption when you are involved in the process, especially for the third time around.  We've done a couple posts in the last week to try and answer some of those questions.  Here is our last attempt to hit the unanswered questions.

Many people ask us, why have you adopted three times?  Why these countries?  What are you really up to?

The short answer is, we are growing our family in a way we feel called to.  There is a longer answer though, and some important underlying questions that need to be addressed.  This post is written from Tom's perspective but Patty has reviewed and contributed to it as well, so you can view these as our answers.

This blog is part of an adoption story.  It began in May of 2010 when our Lord and savior touched my heart with the fact that our family could and should adopt again.  It began for my wife seven months before when she became aware of the needs of eastern European orphans and the eyes of her heart and mind would not be shut to what she had seen.  Maybe it began in 2001 when we knew it was time to begin our first adoption.  Maybe it began the day of our marriage in May 1994.  Maybe it began the day he formed each of us in our mother’s wombs for each other, for Him, and for these children that were in his plan from the original beginning.

Everyone in this world is gifted with abilities and an opportunity to fulfill the mission God has lain before them in this world.  There are not many things in this life that are sure, but one thing I know for sure is that Patty and I were made with hearts that love children, and those bonds are not affected in the least by whether they were created through our bodies, or whether they came to our family only through the love of our hearts.

A woman in Ethiopia where our second adoptive child came from once told me that adoption is not the answer.  Children are made for their families and international adoption like all other inventions of men is fraught with problems and weaknesses.  It is too complex, too expensive and is open to greed, selfishness and too many other human vices for me to name.  So I agree with our friend from Ethiopia and pray for the day when there are no orphans needing families and thus no need for adoption.  Sadly this won’t likely occur in this world.

In the mean time, those of us touched with a heart for orphans, and the opportunity to do something for these children must do what we can.  We did not create the current world economy or crisis or the bureaucratic governments of this world, but we can work through them to address these problems one child at a time.  This story is part of our attempt to do that.

People ask, "Why adopt internationally when there are needy children here at home?"  "Why these countries?" These are good questions, and they deserve answers.

There are answers, but like adoption, they are complex.  We did not plan this sequence of adoptions or countries.  Circumstances led a different way each time.  Different agencies.  Different countries.  Different kinds of children.  We believe those circumstances were part of our calling and vocation.  You may judge our actions differently, but we experienced forces that went way beyond us, and we have responded as we felt we could and should.

As to the international versus domestic route I can say this.  We feel for the orphans of the USA every bit as much as we do for those from anywhere else in the world.  They are not more or less valuable in God’s eyes.  Domestic adoptions are a different process with different requirements and risks.  We know people including my own parents who have offered their love and homes to the foster care system, some have adopted domestically and we praise and thank them for their efforts and dedication to these children.  Back to the point about gifting and callings, it is simply not where we were led in our efforts to expand our family through adoption.

This leads to a point about charity, volunteerism and development to help children in need.  Adoption is not enough.  It is like trying to plug the holes in a dam that has sprung 10 million leaks.  There are so many relief organizations locally and globally serving the needs of these children and others living below the poverty line.  We all have a role to play in addressing those needs and our family is no exception to that rule.  Giving to these missions and contributing our time and talents where we can, will continue to be part of our story.  Every agency we have worked with in our adoptions remain committed to serving the families and children left behind in addition to those who come home to adoptive families.

People also ask, "Why a special needs adoption?"  Hopefully our prior post about "What It Means To Be Loved" answers a lot of those questions.  If not, all I can say is this.  We are all needy in one way or another.  If nothing else, we are all in need of a Saviour.  There are so many things the world looks down on as bad or limiting that really are just different and in fact "special" in the very best sense of that word.  We must look beyond labels like "special needs" to the beauty and potential in every one of God's human creations.

Enough about the whys and why nots.  Adoption can be a gift and a blessing.  It has been to us so far.  We pray it will continue to be for our family and for all the other adoptive families we know.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Visit 6 - Meal Time

Today our facilitator Tatyana was able to accompany us to the orphanage so that we could find out more about Jenny's daily routine.

Jenny came in dressed in this gorgeous, Christmasy looking dress.

We were hoping with those little red shoes, if she clicked her heels together just right, we could all go home to to Kansas.

After playing together for a while, we were able to go back to "Room #8" with her to watch her eat her lunch and learn from her caretakers how best to feed her.  The room was a beautiful multipurpose nursery setup to care for about 10 children at a time.  Much of the room was taken up with ten little cribs around the perimeter.  The remainder of the room is filled with equipment such as swings and walkers for those who cannot walk on their own.  There are also a couple kid sized tables with chairs where the children are fed.

Two women were helping Jenny eat, while the rest of the children in the room were watching and eagerly waiting their turn.  About six of them sat around the tables with Jenny and were so well behaved as they watched and waited.  Some of them came up to us to say hello or get a little attention while we watched her eat and Tatyana translated each of our questions to the caregivers.  The meal they gave her was very substantial.  The main course was a chicken broth with what looked like big dumplings in it and a slice of bread.  To our surprise there was a second course or dessert which looked to us like a flan or creme brulee, a cooked treat with cheese, wheat, cream and what looked like a carmelized sauce over the top.  Whatever it all was, both plates were empty when they went back to the kitchen.  Jenny is a healthy little eater.  To give you proof is this, we found out today that she weighs 26 pounds.  Our facilitator, who has known her for a while, commented that Jenny has grown a lot in recent months.

The crib where Jenny sleeps was right next to the feeding area.  They were able to tell us about her sleeping schedule and that she naps for a couple hours after lunch each day.

We do not mean to make light of institutional living in any way, and each child's experience and care can vary by their group or facility.  What we can say honestly from everything we have seen of the children in this group, they are well cared for.  The facility is clean.  The children are nicely dressed.  The workers appear to genuinely care for their little charges.

That was visit six.  While we were there Tatyana also visited the local courthouse to submit our paperwork, so hopefully we will have word on a court date for next week soon.