Saturday, February 28, 2009

Why Adoption?

So many times I have people who ask why we would want to adopt or what is our motivation to adopt. Often I have been told..."You can't save the whole world". I read this story and thought it pretty well sums things up better than I could ever do. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Many blessings!!!

The Star Thrower Story by Joel Barker
Inspired by the writing of Loren Eiseley

Once upon a time, there was a wise man, much like Eiseley himself, who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day he was walking along the shore. As he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day. So he began to walk faster to catch up. As he got closer, he saw that it was a young man and the young man wasn’t dancing, but instead he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean. As he got closer, he called out, “Good morning! What are you doing?” The young man paused, looked up and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.” “I guess I should have asked, “Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” “The sun is up and the tide is going out. And if I don’t throw them in they’ll die." “But young man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it. You can’t possibly make a difference!” The young man listened politely. Then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves. “It made a difference for that one!” His response surprised the man. He was upset. He didn’t know how to reply. So instead, he turned away and walked back to the cottage to begin his writings. All day long as he wrote, the image of the young man haunted him. He tried to ignore it, but the vision persisted. Finally, late in the afternoon he realized that he the scientist, he the poet, had missed out on the essential nature of the young man’s actions. Because he realized that what the young man was doing was choosing not to be an observer in the universe and make a difference. He was embarrassed. That night he went to bed troubled. When the morning came he awoke knowing that he had to do something. So he got up, put on his clothes, went to the beach and found the young man. And with him he spent the rest of the morning throwing starfish into the ocean.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Lightening Strikes....Discernment and Lent

Katie Aunna's referral picture!!!
Katie Aunna now;-).

This post deals with my lack of courage and God's strike of lightening that I asked Him for. I asked for lightening bolts because I wanted a clear unmistakable message from God as to what He wanted us to do about adopting Lexi;-). There is so much stress we feel because of criticism from family and friends asking us if we are crazy??? Especially from our family. Plus, our financial situation at this time is not all that good. So, I wanted to be absolutely sure!!! See, I know when we do things out of self desire it usually backfires on us. When (no matter how crazy sounding the request) we do what God asks us to do, we are always taken care of, and things seem to work out PERFECTLY.
Well, the lightening bolt did happen and it started with a simple post on my Catholic International Adoptive Parents board. Hopefully during Lent you will fast, pray, and decide the right way to live your life and I will be doing the same thing. It should be something we all strive for during any liturgical season or ordinary time. Especially, during Lent, as this forty days signifies Christ's human nature to be tempted to make wrong choices. It also exemplifies His power to overcome these selfish fleshly temptations.
There are many ways one may come to discern God's Will during His Lenten season. A lady on my board made the first post regarding Discernment and Lent.

"I am curious about what your Lenten plans are for this year? We are going to attempt a family service project, although I have no idea what we are going to do, pick one day a week with no computer (!), or TV, and I have a book on Purgatory that I want to read along with a 30 day novena for the souls in purgatory. Oh yeah, and make a special effort to discern if God is calling us to adopt again! Anyone have any suggestions to assist in the adoption discernment?
God Bless" Anonymous author #1

So, here is a lady looking for discernment on what to do about adopting again. She wisely wishes to be certain (like me) that it is the right thing to do and is truly God's calling. Of course, the first thing I think of when I read her post is our situation and making sure we are doing God's Will. I think...okay it seems safe to pour out my heart on this board of Catholic Christian people (great group) about my Lexi. Here was anonymous author #2's response to #1's post:

QUOTE: "I'm not tell you the truth, Lent kind of snuck up on me...I just realized that Ash Wednesday is this week. Sounds terrible, but life for me during tax season is like that.
I am considering praying the rosary daily during Lent. Many questions going on in my mind lately...may have some answers come to me...." Anonymous #2

Okay, I think to myself...Lent might be a really good idea for me right now. I can do a lot of praying, fasting, praying, fasting, and so on. Then I finally decide to write and just lay it out with this group about how scared and unsure I am. Here is my post:

"Thank you for this question about Discernment and Lent!!! Usually we try to give up sugar during Lent. Although, it seems to me your response about adopting a child again strikes home with me. Course, I am always an...on again and off again..."expectant" mother. I know the right thing to do, but, am always afraid of the big step....second guessing our decision and wanting to not listen to God's gentle nudges. Perhaps I am wanting some discerning lightening strikes;-). I guess it is a Faith issue. Maybe I better do some Rosary praying as well during this time. I always worry about how we will finance things, the child's health needs, MY ability to meet those needs, the criticism of family members and friends, etc... My DH is one of those who gets into the process and doesn't sway. I really irritate him with my "on/off" mentality. This adoption will only be our 10Th child;-)...but, two are grown. Okay...thanks for listening and speaking to my heart;-). Many blessings....Trisha"
Then I think "Okay, now I feel better for at least getting this off my mind. It is nice to have someone who is wanting discernment for adoption during Lent like me. Guess what happens next???

Yup....Lightening strikes.

Not in the conventional from the dark cloudy sky onto my feeble head;-). No it comes in the form of anonymous author #3s post:

Your blog is beautiful and so is your family! Praying your newest daughter is home with you soon. I loved the pictures of your big, FENCED IN, backyard - what a blessing!!"
Anonymous Author #3."

Here's the clincher or the first bolt of lightening.....#3 includes this quote with her post:

"There are no adequate substitutes for father, mother, and children bound together in a loving commitment to nurture and protect. No government, no matter how well-intentioned, can take the place of the family. ~ Gerald R. Ford"

Oh MY!!! I can't leave this child God is asking us to adopt in the hands of government care. It's just not right (self conviction occurs now). I'm thinking..."I must pray for discernment and I have asked for lightening to strike me or something really obvious from God, but, have I received one??? Although, Gerald R. Ford's quote had a lot of enlightenment in is somewhat like thunder with a small lightening flash from God...not the bold sharp bright bolt of lightening I am asking for that momentarily blinds you by its brightness;-).

Then I get a private email from a group member anonymous #2 who is writing again and titles her email:

"Well how's this for a lightening bolt???"
"Hi Trisha,
I am on the group and I just was reading your wonderful blog and spotted "V" (Lexi) from Murmansk and had to email you! I guess I am part of the journey b/c we actually had her on hold for a while about 1.5 yrs. ago...and I have been following her since. She has led us to Russia, and was the child that convinced DH we should adopt again also (this is our 3rd adoption).
It is a miracle. Last I heard another family with younger children were trying to adopt her..I suspect that is the one you spoke of in your blog?It's strange b/c lately "V" has been on my mind. Anyway...I am soooo happy and just know that she is your not worry...God is at your side and it will work out if it is his will.
Presently, I am in a bit of a dither myself and have been saying a novena to Mother Teresa on
Mother Teresa .org...she has been monumental in this whole process. It is a long story, but we
declined a child in Russia in October, my mother died tragically in Sept. and that plus some stuff
going on with our kids and the parochial school who didn't support our traveling basically threw out our boys and well long story short, we had lost our faith in God and how we would manage and now are going crazy trying to amend our letter of decline. We just found out that she was moved, are searching for her...have sent a letter to the MOE through our agency (although we aren't sure if it really went) and will take a miracle to do this...
OK..well sorry for rambling...I just wanted to make sure you have these pics of Lexi (that name fits her beautifully) in case they fall through the cracks...keep in touch and keep the faith. that Katie Aunna's pic too? I attached a pic of my gang back in November.."

Then she posts a quote: "The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you."

Who could have ever dreamed that I would write about my down feelings on my Catholic Parents board and then I would see the threads associated with discernment in regard to adoption. Further it amazes me that #2 had looked at the referral videos of both Lexi about two years ago....which was about the same time I was looking at "V" the first time which was before we adopted Mary instead of Lexi.

Then, what are the statistical odds, that this same person would look at and know Katie Aunna's referral information from considering her last year about the same time I was looking at Katie??? She sent pictures of both the girls (Lexi and Katie's referral pix) to me that she had kept on her computer from when she was considering adopting the children God has given to me!!! We are connected!!! So lightening strikes me!!! There are people on this Christ Centered Catholic board who are encouraging me with words that our Great God is giving them to say to me. He is establishing a supportive connection as well and a clear message in regard to Discernment and Lent. I am just stunned by this and wonder if you all see this connection.

Then another member of this same Catholic board sent this email which established a connection between us:

Quote: "Trisha, I read your blog and when I saw the little girl that you are trying to bring home....I was soooo happy. I saw her on UAHH and I wished that I could have gone to get her. I am no where near ready to adopt, but making slow progress. She just touched me and I prayed that God would find her a good family. I love when you get to see prayers answered. It always gives me such hope inside. Maybe God thought I needed a pick me up and lead me to your blog.....just to see that my small prayer was answered!!I pray that your adoption road to this little girl is fast and easy! I am so happy that she will have brothers and sisters and a good life after such a sad start!"

WOW!!! She knows my little girl, too. This board is NOT connected to my agency in any way. It is my religious parenting board of my particular Catholic faith.

Okay...there's nothing that can happen that God can't handle in your life or mine. I'm doing better!!! Today, God blessed us with our first donation. PLEASE let Lexi into your heart and allow God to nudge you as he gently does...."HELP BRING THIS SWEET LIITLE GIRL HOME". If we pull together as Christians...we can do this and although we will only be helping one child, we help the world in large part. Scroll down to the donation button for Lexi and give whatever amount that you KNOW you are being lead to give. God is quietly whispering that figure in your ear and it hurts our hearts when we don't follow through with His requests. I always think..."Gee, I should have given that dollar to the man playing his guitar in the cold".

Yes, we can easily ignore God. I know because I am a guilty of it. Further, I could just turn my back on Lexi and take whatever money I will use to save Lexi (my own portion of her adoption), to do something really nice and selfish for pay off all those horrible bills we have accumulated during this recession to support seven kids. God isn't yelling it at me to adopt Lexi.

He is whispering LOVE into my heart for His orphan, Lexi. Even though I asked for lightening bolts and he gave it to me in His usual gentle loving way....I could pretend that I don't hear the whisper or feel the nudge or see the lightening. But, I will not be at peace. I am asking you to listen.

If God whispers any amount into your mind...listen to him and receive His Almighty approval and reward for being a child of the King. Help Lexi come home!!!

Today I have received a wonderfully beautiful Holy $25 dollar donation. Thank you for listening to your heart and acting with the first donation!!! It is the first brick laid in the road to Lexi!!! Who knows what she may do for the futures of many people in this world given the chance. You have played a role in her greatness and God has already made your heart feel cleansed....I know He has. Lexi is well known as a very compassionate and loving girl. I will be blessed to call her my daughter.

Amazingly, these lightening bright connections from these different people came from just ONE board!!! Wow!!! Please, let my girl touch your heart and listen to God's whisper about helping her come home. Look at how many people this little girl has had an influence on and she is destitute in a Russian orphanage at this moment. Imagine what she could do in the USA living in a loving family when she becomes an adult. Let's team up on the side of our Lord and do His Will.
Just call me silly old Noah, building a huge arc in the dry desert, because God said to do it.
I am wishing for you to experience much discernment in your life during this forty days of Lent which is beginning on Ash Wednesday...the day of perpetual hope for self discipline, discernment, and the gift from Christ of rising from the dead come Easter. Many Blessings....Trisha

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Karissa's Surgery

Amarillo, Texas..Karissa and Katie before our flight to Dallas

In the above picture...Karissa and Katie are in our Dallas hotel room the day before her surgery. I must say that Karissa and Katie are very close sisters. I look back on how so many people we know thought Duane and I were crazy to adopt another child. Now I can not imagine our life without Katie Aunna. She and Karissa have become best friends and adoring sisters.

The above picture was the night of Karissa's surgery. Katie was so stressed over Karissa that they both crashed out after we got back to our hotel room. Karissa put her ear on the pillow to drain and Katie snuggled close to her for comfort.

We are home now and Karissa's surgery is successfully completed. The doctor wants to see her again in one month. I am thinking Karissa and I will fly up and back in a day to help curb some of the expense associated with this process. It has surprised me that she is not in as much pain this time as in past surgeries on her ear.

The kids at home did quite well. Although, very little school work was accomplished while we were away. Next week, however, they can count on making up any area they have let fall behind. Katie and Karissa did not take any work with them either. Last week they all worked very hard on their school and so I am not too concerned over missing a few days.
This picture was taken before Karissa went into surgery. She was calm and ready to get on with it. What a brave little girl!!!

Here is the end result. Her biggest concern was typically "all girl"...don't shave any hair!!! I pulled it up to the side and they only shaved a small track for the incision. As can be seen, the incision is quite long encircling her ear. Thank you for the many prayers and keep them coming her way!!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Leaving For Dallas

Just wanted to drop a quick note to say that I am leaving for Dallas this afternoon. The girls will see their doctors tomorrow afternoon. Karissa's surgery is scheduled for early Thursday morning. Hopefully, if all goes well, we will return home over the weekend. Keep her in your healing prayers. A heartfelt thanks goes out to all those who are posting about our fundraising efforts on their blogs. Many blessings!!!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Alexis Viktoria (hopefully) Gartner

Well here it is...our hearts are smitten with love that will not die. It continues to nag Duane and I daily. He is as convicted to act as ever he has been. Neither of us can push her tender love for us out of our hearts. Nor can we turn our backs to her any longer. Lexi fell in love with Katie Aunna's Mommy and Papa at first sight. She followed us into the playroom with Katie. Lexi was floating along as she was so in love with us. When she smiled at Duane and then laid her head on my shoulder....we were smitten, too. We tried to focus solely on Katie. However, we couldn't help but watch her carefully timid movements about the room. Speaking Russian very fluently with Katie, the translator, and me (ha ha).

Then as suddenly as she had appeared...they shooed her away so we would give our full attention to Katie Aunna. We found this easy to do as Katie is charming. But, Lexi's soft cheek that I patted is still imprinted upon the palm of my hand. Lex and I felt helpless to act. I looked at Duane and said "Honey, please". He had a flash of anger with me and snapped out "You know we are not prepared for two children this trip... not financially or with paperwork. Let's enjoy Katie's process." So, I did. Now, it has been nine months and we both miss her in our life.

I kept saying that someone would want her and she would get a family. If she was still waiting by the first of the year then we would begin to move forward for her. This would be our sign from God. Well, someone on my blog had read about her and wanted to adopt her. However, things did not work out financially and so Lexi remained on the UAHH site...where she waits with a sunken heart. Now, I am a bit taken back that I was hunting for a family for the child God intends to be a part of our life....WOW!!!!

I am sure Lexi has given up on the one she wanted to be her Mom. Before she left the room she breathed me into her very soul. We have not forgotten one thing about her and her soft cheek is forever imprinted upon my hand with love. Her faced ever etched into Duane's mind.
Her charming smile touched the core of his heart and remains there. Men don't like to feel emotional pain. It makes them mad and he has not been in the mildest of moods for several months as we waited to see if she was going to find that family. Ha Ha...we didn't realize God had already chose her family;-).

I cry as I write because the financial circumstances are in need of a miracle in order to be fulfilled. However, we are going to take that leap of faith that God has placed in our hearts and His Divine Plan is laid out before us...all we need do is trust in our almighty God. I tell you will be God's miracle with the economy like it is and other circumstances which are dictating havoc in our finances. Adoption......the leap of faith we make once again. Please scroll down to see the new pictures I have added. Many blessings!!!
Your prayers are welcome, too.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Just A Quick Update

I just wanted to remind you that Karissa will be flying out to Dallas (Baylor Children's) next week to have her (hopefully) final surgery on her ear. It has been a long haul to get to this point of wellness. They will be placing new tiny ossicles in her middle ear. She will actually have hearing for the first time, that we know of, in her life. It is a very delicate surgery and she must really rest afterward. Katie Aunna and I will be escorting her to this surgery. The girls are rather looking forward to spending a little Mommy time out of town. Katie hasn't flown in a plane since our return home from Russia.

We will be flying up the day before Karissa's surgery and then back home the day after. I will post some pictures of our short little trip upon our return. Please, keep Karissa in your prayers as she will be quite ill for a good while afterward. They will also check out her inner ear. Further, she has done the unusual. Partially grown back tonsils...oh dear...and so they will also remove that unwanted interference to her good health. So, my poor little girl will need all the healing prayers she can get.
My medical tests have also come back. The doctor says he thinks my gallbladder should be removed and so I am planning on doing this the 17th of March. The nurse said this was the first opening they had which happens to be on my grandchild's 9th birthday. I take this as a sign of good luck. So, I am going to do it then, that is, if Karissa is well enough and she should be.
On the other stressful subject.....we are still praying fervently about Lexi and some days I'm on adopting her and others I'm a chicken. Mostly, I am a chicken because of the funding needed to accomplish such an endeavor.
Adopting her would not worry me as far as caring for her, loving her, and sharing our life with her. It would be how to get her here. She has a grant for close to meeting one fourth of her financial needs. But, we would need another three fourths to accomplish such a thing. I often read and hear about these kind humanitarian people who help folks like us get difficult to adopt SN kids who are older. These lucky kids are able to get the loving home with their adoptive families that they deserve and would not have otherwise.
If some kind hearted individuals would help us bring Lexi home....who knows what wonderful things she could grow up and do for the world. All from your small donations to her adoption. Poor little sweet child will be going to an institution if we do not bring her home. So I guess you could say we are testing the water. Will God touch hearts to help us partially meet the financial needs to bring her home??? We can do at least half of her needs, but, we will need help with the rest. Please, open your eyes and hearts as individuals and with your local community of friends and donate to her any amount at all.
After she goes into an institution, she will have no chance, and there she will go down hill fast. If God should touch your heart...You can donate any amount $25, $50. $75, $100, or more by contacting Until All Have Homes (Stephanie), Kids To Adopt (Jeny), or click on the donation box in the margin of the blog. Any amount your heart is willing to give will be gratefully received and God will bless you ten times over as he promises in His Holy Bible!!! Please open your heart and mind to this little darling.
Until All Have Homes is an organization that helps SN orphans and they will see to it that your tax deductible donation goes directly to help Lexi come home. Imagine how rejected and lonely she feels. You can play a role in saving this child's life. I know what your thinking and the answer is "No" we cant save every child in this world. But, right now you have her face in your mind and you can play an important role and power to save THIS one child. One child saved is worth giving up a "meal out" to send in a small donation. Please, pray about this and try to help this kind child who is always showing many acts of compassion to the children with which she lives on a daily basis.
Although, walking on her damaged leg is painful, she still helps with the younger children and happily does her daily chores without complaint. That's the kind of girl she is. Well, I leave this matter in your hands and pray that God will move you to give....any amount you feel led to give. NO AMOUNT TOO SMALL!!!! Thanks so much for your love and kindness in reading this post....maybe someday I can do the same for you. We never know when God will call us to do His Divine Will. You are being given by God an opportunity to be blessed and bless someone. Don't miss your blessing...however small the amount....the reward shall be greatly magnified.
Lots of love and many blessings to you.
In His Service....The Gartner Family

Thursday, February 5, 2009

These Are The Best Days Of Our Life

Mary and John changing into play clothes and getting shoes on to go outside and play;-)

Casey and Little Trisha....Best friends.

Karissa working with a smile on her dedicated little face!!!

Katie beautiful Russian scholar.
Happy Annie...The Siberian Princess....and she knows it...ha ha!

Mary Beth ready to jump up out of her desk.

Schools out!!! Schools out!!! Happy times are well deserved.

It was so warm that the kids just needed a light jacket or sweater cover-up.
John sliding and Christian getting on the sky glider with Katie.

Now Mary and John will try the sky scooter;-0.
Today our weather was beautiful (76 degrees). The sky was clear and blue as the golden sunshine warmed our world. There was no wind blowing....just a warm and calm day. I must brag about how hard the kids worked today in school for me. I would periodically notice one of them looking out the window and I knew very well what they were thinking. It was so difficult not to excuse class and send them outside. Maybe, according to many who are homeschooling, that's exactly what I should have done.

It is true that learning occurs in more than a classroom. However, their resolve to stay on task was so admirable. At 3:00 o'clock I asked them to put away their books. Then I told them to go outside and play. They looked like Christmas morning....full of joy and delight. As I ponder on the activities of today, my heart is filled with admiration and respect for their eager resolve to learn. I am so proud of them!!!
I guess some of you may have noticed the frigid cold temperatures in Murmansk. It has been 29 degrees below zero for several days. I hope Katie's precious friend "V" is doing well along with the other children there. The cold is so harsh for her injured leg. My mind often returns to Murmansk and our experiences. Katie's friend's face is a vivid picture in these memories.
Please, be in prayer for God to provide His Holy Will and guide us in our love for "V" (we will refer to her as Alexis...Lexi for short from here). We just can not get her out of our mind, heart, or memories. Especially, of the day we went to pick up Katie Aunna from the orphanage. Lexi walked over to me and looked deeply into my eyes and I knew without one word what she was asking..."Please, love me too. I've been waiting faithfully for so very long. I'm a very good girl who only wants to please you."
Lexi then gently laid the side of her face on my shoulder and gently nuzzled into my neck where she breathed in my scent. She inhaled deeply as though she would store and hold my scent in a special container deep within her heart forever there labeled as "the one desired to be my mother". I gently patted and stroked her face. Her eyes swelled with tears....but, she swallowed hard and bucked up as they told her to leave the playroom.
I can not say that our 27 day stay in Russia was a time of relaxation. However, it was a treasured time with Katie Aunna as we soaked up the beautiful Russian culture and enjoyed the kind people we met there. Truly, during those days, it seemed like forever until we returned home. Now I can see it was but a blink of the eye in my life.
We will always remain attached to Murmansk. God has been very generous to us there and we continue to thank Him for His generosity. Each night as I go to sleep...I pray for Lexi and wish to see her once again someday. May God's Will be done in this matter and not mine. I pray He carries the plan and I do not have to decide what to do. Let God provide the answers and means for us to be faithful to Him in ALL things.
I hope you enjoy a few pictures of the children today. Oh yes, Katie Aunna is reading and sounding out words that are new to her. Her English acquisition continues to amaze me.
Many blessings!!!