Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Three Months

Well, it is March - and that means that we have been blessed to have Max and Ivanna in our home now for over three months. March 2nd - would have been three months exactly. In some ways it seems like it has been forever - and in other ways it just seems like yesterday. I remember the feeling of what it was like to sit in my living room preparing our dossier to ship to Europe. I sat there, cried (really I did) and prayed over the shuffle of pretty apostilled papers. Our dream of bringing home these two little lives - was about to become reality. It seemed so surreal.
It still does at times. Especially when I flip through the images from when we were making our daily orphanage visits. I still can't believe we were there. Smelling those smells, seeing the faces of all those children - it was overwhelming. I wish I could impress upon you the burden for these kids, or for that matter - any of the "fatherless". The need is great. Their plight is real.
I remember what it was like to meet Max and Ivanna for the first time. Max - came in first. He was beautiful and everything I made him up to be in my mind. Big eyes - and a very gentle and sweet nature. Ivanna came in next. It was shocking to see her. She was dehydrated, dopey, and very frail. That was the first time I faced the reality these children face everyday. I was overwhelmed with thoughts and emotion as I took her from the caretaker arms. This sort of bombardment of emotion would continue for the entire trip there.
Perhaps it is a little different when you have a child biologically with Down syndrome. I kept imagining Justus in the same shoes as these other children. What would have happened to him if he were born here? Would he have gotten the heart surgery that most assuredly saved his life? The thought that someone could label my beautiful Justus as insane and shuffle him away as unwanted or even worse: a drain on society - was and IS so difficult to even form in my mind's eye.
Well, I say all that to say this - Max and Ivanna have been home three months. The journey is far from over. They have, with the blessing of our Lord, come through so much already. They both have made great strides in accomplishments, yet there is still a long road ahead.
I have posted some pictures so you can "see" the difference in both children. The images marked with a water mark are by my friend Jenny Savage. She does a great job and is so patient with children. She does our annual family picture.
Thank you Jenny.

Our Family
(from oldest to youngest)
Phillip, Charrissa, Isaac, Gabriel, Ethan, Max, Elisabeth, Ivanna, Chloe, and Justus
First meeting of Max in the orphanage. November 1st, 2010

Three months home. At the park in March 2011.

Family photo shoot. February 2011.

November 2010 ~ outside in the orphanage park.
We were given a list of food that Max could not eat. We were told he was allergic. They must have thought that because he was refluxing it was allergies. He came from a good groupa - and they really did a great job caring for him. However, now that he is home we are working on getting him to be as healthy as he can. Physical therapy, and medical appointments addressing some GI issues. He has also been given glasses - which have made a world of difference for him. Funny, a small thing like glasses - has a HUGE impact. Sight. We take it for granted.
~~~ please pray for Max, he has an endoscopy on March 24th ~~~

Ivanna ~ family photo shoot. February 2011
She has gained nearly 10 pounds since her weighing in at the embassy in Europe. She can now feed herself the bottle, and is currently working on feeding herself from a spoon, learning how to walk and in training to not constantly "eat" her hands for stimulation. She is truly blossoming into a beautiful sweet spirited little girl. It isn't always easy - but VERY much worth it. An honor to be apart of her quickening - "coming to life".

November 2010
There was nowhere for us to visit both children. We were told to use the hallway between both wings of the orphanage. I was given a bottle to feed Ivanna with. It was half full of an apple cider type liquid. Her meal. I held Ivanna - and even now look at this and am astonished at how small she was.

November 2010
Outside in the park at the orphanage.
We were able to take Ivanna outside. She was bundled up - and out for walks with us. We would place her in the stroller and she would doze off. It was hard to keep her awake, as they continually gave her antihistamines. She could not properly enjoy her first time being outside. Can't wait for warmer weather where she can sit in the grass and feel the warmth of the sun.
February 2010
Ivanna is beautiful. Once thought of as "nothing worth investing in" she is now on the road to blossoming into a sweet little girl. It's hard for her at times - all this new stuff she needs to learn. Yet, she does it and continues to thrive and flourish.

This was taken a few days after being home. Her eyes are red from crying. She hated baths when we first got her home. She is in a size four diaper in this picture - and is skinny. Praise the Lord that she has gained nearly ten pounds in just three short months. She is a walking testimony of God's redeeming power. Of how prayer, provision and love can change the whole world of one child. She may not entirely realize the change - but others see her transformation and are impacted. I know I am.
To flip through the older images of being at the orphanage still stirs my heart. We have pictures of other children. Children left behind. Those are especially hard to look at. Will they have a family soon? Some - I know probably will not. They are extremely developmentally delayed and older children. That makes it especially difficult.
We were recently challenged to our motive behind this adoption. It was a difficult email to address, yet it was good - our motive was simply James 1:27. The scripture listed on this blog's header. It is only God that has called us to this journey. He has provided the means for it and it is Him that I continually go to for strength and patience as I awake every morning and face the day. He has to be the focus - so much so in this adoption even. If we didn't adopt to glorify Christ, but did it for some weird self gratification - we would fail, miserably. Why? Because this whole process isn't easy. From the paperwork chase, to the fundraising, to the travel to another country, and then most of all: when you get the children home and the work really begins.
I hope that you enjoy the pictures. We thank you for continuing the support and encouragement. To all of you who are adopting - continue to press and work. Those little ones waiting for you, are so worth every dime spent and paper chasing adventure.
It is a beautiful journey God has placed you on. Enjoy this lifelong ride.


Ben and Melanie said...

Tears...Thank you Brownings...Thank you for sharing your journey...We may have never known the call...


Sherry Noland said...

Tears, as usual. I know maybe you can't understand where I am coming from, but, I have came to love Max and Ivanna so much. They are the only thing keeping me from closing my FB account. I wish you lived closer so I could meet them. Thank your family for saving those two wonderful children. I would love to adopt one, but, the biggest stopper is: I don't and will not fly...am absolutely petrified!! So, I pray for the orphans left behind.

Jenny B. said...

Beautiful! I love that family portrait. It's perfect. What a difference in the before and after pictures too! What a joy it is to see these angels grow in the light of love. :)

Mcarthur Mile said...

Praise the Lord! You do such a great job with all of your kids. Such a good momma. I love that pic of Max. And miss Ivanna is such a treasure. Happy 3 months. Before you know it it will be a year!

Faith for Hope said...

Thank you for the encouragement yet again! Love you guys! Praying our "paper pregnancy" is over soon. Praying for one less orphan! ~ Grace

Anonymous said...

Oh Chrissy-
I am constantly encouraged by your devotion to what the Lord has called you to do. Anyone that knows you and Phil truly knows your heart in following the Lord in this journey and knows you only want to glorify Him. Just as countless friends and family know you love them and are thankful for their help in raising funds for your kiddos. I pray that people would truly see that God himself has adopted us into His family, as we chose to follow serve and believe in Him. Thank you for your continued updates, it is a blessing to see Max and Ivanna growing and developing under the love and care of your family! Love you all so much, Nukes.

Amy said...

Thanks for answering God's Call! It is amazing the growth that has happened for your little ones! Wonderful!

*Tasha* said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
*Tasha* said...

Wow. I met you at the Down Syndrome Walk in Seattle and followed you through your journey, on your blog... and I am just... wow. Awestruck. Look at your pretty little Ivanna! The post below where she's smiling... what a WORLD of difference! Same with Matthew... these pictures and your words literally brought me to tears! That's hard to do to me! It should be used in an adoption presentation throughout churches... as a shining testament of what a little love can do.

And I love how you push Ivanna, by the way! She is definitely capable of so much && the brain NEVER stops in its plasticity- even throughout adulthood, we are sprouting new neurons (in a limited number, yes, but still!) and learning is a form of synaptic plasticity as well, that we do all our lives....

Justus, by the way, is so freakin' cute, as are your other children. :)


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