April 25
Day 7

We were called this morning by Habiba and told we can’t visit the baby house because the Mayor of the region is in town and we need to pretend, were not!
This just makes things easier for Albina. He is scheduled to visit there and the less controversy, the better. So sad for us though, it should still count for our bonding requirement. I looked at her little sippy cup on the drain board and I felt bad she was missing her juice.

So we decided to a little shopping for Tina and Jeff’s up coming wedding. She has been the biggest help for both of these adoptions. Literally this would not be possible with out her. She has once again sacrificed her social life, job and sanity to make this all possible. There is also, of course, my mother “granny” who has been there for me throughout all of the crazy, good and bad times in my life. Jeff you’ve been a tremendous help thank you. We love you all very much and thank you.
I think for wedding day, yes...
I think for the honeymoon night?
Wedding gift?
Sure, Americans move in... for sale signs go up!
There goes the neighborhood!
The Gift of Adoption

The word gift would imply that there is a giver and a receiver. With the gift of adoption we definitely have been on the receiving end. Most people would think you start out on the giving end. Trying to give an orphan a chance in life to have a family. For us it started as a chance to have Anthony grow up with a closely aged sibling, so it was more a need for us. Not until after the Kazakhstan journey that lasted 47 days back in 2005, did we realize what and how much was given to us. I don’t know if I could ever put into words how it feels for just about every day with Gianna and I know soon to also be with Almira.

There is such a joy in watching them discover their individual zest for life. I can’t tell you how many times I go to check on her before I go to bed and see her all cuddled up in warm, soft jammies and a comfy blanket. So soundly asleep with the sweetest face, she is oblivious to the outside world. I look down and her purse (which is her prized possession) is meticulously put in a safe spot next to her bed with her other treasured belongings. It literally brings tears to my eyes. Maybe the fact that she has a home and her own belongings is a gift to her, but the fact that we can provide all that is a gift to me. For many years we worried about money, buying a better house in a better area, going on cruise’s just paying to much attention to the material world when the greatest of all rewards came from sharing it with Gianna and soon Almira too. A nice house, new cars are useless without having a good purpose for them. As I spend time with Almira I now can notice the difference in their eyes. In the beginning of it all you could look into their eyes and mostly just see yourself looking back. A couple of months after being home with Gianna I could look in her eyes and see a deep connection, all the way to her soul. It always comes down to little things that get me like the night before Valentine’s day when Gianna couldn’t sleep because she was so excited about her school party the next day, so I had her get up with me for awhile. She only has 5 kids in her class but she spent so much time that night arranging and rearranging her cards and bags for school so they would be perfect. Kids go through things like that but for Gianna, I know she wouldn’t have experienced kid days like that if she didn’t have a home. Many social workers warn adoptive parents not to think your new child will come home and be grateful because they don’t know any better and they even come with a lot of anger I feel, due to the fact they realize that they should have had a family all along. Gianna, though she came home with some atitude mostly stubbornness, she has always given us the impression of appreciation and not for the material things but, for a family. She is never more excited then just before we have a party, she loves the attention but it’s more it’s the excitement of being around her extended family. She truly feels so special because she has siblings, (she must say the name Anthony a thousand times a day) grandma’s, aunts and uncle’s and someone all her own, a Godmother who dotes over her every move (well how could you be a Disney Princess without one). I am always trying share these feelings in a hope someone else might consider taking on the greatest gift in the world.

Since I have five “Bio” children and Bill has two (one in common) It makes me worry about their feelings when I go on and on about adoption, we never want to make them feel any less of a gift and absolutely they’re not! We love them just as much, yes we have never had to put our lives on hold or travel to the other side of the world for them …but we would if we had to. (Nicky don’t even think about it). Raising them has given me the experiences and taught me to cherish motherhood. It would not be possible for us to accomplish these adoptions without their help back home. You’ve heard “It takes a village to raise a child” I think “it takes a whole entire family to bring home a child.” I am so proud of our children for welcoming Gianna as their own. Even my oldest son and his wife who were already married when we brought Gianna home have made her feel special and every bit of a true sibling. Her sister Rachael who doesn’t live with us but sees her as much as she can has really come to bond with her.

Adoption is not for everyone and I never thought much about it in the past. I am just grateful that God knew it. So, as a dear friend of mine in Boston said “she can’t seem shake the Holy Spirit off her shoulder, he’s there to remind her she can do more”. I hope someone out there looks over their shoulder and feels God’s hand pointing in this direction. Yes, there are a lot of worries; health of the child, discipline issues and especially travel and money issues. I’ve always felt God was leading me and he’s a pretty good travel partner oh… and so is Bill. That brings me to another point. For some reason, the Lord seems work through the mommies first in most cases. In the long run, I’ve meet some of the greatest, bravest men including my own husband that have became adoptive daddies. I’ve seen them put their career’s, finance’s, and even the concerns for the safety of their families while traveling abroad to take care of a child in need. The next time we raise our glasses for a toast here, it will be to these men.

Counting up these gifts, I would like to mention a very unexpected gift in all of this. They are all the adoptive families we have met along the way, especially the Arkalyk families who we’ve grown to care so much about. They have all helped us through some pretty rough times, without their support, this would have been so much harder.

So if you happen to be looking for a gift that keeps on giving for a lifetime with no warranties or return policies, maybe you might consider an adoption.

So blessed to have all my children
Gianna May 2005

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Gianna December 2006