Sunday, October 27, 2013

T-minus 12 hours!

That's right, folks!

In 12 hours my daughter Brianna and I will walk through the orphanage doors and come out with a son and daughter, a brother and sister.

I'm finding it a little hard to fathom.

We arrived in Bulgaria yesterday (Saturday) and we've been in a kind of 'wandering limbo' ever since.

We've wandered through Sofia.
Then, we wandered through Jumbo (fun store!  I missed that the first time!)
Next, we wandered through Pleven.
We bought stuff.
We ate stuff.
We took pictures.

We are wandering and waiting...

for this...

and this...

So, as Bree said tonight...
Like kids on Christmas Eve, all we want to do is go to bed early
and wake up to our presents!

Good night all!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Countdown Begins...

3 weeks...

That's when our attorney will walk into court and request that our petition to adopt 2 Bulgarian orphans be granted.

If the answer is yes (Please, God!  I'm told it's rarely a no...) then we wait 10-12 days for the adoption decree to be signed by the judge and another 5 days or so to get their new birth certificates.  Once our attorney has two birth certificates (with no errors!) in her hand we will receive our travel dates.

So, all this means that in 6-7 weeks my daughter Brianna and I will board a plane, land in Bulgaria, drive to the city where our children currently reside and walk them right out the doors of what has been their home for their entire lives.

And, guess what?  They will bring at least something from that place home with them.  It is all they know.  All they have learned about the world and how it works comes from that austere grey building and those who work there.  All they understand of how to relate to other children and adults comes from the interactions they've had there.  They will know how to eat an orphanage meal but not how a family dinner works.  How is an orphanage bedtime different than bedtime at home?  I have no idea!  We will all tread an unfamiliar path.

I've thought a lot about what it's going to look like when, after more that 16 months, we are finally a family here under our own roof.  And I'll be honest- mostly, my imagination looks really good!  We are happy and bonded!  Our children already home welcome their new siblings with open arms and complete understanding!  It's a beautiful life here in Robbins' Fantasy Land!  It's hard to imagine any really "bad stuff".  I'm not even sure I have a context for the "bad stuff" let alone the "REALLY BAD STUFF".

But I know it happens.  It's not the blog post anyone wants to write- or read.  But, several people have written those posts.  I read one today.  It was hard reading.

Reading that blog post made me think about God and His love for us. I thought about his desire that we would wholeheartedly embrace our rightful place in His family- adopted, grafted in.

I thought about my relationship with him.  I was born into a family that went to church each Sunday.  My little girl heart loved God from as early as I can remember and I moved into His family very easily.  I talked to Him about the things that troubled me and the things I was thankful for.  Like any child I went through times of rebellion.  But, it always hurt me knowing I was grieving my Father's heart and I would come back and repent.  I knew my Father God loved me even when times were hard.  When my own dad died way too young I was angry!  But, it didn't change the fact that I still loved God and I knew He loved me.  I'm guessing there are many like me, in that respect.

On the other hand, I've watched some friends and family struggle with accepting the love He offers.  I've watched them question that love and dance around the decision of whether to fall into His arms or not.  I see some that absolutely refuse to even entertain the idea that His love exists.  Reading the blog post I was struck by the parallels to families.

Obviously every child, birth or adopted, comes into the world with their very own genetics, their own potential to learn and love.  And, there are lots of things that can change what that looks like for each child.  Our son David had his 'potential' forever changed when he was shaken at 5 1/2 months.   Corwin's 'genetics' were altered with the addition of an extra 21st chromosome in each of his cells.  Some of our children live with the decisions made by birth parents when they drank or used drugs.  Ethan and Elaina will come into our family changed from who they were at birth simply because they lived their lives in this particular Baby House in Bulgaria.

For some kids, accepting the love offered to them is relatively easy.  Others will test and weigh and dance around that love until they eventually fall into their family's arms.  And some will fight that love with everything they have, holding family at a distance.  I pray that, with God's grace, Dan and I will have the strength to love as He does- loving before the 'yes' and even after the 'no' if that be the outcome.  

My continuing, daily prayer for Ethan and Elaina has always been that God will work in their hearts and prepare them for our family.  I pray that they will be able to receive the love we offer them.  I pray that He will knit all the separate strands of our family together into one sturdy and beautiful fabric.  I pray for wisdom for Dan and I as we work to heal hurts that have been years in the making.

I pray that, on the hard days, I can remember that Robbins' Fantasy Land is just that- a fantasy.

It's the Robbins Family that's real!  Right now, we don't know exactly what that's going to look like but it's going to be ours!
So, keeping our eyes on God, we will put one foot in front of the other, reminding ourselves that we are not in this alone.  We KNOW where our help comes from...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"I have a mama and a daddy!"

We are having technical difficulties with our computer charging system so, 
here's hoping I can get this post up!

Visit- Day 2

We were so excited to see that both Ethan and Elaina were more settled today.
Ethan came in to the morning visit calm- no yelping and ready to come to us and play on his own initiative.

Elaina was not as frantic about having everyone's attention at the same time.
We've been asked how much the children understand about what's happening to them-
Elaina understands enough because she tells everyone she sees that she has a mama and daddy here.
The social worker told us, the pediatrician told us and her Baba told us.
Apparently, she's pretty excited about us!

We are having to work a little to get everyone out of the "rut" of yesterday and trying new things.

Dan and I are making a conscious effort to switch things up because Elaina is very 
good at keeping things to her liking.  
I think she has learned that men pick her up when she asks and women, not so much.
She goes right for Dan every visit and hauls him into the ball pit.
I am Ethan's go-to parent.

I'm really excited to see that Ethan is much more willing to get up on his feet and walk.
He is also more competent than he first appeared.
He was able to step over the lip of the ball pit- maybe 8 to 10 inches- with just a hand hold.
He's not really sure what to do once he gets in there and 
does a lot of squealing and chucking of balls.
Today I showed him how to throw them up the slide and let them roll down and he was excited about that. 
I always clap and "Bravo" whenever he does anything.
Now he will grab my hands and make them clap for him.

Elaina is enjoying the camera we brought for her.  
(Thanks, Javon, for sharing your Christmas gift with her!)
Her posing could use a bit of work since most of her pictures are of legs, feet and floors but she gets it and is enjoying taking pictures of the different people who come into the room.

The afternoon visit was interesting.
After the morning being yelp-free for the most part, Ethan came in a little more "twitchy".
He started out yelping and he has some occasional tremors and 'tics'.
Fortunately, they didn't last long and he was very interested in some of the new things we brought.

Before lunch,
(which for me was an interesting pizza- flat bread, no sauce, cheese, peas, corn, peppers, olives, mushrooms.  Just FYI)
Dan and i went to a toy store and bought a little stacking toy.
We'd been told he has one at school that he's pretty obsessive about 
so I thought it might grab his attention.
He was somewhat interested but what really grabbed him 
were the wooden stringing beads!
Oh. my. gosh!
Can that boy string beads!
He is just full of surprises!
Again, Elaina had no interest.  
If it doesn't involve physical activity, bubbles or something cute-sy it's not really her thing.

Unless it's FOOD!
We brought some of the toddler, squeezable yogurts.
It's a good thing I have several because they will not forget that experience any time soon!
Ethan actually sucked his down faster than she did.
And then he just kept sucking.
And sucking....
and sucking!
Dan said he was afraid to take it from him- 
much like you'd fear taking a bone from a junk yard dog!
Elaina kept taking it out of her mouth and gesturing that she wanted us 
to make more of it.
Sorry honey, when you've sucked the bag inside out it's over!

At the end of the visit Elaina's baba stopped by to meet us.
She has been with her for almost 5 years.  
When she first arrived, Elaina couldn't even sit up.
She had many self-harming behaviors- head banging, pulling her hair out...
To see that she has gone from that to the out-going and oh-so-smart girl that she is has much to do with this baba.
There is no way to thank her enough.
I'm hoping she has email so that I will be able to keep in touch and share her "home" journey.

Tomorrow we will take both of them out to have photos taken.
That should be an adventure!
A little taste of "gotcha" day...

***Stay tuned for more***

Monday, April 15, 2013


Early this morning we left Sofia in the pouring rain and drove 2 1/2 hours to Pleven.
As soon as I sat down in the back seat tears pooled in my eyes.
For 10 months we have anticipated this day and to have it finally here was almost too much for me!

It was surreal, pulling up in front of this orphanage that I had seen many times in pictures.
It's a very "harsh" looking building, all grey brick and angles, and comes up suddenly out of nowhere.

Our driver/translator, Demiter, had told us that we would be meeting the pediatrician this morning and would not see the children until this afternoon.
As soon as we walked in a social worker met us and took us upstairs.  
Twice, someone walked by with a small child in their arms and I couldn't help but check to see if it was someone I "knew".  I didn't recognize either one.

We were ushered into a tiny room and I recognized it immediately!  
This was the room where the video of Ethan was taken so many months ago.
In my imagination, from all the voices I heard, I thought it was a large room.
I can see now why he wanted out!  
It must have been terribly crowded and overwhelming for him.

The next thing we know, Demiter is telling us that they are bringing the children from their 'classroom' to meet us!
The door opens and...

there they are...

Elaina runs to me for a hug!

Then, she runs to Dan for a hug!

Then, she runs to Demiter for a hug!

Bless his heart, he told her "No" 
and sent her back to us.

She was almost in a frenzy of excitement, her tiny body shaking as she tried to take everything in and make sense of it.  
The social worker kept telling her- "Mama"... "Daddy"... and she would repeat it but was just as likely to call Demiter by one of the names.

She wanted Dan to stand up and hold her, to carry her around.
Again, Demiter stepped in and said "This is when you begin to set the boundaries.  These are behaviors of her orphanage life.  You will begin to teach her about family life."

Ethan was obviously overwhelmed.
He is not yet walking independently nor is he talking.
He would shout out sounds and, occasionally, hit himself around the face with the heel of his hand.
We went very slowly with him, allowing him to reach out to us.  
He sent very clear signals when we had overstepped our bounds.
At one point I sat beside him and rubbed his back.  
He was okay for a moment then pulled away and gave me a definite stink-eye!

By the end of this short visit we had ALL settled down a bit.
Ethan was more relaxed and Elaina was less frantic.
All in all, it was okay
A good start.  

At 3:30 we got another chance and a different location.
This time we were in an indoor play area complete with ball pit and slides.
Once again, Elaina was beyond excited to be there and Ethan, while calmer and more interested, was still aloof.
The orphanage psychologist was there to answer any questions we had.
I've seen these children for less than one hour and I have one hour now, to get to know them.  
I didn't really know what to ask and I really wanted to play with my kids!

I managed to come up with a couple of questions and 
he really did seem to have some insight into what makes them 'tick'.

He told us that, while Ethan has no typical expressive language at this time, he does show them that he understands what is being said to him which was encouraging (and believable, based on our observations).  They also said it appears he has made up a rudimentary language of his own with yelps, clicks, trills and gestures.  By the end of the visit I was beginning to see a little more of this as he attempted to get our attention and let us know that he was ready to play.

He advised us not to push him to respond but to keep the door open to him and he would join.
This also proved true.

The second visit was just plain fun!

Elaina started out wanting everything done for her. 
She wanted to be carried up the ladder to the slide.
She wanted to sit on a lap to go down the slide.
She wanted to choose who would hold the ball, where we would sit, etc., etc.

By the end of our visit she was climbing the ladder independently and going down the slide for us to catch her.  
She was also calling herself "Big girl!" in english!
This little miss repeats everything and remembers how to use it appropriately!

When we blew bubbles, she started out wanting them all for herself.
With only two prompts, she would let us blow a batch for Ethan and let him have them all to himself and wait patiently for us to blow a batch for her.

Dan looked through the family photo album with her and she repeated everyones name.
At the end of the visit Demiter showed her the pictures of Bella and Heidi 
and asked her what they were.
"Cats" she told him.
"How many cats?" he asked.
Smart girl!

And Ethan...
Sweet boy!
He was much more relaxed in this setting.
He still yelled out and he still stimmed by hitting himself with the heel of his hand 
he smiled!  
A lot!
He reached out for us, walked with us, rolled cars, played with bubbles and actually got into the ball pit for a bit.
The psychologist feels that he will talk and that his first language will be english.

The visit ended rather abruptly but the caregiver who came to get them was friendly and smiling.
They both blew us lots of kisses and then...

they were gone.

As I write this the rain has stopped and the sun is out.

It was a good first day!

Our view from the Rostov in Pleven.

Oh, wait!
You wanted to see the kids....
silly me!

Ethan and Mom

Elaina and Dad

New family members!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

While you are waiting....

While you wait for the fun posts, the ones with all the pictures and information about our precious children, I have a couple of other things for you to read.  
(Thank you Susanna, for having such a wealth of information for me to pull from!)

Just a year ago the Pleven orphanage made national news here.  Big news...  

The old director was out (well, it took a little longer than we thought but eventually she was) and a new director, with a new vision, was in.

In October the good news began rolling out!

Dan and I were so glad to hear that maybe, just maybe, the last months that our children would spend here in this orphanage would be better ones.

It was hard not to quake just a little because we were still so far away from "Gotcha Day" but we kept on praying- for the children and for the director who was working so hard in a very uphill battle.

Then, just this last week we heard this:  

The next hearing for the OLD director at Pleven in order to determine if she can continue to fight to get her job back is on April 18th. Please pray that this hearing goes well and that she is stopped, once and for all, from trying to get reinstated. Also, please pray for the CURRENT director (her name is Desi). She is under a HUGE amount of attack from the corrupt people who want the old director back so that they no longer have to do anything for the children. Desi is under a great deal of stress and the pressure on her is huge right now. She is continuing to fight for proper care, medical attention, and everything that the children there need and she's being met with a lot of opposition. She needs a whole lot of prayer warriors lifting her up as she continues this up hill fight. Pray for the judge who's hearing the old director's case on the 18th too. Pray that God breaks his/her heart for the children of Pleven and that he/she will see that this is not a political decision, this is the LIVES OF CHILDREN at stake.

We will be in Pleven, visiting Ethan and Elaina that day!  We will be right there and I can't wait to look the director in the eye and tell her that there are MANY people standing behind her, praying for her.  

This is our gift for her

"Guardian Angel"
This is how I see her - 
placing herself between the children and those who seek the return of the "old ways"

Would you consider adding April 17th to your prayer list
(since we are 10 hours ahead you will need to start early!)
Pray that level heads and softened hearts will prevail this day!

Next on my list is this:
Go here to sample this year's Mulligan Stew Giveaway
"A Common Stew for an Uncommonly Good Cause"
8 families... 11 waiting children
A $5 donation gets you entered for a chance to win one of 100 prizes worth over $5000!

And finally, a selfish little plug!
In June, we will be the Hidden Treasures auction family.
Read about our "Perfect Pair"

So many of you have given so much already but if you could share this auction
as it gets closer that would be wonderful.
Maybe you have a gift card that you know you'll never use but someone else might!
Do you have an etsy store? Would you be willing to donate (and ship) an item?
How about a handicraft? A gently used item?
Thanks so much for considering the possibilities.

The next time you hear from me you should get the good stuff!
Stay tuned....

Sunday, February 3, 2013


WHEN!  That's what's missing...

This blog has been sorely neglected.
I'm sorry.
It was supposed to be the link between our journey and  our friends and family who were following but...
well, frankly, there really isn't much to follow in the early stages.
We already knew the WHO of the the story...

We knew the WHAT

We knew the WHERE

And, we most definitely knew the WHY!

But, we didn't know the WHEN and that was what everyone wanted to know!

"When are you going?"

"When will you get to meet them?"


We didn't have a good answer...  until now.

Now, I can say "Soon!"

Now, we have our I-800a approved and in our hands!  That was the last bit of paper trail we were chasing and the last requirement for the full submission of our dossier to our children's government.

The rest of the dossier is already there and (hopefully) translated and waiting for this last. piece. of. paper.

It's my understanding that, once it's translated and submitted, the Minister of Justice 'typically' signs the official referral within 3 weeks.

And, when the referral is signed?  What happens next, you ask?

We get our WHEN!

Travel dates.... we are praying hard for March... Would you join us?

Would you pray for a swift answer?
Would you pray for our children- that their hearts would be ready for a family?
Would you pray for Dan and I because we are NOT travelers, but homebodies at heart!
Would you pray for our children at home, especially David, who is still struggling with his health?

We have been given an incredible gift- we have been offered a matching grant of $420!  This means that every dollar given to our FSP will be matched by an amazing and anonymous group, up to that $420!  BUT, there is a WHEN to this gift also!   The match ends on Saturday, February 9th.  Would you consider walking a bit of this journey with us by making a donation?   There was a blog post on this subject this morning and I hesitate to include it here but I'm going to anyway.

I hesitated because it's about money.  And yet... it's not.

More than anything it's about listening.... and if it's on your heart to assist us financially, thank you!  We appreciate it more than you can imagine!   If your gift to us is the gift of prayer or friendship, never fool yourself that it is any less appreciated!

Update!  Our matching grant was met and then some!  Thanks so much for showering us with your blessings!


Thursday, September 20, 2012


Look at these sweet faces!


They all have something in common.

They've all been listed on Reece's Rainbow.

They've all waited for a family to make them their own.

For several, that family was on the way!

But, the life of an orphan is hard.

For these little ones, it was too hard...

They all passed away.  


For those who have been here before, I warned you.

I want to break your heart - but in a good way.

I want the lives of these little ones to MATTER.

I want people to know they lived.


Children waiting for a family to choose them.

Families waiting for funds to proceed.

Courts waiting for paperwork to arrive.

So much waiting...

And sometimes, it's just too late.

This is Ekaterina.

It's NOT too late for her.

She is waiting.

This holiday season I'm going to be Ekaterina's "Christmas Warrior".

That means I'm going to send her picture far and wide and ask you to send it on also.

Because, she MATTERS!

One little girl, far away, who's waited 8 years to be someone's chosen child!

How many of us have waited 8 years for anything, let alone, a family?

As Ekaterina's Christmas Warrior I will yell for her but I am also hoping to ease the way for her family by raising a bit of her ransom.  It's my goal to add at least $1000 to her adoption grant by Christmas.

Here's the fun part! I'm doing a GiveAway! For a donation to Ekaterina's grant OR for sharing her info on Facebook/Blog/Twitter you will be entered into a drawing for a $100 Gift Card of your choice- just in time for last minute shopping! A donation of any size=1 entry, sharing=1 entry, purchase her ornament ($35 donation)=3 entries, donate to her and one other child of your choice on the Angel Tree ( entries!
When you've made you donation, email me a copy of your receipt (it will have your address but no financial info except the donation amount) and I will get you entered! Message me or comment to get the email address. The drawing will be done on Sunday, Dec. 16th but Angel Tree donations are accepted through Dec. 31st. All donations are TAX DEDUCTIBLE!

Hold her in your heart.  Keep her in your prayers.

Spread the word.

"Do you know someone who could be her mama?"

"She's waiting..."