Thursday, August 6, 2015

Making Simon's Wish come true.

Last year we applied for a Make a Wish for Simon.  It is an odd process explaining to someone why your children qualifies for a make a wish....basically you are showing that your child could die at anytime (has a condition that could be fatal).  It is not really something you want to think about.  However, we felt Simon had been through so much in his short life that perhaps we could get some generous people to spoil him.  And man, did they come through!!!

That first meeting we had with our wish granters we weren't really sure what we wanted for Simon.  We knew for sure we didn't want to go anywhere, as we have already been around the world with Simon.  We told them all kinds of things that Simon likes, or items we thought would help us take care of him better.  We told them that Simon's favortite thing to do was to the end of the visit we took them into the backyard for Simon to show off his swinging skills.  Once they saw Simon swing....they decided that was a the way to go....and man did they GO.

It was wonderful getting to hear from our wish granters along the way the different ways that Simon's story was touching people.  Our wish granters had a budget to stay within and time and time again different businesses blessed them with extra to make Simon's wish happen.  It reminded me so much of our adoption process and how time and time again strangers came through for us when we told them simon's tale.  It is amazing that on this side of the world people are so generous and can show so much LOVE.

At the same time, Adam, who lives in our community had something else up his sleeve.  He creates paver patios and has very generous parents and friends.  He fund raised his own project to create a nice sitting area for the adults in our community.    Pretty soon there were plans in motion for an entire yard make over.  Adam and volunteers ripped out the hedge that went around our yard, which expanded it greatly, removed the garden, and leveled 2 areas, 1 for the paver patio and another for simon's swing set.  Then his parents came out to Nebraska for a visits where they worked day and night along side their son and laid out the patio.  Somewhere along the way Todd and other volunteers put up a new fence.  (privacy around the playgrounds and picket by the seating area).  

We are so Blessed.  Thank you to everyone who was apart of this project.

In true Bolivar Community fashion, we didn't do a great job taking before pictures....or during pictures really...but here are some photos i found to (hopefully) show the transformation and then some pictures of Simon LOVING his new playground!!!!

Here is a BEFORE picture.  Here we are doing VBS in our backyard.  You can see the old playgrounds and the green hedge on the right.

Here is another picture from the VBS that show the view from the other direction, so looking towards where the new patio will be.
Bye Bye Hedge...we will never have to trim you again.  We do miss your greenness but are very happy about the extra space to play.  (you can see Mikey's make a wish playground is already there.  I actually tried to get a video/picture of when 12 people picked it up and moved it over 5 feet to make room for this project, but I couldn't get my window open fast enough :)  It was pretty amazing.  That playground is HUGE!!
This is the MAN, Adam.
I will be straight up here, I don't know this dude's name and I don't know the name of the machine he is on.  HOwever, I thought this was a cool picture....with a sad caption :)  Anyway, he is leveling out part of yard so that water will run off, not into our house, like it did earlier this summer.
Here is Anoroy with the wheel barrow, look at him go!!  Anoroy lives in our community...he is a pretty cool dude.
Work, work, work, these guys were HARD workers.  Again, THANK YOU!!
Here are some friends pulling out the garden.  RIP garden.  I am so sorry Daniel....I wanted to add this picture in particular to highlight my friend Sara who worked for hours while wearing her that is hardcore!!!
Here are some community members hard at work.  As per usual Todd is telling people what to do!!  HAHA!!  (Todd is the man who holds are building together...he is one handy man....what would we do without a Todd??)  On the left hiding behind Todd is Rachel and to the right is my hubby Jon.
Here are Adam and Ma and Pa Peters.  They are showing off their finished work.  That grey area in the back the area prepared for Simon's playground matting and they are standing on our new paver patio.  THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!
In this picture are our wish granters Mike and LInda, my hubby, Simon and a new friend.  These 4 plus others installed the green matting that was part of Simon's wish to make the backyard a more accessible place for his wheelchair and gait trainer.  Getting this matting paid for was one of those miracles I referred to eariler.  We have been blessed and it is wonderful being able to push Simon in his wheelchair or watch him walk in this area.
Here is a view from afar of the playground in its spot.  You can now see the new fence, the sitting wall and the built in fire pit.  Also, if you look really hard you will see the gravel that was put all around the playground.  Which has become a wonderful toy for Abbi (another make a wish child in our community) she loves moving those rocks around, sensory fun!!

This is Ishmael at Simon's make a wish party, they brought him a present as well. He was VERY excited about his new helmet and angry birds skate board.
everyone enjoyed ice cream at this party...especially ishmael.  It was a VERY VERY HOT day so we were all happy to have something cold to eat!!

This swing set was chosen for Simon because of the high deck.  Linda and Mike found sensory items to go under this deck so that Simon can play under there.  (note the PVC glockenspiel to the right...THANK YOU MIKE!!)  They found this amazing swing to go in place of the tire swing.  It is a huge blessing for us as Simon needs to lay down sometimes and now he can lay down outside and be swinging at the same time.  It has also become a great place for him to swing while he is getting  a tube feed!!!

Here is another photo of him swinging.
Here Simon goes in his gait trainer.
Here are some friends playing at the can see Mikey's playground in the background.  Todd was spraying the boys with water and rightfully was SO HOT.

Here is Simon hanging out with one of his FAVORITE people, our friend Kylie.

Okay full disclosure...Simon was having a TERRIBLE day, the day of his party. So I had trouble getting good pictures of him playing with his new toys.  It was pretty sad because just days before he was having the time of his life out there.  I really wanted all of our friends and family to get to see him enjoying it...but can't really plan on your special needs child behaving exactly how you want him to EVER. :)  So I went ahead and did another photo shoot of him playing on another day.  

that is Simon's normal look when he is swinging.

Here are Simon and Ishmael playing at the sand and water table.  The red box is full of Kinetic sand...which is amazing stuff.

Here they are playing in the water.

Here they are playing again.  Note on the top left of the can see his swing hanging up...again THANK YOU Mike for making this playground so usable for Simon.

Simon was really concentrating here.

Here is Simon reaching out for his Glockenspiel paddle.  He hasn't mastered this whole thing yet...but it is something for us to work toward.

Here is Simon sitting in front of his Glockenspiel so you can see his name on it and his make a wish stickers!!

He thought the steering wheel was funny, this was another item that was thrown in by the playground company. You can see some of the kids of the community enjoying the water table.  Also you can see our battle with the rocks coming onto the green area....we didn't see that coming somehow...we have joked that when a child needs a time out we will make them pick up gravel!!

Here is Simon smiling on his gait trainer.

Here he is laughing...he only wanted to go backwards this day.

Simon watches Ishmael play now...something he NEVER did before.

Now the grand finally....Simon's new swing.  They gave us 2 like to go INSIDE!!!! And one for outside.  We have actually had both outside lately so that when Simon's friends Sam and Tony (both adopted from Simon's orphanage) come over they can swing too.

Here he is laughing and looking around while he swings.


I LOVE to swing.

Here is a picture of baby June, she is 10 months already...she is pictured with Deb who lives in our community!!

This is a picture of what it looks like when we are outside...often people think we are having a party when we are just grilling in our backyard.  People also think we are a daycare....they thought that before and now, look at this yard...we for SURE look like a daycare now.

 Well, that is our photo look at Simon's make a wish. Thank you again to EVERYONE who helped and donated to this project.  You have blessed us more than you know!!!! I am humbled by what God has done for our community.

 Someday soon I should actually update you on how Simon is doing!!! :)  But that will be another day.  Keep reading and I will try to keep writing!!

Friday, April 24, 2015

the circles within the circles

It is that time, once again, for an overdue update post!! 

Simon is still loving school, and we are sad that soon the school year will be over.  Today we went to Madonna to do his placements for therapies over the summer. We are planning on getting him started in PT, OT, Speech and feeding therapy, twice a week over the summer.  It was exciting as we did the OT evaluation because the therapist hadn't seen him since last summer, and we could see definite progress.  Simon did a great job opening wide for his was great to see.  He still pushed the spoon away at times, but he was doing it to tell them he wasn't ready and when he was ready, he would touch their hand to give him another bite.

Simon will be getting his tonsils and adenoids removed on Tuesday.  I am a little stressed about the recovery. I hate seeing Simon in pain.  I also don't like that we can't really explain to him why we are doing it and why he will be in pain.  The doctors told us to plan on at least one night in the hospital for sure and possibly a second night. 

When you are adopting internationally, you end up in a bunch of groups.  Groups that have concentric circles.  Groups that include all adoptive parents, groups that are only for international adoptive parents, groups for special needs adoptions/special needs international adoptions....and then you divide up by country/region/orphanage.  I have met incredible adoptive families online who live all over the United States and a few who live across the ocean.  I have even met a few in person, and the bond that we shared while meeting and picking up our children is incredible. I might never see them again but I love them so much because we shared a time so special to each one of us.  I liken it to the bond you share with someone who was at your child's birth. It is interesting how these groups work as the categories get more and more specific and you have so much in common with other group members--and yet, your kids can be so different. 

Even though our children are very different,  I have learned a lot from being in touch with other mothers who adopted from the Pleven orphanage.  I turn to many of these women when I am having really hard days.  I rejoice with them when their children take steps, draw pictures or learn to speak.  I mourn with them when they have bad days.  Some of them have had really, really bad days.  At this point, three mothers have lost children they adopted from Pleven.  Ishmael and I pray for the Lord to heal their hearts each night.  There is a part of me that I suppose is supposed to understand why God would bring a child into an adoptive family and then allow them to die just a year after they get here.. but I simply don't.  There is a part of me that is supposed to say, well, they are out of pain, they are in a better place.  But that part of me isn't really working just yet.  I think that part of me is being eclipsed by the angry sobbing mess of a woman that I have been this week.

My frustration also goes in concentric circles.  I am frustrated that children are ever abandoned by their familes at all, and I am even more upset that some of them are left because they have special needs.  The injustice of special needs children then being neglected in orphanages, and experiencing even more trauma, is just too much to take at times.  But my heart also breaks for children that aren't abandoned, and are hurt by their own parents.  The stories of children being prostituted by their parents, beaten by their parents, verbally abused by their parents--they haunt me when I look into the eyes of my 7 month old baby, my 5 year old son and my Simon.  I love them so much, I would NEVER do those things to my child.  How do people get to that point?  Why do they do it?

The only answer I come to is that pain brings more pain.  Broken people break people.  How can a mother who was abused herself figure out how to parent without abuse?  How can a person addicted to drugs be expected to put their kid's needs before their own?  How can a person that believes that they are nothing instill in their child a confidence that they can overcome in this world?  They can't.  Many of these things are examples of cyclical poverty...and the only way I have found to break someone out of it is to love them.  To love them with more abandon than you ever thought possible.  To love them like Jesus, to lay down your life for them.  To invite them into your home, family and life and let them expeirence love first hand.  Then pray that you can keep loving them when they struggle to love themselves.

Back to Simon, though...the worst days with Simon are the ones when he is in pain and we can't figure out why or how to make it stop.  On those days Simon hits himself.  Simon hits himself like you have never seen a child hit himself.  He uses both fists and throws them across his face hitting his nose and forehead, leaving red splotches behind.  The noise is maddening and can be heard through the walls and through the floors.  On the worst days, when you grab his hands to stop him from hitting himself, he bashes his head into the floor.  At that point I end up sitting with him on my bed.  I lay him down and put my legs over his arms and hips, so he can't hit himself and if he tries to hit his head, it just bounces on the bed.  It is in these times that Simon's pain hurts us.  I have to remind myself what he has been through, so that I don't get angry with him for doing this to himself...for doing this to me.  For showing us that the love we offer is not enough to heal him from some things (at least that is what it feels like he is saying).  But what I need to give him is grace; what I need to give myself is grace. 

Simon has come SO FAR.  Just this week we were told by two different doctors how good Simon looks, how much he has changed and how good we are doing.  It is nice to hear it.  I feel like there are times I need to just post those words in my house somewhere.   He does smile a lot, and his smile lights up the room and radiates warmth. He pulls our hands towards him and he pushes them away, and in that he communicates.  He makes eye contact and communicates with those eyes.  He laughs, and his laugh can bring us such joy.  He is so much more interactive and aware than he used to be. We can see so much progress in level of engagement with the world around him.

Simon is a fighter. He is a survivor, and there are people who met him in that orphanage that never thought he would make it out of there alive and he did.  He is the boy who lived.  And I want to enjoy every day that I have with him....because someday I might have to join the circle of those who have lost their children...

Please take a moment to read a little about Tiya, she needs to get out of that orphanage.  Please pray for her to find a family. And if you feel led, donate to her adoption costs.


Brandon, now has a family:  Please support their adoption..

Brandon 2014_2

Mikah, also has a family and they could use your support and prayers.


Here are some pictures taken in the past 4 months:

We attended a friend's wedding and Simon was able to try out the suit he got for Christmas.  He looked pretty sharp.

This is Mikey, he lives in our community.  For his make a wish, he got a play ground in our backyard!  The kids have enjoyed it so much!!  Simon's make a wish should be coming in the next few months.  We had so much fun at Mikey's party, and I can't wait for Simon's.

Here is Simon on our vacation.  We stopped at a park to take a break from our car ride.  We made a dietary mistake and Simon didn't have a great time on this trip.  But man, he sure looked good...his mom is getting better and better at cutting his hair. :)

this is his suspicious face.