I didn't know how to come here and post, so here it goes we are HOME!!!! Gracie, and Bella are our daughters and are loved so much. Dan brought the girls home on December 21st, 2012. Our trip for the most part was smooth, and everything in country went ok. There are so many things I want to share, but I just don't know where to start, or what to say. So today I will share progress. We traveled to our girls and it was love at first sight. We waited so long and it was pure bliss. My heart was torn to see the girls in the conditions that they were living in, especially Gracie. Gracie was in an institution and there is so much to say, and I promise I will go there another time. The brokenness you see in institutions, well I still don't have the words to tell you how it has impacted me and changed me forever. Today's post is really to show the changes that have been made in just a short amount of time being home. Really all I can say is I saw the hand of God in this adoption, and REDEMPTION!! ADOPTION is HARD, I don't really want to say it has all been easy. (Because easy is the last word I would us to describe it.) But look at the transformation in my girls in a few months and you will see why adoption needs to happen. These girls lives have been saved, and it isn't all easy once you get them home to family, but it is so so worth it. These are only 2 of millions of children who have broken spirits, living in neglect, and conditions that you can not even imagine, even if I told you. This haunts me on a daily basis, my two are out but so so many more are left behind and even I will go through my day sometime and forget with the daily time consuming life of raising 6 children. I don't want to ever forget, and watching my girls heal from life of living there for 6 years is precious, amazing, wonderful, maddening, and angering to me at times. 6 years of institutionalized life needs to be broken, and they have come so far, but it is really really hard.
When we met Bella she could not crawl, or walk. She would sit in a spot and not move, she would zone, and when handed a toy she only had enough fine motor skills to throw it. She was only eating from a bottle, she didn't have the ability to chew. She was very floppy, her legs and her arms were like jello. It was hard for her to sit on our lap without falling off. When we met her she pushed me away she preferred to be by herself. She would harm herself with biting and hitting. Bella is 6 years old, and in the photos she is wearing a dress that is size 24 months. However, during our visits we noticed Bella start to get bigger. We were feeding her daily when we would visit her, she started crawling, and was interacting with us more at each visit. While spending time with her in the orphanage she learned how to drink from a sippy cup, she learned how to laugh, she learned patty cake, how to clap, and wave hi. I was in awe to see my daughter come alive before my eyes, all from 2 hours of attention a day.
When we met Gracie, she was a little ball of energy, and I called her my little koala bear because if she can get you to pick her up, you are going to have to pry her off from you. She was so little, and thin. In these pictures Grace is 6 years old. She may have been tiny in stature but not in spirit. I really think that is how she made it a year being in the institution. She was constantly on the go, but if we interacted with her to much, she would have melt downs. She coped with too much, with self stimming behaviors. She constantly had her finger pressed hard into her eye, and her thumb in her mouth, and she rocked non stop. We didn't get to visit her as much as Bella because she was so far out from the city. However, after a few visits she knew we were coming because of the routine of getting ready for us. Leaving our visits and giving her back was the hardest thing I had to do while we were there. She needed out immediately.
Dan made the long journey home with our daughters on December 21st 2012. We were reunited as a family after I made a long trip across Nebraska to pick them up from the airport in a blizzard. Our family was together for Christmas. So much joy to this mama's heart. Joyously I took care of there every need. They were like infants in so many ways, but I love them where they are at, and do everything I can to make them feel secure in there new life.
The girls are doing so well, learning so much, and growing!!!!!!!!! I can not believe how tall they are, it almost seems physically impossible to me but they really are just shooting up, and getting taller.
Bella has learned 3 signs. She can sign eat, please, and more. She can say the word eat. She crawls all over our house, and usually makes her way to the laundry room because she likes the drier. She has a preference of toys and knows which ones are her favorite. She loves baths, and smiles non stop. She is such a JOY. She interacts and wants attention now. She is LOVED so much. She is making progress.
Gracie is doing so well since she has been home. She is a little fireball. She is so funny and always has us laughing so much. She came home and loved being in the sun. She would sit in the sunlight so much. She loves music, and hums tunes. She has learned 2 signs, eat, and please. She has learned how to chew, and feed herself. Her progress is slow but we have seen gains in 2 short months .Her balance is so much better now, and she knows she is LOVED. I keep telling myself down syndrome isn't a problem for her, if only down syndrome was the only issue. Her issues stem back to being left in an orphanage for 6 years, she has learned ways to cope with no love, and no interaction and it will take time to a lot of time to break through all of the institutionalization. We are making progress.
Today is 2 months home, and look at how great the girls look. I really believe that there lives have been saved. I am amazed daily, and thankful, and honored to be there mom. I am extremely blessed to call these two precious children my daughters. Our family is better because of them, who new how much two little girls could teach me in a matter of a few months. They are LOVED, and TREASURED forever.
Gracie Maria Cole
Bella Anastasia Cole