Thursday, September 1, 2016

My Mom, E. Nydia Soracco-Godone -- Four years after God called her.

I won’t say that today was a harder day than any other one. It is equally hard 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. On September 1, 2012, my Mom met Jesus and His Blessed Mother in Heaven. There is not one moment we can stop thinking about her. My Mom, E. Nydia Soracco-Godone, was not an average person. She was better than above-average. She was the personification of selflessness, of compassion, of love and care. She was kind to everyone, always trying to lift other people’s spirits and to boost their self-esteem. She always had words of praise and encouragement—but if someone made any thoughtlessly insensitive or purposefully sharp comment that could carelessly or intentionally hurt someone else’s feelings, she’d immediately reply on behalf of the victim with an even sharper response to give the wrongdoer a taste of their own medicine and a lifelong lesson against making any nasty remarks any more.

She always lived up to the strictest family values, and yet was open to and ready to help people from all walks of life. She was used to a privileged lifestyle, and yet she always saw Jesus in the homeless and the hungry. In the light of the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church, she always defended, and campaigned and stood up for, equality and social justice. She cared about the physically and mentally challenged, about the unborn, about the sick, about the poor and the oppressed. She always welcomed the immigrant and tried to break the ice for the sake of any newcomer anywhere.

She was a professor of literature. Starting in her early twenties she would deliver some talks on literary issues on a radio channel. Nevertheless, she happily gave up everything, including teaching and public speaking, as soon as she learned that her most cherished dream had come true—as soon as she learned that she was carrying me.

In her opinion, which my Dad also fully shared, once people become parents personal goals no longer matter any more, and the only important dreams from then on are the ones they have for their children. Yes, my Mom and Dad truly believed that becoming parents meant dying to themselves and living only for their young. And, even more strikingly, they didn’t find that difficult at all. In their eyes, that was not a sacrifice, but a loving commitment wrapped in hope and joy. They went so far as to think that even those potential life vicissitudes that people tend to fear the most, such as facial disfigurement or loss of bodily function or of limb were not that terrible after a person’s dream of parenthood had come true and provided that it didn’t interfere with ongoing parenting tasks.

Legoland, CA. Can you see the love in her face as she looks at Thomas and Nicholas?

One day when she was in her early thirties, with no training or weapon at all other than her own valiant heart, my Mom stopped the abduction of a seven-year-old child. That meant confronting a kidnapper with blood-shot eyes and a knife in his hand. Whatever that little boy grew up to be and wherever he is today, he owes his life to my Mom.

I must admit that even with a license to practice law I never had a Midas’ touch. So, after a total reversal in financial circumstances, spontaneously and happily my Mom sacrificed her own mobility and eyesight for the sake of my international adoption expenses, first from Haiti and then from Bulgaria, with two failed ones from Russia and Uzbekistan in between, which were more expensive than the five successful ones together. Even though entitled to Medicare, as she had never worked in U.S., coverage wouldn’t have been without a premium—for which she amply had the funds, but still did not want to pay. Bringing her new grandchildren home was far more important to her. That’s how in a five-year period I went from being a biological mother of three to becoming a mother of eight through international adoption.

My Mom's amazing generosity outlived her earthly journey. With all that my three older children, now adults, do for their five younger brothers, which surpasses anything that words can say, it’s only too obvious that the three of them fully inherited that total, absolute, unconditional selflessness, self-abnegation, self-denial that my parents and grandparents had. That's something I must admit I don’t have. I am devoted to my children and do many things for them, but still cannot give myself so entirely as they did and do. Regarding my five younger sons, despite their physical and academic challenges, despite still unresolved adoption issues, despite many years of past abuse and neglect to heal from, their older sister and brothers’ example is slowly showing and teaching them about sharing, caring, and compassion.

Every time there is any problem, every time I feel the whole world is crashing down on me, I do what I have been doing all my life: I ask my Mom for help. And, no matter how easy or how hard you may find it to believe, I can state and prove that help always comes. Always—to the point that I’ve learned to ask for her help and wait for the storm to dissipate—and it does dissipate. Just waiting for help to arrive is actually against my nature as I am the kind of person who likes to be proactive and keep things under control. But I've learned to trust in help that is so much more powerful. By the same token, back in 2008, it had been my Dad’s intercession from Heaven what had saved the adoptions of Thomas and Nicholas from Haiti after the U.S. Consulate in Port-au-Prince had made a serious mistake that could have jeopardized the whole process. I can prove that help had come from Above and not from any earthly political intervention, which had not even arrived to materialize before unexpected resolution of a seemingly unsolvable problem. At the time my Mom was called, in the online communities where I belong there were three children fighting for their lives. One had been in a near-drowning accident, another had suffered serious traumatic brain injury, and a third one was battling leukemia. A little before my Mom went into a comma, I whispered their names into her ears. I knew she’d be near Jesus very soon. I knew she’d ask the Miracle Worker for them—and all three of them made it with almost miraculous recoveries despite their much less optimistic prognoses.

After my Mom had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and given only a few more months on this earth I would tell her that she had never let go of me and that I would never let go of her—but I had to. Jesus was calling her. Angels were carrying her soul to the eternal dwelling beyond the skies. I had to let go of her. My three older children had been by her side at all times, even after she had slipped into a comma. Actually, I had wasted much of that precious time on my computer, writing about her--even though I knew that it was not what she wanted. She had never cared about publicity and prestige---but I do. I couldn't avoid doing for her what I'd have wanted for me.

We very well know she’s still near us, protecting us from Above as she had always protected us on this ground. We can still feel her presence comforting us every time, lifting us, comforting us, strengthening us, encouraging us. My daughter dedicated her doctoral dissertation to her. Yet, it is so difficult not to miss the sound of her voice, her advice, her kisses, and her hugs. Mom, we all miss you so very much!!!

My Mom kissing the photos of Maximilian and Philip when their adoptions from Bulgaria were still in process. Despite all she had given of herself for them to be part of our family, she knew she would not be physically here by the time of their homecoming.

Easter 2012--the last Easter my Mom was physically with us. She enjoyed every second of it, and poured out so much love as to last for an eternity.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Not Just "Happy Birthday"--but "Thank You, Catherine!"

April just came to an end—and with it the first quarter of 2016. Even if belated, I must post what I should have posted on Catherine’s birthday, April 26.  God gave me the priceless privilege of conceiving, carrying, and giving birth to that then tiny preemie baby girl who was incredibly beautiful and who would grow up to become an even more beautiful, more incredible young adult.  You can see her outer beauty as you look at her, and you can feel and be comforted by her inner beauty as you interact with her.  She is, and always was, the very best daughter any parent may wish for and the very best older sister to her seven younger brothers as well as an active Catholic with the courage of her convictions, always ready and willing to speak up for the right to life, equality, and social justice, always siding with the weakest ones of all, always reaching out to anyone in need. She envisions her Psy.D. not as a personal achievement for career success but as a tool to better help others, particularly children with special needs—and she does have a very special place in her heart for special kids. 

Catherine, and also Gerard and Warren, my twin sons, bio as well and now adults too, devote to their five younger brothers, all adopted internationally with special needs, inordinate amounts of time, buy for them many more things than I should even allow them to buy, take them places, and give them more love than words can say. No, I’m not exaggerating or embellishing anything. The three of them inherited from their maternal grandparents that total selflessness, that complete self-abnegation, that unconditional giving of themselves that my parents had—which, I must admit, I don’t have. . . . at least not to that incredible extent.

Catherine is always ready to search high and low here and there to find exactly what everyone needs or wants.  She always comes up with new activities for her five youngest brothers to engage into and learn from. In a matter of seconds her presence can change the most conflictive moment with escalating behaviors into the most harmonious, joyful, peaceful one where all acting out deescalates to give in to affection, willful compliance, apologies, and smiles.

As I’m mentioning smiles, I can almost visualize not only the happy ones on my sons’ faces but the condescending smiles on the faces of all those who will be reading this post. Please allow me to say that it’s not my own observation, appreciation, or interpretation of the events. Others who had a chance to witness one or more of those instances have been surprised, astonished, amazed at what they’ve seen. It’s like her walking into a room makes a storm shift into sunshine. Because that sunshine comes from inside her. She radiates that totally selfless love she has in her heart. Not just I, but others not related to us have called it ‘magical,’ ‘incredible,’ ‘unbelievable,’ and even ‘a miracle’.

When she was only three years old, instead of asking Santa for toys for herself, she asked him to give toys to all poor children all over the world. When she was four, at a restaurant she jumped out of her seat and, before we could even realize what was happening, rushed to place herself in harm’s way as a waiter was pushing a tray on wheels at full speed without realizing that there was a small toddler sitting on the floor in between the tables and just on his path. Everything happened in a second. Catherine jumped in front of the child—and the waiter stopped right in front of her.

When she was seven, she told a classmate who was not really pretty, “You are so beautiful! I wish I were so pretty as you are.” No, she did not want o look like the other girl—but wanted the other girl to feel better about herself.

She would always stand up for, protect, and befriend, any child who was teased by then other kids, who had gotten somehow marginalized or left out, or who happened to be the only or almost only non-Caucasian child in an eminently Caucasian peer group. 

One day when she was a little girl, she made me take an exit and stop in order to free a butterfly that had gotten caught in our wind wipers.  She wanted to save that little winged creature. I wish I had a picture showing the joy in her eyes when she saw it free and safely fly away.

At one of her undergraduate internships, she would ignore everyone’s prompts to drop a burning paper she was holding. Even though the flames were advancing towards her right hand, she wouldn’t let go of it until able to make it to a metal trash can where she could dispose of it in the safest possible way for everyone else.

She would jeopardize her whole master’s degree only because of some tears in one of her younger brother’s eyes. She arrived past the cut-off time to drop off the take-home portion of her comp—simply because Thomas was crying . . . and she wouldn’t leave until he felt better.  As always, God did His part, and even though by the time she finally made it to submit her assignment it was twenty-five minutes past the deadline, she saw her instructor getting to her mailbox . . . as she was getting away from it after having just dropped off her paper into the box.

When after having been affectionate, cuddly, clingy for six years, during the summer of 2014 Thomas started exhibiting some aggressive behaviors, Catherine and the twins were much more patient and understanding than I could be. Had it not been for them, things might have arrived to a point of no return. Thanks to them, instead, and notwithstanding having been through some bad moments and bad times, our Thomas is coming back to us—the one we used to know from his homecoming in July of 2008 until those new behaviors that started around June of 2014. Even though with some ups and downs, thanks to his older sister and brothers, he’s somehow going back to being the cuddly, loving Thomas he used to be.

Well, I guess it’s time to say it one more time: Without the total, absolute, unconditional support that at all times, every time, and at every step of the way I had from my family, maybe none of my five younger sons, all adopted internationally, would be home today. My Mom, now with God, sacrificed her own health for the sake of my adoption expenses to bring home her five youngest grandkids. At one point in mid 2008, my Dad’s intercession from Heaven saved the adoptions of Thomas and Nicholas from Haiti when the U.S. Consulate in Port-au-Prince had made a very serious and very stupid mistake. Catherine, Gerard, and Warren were active participants in every adoption. I won’t say that they were the best helpers with every one of their younger brothers. That wouldn’t be a fair terminology because, even if risking criticism, I must say it in plain language the way it is: the three of them have always been doing much more than I myself ever did or could ever do.

Christmas 2015 - Catherine always makes sure that every holiday is a magic, memorable one to be remembered forever.

Comforting Thomas before he becomes really agitated.

Easter 2016 - She always bakes the yummiest treats--and makes her brothers take part in the process so that they can feel proud of themselves. And . . . look at the happy, joyful, heartfelt smile on Thomas's face now!

Easter 2016 - Decorating Easter eggs with her brothers

Hugging Maximilian on any regular day

Hugging Maximilian. BTW, please note the Jurassic Park drapes in the background. Just one day she decided to buy Star Wars and dinosaur drapes for Stephen and Maximilian's room, and Batman and Spiderman curtains for Thomas, Nicholas, and Philip's room so that all of them could have their favorite characters or themes.
All the teachers know how very much Catherine and the twins do for their younger brothers so that around my older ones' birthdays always my younger boys come home with something made at school for their older sister or brothers. Here you can see Catherine with Stephen--and you can also find the Star War drapes in the background.

Just on two regular days, Catherine is doing one of her many arts and crafts projects with her brothers. She's helping them make bird feeders and flower pots so that they can feel better by being active stewards in God's miracles of life that are symbolized by the beginning of the spring.
Above and below you can appreciate a couple of Catherine's numberless projects for her brothers to do. Above: colored Easter eggs. Below: flower pots with newly planted seeds by our kitchen window.

Catherine and Nicholas with our Stella, who, in return of all the love she receives, is showing Catherine some very expressive love of her own.

Monday, August 24, 2015

A Haitian Mass to remember

 Hello everyone,
It's been ages since my last post, which was almost one and a half years ago.  I have countless news, events and topics I want to share.  I have the ideas, the photos, even the wording written down in my mind--but didn't have the time to actually sign into Blogger and get the job done. Finally I arrived to make a little time to put together a few pics from a very nice, highly emotional moment from Sunday, August 15, 2015.

Our Parish, St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Newport, RI, has a new priest. When at the end of June our former pastor retired, the new pastor appointed to lead the Parish was Fr. Jacques Chavannes, who is from Haiti and who lived in Haiti until very recently, taking care of numberless social issues in addition to the spiritual ones.

Independently of the pastor's background, in early August every year St. Joseph's celebrates a Haitian Mass because for twenty-five years the Parish has been actively involved in a Haitian ministry, supporting a school and, beyond stationery supplies, providing for the healthcare, housing, sanitation, and nutrition needs of the children and their families.

Every year the Haitian choir from St. Michael's in Providence is invited to perform during the Mass. St. Michael's is a very old Catholic church that is very well-known for being the "first home" of numerous immigrants of all faiths and from all corners of the globe to the United States.

I'm the first one to emphatically oppose the idea that adopted children should be raised with more contact with their culture of origin than they want. That only sets an unnecessary and unwarranted difference between the adopted children and their forever families. But that Mass and that culminating moment at St. Joseph's were the exception.

Towards the end of the Mass, Fr. Jacques asked Thomas and Nicholas to approach. Nothing could be better for Thomas than to be turned into the center of attention. He was immediately walking towards the altar.  Although typically not shy, Nicholas was a little more hesitant--but Fr. Jacques came to our pew, grabbed his hands, and got him to the altar as well.

That allowed me the additional time I needed to quickly enter the password to my iPhone and shoot a few pictures. I don't know how audible my voice was, but as I was standing there with my phone in my hand, I said, "Two blessings from Haiti."

 All the congregation clapped hands at them. As a devout cradle Catholic I do believe that during Mass you're even closer to God. Well, for Thomas and Nicholas that moment and that ovation were literally Heaven on earth.

Then, Nicholas started dancing with the Haitian choir.  At the time of his homecoming in 2008 at the age of seven, he could walk already but was unable to keep his head straight on his shoulders. It is just incredible, amazing, how well he manages to dance. If you look at him when he walks, you have to refrain yourself from the temptation to hold his hand. He always seems to be about to fall, and yet most of the time still manages to keep his balance.

I'll let the pictures tell the rest. After all, someone said that "one picture is worth a thousand words."

God bless everyone.

And . . . just a little P.S. from January 14 this year. The following are some of the thousands of pics that I've been taking and wanting to post during all this time when I didn't even touch my blog. The pics below were taken at the Parish office one day and show Thomas and Nicholas delivering a few school supplies for the school in Haiti. It was no more than a couple of items purchased at the Dollar Tree--nothing even remotely comparable to the very large donations that my parents and anyone else in my family would have made but I cannot. Yet, for Thomas and Nicholas it meant the experience of helping kids in need in their former homeland.

The lady to the right is a volunteer who was covering for the Parish secretary.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Now 2013 is gone, and so is Jan. 2014. Over one year with Maximilian and Philip. 2013 overview. Part I.

Hello, everyone,
The year 2013 is now totally gone--and so is January 2014!!! Time flies. There are not enough hours in the day to do everything that needs to be done. I didn't have time to write a Christmas 2013 letter. I didn't have time to thank all those who in different ways helped in the process of bringing Maximilian and Philip home. If I started listing all those things I didn't have time to do, this blog post would take at least one more full year to complete. Yet, things keep on going only because of the enormous, unbelievable, extraordinary help that on a daily basis I get from Catherine, Gerard, and Warren. What they do for their younger brothers is much more than words can say.

Sunday, January 12, 2014, was very last day of the Christmas Season. It was also the first anniversary of Maximilian and Philip's homecoming. Yet, we did not celebrate it. I will say it upfront and in a straightforward manner: in our family we do not celebrate adoption anniversaries. I don't want to stir up a controversial issue here, but as a matter of principle I do believe that people tend to talk about adoption much more than they should. Once the new children are home, they're part of the family, the same as if they had been born into it. In my opinion, the celebration of adoption anniversaries means keeping forever present that the child or children in question came into the family at a later time.

Back in 2008, three or four months after Thomas and Nicholas' homecoming from Haiti, Catherine, my oldest one (and my only girl), told me she intended to delete from Facebook all the pick-up trip and homecoming pictures. She told me that she wanted Thomas and Nicholas to be not only to her but also to everyone else just her then-youngest brothers--not her "new brothers." As for me, I wouldn't have gone so far. I'd rather remove myself from the face of earth than remove any picture from anywhere. Catherine, though, went even farther than that. She went as far as to dying her naturally dirty blonde hair into a mid-brown shade . . . so as to slightly soften the diametrical difference in looks.  I must confess that I tried by all means to dissuade her from doing that--and yet, deeply inside me, I truly admired her for it.

I'm getting off track. I love editorial writing. I'd love to be a columnist in a major newspaper--but my job would be a very short-lived one as I'm very direct and outspoken in my opinions. So, please forgive me for doing in my blog what I'd like to be doing for a much larger readership or audience.

Going back to 2013, I'll just say that it was a crazy year.  With absolutely no exaggeration or embellishment, it was crazy indeed. It was totally nuts, demented, insane--but still, amidst the problems and the tears, there was not one single moment that was not cushioned, muffled, encapsulated by love.

Almost from the very beginning it seemed that Maximilian and Philip had been with us forever. Maximilian astonished absolutely everyone with how extremely fast he acquired excellent oral communication skills in his new language. Very fast he got full command of the tenses of the verbs, the correct use of prepositions and conjunctions, idiomatic expressions, and the inflection of the voice according to context. Nowadays, for anyone who hears him speak, it is hard to believe that he is not an innate speaker. He is loving, cuddly, and very well-behaved. He's very sociable and way too cute. The same as Stephen, about whom the school secretary at George Peters Elementary, which he used to attend in Cranston, once had said that he "ruled the entire school," Maximilian also has that mayor's attitude as he talks to everyone, knows everyone, and everyone knows him.

The same as Stephen, he has a very noble approach in the face of his very serious physical limitations. Actually, Maximilian deals with even more severe challenges than Stephen, who is paralyzed from the waist down but entirely mobile and even strong and nimble with his upper body. On the contrary, Maximilian's mobility is even more impaired. For instance, Stephen can transfer from his wheelchair to the van entirely on his own. Maximilian cannot. Unlike Stephen, who can get on his own all over the seats, once put in his place Maximilian is not able to move over to the side with no help.

I know. We need a wheelchair vehicle--but do not have one. Gerard and Warren are always, all the time and at all times ready and willing to carry their younger brothers everywhere--to the van, back into the house, upstairs, back downstairs . . . you name it. Both twins are very tall now, and very athletic. Yet, they're both as thin as broomsticks, and their bone structure is not big at all. In the long run, they are going to ruin their backs--and yet, they enjoy every single moment they do anything for their younger brothers. Even Catherine, who did hurt her back doing martial arts some years ago, is always willing to carry them up and down and around. I wish I could do more, but I'm not strong. I'm not worrying about my back. I'm stronger now than I used to be when I was in my teens or in my twenties--but still that's far from being any strong at all.

Philip has serious vocalization problems due to his c.p.--and even more serious behavioral issues. Yet, he's extremely cute, and is also loving--but cannot tolerate it every time that any attention is given to someone else or whenever he needs to be told "no" to something he wants.

In early 2013 I made a mistake that meant a couple of nightmarish months following it. I was the kind of mistake that people typically do not make--and certainly the kind of mistake that lawyers do not make at all. From a moral standpoint, my conscience is totally clear--but still I could have brought some very bad consequences upon myself, which would have projected upon my whole family. Yet, I feel proud in the sense that even if my older children needed to know about my error, I kept from them the whole spectrum of implications it could have had.

The tears over my Mom's passing to Eternity on September 1, 2012, are not dry--and will never dry. It is because of her sacrifice in putting the international adoption expenses over her own health needs, because of her decision to forego knee replacement and cataracts surgeries for herself that today I'm not a mother of three but a mother of eight.  Even after finding herself almost blind and in a wheelchair, she never had any regrets.

Here I'm posting only two photos. The love in her face pours out of them. For many more pictures please pay a look at my page (one of the tabs at the top) entitled My Mom. Thank you. This photo is from Dec. 2012.

Can you see how she's looking at Nicholas and Thomas? Legoland, San Diego, CA, Nov. 2009.

I don't want to give the impression that international adoption is so prohibitive. There are countless opportunities for fundraising, and the adoption community is based upon mutual help--but I didn't know that at the time. Had I known all that earlier, my Mother wouldn't have needed to have sacrificed so very much.

Let's go back to our crazy year 2013. We were renting an awesome house in Cranston, RI, on a wooded ten- acre property.  But that house was on the market, and we had to move. In early July we moved to Middletown, in the actual island in RI, in between Newport and Portsmouth.

Initially we were not happy. This is a really old house. Yet, it's a six-bedroom home, and we started to like the island. And I definitely do like the schools. Having never attended a public school as a child, I never imagined I'd send any child of mine to one. Now I have my five younger kids attending three different schools. Philip's school is a private special needs school--but as difficult as it is for me to admit it, the school district takes care of the tuition.

I was very highly impressed by the middle schools in the Aquidneck Island. In Cranston I was happy with the elementary schools, but had been warned that middle school would not be the same. That is not the case in the island at all. Parents are fully involved in everything, and all the teachers are really caring. There is great concern for the children in special ed. In such light, I do need to find the time to write a post for which I have the title since a couple of years ago: God Was There: Why Couldn't His Name Be Said? 

Going back to summertime, whereas the beginning of the summer was a very difficult one, towards its end we had some very nice times and some very nice outings. Please look at a few pics.

At an awesome petting zoo in Middletown, RI--less than five minutes from home!!!
I feel the temptation to try to make all of you believe that last year 2013 we traveled to Rome and spent some time at the Vatican with Pope Francis. That mounted cutout of him looks so very realistic, as if the Pope himself was standing there, next to us. That was a parochial picnic at St. Lucy's, in Middletown--one of our three new Parishes. No, it was not an error. You're supposed to have only one Parish--but when we moved to the Aquidneck Island we started going to three different parishes--and in all three of them everyone was so extremely kind that we cannot decide where to formally register as parishioners. We simply cannot select one over the other two.

At the zoo, Aug. 2013

Guess why Warren is running! He's going after a little fugitive, AKA Philip.

No words needed.
Hey, Stephen! What are you doing to your brother?

Lots of petting zoo pics . . . and even many more in prior posts.

Side entrance to our home. The outside doesn't look that nice--but the inside is getting to look much better. No, as of today's date, 02/07/14, I didn't finish unpacking yet.
Camping in our backyard. I stayed inside the house and in the middle of the night tried to scare them . . . but they didn't get scared!

More petting zoo pics . . .

Maximilian during a P.T. session
Philip loves going to the doctor.

The following are pics of Maximilian's 11th birthday--his very first birthday at home!!!

On the beach

Camping for real at Burlingame Campsite, early Sept. 2013.  Catherine kissing Philip.

And still more petting zoo pics!

At home

On 05/22/13, our family got mentioned in an article in The National Catholic Register. It was a very good piece that provides some insight on how, whereas claiming to help the children, the UNICEF policies tend to deprive them of the possibility to thrive in forever adoptive homes. If eventually interested, the link to the article is:

On 12/12/13 at the Light Up A Life ceremony organized by Home & Hospice Care of RI, I had an opportunity to share our story about my Mom's diagnosis with congestive heart failure and about our endless bereavement when on September 1, 2012, she was called to Heaven, including a couple of highlights about her life. I had a chance to mention how in her mid-thirties, with no weapon of any kind other than her valiant heart, she had prevented the kidnapping of an unknown seven-year-old child. She had been so very determined not to let the man take the boy that had made the kidnapper armed with a knife run away. I had a chance to mention how very much she had sacrificed so that I could adopt my younger sons, first from Haiti, and then from Bulgaria. She had deemed that the international adoption costs were much more important than her mobility and eyesight and had forgone knee replacement and cataracts surgeries for herself. That is how I went in a five-year period from being a mother of three to becoming a mother of eight. Even after finding herself almost blind and in a wheelchair, she never had any regrets.

Due to space limitations for each post, please see Part II, with lots of more pics, including the Christmas 2013 ones. Thank you.


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