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!!!|
|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!|
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.