Monday, April 25, 2011

On Friday we signed the lease!

Hello, everyone,
It was a huge leap of faith to make it from one coast to the other with the whole family without having even found a house--but on Friday we signed the lease on our new home. It was the first and only house we went to see--and we got it! Obviously God was behind everything. I had contacted the realtors / owners from CA, and they had asked me to e-mail them some info. In my e-mail I had emphasized much more who we are and the kind of family I have than my overly optimistic expectations and not very organized plans. I wrote about my kids, and about the two new little ones yet to come.

In my rental application there was a section open for additional comments--and I wrote that "I come from a family with the most impeccable, unblemished, immaculate records in every respect---except for my credit records." It did not matter: they had already made the decision that they wanted us in their family home.

We started our trip much later than anticipated, and it took us much longer than expected to complete it. Yet, God had decided that such house would be for us.

The owners told me they had rejected about 10 applicants. That used to be the wife's family home, and they were looking more at who the prospective occupants would be than at how solid their work history was. Otherwise, being self-employed with a large family, it could have taken me forever to find a house.

This home is in a 5-acre wooded area, and yet not far from  the center of the town. It has lots of amenities, such as a breakfast nook, an office, and a sunroom. The lower level is a whole different apartment, with its own living-room and kitchen. Needless to say, Catherine is extremely excited about that--but she deserves it, after having said good-bye to her parochial Young Adults group in CA to come with the family over 3000 miles away. She says that I do need her, and she would do no less for her younger brothers.

In the meantime, we need to wait until the house becomes available. We're having a not totally comfortable yet cozy Easter all together. It's the little rest that we needed, so that on Monday both Catherine and I will have renewed energies to look for additional sources of income in the light of the huge lot of impending adoption expenses.

Actually, once again,it was thanks to Catherine that the young ones had a memorable Easter. I will be very honest and admit that I'd have done it without Easter baskets this year. Yet, Catherine went to WalMart and bought the baskets for Thomas,Nicholas, and Stephen with her own money. She even bought two small items for Gerard and Warren.

I thought that Stephen would complain about the big inconvenience of being all squeezed in a motel room, but quite to the contrary, this is proving to be a really positive binding experience. There are some moments when he acts out and becomes impossible. Yet, although initially he may refuse to apologize, he ends up saying "I'm sorry" after some time. There are little details that show how very much he does want to belong. For instance, while still in CA, in the evening of the day when our household belongings had been loaded on the truck, Stephen placed himself where the T.V. set used to be, performed for his family audience, and said, "I'm a T.V." Thomas immediately followed, and said he was watching T.V. Stephen then replied, "I'm not a T.V. I'm a boy and a son." When not very comfortable with a van overloaded with those things that needed to come with us plus all the things that had not fit into the truck, he seemed to enjoy the whole adventure together, and to talk about "before, before, before I was in Bulgaria and you were not my mom--but now you are my mom." At one point, after having gotten upset about something and after saying he wanted to go back to Bulgaria, he told me, "Thank you for here." That could be developed as "thank you for being here." After misbehaving on our way to the Easter Vigil Mass to the point that we had to go back to the motel and go to Mass on Sunday morning, I was very upset, and he told me, "I don't want to do this to you." His first question on Easter Sunday was whether I was angry with him. After the Easter Mass he asked me if he had behaved well. Catherine was much more emphatic than me in praising him, and he was really happy.  Late this evening, before going to sleep, he asked me to seat for a moment next to him.

Catherine's 25th birthday is on Tuesday. Her only birthday request was to spend some time with all her brothers, to take them somewhere and to eat something with them. The only problem is that I don't even have funds for that. Moving expenses, security deposit, and impending adoption expenses add up to many thousands of dollars besides regular monthly expenses.  Yet, we know that God is on our side. He gave us more than enough signs showing He does want Maximilian and Philip to get home.

May the blessings of our Lord who died and resurrected for us be with you this Easter and always,

Lillian Godone-Maresca

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hello from RI

Hello to everyone,
 After a long road trip, which took us much longer than expected, we arrived to RI on Friday, April 15. We cannot complain, though.I was afraid thinking how Stephen would react when things would not be so easy and so comfortable as they are at home. Quite to the contrary, the trip proved to be a very positive bonding experience. Once again, I must thank Catherine, Gerard, and Warren for everything they did and keep on doing. Also I must thank my mom, who put up with excruciating pain with a smile n her lips.

The antiques, which are in storage since 2008, will remain in California indefinitely---until such day when I am able to pay for transportation, if such day ever arrives. Catherine drove a Penske truck with most of our everyday furniture and possessions, with one of the twins riding with her. I drove the family van with my mom, the other twin, and the three smaller ones. Catherine's Grand Cherokee was shipped on an auto transport company.

The very first days in RI were really hard. The gas expenses had been much higher than expected, and there was no more money left. It seemed like all our dreams were crashing down. It seemed like Maximilian and Philip were even farther from us. Yet, as we knew, God was always there. Some funds did arrive, and some more are arriving before the end of the week. After all, if we had some difficult days during the Holy Week, what was that compared with Jesus' agony n the Cross?

Given that rental rates in RI are significantly lower than in CA, the monies that we were expecting, which will be arriving any moment now will be more than enough for first month rent and security deposit for a large home in a nice residential area. Still there are more monies needed for adoption expenses--and before I'd have been horrified at the thought of asking for help. Yet,despite giving me a very privileged upbringing, always my parents and grandparents stressed the importance of humility. It is not just for us, but also for Maximilian and Philip. We want them so very much that it is hard to think that we're doing all this for them to have us and not just for us to have them.

I do apologize, but now I need to take care of a couple of things regarding a prospective future home---which is not for sure yet.

From the bottom of my heart, thanks for joining your prayers to ours, thanks for any eventual help, and also thanks to all of you who are following our journey. Knowing that others are interested in what is going on is a big help. Knowing that others are praying for us is reassuring. For all those who are able to chip in, any small amount is deeply appreciated---and no amount is too small.

God bless,


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Phone Call from God

I guess I should clarify that I wrote this post before starting our road trip to RI, and saved it as a draft. It'd take me quite a long time to change all the verbs from present to past--and it wouldn't sound natural either. Sorry for the inconvenience. Here it goes. . .

I'm not talking about God's call to religious life or to a special life mission or ministry. Actually, far from being from God, that call was from a pawn shop. Yet, it was obvious that God had been involved in the making of that call. I was thinking that we were embarking ourselves in a total adventure by moving all the way from the west coast to the east coast with nothing pre-arranged--and with not even enough money for the move. It would be better for the twins in the future in terms of the many more and more prestigious medical schools. It would be better for Stephen, Thomas, and Nicholas in terms of the state-of-the-art medical care they can receive in the new area. It would be better to be safe from earthquakes and wild fires. Yet, we were, and are, only thinking about making it possible for Maximilian and Philip to be home with us. That was all we cared (and keep on caring) about. Gerard and Warren have absolutely no regrets about giving up their 23 otherwise transferable community college credits they have been gathering since they were ten years old, which would have been accepable within UCSD, but which are not even to be mentioned for admission to a four-year college on the east coast.

Many complications of different kinds, primarily financial, had been hitting us over the last couple of months. My mind and my heart were too far away from any work I'd try to get done, and I ended up making mistakes and pleading ineffective assistance of counsel against myself in several instances. Someone put me and all my family through a very unpleasant moment--but that's not something of any relevance herein. Yet, as we overcame every obstacle, I kept on thinking about Toni Vladimirova's words when she says that every adoption that is successfully completed is a victory of good over evil and of God over Satan. Having devoted her life to finding good homes for children with different physical and/or mental challenges, Toni well knows that the devil does not want kids to find families that will teach them about God and will lead them through good paths in life.

Well, even though I can with total honesty say that I had never considered going back in our moving plans and staying in California, deep inside me I was terribly scared that the leap of faith we were taking was perhaps too big--so wide that we might never reach the other side. Even the lady who owns the house we are currently renting and who does not want to lose her rental income for now had tried to scare my mom and me about all the bad things that could eventually happen. She is a friend and has good intentions--yet her husband is seriously ill with a degenerative condition, and our moving out means an obvious financial problem to her.

Once again, I never considered staying and giving up on Maximilian and Philip. That was definitely not an option for us. No way. The fear of the multiple what-if's opening up was not powerful enough to stop anything. Nevertheless, it was a significant amount of fear--until last Sunday, March 27, when God spoke clearly to me and did let me know I was doing the right thing and everything would be the end.

In the morning, we attended Mass at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. That was not our Parish, but Fr. Pat Murphy, without being our pastor, had gotten very involved in our adoptions and had helped in many different ways in the past.  Without me asking for any financial help, he had very generously offered some by the time of our move--and on good-bye day he went back inside and came out with a check in the sum of $1,500.00!

Yet, I won't deny that, no matter how uncomfortable to accept help is, mainly for someone who comes from a family that used to extensively help others in the past, I knew Fr. Pat had volunteered help, and was sure he would live up to it.

What happened in the early afternoon was much more astonishing. It was Sunday, and we were waiting for a Bulgarian reported who wanted to interview us. The phone rang, and it was from the loan shop where back in 2009 I had pawned some antique family jewerly. I had done it for the sake of an intended adoption from Russia, which had failed in the end. The renewal of the loans was coming up by April 24--and will all the moving expenses, things did not look good at all.  A very kind representative told me they wanted thank us for our customer loyalty, and were willing to re-pawn our loans so that I could walk out of their shop with some extra cash--with no need to worry about renewal interests for four months from now. it sounded too good to be true--but it was true!!! And--it was not just some "extra cash," but $2,238.24 more!!!!

Have you ever heard of a pawn shop calling customers to offer to give them more money? As unusual as it sounds, it did happen that way. Just a coincidence? Not at all!!! I could almost hear God's voice letting us know He was on our side--and that Maximilian and Philip will be home perhaps even sooner than we think.

In addition, someone without so much good will had stated she'd refund some monies she owed me into two payments--one now and one in June. When yesterday, Monday, 03/28/ll, FedEx delivered a package, I opened it--and found that the entire reimbursement amount was there: $1,800.00!!!

We must kneel and thank Our Lord, His Blessed Mother, St. Anthony, St. Gerard, St. Maximilian Kolbe, and all the saints who interceded for us--including for sure the intercessions of my dad and all my grandparents, from much closer to God.

Every adoption necessarily involves some moments of shared anxiety, anguish, and tears--but also involves true miracles and a promise of shared joy.

This week we're finally moving to Rhode Island.


"I saw Jesus right there"

The following Saturday after volunteering with TERI, we volunteered at the San Diego Food Bank--one last time as well. Catherine and Stephen did not come with the rest of us because she took him to the Bulgarian School that operates every Saturday at the Tierrasanta Community Center. Actually, although an excellent idea at the beginning, when he was not able to communicate with us, the Bulgarian School was becoming more of a problem than a blessing as it resulted in mixed feelings and a conflict of loyalties in Stephen's mind. Yet, someone had been kind enough to buy a Bulgarian-English dictionary for him, and someone else might have been willing to translate his medical records for free--so Catherine could do no less than take him again to Bulgarian School that day.

Volnteering at the Food Bank with Thomas and Nicholas was a memorable experience. Even when they were much younger, the twins would always push themselves to the limit until voluntarily overworked, overexerted, out of breath, tired out, exhausted, with back pain, and almost unable to move. That last time in San Diego, though, they did something maybe a little less physically demanding but even much more generous and much more meaningful: they helped their younger brothers to help others. Actually, as soon as we arrived, which was a little late, Warren was given a very hard job on the line.

Gerard spent all the time crashing boxes for recyling, but, most importantly, helping Thomas and Nicholas do the same. He would hold their hands and even direct their feet to crash boxes open. He would make sure they did not dive head first into the box they were trying to flatten. He would help them carry the flat cardboard to the dumpster

Thomas and Nicholas knew they were helping people who did not have enough money to eat, and they did enjoy the experience. At one point Thomas found himself unable to keep on going, and threw himself to the floor for some brief rest--only to get back on his feet very soon thereafter and keep on going.

Some photos will be much more eloquent than anything I can say.

After eating some fast-food in the van and running some errands, we went to Mass at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel that same afternoon. Even though we're not parishioners (we don't live in that area), the priest there has always supported our adoption efforts in all possible ways.

As we were coming out of Mass and getting back into our van, a lady came up to talk to me and told me that during Mass she had been observing my older sons take care of their younger brothers and wanted to congratulate me on the wonderful family I had. Needless to say, I made sure I told her I have two more children, but my daughter had taken my youngest son to a class. That lady put the twins' devoted care in the most beautiful words. She said she had kept on looking at them, and wrapped up her feelings by saying, "I saw Jesus right there."


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