Thursday, March 24, 2011

Kirill's Story- Please read and PRAY!

The following story is from a precious family I went to church with in Tuscaloosa, Greg and Tesney Davis.

From Tesney:

Please feel free to share the following on your blogs. It is a summary of our adoption journey so far. Please help us spread the word. We are hoping somehow someone will be able to help us.

Two years ago Greg and I began praying for God to do whatever he wanted with our lives. We handed him a “blank check” so to speak, and told him to cash it. He opened our eyes to children with disabilities wasting away across the ocean in Eastern Europe. We joined God and started our adoption journey.

Our family is more than equipped to handle a child with special needs. I have a degree in Early Childhood Education. I am a member of the Board of Directors of Best Buddies of Alabama. I have volunteered for RISE and Eagles’ Wings. All of these organizations serve individuals with special needs. My husband I have close friends and family who have special needs and we are a big part of each other’s lives. Our wedding party included some of these special people. Our involvement with individuals with special needs led us to adopt a child with special needs; specifically, we chose Down Syndrome.

As we prayed over the faces of thousands of orphaned children with Down Syndrome, we ultimately chose a little boy named Sergey from Russia. Eight months later, as we neared the finish line of our adoption, one of Sergey’s family members in Russia stepped forward to adopt him. We were heartbroken for our loss, but God showed us that we were following him, and his ways are perfect. We knew we still wanted to adopt, so the way we saw it, two children would find homes because of our journey…Sergey went to his family and now we would choose another child to come into our family. We took great comfort in knowing that God could see this when we first committed to Sergey! We were honored to be a part of his plan.

Shortly after losing Sergey, we received a new referral with a grainy photo of a four-year-old blond-haired boy wearing pink glasses named Kirill. We were instantly in love with him. We had to re-file a lot of our paperwork because of the change in referrals and regions of Russia, but we were fast and we thought we were looking at three more months at the most until we would have Kirill home.

That was well over a year ago.

Since then so many things have happened. A tragic story of an adoptive mother sending her child back to his country alone on a plane with a note pinned to his shirt rocked our world…he was from Russia. Adoptions in Russia came to a screeching halt. Kirill’s region stopped processing adoptions for eight long months. The judge refused to accept any Amercian adoption cases until an official treaty was signed between the United States and Russia.

Even though we wouldn’t be able to finalize the adoption in court until the treaty was signed, we were allowed to go visit Kirill and sign our official petition to adopt him in August 2010. We fell more deeply in love with him. This was our son.

During that time, we found out that Kirill is the first child from his region EVER to be adopted with Down Syndrome. A birth mother keeping her child with Down Syndrome is unheard of in this area of the world. Adoptions of children with Down Syndrome just don’t happen there, these children are literally hidden away from society in orphanages and mental institutions. As our process continued, it became apparent that Kirill would be a pioneer. If our adoption was approved, it would pave the way for other children with special needs to be adopted from this region.

Then, a miracle happened around Christmas and the judge in this region suddenly changed her mind and began processing American adoptions again. We were elated. Could this be the light at the end of a very long tunnel? I was somewhat nervous about Kirill being the first child adopted with Down Syndrome from his region, but our agency was very confident that if we got a court date, our adoption would be approved. In seventeen years, they had never had a case rejected IF the family was issued a court date. We were told not to worry, so I didn’t. After meeting the judge’s requests for several supporting court documents, we were finally granted a court date-March 17, 2011. St. Patrick’s Day…I was thrilled. This would be our new favorite holiday! Our son was coming home!

Our other son, Clayton, who had just turned three when we started this adoption process, has prayed fervently for his brother. He is now almost five. When we told him Kirill was coming home, oh my…we had an excited big brother on our hands! At one point he even went to his room, dumped out his toy cars and divided them into two stacks…one for him and one for Kirill.

Last week, as we sat in the courtroom and suffered through five agonizing hours of difficult questioning, we were not prepared for anything but an approval of our case. Two doctors, two social workers, and the Minister of Children’s Services all made very strong statements on our behalf. They fought for us. Hard.

But when the ruling was read, the judge said, “Your application to adopt is rejected.” The basis given was that Kirill was “not socially adaptable” due to his “medical condition” and he was better off in an institution than in a home with a family. As the judge read her ruling, she stated several times that we were a good family, that we met all the criteria to adopt a child, but that she would not approve our adoption because Kirill has Down Syndrome and "he is not socially adaptable due to his medical condition, therefore his needs are best met in an orphanage." She told us that we could adopt another child, because legally our application had no problems according to Russian adoption law. She said she would approve our adoption for a “typical” child, but not this child. Why? The only reason? Because he has Down Syndrome. Even though we were approved by our home study and by the USCIS to adopt a child with special needs. It makes no sense whatsoever. Denying a child a family because he has Down Syndrome is a violation of human rights at its most basic level!

It was like a terrible dream. We were so unprepared for this outcome. As we left the courthouse in a mental fog, the doctors and social workers that had testified came to us and said, “If you appeal, we will fight for you. Appeal. Fight this decision.” Of course we were going to appeal…I could no more walk away from our biological son, Clayton, at this point. Kirill is just as much my son.

So here we are, asking God to move the mountain that is standing between Kirill and us as we appeal to the Supreme Court in Moscow. There are also three other families who are in various stages of adopting children with Down Syndrome from Kirill’s region; one of the families has a court hearing set for next week.

We are hoping that someone will hear our outcry and help us bring our son and these other waiting children home. His adoption will set the precedent for many other children in his region. There are 98 children in his orphanage with special needs alone. It is one of many orphanages in this region that houses children with special needs. This is about more than just one child, the lives of hundreds of children with special need are at stake. Please help us.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mercedes Marathon

February 13, Abby, Amy and I laced up our running shoes and trekked 13.1 miles through Birmingham for the Mercedes ½ Marathon.

We made a quick weekend of it, going down on Saturday afternoon, Craig and Jeremy in tow. We ate dinner that night at Firebirds- our favorite restaurant in B’ham. If you’ve never been there, it is highly recommended by all of us. We discovered it last year. It’s just behind the Galleria.

We ate early because my sweet husband wanted to be back to the hotel in time to see the race that night. NASCAR is a really big deal in our house and we take it very seriously! ; ) After a pit stop at Publix to get bananas and peanut butter for our pre-race breakfast, and fruit snacks for that night, we were ready to cheer on Junior!

This was Abby’s first half-marathon, so we turned in early- or tried to. None of us could sleep and ended up watching that movie with George Clooney where he travels a lot- UP IN THE AIR, maybe?? It was weird, but one of those movies that kind of sucks you in.

4:30 came VERY early. Abby and I got up and got dressed so we could got downstairs to eat. We were in for a rude awakening when we got downstairs. NO FOOD. WHAT!? Apparently, this place doesn’t serve breakfast until 7am. I’ve never stayed at a hotel that didn’t at least have coffee and toast out before the hot breakfast. We were able to convince the front desk guy to make us some toast and thank goodness we bought the bananas and peanut butter the night before. What a mess.

After waking the boys up, we headed to meet Amy at the start line. It was a cold, but clear morning. The sun was out and it turned out to be perfect running weather.

The course offered us a few more hills than we were expecting. . . but we powered through them. It helped that Craig, Jer-Bear, Robert, and Gayla found us along the course to cheer us on. We ran through The Highlands, which was gorgeous, and through parts of the ghetto, which was. . .interesting. Abby did fantastic for her first ½ marathon.

When we were nearing mile 12, we heard sirens behind us. I was afraid someone had gotten hurt. But no worries, it was just the first finishers of the MARATHON! The police cars came by first, and then the first 2 men in the lead of the marathon. They were flying and looking great to be a mile 25 of the race. It was cool to get to see that. Amy and I kept telling Abby how special it was- and then we laughed at ourselves for getting so excited about it.

At the end, Abby had a burst of energy and our “sisterly competition” kicked in as we neared the finish line. I was NOT letting her get across before me! We all 3 crossed together and found our fans waiting for us. It was a great race with 2 of my favorite girls!
Our matching attire was not planned... this happens to us all the time. Call it a sister thing!

New Toy!

So this week my days have been spent with this:

I LOVE my new mixer. It was a surprise from Craig a few weeks ago. I came in from class one night to find it sitting on the counter. So at 9:00 that night, I made red velvet cupcakes and butter cream frosting, of course!

Since then I’ve made cake, cookies, meringue and frosting with my new favorite kitchen tool. (I’ve also been running a few extra miles to balance out all these delicious goodies!) Yesterday, I made homemade ice cream in it- SO good!!! I found the recipe on one of my favorite blogs. I highly recommend it!



½ cup sweetened condensed mil

1 teaspoon of vanilla

pinch of salt

¼ cup of sour cream

1 ¼ cups of heavy cream

I used FF sour cream, lite syrup, and FF condensed milk & it tasted great. I'm sure it would taste even better with the "REAL" stuff!

Mix 1 heaping teaspoon of instant coffee powder with 1 tablespoon of boiling water.

Mix condensed milk, vanilla, salt and sour cream until well combined. To it add the coffee mixture, along with a generous squirt of chocolate syrup.

Mix your heavy whipping cream on high {it would love a cold bowl and cold whisk too} until stiff peeks form {3 or so minutes}. Whisk some of the whipped cream into the condensed milk mixture until incorporated and then gently fold the rest of the whipped cream in. Place in an airtight container and freeze 6 hours before serving!

My kitchen helper who couldn't understand why he couldn't have a taste. . . .

Craig isn’t much of a sweets eater- but these cookies I made last night he loved! I made them to send with my sweet cousin Lane on his flight back to Oklahoma. So easy and pretty good! I turned them into double doozies with some butter cream frosting in the middle. I never realized how easy homemade frosting is, and now I don’t think I’ll ever buy a can again. . . well, unless I’m in a hurry!

Cake Cookies

½ stick of butter

½ block of cream cheese

1 egg

1 tsp of vanilla

1 box cake mix

*Mix the 1st four ingredients together until blended. Then add the cake mix. Roll in powered sugar and cook at 350 degrees for NO MORE than 15 minutes. My oven takes about 12 minutes. Be sure not to overcook them!!

I made one more batch tonight to take on our camping trip tomorrow. That’s right. Leah is going camping! First time ever! AH! We set up our tent in the FRONT YARD this afternoon to make sure everything was there. I’m sure the neighbors thought we were crazy--- as if they didn’t already think that coming from the house that frequently has deer, ducks, or muddy four wheelers in the drive way!

There will most definitely be a post about the trip- it’s sure to be entertaining.