Thursday, August 27, 2015

She remembers . . .

Felicity has been in our arms for 10 months today.  And over that 10 months, I have prayed about, thought about, and felt sadness for Felicity's losses.  Mainly the loss of her birth parents.  The loss of everything she knew. The loss of her culture.  But, somewhere along this journey, I forgot that she lost one very special person to her.  Just weeks ago, I was reading a book on brain development that stated most children under the age of two will not have any memories because the brain is developing new neural pathways so quickly that they simply do not remember.  Well, the book was not exactly accurate . . .

One morning I was in the kitchen washing dishes.  The boys were in the living room. One of the boys had pulled out our family photos books.  They love sitting down and looking at these books filled with wonderful memories of our family.  Felicity had crawled into Joshua's lap and began looking on.  Suddenly, I heard Felicity say "Mama."  And no sooner did she utter my name, then Joshua said "Oh, Felicity that is not your mama.

My heart fell for a brief moment.  I knew who she was pointing to.  She remembers.  

I went into the room. I asked Joshua who Felicity was pointing to, and although he said he did not know, I could tell he and Felicity were looking at our China photobook.  

"Are you looking at pictures from Orphanage Visit Day?"

Joshua responded, "Yes"

She saw her nanny.  Joshua tried to turn the page and Felicity would not let him.  At that point, I picked Felicity up, still clutching the book, and I sat down with her with her on our other couch.  I pointed to her Nanny and explained that that woman was her Ayi (nanny).  I told her that her Ayi loved her and took care of her while she lived in China. She refused to turn the page.  Felicity just stared at the pictures of her and her Ayi.  We sat like that for about 10 minutes. Finally, she closed the photobook.  And then Felicity cuddled into me even more and put her head in my lap and we sat like that for about another 10 minutes.  

Tears started to flow from my eyes, as I stroked her hair.  Although I know my precious little daughter could not verbalize it, she was grieving.  She loved her Ayi and those pictures brought the memory of her back .  Felicity missed her Ayi.  There is so much loss in adoption and in that moment I could not believe that I had forgotten about this loss.  The woman who really was like a mom to Felicity before she even knew what a mom was.  I have been so thankful for this woman who cared for Felicity so well, yet somewhere I had forgotten that Felicity loved her too.  

After a little while, Felicity began to get up from my lap, and shortly thereafter she returned to her spunky self.  This little one is so resilient!

Since that day, we pull out our China photobook about once a week.  Felicity, now, happily, gets to the pictures of her Ayi and point and yells, "Ayi!" and smiles.  We do this now, because I do not want her to forget.  I want her to hold on to the memories of this lady whom she misses. I want those memories to bring smiles to her face for a long time to come.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Adoption Fundraiser Bracelet Sale

If you are on Facebook, you have probably seen most of this information, but I wanted to post this here too, in case anyone is interested.  Plus, I wanted to post all of pictures in one place, so anyone can look through them.

I am hosting a bracelet sale as a fundraiser for our adoption of Thomas Joseph.  The sale will be Monday, August, 10th @ 9PM EST on our Facebook page here.  If you are not on Facebook, and would like to pre-order one, please read the full details below.  You can comment on this post or email me at katiepetko (at) to order.

Bracelet Sale Details:
1. The sale will begin on Monday, August 10th @9 PM EST. At that time I will begin posting the bracelets for sale in a specific photo album on this page. The first person to comment SOLD, with email address, will get to purchase the bracelet.
2. I only have one of each bracelet at this time, but I am willing to take pre-orders. For most of the bracelets, I do not have enough beads to make another at this time. Most pre-orders will take approx. 2 weeks. All beads are ordered from China and it takes a while for me to get them. There are only a few bracelets that I will not be able to make more of (some of the medals are unique). I will post that in the listing.
3. Once the sale is over, I will contact you by email and you can pay by check or through our YouCaring fundraising page. You will have 24 hours to pay or arrange payment, before the bracelet will be sold to the next person in the comments.
All bracelets are sized for a woman's wrist. All are made with strong elastic jewelry banding. All are made to fit snug, but not tight.
Note: All medals that are "antiqued" are antiqued in design too. Please see the images of the medals as they are meant to look old and worn. They are beautiful, quality made medals, all sterling silver or bronze.
Please let me know if you have any questions! Also, please feel free to PM me if there is a specific bracelet you like and you want to know if I can make another just like it now.

All prices include shipping.  

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Midsummer update and a few more photos of our son

This space has gotten quite quiet for the last several months.  Life is happening and as much as I love this space, I find little time to document all that is happening.

The summer has been busy with many fun and crazy things happening.

9 months ago THIS happened . . .

October 2015

July 2015 

It is so hard to believe that it has already been 9 months!  Felicity is doing amazingly well!  She had her palate surgery in January and is currently going through speech therapy.  She is saying more and more, but I think we may be the only ones who truly understand what she is saying!

The boys are doing well. We have had fun adventures in Harpers Ferry and vacation in Cape Cod.  They all swam on the swim team and Andrew made his first B meet!!

In June we were rear ended (badly), our van was totalled. Thankfully, the worst of the injuries seem to be me, but thankfully Physical Therapy is helping a bunch.  Thanks to my father who spent countless hours looking for a vehicle for us and found us a new (to us) Town and Country!  We love it.

On the adoption front . . .

We are getting so close to being done with our home study.  We really thought the process would go more quickly this time, but it is not.  It looks like we will probably travel in March, which will be great.  My one struggle with this adoption was that it was not on my timeline (because, you know, my timing is more perfect than God's  . . . . )  I had really hoped that we would get matched with a child late summer/early fall so that we would travel over the summer and it would not interfere with the boys' school.  Yes, we do homeschool and are flexible, even with being a part of a tutorial.  But, I really did not want that for the boys school year to be disrupted again this year.  But, as our process with Thomas gets longer and longer, there is a high likelihood that we will travel right around Easter which would be perfect as the tutorial we are a part of does not meet for three weeks around Easter!

Just two weeks ago, a family from AL, who adopted a little boy from Felicity and Thomas' orphanage, were in China to get their son.  They took a care package from us to Thomas and were able to get a bunch of photos!  We think he is just the cutest and cannot wait to get him home!

Now that there is a paperwork lull, I am beginning to work on fundraisers.  I will be honest, this adoption is tough in many ways.  First. we walked into this adoption knowing we could not pay for it, but knew that God was calling us to it.  Second, truthfully, I am burned out from fundraising for Felicity's adoption.  Add on to that that I have a toddler in the home that takes up 98% of the time I used last time for fundraisers and you get one adoptive mom who is not totally prepared to handle fundraising $30,000 (because the second adoption is no less expensive than the first!).

Right now, I have  a few smaller fundraisers planned.  I am making bracelets which will be sold on my Facebook page.  I you are interested, please like this page  or follow me on Instagram @runningwithboysandagirl for more details.  Some of the bracelets have really beautiful crucifixes and medals.  I have loved making these because I do not get a lot of time to do something creative, and this has been a great outlet.

After that, we will be hosting a virtual run called Run for One(less).  This will be in place of the Run for the Little Flowers (the run for LF will be back next year, there is just no way I can take on raising money for LF this year, when we have our own mountain to move).  I will post details about that in a few weeks.

Beyond that we have nothing definite planned.  We have talked about a fundraising dinner and/or pancake breakfast, but those are still just in the "thought" stage.  Surprisingly, I am fairly at peace with it all.  I have NO IDEA where all the money will come from for this adoption, but God is calling me to a deeper trust and I am working and praying hard to walk in that trust as we walk this road and as the larger checks will need to get written.

Have a happy week everyone!!

Friday, July 24, 2015

An open letter to my son

Dear Joshua,

You know I watch you.  Watch you as you swim each stroke.  And I see the dissapointment in your eyes as you hop out of the pool; hitting the wall after others.  And I want you to know something my wonderful son.

I see you dive in, swim the pull out effortlessly.  You come up and begin the breaststroke.  And watching you, it truly is a thing of beauty.  My eyes well with tears as I watch you swim.  You are beautiful to watch in the water.  You know that I think that.  It is not just because I am your mom, but because, as I see you swim, swim against others that are faster, I see the care that you put in each pull, in each glide of the stroke. Not all swimmers have the beauty and grace you do in the water as you swim breaststroke, even if they get to the finish line faster.

I want you to know that it matters. What you do, how you do it.  It matters.  This is your art and the beauty with which you complete each stroke, is giving glory to God.  And it not only makes me smile, but it puts a smile on the face of God as well.

If I could help you understand one thing right now Joshua, it would be this.  Winning is great.  But pushing yourself to be your best is better, and fully doing whatever you are doing with care and precision, well, that is your art, and when you live out your art, that is the best.  It is ok to not be the fastest or strongest.  It is ok to not be the first to cross the finish line.  Ultimately, I hope that as you swim lap after lap, that you recognize how all of these things apply to the spiritual life.  That, ultimately, God does not want you to muscle through and finish first for your glory, but He is calling you, all of us, to grow in virtue, to do everything we do with prayer, with intention, no matter how we do in the eyes of the world.  When we do that, we become stronger on the journey toward heaven  And when we do that, what we are doing becomes a thing of beauty.  And it gives Him glory and you joy.

May you feel that joy, dear son, because you certainly bring me joy each and every day.

Your Mom

Friday, July 17, 2015

A reflection on the year

Last year
We are on vacation this week. Being in Cape Cod usually makes me wax poetic and reflect a lot.  This year is no different.  I have been thinking about the last year. Being here, at this moment, has brought up a great deal of memories.  Last year at this time, two days into our vacation, we got a call that our agency had gotten the hard copy of our LOA.  That is the moment in the adoption process where time finally seems to speed up and you are literally on the fast track to China.  Just a few more steps and a few more documents and you are boarding a plane to China.  For me, it was when the yearning to just get Felicity home got worse and I just wanted to be on the other end of those documents.  So, when we sat on  the same beach that I wrote LOA in the sand and posted for the world to see, the flood of emotions came back; but this time Felicity was right there with me. Smiling and swimming and falling asleep in my arms.  There was a full circle sort of sweetness and joy to it all.

This year

But it hasn’t been just remembering the events of our last vacation; I have been reflecting a lot on the whole year since our LOA.  The travel, bringing Felicity home, and her becoming a part of our family.  This year has been oh, so easy and natural, yet very unnatural and hard.  It has been one of the most tiring of my life and my emotions have seemed to reach new highs and lows.  I cannot quite put into words all that has happened this year in me, personally and spiritually, yet I feel I could write a book on all that God has shown me in all of the sweet and hard moments from the year. From the outside, I hope it all looks simple and seemless, yet this year is not what it seems on the surface.  Do not misunderstand me, most of the time, I would not say adoption and this past year have been hard.  For much of it, I think we have taken it in stride; all of the changes thanks to heaping amounts of grace and prayer warriors that have carried us through.  Yet, when I have sat and reflected on this past year over the last few days, I have realized just how tired and challenging, in an oh so beautiful, get ready for God to rock your world and an incredible amount of growth to come your way sort of way.

For the first time I think I am grieving what we gave up.  Our little family of 5 had hit the “sweet spot”.  The boys were older.  All were potty trained and naps were a distant memory.  We could pick up and go on a whim. The house, for the most part could be cleaned in moments, as there were no toddlers around to knock games off shelves, or rummage through the pantry and get food all over.  Dates with the boys were regular occurences.  I could get my workouts in with ease and run on the treadmill during the middle of the day if I wanted to.  I could call friends or stop by a friend’s house for a play date for the kids and much needed mommy chat time for me. 

Now, there is an oh-so-cute, yet oh-so-needy toddler who needs attention.  Who needs momma to lay with her at nap and bed time.  A little girl that goes on date nights with my husband and I still because we both have not left her yet, at the same time, and which, we know will be a challenge for her.  Toys and games and you name it get thrown around the home. She is a girl who has decided it is necessary to scream anytime mommy gets on the phone.  I have had to be much more careful about our schedule, or lack of, how much time we spend with lots of people.  I have had to watch Felicity's cues carefully and I have learned not to get too set with plans.  I want to do this parenting an adopted child well and not mess up too badly.  There are nights I stare at her while she is asleep and am so thankful to be her mom, but so saddened by that same fact.  Because, I shouldn’t be you know.  There is a woman who gave birth to my daughter that should be be the one who gets to hold her to sleep.  But we live in a fallen world.  And so, I do the best I can for the sweet girl whose life was forever altered three days after she was born.

2015 - Still not complete
As I sat on the steps in the warm sun today, listening to the boys playing a sophisticated game of cops and robbers, I realized all that we have gained and lost in the past year.  This year has been full of growing pains for the whole family and just when we started to exhale and breathe deep all that has been this year, we begin the process again.  Those pictures I took last year in this same place, and said “Next year, this picture will be complete.”  Well, it isn’t.  And that same nagging feeling of having a child across the world that should be with us now, but is not, is still here.  And we are in this beauty of the fulfillment of God’s promise of Felicity and this emptiness of missing Thomas all at the same time.  And I still hear myself saying, next year we will all be here. We will all be together. 

I wonder how we will all do with two years of the same growth and craziness. The same cocooning, and sleepless toddlers, and doctor’s appointments. The wonder and worry of attachment and bonding and another child being melded into our family.  I may not have the answers to all of those questions, but I do know one thing . . . . it will be worth it.  The sacrifice, the growing pains, the sleepless nights, the work for attachment, the conversations missed.  It will all be worth it.  Because there will be one less orphan in the world.  One more member of our family. One more smile to wake up to in the morning.