Saturday, November 22, 2008

Happy Halloween

On Halloween the kids' school had a big school-wide Halloween parade. It was a ton of fun! I helped Georgia get ready--she was a princess--and then went down to Roman's room to help get him ready--he was a fireman! :)

He was so excited to get on his little costume...the picture to the right is of him just before we left his classroom to go march in the parade.

I brought Nicholas along for the festivities and he was excited to be there too. Roman's teacher said that Nicholas could walk in the parade with Roman and the class, so I brought part of his costume--he was supposed to be a cowboy (since Woody from Toy Story is his favorite character). I got him all dressed and ready to march, when one of the little boys in Roman's class put on his costume--he was dressed as Buzz LightYear--his costume even lit up! As soon as Nicholas saw that Buzz costume he decided that he no longer wanted to be Woody but that he was Buzz! Oh he cried and cried...and cried some more as we marched down Main Stree in Townsend!
I'm happy to report that later in the evening, however, when it was time to go trick or treating,
he was happy to be Woody and wore his costume happily! (as seen in the picture to the left)
All in all it was a fun day and the kids had a blast.
Unfortunately I couldn't get around to Lauren and Megan's classrooms...Lauren was dressed as an American Girl & carried an American Girl doll with her and Megan was an angel. In the evening, Kaitlyn was dressed as a nurse. :)
For all the Weavers...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Going for Gold!

Last Thursday, October 16th, Roman traveled with his some of his classmates and teachers to the University of Delaware, where he participated in Soccer skills with the Special Olympics of Delaware.

When Jim and I arrived at the field he seemed completely shocked to see us there! He didn't know what to do at first, but after he realized we weren't leaving he scooted over and said "Ma-ma!" Of course I thought that was as cute as ever so I sat down next to him...We watched some of the more severly handicapped kids participate first and he was really into watching them. Then, after a little while it was his turn to go down onto the field...

The first skill he got to "show off" was his ability to dribble the ball. He was hillarious...he didn't really dribble as much as he catapulted the ball from one spot to the other. He loved it...he was all smiles the entire time and he even loved watching his classmates participate.

The second skill was shooting from a running position--which he did beautifully! And his final skill was shooting the soccer ball into the goal--he had five chances to shoot the ball into the net and he made it all 5 times! He was so excited!

The day ended with a medals soon as he saw his buddies getting their medals he got really excited b/c he knew he was about to get one the picture on the left he is looking at the police officer with such anticipation! Once that medal was placed around his neck he didn't want to take it cute!

Here he is (right) with Daddy...posing w/his medal! What a fun day we had!

We couldn't help but think about how far he has come in such a short amount of time...If only his orphanage director could see him now! It is still hard to believe that he is the same child that we saw just 2 years ago--so little and seemingly frail. We are so proud of him and thankful to God for the amazing work He is doing in Roman's life.

Hope you enjoyed the pics!
For all of the Weaver crew...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

It's Been a While

Wow it has been a long time since we updated this blog...There is so much to tell it is hard to know where to begin...

I guess I will start w/the medical side of things...Since our last update Roma had a sleep study done in May (when he had his hearing test at the end of March is was apparent that he had sleep apnea) which revealed that he has Central Sleep Apnea--which means that his brain sends a signal to his body telling it to stop breathing. Roman's brain sent that signal some 400 times in one night! In light of that the docs wanted to do some more testing to see if he had a rare brain malformation causing this condition (repairable through brain surgery) MRI in June revealed that he did NOT have this condition, which means that the type of sleep apnea that Roman has is not curable and could potentially be life-threatening. In early July he started on a bi-pap apnea machine w/oxygen. Initially he didn't like it a whole lot but he has adjusted beautifully and doesn't seem to mind sleeping w/the mask.
During all of this testing, etc. we put our house up for sale--yes, we are a little crazy! :) And, it sold in just 3 weeks!!! Amazing! Then just 5 days after the last day of school we headed to Disney w/Jim's family. And, yes, we drove the whole 18 hours in our big van w/the 6 kids!! It was an adventure we will not soon forget. :) The kids had a ball in Disney and Roma was absolutely in love w/Mickey Mouse...he couldn't get enough of him. Nicholas wasn't too sure about all the characters, but by the end of the week he was looking for them all. The rides were great and the time spent w/family was priceless...Just 3 days after we returned from Disney we moved! It was a crazy time...but we are all settled now.
In July we took several beach trips and we loved watching Roma's reaction to the surf...initially he was nervous but he was soon over that fear and he tried to get in the water every chance he could. :) He really enjoyed the ocean...playing in the sand was a bit tricky for him but he is so clever and so creative...he would dig w/his feet or put the shovel b/w his toes to dig.

After our Disney trip Roman had mastered the pool. We bought him a special vest for the pool and he was raring to go...he LOVES the pool. Jim has taught him how to do flip (w/a little help) into the pool...he readily dives off the diving board and loves just swimming around w/his sisters.

August was a great month--Roman turned 7 on August 6th! It was a great day...all day long we kept telling him "happy birthday". The first few times he looked a little puzzled but after a while he acted as though he knew something special was happening. When we actually sang the birthday song to him he was grinning from ear to ear! It was too cute...he reacted to every gift he opened and he was so happy. It was hard to hold back the tears as we watched him that night...our minds kept going back to the previous 6 birthdays and it was sad to know that his birthday was never celebrated before this year! His life is so precious to us and he is such a joy and blessing...what a year is ahead of him. :) So much to celebrate...

August also brought the start of school once again...Roman, Megan, Lauren and Georgia are all at the same school now, which is so nice. The girls actually ride the special needs bus w/Roman (they love it) and he loves having them on his bus. He is doing really well and seems to be enjoying school...

Georgia and Roman are both in the first grade this year and the first grade teachers decided to allow Roman to be integrated into Georgia's classroom for math, science, social studies, art, music and P.E. We didn't ask for this and weren't sure how Georgia would feel about having Roman in her room several days a week--she was so excited! :) They are loving getting to see each other during the day...Georgia is like a little mommy to him...when he comes in with the other students she makes room for him at her desk and watches after him as only she could. She looks for him at recess and doesn't like it when his alone so she finds him and they play at recess together. Her teachers have commented that there is a very special bond between the two of them--very special since she prayed for him fervently for 2 years!
Kaitlyn is now in 7th grade and doing great...and Nicholas is at home w/me. It is quite quiet around here w/out all the kids running crazy...but it is good for Nicholas to have some nice "Mommy time". He is doing well and we are trying to potty train him...he has mastered "Number One" but "Number Two" seems to elude us! ha..ha...ha...

Hopefully we will be able to update more regularly now that things have quieted down some...we'll see! :)

For all the Weaver crew...

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Dear Praying Friends and family,
It's hard to believe that we've been home with Roman for nearly three months. Our last update was back at the two week point. We've been extremely busy with family life and non-stop doctor's appointments and have had little time for blogging...sorry. We appreciate your continued prayers and encouragment.
In the last few weeks we've learned that Roman has a rare genetic condition called TAR Syndrome, which is short for Thrombocytopenia with Absent Radius. All people with this condition are characteristically missing a radius bone in both forearms and have a dramatically reduced platelet count at birth resulting in potentially life-threatening haemorrhaging. Many children born with this condition require multiple blood transfusions in thef first year of life and are very vulnerable to illness. The good news is that over time platelet counts tend to grown on their own and "normalize". Learning that Roman has TAR Syndrome has helped us understand why he was so sick in the first three years of his life and why his younger sister may have died. It has only been in the last year that TAR Syndrome has been identified with a micro-deletion of the first chromosone. The incidence is 0.42 per 100,000 live births.
So what's all this mean for Roman? Well, first and foremost, this means that God has preserved Roman's life--allowing him to survive with this condition undiagnosed for six years and without any blood transfusions. Roman has a few other birth defects that don't define this syndrome but can accompany it. We've learned that Roman has moderate hearing loss in his right ear and total conductive hearing loss in his left ear making speech learning very difficult. He has been fitted for hearing aids that should help. The good news is that Roman does not have any of the other major complications that can accompany this dissorder--i.e. heart problems and kidney problems being the biggest. He is gaining weight and growing tall. The big mystery at this time is how much of Roman's severe developmental delay is the result of living in the orphange and how much is the related to this syndrome. Roman learning potential is still unknown to us.
Roman continues to do very good. He enjoys playing outside, attending church and Sunday school, playing the piano, riding in the car, playing with his sisters and brother, coming along with me as I teach gymnastics class, and (most recently) going to school. That's right, Roman started first grade at Silver Lake Elementary School here in Middletown this morning. He loved it! We are so grateful for the wonderful and professional folks that provide these special education resources in our community. The pictures above are from his first day at school.

Roman has a hard time sleeping through the night and we are not quite sure why? This means we are not getting a solid night's sleep. Roman gets up several times and wiggles his way into our bed...he prefers to sleep right next to us.
We still marvel every time we look at him...he is so tender and precious...a masterpiece.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Our Two Week Update

Dear Friends and Family,

It is hard to believe that we've been home with Roman for two weeks already. In many ways it feels as though Roman has been a part of our family for much longer--it is hard to imagine what life would be like without him. At least once a day I find myself on the verge of tears, staring at him in marvelment over God's faithfulness to us as a family. He is a true blessing with his gentle spirit, cheerful heart, and playfulness. We continue to watch him change right before our eyes everyday. He already looks and acts so differently than he did just a few weeks ago. During the first week or so he had an outbreak of blisters on his upper and lower lips probably brought on by the stress of the transition, but all of this has now cleared up. Sitting around the dinner table in the evening he is eager to fold his hands and bow his head in prayer. He also enjoys trying to say each of our names and feeding himself. His chewing ability has improved so much that there is nothing he is unable to eat--Praise the Lord! Once terrified by the bathtub, he now looks forward to bath time and is sometimes dissapointed when it is over. This morning was his first morning in the 4-5 year-old Sunday School class at church. At first he sat still and seemed rather afraid, but by the end of class he was marching in a parade waving a flag in one hand and shaking a "shaker" in the other. He was so proud of himself! He enjoys sitting and reading books with his sisters, water color painting, and rides in the car. The greatest challenge so far in our transition has been with Nicholas. Much of the time Nicholas and Roman do well with each other, but at times Nicholas can be very jealous of Roman. I think it will take some time and much prayer for these two boys to learn how to do life with one another.

In the month of February Roman will have a series of doctor's appointments to assess his hearing, development, speech, and overall health. Karen has begun the process of registering Roman in our school district and has found the district very willing to work with us in charting a course for Roman's schooling needs.

I feel as though little by little we are finding a new level of normal in the home. Usually by the end of the day we are exhausted! But our hearts are very encouraged and God has been ever so near.
We dearly miss our friends in Ukraine and hope that in God's providence we will see all of them again soon. In the meantime we are helping a group from our church's orphan care ministry make preparations to return to Roma's orphanage in March to do medical assessments and staff training. With growing trust, the director of the orphanage has opened the door to our church for ministry that could have a long-term positve impact upon the quality of care these children recieve day to day.
More later...Blessings,

Jim (and Karen) Weaver

Friday, January 18, 2008

We Are Home At Last!!!

Dear Friends and Family,

After two years of prayer and planning and 36 days of rigorous travel Roman James Weaver arrived home around midnight on Thursday escorted by Pa-pa and Uncle Matt. Here is a photo summary of our last five days in Ukraine.

Sunday night was our last evening in Tulchyn. All together I was in Tulchyn for 28 days living out of a rented apartment right in the center of town. On our last evening in Tulchyn Matt and I invited our friends Ruslan and Archie (from Vinnystia), Sasha and Natasha (from Lideszian), and Svetlana (our facilitator) to join us for supper at Tulchenka. I am so thankful for the brothers and sisters in Christ God has given me in these places. These men and women took us in to their homes and assisted us at critical points in the process. I've learned so much about caring for the orphan from these veterans.

After dinner we all went back to my apartment in Tulchyn for a time of fellowship and worship. We invited our land lady, Albina, and her entire family to join us. We had planned this evening to be an opportunity to open God's Word and share the gospel of Jesus while having the translation help of our Christian friends. After singing some familiar worship songs in both English and Ukrainian I shared a message from Galatians 4 on our adoption in God's family. We sensed the Lord really at work during this time of sharing and conversation that followed. I am confident that gospel seeds were sown.

First thing on Monday Ruslan picked us up at our Apartment and we drove to the oprhanage for the last time. I cannot put into words the thoughts and feelings that were running through me as we drove to the orphanage. These moments were surreal. I was on the verge of tears as we drove through the gates of the orphanage and saw children from Roma's group out for some play. I walked through the doors and found Roma's caregivers getting him ready to go outside and play. I scooped him up and carried him into the play room and began taking off all of his old clothes. What an emotional time this was for me. It was clear that Roman understood that this was "the big day". He was so happy as some of the ladies told him that he was going to be leaving with his Pa-pa and that he would have a new home now.

I had long anticipated the day when I would walk into this orphanage and dress Roman in his new clothes!

A friend from home had modified this Land's End jacket for Roman--shortening the arms so that they covered his hands but also allow him to slip them out when needed. After clothing Roman I picked him up and walked him around the orphanage one final time.

As soon as we walked outside Roma was eager to get in the big truck and go! All of his friends lined the road to say "Pa-ca" which means "Goodbye". If you look through the window behind me and Roman you can see some of them. Roman did not seem the least bit afraid to get in the van and drive away.

Roma sat on my lap for the first leg of this trip--to Vinnytsia to pick up his passport which was to arrive later that day. The trip to Vinnytsia is about an hour. We listened to some Christian music and spent a lot of time just looking out the window at all the new sights and sounds. Uncle Matt let Roma wear his hat.

We arrived at the passport office in Vinnytsia only to receive this disappointing news that the person who was to mail our passport from Kiev did not. We had spent a lot of time praying about this and were convinced that today was the day we were to leave. It was suggested that we stay overnight in Vinnytsia until the passport arrived and drive to Kiev on Tuesday. However, if we did not make it back to Kiev sometime on Monday it would be impossible to fly home on Thursday. We decided that we were going on to Kiev without Roma's passport (uncharted territory) and that Svetlana would stay behind in Vinnytsia and bring Roma's passport to us on Tuesday.

Uncle Matt was a huge help as we worked out all of these details. It would have been impossible for me to bring Roma home without his help. Not once did Matt complain or appear frustrated by all of the waiting and unexpected surprises. We had such a peace during all of this as God had shown us so many times that He was in such control.

Uncle Matt, Svetlana, and Roma on the streets of Vinnytsia after finding out that our passport was not going to make it. We went back to Ruslan's house to discuss our plan of heading on to Kiev without the passport and to have lunch. Roma enjoyed exploring Ruslan's home and especially enjoyed the yummy lunch that Archie made for all of us.

About four hours later we arrived at our apartment in Kiev and before long Roma was fast asleep. I wasn't sure how he would do going down to sleep his first night outside of the orphanage with two men. He seemed a little afraid when we first arrived, but he settled down and slept well.

First thing on Tuesday morning we took Roma for his medical exam, necessary to obtain his US Visa. The doctor who examined Roma was the same doctor that examined Nicholas last year! He spoke to Roma in Ukrainian which was unexpected as Russian is the predominant language in Kiev. (Roma has not heard a lot of Russian). He did great! Everything the doctor asked him to do he did well! He wasn't the least bit afraid. The doctor told us that his heart and lungs sound strong. He obviously very small and has some mental/cognitive delays. He will need a thorough work up once we arrive home.

While in Kiev Uncle Matt and I took Roma to Kiev's premier mall located underneath Independence Square. Our flat was a short walking distance. I was so proud to hold his little hand and strut through the mall. We got a few weird looks as people caught on to Roma's appearance.

On Wednesday morning Svetlana (our facilitator) came by the flat to see how we were making out. She was not to happy to find out that we were already feeding Roman McDonalds. She has grown very attached and protective of Roma. She told us how she tries to not get attached to the children she is working with because it is too hard when families leave. With Roma, however, she was unable to stay detached--she had fallen in love with him and was so proud of him. A few days earlier when we were in Tulchyn buying some baby food for Roma a woman expressed concern that we would be adopting Roma to sell his vital organs on the black market and Svetlana set this woman straight explaining how we actually loved and cared for Roman. What impressed me the most about our last meeting with Svetlana is her comment how my message about our need for adoption into God's family had impacted her and how she called her sons and other family members to tell them everything. She told me that I was her "teacher" and that she had learned so much from both Karen and I over the last year. She made other remarks that suggest she is really processing a lot spiritual truth at this time. Karen and I will stay regularly in touch with her and water these seeds as we update her on Roma's progress.

The first couple of night I could just lay for hours next to Roma and watch him sleep. In these moments prayers of thanksgiving and prayers for Roma's continued health and growth just flowed so easily. He is so happy and playful at bed time--and sneaky. On Wednesday night I decided to lay him down alone in the room while Matt and I watched a movie in the other room. Well, lets just say we caught him getting out of bed "super sneaky" three or four times.

On Wednesday morning we walked to the office of Bethany Social Services to say goodbye to some of our dear friends. From left to right--Oksana, Roman, Daddy, Taras, and Dasha. These friends where the ones that found Roma in Tulchyn and made his plight known to Bethany Christian Services in the US. They have looked after Roma his entire time in Tulchyn--visiting him, etc.

We flew out of Kiev at 12:30 on Thursday afternoon. Roma loved the airplane and was exceptional the entire flight. He sat still and enjoyed flipping through magazines and eating snacks. Our entire trip home was about 24 hours and he used the portable potty I had purchased the entire time. We had prayed that God would give us special favor on the airplane and in the airports and He did. Airline attendants were especially helpful, courteous, and enamored with Roma. When we arrived in JFK it was as if God was carrying us on the wings of eagles--no waiting at passport control or customs.

After long delays in JFK due to weather we finally left for Philadelphia. In Philadelphia family members and Big Jim where waiting for us. I can't tell you how great it was to see all our family waiting for us. Roma wasn't quite sure what to make of all of this. The first sign of "fear" came when we got into our van to come home--He cried pretty hard for about 5 minutes. I think it was a combination of getting in the car with all of these new people after traveling for 24 hours and being very tired and saying goodbye to uncle Matt.

Roman slept well his first night at home though he was a little afraid at first. On Friday morning he got up and had a nice breakfast at the family table with everyone. He is very eager to feed himself with a fork and be a big boy. He is eating very good!

After breakfast we all sat down and watched him open his Christmas presents with his feet. I don't know if he grasps the idea that these presents are his to keep, but he enjoyed opening them and playing with them. He loves playing with toys!

Here he is playing with some of his new things!

Holding my boys!!! They have been pretty good together so far, but there have been a few moments of jealousy and tension. It will take some time to teach these two to share their toys and share their mama and papa. We will pray and ask for God's help in this as he has already helped us in so many other things.

Friday was leisurely. We stayed in our pj's most of the day and played with toys and watched movies together as a family.

We will continue to update you on Roma's progress in the days ahead. Thank you for all of your continued prayers for our family.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Counting Down!!!!

Dear Family & Friends,

It is hard to believe that in just over 24 hours Jim, Roman and Matt will be home!!! We can hardly contain our excitement!

Yesterday was a very full day for them as they had to get Roma's US Visa photo taken, finish the paperwork necessary to process the visa and see one of the doctors at the Embassy for his official medical exam. Jim said that through it all Roma was a trooper and that he didn't even shed one tear...he just went with the flow! Apparently, he was especially good for the doctor at the Embassy--did everything that he was asked to do.

Svetlana arrived in Kiev yesterday afternoon with the passport in her hands and they were all relieved to know that it was complete. They did have to take it over to the Embassy later in the day so it could be processed...Jim told me that he was especially thankful to have that passport as he talked w/some families at the Embassy who have been in Ukraine since the beginning of Novemeber!!! (Much of their wait was for their child's passport!) We are so humbled and thankful that God opened all the doors to allow us to get the passport so quickly--He is good!

After all the Embassy hoo-ha yesterday they went out to dinner at a Ukrainian restaurant not too far from their flat--it is kind of like "Home Town Buffet--Ukrainian Style". Roma loved it as the restaurant had all of his favorite foods and then some...he sat so still while eating his food and enjoyed every bite! When they got back to the flat Jim and Matt decided to give Roma a bath...well, let's just say that it was a difficult experience for Roma! He is not used to taking a bath, especially a warm bath...he cried for a bit but Jim said that he and Matt were able to get him clean--really clean! :) I don't think that they will be attempting another bath until they are home...ha...ha...ha...! (Crying during the first few baths seems to be the "norm" for kids who have lived in oprhanages b/c they are only used to being "hosed off"/rinsed with not-so-warm water...we found this to be true w/Nicholas last year--he screamed so loud we thought that he was going to hurt himself but eventually he got used to baths and now he doesn't want to get out. :) ) After the bath, they turned on some "Brady Bunch" (Matt brought some DVD's from one of the seasons) and Roma was all about it--snuggled right up to Papa and Uncle Matt and watched 2 full episodes before being whisked off to bed. He did great last night at bedtime (again) and was happy to snuggle w/Papa for a bit...

Today they finished all paperwork necessary for the visa and by 3:00 pm (Ukraine time--which was 8:00 am US time) everything was done--they had ALL paperwork in their hands! This freed them up to spend some time just walking around and enjoying their last full day in Kiev. I was able to send Jim a voice-text message to Roma this morning and Jim said that he loved it...and started to look around for me when he heard my voice! I can hardly wait to wrap my arms around my boy tomorrow night!! A little bit later Jim sent me a voice-text message w/Roma saying my "mama" was precious.

This afternoon Jim and Matt took him to McDonald's for lunch--he LOVED it! Jim said that he gobbled up the nuggets and fries w/delight--he's been bitten by the Golden Arches! :) They walked around Kiev for a bit today and even went to see Taras at the Bethany office--it was a great visit and everyone was so happy to see Roma heading for home! Roma did great at bedtime tonight and only got about of bed about 4 times :) . He was smiling so big each time that Jim went back in to re-lay him back in his bed...eventually he settled in for the night and has been snoozing ever since. When I last talked to Jim, he and Matt were relaxing and just sitting down to eat some take out from a local has been a long couple of days!

In the morning they will pack up everything and head to the airport (about a 45 min. drive)--they have to be there b/w 10:00-10:30 am...Their flight takes off from Kiev at 12:30pm (Ukraine time--which is 5:30 am US time) and they are scheduled to arrive in NY at JFK Airport at approximately 4:15 pm (US time). (If you would like to follow the flight path you can go to Delta Airlines website and type in flight # 089--it will show you where they are in the air!) Please pray for Roma as the flight is very LONG--a little over 10 hours...Pray for safety and rest for all of them and that all will go smoothly.

Once they arrive at JFK they will have to go through Customs, etc. and then head to the next terminal where they will have about a 3 hour layover before boarding their connecting flight to Philadelphia--which is scheduled to arrive in Philly at approximately 9:24 pm. Pray for Roma as JFK is a very busy airport and he will most likely be a little overwhelmed by all the sounds and sights--not to mention how he will feel when he sees all of us waiting for him in Philly!!!

The kids are busting with excitement and are so giddy--can't wait for tomorrow to get here! Please continue to pray for the adjustments that will come...pray for peace and for strength. We are so thankful for all your prayers and can't wait to update after we are all home together!!! We love you!

Love and Blessings,
Karen (for Jim, Matt and Roman!!)