Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Updates-Books-Prayer Requests and No News...

I haven't blogged in a week because there isn't any news to report yet. Yesterday we got a message from our caseworker saying that we are still waiting for a signature from the MOJ and that we *should* be in the next pile that gets signed. We have heard that before so I'm not sure how excited to be about the possibility or when it might happen. Soon, and in God's timing, we know and believe and are resting in that!

Tomorrow will be three months since I said goodbye to Esther. It has gone by fast but feels longer since we have no idea when she will be home. I've resigned to the likelihood that it won't be until January again. I've been pretty patient and okay with the wait until just recently. I think seeing so many who traveled the same time or even after we did, receive court and travel dates for pickup has made it harder. I miss her and love her and can't wait to have her here with her siblings and to get to know her as our daughter. It helps to see her on Skype, even though she is very blurry. When another person is there with her, she is quite chatty and I love hearing her voice!

We are slowly preparing for bringing Esther home. We moved all the girls into our master bedroom to give them more space. It is working out very well so far. We still have lots of details to finish up, painting to do and other things to tie it all together but I think we have plenty of time left to do that so there is no rush.

We took a day off to visit the children's museum. A much needed break from the daily grind!

He found all the letters and put them in the right order himself!

I will be getting Benjamin's FINAL PPR scheduled soon! Looking forward to being done with those, only to start all over again, haha :)

Ben is doing very well. He is starting to outgrow his size 5 pants! He is still shorter than his 5 and 7yo sisters, despite turning 8 next month, but he is growing. He loves helicopters, airplanes, singing and birthday parties. He is learning very quickly and enjoys school. He loves to talk but we are still working on conversational speaking, and being quiet when necessary, lol. Unfortunately, we have seen a lot of regression and testing boundaries since he started school. We expected some of that with the change of routine and being away from home and family and everything/one he knew but not to this extent. We thought with time things would settle down and improve. He is very social and happy and isn't fearful of school at all. He has a great teacher and is the perfect class and arrangement, with OT and speech therapy weekly. Not much learning can happen if he isn't cooperative, though. Many kids who come from an orphanage background tend to have a hard time respecting and trusting other authority figures. A lot of it is attachment related and so we are trying to figure out what is the best for him right now to give him what he needs. We aren't quite sure how to help him understand that the rules at home are the same as they are at school.

Adoption is NOT for the faint of heart, both before and after they come home! Definitely a refining and character building process for myself!


We are gearing up for our FINAL BIG Bountiful Blessings & Books auction!! This one is looking to be even bigger than the last one, though not as many signed books. The books are coming from some very generous people and I'm just amazed at God's provision. 

Bidding starts on Friday, October 24th and ENDS at 11:59 EST November 7th. 

Due to the size of this fundraiser, it was impossible to put it all on our blog in an easy to manage way. This second auction will be located on the same FB page as the last one. Please be sure to "LIKE" the page and share the link. We have books for everyone!

Funds raised above and beyond what we need for our adoption expenses will be shared with other adoptive families bringing children home from the same country. 


So that is all I have as far as an update. Please keep praying for our precious Esther, that we will get news soon. For her health and safety, that her heart will be prepared to join our family. Also, please keep praying for our unspoken prayer requests. We are trusting in the outcome and God's perfect plan in those situations above everything that makes sense from a logical standpoint or even our own desires. Thank you!

Monday, October 13, 2014


2 1/2 months since I said goodbye to Esther.

We are waiting for news about the next step in our adoption (MOJ sig and then court). There is no consistent timeline for this step but I'm preparing that we won't be traveling for pickup until January. I remember well how hard it was to wait during this phase of Ben's adoption. It isn't any easier now, I miss Esther and want her home...but I have a peace and a patience while we wait, I just don't know where it is coming from! I know she will be home soon and this time will be a distant memory. It does help to see her weekly on Skype, though it is getting harder to come up with things to do during each session to hold her interest. I just want to hold her, rock her, care for her and get to know her in person.

We are keeping very busy finishing up the final fundraisers we had planned. Gearing up for round two of our Bountiful Blessings & Books Auction which we hope to start on October 24th!

We are praying for clear answers to an unspoken prayer request.  For this to be possible, it would take a miracle, which we know God can do IF it is His will. Sorry for being vague, but I can not share details now. We would appreciate prayers!

We decided to put the girls into our master bedroom so that took quite a bit of time rearranging this past week. Now I can finalize getting Esther's bed ready and clothes in the closet. Maybe it will feel real that she really is coming home once that is done. :)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Book Auction Total

The grand total raised through our book auction was:


Isn't that amazing?

I can't thank everyone enough for their book donations, sharing and bids...
We could not have done it without you <3

We are knee deep in getting them all packaged up to send out. It took 7 hours to sort them alone. Then add in entering everything into Excel, packaging, weighing and then printing shipping labels. There are 120 different packages being mailed out!

All I can say is...

She is worth it!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Auction ends tomorrow!

Our book auction ends tomorrow!!

If you haven't had a chance yet, take a peek-something for everyone!

Already placed your bids? Check to be sure you weren't outbid!

Auction ends at 11:59 PM EST on Friday, October 3rd!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Quick Links to Different Sections of Our Auction!

(Clicking on the underlined words above will take you to the start of our auction album)

All of the following books were signed and generously donated by the authors or illustrators!!!

**The Pictures in this blog post are just a snapshot of some of the thumbnails in our auction. The pictures of the books do not take you to the books when you click on them.**


(The words above will take you to the start of this section)

New & Donated by Math-U-See, Memoria Press, Doorposts and Keepers of the Faith!

Plus lots more...

These books donated by Keepers of the Faith below are in different sections of our auction 
but I am going to spotlight them here:

Over 200...
Board books, picture books, hardcover, softcover, new, used, chapter books, comic books, 
classics, readers, adoption stories, Christmas books, animal books....


New & Used Adult Books!
(Click on the divider pictures below to take you to where each section begins)

Over 240 Adult Books....
I am working on getting the books within each section better organized 
but hopefully these quick links will make it easier to navigate!

Thank you so much for your bids to help bring Esther home <3

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Book Auction is Live!!

Our Bountiful Blessings & Books auction got started a little early today due to some excited early bidders! That's ok :) There was no reason to wait until tomorrow except for the fact that the pictures are all a bit disorganized. I'm working on sorting them into categories and genres and then will be posting the quick links here on the blog.

Our first book auction will be on FB. It ends at 11:59 EST on October 3.

Here is the direct link to the album:

Go take a look at the over 500 books available!!


In a few weeks, we will be hosting a second book auction on our Raising The Ransom blog. I'm working on getting that set up now. We are doing two separate auctions so that those who are not on FB will still be able to participate and bid on some great books to help bring Esther home! 

Thank you all for your help, donations and prayers! 

<3 <3 <3

BTW...mini adoption update...we heard yesterday that we are not in the group that is expected to receive their MOJ sig next week. Praying it may be the week after but trusting in God's timing with each step. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Less than a week to go and Mini Update

Less than a week until our Bountiful Blessings & Books Auction starts!!

I will be posting the link here on our blog a few days before it starts so you can start looking at all the great books we have available to bid on.

As a reminder, the first big book auction will take place on Facebook starting next Friday, September 26th. Later in October, we will be having a second book auction here on our blog with the books leftover from the first one, plus signed duplicates I have put aside and any books that do not arrive in time for the first auction.

We have over 100 new signed-by-the-author books as well as some great NEW curriculum donated by the companies, all generously donated to help bring Esther home <3. Lots of used and new books, there is something for everyone. Over 400 books in our auction so far. Almost to our goal of 500 and halfway to our huge goal of 1000 books. Less than $2k left to be fully funded for our minimum expense estimate for the whole adoption.

Our Bring Them Home Auction did well-we raised almost $400 through that! Thank you so much for your bids and help to get us closer!

In two more days, it will be two months since I said goodbye to Esther. I miss her very much. So ready to have her home and be done with adoption stuff, to just live life and be a family. We weren't able to Skype this week due to the weather and I didn't realize how much I look forward to seeing and talking with her until we didn't get to. My children have been helping to come up with creative ideas to do during the sessions to keep them interesting and help her get to know her new family.

Currently, we are waiting for a signature from the Ministry of Justice in our daughter's country.We received our Article 5 on Aug 27th, it was picked up on Sept 2nd and then resubmitted to the MOJ to await signature the week of Sept 7th. Once we have that signature of approval, our paperwork will be sent to court, our case assigned to a judge and then we will be assigned a court date. I'm hopeful that will happen very quickly but truthfully, I have no idea what our timeline will look like.

PLEASE pray for our precious girl!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Group Auction and September Adoption Update

Just a quick update...

Skype with Esther is going well. She is so sweet and very attentive. We really look forward to talking with her. Well, we don't really talk, it's more us singing to her, and she copies the motions to the songs (any suggestions for very simple songs and lots of hand motions we can teach her?? Any easy B songs we can learn and sing??), letting her see and wave at all the kids, make faces and laughing...there isn't a translator there but I know just seeing us every week will help the transition to her coming home go smoother. For that we are so grateful!

Sadly, due to her beautiful thick hair and the heat over there right now, her hair got chopped off to keep her cool... Still beautiful and I understand the reason, I was just really looking forward to seeing how long it would grow and playing with it at pickup.

 (I taught her to sign 'I Love You')
 "How big is Esther? Sooo Big!"

We received our visa approval on August 27th! Unfortunately, due to an issue with USCIS not sending all our paperwork along with our approval, the Embassy wouldn't release our letter that day. We got to the bottom of it and got it taken care of immediately but due to the holiday weekend, it wasn't released until this past Tuesday, Sept 2nd. Praise the Lord that the interview went well and that the issues were resolved quickly.

Currently our stage 2 dossier is in the translation/authentication stage and should be submitted next week. The MOJ is busy reviewing and signing dossiers again after their August break!! Please pray that they will continue at the rate they signed them this week so our wait will be short. At this point, we are waiting for the MOJ sig and then it will be sent to court, assigned to a judge and then we receive our court date. These next steps could go very quickly or it could be very drawn out. There are supposed to be elections in October so we need to have our MOJ sig this month to avoid potentially major delays.

We are participating in a group auction with 3 other families, bringing home a combined total of 7 children from the same Eastern European country. The auction ends just before midnight tomorrow night, Friday Sept 5th. If you have Facebook, please take a look at all the great variety of items available!

Also, we are still looking for more books for our Bountiful Blessings & Books Auction!
This post tells all the details about it and what we are looking for! Our book count is up to around 300, minimum goal is 500! This is going to be a great auction...I can't wait to get it started :)

P.S. Guess which cute little guy started public school this week?? Ben has grown so much since he came home! He also had a great eye appt, and his vision is 20/20! I know it will be a great year and I can't wait to see the progress :)

See what a difference a family makes!!

Thank you all for for your prayers and support!! <3

Saturday, August 23, 2014

August Adoption Update

Time for an update :)

It has been a month since I said goodbye to Esther. I miss her, and can't wait for our family to be together for the first time and forever..for her to meet her daddy and siblings. The Skype sessions are going well. She is never close to the microphone so we can't really hear her but she loves to copy the hand motions to songs while I sing them and we've gotten some great smiles. What a blessing it is to see her for a few moments (between 11-16 minutes is how long our sessions last) each week and remind her that we love her and will see her again soon.

I'm starting to think about the things we still need to get to prepare...clothes her size, a carseat, a bunk bed to build so we can start to get the room ready, special activities to do during the trip... Then all the normal nesting and cleaning that needs to happen. Lots to keep busy! If anything it is helping the weeks and waiting to fly by. All those fun projects have to wait until our final fundraisers are complete, though. I do have her pickup outfit bought, as well as the matching outfit for her baby sister...it's a start!

As for paperwork progress...

* On August 11th, we received a letter in the mail saying our I800 has been approved!! That same day, we completed updating our medicals and on the 12th, I drove to the capital to get the medicals apostilled and mailed to our caseworker.

* On August 14th, we received an email from the National Visa Center saying they had received our approved I800 and had forwarded it onto the US Embassy in Esther's country.

* August 18th, we received both approved FBI clearances back from the channelor. I mailed them out the same day to Caring Hands, a courier, who hand carries it to be apostilled. From there it was being mailed directly to our agency caseworker who would forward it to our NGO in B.

* August 20th, we received an email from Rollstone foundation saying we had been awarded a 3k grant!! Speechless and humbled for sure. This brought the amount still needed to be fully funded down to under $2k...wow...Praise the Lord! It's hard to believe we are so close. We are hoping that with our final fundraisers coming up, we will have a little extra as a buffer just in case airline ticket prices go up with the holidays (we expect to travel some time around Thanksgiving-Christmas) or there are surprises during the trip. We also have to get big sister's passport and will use anything extra for gifts for the group home and caregivers. The thermometer on the right reflects the new amount needed to be fully funded with a $500 buffer.

* August 22nd, we received an email saying our Visa Interview has been scheduled for next Wednesday, August 27th!! We are hopeful that since all our documents for our stage 2 dossier are already in country, that we will be submitted to the MOJ the following week (first week of August) to wait for a signature. Unfortunately, there are a lot of families who have been waiting for that signature for many weeks, and some for months now, so things are a little backed up as that piles grows. We are praying that it will be signed quickly. Once that happens, the next step is for it to be sent to court, assigned to a judge and then a court date scheduled. We do not have to be present for court. We are still praying that the rest of the process goes quick and smooth and that Esther will be home this year.

* As of today we have 176  books for our Bountiful Blessings & Books Auction next month!! I have letters ready to send out on Monday to local churches to see if anyone has books they would like to donate. Our original goal was 1000 but 500 books would be amazing as well. I know there are many in the mail on their way to our house right now. We have had so many generous and caring people donating books, it's been wonderful to see. I'm working on getting the pictures uploaded and info added. We will be doing one book auction via a special FB page. I am setting aside all the duplicate signed books (and any books that do not go the first round) for a second book auction via our fundraising blog so those who are not on FB can still participate. Details will be posted as we get closer.

* We are participating in a group auction with some other families starting next week. The Bring Them Home auction is set to begin on August 29th and ends on September 5th, at 11:59 PM EST. We have lots of used children's clothes listed.

* We have one final fundraiser for after the auctions are complete. I'm excited about it but will save the details of that until later ;)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Bountiful Blessings & Books ~ Bookdrive Info

You are invited to participate in an upcoming book drive to help bring Esther home!

We need your help...

~ We need you to look through your bookshelves (and ask your friends and family to do the same) to find books you no longer read to send to us!

~ We are looking for books for all ages and interests from baby to toddler and beginning readers to elementary level. Books for youth to adult. Books for ages 0-110!

~ Self help, educational, funny, crafty, history, adoption related, animals, books that belong to a series, old and new, fiction and nonfiction, chapter books, cookbooks, piano books, unused puzzle books, Bible study books, travel books, coffee table books, home school books, classics and favorites, gift gifts, board books, hardcover & softcover, holiday books....!

~ Homeschool Curriculum will be included as well so if you have any in great condition, send it our way!

~ We are going to have books signed by the authors!

~ Even audiobooks would be great!

~ Our goal is 1000 books!

Only requests:

1. Books need to be in great to new condition
2. Books need to be family friendly (my children will be helping to sort through them)
3. All books need to arrive at our house by September 20th

What to do....

~ After you gather all the books you want to donate to our book drive, please pack them safely into a sturdy box for shipping. 

~ Media mail is cheapest (you can send a 20lb box of books across the country for under $20...that's a lot of books!)

~ Please send us an email at: amsutton @ va.metrocast.net (remove the space before and after @) for our address to ship them to and to let us know a box is on it's way! Or just leave a comment on this post with your email (I won't post it publicly) and we will contact you back.

What happens next...

~ We will sort and organize all the books, take pictures and post them in preparation for our upcoming Bountiful Blessings & Books auction that will take place online at the end of September. 

~ When it is ready to begin, we will share all the details and you can go shopping via auction for some great books for gifts for every member of your family in preparation for the upcoming birthdays and holidays!

ALL proceeds will go to help bring Esther home! 

The pages of Esther's life book will be changing soon...
Your donation will help make that miracle possible and we can't thank you enough!

Any questions? Please ask!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Second Stage Dossier

If feels so weird to be so close to the end of the paperwork, but we are almost there!!

We received a notice in the mail August 1st, dated July 29th, saying our receipt date for our i800 (USCIS approval from homeland security) was July 24th! We've heard approval dates are taking about two weeks so hopefully that means we should be hearing something any day now about our approval and article 5/visa interview date. 

We finished up the referral acceptance letter for Esther and the referral denial letter for Little G...Those were notarized last week, apostilled Monday and our caseworker should have received them today. 

My FBI prints are done and my husbands will be done tomorrow. Its been challenging coordinating a time for these final steps around his work schedule and the few hours the local police station is available to get prints done. Those will be on its way to the courier by Friday and hopefully a quick turnaround to get this clearance updated. 

Medical appts are scheduled on Monday to get those updated! I will drive to the capital on Tues to apostille them and send them to our caseworker that day. She will send everything onto our agency in B, who will get everything translated and authenticated and ready to submit to the MOJ for a signature. There have been some changes recently with the government resigning and new people taking office. We aren't yet sure how or if this will affect the next steps in our adoption process. Many of the officials there also take a vacation for the month of August, and again, I'm not sure on if the timing of where we are at will be impacted or delayed at all. Often by the time everyone is back to work, there is a bit of a backlog of files waiting to be processed.


It's been 15 days since I said goodbye to Esther...The past few days I've gone back to rewatch the videos and look at pictures from our visits. Did you know she has a dimple in her cheek when she smiles? So do half her siblings!

We look forward to our weekly Skype sessions quite a bit, even though they are quite short. Yesterday she was very animated and chatty, copying raspberry noises and sound patterns I made with my mouth and words I said in English. She calls me 'Mamo'; said 'Hewo' and 'How are you' (with prompting from the person with her).  I think she's going to learn quickly. I saw smiles and she cooed at her sister when she saw baby Ruth. She clapped and said 'Bravo' (with prompting) after I sang her a song. Time to say 'chow' and wave/blow kisses comes way too soon each time... It's such a comfort to see her, hear her and know she's okay. I imagine these weekly moments will help the transition to bringing her home go much smoother because we won't be strangers quite so much. I pray they are preparing her to join our family, that her little heart will be prepared for all the changes to come, to accept our love. 

We are praying hard that we can bring her home in November! Her Uncle (my older brother) and his family are missionaries and have been out of the country for two years...they will be home for the month of December only and we don't want to miss that time with him if possible. Trusting in God's timing above everything!


Please keep Little G in prayer! We are waiting for his file to be relisted with the MOJ so that our agency can request it again. At that point we can start advocating to find a family for him. Selfishly, I'd love them to live close enough that we can visit but above everything, I'm praying he doesn't have to wait long for his family to see and fall in love with him and know he is their son and to work to bring him home. I'm writing down all the details I can remember, gathering all the pictures and videos I took while visiting with him, to share with his future family. He deserves to be loved, and will be a wonderful son to the right family. 


We were hopeful to have our adoption fund reach $6k before we left on the trip...or at least before July ended...but a week into August and we are still $83 away from reaching that number. If you haven't already, would you consider investing in the life of a precious little girl? Her life is worth it! Even $5 will make a difference. We are only $5,083 away from being fully funded for our adoption!! That is such a little number, so doable. 7 months ago we were looking at $33k needing to be raised. God has and is providing and it's amazing to see! Please join us on our journey and be a part of Esther's miracle!  If you have considering donating but haven't yet and instead want to pool together funds with friends and family to offer a matching grant, that would be wonderful also :-)

I'm trying to come up with some ideas to help raise the funds for the last amount needed but so far my mind is blank...other than another auction, possibly. Would love creative ideas! Keep in mind that our local network is very small, and most of our friends and family are tapped out after back to back adoptions and generous support thus far. That kinda limits some of the ideas we could try. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Unexpected Blessings

It has been a very hard past few weeks with all the events and emotions of traveling, meeting and saying goodbye...and then seeing our adoption fund barely move in that time period... I wasn't sure where to even start with fundraising again but knew we had a big fee due ASAP. After 7 grant denials in the past few months, I was loosing hope that any of them would come through...

We received an unexpected blessing yesterday that brought tears and just amazement at God's reminder that He always provides. The timing couldn't have been better and it was a huge encouragement to our family in the midst of our sadness of  having to say no to bringing Little G home.

We've been awarded a $5,000 grant from the Christian Orphan Fund!! If anyone is looking for an organization to donate to that makes a huge difference in the lives of orphans by lessening the financial burden to families stepping up to make them sons and daughters, I would suggest the Christian Orphan Fund They are short on funding but would love to bless other families who have followed the call and said "Yes" to growing their families in this way. We are humbled to be chosen and awarded this grant and can not thank them enough for their support for our family and their help in bringing our daughter home.


We are a huge step closer to being fully funded for our adoption!! We are waiting for the final totals of the proceeds from our Norwex and Thirty-One parties to be deposited into our adoption fund. We are also still waiting for the funds from the first adoption grant of $1500 we were awarded over a month ago to be received by our agency.

Once all that goes through...we should be only $5,000 away from being fully funded!!

The number we need to reach to be fully funded is $11,000 in our adoption fund!!

We can't thank you all enough for your prayers and support on our journey <3

Monday, July 28, 2014

All About Esther

I can't think of a better word to describe Esther than SWEET!

She's beautiful and quiet and cautious and serious and adorable and tiny and just precious.

And her smile...worth the wait! She makes you work for it but her face lights up!

The visits with her went well. From the moment they walked her down the stairs of the group home and she just ran right into my arms and melted in for a long hug until the absolute joy at her meeting her baby sister for the first time, there was no doubt that she was ours. Esther was just enthralled with baby Ruth and I'm so glad I brought her on the trip and was able to see how she interacted with her. We have the sweetest pictures of her nose to nose with her. Most of our visits were of Esther watching and inspecting her, or else wanting to do everything Ruth was doing...from playing with the same toys and sitting in her stroller to eating her baby food. She loved being pushed in the stroller or helping to push Ruth in it. 

They said she chooses who she likes and has chosen to like her new mama <3 She was accepting of me holding and loving on her. I was glad to see she wasn't crawling into the laps of everyone there though. She was accepting of my touch and liked being sung to while looking right into my eyes. She liked being tossed into the air and spun around...so thankful she was light or my arms would have fallen off! She's observant and copied what I did whether it was how to operate a toy or the sound pattern I made with the nesting cups on the stones. If I used a specific color cup, on her own she would find the other cup that was the same color to copy what I was doing with it. She liked the music box and the necklaces. She has to hold something in her hand at all times, usually a piece of plastic bag or the beaded necklace or a duplo type block or a leaf that she will twist in her fingers. They said she won't go to sleep without something in her hand. They said she likes balls and we learned quickly that she loves to blow bubbles and is very good at it. She wasn't as interested in the baby doll I brought, though who could blame her when there is a live baby doll to play with. She kept sharing all her toys with Ruth, which was sweet, though Ruth wasn't so sure about the large pile in her lap. She is not potty trained. She liked having her hair brushed and brushing mine, but wasn't as interested in all the hair things being put in her hair. They agreed to let her hair grow out until we come back to get her. 

When she was 3, Esther was moved to the group home that she currently lives at. It couldn't have been a better preparation for what she is coming home to! Family environment with multiple aged children who treat her and love her like their own baby sister. There are about 8-10 children in the group home and ages 5-12, Esther being the youngest and only one of two girls. She shares a room with a 10 yo girl who is just precious and gentle with her. Good preparation for all the big sisters waiting for her at home. They have 5 caregivers that alternate shifts caring for the children. The group home is connected to an orphanage that holds approximately 25 children (that we counted) ages 3-6. All the kids were so well behaved and so cute! Other than strabismus, it did not appear any of the orphanage kids had SN. The other kids in the group home were on the balcony when we arrived and were more than happy to tell us all about Esther. Every day they went for a walk while we were having our visits and returned towards the end of our 3 hrs and would come over to talk with her, us and our translator. 

Esther appears completely healthy and we are so thankful for that. She has delays, how much are due to her premature birth or just growing up in an orphanage in her early years, I don't yet know. She has something going on in her mouth, similar to the issues Ben had, but thankfully her teeth are not ground down to the gumline bleeding and infected. She does grind her teeth and makes a noise with them. They said she does it most when she is concentrating but I noticed her doing it less with each visit as she was more relaxed. Ben had awful reflux symptoms, and she may have similar to a point but does not drool like he did. They said she doesn't like her teeth brushed, and the smell in her mouth gave that away. She is small and whatever is going on is affecting her ability to eat. The kids told us she eats a lot but yet she only weighs 26lbs at 5yo? She will only eat mushy foods that don't require chewing, same as Ben when he came home. We were able to see her eat her snack one day...a large bowl of yogurt with mushed fruit. She has a good appetite and eats very quickly. It was cute when she stopped to blow on one bite as if it was hot. They said she loves ice cream and I'm looking forward to getting her some on the pickup trip!

Esther doesn't have the same fine motor skill delays Ben has. She was able to color on the paper and hold the pencil and spoon correctly. We went through about 100 stickers, I would hand them to her to stick on a piece of paper. She still has a very slight unstableness when walking down the stairs and running, despite starting to walk at 2yo. She doesn't have near as many orphanage behaviors Ben had. 

She doesn't talk a lot but she was able to repeat things I said in English clearly. She said all the names of her siblings, learned and said "round and round a garden' while drawing circles on our palm (a little rhyme I taught her that ends with tickles). There were some hand games she did with the caretaker. 

When a few of the orphanage kids escaped and came over to play with her toys, she handled it well and didn't get upset, just more stared them down. 

I don't know if it's her age or what, but I saw spunk as well. She has an opinion and has her own facial expressions she will make when she isn't happy about something. Reminds me so much of her sister at home, also 5yo! They are going to be quite a pair, haha. 

I brought this dress and they put it on for her visa picture and it fit her perfectly! Size is 3T. The shoes she was wearing were too big but were a European 25, which is equivelent to 8 1/2-9 US. 

We got to tour the group home and see her bed. She sleeps on a twin bed, no pillow and there is a shelf with a couple dolls and her shoes on it.. There is a wardrobe with her clothes in it. The home is simple but clean. Bathroom, living room, tv with shelves on either side holding stuffed animals, balcony where they hang clothes to dry. Table to eat meals on and tiny kitchen. 

The whole experience of Ben's orphanage and adoption and Esther's is so different from each other. As hard as it was to leave her there, it was very comforting to know they are taking good care of her. It was exciting to learn we would be able to Skype weekly with her and would be able to get occasional pictures via FB. Never so thankful for technology! It will be so nice for her to get to meet her siblings before she comes home and to help make the time easier to bare until she is officially ours forever. 

We appreciate continued prayers for Esther during the wait. That we'll be able to build bonds during our weekly sessions and her heart will be prepared to join our family when the time comes. Prayers that the wait to bring our beautiful daughter home will be short!