Friday, February 25, 2011

Better Than A Written Entry

I have nothing to blog today, but I ran across this video, and thought I would share.
Just pretend that this woman is me.
Because there's nothing she says here that I could hope to put better.

11 minutes long.
She's adopted several children, one of whom is a little girl from Ukraine who is HIV+.

Also, I've added this video to our "HIV" tab for future viewing.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

We Need a New Name!!

Admittedly, I'm not the most creative blogger (but not the drabbest either, I'd hope), and for the life of me, I CANNOT come up with a new name for this blog.

With a name like "Winn", you'd think my options would be limitless. Oh, the many "win, winners, winning" possibilities, right? False. I've thought of every winning combination, all of which sound genius in the planning phases, but once typed out, are awful in an I'm-trying-way-too-hard sort of way.
Our old adoption blog's name... ahhh, now it was perfect. However, it directly mentioned the country we're adopting from, and now that we're no longer accepting a blind referral from said nation, we can no longer specify their country until after the adoption is finalized.

Besides, we decided not to keep a separate adoption blog anyway. It didn't make much sense, when the process is completely consuming all aspects of our lives, right? People don't come to this blog because Donald and I are otherwise interesting. Nope, they want adoption updates, and who could blame them.

The only Winn-related title I've considered is a "FTW" variation, similar to our old adoption blog.

"Love: For The Winns!"
"Adoption: For The Winns"
And if I DID go with a "FTW" theme, how would I work the punctuation when it has dual meaning? Or do I omit punctuation altogether?

I am trying way too hard here, and it shows. Please, I need help! I refuse to be "The Winn Family" forever!

I'm trying on "Love: It's For The Winns" for size.
I'm fickle. No promises. But I really like it.
For now.
Thanks, dear Molly. :-)

Seeking a Mommy and Daddy

Meet Alex,

Alex is 2½, and lives with our boys in the same orphanage. Those who've met him say he's sweet, friendly, and cognitively on target. He is HIV+, but is otherwise believed to be healthy. PLEASE do not let his HIV status prevent you from considering him. He is such a sweet little boy who so desperately deserves a family, and children with HIV are healthy and can have average life expectancy if only they're given access to basic medical care.

Alex has a very special place in my heart, and I want to see him adopted. He's the youngest boy currently available for adoption in his orphanage, and every day that I see him listed without a family is one day too long.
He has light brown hair and blue/green hazel-ish eyes... seriously folks, this lil guy is cute, cute, CUTE!

I want him to find his Mama and Papa so badly.
...could he be your son?

For more information about Alex, look here.
You can also email me personally or message me on Facebook, and I can tell you more about him and put you into contact with the right people.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Looks like I dropped my keys in Donald's truck when went to Target last night. This became apparent when I attempted to defrost my car 10 minutes before departure. Kinda hard to do if you don't have keys.

Called boss (to avoid appearing as if I simply slept in).
Called Donald (no answer. Sent a text. Called again).
Dealt with dogs FREAKING OUT because their routine was disrupted.
Donald called back.
Suspicions confirmed.
No keys for me.
Sure, we have a spare...
On Donald's keyring. Naturally.

Called boss back. She seemed understanding.

...But oopsies like this can be devastating when you work an hourly position in which you are highly replaceable.

But on the bright side, the house will finally get cleaned and I can catch up on emails.

Lately, when I find myself stressing out, I play the "worst case" game. It never fails.

Absolute WORST case scenario:
I get fired, and just find another low paying job for the remaining few months I have being a wage earner.

My house is getting cleaned today. It could be sooo much worse. :-)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Unconditional Love & HIV

1 John 4:18
"Perfect love drives out fear."

Our beautiful boys are both HIV+.
While only an estimated 20%-30% of un-medicated HIV+ mothers still manage to pass on the virus to to their children (the specific statistic depends on your source), our children fell into that unlucky minority.

The decision to publicly disclose their status has been a difficult one, and while a great number of parents choose to keep an HIV status private (with very good reason), we ultimately decided that full disclosure was in the best interest of our family.

HIV carries a huge stigma. It's a stigma that we want our kids to be sheltered from as much as possible, so while we don't plan on carrying a huge "HIV" sign above their heads and announcing it everywhere we go, we also won't be treating it as a closely guarded secret for fear that they'd feel ashamed.

Also, to be frank... we have a lot of well-meaning friends with loose lips. The "HIV secret" would have gotten out anyway, so we'd rather it be on our terms. :-)

There are many misconceptions about the virus, and we hope that you'll take a few moments to help us dispel them.

We are adding an "HIV tab" to the top of our blog, so please take a moment to check it out and learn more about how the virus can be spread, and (more importantly) how it CANNOT.

The three ways it is spread are through:
1. Unprotected sexual contact
2. Sharing contaminated needles
3. Mother-to-infant, through birth (in a small percentage of births, and only if the mother is not medicated) and breastfeeding unless you plan on participating in one of the above activities with them, you're at no risk. :-)

So far, our friends and family have been overwhelmingly supportive. However, disclosing has still been, at times, a very scary experience for me.

While recently disclosing to one of my friends (who has a few children of her own, similar in age to ours), she summed up her feelings by admitting that she didn't know much about the virus, but that she knew I would never put her children at risk, so she was supportive.

I can only hope that everyone feels the same. These children are farrrrrr too precious and in need of acceptance and love to ever be feared or rejected.

If these HIV+ children have regular access to Anti Retro Virals (ARVs) they are expected to have a long, healthy life... of AVERAGE length.
They can lead normal lives, and even have children of their own one day, born free from the virus!

There has not been a single case of HIV being transmitted in a normal family OR school environment. Though both positive for the virus, their immune systems are as strong as any other children. Aside from taking ARVs daily and visiting a specialist a few times a year for monitoring, they will need to be treated no differently than any other children.

The following video was put together by Project Hopeful, which is an organization that helps to educate, inform, and support families hoping to adopt children with HIV. It's a short and VERY cute and entertaining video, so please take a minute to watch it!

A fellow blogger I follow recently posted a very informational entry about HIV. I encourage you to check it out, if you have time.

Also, please browse around if you have a few moments. It's full of hope, inspiration, and GREAT information.

"Don't spend time worrying about weird and obscure ways of transmitting the virus. The simple fact is that if no one shared needles and everyone wore condoms, the HIV epidemic would disappear."
- Dr. Joel Gallant, Professor of Medicine at John Hopkins School of Medicine and Infectious Disease Specialist

Happy LOVE Day!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

More About Our Boys

Eli and Fletcher are 4 and 3 years old, respectively. We're adopting them from Eastern Europe through Reece's Rainbow. While we won't have a solid travel date for a while, our *best guess* is that we'll be going to get them in June. Still, this is only a guess.

The information we have about them right now is limited, but I'd love to share what we do know.

Both Our Boys
Fletcher is front left, and Eli is the tall tyke in back.

This above shot is very recent. Weeks old, I've been told! Hence, why they look older than the pictures they were listed with. Aren't they so handsome and grown-up looking?
They live together in a "baby house", which is an orphanage for children ages 0-5. They're in the same group as well, so they share all meals and play time together. While many of the orphanages in EE are very poor, we've been told that this is a fairly nice facilities. For this, we are VERY grateful. They currently speak Russian, and while we do plan on learning some of the language to ease the transition, most children become fluent in English within mere months of being home.
On Reece's Rainbow they're listed as "David", and "Cody". However, these are neither their birth names nor their future American names. They're simply random pseudo-names given to them by the organization for privacy. We will be keeping their birth names for middle names, and might post them later, but for now are choosing to keep them private.


My sweet, sweet Eli.
(Well, probably Eli... his name is still under review. He might end up being a Benjamin. To cut down on confusion, we'll settle on Eli for now though.)
This little boy captured my heart from the moment I laid eyes on him. At 4 years old (5 later this summer) he was older than what we were initially considering. Still, I kept returning to his picture again and again. I couldn't pull myself away.
His description broke my heart; "...tender, serious, calm, less demanding than other children..."
Less demanding? ...of time? ...attention?
While so many of these children sell themselves to the camera with big personalities (um, Fletcher much?), our sweet Eli always appeared to be so sad and broken. Or was he simply at peace, knowing we'd one day find him? At times he just looked lost in the sauce... whatever it was, his sweetness and kind heart still shone through in every picture, and I knew he needed a family to love him.
Several nights in a row, I dreamed about this little boy holding my hand and calling me mama.
All who've met him attest to his sweet and shy nature. I can't wait to learn more about him.
He has brown hair and blue eyes, and compared to the other children his age, is very tall. As most of these children are extremely small, we estimate that he might actually be average sized for his age.


Fletcher... such a cute boy, and those CHEEKS! We have so many pictures of this little guy, due largely to his big personality. Everyone who's met him tells me he's all boy, and is not particularly shy. I really look forward to getting to know him and making him a part of our family.
We haven't been told so specifically, but we believe he has chronic sinus problems that need attention. In 90% of his pictures, his mouth is open and he appears to have a shiny (er... snotty) film beneath his cute little nose. Poor baby always looks like he has a raw nose!
While I don't know much else about him, he seems to be so full of life, and I can't wait for that energy to fill our home! My husband needs someone as wild as he is, and I have a feeling that Fletcher and his Papa are going to become the best of friends.

As I mentioned previously, we're adopting through Reece's Rainbow, a non-profit adoption organization. They primarily help find homes for children with Down's Syndrome, but they have also branched out to help little ones with other special needs.
Our family profile and adoption fund can be found here, and 100% of donations go to our family's adoption. If you're in a financial position to help contribute, PLEASE let me know if you do decide to donate! We had someone donate $100 the other day, and I have no idea who they were. Preferably, we'd be able to properly show our gratitude to those helping us bring these beautiful boys home.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Beautiful Beautiful Boys

Consider this my Wordless Wednesday.
Details to follow.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Our funds have verified!!! Well, most of the funds. I don't know how they calculated it, but a certain amount will remain on hold until the 10th... but we now have ENOUGH to keep things rolling!!


This girl right here is running on 4 hours of sleep (one of the dogs started drama last night... long story), but you'd never guess it. I'm a-bouncin' off the walls!


Monday, February 7, 2011

Home Study Problems

We are having issues with our home study. I unfortunately don't have the energy to rehash all the details. It's draining just to think about (and I'm sure it'd be equally draining to read).

Here's a highly edited version of what's been going on:

My requests to have approval for specific medical needs in the home study were ignored. My first request was made 4 weeks ago.
I asked that a form be signed and faxed to Reece's Rainbow. I was ignored.

I called him while I was in Thailand and asked what was up with the document, and if he was comfortable approving us for their needs. He was pleasant and enthusiastic, and completely reassured me that everything was fine and he was comfortable with it all, and would be sending it out immediately and sending me an email that same day.

...not so much, at least on the email part. All I got was CRICKETS.

I emailed him today asking, in more assertive terms, if the form had been sent. He assured me it had. The validity of that statement remains to be verified, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that it WAS sent, and he merely failed to notify me of it.

We've been told that we hadn't submitted paperwork (when our outbox proved otherwise). Upon receiving said proof, they admitted what *really* happened was that the documents didn't open properly... but if important documents don't open, dontcha think you should notify the senders, instead of sitting around for SEVERAL WEEKS, hoping they'll magically know to re-send them?

It finally appears that everything is getting cleared up and on track, so hopefully we'll have a completed home study in our hands within a week or two, and our INS 1-600a paperwork can be sent ASAP.

Our check from the mutual funds was sent to our bank on Thursday. It was likely received Saturday, and now we're waiting on funds verification. The second the money shows up, more documents will be mailed out and we'll have pictures to post online!

It's difficult to remain upbeat when SO many things manage to go wrong simultaneously, but I'm sure trying. Circumstances might be out of my direct control, but my attitude is entirely up to me.

I just wish time would move faster!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mutual Fund Liquidation!

The check for our mutual funds for retirement what were our mutual funds will be ready for us to pick up tomorrow! The liquidation process took a bit longer than we expected, and tomorrow's the day!


(Reverent and P.C. terms are not my forte. I'm working on this)

The check then must be SNAIL MAILED into our bank for verification and cashing. I'm not sure how long the verification process is. You'd think I woulda asked, but the answer wouldn't matter. It will take however long it takes. I'm guessing a few days?

Then we can FINALLY mail in our initial payments for adoption facilitation and such.

Background Code