Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Somos una familia

Family Fiesta
What a difference a year makes. We had dinner out and celebratory cake at home.  Kids want a big family fiesta next year, so mark your calendars for April 30.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A magical weekend....

 I don’t even know where to begin.  What an incredible trip back to Costa Rica, ten months post adoption.   It almost didn’t happen.  We all got terribly sick a week before our trip.  It started with Evelin who came down with a very bad cold and sore throat.  Then Jose got strep.  Then it hit me.  And then Scott went down for the count.  At the last minute, I managed to pull it together to escort the kids, who were on the mend, down to CR.  Scott stayed home and under the covers.

The kids were awesome.  The moment our plane hit the ground they were jumping up and down with excitement.  They couldn’t wait to get to Apartotel Cristina (where we lived together for nearly six weeks).  But first, we had to wait for the driver with a van to take us there because we had 5 huge suitcases filled with donations to bring to the orphanage for our volunteer weekend.   Evelin and Jose were so excited when we got to the hotel.  They put us in the very same suite where we had lived in and memories came flooding back to all of us.  Evelin and Jose started chattering away about how we lived, what we did, “…. remember this, Mama and remember that? “    Very sweet.

The next morning, we had the driver return and bring us (and the 5 huge bags) to the Hogar Cristiano, where a meeting was already underway with the volunteer coordinator and the initial team of volunteers.   What a wonderful weekend we had.  What began as a fulfillment of a promise to raise money for the orphanage, turned into a weekend of magic and joy.   Everyone – from the hermanas (nuns), the tías, the workers, the volunteers to the children -- was touched, moved and inspired.   The $10,000 that was raised purchased an industrial oven and equipment for the bakery, uniforms for the women and older girls, 40 hens and feed, and materials and supplies to paint and repair 4 of the casitas where the children lived.   On top of that, people sent gifts, clothes and other donations while nearly twenty-five others volunteered at the Hogar giving their time, love and expertise. 

The children and teens spent the weekend with the volunteers singing and dancing, creating murals, making hula hoops, playing soccer and Frisbee, getting haircuts, their faces painted, and even pediatric massages.  On our final day together, the girls’ put on a show for all of the volunteers, hermanas and tías.  (Evelin performed in the dance portion of the show; she had practiced all weekend.)  For the grand finale, the children saw a slide show presentation of our weekend together.  Our volunteer photojournalist was incredible and gave each child at the Hogar something that many of us take for granted -- photos of themselves from their childhood.  
Check out the photo album of our weekend activities.  (To protect the identities of the 74 children currently living at the Hogar, there are no photos that clearly identify the children.  You will, however, see photos of our kids, their primas and some of the other volunteers’ children.) 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Giving back to those who gave so much to us ....

With thanksgiving just behind us, we’d like to take this opportunity to let you all know how thankful we are for your support and to let you know that our Costa Rican Orphanage Project is about to take off and fly!   So many of you are about to make a real difference in the lives of some very special children who are waiting to be adopted and loved.  With so much generous support, we partnered with our not-for-profit adoption agency, Gladney Center for Adoption, and collaborated with one of the largest orphanages in Costa Rica to help them create a sustainable effort to care for the children.  Check it out: 

La Pandería y Más! (The Bakery and More!)
Seventy children, mostly girls, are living in humble conditions at the Hogar Cristiano (“Hogarcito”), a children‘s orphanage in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Like most orphanages, the Hoagarcito depends upon the goodwill of others to help provide for the children. La Panderia y Más is a project to build a bakery and more to help the Hogar’s caretakers provide for the children. $10,000 was raised for this effort.

Bread, Eggs and Meat

Project Pandería y Más creates a sustainable effort to help the Hogar’s caretakers feed the children. Through the purchase of an industrial oven, uniforms and its equipment, the project will assemble a bread-baking bakery, Pandería Hogar Cristiano. The Bakery will help feed the children, earn extra money for the Hogarcito and train the older children who may never be adopted in new, marketable skills – planning, baking and selling the bread. The project will also purchase 40 hens for the children to help raise and the Hogarcito to use for meat and eggs.

Color My World

Fifteen Costa Rican and North American volunteers, at their own expense, will come together for one weekend in February 2013 to paint the “casitas”, or little houses, where the children live. Volunteer artists will also work with the children to create two murals on exterior walls, while others engage the children in play activities for the weekend. The project will also help support the local economy by hiring nine local laborers to fix, patch and prepare the walls for painting.

Clothes, Treats, Sheets, Toys

Needed items from across the U.S. are being donated by individuals and corporations. A Costa Rican Brownie Troop of ten girls has “adopted” the project and will put together personalized care packages for each child.  If you'd like to donate any gently used or new items, please contact samandsjg@yahoo.com!   

Life is good....

Citizenship Day -- September 2012
So many photos to choose from and I choose this one. Why, I don't know.  This was taken when we celebrated Citizenship Day back at the end of September with their primas who also recently became US Citizens.

Our first year together.  Amazing.  There have been so many firsts.  First birthday celebrations together.   First days of school. First Halloween.  First Thanksgiving. OH!  And first snow!!  (A big deal to our little Costa Ricans.) 

Well, it's been six months and counting.  It's amazing how well the kids have adjusted to their new lives.  It's also amazing that we are all still standing.  For sure, we've had our ups and downs.  It hasn't been easy and there have been a lot of tears, meltdowns, tirades (and that's just from the parents! Only kidding.  Well, not really.) But through it all, it's been an incredible process of discovery.  Evelin and Jose have delicious, delightful, sassy personalities. They have really become the loves of our lives and are loved by so many in our lives.   

We can't believe how lucky we are.  I regret not keeping this blog/diary alive for them and I keep promising Evelin that we are going to start their "Lifebooks"  pronto!  So a quick recap:  we hunkered down for the rest of May and June.  We introduced them to people slowly.    When we exposed them to too much stimuli, we had problems (as we were aptly forewarned by, Gladney, our adoption agency).  Grandparents played a big role and my Mom stayed with us for several months, as Scott and I adjusted back to our work routines. 

By the end of June, they were both going stir crazy, so we enrolled them into day camps for the summer.  Smartest thing we ever did.  It completely prepared them for school in the fall.  Both are in school now and doing very well. 

And we are planning for our first trip back to Costa Rica!   We are all so excited and this will be a very special trip for us.  Initiated by my Aunt Ellen who wanted to make a donation to the orphanage where Evelin and Jose were cared for while they waited for us to arrive, we worked with our adoption agency to raise $10,000. Now a wonderful group of volunteers, which includes our cousin Heidi, have come together to collaborate with the orphanage to create an incredible project, La Panderia y Mas! 

We head down in February to spend a long weekend with Costa Rican and Norte Americano volunteers to brighten their world and build them a bakery. Imagine that!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

We're home and doing fine ....

Hola.  We're getting lots of calls and emails from everyone asking how the kids are doing.   Kids did great on both airplanes (we had a layover in Houston).  The entry into the US was a bit intimidating. No greeting, no smiles, no explanations.  We were told to stand aside and then were escorted to a room where they reviewed and processed the paperwork that the Embassy had given us.  Not exactly a welcoming experience but the Customs Official who finally told us what was going on was nice.   Once we were free to go, Scott and I reveled in the moment.  Of course, neither Evelin nor Jose could understand the significance  -- that they were now US citizens. 

Upon arrival to NYC, Tios Mitra y Chris surprised us at Baggage Claim with Bienvenidos (welcome) signs and gifties for the kiddies.  We had a great visit with them since we hit mucho, mucho traffico.  When we got home (after 10 pm), Grandma Leslie had welcome signs for them on the puertas and hanging from an arch in the apartment. 

It's been raining ever since, so we've only walked around the neighborhood a little bit.  And today, Jose has been un poco sick.  Low grade fever and another vomiting episode  -- first his orange juice across the breakfast table and then his oatmeal in the hallway on the way to the bathroom.  He's now in his PJs for the rest of the day. 

Evelin is coloring and has made paper collars for the dogs, paper jewelry for all of us and they both created paper plates that will be sent away to factory and made into their very own plastic plates ( a special gift from the Tios Mitra and Chris). 

We hope to get them settled in over the next few days while we figure out what they are actually going to do over the summer! 


A special gift ...

Evelin and I were searching the internet, looking for photos or videos of the hogar in San Ramon where she and Jose had lived for more than 2 years.  I couldn't believe it, but we came upon a video from 2011 that featured the children of the hogar. It was such a gift because by now I've heard so much about her life and friends there.  And by the way, most of the children in this video have been adopted. Check out Evelin at age 7 and Jose at 2.   

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Our last day in Costa Rica ...

Our last breakfast at the piscina.  Our last goodbyes to all of the wonderful staff at the hotel who have supported us since our very first days.  And a lovely, lovely, lovely last day with Yolanda and her husband at their beautiful home, Tierra Fertil, right outside of Pacayas, Cartago.  It is high up in the mountains and situated between the volcanoes Irazu and Turrialba.  What a wonderful and relaxing day. Yolanda shared with Evelin something that she told us the very first time that we met with her more than a year ago.  She said, "Don't worry Scott and Stacey. Your children are out there and they are just waiting for you."  

Now, dear friends and family, we must finish packing. Thank you for following our blog during our stay in Costa Rica.  For those families who are adopting from Costa Rica, we want you to know that we are thinking about you and your children who are just waiting for you. If you have any questions at all, and we haven't corresponded yet, please feel free to contact me at samandsjg@yahoo.com