"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." James 1:27

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Home Improvements!

This week has been filled with last-minute preparations around the house, so I wanted to share some of the work we have been doing! But first...

I never gave an update after my post on the flooring that we were installing upstairs (http://fourtosixfamily.blogspot.com/2015/01/room-to-play.html). To be honest, it didn't turn out quite as nice as we were hoping. The Parr Lumber guys were right in that the pine was a bit too soft to use for indoor flooring, so each time a Lego is dropped we get a visible record of the event! :-) On top of that, the Rubio Monocoat didn't go on as evenly as we had hoped...so we have a good playroom floor that we are not worried about destroying and will certainly replace when it comes time to sell the house one day! Here it is:

If you look closely, you can scuff marks from our first day of use on the floor. It turned out not to be the best idea to let the kids drive their electric cars- gifts from Nana and Michael- on the newly finished flooring... c'est la vie! Also, for those who are waiting for Christian Warrior Wear shirts, we just got inventory in, as you can see in the corner. Most orders are shipping this week!

The latest project has been to get the beds put together. We still had William's crib from when he was a baby, so Emma and Rebecca will both have toddler-sized daybeds for a while (with Rebecca's having the safety barrier):

And Bill has been working non-stop sanding boards to make a bunkbed for William and Peter! The boards look AMAZING. He's using these plans: http://ana-white.com/2012/03/plans/side-street-bunk-beds.
(Can you see the detail?)

I leave for China early next week and will meet Rebecca on Thursday! A few days later, she and I will make the four-hour trip to meet Peter! I'M SOOO EXCITED!!!


If you would like to help with travel expenses (which are high due it being tourist season in China), please give at: http://www.youcaring.com/adoption-fundraiser/help-us-adopt-a-teenage-boy-and-a-girl-with-cerebral-palsy/278760. Thank you for your support and prayers!!!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Flights are booked!

We got Travel Approval yesterday and, after receiving confirmation of a Consulate Appointment in China, booked our flights today! I will get to meet Rebecca on June 11th and Peter on June 15th!

It was a bit of an ordeal booking the flights to China. We tried doing it online, but nothing would go through. We tried to call the Chinese airline directly, but they could not book over the phone. We finally ended up working with a Chinese travel agency and that went pretty well. There was a lot of back and forth (we couldn’t travel through Canada, we had to have long lay-overs, etc.), but it’s all booked!

The amazing part is that we will be on U.S. soil only days before Peter turns 14! It is so awesome how God worked out all the timing.

Please be praying for safe travels. Also, we are still thousands of dollars short of our goal, so please continue to give or purchase shirts (www.christianwarriorwear.com). Everything helps!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A tough decision...and an update on Rebecca

We got a brief update on Rebecca earlier this week.  I was not able to post it sooner because we spent the earlier part of the week racing to get a Power of Attorney notarized, signed by the Secretary of the State, and now it is off to the China consulate for final authentication!

Sadly, we were not able to raise sufficient funds to bring our entire family to China, so I will be going alone to bring home Peter and Rebecca. It is not ideal, but we just could not afford to bring everyone. Bill will continue to sell shirts while I am in China to help recoup a lot of the expenses (the fees are detailed here and are accurate, except we have had to spend much more in postage fees for all the overnight shipping of documents! http://fourtosixfamily.blogspot.com/2014/12/funding-adoptions.html). We are also planning to attend a local Christian festival in July to sell shirts, so that should help, too. If you would like to help, please purchase a shirt at: www.christianwarriorwear.com or give at: http://reecesrainbow.org/85271/sponsorrobinson-6.

With regards to the update, it was answering the questions that we had a chance to ask about her (what are her fears? what does she like to eat? etc.). It says she likes congee, eggs and carrots! :-) The update included two new pictures, which show that she is out of the hospital and back at the orphanage.

If you see her previous photos (such as this one: http://fourtosixfamily.blogspot.com/2015/01/therapy-options-for-cp.html), she looks much weaker now. She seems to be fully supported above by the wheelchair, which makes me think that she has lost a lot of her upper body strength.

As for the adoption process, we are waiting for our Article 5 to be picked up (hopefully later this evening!), then we just wait for Travel Approval, which will hopefully come very soon (as we need to finalize the adoption by July 1st).

Thank you to those who have already supported! Please keep us all in your prayers and please share our story as you feel lead.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Depraved Indifference

From Bill:

Today’s highlighted resource is a short film from the Ellerslie Mission Society, entitled “Depraved Indifference.” This was actually the first resource (outside of Scripture) that got me to start really considering our place, as Christians, to adopt those whom the world has thrown away.

By God’s grace, this video is just one of many Holy Spirit-empowered resources that the team at Ellerslie has put together. Pastor Eric Ludy is a great example of a Christian Warrior, empowered by the Holy Spirit to confront the world with the truth. Please share this video; there are just too many Christians for there to be so many orphans. Not everyone is qualified to adopt, but most can help those who do, if they choose to. What’s your choice? Who do you serve? (Really, if you aren’t broken when you look around this world, you may want to check if you have the Holy Spirit. Because the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of the elect to see the truth and then give them power to engage this world with such veracity that the Christians of today should no less turn this world upside down, then the disciples did back in the day!

Here is a link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWHJ6-YhSYQ

Thank you for following and, if you feel called, please support our adoption through your purchase of a shirt on ChristianWarriorWear.com, or you can donate on our Youcaring page: http://www.youcaring.com/adoption-fundraiser/help-us-adopt-a-teenage-boy-and-a-girl-with-cerebral-palsy/278760. To God be the glory alone!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Great update on Peter!

We just got our final update on Peter and it was awesome! Much better report than the stressful news we got on Rebecca (see here: http://www.christianwarriorwear.com/blog/distressingfirstupdate).

We got two new pictures of our smiley boy and found out his shoe size! I was trying to buy shoes for him the other day and was worried about guessing wrong- glad I waited! (He is a 4.5 men’s for those who are curious).

The report is answering some questions that we asked, so it may sound unusual to hear things like “He is not afraid of anything.” I love it!

The update said:

5/15/2015 update


Current health is good. His left hand is not as agile as other children. His intelligence is delayed compared with other children of his age.

(States Chinese name) He is not afraid of anything. He is happy when he is playing or drawing.

He sleeps by himself. He showers daily. He brushes his teeth daily. He has daily responsibilities. He is in grade 3. He likes math and English. He knows some English words. He has a best friend.

What an incredible update on our sweet boy! He is going to fit in so well with our family.  I can’t wait to meet him in about 3 weeks!

Second Video Resource

From Bill:

As I said in yesterday’s video, for the next few days we will be highlighting certain resources that the Holy Spirit used, in conjunction with Scripture, to propel us to adopt Peter and Rebecca. 

Today’s resource is another documentary on conditions in orphanages, this time in Bulgaria:
We originally came across this documentary when we were considering adopting a young boy named Whittaker, from the Ukraine. His story was actually the one that God used to burst open the doors of our hearts to the abandoned and helpless. 

Whittaker had cerebral palsy and was only four years old; he looked a lot like our son, William, who is also four. Whittaker was left in a bed all day and his muscles had completely atrophied. We had also learned that he was about to be transferred from his orphanage if not adopted soon. Why, you ask? Because in the Ukraine and Bulgaria, children like Whittaker only have until they are four years old to get adopted from their orphanage before they are transferred. 

Now, you can adopt from the mental institutions, but it not as easy- to say the least- because sadly, there are so many kids that those who don't get adopted are simply seen as lost and ultimately forgotten.  Additionally, if you watch today’s documentary, you will see that these mental institutions are essentially Hell on earth. There are just too many kids and not enough people who care, Christian or not.

Thankfully, when we inquired about Whittaker, we learned that another family had already started the process of adopting him. In the end, God used this to lead us to Peter and Rebecca.

If you feel compelled, please support our adoption by purchasing a shirt at www.christianwarriorwear.com or give on our YouCaring page: http://www.youcaring.com/adoption-fundraiser/help-us-adopt-a-teenage-boy-and-a-girl-with-cerebral-palsy/278760.

The only help for orphans like Peter and Rebecca is found in God Almighty as He moves sovereignly, and as He leads though the acts of his Saints, God’s elect. To God be the glory alone!  

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Call for Fire!

Bill shares how God lead our heart towards adoption, describes how Rebecca is currently doing, and explains why we are in such a rush to get our children home.

"Return to Dying Rooms" can be found here: https://vimeo.com/22068507
Please purchase a shirt or give on our YouCaring page: http://www.youcaring.com/adoption-fundraiser/help-us-adopt-a-teenage-boy-and-a-girl-with-cerebral-palsy/278760.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Purple Awesomeness!

We had a request for a purple version of the women's True Faith shirt, and I think it turned out awesome! What do ya think? Only $22 and all profits help bring home Peter and Rebecca!

Purchases can be made through Christian Warrior Wear: www.christianwarriorwear.com/womens/

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Letter(s) of Acceptance

We just signed and overnighted our Letters of Acceptance (LOA) for Peter and Rebecca! We had to sign 6 documents, two of which were solely in Chinese. I accidentally got the papers out of order and almost put the wrong child's name on each of the Chinese documents, but I was able to figure out the characters and straighten it out! Those letters are now sent off to our adoption agency and will be sent to the CCCWA (China welfare organization), so that we can get Travel Approval (TA)! We are so close now. The USCIS has the electronic copies already of the LOAs, so we should get our letters of approval from them in the next day or two. After that, I think we get a GUZ number and fill out a really long form called the DS-260, then I think that is all we need for TA!

I wanted to share that we just applied for a grant with an adoption grant agency. We're only applying for one since our time is so short and each grant costs between $25 and $50 to apply for. I see a lot of people who do not get accepted for these grants, but hopefully we will! That could mean $5000 towards our travel fees!

If we are not able to raise the $20,000 still needed, I (Kristin) may have to go to China alone to get Peter and Rebecca. We were really hoping to have the entire family go (including our two bio kids), but we would have to get another credit card to make that happen, if the money doesn't come in, and that does not seem like a good way to start as a family of 6!

If you would like to help us with the adoption expenses, please buy a shirt at www.christianwarriorwear.com. You can also give a tax-deductible gift through our account with the Reece's Rainbow Family Sponsorship Program: http://reecesrainbow.org/85271/sponsorrobinson-6.

On a side note, as I was rummaging through the garage the other day, I came across a large bag of Emma's size 2 clothes that I had intended to give away. The clothes are in almost new condition, since she pretty much skipped size 2 and went straight to 3! These should fit Rebecca perfectly, at least for a few months home, since she is so tiny. Small blessing!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Distressing first update on Rebecca

When we began the adoption process, we received one medical report on Rebecca (Yana). It was from April of 2012, just two months after she was abandoned at the orphanage at the age of two (her estimated age). She is now five years old.

At the time, she seemed to be doing pretty well, considering she has athetoid cerebral palsy. She was making sounds and we learned that she could sit up and grasp things. Her weight was 9kg or about 20lbs, and 86cm.

Since that report, we have learned additional information about Rebecca's health. Over the past five months of the adoption process, we were blessed to come across a wonderful woman who visited Rebecca's orphanage last year. From this woman's information, we knew that Rebecca is, sadly, not progressing in her development. She is now in a wicker-basket wheelchair- sitting over a bucket potty- muscles atrophying, hardly socializing, and drooling. The woman also said that Rebecca is very quiet and shy. Other than that, she did not have a lot of information.

Three days ago, our adoption agency let us know that they just received a medical update on Rebecca, so I thought I would share. The update was very brief. It states:

4/28/2015 Update

Due to her special needs, local clinic could not give her immunizations.
She had fever recently and is treated in the hospital.
Very delayed, she cannot sit on her own, cannot stand or walk.
She is not potty trained.
She cannot make sounds or say any words.
She often puts out her tongue even when eating.

(Gives Chinese name)
Introverted, is not affectionate and has stranger anxiety.

She is in the orphanage.

The report included her vitals and current measurements. Her weight was listed at 12kg (26.5 lbs), which is only 3kg or 6.5 lbs more than she was 3 years ago. Her height is now 88cm. She has grown only 2cm in 3 years, so she is barely growing! On the Chinese growth chart, she is not even on the chart (http://www.infantchart.com/chinese0to18weightforage.php).

As for the hospitalization, I had a bad feeling that she was in the hospital a month or so ago. I had been following updates on her orphanage by an organization that supports certain foster children around China (I believe that 13 of the 60 children at Rebecca's orphanage have sponsors- Rebecca is not one of them). The organization had said that some of the more malnourished children from her orphanage were hospitalized recently because of high fevers, and I was concerned that she might be one of them- sadly, I was right. I do not know if she is still in the hospital, but our agency is asking for an update from her orphanage.

Here are the two photos that were sent with her update. You can tell in the first one that she had an IV port in, so I assume that these were taken at the hospital.

Such a somber update.

I don't know if Rebecca knows that there is a family racing to get her home. I don't know if the orphanage workers have told her, or if she could even understand if they did. I doubt it. But we are here and we are getting every piece of paperwork processed as quickly as possible to get her home. Thankfully, we got through three major steps (DTC, LID and LOA) in just 4 business days...God is at work in this process! We MUST be in China by July 1st, in order to finalize the adoption of Peter (Pang Pang) before he turns 14. Isn't it such a blessing that we get an expedite for his adoption, since she is also in so much need of love and care?

Please pray for little Rebecca- that she will stay healthy while we work to get to her, and also that God would fill her with His peace when she does meet us. If you would like to help with the remaining $28,000 needed for both adoptions, please purchase a shirt at www.christianwarriorwear.com. All profits go towards the adoptions. Thank you.


"It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed." Deuteronomy 31:8

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Christian Warrior Wear

I'm so excited to share that we started a company to help fund the adoptions, Christian Warrior Wear (www.christianwarriorwear.com). Not only do we need extra funds for the $40K that we need to bring home Peter and Rebecca, we also wanted to start a company that would challenge Christians to be bold in their faith.

With Bill working on another start-up, time and resources were a huge consideration for us. Regardless, we felt God's leading and, after much prayer, Christian Warrior Wear is ultimately how we saw God directing our funding efforts for the adoptions. Neither of us have experience starting a t-shirt company, so we were glad to connect with the guys at Grunt Style who really went out of their way to get us going. You can read more on our "About" page: http://christianwarriorwear.com/about.

Bill designed the nine shirts on the site, as well as the entire website (he even made the intro video)! He had never done a website before, so he chose to use Squarespace, which pretty much guides every step. I was surprised that Squarespace made it so easy. The trickiest part for Bill was learning Photoshop to design the images and logo!

As for the shirts, here are some of the styles he came up with (the first two are my favorites because they are about adoption!):

There are a few other shirts on the website (www.christianwarriorwear.com), so be sure to check them out. All of the shirts are $22 and we make about $13 off each shirt after production costs and related expenses.

As for the adoptions, our dossier is now official on its way to China! We are DTC! Next, China will log it in and give us Provisional Approval (PA). Mid-week last week, we sent our I800 to Texas, where it has to sit for at least two weeks before heading to Missouri. Hopefully, the PA and I800 will be processed at about the same time, then we can apply for a GUZ number for Peter and Rebecca's visas! After that, we get Travel Approval and can plan our journey to China! We are hoping for this entire process to be completed within 40 days- by June 1st. That gives us one month before Peter turns 14!

For those who missed it, please check out our intro video that shares our adoption story! Also, please like our Christian Warrior Wear page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cwarriorwear?fref=nf and Twitter: @cwarriorwear.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Compiling the Dossier

I realized that almost an entire month has passed since I last posted. It has felt like a week has gone by! The truth is that there has not been a lot happening over the past month, as we have been waiting on our USCIS forms to process and to get final approval.

One hiccup occurred in the approval process that caught us off guard. There was a question about the necessity of a child abuse clearance for Burkina Faso, a country in West Africa that I traveled to years ago on a mission's trip. This is a third-world country, so I thought it strange/impossible for them to have any such registry (it turns out that they have something like this for child labor abuse issues, but not anything like we need). The funny part was that I actually had to pull out some 10+ year-old french to communicate with the Burkina Faso Embassy in Washington D.C. (though they did not understand exactly what I was asking for and I had to resort to email)!

For standard adoptions, the USCIS approval process takes between 60-90 days after the 2-week wait for biometric fingerprint appointments. However, once it was clarified that I did not need a child abuse clearance from Burkina Faso, we requested an expedite (since Payton will be 14 on July 1st so we must have the adoption finalized prior to that date) to reduce the wait for formal USCIS approval.
After receiving the approval in just four business days(!), we notarized, then overnighted, the document to the Secretary of State for authentication. It is still not back to us yet, but we hope to have it in a day or so. It will then head to the Chinese Consulate for final approval.

After we have the Chinese Consulate stamp of approval on the USCIS form, we will overnight all our dossier documents to our adoption agency where they will be compiled for express mailing to China! This can take about 2 weeks, but, again, we are hoping for an expedite. Upon arrival and submission of the documents in China, we will be given a log-in date (LID) where we wait for a Letter of Approval (LOA) for both adoptions. After that, the National Visa Center (NVC) sends a letter to the US Embassy in China. Then we get the Article 5, where the US Consulate reviews Payton and Yana's travel visas and gives Travel Approval (TA) to buy tickets to China! Yippee!!!

With all these steps, we are shooting for about June 1st for travel. That leaves less than 60 days to raise the remaining funds (~$28K) for the adoption! It is a hectic time with lots of paperwork to look after, as well as final plans and preparations to make, but we are feeling at peace with everything. (I have been overwhelmed by the support in the adoption community, as well as our wonderful friends!)

(Here is a fun photo from our trip to the zoo today with the in-laws!)

Sunday, March 8, 2015


The auction was a huge success! Thanks to everyone who bid. We brought in another $737 towards our goal of $32,000. With the auction contributions, as well a generous donation from one of Bill's uncles, we are now at almost 12% of our fundraising goal... Woo-hoo!

As far as our progress with the adoptions, things are looking good. We will be expedited through USCIS (approval for international adoption) because Payton is at risk of aging out July 1st. So, what normally takes 90 days should take just over two weeks! We are now two weeks into the process, so I am hopeful that we will have approval by the end of the week.

On the home-front, we have almost completed the upstairs flooring. We just have a few things to nail down, then some sanding and finish. I'm really liking how things look- though the guys at Parr Lumber did not agree with our choice of pine for the flooring. They said it is much too soft. We'll see if the Rubio Monocoat does it's job of hardening...so far the flooring has done well to withstand the pressure from our socks.

We got an update on Payton last week and he looks great. He actually seems taller than the pictures that I saw of him from last July. He has the best smile, as you can see below.

My Facebook friend will be traveling to China next month and has promised to get photos and video of Yana. I will be sure to post those when they are available. In the meantime, we were blessed to come across this video, which discusses Yana's health in detail (her section starts at 10:36) and provided a new photo of her!


That's it for now. Thanks for your prayers and support!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

25 Great Items for Auction!

The adoption auction is live!

Since the adoptions are being completed in double-time, so is the auction! I had hoped to have about 50 items for people to bid on, but time is running short and we are going to focus our fundraising efforts on selling shirts (more details to come next week- hopefully)! So, we have 25 great items up for auction, including a Coach purse, Oakley sunglasses, and some other exciting stuff!

To join the auction, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/groups/RobinsonAuction/

Bids include shipping and winners can pay via our YouCaring page, or I can give friends and family a paypal account to pay once the auction completes on March 8th at 5pm PDT.

All funds from the auction will go directly towards our adoption fees! I will update the tally on the sidebar once all the items have been shipped!


Friday, February 20, 2015

Auction Preview

Since we are on WARP SPEED getting Payton and Yana home by July 1st (Payton's 14th birthday), we need to accelerate the pace of raising funds. We have already raised $2650 and we are SO THANKFUL for all the generous donors who have given! Thank you all!

To help with fundraising, we are putting together a Facebook auction. To gather items for the auction, we asked close friends and various businesses for donations. At first, we did not receive any responses from businesses, but then the gifts started trickling in!  I wanted to share this post to thank the donors and provide a preview for the auction, which will go from March 1st through March 8th at 5:00PM (PST).

Here are some of the great donations that we have received:

The Idea Box (http://theideaboxkids.com) donated six boxes for child-led, play-based activities and ideas. These boxes are applicable for toddlers, preschoolers, kindergarteners and elementary-aged children. I love how sturdy the wooden coins are and all the great suggestions they have!

The Alumni group at Liberty University (https://www.liberty.edu/) donated a really cool OGIO backpack, as well as a Liberty Alumni umbrella, scarf and journal:

Interstate Batteries (http://www.interstatebatteries.com/), who have in their mission statement that they exist "to glorify God," showed their support of the adoption by donating numerous items signed by Kyle Busch!:

Washington State University (www.wsu.edu) donated two tickets to the WSU vs. Colorado Game game on November 21st:

And the University of Washington (www.washington.edu) donated 2 tickets to a UW vs. Sacramento game on September 12th!


We have also had a number of anonymous donations and will have some gorgeous Bibles, gift certificates, handmade items, as well as a few things from some fancy name-brands like Coach and Oakley!

I will post a link for the auction next Sunday, March 1st. All funds from the auction will go directly towards our adoption expenses, which exceed $40,000.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sooner than we thought...

Since the start of this adoption process, we have been moving pretty quickly with forms/paperwork. We knew that we needed to expedite things, since Payton was aging out of the adoption system, but we were unaware that we had to have the adoption finalized by his 14th birthday (July 1st)! I happened to ask our adoption agency about this today and they stated, yes, we must have everything FINALIZED before Payton turns 14. Now, we are in even more of a rush to get our customs forms approved, Dossier logged-in, and that all-important, Travel Approval!

Some may be wondering what happens if the adoption is not finalized by then. Well, from what I understand, Payton will be transferred to an adult mental institution, since he is not physically or emotionally capable of caring for himself. He will no longer be eligible for adoption. Sadly, many of these mental institutions in China lack resources, so children/adults often die from lack of care and nutrition. In Payton's case, he is only at about a first grade reading level, so he clearly would not be able to go out into the world and survive on his own at this time.

So, while we thought we had 8 months or more to raise the funds for Payton and Yana's adoptions, we now must get the funding together in about 4 months! To help bring in the finances, Bill worked with an awesome, veteran-owned t-shirt company to produce some shirts for the adoption. We will be taking pre-orders of the shirts in the next couple weeks, as samples come in and we are able to post pictures. We'll also be doing a Facebook auction soon...more details to come.

Please be in prayer for the adoption, and that things would be expedited at every level!

Also, a contact via Facebook gave me a bunch of photos of Payton from when she met him two years ago. I thought I would share for those who want to get our little guy better!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Room to play

As I mentioned before, we were blessed a few months ago to purchase a new home with some non-toxic upgrades. The builder for our neighborhood had the creative idea to build two-story homes with the downstairs finished and the second level unfinished (for the dreamer who wants to have a blank slate to do whatever he or she desires!). We really liked the concept, particularly because Bill was not feeling well when we moved in and we wanted all the bedrooms on the main floor.

Now that we are actually moved in (and since two more children will be here soon!), we realize that we need the space upstairs! So, we have started the process of finishing it ourselves and making a large playroom/homeschool area. This both saves money, and ensures that we use non-toxic products throughout!

We painted with Harmony Interior Acrylic Latex Paint (zero VOC formula) from Sherwin Williams. We used MB Global Quiet Walk as the underlayment and Kahrs Landobond Adhesive for gluing the wood pieces together (both non-toxic). 

We decided to go with Lumber Liquidators for the flooring and get unfinished wood for about $1.69 a square foot. The comments on this flooring said to get 50% extra because there were so many major knots and dings, so we ordered the extra. We are so glad that we did! As you can see in the below picture, Bill was able to make a temporary table for his saw out of the spare pieces!

We'll be finishing with Rubio Monocoat sealant (clear) once it is finished, since that is also non-toxic and will strengthen the wood.

It's been a big job, but overall should only be about $3,000 for the 900 sqft space. The lowest quote that we could get to have it professionally done with non-toxic flooring was $8,000, so we have saved a bundle doing it ourselves! I'll post pictures when it is completed!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Therapy options for CP

Since receiving the pre-approval for Yana, Bill and I have been busy preparing physically, mentally and emotionally for all the exciting and challenging things to come this year. We've been reading books on cerebral palsy, started learning Chinese (I'll share more about that later!), and researching Yana's specific form of cerebral palsy, athetoid, which represents just 10% of the individuals with CP. I wanted to share some of the things that we have found in our research, in case it will help others. Most of the information is very encouraging, while some has been a bit intimidating!

In doing research, I came across three books written by adults who have CP. They all had similar stories, such as being told that they were non-verbal or mentally delayed (and later learning that this is not true), experiencing the traumatizing and agonizing therapies that were attempted to correct their symptoms (forceful movements that resulted in severe pain, as well as some useless surgeries), and harsh bullying that they went through. They also shared what helped them most physically and emotionally in dealing some of the challenges with CP. Out of the three books, the one that drew me in the most is called, "Ways out of cerebral palsy during infancy and early childhood with the Feldenkrais Method," by Paul Doron Doroftei.

In his book, Mr. Doroftei shares the incredible testimonial of a method that helped him get out of a wheelchair, increase mobility and reduce most of his CP symptoms over many months and years. At age 60, he says that he now walks better than most people his age because of the techniques that he learned through the Feldenkrais method! He explains that, when someone has CP, it is only the brain that is damaged- not the muscles or nerves in the limbs. Various cells of the brain that would normally communicate slow and steady movements to the extremities are deadened (often through a trauma at the child's birth), which results in spastic, or competing, muscular movements. This is a result of opposing expanding and contracting muscular signals (parasitic messages) being sent at the same time- resulting in hypertonicity or paralysis in the majority of people with CP. (Yana's form, athetoid, sometimes does not have this spasticity, but, rather, flailing, repetitive movements.)

The Feldenkrais Method suggests that, if you can restore proper communication between the brain and these muscles/nerves, eliminating the parasitic messages that are being sent, then more fluid movement and muscle relaxation can occur. I think of it like the "Oregon Trail" game that we all played in elementary school. Imagine that an enormous boulder has suddenly blocked the trail that leads to your destination. You must blaze a new trail to get around this obstacle, which will likely forever be used by future travelers. Similarly, once these correct paths are created in the brain, they are available permanently!

I went on to research the Feldenkrais Method further and frequently came across a related method called the Anat Baniel Method (ABM). Anat Baniel was a student of Dr. Feldenkrais (now deceased) and adapted his technique to improve the outcomes of children and adults using this therapy. She uses it for autism, CP, chronic pain, and even improving flexibility for ballet dancers! The treatments can be very costly and time consuming (I have looked locally and it is $75 for a 45-minute session), but the movements are simple enough for parents to learn and apply to their own special needs kids. In fact, Mr. Doroftei recommends this!

I ordered the ABM training video for special needs kids and am excited to start learning the techniques in the coming weeks. They are very gentle movements and the children remain calm and relaxed throughout the process (some even fall asleep). There are numerous YouTube videos online that show this, but this one is my favorite- since the child has Yana's form of CP and begins walking after just 6 sessions!

As I researched more about therapies for CP, I came across another simple option for children with CP. This involves using a compression garment called the SPIO garment. The clinic in the video below uses this garment, along with a number of therapeutic techniques, and you can see amazing results in this girl (also with Athetoid CP) in just 5 days!

I hesitated to share the below picture of Yana before because it clearly shows drool, so it is not the most flattering picture of our sweet girl. Drooling occurs in about 30% of individuals with CP, indicating an inability to swallow the normal amount of saliva the body produces. I share this now because I have learned that the Feldenkrais Method can even be used to restore connections between the brain and the swallowing muscles, so that she can learn to swallow normally! (You can read about it in the book by Mr. Doroftei.)

With a combination of therapy, and lots of love and prayer, we are very hopeful about Yana's future. Plus, she will have her big brother, Payton, encouraging her along the way. (Payton was not walking at 8 years old and now runs and even likes to play soccer!)  

We can't wait to see Yana freed from her stroller and out exploring the world around her! Please keep her and Payton in your prayers. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Meeting the Requirements for Adoption

When we started the adoption journey with Payton and Yana, we were concerned about possible rejection by the agency, or China, because of Bill's ongoing health issues. For those who don't know, Bill started having unusual physical symptoms immediately upon returning from Afghanistan. These worsened three years ago. He has had hundreds of tests done, and we spent three weeks at the Mayo Clinic, but we were only recently able to get any real information about the cause of his ailments. In any case, it was a real concern whether or not we would get approval to move forward.

Over the course of the past three years, we have done a lot of investigating about his condition- both online and in our own home. I utilized my chemistry education, and years of experience in the field, to understand the toxic chemicals that he was likely exposed to during his deployment to Afghanistan. 

During his year in-country, he traveled over 8,500 miles and visited more than 25 bases. He was frequently living only feet from toxic burn pits, and was constantly breathing in air that was full of pesticides and herbicides. Needless to say, we knew that toxic exposure was likely the cause of his health issues. Thankfully, a vascular neurosurgeon recently confirmed this with us.

In researching toxins, we came to realize that Bill has also developed severe chemical sensitivities. This was first noticed when he came home from Afghanistan and was immediately allergic to our bulldog (Buddy), dairy, eggs, wheat and soy. Thankfully, some of these allergies have lessened, though we did have to pass Buddy on to a loving owner. 

In particular, we believe that our previous two homes since Afghanistan were off-gassing heavy amounts of toxins, significantly accelerating Bill's health decline. Both were new homes, which are known to release heavy toxins in the first few weeks, months and even years. In the last few months, though, we were blessed to purchase a new home with numerous non-toxic upgrades. It has non-toxic hardwood flooring and is painted with zero VOC paint. We also have put up low-emission blinds with non-toxic drapes. In addition, we have also eliminated harsh cleaning chemicals, and rely on baking soda and vinegar (except for dish detergent- we have yet to find a healthy detergent that will actually remove stains- Bill just gives his dishes an extra rinse post wash). 

Since moving to our new home 4.5 months ago, Bill's health has gradually improved. He has started taking organic vitamins in the last two months, which includes two detox formulas, and we find that these are accelerating his improvement (http://teamrobinson.mytouchstoneessentials.com). 

In spite of these issues, we felt God's leading in the adoptions. We know that God calls us to rely on His strength in challenging times, and we felt His heart for Payton and Yana. As I mentioned, we were nervous that China would not accept our application because they originally had required that both parents be in "good health" at the time of adoption. When we got Bill's medical evaluation done for the home study, his doctor truthfully wrote down that he is in "fair health." 

An amazing thing has happened in the past month, though. It was announced on December 5th that China was lowering their adoption qualifications for Waiting Children! (I should mention that December 5th was the same day that we announced publicly that we were adopting!) What a blessing! My hope is that they have realized that it is more important to get these kids in loving families, than to have the "perfect" families step up to adopt (which leads to fewer children ever being adopted). China's new health requirements for Waiting Children are:

   Applicants must be in good physical and mental condition necessary to provide responsible care for an adopted child: 
                     If diagnosed with anxiety, depression, mania, phobia, or OCD, must be under good control with a small dose of medication (couples only)
                     If one parent has (or has had) cancer, lupus, nephrosis, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, hearing or language function impairment, or organ transplant within the last ten years, etc., must be under good control AND the other parent healthy
                     Must not have significant vision loss, limb impairment or paralysis, schizophrenia, or infectious diseases (such as HIV). 
   Body Mass Index (BMI) must be under 40

Bill easily falls within these requirements, which is why we were able to get pre-approval for Payton and Yana!

Please pray for Bill's continued health improvements. None of us knows what day will be our last, but our prayer is that he would live a long and fruitful life with his family, serving God.

If you would like to join with us on this journey, your prayers and financial support are coveted. Please give via the links at the right. Thank you from all of the Robinsons!


Here's a cool video that Bill made after his 2007-2008 deployment: