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Episode 70

The Best Gifts Ever

AGCI Adoptive Parents

You’re listening to Together by AGCI. I’m Marisa Butterworth. And I’m Melissa Rush. Okay. Marisa, did you know that you can now listen or watch this podcast? We record the video footage too. Well, Melissa, I did know that because it’s painful every time we record and I have to put makeup on, but I do keep forgetting to mention it. So I guess I should say you are listening or watching Together by AGCI. I feel your pain there. It’s, yeah, I, well, well, for this episode, we decided to do something really special today. We have the pleasure of hearing from families that were able to bring their children home through adoption this year. These were really so fun for us to be able to record. They’re going to be sharing their adoption stories, the hard things that happened, the beauty and the miracles that they had a front-row seat to. We loved hearing about all of their sweet kids, and we hope that you feel as encouraged and inspired as we do. So, I’m Jennifer, and this is my husband, Jed Ward, and we’re in Woodland, California. So amazing. Well, every adoption story that I’ve ever heard, including my own, is full of ups and downs. I don’t know, miracles like there, and especially through, we just went through COVID. I’m guessing that you guys, you know, lived through that too, of getting your kids home.

But would you just share some of your adoption story with us? So we tried to have our own, cause I, huh? Yeah, because I three, I have three sons from a previous marriage and we don’t have any together. So we were looking at the whole IVF situation, all of that. And one night we were sitting in bed talking and we just were like, you know what? That’s not what God’s calling us to do. So we looked at adoption and I did a Google search and AGCI is the first one that came up. So we went with that. I filled out the little information thing, and the next day I got a phone call. And that’s kind of how it all started. Wow. Yeah, I mean, I think we went into this with so many different expectations. Like, I felt like I’ve always wanted to adopt. I don’t know why, but even as like a child that was on my heart, we went through the IVF process and as we got into it, we felt like it was more of a, like this weird medical thing. And we’re just like, why? Why are we doing this when there’s so many kids out there that need a home? And we went into the adoption process wanting to adopt a baby and grow our family that way.

And throughout the process and after, I believe it was Lyla from AGCI, I sent us a waiting children’s list. We both went and reviewed the list. And you know, Jed called and he’s like, I found our boys. And it ended up being a, at the time of what, seven and eight year old. And I was like, okay, right. Here we go. And so just God, you know, surprises us all the time with, you know, we think we knew our plans are what we want, and then he just throws a curve ball at you. So we went through the process. It was a long process. It was, I, I mean, it’s, it’s a lot of work, especially when you’re used to like families that do more of a domestic process and still process, but not as lengthy and then add C. Right. I think our biggest obstacle was that was finding a psychologist that would be willing to meet with us face to face. And that took quite a, I can’t imagine. Oh yeah. And a flight to Southern California to be able to accomplish that. So that was probably the biggest hurdle we had. And then just timing. But now that we have our kids home, I would say, gosh, I wish I would’ve appreciated some of that time that God gave us during the waiting a little bit more.

I mean, we definitely made time of it and spent time together, but I just, I, I wish I would’ve held that closer to my heart and realized that God had us in that waiting for a reason. Not only was he preparing Johan and Juan for us, but we, he was kind of preparing Jed and I for our life being completely flipped upside down. So that’s, yep. I would just, and there were so many times in that waiting that we were getting frustrated and we just were like, we want our boys. Cause of course you’re just like, they’re just, they’re waiting for us. Yes. But I just, you know, wanna encourage families. Like that waiting period is so special for you and your spouse or just you as your family preparing for that. So make the most out of your waiting time, because life will never be the same for good reasons, but it just will never be the same. And the one thing that process did for us, which I didn’t think we could come or become closer, it brought us even closer together through that process. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. I love that. So when did you expect with COVID timelines, when did you expect to bring them home? Well, we were actually given some timelines, and I get a lot of things out of control. And so we were about a year later than what we originally expected, the process.

So we expected to bring them home September October of last year. And we ended up bringing August of this year. Yeah. Oh wow. So you really are, you’re just fresh in the middle of it right now. Oh yeah. Like praying this morning, like, okay, remember all the good things, we’re not gonna be negative. Yeah. No, yeah. I mean, it’s real though. It’s true. Like, it’s just, you’re, you’re kind of thrust into the middle of a kind of a crazy storm and you know, there are so many amazing things and there are also like, realistically very difficult things that you have to go through and challenges to you personally of like, oh my gosh, am I gonna make this through? I can tell you you’re gonna make it through from experience, but it does, it challenges everything in you and for the most beautiful. Like, and like, I love that you said that it’s brought you two closer together too, because it really, it does. And you have a choice of how it, you know, how you all react to everything. So, did you guys feel like you were prepared for this? Like, did they do a good job preparing you? Are you feeling all right on that point? Or do you feel like you have, you know, still people that you can call and lean into if you need help?

I mean, I definitely think, but you know, the forever or families are forever training definitely prepared us in a capacity that we were not prepared for. Even having raised kids, just, you know, some of that training, I’m like, I wish that every parent would have to go through that because we came at parenting either the way that we were parented ourselves or on this, for me, I’m like, okay, that was a complete ego trip and you kind of have to meet your children in different capacity, especially children in hard places. So that I think was one of the strongest tools that we were given through this process that we didn’t have. Yeah. As far as being prepared, I, I mean, I’m gonna be just transparent. The oldest child that we adopted, we were definitely set up for like, Hey, this is where he’s at, this is what he’s going through. But he’s actually further behind than we thought. Then you realized, okay. I mean, he couldn’t eat with a fork or knife at 10 years old when we met him. Oh. And so old transparency, it kind of scared us because we were, we were ready for one thing, and I don’t even know if we were really ready for it. We just mentally thought we were. And then to know that he was a little bit more delayed or stunted in his growth than we thought it, it did scare us initially.

But we’re definitely working through some of those challenges. And he’s an incredible child. It just, it, yes. Just like, well, gosh, we’re gonna have to be parents forever. Like, he’s gonna have to live with us. And that we’re, we are quickly realizing that’s not the scenario. So I think we kind of psych ourselves out at the beginning too. Yes. But anything that you’re, I don’t blame you for feeling that way, anything like that. Like that’s a pretty big curve ball to think that. Yeah. I mean, that’s a, that’s a big deal. Deal. I don’t blame you for feeling like that. So what was it like meeting the boys for the first time? It was, I mean, of course we were anxious, nervous, scared, all those feelings wrapped all into a little ball. Right. And they’re sitting right in your chest wondering how they’re gonna think about you. And I just initially, when they walked out and seen them, it made everything worth it. Yeah. All the, you know, all the ups and downs, the long wait. It just, it made everything worth it. And then their reaction was, as soon as they walked out and saw us, they just both started to sob. Yeah. And they just came over and just hugged us. And that it was the reassurance of, okay, these boys need us. Yeah.

And I think that’s kind of what helped clung us to some of those, like the selfish moments of like, oh gosh, what’s this mean for us? Right. Instead of that outward focus of, oh my gosh, these two children have just not really been given an ounce of a choice in life. And God has provided us with the resources and the love that these children need. And so those are the things that help you get through some of the doubts or, you know, some of those voices that you hear that are not true, but you still get those in your head about the things that won’t work out instead of the things that are needed. And, and that was the thing that I think was the most of the surprise. Cause on the zoom calls that you’re having with these kids prior to meeting them with them, they’re excited, they’re ready. They’re, they’re, you know, excited about a new journey and a new life. But the reality is, is that when you meet them, you’ve realized how just broken their lives have been and how sad they are and scared they are of like, okay, we’re going with this completely new family. We are scared, but we wanna be loved. And so all of these little emotions that these children are having, you’re just watching and hold as you meet them. And so I think that our meeting them was very powerful.

And even like the cards that we send to friends and stuff are just like, you can just see the emotion in the kids’ faces of, of the, I don’t wanna say rescued, but almost being rescued from the place that they’ve been. My goodness, I can’t imagine they are very brave little boys. I can’t imagine how scary that would be. Yes. Yeah. Yes. Especially at that age. They have awareness of everything going on and well, yeah, it was scary for us. Yeah. And we’re adults. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Exactly. To put yourself in that, in their shoes when you have fear too. So I know that they’ve only been home since August and I’m sure that this will grow and change, but what would you say are your favorite things about each of them? Oh, for being brothers, they are so different. Oh. Complete opposites. And we, you know, how you like paint this picture in your head about how these children are gonna be based off the little information that you have. Yep. It was polar opposite. So the oldest one, Jowan has the most delays right now. He will grow out of those, I believe, with my whole heart in the, okay. But he has the most kind and sweet and gentle heart. And then Juan, the nine year old little brother, is just this fireball with this sarcastic, fun personality, but quickly had to realize that he is not in charge of the family.

Yes. That’s rough. But they just, you know, they have pressure for the, the life that they were dealt in the beginning. They have overcome so much trauma with just genuinely good souls. And that’s the part that I’m like, the everything that we had to go through and all the difficult things that we’ve been through and we’ll go through will make it worth it because they have added so much to our family already. I love it. It’s our whole family closer together. Yeah. I mean that, yeah. Juan’s little his, his sense of humor. He’s hilarious. I mean, just today Joan, his new thing is we’re trying to learn a word a day in English, and it’s the day after Halloween, they’re tired. And Mom this morning, of course is like, what’s your word gonna be today? Remember to learn a word. And he looks at me and he goes Crazy. I’m like, ok, Helen said That’s fair. Ok. Oh my gosh. Like that, that, it’s like just finding joy in those little moments as we’re growing. So Yeah. I love that. That’s crazy. I think that describes the day after Halloween. That’s the perfect word of the day. That’s how we’re feeling here. Or two. Okay. So what Christmas tradition do you look forward to sharing with your kids? Honestly, all of it. So we asked them what they would do for Christmas and they never have done really done anything.

So this is, everything is gonna be new to them. Yeah. So, and they’ve said like they don’t have good memories of Christmas. Yeah. And so Christmas is by far Jed’s favorite holiday too. So he’s like, okay, well this is gonna be bananas. Cause I’m like, we’re just gonna go crazy. I’m the part, I’m the part Griswold, I lights on the house, all that stuff. Yeah. So, yeah. I love it. Good. That’s the best Christmas ever. Yeah. And little do they know what they’re in for. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s kind of cool this year. So when we have been celebrating, I mean, we have Columbian friends, Columbian traditions, we’ve tried to work into our normal life and both the kids are, and I, I hate to say this, but right now, they just don’t want anything to do with Columbian. I think it’s just, you know, seasons of disappointment. Right. And I know as they grow, they’re gonna wanna identify their culture more and we will absolutely encourage that. But I wanna be mindful, like they just want some newness right now and they don’t want to have reminders. So like the fireworks for Christmas and things like that I would definitely love to do, but they just want to know what it’s like to celebrate how we do it. And so for right now, this season will be that, and hopefully we can start to incorporate Columbia traditions as they’re ready for it.

But they have been very vocal that they want to only do what we do. Well, I think it has something to do with them feeling safe. Yeah. They just wanna be safe. Yeah. That’s it. I mean, I don’t blame ’em. That’s, it’s gotta be so hard at their age too, as, as they’re processing it. And then, I mean, I, I would imagine this is the first that they’re even getting a say in, in their life and their, what they do. So just that you’re giving them some of their power back, I think is just amazing. Yeah. That’s just it, giving them power and choice, which they’ve just never, they’ve just always been in a situation and typically not a great one. So I think just giving them that, the power of choice to make decisions that feel good to them. Well it, it kind of broke our hearts when we were in Columbia, we went to a grocery store cause we needed to get snacks for the hotel room. And we told them, they said, you know, what do you guys want? You get to pick it out. And they were struggling like almost to the point where they were gonna melt down because they didn’t know what to choose. So we asked them, have you ever been able to choose anything or pick anything for yourselves? And they both said, no, we’ve never been able to pick anything we’ve wanted. So it’s, yeah. Hmm. Yeah.

Yeah. Well you guys seem like you’re mar amazing parents. I’m so glad that you know, you are all in each other’s lives and I so appreciate this. I am Missy Evans and we have adopted from South Africa. We just got home six months ago. Amazing. Yeah. I’m so glad that you’re on here. Thank you for agreeing to do this. Thank you for helping with like, dealing with tech issues now. Me being sick, all of the things and having a deep man voice no one wanted to hear. I’m so excited to hear more about it. So every adoption story that I’ve ever heard, including my own, was full of ups and downs and crazy things. And you probably also had like the addition of c and travel restrictions and all the things. Would you just share some of your story with us? Sure. So, you know, when we actually, my husband and I had decided that we were going to adopt from South Africa the next month COVID happened. Oh my gosh. So it was that soon after. Perfect. Yeah. Yeah. It was February. We had filled it all the, you know, the stuff on, on the website and yeah. And then a month later COVID hit. So we hadn’t even started our home city process, like none of that. And then we were in the limbo of like, are we gonna be able to, like, are we gonna gonna be able to go over there?

But we had slowly had started just going through the process. We then announced, you know, that April that we were gonna be adopting. And everybody still thought it was insane because we were, we’re in a shutdown. Like everybody, yes, the whole world was in a shutdown, but we, we kept right on going and did a garage sale, did fundraising. I remember talking with somebody at AGCI I saying that like, it’s amazing to see how God is gonna provide those, those funds. And I was like, oh my gosh, does he know, does God know how much its, he knows certainly let’s do the numbers. Like he knows he, he has seen it. But like COVID in a way, you know, like people weren’t able to even go to the Salvation Army or the Goodwill to like bring their clothes there. So we were like, we’ll take all of your stuff. And we did a big garage sale, a big fundraising garage sale. We had raised enough money for our homestead fee. And little by little, like everything that was closed like opened up like just when we needed it. Like just, you know. And then last year we were getting ready to travel and like, then there was this new variant in South Africa, like, oh my gosh. Of course, of course, of course it’s in South Africa. But you know, it, it didn’t, it didn’t seem to stop the process.

Like we, we were able to like everything that we needed happened when we needed it. And just watching even God like time and time, like just the amount of money that we needed at certain times, like God was like, there’s the money you need. There’s, you know, the finances for that. So it was stressful, but yet like watching God like work through all of it was amazing. That’s incredible. Yeah. Yeah. And talk about stressful. You, you like never didn’t know the stress. You always had that like COVID looming over with everything that you did. Yes. That’s just incredible. So what was your like expected timeline and did that change at all for you at all? Like with COVID, the number that you were thinking when you first applied versus, you know, when you’re kind of in the middle of it? So we actually didn’t have any expectations of like timelines. And I know like they had given us like potentially, you know, two to three years before even traveling. So we were kind of going in and at like the long haul of waiting. And actually we didn’t expect we were actually matched before we even dustier registered. Wow. That’s amazing. Okay. We, yeah, so we were, it was, it was quick but slow at the same time. So like even like for our home city, like everything was like, COVID didn’t seem to necessarily hold it up.

Like I think from our perspective, cuz we were thinking like, oh, we’re gonna be hanging out for a while, even just waiting to get matched. And I was actually flying to Hawaii with my oldest daughter and my husband was blown up my phone. Oh my gosh. Because yeah, I landed in Seattle and he was like, oh my gosh, pick up your phone. And I’m like, he was like AGCI just contacted us and I’m like, do not tell me I am not even home. We’re getting a match. Sure enough. And we weren’t, like I said, we weren’t even dossy or registered. So then we had to like get all of our paperwork in to just even be registered in the country. And then of course in the beginning I was like, oh, the weight isn’t gonna be that bad cause I have three other children at home. But then we saw her face and I’m like, then it’s like government. Like they don’t, they have their own timeline. It’s not the same as my timeline. There’s nobody I can call to complain to. There’s nobody I can, you know, contact to say like, you know, just sign this piece of paper. I feel that so deeply. Yes. There’s like, you’ve never felt more helpless. Yes, yes. And nobody, nobody cares. Nobody cares. Much problems, you know, at those government levels. Nope. That’s like the last thing they’re worried about. I know.

And like, it would be so much easier if they could like see that little piece of paper, like, just put a signature on it and then it’s off. Then you don’t have to worry about it. Then you have to deal with it. Just sign it then I’m not gonna bother you anymore. I remember one of that piece of paper that we were waiting for was like, like literally like this flimsy piece of paper with like three lines on it and a signature. And I was like, are you kidding me? Like, we waited. Like this is what we were waiting for. Yeah. So I think like the complexity too was like, like all the shut down stuff were happening here. But then like, you know, in the other country, like all of it was like either like restarting or never even open or some of like those social workers over in South Africa were working from home, so, you know, and they’re already slower. Yes. And then, you know, it just like compounds on each other. Yes. I love that you said that. Like, there isn’t anyone that you can like call or hassle. It’s not like it is here where you’re like, Hey, I’ve been waiting. You said it’s gonna be this long. There’s just nothing. And it makes you feel a little insane. At least me. Yes. I’m speaking from my own experience.

But yes, like we’ve adopted our, our third youngest we adopted from foster care. Okay. And I could, I mean, I don’t know if they cared, but I could like complain and you know, like, yes, get some things going. But here I was like literally there is nobody to contact. I just have to wait. No, it’s a special brand of torture. It really is. Very much so. Oh my gosh. So did, did you feel prepared, like on the parenting side? I mean you had three kids already. Did you go into it feeling like you were, you knew kind of what to expect of what you were doing? Or was it, did this throw you, you know, six months ago when you brought her home? I think, you know, my husband and I, we’ve been foster parents for many years too before Okay. Jumping into adopting from South Africa. And so I wouldn’t say like, oh we’ve got parenting packed. But I think the more kids you have, the more you know, you don’t No, exactly. Oh my gosh. And then they start using like things that you like, say, like using back at, you’re like, oh my gosh. Like, oh no, what about dad? Yeah. Yeah. But I think the, the thing that was different obviously with Omo is the fact that, you know, we were taking her out of her country.

And so for me it was, I, I had more, a harder time kind of like how we’re going to parent that. Like, you know, like for her, she knew nothing different. Like she knew nothing was wrong per se. You know, she was, she’s been there since birth and that is home. You know, she doesn’t have a concept of mom and dad or family, you know. So I was trying to kind of on the front end working that out. Like, what is that gonna look like when she, when she comes home, like, does she have a version of home, like sisters, you know, she’s a dog, you know, and kind of like trying to, and almost like grieving for her as much as we were so excited for her to come home, but like grieving her, her loss there. That, that is her home. She has community there, she has friends there, you know, and, and, and kind of how we were gonna handle those questions, you know, back here when we are home and, and so kind of trying to figure that out, you know, and that was kind of where my head was that entire year before we traveled was just her loss. And like I said, kind of like taking her like not only she’s, you know, in South Africa where it’s fairly warm.

Like now we’re bringing her, you know, in Minnesota where it is freezing and snow and you know, all of like the climate stuff, you know, for her as well. So, so that’s where I kind of think like my, my brain was the majority and there’s no like books to prepare you for that or you know, podcasts that you can listen to to prepare you for that. Yeah. Maybe we’ll have to do one on this. Yeah. It’s like, it’s for real though. Yeah. It’s definitely that, you know, when you realize the like loss that they’re going to going to be experiencing coming home to you, that it isn’t, I think there’s previously been the idea that this is like, oh you’re, it’s like the saving them mentalities. Yes. That, I mean it still exists out there, but is not true, you know? Right. And, and this is another like, trauma in their lives and something that they’re gonna have to grieve as well. Yeah. It’s hard. It’s good that you knew that ahead of time. I’m so glad. Yeah. Well that’s like even when you’re in country, you know, just being foster parents, we knew like every transition for her was gonna be difficult. And so like I was, we were so grateful for the time that we had in country. Cause we were there for six, six weeks and we were all together as a family. My other three girls were there too.

But at the same time, like I couldn’t wait to get home because I knew, I knew each move for her was gonna be hard. And the longer that we were in country, the more she was, you know, like we had an Airbnb there, we were careful to not call it home. It was just the place that we were staying. And so we, we were constantly showing her pictures of home and like our dog and like our friends. Yeah. Our friends were sending us video of her so that she could see like, we have a dog at home and like we had pictures of her room and, and telling her the kids’ room, like everybody has, you know, a pink room, a gray room, you, everybody’s things. So she could, it could make the transition, transition transition a little bit easier coming home. And I, she was so excited when we got home. Like, so I don’t know if it worked, but she was, she, she was, when we were in South Africa, she kept saying, are we going? Like when we’d go places, we’re gonna go back to the place that we’re staying. Like she never, she followed suit with, with our ver So she followed your lead? Yes. Yeah. That’s brilliant. Yeah. I love it. She never called it home. And, and like I said, when we did get home, then she knew like, this is home.

And you know, and, and even when we were just a couple of weeks ago, she had told me, she said she misses South Africa. Like she said, she misses South Africa, she misses her, they call ’em granny’s. And she said she, she, I sometimes miss my granny. And I was like, that’s okay. Like, you know, yes you do. And she said, but she goes, mom, she goes, I really like having a mom and a dad. And I was like, and she was like, and I, she’s like, I said, you do. And she goes, yeah. And she goes, and I really like having a family and you know, like words that, yeah like, like kids shouldn’t have to say. But at the same time like, like she recognizes like her loss but you know, also recognizes she likes having mom and dad. She liked having, you know, I mean we have a video even of her like going in her own bed. Like she was like, she’d cover herself up and then she took a blanket down and then she’s like rolling around. She brought all her books in. She covered herself. Like, you know, some of those like things that you just take for granted and she was like, it was whole new world whole. That’s amazing. Yes. Yeah. And I love, I, it’s so crazy because yeah, those two things like exist simultaneously. Like she can feel that loss and at the same time be happy.

I think that’s like the story of life. But the story of adoption is like having all these things, things, all these conflicting feelings all at the same time. Right. It’s complicated, but I mean, yeah, I’m like on the verge of ugly crying over here, so I’m like, no one wants to see it. Okay. So what was it like meeting her for the first time? You know, it was so funny cuz like we, or at least me, I don’t know, like imagined like what that day was gonna look like and you know, and what she was going to think and what we were gonna think and say and you know, all of the things. And when we had went to the orphanage, actually our social worker had videoed, took her, taken her phone and recorded it for us. Oh. And yeah, Omo was so excited to see us and we could see her. There was load shedding so it was dark in the place, but they had put it put us kind of where there was windows so it was a little bit light so we could see her. And they had put box braids in her hair. So she looks completely different from you’re like, wait, yes, she looks like a, a, you know, a little grownup girl. Like she was, she was completely different but her grannys like turned her around and were like, that’s them. That’s them.

And, and we were all, you know, like of course math and like I am taking this off. Like I’m not gonna have, the first thing she sees is like this part of my face. Yes. And she actually was so excited. She ran over to us without shoes on and the social worker, they were all like calling her back in the video cuz she needed to get her shoes on before said Uhuh. Yeah. It was like she was so ready to like, you know, see who these people were that she had been, you know, seeing pictures. And we were able to have one FaceTime call with her like two weeks before we left so she could see us. She talked with us. Okay. You know, very briefly. But all of us, like our kids were there, we were all like sitting in a circle and she kind of like slowly like came into the circle and like looked at every one of us like, okay, like I’ve seen you in a picture and you in a picture. And I like just scooped her up cause I was like, oh my gosh, you’re in the flesh. And like scooped up and squeezed her really quick. Like in the video you could see like I quick squeeze her cuz she wanted to like look all around and I had sunglasses on the top of my head.

She yanks my sunglasses off and puts ’em on and she like looks all around at us. Like, she’s like, mm. So she’s automatically the coolest. Yeah. She’s like, yeah, no. Yeah, these are better on me now. Clearly. Yep. Oh my gosh. That’s the cutest. Yeah. And it was just, like I said, it was like a, just a like surreal moment because you, you wait, you know, we had really only nine months of waiting until we, we had traveled but seemed like an eternity and you are just getting pictures and videos and to finally like be there sitting there, you know, even meeting the people that had been taking care of her, you know, this entire time. And I had brought a bag of suckers with, and she, she didn’t take a sucker for herself, but she handed out the suckers to all the workers that were there. Like she kept coming back to the bag. Yeah. She didn’t take a sucker for herself, but she handed it all out to everybody. And I think even for her, like it was like one of those, you can see in some of the pictures, I was just recently looking at some of those pictures and you can see in her face like she, she was trying to figure out what was going on, you know, and like now who are these people?

And, and she, she, she was pretty shy the first couple of days but she hasn’t stopped talking and then that ended. Yes. And sometimes I think she talks just to hear herself talk like I think it’s just, yep. You know, it’s not usually a whole lot of just need, I just need to talk. She’s, she’s been saving it all this time for you guys. She’s got a lot to tell you. She does. Yeah. Oh my gosh. So I know you said she’s only been at home six months and you’re probably still getting to know her, but what would you say are some of your favorite or what’s your favorite thing so far about her? You know, I think it’s her ability to really adapt. Like we are a sarcastic family. Pretty loud, you know. And she has caught on to joking and sarcasm and even like, even the things that we love doing. Like we, we were home two weeks and we’re like, we’re going camping and she has no concept of camping. She tells you camping is my best mom. Camping is my best. Like we go camping all the time. Like my gosh, she loves it. Yeah. You know, and so she even like, we just had Halloween and she doesn’t know what Halloween is, but she dressed up and she went with my other youngest and went trick or treating and loved it. Like, you get chocolate cuz chocolate is also her best.

I mean it’s my best too. I’m gonna say that now forever. Yeah. It’s my best. It’s her best. Yeah. And then the next day was so funny cuz she was like, she says to my youngest, which she learns a lot from my seven year old, like, okay. A ton I’m sure good and bad, but mostly good things. Okay, good. All of the things. Yes. But she looks at grace and she was like, what are we gonna dress up for on Christmas? Grace is like, we don’t dress up for Christmas, but we can, can’t we dress ups my best? Yeah. It’s my best my, that is like the cutest thing ever. Yeah, yeah. I love her. Yeah. Yeah. She is. And like I said, her ability just to adapt to just even being in our family and like, you know, we had prayed, we had prayed before bringing her home that she would feel like she would know this is her family. Like she would that like the transition, like yes. So we bumps, there’ll be, you know, like she didn’t like my husband for the first couple weeks in country. You know, like there, there was things like that but that she would really know like this was her home and, and the transition would be easy and it really, really has been.

Like she’s, she loves doing all of the things she loves, you know, it’s like this was like, she’s been with our family for four years, you know, when when we’ve only stepped into her life, you know, at the age of four. Yeah. So it’s been, that has been fun to see. And I, my girlfriend like remind me often like this is what you prayed for. Like we like this is what we’ve prayed for is for her to be so much part of your family and she really, really is. And she’s got the SAS too. Like all my other girls good. I love a sassy girl. They’re harder to raise sometimes when they’re little, but you need a lot of sass as a girl. It’s a lot of extra something. Well and I love I love that you say that cuz it also speaks to like, I just, when you’re talking about her, like how strong she is that she even could jump in and like that’s hard. Like just jumping into new thi like totally new things, new family dynamics, new everything. Yeah. And that she’s like conquering it and game for that. Like just shows her own, you know, inner strength and perseverance and like leaning into all that. And I’m so glad that she feels safe enough to do that and like be herself and you know, for sassy self. I love it. Yeah. Yeah.

And actually couple, like before we had traveled there, we had gotten an email from the social worker and it was a video about from Omo or just of, not from her, but in the video she had the social worker was like, say hi to mommy and daddy. And at that time like Omo knew nothing about us. It wasn’t supposed to know anything about us until we had gotten a court date. And so I had asked about that. I had asked Jenna from a GCI about that and she was like, oh no, no, I’m gonna check in on that. And so she had asked the social worker in country and she was like, oh no, no. She was like, like this girl has been asking when she’s going home, like when she, she knows nothing about us, but she has been watching like kiddos leave and so she was wondering when, when it was her time to go home. Yeah, yeah. So like it was almost like in her spirit, like she was ready to, she knew, you know, she knew that that that wasn’t necessarily home where she was at. Like she knew she was gonna go somewhere else and what we, her version of home is, you know, at that time. But she was ready. Like she was, she went running through that door when she saw us. Like she, she was ready to go home. Does not need her shoes.

Her shoes are not her best. No, but you guys were Oh my gosh. That’s like, I love it. Love it, love it. Okay, so you’ve kind of made the transition to Christmas and I’m now gonna need to hear if she, she dresses up and what she dresses up for Christmas, but what like Christmas traditions do you look forward to sharing with her? You know this I am so like everybody, all my friends, like everybody knows that I am so, well one, like we are big Christmas people but like this year I am so looking forward to because we are gonna be celebrating it with her. Last year we were so close to being able to travel before Christmas and remember Jenna at AGCI said to me, she said, you this is either gonna be your first Christmas with her or your last Christmas without her. And of course, yeah. And, and as much as we wanted her to be at home with us, you know, God’s timing is always better than ours. And so we didn’t actually travel until until April. And so I’m so looking forward to all of the things with her. Like we do cookie baking Christmas movie night. She’s already talking about Christmas cuz you can’t see in this room, but I already have a Christmas tree. Its, I love it. Yeah.

And so she was like, she even had like the Christmas skirt and she’s like, why is the Christmas wear Christmas tree wearing a dress? Cause I kept saying, I need the Christmas. I can’t find a Christmas, my need to wear a dress. Yeah. And so she, she everything is gonna be new Santa, you know, like we do Santa here and presents like I’m looking forward to all of it. I’m, I’m so excited for this year I’m, it’s just, yeah, I’m looking all of it ever. I love it. Yes. And she’s probably gonna love it all too because she sounds amazing. She’s like, Christmas is my best. Yes, yes. Exactly. Yep. Yeah. But it’s funny cause now I’m like when they’re, because both the little girls are like at, when we go to Target, cuz Target is also the best, can I have this, can I have this? And I’m now I’m like, we’ll wait for Christmas. Christmas. So now she’s like, I need this for Christmas, I need this for Christmas. She’s already caught on. I see that. Okay. Yeah. Oh yeah, my daughter’s the same. She’s already moved on to like, let’s add this to my list. It’s very long and extensive now I’m like we cannot get all these things but okay, we’ll just keep adding it. Yeah. Oh my gosh. Yeah. Well this is the best. She sounds really genuinely like the best gift gift. I can’t even talk the best gift ever.

Like I am so excited for you guys now I’m gonna have to like check in and see how Christmas was. If you hear from me again, you’ll know I’m thinking of it and I need to know. Yeah. But yeah, Thanksgiving, Christmas, I mean it’s just gonna be amazing. Yeah, amazing. It will be, it’ll be so, like I said, so magical already. But now with her being home and you know, just longing for that last year and now like even just the other day I told my husband she was in her room playing, we’re, we’re in the living room and her room, we can see her. And I was like, can you believe we just did that? Like we, like we, last year we were waiting, we were waiting and like, like now we went there, brought her home and now she’s here. I’m like, that just happened. Like that just happened This, we just did this. Yeah. Yeah. Well and it, it’s funny cause at least for me when we started the process, like yeah it does feel like there’s so many steps, there’s so much to get done. It can feel so big and overwhelming. So I’m glad that you even just took that second to be like, whoa, look what happened. We just did all of that and our kids came with us along for the ride. So I mean that in and of itself is impressive. Six weeks. Yeah.

As I’m, I always see that on like timelines. I’m like, oh boy, I can’t imagine. Yeah. Like what that looks like. But it sounds, it sounds like it looked perfect. It was just what it needed to be. Yep. Yeah it was. Yeah. Yeah. Oh my gosh. Well, thank you so much for getting on and sharing about her. She really sounds absolutely incredible. She sounds a lot like my daughter too. I’m like, they’re gonna have to meet, this is the spirit my daughter has too. She’s older, she’s 10. But she would think she was the best I’m sure. Yes. Oh she sounds amazing. Well I really do like thank you. Thank you for all your patience and understanding and getting on like just taking the time to do this because yeah, I really think it will encourage so many people that are like in the middle of it and waiting and Yeah. You know, everybody has different stories but I hope it’s an encouragement to everybody. Well we are so excited to have Kristin and Brad on the podcast. Kristin and Brad are an AGCI adoptive family and they’re gonna be sharing their beautiful story with us today. Welcome guys. Hey there. Thanks so much for having us. Thank you for making the time. So I would just love to start with your adoption story. Just start at the very beginning. Yeah. What brought you to adoption, how it all went from there.

I’d love to hear it all. Yeah. So as you probably know from speaking with other families, it was a lot of circular roads, ups and downs. But we had made the decision to adopt in 2019 and had quickly partnered with AGCI in that process. And through that we kind of were led to Bulgaria just with the ages of our current children and looking at the ages of the kids and the special needs that were coming out of Bulgaria seemed to work well with our family structure. So that first whole year was all about paperwork. We, I don’t think we did anything else other than paperwork for the home study and getting everything in order. And I think really the timeline that AGCI had had, it kind of followed. We were thinking that it would take, I don’t know, three to four years, you know, for everything to kind of finalize. So waiting was hard, but we were kind of like, well let’s just keep living our life and doing the things that we need need to do. So after that and part of that first year was COVID, so it was a lot of like Yes. Everybody was on lockdown at the beginning there. Yeah. And so, I mean it was sort of a good time to do be doing all the paperwork.

It kind of worked out well and there’s a lot of classes that you had to take and like trainings and stuff like that. So we were doing all of that during the beginning of, of COVID there. So yeah. And I think that one of the low points for us was that was two, back to back first was COVID and then our home study agency that, that we were using in our state of Pennsylvania decided to drop their HA accreditation. And so we weren’t even sure where our adoption stood and if we would have to start back at the beginning. And I remember just some low points of a lot of tears and being like, is this something that we can do or that we should do? Yeah. If we have to start over from the beginning and kind of as things move forward, we had another agency step in that was able to help get us back on track. It wasn’t without some repeat paperwork, but that’s ok. And then we were able to get registered with the Ministry of Justice on, in 2021, no 2020 years kind of blend together. I know well well I’ll it one I’m hearing COVID, we made it on the list to, to start waiting. So I think one of the craziest things was then how fast things went from that point. Right?

So we got all the stuff registered and then it was like, okay, now begins to wait and you hear about people that have been waiting for four or five years and we’re like, I can’t imagine waiting for that long. And it still seemed like a long time, but it was really only a few months that we waited and we had a couple of like, I don’t know other children that had, that had popped up that it might have been a match and then it wasn’t for various reasons. But then all and and after each of them it was like, okay, well then back to the weight and right around, was it my birthday weekend? I think it was really close to it. Yeah. We found out about, so our, our adopted summit were talking about, his name is Nico Eli, we call him Nico. So we got his information on right around my birthday and I mean we had only been waiting for a year. We were on the, was it a year? Yeah, we were waiting a year.

So yeah, it was crazy because then it, everything, once you receive your referral, things move so fast, light speed and there’s so many really big important decisions to be made and, and so things, we were really digging into his medical file with a adoption specialist doctor and then we made the decision to move forward, which is probably one of the happiest days of, at least of my life in terms of like then you kind of feel like you have a child, you haven’t met him yet. Yeah. But you feel like he’s, he’s ours. So it was so exciting to be able to make that decision that yes he, he will be our son but we’re still in COVID. And so I think one thing unique about our adoption was that we weren’t able to make that first trip to Bulgaria at that time. They were doing everything virtually. So they were like, how would you like to have a virtual first trip to Bulgaria? Yeah. A virtual first trip. And they gave us the dates and times. So it was at 10:00 AM his time in Bulgaria and it happened to be the week that we took our other two children to Disney World.

And so we were going to Disney World all day and coming home and going to bed and setting our alarm for 2:00 AM and getting up and like Kristen was putting on makeup and I’m like trying to do my hair so it doesn’t look like bedhead. And then we’re literally meeting with him virtually every day that week on Zoom at 3:00 AM our time. Yeah. For like an hour. We’re playing with puppets and like trying to like, you know, make it seem like, look we’re great people. You want come home and live with us. We back sleep for like two, trying to get hours of sleep so that we can get our other two kids out at 7:00 AM and take them to Disney World again. Yeah. Oh my goodness. Really didn’t Nico to think he was coming live with a witch. So I was put of effort into appearance for those 3:00 AM phone calls. So Yes. Oh my goodness. Yeah. And, and it was hard because he was not, when we first started, he had a birthday, like right as we were doing our first visit, but he was turning two. So to try to FaceTime with a child who’s not used to technology Yeah. Who is not even used to being out with caretakers in like a common room. Doesn’t speak English. Doesn’t speak English. And we are trying to interact with him to get to know him like on a deeper level was bananas. Yeah.

Excited enough to keep his attention, but quiet enough to keep our other two kids asleep. Yeah. Oh my goodness. Yeah. Cuz they’re like probably right there and it’s the middle of the night. The middle, gosh. It was a lot of like leaning into the camera with puppets. So we kept save the videos and looking back at them now it’s like, I dunno how we did it. We were so exhausted. Didn’t tell. It was just a week of adrenaline. And so then from there it was really just like getting all that final, the acceptance paperwork and order and you’re kind of held hostage by your own state how quickly they can app host documents. And our state is not that quick. And so it was, in fact we stopped, Brad started driving to our state capital three hours away just to get paperwork at Host. Like we were just so committed once we had met him and it’s, he’s, it seemed so real. We were like, we will do whatever it takes to make this happen as quickly as possible. It seemed like all of a sudden he was ours. Our son, I mean I know legally he wasn’t, but it seemed like he was our son and he was being held hostage by this paperwork, you know? Yeah. This monster of paperwork.

And, and, and I was so angry that it was like I’d send this document off and it would take six weeks to get, you know, rubber stamp to, to be sent on and it was like, can we speed this up? And they’re like, Nope, it’s six weeks. I mean, unless you live in our state capital’s, Harrisburg, unless you live in Harrisburg and you could take it down. It’s like, well, I can drive three hours and get it done that day. So I ended up doing that three times. Wow. To just speed it up because we are not patient people. Well it’s so hard when you’ve seen that. Like you’ve seen his face, you’ve, I mean even through Zoom you’ve interacted with him. It becomes not this like, I don’t know, just, oh, this thing is happening. It’s like this is real, this is a real person, this is our child. And he is, you know, halfway around the world. Yes. That’s hard. I think one I’m, I’m, if I had to find a silver lining of doing it through Zoom, it would be that our NGO was able to, who was NGO Vest, who we work with in Bulgaria, the non-governmental organization was able to record our visits.

So we do have those now we can look back like literally the first time we ever locked eyes, you know, we have that on film and stuff, so that is nice to have that we wouldn’t have if we were there in person. Yeah. But once that was all over, then we had to wait court. So on March 1st, which is a big spring holiday in Bulgaria, it was like a celebration over there, which is also our court date. We received the approval from court to continue on. So, and then really it was trying to do all the things with international travel, except you’re doing it in like six days instead of six months. Yeah. So we were looking travel and finding our place in Bulgaria and all that kind of stuff, which I think was really stressful just to like the kids here, you know, organizing all that kind of stuff. Yeah, yeah. Healthcare for our other two. And yeah, it was stressful. I, I wouldn’t say that was the most stressful thought it was a whirlwind, but it wasn’t, you know, it was like we were close to the finish line it seemed like, you know, so it was kind of like a motivation to keep going. So then we got to Bulgaria and Vest was awesome to work with. We had a really great experience with them.

And we, on our second, or actually technically our third day, we went to go meet Nico for the first time. And when I say meet Nico, we were also picking him up to take him home. So that was the other unique thing. Wow. Since we didn’t have that first visit. Literally the first time we met was when we were taking him home with us. Yeah. And the orphanages director was out on sick leave or whatever, a bereavement leave. And so there was no like lengthy meeting or anything. It was, I mean, I feel like we were in the orphanage for 15 minutes. Was it even 15 minutes? Maybe a 20 minutes? I don’t know. It was not a very long amount of time at all that we met him. He was, I think I was the first man that he’d ever met. And so he was intimidated, afraid of me a little bit at first. Yeah. And he was like very cordial to us. And, and then it seemed like after 10 minutes he was like waving by to us and it was like, no, no, you’re gonna come with us and never leave. You know, it was just like all of a sudden it was, he’s was ours. Yeah. We had been preparing for it for a long time. He had not been, so he was very confused as to like what was happening.

And I do feel bad for him because what was the most exciting day for us was, is different from his point of view. Like I just keep thinking about him leaving his bedroom, never going to return. And that is, that’s an exciting thing in the long run. But for this little guy, you know, he’s not choosing us. You know, this is just all kind of happening to him and just how kind of crazy and stressful that was. He had never been in a car before, so he had horrible motion sickness. When we drove back to Sophia from his town, mental note, take vomit bags, because apparently that’s a common thing. He threw up all over the place. Poor baby threw up quite a bit on that drive back and he seemed like intrigued by us, but also everything was so new we had to go straight to, you know, finish up some of his passport, get his passport picture taken. So he, it was a whirlwind for him. And then our, what we discovered about him is that he loves being outside and he loves taking long walks and we like taking long walks, especially because when he wasn’t in the stroller, he had never had the opportunity to just freely explore before. So when I say he was into everything in our Airbnb, he was into everything. He was much safer when he was confined to the stroller and he was happy too.

And so most of our time in Bulgaria, luckily we were there in the spring and the weather was nice. We took, I mean, we spent hours exploring the city and walking around and a stroller. Our, our translator said at one point, like, what did you do yesterday? And we had told her some building that we had gone to see. She’s like, oh, so you figured out public transportation? No, we just walked. We walked. It’s like, that was like a 10 mile round trip. It’s like, yep, yep. We were out for like three hours and Nico loved it and we loved it and he didn’t cry and, you know, so yeah. Yeah, he absolutely loved, he was super intrigued by wind. Yes. He loved the wind. He keep opening his mouth to like feel it or putting his hands out to feel the wind. Oh, cute. He loved the play. We took him to a few playgrounds, but never having that experience. He really, I mean, even the slide was kind of like befuddling to him what he should be doing with it. And he, you know, once he’s been with us for a while, he’s starting to put, put all the pieces together of, you know, how fun playgrounds can be. But at the time it was very confusing to him.

I think that airplane ride home, I like to call it my birth story because I didn’t, I did not, you did not exit my body. But by golly, that 20 hour airplane ride felt like labor. Oh my goodness. It was tough because obviously he is confused, he’s scared. Yeah. We’re asking him to like stay confined in a seat and we had taken a whole book bag full of toys that he had no interest in whatsoever. He really, what did he do the whole time? Played with the vomit bag. All he wanted to do was to play with the vomit bag for nine hours on the, the long leg of flight over over the ocean. It was, and, and it’s his body at one point, you know, it feels like it’s nighttime for him, but we were traveling with the sun and so it was daylight the entire way. And of course people don’t put their shades down on the airplane. And so it was just that flight, that nine hour flight was probably the worst nine hours of our Yeah, that was rough. I mean, it was brutal. But then we got home and he immediately, I felt like he adjusted so quickly to being, he really did. Yeah. We had, within a couple of days he was used to the time zone change. Right. We thought the time zone would be really hard for him. He did great.

We have two biological sons and so they had been who did not travel with us, so they were so excited to meet him. So that first meeting of all the boys is probably one of my other favorite memories. Yeah. They were just so excited and so, but also like very, they didn’t wanna scare him, so they were being very cautious and giving him hugs. So, so yeah, it was getting him here like, I know, and for anyone who’s, who’s in this process, being in country gave me a anxieties that I didn’t expect. And I think a lot of it was just being in such a, a different state of mind and, and part of the world and all the things that I wasn’t used to. Plus now there’s someone in my family that I had never met before and you know, we’re just all trying to click and gel. Getting home was a game changer and I was able to start parenting out of my comfort zone and that anxiety got so much better. But it was, it definitely was there in country and I almost felt guilty about it. Like, no, I should be, this should all be happy. Yeah. And it’s, and it’s not, and that’s okay. That doesn’t mean that it’s not absolutely gonna work out or that you’re a bad parent. I think that’s very natural to have conflicted feelings about, oh, this is, seems harder than I thought it would be.

Or there’s difficulties, you know, that is not part of it. I think a lot of it had to do with like tiredness, you know? I mean, Meka wasn’t sleeping great at night and so we were tired a lot and missing our other two kids and wanting to be home and wanting to, you know, but at the, we were trying to appreciate, you know, it was, there was a lot of calm times when we were going for these nice long walks and exploring the city and like, it was sort of like a vacation with a, you know, in a way sort of, we were trying to appreciate it and it was just, it was such a whirlwind. It feels like we were there, what, 10 days? It feels like three. Like it all kind of mushes together. Yeah. So I mean Kristen was trying kind of making it sound like it was terrible. It wasn’t terrible was a lot, it was not terrible. A lot of emotions. It’s a big, it’s just a lot. Yeah. Yes. Yeah. Yes. So I don’t know why I said, so I didn’t have a, so, but now that, now that he’s been here, we can tell you, oh my gosh. The leaps and bounds this child has made is incredible. First of all, learning the language. I mean, he’s still not speaking a lot. So he’s two now, he’ll be three in a few weeks.

He’s learned to communicate completely without knowing. He says maybe 10 or 15 words, but he congest and, and, and get us to understand exactly what he wants and he understands everything that we are saying. Right, right. Like the way he’s picked up English the other day, or we were just talking on the phone earlier today and Brad was talking about Nico’s nap and Nico heard the word nap and he started like shaking his head like, no, no, no, no, I don’t wanna, no, we were talking about something you already had. So he’s just a like, just a sponge with the language animals that he had never, he’d never been around animals before. He, he loves our family dog Maple, like is obsessed with her, always wants to be cuddling. We took him to his first petting zoo and he thought the goats were dogs. Yeah. So I think he has this real love of animals that will help to cultivate and that’s really cool to think that he wouldn’t have had exposure to that and just all the opportunity that he has, you know, and we’re just so, he is such a blessing. He is. And he’s fun. It’s fun to see him develop. It’s fun to see him. It’s, we’re in Pittsburgh and it snowed yesterday for the first time this season.

And he, we were out, he and I were at Target and it started snowing while we were in Target and I didn’t realize it. And we came walking out and he was so like confused but delighted. Like, what is this? There’s something falling from the sky. And he kept gesturing to me as if like, I maybe wasn’t noticing it, like Huh. And trying to catch them, catch the snowflakes. And he’s obsessed with stuff like that, like trick treating my goodness, you know? Oh yeah. It’s like oh, three houses to figure out like, oh, these people are giving me something and I’m giving them nothing. And its kinda a funny concept when you think about it, you know, went crazy and Oh my gosh. Yeah. So he loves, you know, blending into our American what traditions or, or not even American snow is not American, it’s just understanding life. Yeah. So he also loves people, which I think is so precious considering everything that he’s been through. He loves talk. I mean, he, he loves people too much. It’s hard to go to the grocery store with him, to be honest, cuz he wants to talk to everybody. Oh, I love it. He like shouts down the aisle people. Hello. He tries to hug the cashiers. He’s too, you know, I’m sure they’re all very charmed by him though. Yes. I mean, people love Nico.

It’s even, he’s, we’ve taken him to a restaurant a few times and the idea of like a server at your table, like that is a totally new concept. So he, we think he believes that like the server is our friend, and so when he sees them on the other side of the restaurant, he’s like, Hey, hey. Like, that’s our friend and he’s at a different table now. Oh my goodness. Seeing the world through his eyes is the one of the most fun things I think we’ve experienced. It is amazing to just, you know, anytime you have a child, seeing it through their eyes is exciting. But there is something different about having like an older child who has experienced none of this and getting to experience it for the first time with them, I think is such a, a huge benefit that we have gotten out of this whole process. Oh wow. That’s awesome. What a beautiful story. I’m so glad he’s doing well. And just sounds like an absolute delight. So this will be your first Christmas altogether as a family of five. What traditions are you guys excited to share with him? You wanna talk about our, our tree tradition? Sure. I was gonna talk about the tradition of the children buying me presents. Yeah, yeah. So we like to, we go cut down our own Christmas tree.

We have this place we go to every year and then we go to a hotdog shop afterwards, and it’s a very healthy day and, and we, you know, come and decorated and we just talk about, you know, the holidays that he has seen. We got him home here at the beginning of April, so, you know, Memorial Day. Yes. He saw some fireworks on the 4th of July. Yes, there was the trick or treating, but like the big American holidays are coming up here with, you know, we have a big Thanksgiving gathering and then we typically weather permitting. We go out on the day after Thanksgiving to go cut down our tree and I think he’s gonna love that. And then come home, he’s, like Kristen said, when we first got him, he’s obsessed with exploring and going through things and he has calmed down with that a little bit, but he still loves to do that. I mean, his favorite thing, he has a backpack. He loves taking stuff in and out of it. And so I, how low are we, we putting the ornaments on the Christmas tree because he’s gonna be obsessed with the Christmas tree and gonna be a thing. Hopefully it’s a good thing we might need to get, we haven’t even talked about this. We knew I need to get like one of those baby gate like fences to put around it because, or like Nico ornaments that he’s allowed to play away.

Don’t put your glass ones that’s on the tree. So, but it’s, you know, I, Kristin would listen to Christmas music all year round if I let her, but I try to hold it off until after Thanksgiving with the Christmas music. And so I just think that it’s, it’s such a magical and wonderful time of the season that we’re, we just ordered his stocking and, you know, we’re excited to share all that with him. Plus, you know, his birthday’s in December, a week after Christmas is Kristin’s birthday and one is, is one of our other children’s birthdays. So we have like, you know, the holidays and the gift givings coming fast furious here. Jam packed. Yeah. I’m excited about, one of the things we like to do is to drive around the neighborhoods and look at all the Christmas lights. And I think there were a lot of, our neighborhood has a lot of Halloween decorations and they didn’t, some of them are a little spooky, they didn’t seem to phase him, but I think he’s gonna love like seeing the, the houses lit up and all the decorations. So Yeah. Something he even says hi to like the inflatable Yes. Decorations. So no love. Oh, that sounds wonderful. Well, I wish you guys, it sounds weird to be saying this given when we’re recording it, but I wish you guys a very merry Christmas and thank you for sharing your story with us.

Yeah, thank you. It’s a pleasure. Thanks for having us and Merry Christmas to you too. Thank you. Thanks for listening or watching our final episode of the year and even more, more importantly, a huge thank you to the families that were willing to share their stories with everyone. We hope that as you go into the rest of your day, you are as inspired and hopeful as we feel. If you like what you heard, please share our podcast. You can also go on and rate and review us wherever you listen to podcasts. We’ll be back with a new episode on January 5th. For more information on how to support the work we are doing at AGCI, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us by emailing us at or visiting our website, You can also follow us on social media @AllGodsChildrenInternational. Thank you so much for your support. We hope you have the merriest of Christmases. Merry Christmas and happy New Year. We’ll see you soon.