Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

When we first arrived in Latvia we were pleasantly surprised at the refreshing cool breeze that greeted us as we got off the plane.  Then our guide, Edgars, tells us that it was terribly hot today and we began to worry that we were going to be terribly cold here!    I mean, if that was hot to them, then what was a "cool" day going to be like?  Never fear, God has blessed Latvia with a heat wave the likes that they haven't seen in quite a while apparently!  Last night they broke their all time record for a high temp.  I believe it was 36 C (97 F).  Definitely warm, but not unbearable.  Today was also very warm, but there is a pleasant breeze that blows through the window which makes it quite nice.  We took a walk to the park and sat in the shade, eating our picnic lunch (cheese and butter sandwiches, apples, chips, and some cookies that I picked up at the local "convenience" store (Narvesen)).  

With this "good" weather that we have been blessed with comes tons of tourists here in Riga.  This makes for some very loud nights for us. Anita seems the most affected by it.  She is awake well past midnight every night. This has thrown a wrench into our routine as everything seems a bit "off" because of it.  The heat also brings out some of the most scantily clad women I think I have ever seen. My poor husband is inundated with outfits that leave very little to the imagination!  Wow!  I think I wear  more clothes to bed than some of these women wear on the streets of Riga! BAD!

Now for the ugly....a few days ago we noticed a leak from our bathroom ceiling. We promptly reported it to Edgars who came and investigated.  He notified the owner upstairs and we thought that would be the end of it.  Well, the next morning the drip remained and things seemed to be progressing quite rapidly!  We left the apartment for the day and came home to THIS...

Needless to say, Edgars was less than impressed and we are now awaiting the cleaning crew to come and clean our mess, while the tenants upstairs deal with the wrath of Edgars!!!!  Thankfully, we have two bathrooms in our apartment so we have temporarily wrapped crime scene tape around this disaster zone and now direct all of the children to our room to use the potty.  Good times!!!

Friday, July 27, 2012


OK, so be forewarned...this post isn't going to be exactly "warm and fuzzy".  I feel myself getting angry just thinking about all of the well intentioned people telling me what a wonderful thing we are doing, how lucky our girls are, and what a wonderful, "normal" family we have.  None of these things could be farther from the truth.

You see adoption was not God's plan for children.  God's original plan for children was to live in a family comprised of a mom, a dad, and their children.  It is only because of sin and brokenness that we have orphans, who now require the care of other adults when their birth parents can't or won't take care of them any longer. Each orphan comes with a story....the reason why he or she isn't with the birth parents.

Each of my girls have a story.  A story that would break your heart.  As I sat in the orphanage on Monday hearing Raimonda's "story" I felt myself tearing up at what this child had been through at such a young age.  I will not share it, or any of my girl's stories, as they are personal. They are their stories to share, if and when, they feel led to do so.  They are each very personal and heart wrenching; a piece of them...their history, their past, their tragedy that led them to become orphans.  It is a part of them forever and when they reach a certain age they will each have to deal with what that story means to them.  They will experience pain. Pain at the loss of their birth family. Pain at the loss of a culture. Pain as they process the questions of why they were abandoned.  This is a painful process for all orphans and it causes GRIEF!

Bill and I have our own story.  One that includes the pain of infertility because all we wanted was to be a mom and dad, because that is how God designed us.  Every month for 6 long years we grieved the child that would never be.  Finally, we had to come to terms with our own loss; the loss of never giving birth to a baby who would carry our DNA, our looks, our moods, our little idiosyncrasies that make us who we are.  GRIEF

Our own story became saturated in more grief when we had to bury Grace.  The worst kind of pain I have ever experienced in my life and one that I would never wish upon anyone else EVER!  More GRIEF!

The addition of Hannah and Anita to our family 22 months ago was a wonderful thing, but it was a difficult transition as our little family of 4, who had worked very hard to redefine ourselves after Grace's death, experienced more growing pains.  We again experienced the pain and agony of loss...the loss of our intimate circle that had comforted all of us after the death of a sister and daughter.  We had become very close and I cannot describe adequately the intimacy that we shared.  Losing someone close like that forces you to share a bond that nobody else can enter into. Yes, they can walk beside you in your pain, but they can NEVER fully enter into it with you.  Even more GRIEF!

So, here we are again. Entering into the adoption mode.  I guess I had never fully understood what happens every time we add a child to our family through adoption.  I am slowly beginning to understand what a painful process it is. (OK, I'm a slow learner. It took me 3 times to figure it out!)  Looking back at the first 2 times I can now see that it is a slow transition to add a child to your family in this way.  There is nothing natural about it.  We are not "normal" in any sense of the word.  

The process itself is a slow and painful process. Anyone who has gone through it or walked through it with us knows the amount of paperwork, hassles, running around, waiting, more paperwork, and waiting involved to even get to this point.  There is a reason for all of the mundane work that you have to go through to adopt.  They want to make sure that you are serious about wanting to go through with it.  Even though we have "stuck it out" through this process three times now I don't think we are ever fully prepared for the addition of a new child into our family.  

Now, here we are adding a 5 year old child who has only called an institution her "home" and has never known what a family looks like (other than a 5 week hosting period last winter) into our family.  This is difficult!  We know that a family is so much better for her than what her future held in an orphanage but she doesn't know that and won't know it for a long time.  She doesn't know what a loving touch is. She has never received them on a regular basis, so she doesn't know how to receive them or how to give them.  She doesn't know appropriate boundaries for play, volume of her voice, who she can trust, who is a stranger, how to allow others to love her and care for her. She has only ever known herself and the coping mechanisms that she has developed to meet those inner needs that she may never even recognize.  This all leads to much frustration. For her. For us.  We want to lavish her with the love that we know she needs, but she's so resistant to it because of fear.  Although the orphanage is no home for a child it provided her with the comfort of consistency and that is now gone.  GRIEF!  

Our home has been disrupted.  Our routines, our ability to come and go as we please, the ability to reserve one hotel suite instead of 2 separate rooms, our ability to have one of the girls bring a friend with them in the van....all disrupted. GRIEF!  I know that some of these things seem like simple things, but when you compile them on top of all of the other layers then it causes deep, deep pain. Pain for all of us. GRIEF

So, when you look at our family from the outside, you may see a happy, "normal" family, but please remember that we are anything but "normal" and although we are happy to have had the privilege of adding 6 daughters to our family it is not without a cost.  For all of us, but most importantly for each of our girls.  So, please don't ask them about their stories.  They will share them if they want, in their time. We all have a lot to process and each time we bring a new member into the family it opens up sores for each of us in different ways. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Aahh....FINALLY!!!!! I think last night was the first night that we ALL SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT!  Praise the Lord!  Yesterday I was really beginning to feel the effects of not having had more than 4 hours of unbroken sleep since last Friday.  I was a mess!  Jet lag is bad enough but add that to  being in a city where the noise and music are constant, plus the sun doesn't set until 10:30 (try getting little ones to bed when it's still light out) and then it rises at 5:00 am!  That doesn't make for very many "sleeping" hours.  We also did some rearranging of beds as Anita was sleeping with Sarah on the noisier side of the apartment and would inevitably wake up at 12:30 every night when the music started to get really loud.  Then she would run into our room, jump on me and proclaim, "Mama, I'm awake!"  And that is how she would remain for the next 3-4 hours!  Ugh!  We finally decided that we needed to just make adaptations to our "schedule" and realize that things were just going to have to be different here in Riga.  So, yesterday we opted for no naps for Hannah and Allison (which we'll probably regret when we get back to America) in hopes that they would fall asleep easier at bedtime (the first night they were both wide awake until 11:00 giggling and laughing and "talking" to each other-you gotta love kids and their ability to communicate on a totally different level).  We also only let Anita nap for 1 hour in hopes that she would stay asleep through the night.  We moved her bed into our room, which tends to be a bit quieter, as well.  Thankfully, our strategies all worked.  It is now 10:30 am and Anita and Dee are still sleeping!  I've given up on trying to have any semblance of "routine" while here so I figure let them sleep while they can!

The first day in the apartment with Allison went fairly smooth.  She was a bit confused as to why we weren't going to America right away and wanted to keep her bag packed.  She kept saying that she wanted to get in the "machina" (car) and go.  She would get a little weepy when we told her we weren't going yet, but was easily distracted by puzzles, play dough, coloring, etc.  She ate very well for us and somehow always had a way of making herself known....lots of pulling us where she wanted to go and pointing!

Yesterday, we decided to go for a bit of a walk in the morning. There is a playground not far from here which the girls loved.  They also have lots of bounce houses and trampolines so the girls were able to get rid of a lot of energy on those.  On the way back to the apartment we decided to stop at McDonald's (the social worker wasn't too happy about that. She probably thinks that all Americans feed their kids on McDonald's 365 days a year.)  We had good intentions of cooking a chicken for lunch but at 1 am (when we were both wide awake) it dawned on us that we don't have an oven. Ha! So, we went with "Plan B".  She seemed pacified with this.

By the time we got home it was time for the court appointed social worker to come for a visit.  I dug out the nicest dishes I could find (i.e. 6 matching plates and tea cups/ saucers) which was no small feat, cut up some pastries that Bill had bought at the bakery, boiled the water for tea, and put on a spread that I'd like to see Martha Stewart accomplish with what meager means I had.  Then, I prayed and lectured/ warned gently reminded all the girls that the social worker was coming to see how we were all getting along!  I really didn't need to as they have all done very well, but I felt it my duty to give them my  motherly warning!  She stayed for about an hour, asked lots of questions and said she'd be back on Monday. Phew!  Step 1 down!  I'm not really sure how much "bonding" she was hoping to see in the first 24 hours, but hopefully our answers were satisfactory to her (other than the lunch at McDonalds!)

After she left we went for another walk and a boat ride along the Daugava River.  It wasn't anything spectacular but it killed some time.  Allison started to get a little rowdy and Bill had to really hold her to make sure she wouldn't throw herself around too much.  She also didn't want to hold my hand on the way home but I had to be firm with her as she is not used to walking in the city and I was afraid to let her get too far away from me.  I had to get down on her level and make her look me in the eyes to get her attention, but she seemed to respond pretty positively to me after that and took my hand for the rest of the trip.

Bill has taken her for appointments today.  It could be a very long day for him!   This morning they have to meet with the doctor to review her medical history and then go get her passport, as hers will expire in October and it needs to be good for another 6  months in order to travel to the US.  We have been warned that this could be a very long process.  It actually reminds us a lot of the passport experience we had in Romania in 2002 for Grace, Sarah and Dee.  I'm praying that it's not quite that bad for Bill's sake.

The other girls and I will do some laundry, get some groceries and maybe go for a little walk.  I'm actually looking forward to not having much to do today.  I'm emotionally exhausted after yesterday so relish the idea of a break from Alli.  It is slowly hitting me that I am now the mother of 5 children and all that that involves.  Just trying to meet all of their emotional needs is daunting.  I am realizing that I am going to need to ensure that I am emotionally fit myself.  I know that I cannot do this myself but need the strength of God. I know that this adoption was His plan and I need to cling to that truth in the days ahead which will be filled with trials and tough times.  Thanks for joining us on this journey.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Care and Supervision Period

We had our court appearance this morning here in Latvia.  It went very smoothly.  It is always tricky to talk through a translator as you're never quite sure if you're supposed to look at the translator or the person you are speaking to (in this case a panel of 3 judges).  Thankfully, the "main" judge (the one asking all the questions) was very kind and on occasion would even show some expression which helped a bit.  You never quite know the "tone" being used when everything being said to you is through your attorney/ translator.  Overall, I think it went well and within half an hour we were granted permission to take our little girl into our custody for the "care and supervision" period which will last from today until August 7th. During this time a court appointed social worker will come and visit us up to 3 times  to ensure that there is bonding between us and the child. Her first visit will be tomorrow at 3:30.

After court, which only Bill and I attended, I rode back to the orphanage to sign some paperwork and get Raimonda.  She came into the room, grabbed hold of my neck and wouldn't let go.  It was priceless!  She even had some luggage!  It was the bag that her host mama had sent back with her from when she came to America last winter.  She insisted that she roll it herself, but eventually let  me help her with it over the cobblestone streets (which make everything more difficult).

She got a bit upset when we returned to her building to hand out gifts to the other children in her group as well as her teacher.  She couldn't understand why we were going back there and weren't leaving right away!

She also got upset when we entered our apartment building and kept saying "No, no!"  She doesn't want to stay in Latvia and can't understand why we aren't getting on an airplane to go to America right now!  She was a bit weepy after lunch and wanted to leave!  Some play dough therapy helped to calm her down for a bit and then we were able to get her to take a bit of a nap.

I need to go rouse the gang so that we can hopefully get over this jet lag. We were all awake at midnight last night! I have very low expectations for the evening; a snack, some games, mac & cheese with tiny sausages for supper, a short movie and the bedtime routine to get through.   Let the bonding begin.....

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hannah...oh Hannah!

We have made it safely to Latvia!  This was, by far, our least eventful trip so far.  I have to admit that I was a bit nervous about traveling half way around the world with a 4 children, ages 3, 5, 11 & 12!

Sarah and Dee, true to form, came through for me!  They always amaze me at how well they travel. I still remember my first trip to Romania and how cranky, miserable, tired and gross I felt. I was NOT a great travel partner (can I get a witness Sarah, Bill or Michelle?) and I was 26 years old!!!!  These 2 girls have already traveled more in their short years than I have in my entire life!  Just watch them go through a security check point at any airport in the world and you will see that they know what they are doing.  As I turn around to get ready to tell them what to do I find them standing there holding their shoes, belts and jackets, already depositing their purses into the plastic bins and hauling their carry ons onto the belt!  They walk through the metal detectors with ease, collect their belongings, help the Littles with their shoes (which depending on which TSA agent you get they do OR don't need to remove them at their age) and are on their way to the gate before I realize what's happening!  I should have known that we had prepared them well when I went to help them pack and saw that they had put everything they would need for a 3 week trip into their carry ons!  I LOVE THOSE GIRLS!!!!!

I was a little concerned about how Anita would do. She is 3 and a bit busy!  Thankfully, our first flight left Boston at 11 pm so she went right to sleep and slept most of the way. We only had a 2 hour lay over in Paris, which most of it was spent walking through the maze of terminals to get to our gate so there wasn't much time for her to get into trouble.  Thankfully, we thought ahead and spent the whopping $15 to buy a new umbrella stroller before we left so she was easily confined and easy to keep track of.

Hannah...oh are another story!  As they say in the South, "Bless her!"  Which I've come to realize is a kind way of saying, "What the heck were you thinking?"  Let's just say she has years to go before she can put herself into the same category with Sarah and Dee. She's got some work to do!

Case in point....before we got on the plane in Boston she asked me 17 times (no exaggeration) if she could "please, pretty please, please, please, please watch a LITTLE movie when she got on the plane". to which I replied 17 times "No, when we get on the plane it will be bedtime and you need to go right to sleep."  So, we get on the plane, wrap up in our blankets and pillows, pop on our eye masks and Bill and I promptly fall asleep.  Aahhhh!!!!   Apparently, little miss Hannah had other plans. She was NOT going to miss out on the opportunity to watch her "little movie".  So, Bill wakes up 2 hours later to find her sitting straight up in her seat, headphones on, movie blaring, full plate of food in front of her!!!!  You can imagine the conversation that ensued after that as Bill blurry eyed and sleep deprived tried to figure out how this 5 year old managed to all but get herself bumped up to first class by the well meaning flight attendants of Air France who had apparently helped this poor defenseless creature, with slacker parents, figure out how to open her plastic utensils to eat her beef wellington and get the TV to play all night cartoons!!!

I wish I could say that was the end of her "brain cramp" (as we are calling it for now) but she has unfortunately continued to amaze us with her attempts to "one up" her parent's authority on this trip. I'm chalking it up to the stress of meeting her new sister, travel and jet lag.  We'll keep you posted......

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Matching Grant

 Dear Family and Friends,                                                                         July 11, 2012

“A father of the fatherless…God sets the solitary in families…” - Psalms 68:5,6

Some of you already know that we are adopting a 5-year-old girl from Latvia! We met her this past Christmas when she was in Maine as part of a hosting program.  Project 143 offers orphans from Latvia and the Ukraine a chance to experience being part of a family.

God used some amazing and extraordinary circumstances to connect us with the host family that cared for our daughter.  It is a testimony to His amazing purpose and plan in all of our lives.  The host family was making plans to share their home with this child long before we ever met them.   A soccer injury brought their Ethiopian born daughter into the emergency department where Bill just “happened” to be the one to treat her.  A conversation started as “your family looks a lot like ours” which led to pictures being shared and ultimately a very close friendship being formed. 

We had begun to consider pursuing another adoption but had our hearts set on a baby boy from Uganda. We had contacted our Ugandan attorney and she told us that she would “get back to us after the New Year”.  Over the Christmas holiday we met Raimonda.  The hope was to find a family that was willing to adopt her but all options seemed to be failing.  We were praying one night about what God had in store for this little girl.   God turned the light bulb on for us and it was as if He was saying, “How much clearer do I have to make this for you?”.   We never heard back from our Ugandan attorney and here was this little angel right in front of our eyes, eating fajitas and nachos in our kitchen!

In January we started the paperwork to bring Raimonda home!  We are now two weeks away from traveling to Latvia as a family to go get her.  The first trip will require us to live in country for approximately three weeks.  We will be able to bring her home with us at that point, but we will have to return to Latvia two more times to finalize the adoption before she can officially become Allison Rae Legere. 

This is our third adoption and the biggest challenge for us is not opening our hearts and home to another child but it is in finding the finances to make this happen. We are still recovering from Hannah and Anita’s adoption, which required a 9-week stay in Uganda in 2010. 

We estimate our total cost for adoption fees, document preparation, home study, airfare, travel, attorney fees, etc. to be $32,000. We know God is faithful and is leading us to trust Him. We have been able to fund our first two adoptions entirely on our own. God is now asking us to swallow our pride and reach out to others who may want the blessing of being part of the adoption process. Honestly, it’s a little difficult to make our needs known to the Body of Christ around us but we also know it’s very Biblical to do so. We appreciate your friendship very much and would like you to pray & consider helping us in our adoption. There are two ways you can help:

1. Prayer – Please pray God would tenderly care for Allison in Latvia until we are able to bring her home, that God would prepare Sarah, Dee, Hannah & Anita for the upcoming changes to our family, and that God will give us wisdom, discernment, and insight as we raise all of our girls to know Jesus Christ.

2. Financial support - Will you please consider making a tax-deductible donation to help us pay the remaining $5,000 in legal expenses and post placement evaluations plus $15,000 in travel fees, to bring Allison home?
Lifesong ( has graciously given a Matching Grant of $5,000 to help us in this endeavor.  If you would like to be a part of God bringing Allison to Himself through our family, you can send your tax-deductible gift between now and September 12th  to the address below. Lifesong is a trusted organization administering the funds on Allison’s behalf, and will pay adoption expenses out of funds received. 100% of the money raised will go directly towards our adoption. Lifesong keeps no money for administrative costs!

1. Please make checks payable to: “Lifesong for Orphans”. You may preference how the donation might be used by writing Legere #2891 Adoptionin the memo section of your check.

*Note:  In following IRS guidelines, your donation is to the named non-profit organization. 
This organization retains full discretion over its use, but intends to honor the donor’s suggested use.

2. Mail checks to:
Lifesong for Orphans
Legere #2891
PO Box 40 / 202 N. Ford St
Gridley, IL  61744

Thank you for investing in the Kingdom through prayer and finances – it will be an investment with an eternal return! (Matt 6:20) We’ll give you an update with a picture of Allison and details as we receive them. Please pray this entire process will glorify God and fulfill His purposes!
In Christ,
Bill, Teresa, Sarah, Deanna, Hannah, Anita & Allison Legere