"To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair." Isaiah 61:3

The Burckhard Family

The Burckhard Family

Friday, August 21, 2009

We Are Home!

Yes, it is true! We are home at last! After our "gotcha day" we brought Bella to our apartment. She loved her first bath with us.

She thought the big "futon" bed was great...she finally fell asleep around 8:00 p.m. with Elizabeth lying next to her patting her little tummy. Then, at 2:00 a.m. we "rudely" awakened her to leave for the airport at 3:00 a.m. As we left the apartment, we heard this screaming, sobbing, and pounding. And, one of our greatest fears was realized for some poor soul -- the elevator had broken down with him in it! Bella gripped on to Elizabeth's neck while we worked our way down five flights of stairs listening to the poor man crying out in Ukrainian, panicked out of his mind. What was sad was that we couldn't do anything about it. We had to leave him there and take the taxi to the airport. Our translator did push the button for emergency help though.

It took us forever to get our bags checked. After that, when we finally got to passport control, the border patrol officer took our documents and left us standing there, along with everyone else in line behind us, for over ten minutes. Finally, he returned, stamped our passports and let us through without a word.

We barely made our first flight, but Bella was a complete angel! The only time she cried was when I moved her food to my tray to cut her food - it was the saddest thing ever -- she hung her head, opened her mouth with no sound coming out, and big crocodile tears fell down her cheeks. A truly soundless cry - I felt terrible having her think I took her food!

I won't go into all the details about the rest of the flights--they were uneventful, yet stressful.

However, I wanted to share our experience re-entering the USA. When we got to US Customs, we were blessed with the nicest man! He took our sealed Embassy documents and looked at our passports. He said he had been to Minot once with his Border Patrol job. After opening our documents and glancing through them, he came around and greeted Bella. "He said oh, she is so cute." He then asked Elizabeth if this was her first sister. She said "No I have another one at home." I shared with him that Bella is our second daughter with Down syndrome. He said, "Oh, Bella has DS?" Then he asked me "Are there degrees?" I said "I think those should be in there." He just looked at me with the strangest, puzzled look. Then it dawned on me, "Oh, I thought you said decrees, as in adoption decrees. But you meant degrees of Down syndrome." We all laughed! He then stamped our passports, stood, shook my hand, and said "Congratulations and God bless you for what you are doing." He also told us he will make it easy for us. I didn't know what he meant until I got to the customs with our luggage and they just waved us on through, no questions asked.

On the last leg of our flight, Bella laid her little head in my lap. She finally fell asleep facing me on my lap with her head on my chest. I was in heaven!

Then the time had come for us to deboard the plane. We could see Kevin, Sam, Grace, Grandma, Grandpa, and sister-in-law Brenda waiting for us. Kevin was waving his arms, jumping up and down. Sam and Grace gave me monster hugs. And Bella, bless her heart, stood there with big eyes taking it all in. Grace was kind and gentle with Bella touching her face and saying "She's so cute...Hi Bella" over and over again. When Bella saw Kevin, she exclaimed, "Papa, Papa, Papa." Then the most amazing thing happened, Grandpa held out his arms and she toddled over to him and allowed him to pick her up. Not only that, she clung on and hugged him! Well, if that didn't make the tears flow.....

Bella meets Sam and Grace....

There were several people sitting around watching the whole event unfold...I wonder what they were thinking!

Because we flew into Bismarck to save money, we had to drive home two more hours. Bella seemed to enjoy the safety and security of her carseat and quickly fell asleep.
Grace was so cute allowing Bella's new car seat to be in "her spot" in the Tahoe. Instead, she sat in the way back. When she needed something, she would whisper to Sissy or one of us. It was so cute to see her being considerate of her new sleeping sister.

Finally, we arrived home.

She loved her little bed, but when she saw Jake she screamed in terror. Guess she may have never seen a cat before? Well, at least not one that is as large as she is! :)

Sam and Bella together....

She had a good evening first evening at home taking it all in. She also went potty and put on her jammies. Then, Uncle Randy, Aunt Pat, and Grandma Lucille stopped over to meet Bella. She was very shy with them. But said "Paka" when they left.

Another fun thing to watch last night, was how Bella was infatuated with one of Grace's favorite activities: throwing her beaded necklaces into her toy box.
This is hard to actually describe in writing, but what Grace does is sit a few feet away from the wooden toy box, lift a "mardis gras" type necklace up, and then swing it into the box. I think she likes the sound it makes, not sure though. But, anyways, Bella loved it too. Grace would throw one and then allow Bella to throw one. It was the most precious thing to witness!

Well, it was finally bedtime. Bella falls asleep on her back with her little hands tucked behind her head, elbows out. We got to witness that this is how all the other little boys in her room also fall asleep. It was 8:00, so I crashed too. I fell asleep as my head hit the pillow. Around 3:00 am, I awakened (my body still thinking Ukraine time) and walked out to the living room. Kevin was sleeping on the couch, listening for Bella. I told him that when I just checked on Bella that she was sleeping on the floor. He said, "I know, I have put her back to bed four times already." So, I put her back in bed myself and went back to bed.

I awoke a 8:00 am and walked by Grace and Bella's room noticing the door was shut. When I greeted Kevin this morning, he asked if I had shut the girls' bedroom door. I told him that I hadn't shut it, so we went back and slowly opened the door. What did we see? Two little girls sleeping on the floor right next to each other, pillows touching! They had their first sleepover!

We've had a good day so far. There is so much more to share. Like how Bella spent over an hour going through her clothes from cousin Tifany and Aunt Karla. She would sing and sing and make piles of clothes carefully inspecting each one. She would also layer 5 to 6 shirts on top of one another and at one point had two pairs of jeans on also! I think she has never seen so many clothes and all girl ones that she will never have to share with the boys in her groupa or have the number "5" written on each piece!

Grandma feeding Bella mashed potatoes for lunch....Yum!

So to sum it up, Bella seems to be slowly adjusting. Besides the scary cat, not eating much, and the incessant teeth grinding-- things are going amazingly well. We know that there will be rough times ahead, but having a good start will help us weather the storms that may come!

Bella is slowly warming up to Papa...

We are praising God for this little blessing! We thank him too for all of you, our friends, who prayed for us, gave us financial support, and encouraged us through good times and bad. We feel so blessed to have been able to share this journey with you!
Love in Him, Paula


  1. The tears are flowing here too!:) I was just about to go to bed when I noticed your post on Google Reader. I just had to read it and I am so glad I did! What a beautiful homecoming! I just knew that Grace would love Bella, who wouldn't?! She is the most precious little girl and her smile is priceless! God Bless you and your family and thank you again for sharing your miraculous journey to bring home Bella!

  2. What a fabulous journey home! I cried over the food moment too...praying she quickly learns she will always have ENOUGH with all of you! God Bless!

  3. That was the BEST blog ever!!!! I had trouble reading it, though, because of all the tears!!! I am so happy for everyone!!! I am glad she likes the clothes --- even if they are way too big!! Our whole family is smiling!!!!!

  4. You have made my tears flow as well! Bella is glowing! I am overjoyed! LOVE is postively shining out of every picture! Thank you for bringing this angel home!

  5. Praise God! I'm sure some of it is postpartum hormones... but I too sat here and teared up at God's kindness and mercy throughout your adoption. We can't help but praise God for how everything has worked out and are so very happy for your whole family that you are now a family of 6, all together! To God alone be all glory!

  6. What a wonderful story!! And such great pictures!! You have a beautiful family. :o) Congratulations to you!!!

  7. This is the sweetest picture that I've ever seen and everyone at Trinty Church is excited to meet Bella since we've heard so much about her. Love you guys, Anne (and the rest of the Kelly family:))

  8. Paula, I am so glad you are all home now! I wish we could have met Bella! Maybe one day....

  9. So happy you are FINALLY home! Bella looks like she is happy in her new surroundings. It was so great meeting you and Kevin in UA, maybe one day we will have a chance to meet the rest of your family. Love you guys! and Welcome Home!!!

  10. Oh Paula! I love this resume,looks like Bella is adjusting pretty well, Praise God!!!

    thank you,and plese dont stop sharing