Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Happy Gotcha Day, Sergei!

Three boys, but three different gotcha days.  Today is the last one.  It's Sergei's gotcha day.  Four years ago we picked up Sergei from the baby home in Zavodskoy.  What a day that was!  But I must be honest, that night at the Vlad Inn was insane.  We were not yet in a suite, just a regular room.  The boys were so excited to be together, it was impossible to get them to settle down.  Sergei made noise ALL NIGHT LONG.  We all got very little sleep.  It was that night that I laid there and wondered if we had done the right thing.  Is this now our life?  Well, I went to the front desk the next morning and begged for a suite.  Thankfully, they had one available.  And from that point on, Clarion and I began our strategizing for finding ways to calm the boys down before bedtime.  It all went pretty well, actually.  And the last four years, while not without challenges and other crazy days and nights, have been a great blessing.  Sergei loves life with so much passion.  While I am often frustrated with how boisterous he can be, it's actually amazing sometimes to watch his zest for life.  Even when he speaks he does it with such gusto that the veins in his neck tense up.  I can't imagine life at all without Sergei.  We love you, buddy.  As per the last couple of recent gotcha days, here are some then and now pics...

Artem Baby Home - Sept. 2008

Gotcha Day - Hanging out at the Vlad Inn - Sept. 5, 2008

Sergei's 7th Birthday - August 9, 2012

At the Festival of Nations in St. Louis - Aug. 2012

Picking up Olya, our new Russian exchange student, at the airport - Aug. 2012

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Happy Gotcha Day, Andrei!

And the parade of "Gotcha" days continues.  One year ago today, my mother and I had our last ride to the Artem Baby Home in the small village of Zavodskoy to pick up little Andrei.  The ten-day waiting period was over.  From that point on we were homeward bound.  We still had a day or two left in Vlad, then a week in Moscow, but we were eager to get Andrei home to his Mama (who had returned home the day after court).  I can't believe it's been a year since I picked up my son.  You haven't grown so much in size, Andrei, but you've grown in so many other ways.  You definitely bring adventure, comedy, entertainment and great joy into our family!  We love you, buddy!



About a week before Gotcha Day! 

 Just a few days before Gotcha Day

Gotcha Day with Pop & MeMe

Andrei this past weekend

Andrei with Mom & Sergei - First Day of School

At the Festival of Nations in St. Louis with Olga, our exchange student

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Happy Gotcha Day, Slav!

Four years ago today, August 25th, we went to court in Vladivostok, hoping to become parents to Slav and Sergei.  We received a positive conclusion at court and went to Slav's orphanage that afternoon to pick him up.  Due to the ten-day waiting period, we were not able to pick up Sergei until September 5th.  Slav, you've grown so much in so many ways these past four years.  Happy Gotcha Day, we love you!

Mom & Pop

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

We're still here...

Hey Adoption Blog World!  The Fritsches are still here.  Can you believe that one year ago yesterday, we left for Vladivostok to to go to court and bring home Andrei?  The year has gone by very quickly.  Just last week we sent off our apostilled one-year post-placement report.  Andrei is doing very well.  Language has progressed nicely.  Tomorrow he begins pre-school, which will help further his language skills as well as many other things.  He hasn't put on a lot of weight over the year since we brought him home, but the doctor isn't overly concerned yet at this point.  His body mass is good and he is growing.  We are also doing some things with his diet to try and build up his weight.

Last week our new exchange student, Olya, arrived from Cheboksary, Russia.  As you've seen in previous posts, we've hosted an exchange student before.  We find it an excellent way to give our boys a connection to the country of their birth.  Olya is doing quite well so far.  She seems to have adjusted well to the 9-hour time difference.  She is already making friends and school hasn't even started yet.  She brought us presents from Russia, t-shirts, hats, and most important of all, candy!  She will be with us for the entire school year.  We look forward to a wonderful year with Olya as part of our family.  On her second day here she did a presentation about Russia for the kids at our church's daycare.  She wore a traditional Russian costume and even sang and danced.

The students in this program are the future leaders of their countries.  As far as Russia goes, one of the benefits of having a Russian exchange student in our home is that Russian citizens have this great opportunity to see that the children adopted by American families are loved and well cared for.  There is still time to host a student.  American Councils for International Education still has around twenty students to place.  The students are from all over the world, not just Russia.  E-mail us if you are interested and have questions.

This summer we traveled to Texas to see family and did some fun things at other places close to home.  Here are some pics from our fun-filled summer...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Host An Exchange Student!

Ok. It's been over a month since we posted. We just returned from a wonderful trip to Texas where we spent time with family. We'll post about that soon (I hope!).  In the meantime, for all of you who have adopted (and for whoever else reads this blog on occasion), I wanted to make a plug for hosting an exchange student.

For those of you who have followed our adoption adventures on this blog, you know that we hosted a Russian young lady named Nadya during the 2010-11 school year.  It was a great experience!  I would highly recommend it.  When Nadya returned home after 10 months in our home, Clarion and I both agreed that we would host again. We didn't do it this past school year because we were bringing Andrei home from Russia, but we have decided to host again for the upcoming school year.  We have another great student, Olga, coming from Russia.  We've been in touch with her through e-mail, Facebook and Skype.  We can't wait for her to arrive on August 8.

Both Nadya and Olga came to us through the FLEX program of American Councils for International Education.  This is an excellent organization.  We've enjoyed the contacts we've had from the organization both from the national office in Washington DC as well as with the local coordinator who lives about a half hour from us.  We've also come to know other students from American Councils in the FLEX and other programs.  These are top notch young men and women!

We continue to choose students from Russia as to maintain a connection to our our sons' native culture.  Nadya taught our two older boys some Russian (since they pretty much lost their native language).  She cooked Russian foods.  It was just a great joy having her with us.  I even got to visit with her in Moscow while we were there waiting to get Andrei's visa.  We still keep in touch regularly and have yet another friend to visit someday when we go to Russia for a visit.

Aside from another person at your table and to take around in your car, there really are no other expenses to speak of.  Our local public high school continues to wave any kinds of fees for the exchange students.  The students get a monthly stipend from American Councils which they are to use for supplies and spending money.  I'm sure we spent a fair amount of money on Nadya, but it to us, it felt like she was one of our kids and we thought nothing of it.

I guess this is really a plea for you to consider hosting.  I did a post like this about a year ago when Nadya left and a few people contacted me.  I hope you'll consider hosting.  I think there's even still time to host this next school year.  If you are interested or have more questions, send us an e-mail, and we'd be happy to respond.


Joel, Clarion & The Boys

Sunday, April 29, 2012

One Year Ago!

One year ago today, Clarion and I made the journey to Vladivostok in the Russian Far East to meet our son, Andrei for the first time. We had been there three years earlier to adopt his older brothers. How awesome it was to return to the place where we made so many memories for our family and to see two very dear friends again. We also had the joy of being there with the Bridges whom we had gotten to know through blogging during our first adoption. Can't believe it's been a year and that Andrei has been home seven months now. Time sure flies!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Andrei's Third Birthday

Our little Andrei turned three on Easter Sunday. We had some friends over last night to celebrate. Happy Birthday, Andrei!!!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter 2012

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! What a wonderful day we had yesterday celebrating our Lord's resurrection. Here are a couple of Easter pics. Yesterday was also Andrei's third birthday. We're having a celebration tonight, so I'll post a few pics from that later tonight or tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Catching Up With the Fritsches

Hello adoption blog world. It's been forever since the last post on October 27. It's so easy to fall away from posting. Life keeps us very busy, but life is very good at the Fritsche house! All three boys are doing wonderfully and Mom and Pop too.

Andrei amazes us every day. He has really thrived in the six months since coming home from Russia. We had our six-month post-placement visit toward the end of January and all went well. Andrei understands basically everything we say. Most of the time we understand everything he says. He's only gained a little over a pound since coming home, but he is definitely growing. He's a sweet little guy, almost always happy and smiling. He can definitely throw a bit of a fit when he doesn't get something he wants, but he gets over it quickly. Potty training is going well, but we have more progress to make. All in all we are very pleased with his progress! Things have gone well with his glasses. Unfortunately our crazy beagles got a hold of his glasses last week and destroyed them. He'll be getting his new pair this week.

Slav and Sergei love having their little brother. He is interested in the things they love to do like bey blades, Pokemon and angry birds. The boys are loving school, but looking forward to the summer. Slav has been working very hard on his reading. He has struggled a bit with that. He gets extra help from a teacher after school. Considering he made a full transition from Russian to English at age 5, I'd say he is doing well. Sergei has really excelled at reading. He was only 3 when he began learning English, so it comes easier to him than it does to Slav. We're very proud of all the boys. They're just growing up so fast.

The biggest news of late is that we've decided to host an exchange student next year. Those of you who followed our blog back when we were adopting may remember that we hosted Nadya from Cheboksary, Russia during the 2010-11 school year. Nadya was wonderful and we had such a great year having her in our home. The main reason we didn't host again right away the next year is that we were getting ready to bring Andrei home and we needed to be able to focus on him and the adjustments he would bring to our family. That was a wise decision, but now we're ready to welcome another Russian student into our home. The paperwork is done. We're just waiting for the Russian students to appear in the database and then we'll look for a good match. We definitely want to host a girl from Russia. Clarion doesn't need an increased male presence in our home! We will be working once again with American Councils for International Education, and we highly recommend their program. If anyone is interested in hosting and wants to know more about the program and what's involved, just send us an e-mail and we'd be glad to fill you in.

That's about it for now. We're planning a trip to visit family in Houston in May, just after school is out. We may do a bit more traveling here and there. We'll do our best to post a bit more frequently, especially as the less busy summer approaches. Blessings to all who are adopting, especially those traveling! It's been so much fun reading your blogs and remembering where we webouquet about a year ago, getting ready to go to Vlad to meet Andrei. God bless you all!


Joel, Clarion, Slav, Sergei & Andrei