"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

Saturday, February 28, 2009

"Pick me"! Guest Blog by Daddy

"We'll take Joey so I guess you guys get Burckhard", is what the captain of the other team said. Anyone who has ever played a game of kickball would recognize those as the last words before a game starts. If you had ever been picked last, those words might have been dreaded as you went out for recess each day. The way I looked at it, I still got picked and I was "on the team"! I even had a chance of telling my mom that my team won that day when I got home from school, even if that chance was less than 50% since I was on their team. Any of you who know of my athletic talents knew I was more likely to be the commissioner of the church league than to be a star in it! Being picked last still meant I got "picked".

Can you imagine what it would be like, however, to have your team say they don't want you in the game? That they feel their chances would be better "playing a man down", or 4 on 5? That's what I thought of when Paula started showing me page after page of the beautiful little faces on the Reese's Rainbow web site about two months ago. For the last eight years we have felt God preparing us for having another "link" added to our family circle. That's when I had what they called a "minor surgical procedure", but that's a topic for another day. Paula just reminded me that I am a guest blogger today, not a novel writer!

Christ chose us, not because we had done anything special or because we could help his team win. (We have read the book, his team does win!) Because he chose us, we feel lead to open our home to another of his children whose biological family felt their team stood a better chance without them. Many people have said they admire us for this adoption journey we have begun, or that they think we are being self-less or benevolent. We, however, feel God has called us to do this as a reminder that he "picked us" when we were "on waivers" and we are now and forever in his family. We can't not do this. Therefore, we've picked Bella!
By.......Daddy aka Kevin

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Grace & Spirit Fingers

Last year, Grace was a self-appointed Knights Cheerleader! Here they are doing "spirit fingers."



Pictured with Grace are -- Alyssa, Sissy, Caela, Britt, and Kaisa. The girls were so great with her! Kaisa even gave Grace her own pair of pom poms!

Unfortunately this year, the school did not have a cheerleading squad because there weren't enough girls. So, Sissy and Alyssa became the boys BB Student Managers.

Suppose it was a good thing after all, because Grace grew a little too plump for her cheerleading outfit. Thank goodness we will have another little girl who will be able to wear it to Knights' games in the future!

Hank the Cowdog!

Today Sam got to go on a field trip to Velva to see his VERY favorite author John Erickson.
Mr. Erickson writes Sam's favorite book series--Hank the Cowdog. Mr. Erickson put on a school assembly for the students in Velva. His former 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Anderson, loves Hank almost as much as Sam. So she called the Velva school and asked if she could bring her class out there. Sam, even though he's a 5th grader, was invited to go on the field trip with the 4th grade class. He was very excited and brought a book to get Mr. Erickson's autograph.
Last year, every single book report Sam did was on Hank the Cowdog. If you haven't read any of these books, check them out. They are hilarious!

Long live Hank the Cowdog & Drover too!!!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jen & Grace


Grace looks forward to Wednesday nights because that is when her friend Jen takes her to the YMCA. They go swimming and play in the climbing gym. Grace loves it and she loves Jen!

Jen is a student at MSU majoring in special education. She is originally from Montana, but lives here now! Grace eagerly awaits to see Jen's "orange" truck coming down the street!

We are so thankful for Jen and all she does for Grace. Do you think she can handle two next year?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Adoption Details

Wow! I didn't anticipate the magnitude of paperwork we would have to complete in order to adopt.

I am currently working on the dossier which is just a fancy name for a bunch of formal, notarized papers that Bella's country needs to approve our adoption.

We completed the interviews with our Social Worker yesterday. She will take all the information she collected in four two-hour interviews, in addition to our many-paged autobiographies, references, etc., and condense this down into the official Home Study.

Once the home study is done and notarized, it will be mailed to Immigration Services for approval to adopt. Once we get the approval in the form of a letter called the I-171H, we can ship the papers off for translation. We are hoping to ship the whole shebang off by the end of March, if not sooner!

Please continue to pray that God makes the rough spots smooth and that we will be able to bring Bella home in the not-so-distant future.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Endangered.........


We are please to announce a newly "endangered", um.....engaged, couple in our family--Nephew Jason and his fiancee Andrea! Jason is Kevin's brother Randy & his wife Pat's youngest child. We are so excited for them and look forward to the big day next summer on August 29th!

Aren't they just the cutest? And, very successful too -- Jason's just graduating from Orthodontics in Kansas City and Andrea is in Chiropractic school in Minneapolis.

If you know the Burckhard family, we like to celebrate with food, music, and lots of talking! It should be a great celebration and a great place for Bella to meet her LARGE German Catholic family!

Congratulations to the lovely couple!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

You're My Best Friend.....

Hey, can you hear the tune my playlist's playing right now? Yeah, it's "You're My Best Friend" by Queen.

Perhaps some of you do not know why this song is important to me. Well, a little over 23 years ago Kevin proposed over the radio with this song!

We were getting ready to go out to a movie and were standing in his parents' kitchen. I reached up to turn off the radio, which was sitting on top of the fridge, and Kevin lunged at my hand and said "Noooooo....". Okaaaaay, I thought, what's so important about the radio being on?!?

Then the radio announcer came on and said "The next song goes out to Paula from Kevin who wants her to be his Best Friend Forever." Kevin then pulled an engagement ring from his front pocket and asked me to marry him. I said "Yes!"

After turning off the radio, we finally headed out to the movie (I don't even remember which one it was). Wow, can it really be that many years since I said yes--Talk about having a BFF!!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Meet JoeBrenda

As we travel on this journey, I will continue to introduce people who are special in our lives and soon to be in Bella's!

Meet JoeBrenda! Really, this is my brother Joe and his wife Brenda, but Grace calls them JoeBrenda--they just go together like PB & J! Ha Ha!

Joe and Brenda have three pets: Rusty, Honey, and Peaches (Peaches the cat was ADOPTED from our family-whole 'nother story!) Joe works at the Bank of ND and Brenda is starting her own insurance business. We don't get to see them much, but look forward to summer when we can go camping with them in Riverdale.

So watch out JoeBrenda--one more niece will be pestering you for hugs & kisses!

Friday, February 20, 2009

We Adore You for Being in Control of Everything!

Over the last several weeks, Kevin and I have been facilitating a small group Bible Study by Crown Financial Studies. God has blessed our group with caring, compassionate individuals. (Hi! Mike & Cindy, Terry & Twana, Collin & Shannon, and Jim & Carol).

This Bible study is designed primarily to learn how God is the owner of everything and that we are his stewards. But, besides learning these very important lessons, we, as a group, are supporting and praying for one another in good times and in bad.

Each week we learn a Bible verse and then have to recite it to the class. Here's last week's verse: (I'm trying to type it from memory)

"Everything in the heavens and earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your Kingdom. We adore you as being in control of everything. Riches and honor come from you alone, and you are the ruler of all mankind. Your hand controls power and might, and it is at your discretion that men are made great and given strength." I Chronicles 29:11-12

This verse has been helpful to each of us in one way or another. What a comfort God's Word can be when we meditate on it and trust in it!

May we all remember to "adore Him as being in control of everything." Ahh, what a comfort......

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Happy Birthday,Kevin, aka Daddy!


Today is Daddy's 45th birthday! We love you very much and hope that you will have the best birthday ever!

May God Bless you on your special day. And know that we think you are the best daddy and husband anyone could ever have!!!!!

Love, Your Family

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It's Finally Here!!!!!!

High School Musical 3!!!!!! Grace is so excited. Although she saw it in the theatre FOUR times, she has asked us several times a day for several weeks when she could see it again.

Well, little honey.....watch to your heart's content! Let's just say we are already tired of the DVD. Guess we will have to her get to use some headphones!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sam 5th Grade City Spelling Champ!


Whoo hoo! Way to go, Sam! We are so proud of you for being the 5th grade city Spelling Bee Champ today! Sam is pictured with KXMC's Anchor Jim Olson, who is also the spelling bee announcer.

Not only were you the 5th Grade champ, you were awesome in the spell-down ending up in the top 10 spellers--who were mostly 7th & 8th Graders!

Way to go, Sam, following in Sissy's footsteps!

Happy Birthday Bella!

Today is Bella's 4th birthday!

Happy Birthday Little Bella! We so wish you could be here today so that you could hear us sing "Happy Birthday" to you, blow out your four candles, eat yummy chocolate cake, and be lavished with hugs & kisses--maybe even a present or two! We will celebrate your life today and look forward to many birthdays together!

We are so thankful that you are still at the baby house and haven't had to leave yet. Hold on little one....we will be there as fast as we can!

Happy Birthday! Love, Mama, Daddy, Sissy, Sam & Grace

Monday, February 16, 2009

Home Study Visit

Today is President's Day and the kids are home from school. But they had to get up early because we had a visitor - Lisa our Social Worker from Catholic Charities. She came to tour our home and visit with the kids. I hope she could see that we are a family that loves each other and that we are so excited and able to have another little person join our circle!

We have completed some major parts of the adoption process: the home study interviews are almost done, we received our passports, and we have done our fingerprints. The next big step will be to complete our dossier requirements.

Please continue to pray for us as we travel this journey. Although there have been bumps on the road, we feel God's presence every step of the way.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Spotlight on Bulgaria!

Yesterday, the Director of Reeces's Rainbow posted the following plea:

"All....in recent months, we have had a tremendous breakthrough in Bulgaria, and now have photos and bios of many children with DS waiting there. We have a very special, Christian partner who is dedicated to these children and has gone to great personal effort to use Reece's Rainbow as a voice of hope for them. Three children have already found families! This is a fabulous program, lower cost than Ukraine or Russia, and one of the easiest countries as far as family size and parent age restrictions.

I learned today that Bulgaria's institutions are JUST AS DIRE AS UKRAINE. I have also learned that nearly all of our currently waiting children there are already living in these institutions, not the baby houses, anymore. You can read in this article, written last Fall, the truth about how these children are living, and what people in much of Eastern Europe think about them.

"I asked to go into one of the rooms and picked up the nearest child, a
living skeleton. And what was wrong with him? He was blind. Just blind.
But now he was starving to death, rocking and banging his head against the
side of his cot. On another visit, I asked the director, a pediatrician,
about a child with Down Syndrome. Why was she here? "She has Down
Syndrome, she will die." I told her that this was not true, that these
children could live fulfilled lives. Angered, she asked: "Are you a
doctor?" No, I replied, but I was the mother of a child with Down's
Syndrome. "But you are not a doctor, so you don't understand.. . these
children have no use. They should never have been born."

If you have been considering an adoption....if you need a program that allows for older parents or larger families or shorter travel times, Bulgaria is our very best program. And

If you're not able to adopt, PLEASE GIVE! Choose Valentine's Day to sponsor one or more of the waiting children in Bulgaria. Instead of spending $200 on dinner and roses, give the gift of a family for a child with Down syndrome in Bulgaria!!

PLEASE SHARE THIS SPECIAL, LAST MINUTE GIVING OPPORTUNITY WITH ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS, FAMILY, AND FORUMS!

The special Valentine page will only be open until tomorrow evening (the 15th). www.reecesrainbow.org


Andrea Roberts, Executive Director
Reece's Rainbow Down Syndrome Adoption Ministry
www.reecesrainbow.org

Please go to the website to see the beautiful children with Down Syndrome that desperately need a loving family. Please pray that they will be saved!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day to all our family and friends! We are so blessed to have you in our lives.

Here's a picture of Kevin and my "favorite" valentines...



We are sending "hugs and kisses" Bella's way today! We look forward to next year to have four little hearts all together.

Have a great Valentine's day everyone!!!

Friday, February 13, 2009

In Memory....



Two days ago, we received word that two of Reece's Rainbow girls, both with Down Syndrome, passed away from a flu epedimic. Both Margarita and Katerina had been transferred and were living in a mental institution.

While we are sad, we know that they are no longer in pain. However, they did not get to experience the love of a family here on earth. That is why our family is even more committed to bringing little Bella home. If we had not committed to her, she would probably be moved to a similar institution shortly after she turns four, which is just next Tuesday. We are assured that the orphanage will hold her there until we come to take her home.

It is more important than ever that Christians from around the world, put God's words into action. God tells us this in his Word:

"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act. Proverbs 24:12

Please look at this link to see some of the children who are most at risk. http://www.reecesrainbow.org/atrisk.htm Pray for them to be adopted into a family....maybe even yours?????

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Fingerprints....check!

Yay! We made it--traveling very slooooooowly on the treacherous highways to Fargo. After checking into the hotel, we ate at Olive Garden and went shopping at Kohl's and the mall. And, for your information, Kevin is more of the shopper than me--he bought two new suits and an electronic NFL football magnetic game! I got a new scarf for $7 at Target. His comment to me was, "Well, you ARE getting a new baby...."

We stayed at the Holiday Inn where the owner/manager also has a child with Down Syndrome. He treats us well and gave us a suite with a hot tub for his "family rate". He is so gracious....thanks Mike!

We got up this morning and went downtown to the immigration office. The lady ahead of us was having trouble getting her prints done. After waiting for over a half hour, Kevin and I got ours done in just 10 minutes for both of us. The prints were great from the first time. We then went back to the hotel for a wonderful breakfast, great coffee, and a "little" stop in the great gift shop.

So, now we can check off the fingerprint portion of the to-do list.

We're ready to head back home now. We are praying, once again, for safe travels. We thank God for the smooth trip so far!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fingerprinting in Fargo

Today we are heading to Fargo for our biometric fingerprinting appointment scheduled for tomorrow at 9:00 a.m.

We have to go today because, in case you didn't know, Fargo is about 4-5 hours away. AND the roads are terrible. Even part of I-94 is closed. But Kevin is a fearless driver--which scares me even more!

Please pray for safe travels for us. This is just another piece in the adoption puzzle. Once we get our fingerprints and the home study sent in, then we await the approval to adopt from the USCIS. The approval comes on, from what we understand, a very nondescript form called the 171-H. It's nondescript but probably the most important piece!

Thank you for your support and prayers!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Adoption Update!

Today we decided to switch gears a bit and go with an adoption agency that works with facilitators. It will be a bit more money, but it will be worth it because there will be no surprises in country.

The agency is called About A Child and the Director's name is Victoria. We are looking forward to working with them as they come highly recommended! We will also continue to work with Reece's Rainbow, the international ministry that helps find families for orphans with Down Syndrome.

We thank all of you who are praying, encouraging, and supporting us in this exciting adventure. We feel blessed to have such a strong network of family and friends.

Today, I was reminded of this verse from Psalms 68:5-6....

"Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. God settles the solitary in a home..."

What a great reminder for our family when we hit these bumps in the road. This isn't about us, but about being God's instruments to fulfill his will in this adoption!

Monday, February 9, 2009

These Children Need Families....

Please watch this video montage of children who need families ASAP! This wonderful slide show was created by Jody Campbell, a Reece's Rainbow mom to 8 (www.thecampbelljourney.blogspot.com) Thanks, Jody, for putting this together! Also, you may want to mute my playlist on the bottom of this page before playing so you don't have two songs going at once.

If you are interested in any of these children, please contact Andrea at www.reecesrainbow.org

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Grace's "Egg"Cellent Sunday

Each and every Sunday morning Grace somehow knows today is the day she gets EGGS! It's a church day--so she gets eggs!

It's the only morning I make them for her as she eats breakfast at school and goes out for breakfast with Daddy on Saturdays.

So today she was a happy camper eating her scrambled eggs

After her "egg"cellent breakfast, we headed off to church. During the worship songs, we sang the song "Grace...(grace, grace)" and ,well, she thought it was all about her!

Pastor Andy, our wonderful preacher, is doing a series on Revelation. It's been a wonderful series with the theme "We Win!" Even though it seems like sin and Satan are winning right now, we can take comfort that God is sovereign, and we will be triumphant with Him through his Son Jesus!

This is the most "egg"cellent news of all!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Burckhard "Paula"tics....

Just the other day, Grace asked to watch the Wiggles on Netflix through our computer. So as she was waiting for me to set it up, our MSN home page came up with a picture of Obama on it. Grace looked and exclaimed "Our President!" She must be learning this at school!

On the other hand, while her Dad was watching FOX News, she saw the news panelists on the tv screen, and she said "No, Presidents!"

In our house, the only two channels on are either FOX News or Disney. We are a family that watches "big ears", whether it is Mickey, Bush, Obama, or the GOP Pachyderm! (This last comment was contributed by Kevin...in case you couldn't tell!)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Medical Home, Huh?????

Yesterday and today, I participated in a Learning Collaborative at Minot State University as a parent partner for an exciting concept called "Medical Home."

No, it is not a residential home or have anything to do with having care provided in your home. Our trainer said "It's not a place, it's a metaphor for family-centered care for children with special health care needs."

So, today I got to participate by providing a parent's voice--along with a team including our pediatrician, his nurse, and another parent. We actually started working on the project designing a care plan that will be implemented at our clinic.

It is really exciting, because it is a family-centered and holistic approach to providing health care for children with special needs. I'm honored to be part of this team to improve the quality of care right here in Minot.

Oh, and I told them our family will need, not one, but two care plans come this summer!!!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Little Bella...

...........Do you know that you have a family waiting for you?

Do you like to cuddle?

Are you feeling well?

Have you ever heard of High School Musical? (You will…)

Are you afraid of cats?

Do you love ketchup like Grace?

Have you ever played “duck, duck, goose”?

Do you like playgrounds?

..................Do you know that we already love you?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Grandma Lucille aka "Loose Wheel"


Grandma Lucille is a hoot! She loves to joke around and be silly. On Halloween she and Grace had fun together, as you can see!

What's really cool is that Grandma Lucille has roots in Eastern Europe! Her parents are Germans from Russia from this region. Maybe Bella is a long-lost relative? Ha Ha!

Anyways, Grandma'Cille, as Grace calls her, is very excited about this addition to our family. She is looking forward to meeting our little Bella, hopefully this summer! I know Bella will love to have fun with Grandma Loose Wheel!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Grace's Dancin' Stance!

Grace started Dance this year at Just 4 Kix. She LOVES it, especially getting to wear her "red" outfit. Here she is at a recent performance:


The other girls totally include her and are so kind to her. She loves performing and being part of the group!

That's what being included is all about!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Adoption Update

In the adoption world, papers swirl about you like Pigpen from Charlie Brown. We have most everything completed, and now we wait on the next step.

We received notification on Saturday that our biometric fingerprint appointments are scheduled for February 12th at 9:00. Because the appointments are in Fargo, we will have to go down the night before. Thank goodness for Grandparents that can hold down the fort so we can do this!

I will have to call immigration services (USCIS) this morning because Kevin's name has a typo on the official fingerprint appointment letter. Makes me feel better that even the government can make mistakes!

Kevin and I will go to Catholic Charities' office today to start our face-to-face interviews with our social worker who is preparing the home study. We are looking forward to getting this underway as well.

So now we wait: for the completed home study and then approval from USCIS to finish up our dossier. It's true what they say, "hurry up and wait!"

The swirling paperwork follows me around--maybe not literally, but at least in my mind!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Grandma & Papa

Bella will be blessed to have some terrific Grandparents! Grandma & Papa are such a blessing to our family. Grandma is a huge support for our family and Papa can fix anything! Both of them are loved and cherished by the five of us.

We like to do things together--camping, Scrabble, walking, and playing "duck, duck, goose" with Grace. Every Monday we have "soup & bread" night at our house and then on Friday, it's pizza night. The kids love these traditions with their grandparents. I'm sure Bella will fit right in!

Over Christmas break, we took Amtrak to the cities to take in the Vikings, go to the Mall of America, and just plain relax. We had a great time!

Here are some pics of our very first train ride:



Grandma with Grace:

Sam & Papa:

Elizabeth & Grandparents:

We had a very memorable trip! Lots of fun, laughs, and food. Maybe we can do it again next year--with one extra little bundle along with her new Grandma & Papa!