Tuesday, November 26, 2013


We celebrated National Adoption Day last weekend, and it occurred to me that the last time I posted in this blog was this exact same same time 3 years ago, when we were front page news.

Although I keep up with most everyone now via Facebook, I thought I'd post a quick update here for posterity.

The journey continues, and Milo is still thriving and just so full of life and personality. He is ambitious, funny, smart, loving and yes, he still gives us a run for our money!  We adore and love him so dearly and are just so lucky to be his parents.

A lot can happen in 3 years. More than words could ever say, and more than a few photos could ever say, but here are a few of our favorites taken since the last post.  They're in random order, but the first and last photos are very recent.  He turned 7 in August.  I titled this post "Smilevolution" because he has lost 9 baby teeth in 3 years!  Incredible. They call him "Smilo" at school.  :-)

Enjoy.  Lots of love.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

Yes, it has been insanely long since I've blogged (more about that at the end of this post), but I just HAD to share some exciting news!

And by "news" I mean it literally -- a big ole newspaper article in our local paper. The Post and Courier ran our adoption story as their front page article on Friday!

What an exhilarating day for us, and a great day for adoption! The media often tells the sad stories of adoptions not working out. To have a happy story -- front page, above the fold -- is almost unheard of. We were blown away! Heartfelt kudos to Bo Petersen and the Post and Courier for using the power of the pen so kindly. It is our deepest hope that this will inspire others, and lead to more children finding their forever families.

It's hard to believe it has been more than 2 years since Milo landed on American soil. Looking back in retrospect has been wonderfully fulfilling.

This came about because our homestudy agency was doing PR for a National Adoption Month banquet/fundraiser for the charity Through Emma's Eyes, and they asked if we were willing to be interviewed for any potential media coverage. Of course we eagerly agreed, but we didn't expect such a prominent coverage. Their awesome PR woman was inspired and she really pitched it with passion. And she was so intrigued by Milo she had to come and visit him herself! (She took the above photo.)

*WINK-WINK* If you followed our journey as it unfolded here on this blog, you might be scratching your head about the "referral photo" mentioned in the article. Well, the cat's out of the bag. Mum was the word at that moment in time, and we just couldn't share that aspect back then, as much as we were dying to. So here is some of the story-behind-the-story, and the very unofficial referral photo. There were no guarantees he would still be available when we got to Kazakhstan, and we knew virtually nothing about him.

A super important thing that the article did not capture was this: It took a village to bring Milo home. The love and emotional support of family, friends, co-workers, professionals, other adoptive families and sometimes even strangers gave us the courage to pursue the uncertain, and the strength continue pushing forward when we were exhausted. For all of you out there, we are so very grateful! For others who choose to take this amazing leap, you will not be alone!

We understand that adoption is not for everyone. But if it's not for you, then please support one of the many wonderful adoption-related charities creating hope for children who still waiting...languishing... neglected, abandoned, abused or forgotten. Here are a few favorites:

Ok, so here is the article link:

If the link isn't working, here is the article, word for word:

Son turns couple into a family

From a Kazakhstan orphanage, Milo now calls West Ashley home

Friday, November 5, 2010

Four-year-old Milo Ruopoli yells for his parents to watch and bounces up and down on the divan. He jumps from running finger rolls on the piano to banging on the djambe drum.

"Let's make music," he yells to his parents.

The Ruopoli family does.


A favorite routine for 4-year-old Milo is getting the mail with his parents, Regina and Frank Ruopoli, who adopted him in July of 2008 from an orphanage in Kazakhstan. Regina said adopting Milo is 'the proudest thing I've ever done. It's just natural.'



This is the referral photo that Regina Ruopoli 'stared at for months' before she and her husband Frank could go to meet Milo, then 2. Within a few days he became the 'exuberant, smart, fun-loving boy he is today,' Regina Ruopoli said.

Coming Sunday

Two generations of a family have fostered dozens of children. Though the challenges were immense, so was the satisfaction.

In Faith & Values

If you go

What: Adoption banquet

When: 6:30 tonight

Where: Holiday Inn Express, Summerville

Emcee: Terry Haas of Home and Garden Television's 'Designed to Sell'

Entertainment: Storyteller Tim Lowry

Tickets: $50. Raises money for grants to help adoptive families pay for travel, costs, medical expenses and other needs. Sponsored by A Chosen Child Adoption Services and Through Emma's Eyes. For more information or tickets, call A Chosen Child Adoption Services, 851-4004

Regina Ruopoli first saw her child two years ago, as a cell-phone image from half a world away. His left eye crossed nearly into his nose, his right eye stared uncertainly at his Kazakhstan orphanage surroundings.

The disability already had been a deal breaker for some four prospective adoptive couples. Regina just kept staring at him.

"I kept looking at his little hand wrapped around a nanny's finger. I kept seeing my hand holding him," she said. "He was absolutely beautiful."

One unlucky toddler was about to become the luckiest child in the world.

Tonight, a banquet takes place in Summerville to raise funds to help families cover the costs of adopting children and paying for services for them. It's one of a number of low-key events taking place recently to recognize the need for and rewards of adoptions.

The cruel bottom line is that most adoptive parents are waiting in line for a healthy white baby. The odds shrink as a child gets older, has special needs or is a different ethnicity.

"Most people want a newborn or a toddler, and the longer they stay in foster care the more issues a child might develop," said Denice Fisher, director of A Chosen Child Adoption Services in Summerville.

For Regina and Frank Ruopoli of West Ashley, it wasn't an issue. Frank himself is an adoptee. Even as they tried to conceive a child, Regina found herself hoping it wouldn't happen. She wanted to adopt.

"I mean, there are a 143 million orphans in the world right now," she said. "We wanted a child and somebody out there needed a home. It wasn't easy, but it's the proudest thing I've ever done. It's just natural."

When she saw Milo's disability, she got on the Internet to do research. She realized that surgery could help his condition, and that he might never get it without the Ruopolis. He might spend his childhood in the orphanage, then be faced with the prospect of a life on the street as an outcast.

The marketing communications professional and her graphic artist husband took out an equity line of credit on their home and handled the hurdles one by one.

He has since had the surgery.

When the Ruopolis arrived at the orphanage for a two-week bonding visit with Milo, she sat him in her lap and he sat there, virtually catatonic, drooling. He had spent most of two years lying in a crib.

She didn't know yet that he was blind in his left eye, and the crossed-eye disability was an unusual, particularly difficult-to-fix one. It didn't matter.

She held him awhile, then gave him to Frank and got down on the floor in front of them. Frank stood Milo on the floor and held him by his arms.

For the first time her child looked her in the eye. She was in love.

"You want him to have perfect vision. You want him to have perfect everything. But who's perfect, adults or children?" she said. "I saw a spark, and I saw the corner of his lip move, just a hair, like he was trying to smile and just wasn't ready yet. I thought, OK, there's somebody in there."

Within a few days, he became the "exuberant, smart, fun-loving boy he is today." After they had to leave to go home, he would come to his door every day at the time of their visit, stand there and cry.

It would be another month before they could return for the court date, another six weeks for Regina in Kazakhstan before they could clear the red tape and bring him to Charleston.

During a layover in Memphis, she caught her carry-on on the escalator, tripped and cut her knee. People crowded around, asking if they could help. She just began bawling.

For the flight home in a dark plane, Milo asleep at her chest, Frank and her family waiting anxiously, she couldn't quit crying. She had her child home.

Blogging has been incredibly rewarding. I miss it so much! Obviously, it's hard to keep it up right now. Milo is growing and changing like crazy. The hills and valleys continue, and so does the love.

Now that I've knocked the rust off the blog, I will soon write one last update, and then will proceed with our plan to turn this blog into a book for Milo (via blurb.com).

My hope is to start a new blog in the not-too-distant future. I want this one to stand alone as a snapshot of this wild, wonderful, transformational chapter in our lives, and as a gift to our son.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Exciting Adventure

I have taken on an incredible challenge. In November I'll be walking 60 miles over the course of 3 days, camping out each night with thousands of others taking this journey with me.

It's for an event called the Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk, which benefits Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

I've never done a walk like this before, so I am nervous about it! Past participants say that it’s not easy, and I need to train seriously for it. I am inspired to get back into shape for this worthy cause, as well as for my son.

I am so excited to be doing this fundraising walk with a wonderful group of 11 fellow Kazakhstan adoptive moms from all over the country! We became close through our shared experiences in adoption. We will be convening in Arizona for the Phoenix walk to support each other as we raise money for this great cause. We traveled 6,496 miles to bring our children home, so walking 60 miles for a cure is no problem! We are keeping a group blog of our quest at http://www.kazmamas.blogspot.com/ I wrote a post there recently about my friends, Angela and Jennifer, who are valiant survivors of this disease. I am humbly walking in their honor.

I hope that you'll share this adventure with me by supporting me in my fundraising efforts. My goal is to raise at least $2,300. Simply visit my personal fundraising webpage to make a donation. ANY amount is appreciated (seriously). Online donations are quick, easy and secure.

Thank you to those who have already donated. I offer my sincerest appreciation for everyone's consideration and support!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter and Kaz Friends

Charleston was in full bloom for a beautiful Easter season. We enjoyed coloring eggs, attending 2 egg hunts and exciting visits from 2 other Kazakhstan adoptive families we know through blogland. More on that below. Milo had lots of fun, despite being under the weather and occasionally becoming Mr. McMoodypants. Thankfully he is back to his old self and actually seems even sweeter than before.

I took a million photos during the past week. On with the show!

Oh how I love this boy.

Stylin' and profilin'

Headed to the Easter egg hunt/picnic organized
by the local adoption agency that did our homestudy.
(A Chosen Child)

Asking daddy for a hand up. Soon he will be asking for a twenty.

Like something right out of The Little Rascals

He wears pink well. (So does his daddy.)

I can't decide whether to cut his hair or let it
grow out into a shaggy surfer look for the summer.
In the background you can see a part of the huge playset that
daddy and friends worked hard on putting together this weekend.
It's almost done...photos coming soon!

Enjoying the fragrance of his first hyacinth,
mommy's favorite spring flower.

Pulling his beloved Radio Flyer

Simply scrumptious!

He loves to jump off of any elevated surface
he can find, no matter how slight the elevation.

He loves his dinosaur tent.

But he would never try to destroy it.

Or would he???

Our first visit from a fellow adoptive family was from Kristi & Mieke (Mee-cah), who have been home from Kaz about a year. Kristi is such a neat person who works as an expatriat for the US government. She will soon move to Uzbekistan for a 2-year tour working for the State Department. She will be in familiar terrority since this country is just south of Kazakhstan. Kristi and Mieke stopped by on their way to Florida to visit family. We spent a few minutes at home and then were off to enjoy a great morning at the Middleton Place Plantation Easter Egg Hunt. It was a positively picturesque day, and the kids were so stinkin' cute together.

Milo and Mieke making beautiful music.

Heart and Soul

Little Monkeys

A great day for a picnic

Carrots for the Easter Bunny

What a gentleman

I didn't get a good photo of Kristi, so here is
one I copied from her blog. Aren't they darling?

The second family to visit us was the Ruley family, who stopped by for lunch on their way home to Florida from a wedding. Andrey and Alyona (Alone-Ah) were adopted about a year ago and are siblings. They are absolutely adorable and loads of fun! Matthew and Suzanne are such nice, interesting and multi-talented people. They are musicians and vocalists too, so we have lots in common.

The Lovely Ruley Family

Alyona, Milo and Andrey became fast friends.

Alyona was such a nurturing sweetie.

Milo "helping" Alyona on roller skates.

I'm not sure how much help he was!

Cute Andrey loved playing with Milo's toys.
They share a passion for cars, trains and such.
(The stackable toy bins are from the Land of Nod,
and are one of our favorite purchases.)

I love this photo of Matthew and Suzanne.

The two diva mamas

Frank and Suzanne chatting after lunch

We always love meeting fellow Kaz families in person. There is a special bond that is shared by this close-knit group of people. We have followed each other's journeys and continued to stayed in touch through the months/years since our adoptions were complete. I am ever grateful for the love and support we have received from them. Their encouragement, advice and compassion are priceless to me, and I feel as close to many of them as I do with my longtime friends.

It's remarkable to watch these beautiful children grow up and see how well they do once they have loving families to call their own. We look forward to seeing many more of them in person at Kazapalooza this year!

Much love,
Regina, Frank and Milo