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Life. What a gift. So worthy of celebration. Incomplete, however, without relationships. Yes, familiar faces are a sense of home when life turns unknown corners. But new faces, passions and relationships can be the best new corners to turn around. You can say that I am curious about people. That is an understatement. I have a knack for drawing people out. I guess I do like to see what lies behind facades. Real personalities and quirky qualities are my favorite things to celebrate. Will you let me celebrate your life?

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Ventura Engagement Photography: Edward Proposed to Kari!

Before you can even begin to appreciate this post, you need to read this back story!
Watch this link:


Here is a brief summary in the Simi Valley Acorn:

Hope brings mother, son together

Pair to share their story during Rose Parade
By Melissa Simon

FAMILY BOND—Kari Penner of Simi Valley carries her adopted son Adi, age 4 in this photo, on her back in afield in Romania in the summer of 2007, just before she brought him to the United States. Penner met Adi when he was just a month old during a mission trip to Romania. The boy beat stage 4 neuroblastoma by the time he was 3. FAMILY BOND—Kari Penner of Simi Valley carries her adopted son Adi, age 4 in this photo, on her back in afield inRomania in the summer of 2007, just before she brought him to the United States. Penner met Adi when he was just a month old during a mission trip to Romania. The boy beat stage 4 neuroblastoma by the time he was 3.Aidan “Adi” Penner is a typical 11-year-old boy who loves baseball and dreams of one day pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The fifth-grader at White Oak Elementary School also loves skateboarding, riding his bike and playing video games, according to his mother, Kari.9 Points Mentioned
From all outward appearances, no one would know that Adi spent the first few years of his life fighting stage 4 neuroblastoma, a cancer found primarily in children age 5 and younger that causes malignant tumors to form in the adrenal glands.
Adi was diagnosed with the disease when he was just 17 months old. But after undergoing several rounds of chemotherapy and surgery and beating the odds of an 80 to 90 percent chance of relapse by the time he was 3, Adi today is cancer-free.
“It’s a blessing,” Kari Penner, 32, told the Simi Valley Acorn. “He finished his treatment by the time he was 3 years old, so he has very few memories of treatment, just the follow-up scans and doctor visits.”
Because of his inspiring story, Adi and his mom were asked to ride on the City of Hope’s Rose Parade float, which is called “Made Possible by Hope,” on New Year’s Day in Pasadena.
“I just love that (the float is) about being made possible by hope,” Penner said. “I feel like there were times with Adi . . . that it felt hopeless, but I feel like the theme of our story is ‘Don’t give up.’”
The long journey home
Penner, a longtime Simi Valley resident, never expected Adi, an abandoned baby she met during a mission trip abroad more than a decade ago, would change her life the way he has.
In the summer of 2002, Penner went to Marghita, Romania with a group from Cornerstone Community Church. What was supposed to be a short trip took a far different path once she began working with children at a Swedish foundation called Christian Foundation Elin.
“After two weeks, I had fallen in love with the people and the country,” she said. “I decided to take a year to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. And after the first couple months, I knew I would be there for more than a year because I was taking care of little kids and I didn’t want to be another person to walk out of their lives.”
During her time working at Casa Alba, the orphanage connected to the foundation, Penner, then 22, was also volunteering at a hospital for abandoned babies. That’s where she met Adi, who was born in the summer of 2003. He was just 1 month old when they met.
A year later, despite the fact that Penner was supposed to go home to America, she said she felt God telling her to stay.
“Literally crossing the border out of Romania in the middle of the night, I felt like God was telling me I wasn’t done yet,” she said.
Seventeen-month-old Adi was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma in November 2004 after he been acting lethargic and a CT scan showed there was an 8-centimeter tumor on his left adrenal gland. During Adi’s treatment process, from December 2004 to October 2005, Penner found herself falling more and more in love with the boy. But the odds seemed to be against them, she said.
“I came home (to the U.S.) in December 2004 and spent more time here than I thought praying about what I was supposed to do,” she said. “I felt that I was supposed to adopt him.”
Road to adoption
The following February, Penner returned to Romania and moved into the hospital with Adi. Two months later, he underwent surgery to remove the tumor.
In May, a post-operation scan showed the tumor was gone. But Penner, concerned about a potential relapse, said she had discovered 13-retinoic acid—a form of acne medication Accutane sometimes referred to as a “mop-up drug” that can kill cancer in high enough doses.
“I was really wanting him to be on this drug but they didn’t have it in Romania. It was in other parts of Europe but Adi wasn’t allowed to leave the country,” she said.
When a group from Cornerstone came that summer, Penner said, she met a man whose mother, Jamie Stopher, had survived breast cancer and wanted to pay it forward. The woman offered to pay for a consultation for Adi and Penner was able to bring the boy to the City of Hope in Duarte, Calif. in December 2005, where they met with pediatric oncologist Dr. Clarke Anderson.
Penner said she wanted to take Adi to the States to get a second opinion on his treatment.
“We went to the embassy in Romania and they questioned why I wanted to take Adi to the States,” Penner said, adding that officials were worried she wouldn’t come back. “I told them my foundation was legally responsible and if they (the foundation) had any doubt I wouldn’t bring him back they wouldn’t let me take him.”
Penner said she told embassy off├Éicials she wanted to adoptAdi but knew it wasn’t possible at the time because foreigners couldn’t adopt. She would have to apply for a Romanian green card so she could adopt as a Romanian citizen.
During their visit with Anderson, Penner said, she learned Adi had an 80 to 90 percent chance of relapse and needed treatment in the U. S. The doctor wrote a letter to Romanian officials about Adi’s chance for relapse, how it could be fatal and that his best chance of survival would be to stay in the states for treatment.
“Dr. Anderson prescribed 13-retinoic acid for Adi in December 2005,” Penner said. “We took it back to Romania with us and he was on the medication all of 2006.”
With Anderson’s letter, Penner said, she was able to apply for a Romanian green card earlier than usual: She’d been in the country for three and a half years, not the required five. And on May 6, 2009, Penner was able to bring Adi to the States. He was granted American citizenship that same day, his adopted mother said.
Adi is now cancer free and hasn’t had any treatments since 2006, although he does go for regular follow-up visits every six months, Penner said.
Inspiring hope
When she first moved to Romania in 2002, Penner said, she was considering becoming a nurse but had no idea what area to go into.
After her journey with Adi and raising him as a single mom while working full-time as a nurse’s assistant, Penner will be graduating from Moorpark College’s nursing program in May with the goal of becoming a pediatric oncologist one day.
“It’s really hard being a single mom, going to school and working, so it took me a couple of years,” Penner said.
“Pediatric oncology is my passion and I feel like it’s my calling: Adi is the reason for that. I want to work in pediatric oncology to take care of the entire family because I know from experience that it’s not only the patient that’s going through it, it’s the whole family.”
Because of the struggles that Penner and Adi have overcome, City of Hope officials asked the two to ride on their float during the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day. The float highlights the inspiring stories of six people and features a design representing a family’s journey through cancer together.

Anyways. Kari is amazing for being obedient to God to adopt Adi. Edward is amazing for wanting to love and adopt Adi and be the father that he never had!
Sooo.. here we go!

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