Revelation 3:8 (New International Version)
I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

The child is the beauty of God present in the world – that greatest gift to a family.” (Blessed Teresa of Calcutta)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Oct 8 2010 Arrival Home

How exciting it was to get off that plane!! I just knew that we would have an awesome welcome home party waiting for us. I could not wait to see Steven and the kids. We did it, we did it is all I kept saying to Ian, Ellia and Benjamin. The funny part was some passengers on the plane said, "wow, you have your hands full", little did they know, hehhe.
Once I had the kids in their stroller...I pulled out their American and Ukraine flags and handed it to them. I actually quickly showed them how to wave the flags and they got it quickly. So as we came around the corner...I could see lots of little kids through the frosted glass and I said Ian Run, Run and we Ran as fast as we could around the corner!!
We were surrounded with so many hugs, cheers and kisses. They loved it. We managed to take this picture quickly.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Blog catch-up: Almost Home

On Oct 6th after Gotcha Day, I brought the kids back to the apartment to get them dinner and maybe give them a bath before the train ride. Well, no that didn't work out...the bath part. It started to get to cold and I was a little afraid of letting them go outside and yes "catching a cold". LOL I laugh because I could hear my mom say that. Benjamin already knew the apartment and my rules of "no touch" the TV antennas, stove, fridge and computer (that was not even mine). He was very happy to tell them what not to touch. Even though he could not say words his facial expression said it all. He also did the one finger "no, no" when Ian and Ellia were touching the computer. Earlier this morning, I had cleaned and packed all my bags for the train to Kiev. I made sure to make a "snack bag" and "diaper bag". I was going to keep them awake until we arrived to the train. Our train would depart around 2230. We would arrive in Kiev at 0630 the next day. At 2130 our taxi drivers (yes we needed 2 cars because of luggage and kids) arrived. They were terrific helping bring down all the luggage. We had experience with this elevator stopping 3 times already so we did not want that to happen with the children. Being on the 8th floor did not make it easy either.
I included some pictures of the kids at the apartment.

Not sure if I mentioned that there was no washing machine in the apartment. It was hand washing and line drying all the time. I did hang my pants on the line outside (just off the porch) and somehow they flew off the line down 8 floors!! Ugh I was so upset but they must have been picked up because they were no longer there when I went to go get them a couple hours later. Funny. Here are some pictures of the apartment too.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

We have been home for 11 days now: Time to catch up on this blog

Sept 6 was Gotcha Day for Ian and Ellia. Translation for those who have not adopted....The day you free the kids out of the orphanage. It is a day mixed with emotion. You are excited, nervous and exhausted by this time. Tons of trips have been made, you are down to the last money saved, your planning your return trip and finalizing it (it was Eldon from Golden Rule Travel for us...thank you Eldon). Your traveling to buy train tickets and hoping there will be train tickets to get back into Kiev, you are emailing the embassy to make appointments for the children's medicals and visas. So many things to do but you are so excited because you know you are just a few days short of heading back home to the USA with your children. Part of you is also fearing the plane and layover. You hope it will not be to stressful on the hope they don't have any GI problems ( diarrhea...hate to be blunt but it was on my mind). Those toilet rooms are so small. But even with all those thoughts and things to do Gotcha Day is a celebration for both you the child and the orphanage. I picked out the nicest clothes I had with me and stopped by the store with our facilitator to buy some bananas for the children left behind, some chocolate and treats for the orphanage nannies and some small gifts for the nurses and doctor at the orphanage. In regards to Benjamin's we bought some champagne for his nannies (they really wanted to celebrate....and they deserved it for taking such good care of these kids). We had a Gotcha Day Oct 1st for him. Here are some pictures.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Getting ready to fly back to get our children.

Here are some pictures that we left on the children's cubbies their at the orphanages before heading back to the USA.

Oh I have so many mixed feelings!! I knew I had to come home and am very happy I did return back to the US during the 10 day wait. Steven and I had been gone for month and seeing the children after that much time was amazing. They looked as if they had grown and were so excited jumping up and down happy to see us. They understood that we did not have their new siblings yet. So what do you do when you have 10 days at home well, for me it was enrolling Elijah back in school. It was enrolling Oksana and Noah in their pre-K school so in other words more paperwork! I also had 2 doctor appointments since Noah and Nicholas had a cold and were miserable with snotty noses and all that comes with it. We also spent time grocery shopping and going to the park and yes laundry catch up. Anyways it was a filled 10 days. Today is Saturday and I leave tomorrow. I am both sad to leave everyone here, nervous and already lonely going by myself (due to the cost and time we are not able to bring my daughter with me :() But excited to go get my 3 babies who are waiting to get out of the orphanage. We left Benjamin, Ian and Ellia pictures on their coat cubby and we had them reassure them that we would be back. Ian was told that Pappa had to go put his bed together and paint his room so he would not return to get him but momma would.

So today I will finish packing. Please I ask all of you to please pray for me in this journey. My mom has total confidence in me that I can do this and I know I can but it is with the belief that I am in other people's prayers. Please also pass ou mission on to others. We are still in need of the funds to bring home our 3 children. We received a quote that it would be 1600.00 for their plane tickets. Our FSP is not close to that. The biggest reason I am going alone is because of the cost of bringing my daughter. Her passport cost and plane ticket would be too much and we just do not have it. We brought our son Elijah and are happy that he did go. It was important for the judge to see that our oldest son was happy and in agreement of this adoption. It was so hard for me to tell Madeline she could not go. She cried but understood we would have had to expedite her passport and that along with her ticket would be too much money for us right now. Please pray that she will be okay and not be so hurt by this.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Court Today

Hello Everyone we just arrived home. We are so excited to tell you that the court has said YES!! We are Ian, Benjamin's and Ellia's mom and dad!!!
We are SOOOOOO excited. I couldn't stop crying when the judge said the verdict. The tears started coming when each witness, social worker and prosecuter said yes and they were in favor (one by one) then the judge told us to stand and she said yes.
It was the greatest feeling! Thank you God!
We are getting ready to leave on the train back to the capitol. We will be going home where I will wait less then 2 weeks then come back to finish up the visa and passport work to bring our 3 new children home. I am not staying because I need to get my children at home settled and prepared for me to leave for another 10 days. It would be to long for me to stay. We have been here 1 month already and I miss all the kids at home so much. I need to go home and prayfully have a couple of yard sales to raise the last of the funds needed. God has helped us this entire trip..We have faith.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


We had not posted in awhile because in a nut son and I were sick. My son Elijah had very bad GI symptoms lasting 5 days. We went to the pharmacy and bought him electrolyte replacement. Just as he was starting with GI....I was starting with an awful cold/flu. I had the ache ache body, low grade fever, sore throat it then turned into runny nose, cough (non-ending). Today is Sunday and I feel back to myself. We visited the children but were very careful visiting only one orphanage a day...avoiding all the kisses that I wanted to give. There was actually one day that Steven and Eljah had to go to the orphanage by themselves.

Anyways today being Sunday...I feel great but am so nervous for tomorrow.

Tomorrow is Monday and it is our court day!!! Please pray for us.

It has been awhile since I posted. A thank you note

We are going on 28 days of being here!! Can you believe it. We miss all the kids at home. My parents and my 2 dearest friends have held up the fort while we have been gone. I know they have changed their everyday routines to give us this time to travel and become parents to these 3 orphans. I thank them. Thanks mom, dad, Nese, Stephanie, and kids at home. I also want to thank those who have donated to help us through. Yes, the truth is when we return home we still have to raise money to help pay for the children's return flights home and US embassey money needed so the 265 in our FSP will help. We thank you for those who donated. We have used 50 dollars of that money to help pay one of our nights in the apartment...thank you. Thank you also for everyone's lovely comments left on this has lifted us.

Friday, September 3, 2010

More pictures of Benjamin's

Benjamin: A picture or two says a thousand words.

Friday: We were busy today traveling to 2 orphanages in 2 different locations. The first one we needed a taxi there and home. The round trip by taxi when calculated came out to be $15.50 and it was 30 minute drive (going very fast) from our apartment. We visited with Benjamin for 2 hours and it was great. When we arrived he was finishing some bread and he came towards me as soon as the staff told him he could get up from his seat. He immediatly gave me a hug and I kissed him. We then went outside to meet Steven and Elijah who were trying to get the camcorder ready. I know he is almost 5 but I picked him up like a toddler and walked around with him. He just clung on loving the attention. I am not kidding it felt exactly as if he had been missing for so long and we just found him. We then played with playdough for sometime. At 12pm it was time for him to get ready to go on and with cues from the staff he gave me us a kiss again and again. I just adore him!
At 12pm the taxi was waiting and it dropped us next to our house and we went to the mall. We had something to eat and went back to the apartment. At 3pm we walked to the bus and took a bus and then a van (the trip took and hour) and we go visit Ian and Ellia. Ian was so happy with his new toy. It plays the piano and he stayed content the entire time. He also loved the honey wafers. Today was the first day I was able to really see Ellia's cleft palate (hope I spelled that correct). We knew she had it but it wasn't until she was laying down on my lap (pretending to be a baby) and laughing that I was able to see it. She eats everything and once we arrive the same doctor who will help with reconstructing Ian's nose and palate...will also do Ellia's.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Thursday: We meet Benjamin!!

We were picked up early and off we went to meet his social worker and get some more paperwork. We then drove to the orphanage to meet the director and some staff who remembered us. They spent some time peeking at Noah's pictures. They loved seeing how in 1 year he had changed. Noah had been put on the bus to go to the institution for life but we had arrived just in time. They now could look at his pictures and see that God had other plans for him. After they looked at the pictures they had wet eyes and said through the translator. "let me tell you about Artyom" We will be naming him Benjamin. and then she continued "he is a gentle boy and loved my so many here in the orphanage" We knew he must be because he had not yet been sent away...they had been hoping a family would come for him. "He loves to dress up and play in the children's performances". We could tell this boy was special last year when we first met Blessed we felt to be able to return and get him. This child has a purpose and being in an institution for the rest of his life was not it.
After she updated us on his medical and social history....the door opened and there he was in his pajamas and tights with white shoes looking as if he had just woken up. His hand was being held by his nanny who had him sit on her lap. I looked at him and let them tell him that this was his "Mama and Papa" the nurse then put him down and he was encouraged to not be shy but to come to us and say hello. He was a doll. He came right up with a big smile but still a little shy. There was no doubt he remembered us. Steven picked him up and Benjamin laid his head on Steven's chest smiling. When I looked up the nanny's eyes were I knew why she had that hankie in her hand. She without a doubt cared very much about this boy. I then had to tell Steven that it was my turn to hold him! I held him and kept pointing to myself saying "Mama" and then on his own he said "Mama" touching my chest as if he clearly understood what my name would be. I just wonder if he knew what a "mama and Papa" is. I wondered if he thought "wow, I have seen other children with mamas and papas is this my own?" Benjamin has seen many parents go to adopt and he has always waved and welcomed them to the orphanage as they loved on their new little it was his turn. I wish I had pictures but didn't want to take out my camera because I think it was a little emotional for everyone. We will see him tomorrw and of course I will take pictures. After we left him...we went to do more paperwork then get a bite to eat then off to take 2 buses to see Ellia and Ian who we had not seen since Monday. We made sure for our facilitator to tell him that we would be back. He was not upset when we arrived but instead very happy.


So Wednesday came around and at 4pm we received what we needed (documents and official referral for Benjamin). Back on the train for 6 hours. This time we sat in first class ( I think that is what they called it) and they showed something similiar to the sitcom "Scrubs" only it was in Russian. Everyone would just break out laughing and sometimes you couldn't help laugh because everyone else was laughing and they seemed as if they were having a great time. Some parts were funny and you didn't need to speak Russian you could just figure it out but oh how I wish they had it in English the time would have flown by. I just read again and quickly finished my book.
The name of the book is Reckless Faith by Beth G (can't remember her last name). It was really a good book that shares her memoirs on her leap of faith in opening an orphanage in Mexico.
The train arrived back in our children's city at 12pm or so and the taxi was waiting. It was around 1am before we went to bed. I knew that when I woke up that the day to see Benjamin after a year would be here.

Almost forgot about Sunday Night

Let me stick this in here. I almost forgot that Sunday night Steven and Elijah went to a basketball game. They were given free tickets by our friend Nicholas who's friends play ball. The game was Ukraine vs England. Ukraine won and Steven and Nicholas feel that it was because they cheered and got the Ukrainian fans going and into the game. I guess they usually clap but are not very loud even during a game. Everytime Steven would yell something in English the fans around him would also yell. Guess what they made it to National TV! The camera focused and there they were.

Monday and Tuesday

Paperwork and Paperwork. We drove in the taxi for hours from Notary to social worker
and went to go buy some groceries. We were also told to be ready at 5:45am for the taxi to pick us up and take us to the capitol where our second SDA appointment would be. This is what what we need in order to have an official referral for Benjamin. I could hardly believe it. I figured we would see the SDA at 1pm Tuesday and take the train back that evening. There was a possibility that Wednesday we would see I thought.

Tuesday: At 6:15am there was no taxi but we called our facilitator and she quickly hung up and called the taxi driver..I think he overslept. "wait in the corner, he will be right there". 17 minutes later a screeching car comes to a skid. "So Sorry he said, lets go teh train will leave in a few minutes". Ok I know I live in NC and I thought how cool would it be to ride in Nascar. Not anymore. I experienced it here but with no helmet and no seat belt. I must have said Mama Mia a million times and I must have may the sign of the cross at least 10 times. He drove through red lights and the police was right there!! I pointed as we went flying by but he said "Corachon" which means "OK". At one point I was putting on my seat belt and he said that I didn't need it and he smiled almost in a laughing manner. Silly me..We are only going 90 miles an hour in a matchbox size car passing huge trucks. Well, we made it to the train. He parked on the sidewalk and said "hurry, hurry" this running does not work in flip flops but we made it. The train had 2 benched seats one on each side facing each other and a small table in the middle. This was similiar to the night train but the bench seats were not beds and there was no bunk beds on top. The train was 0645 to 1240pm.
There was the 3 of us and this girl maybe in her 20's. She slept curled up most of the time and would awake...have tea and a snickers bar and return to sleep. I just read a book but before I knew it I fell asleep too. The train stops and people do hop off to smoke and then hop back on. When we arrived at the capitol city...our taxi driver said it was to early for the SDA so it was better to just go walk around for another 2 hours.
We were finally hurried in to sit down and talk about Benjamin. He has lived in the orphanage all 4 years and was given up immediatly after his birth because of his diagnosis being conformed. "He has Down Syndrome". His mom was very young and single so placing him in the orphanage was what she felt was best for her and for him. Here he was adorable. We will be able to have his only baby picture once he is adopted.
Since it was already 4pm we would be unable to sign papers and get the papers needed to enter into his orphanage so staying in the capitol until Wednesday is what we would have to do. I hate that we have to pay another 60 dollars but there is no other choice. Adoption teaches you patience right from the very beginning. The apartment was very clean and it is the first one that had internet...but guess what my computer had no cord and it was dead. Just my luck!!


I told myself that this trip would be different with blogging. I told myself that everyday I would write but it doesn't help when you leave to go to back to the Capitol city and you forget your computer's cord to charge it.

Sunday: we found out at 10am that Ian and Ellias orphanage allows visitors on Sunday so even though we would be late...we wanted to at least see them. It was 11am by the time the van dropped us off outside the gates. When we arrived we heard all the kids screaming again Mama and Ian was sitting on the bench looking up but with eyes that were wet and cheeks that showed the salty tears dried up all down his face. The nannies told us he didn't want to go inside because he told them that Mama and Papa were coming but given the time...(we usually arrive at 0950 and it was now 11:05) the nannies figured we were not. Ian refused to go inside and sat firmly on the bench. My heart just broke. I also saw his ear red so not sure if he got in trouble for being adament about not going inside. Poor baby.
Ellia was also happy to see us but I don't think she figured out what time we arrive. Every day the kids seem happier and happier.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sat and Sunday

Hi Everyone,

We have been visiting the kids everyday while our facilitator has been doing some of the needed paperwork. We take 2 buses in the morning to get to the orphanages. One bus is more like a van and as long as the door closes your in. I am not kidding you will see a small van pass by and people smooched up against the glass. My husband turns to me and says....You think we can squish in ?? You also do an honour system with paying for the bus. You just tap the person in front of you and pass up the money. You will see the money going from the back of the bus to the front and then if someone needs change you just keep passing it back until it falls in the right person's hands. It is actually funny that no one pockets the money. Sometimes there are older women and they get on the bus...I motion quietly to Steven and he offers his seat to the older lady. Not one will sit down. I guess that is why I see no young men ask these older women as they get on the bus if they want their seat. I think these older women are very tough and strong.
Everyday we stop at the corner store and buy cookies (they usually are not chocolate) but this time I decided to give the kids a special treat... Chocolate cookies! Yahoo right?? NOT! let's just say never again. First of all the kids in these 2 groups (classrooms) of the orphanage had chocolate all over their mouths and hands but the worst part was poor Ellia broke out in some hives! It was not bad but still I felt horrible. Great job Jenny! She had the hives on her theighs and stomach. Let me just stick to the good old Maria crackers.
After our visit on Saturday, we went to the park in the center. Elijah had so much fun. I will download some pictures later. I will post some more of the kids. I love Black and white pictures and I will post them too.
Today is Sunday and it is gray here but warm. We are getting ready to go to the apartment and I think we might go see a basketball game but just not sure. Nicholas is an American and he lives here. He is 28 or so and married. Last year we met him and over the year have all kept contact. He is the one who showed us around the center yesterday. He has lived here with his wife for a few years now so he really knows how to get around and speak.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Thurs and Fri Visits with the children.

I am at the mall now updating this blog. We come here after our morning visits with the children. Every morning we arrive and hand in our passports to the orphanage and then we go get the kids. Yesterday we went to the children's shop and bought some toys. We must have stayed in the toy store for over an hour trying to figure out what would be best to buy. We bought pots and pans (play dishes), more coloring books, and an ABC (leap frog type of toy) but in Russian. We also bought some floor puzzles and a blanket to put on the ground. We always bring the other children cookies and give them to the Nannies to pass around. It is so difficult to see so many beautiful children coming around you and knowing that when most of them grow up...many will be homeless on the street and some sent to institutions. Right now though they are smiling and so happy to watch the staff open the cookies that we brought. We will do this everyday because this is all we can offer all these children right now.
It is so funny, the moment we enter the orphanage gates...the children who are playing outside stop what they are doing and run up to Ian jumping up and down and pointing telling him "Mama, Papa, Mama, Papa!!" He gets this big big smile and you could see how he just became "the most popular boy in his group". He knows it too. Ok everyone reading this if you have been thinking of it...there are so many kids who need you.

Wed morning: We are here

Ok I know the suspense is getting to you but I really wanted those who are reading about this journey to really experience what we are.
So Wed am as the train arrived, we were met there by our new taxi driver. He was a young man who spoke no English at all. Niko shook hands with Serge the taxi driver and off we went to the children's protective services to go get our paperwork and the social worker. We all squeezed in the was a 4 passenger car (that includes driver) and it was 6 of us and tons of luggage. The back end of the car pratically dragged but this was custom and as long as everyone sat on everyone's lap and the doors closed that was all that mattered. The worst part was the back passenger windows did not roll down and their was no AC! It was all good though because...we are going straight to the orphanage! Yahoo! It would only be an hour or so until we were able to hug our children and see them after a year.

So once we arrived to the orphanage the doctor sat down and told us about each child. Each child's folder was old and all documentation was hand written, not one empty spot on those papers. I guess 4 years of living in the orphanage there has got to be alot of writing. Ian's folder was 4 inches thick and Ellia's was half of that. Niko did his best translating and in a nut shell....the children have been at the orphanage since they were born and no one has ever visited them. They are very particular about documenting the times a parent or relative visits and both these children had no recorded visits EVER. In regards to medical honestly there was not much that can be understood and as we have learned from our previous is important to get a pediatrician who is familiar with international adoptions because you basically arrive to the USA with very little info other then gestation age and Apgar scores. Does it really matter anyways?? Would I change my mind at this point? No not at all. Even if they told us that there was a possibility that one of these children would probably pass away soon....I would say what I said last year when they said that about Nicholas...ok then he will die with a mom and dad. He will not die alone. These children need a chance of living they all need someone who will love them unconditionally...through good and bad, sickness and health and life and death. That is why we are here. Anyways returning back to Wed.
As the doctor was talking...their was a knock and turning of the door knob....I knew it had to be one of the children...I knew it and who was it? Ian!! He came in holding the nanny's hand very shy but with an excited look on his face. I just went to my knees so I could look straight at him and said hello and cupped his face in my hands kissing him on the forehead. They then translated that this was Momma and Papa and brother. He had such a cute smile...I think he remembered us from last year just by the way he looked at us. He then stood next to the doctor as she finished talking about him and he understood everything she said. I wish i could speak Russian. I wish I had a Russian friend at home. Ian then came and sat on my lap as we started to discuss Ellia. The knock on the door again and here was little Ellia!! She saw all of us in the room, and she covered her eyes but peaked through them (she is extremely shy). I felt as if she had not grown at all in one year and she was so tiny. Steven got up and picked her up. It didn't take long before she was playing with his go-tee.(hope I spelled that right). How can I tell you what I was feeling? I am so glad that I had no eye makeup on because if I did....well I would have had it all smudged. I could not stop tearing. To be here, one year later and to come back to get these children who stared at me last year as I loved on Oksana and Nicholas and who called me Mama as I walked by amazing. Without God we could not have done this. If you honestly let God help you take care of these orphans....He will.
At this meeting we set up times to visit everyday except Sundays. We did not take pictures on that first meeting but we knew tomorrow we would return.

So here are the pictures of the next visit. We play with them outside.