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Ukraine

Saturday, April 30, 2011

In the words of our translator...

...you did not have very good luck unfortunately...

Oksana, said this in response to the meeting about our court date.  We were hoping for the judge with a reputation of getting through international adoption cases quickly, however, we were appointed a judge who has NEVER had a case such as ours.  Oh my! 

Some positives are that she listened to Oksana's story about the time we've been here, the financial toll, and how much we love and want to take Bo Peep home.  The judge not only listened, but also told Oksana she will take our files home for the weekend and familiarize herself with the procedures.  Unfortunately, we will not know when the official court date is until next Wednesday.  Oksana pleaded for a Friday, May 6th preliminary hearing.

PLEASE pray that we are able to get that date!  Some unexpected financial things have come up...we are further from the orphanage than we thought, therefore we are spending $40-60 per DAY in taxi fees.  We walk three miles one way to a nearby mall in between sessions when Oksana is home for the weekends, then walk the 3 miles back to the orphanage for the afternoon session to save on fees. 

So far EVERYTHING has been according to God's perfect timing.  He has orchestrated so many "little things" that have turned out to be huge for us!  Even if we are here for longer than we’d like, we KNOW it is for a reason.  I'm continually amazed at God's goodness throughout this process.  A HUGE fear I have had since the beginning was that I would not fully love an adopted child, especially since we knew we would adopt a special needs baby.  But now I miss her!  I ache to see her and hold her and hear her sweet giggle. 

But I am beginning to better grasp the enormity of how much God truly loves us.  He DOES want the best for us and loves us so much more than we could ever fathom!  He promises to never leave us and He promises to be our strength when we are weak.
Luke 11:11-13 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?  Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?  If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

God gave us a wonderful gift and we're so thankful for her...she makes us wanting MORE...see video below!!!:)  We do believe she will be talking soon!!!!!!!!!!!

 


Friday, April 29, 2011

Videos and her name!!

Here are some videos that finally loaded!  They look great when I watch them on the laptop, but they look SO grainy and distorted on the blog:( Sorry...I hope you can get a picture of  how our visits are going!!!

This is the first tower we saw "Bo Peep" build during the first or second full day with her.  Todd thinks she's going to be an architect!

Bo Peep eating a banana...she cracks me up!
Reading her favorite book together!
This is "Bo Peep" crying when they put her into our arms.  I hate to say it, but I laugh when I see her poor little self crying so much!  Today, she didn't cry at all when she came to us:)  Yeah!!!

You'll hear at the beginning of this video, but I have been notorious for "taking a video" then it never being on!  This is at the tailend of a game we were playing.  I was in a small playhouse and "Bo Peep" would find me by opening the shutters.  She LOVES this:)  I just wish you could see her face better...maybe soon I will learn how to push the record button!!

This was right after nap time and they gave  her this giant cookie as her snack with a warm cup of sour milk. 

As you can see, she had no trouble eating it along with her cup of milk!  She sure can eat:) 

Now that you know a little more about her personality, we have made the decision to change her name from "Bo Peep" to something else:)  We have decided to reveal Little Bo Peep's name next week NCAA tournament style!  We have attached a 64 name bracket below.  Everyone can fill out their brackets and wait for our posts each day that reveal the results.  The final two names will be Little Bo Peep's first and middle names.  We will reveal first round results Monday, 2nd round Tuesday, 3rd round Wednesday, 4th and 5th round Thursday, and the final four and champion on Friday!

The printable version:
https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AutO_5oKf05TdFRpUE9EbFRuTzFQVHVuLWwtTnlRQUE&hl=en




Enjoy!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The verdict is in!!!!

It's a GIRL!!!!!!!!!!!

To be honest...we knew this little one was "our child" from nearly the moment we met her:)  In fact, we started the paperwork the following day.

So many of you are already connected to "Bo Peep" because you have been praying faithfully for her.  She is loved by many and is spiritually connected to you!  We are excited, nervous, and even a little scared, but mostly ECSTATIC!!!  Today is the "one week" mark and today was the BEST DAY EVER!!!!!!!

We have discovered her FAVORITE activity is the slide.  She climbs the stairs (with her favorite toy in hand) and slides down to Daddy.  Daddy throws her in the air and she laughs and laughs!!Then she RUNS back to the stairs for more...nearly 30 minutes!  She must be sleeping soundly tonight:):)
Here are some highlights of our week anniversary together:

* "Bo Peep" created her own game with a car she built with Legos
* She clapped!!
* She signed "more" and "thank you"
* She gives high fives with a solid slap!
* SHE began the game of "chase me around and catch me" (it was so, so fun...it was like we were in a movie, all rolling around in the dirt and grass and laughing 'til we couldn't breath!  Priceless moments and loving every minute of it;) 
* She initiated hugs with Mommy and Daddy
* "Bo Peep" saw Mommy and Daddy in pictures then pointed to us
* The BEST part...she spoke!!!  She "spoke" about 10 times and called me Mama twice!!!:)  YES! YES! YES!   

PRAISE GOD...I've been praying all week for moments such as these!  I am praying that she would recognize us and be excited to be with us.  I am praying for her to initiate and interact with us.  I am praying for verbal communication.  I am praying for her health and continuted progress.  I am praying for a QUICK court date with the "good" judge.  Tomorrow we should know...

I can't believe how this story is unfolding...awesome!
Beautiful smile!!!

First day with Daddy!

I just look at her and laugh!  She cracks me up!!!

Our "lil monkey" loves bananas!!!



The sun keeps getting in her eyes...we are looking for baby sunglasses but don't want to pay $15 for baby sunglasses...I hope that doesn't make me a bad mom already:)

Best picture yet...Daddy in one hand, monkey tail in the other:) 

Playing in the sand!  She is starting to play the "drums" with her sand tools and making "rattles" with rocks!


Our little woman:)  So tiny!
 We hope to post some videos tomorrow but do not have time tonight!  Yeah!!!





Monday, April 25, 2011

Doctor Prognosis...and NO INTERNET:(:(:(:(

Ok, I will say I'm officially irriated that we don't have Internet in our apartment.  We moved today for this reason but instead we are sitting in a hot, crowded, loud, smoke-filled mall.  Sigh...I'm thinking of the song, "This is the Stuff".  I've attached it below:






Fortunately, a man in an electronic store gave us the password for a coffee shop inside the mall so the connection is better than snail speed.  Ok, done whining:)


We got an unexpected surprise...the doctor came!!  We hired a doctor who used to work for the U.S., Canadian, and French embassy in Ukraine.  For the past 15 years he has been examining orphans on behalf of families to determine their cognitive skills and level of health.


Here are some things we learned about "Bo Peep's" mental health:
·  impressed with her attention span (more than 30 minutes of working non-stop)
·   Her reaction to us is “normal” because she is able to differentiate between strangers and caregivers
·   Good fine motor skills
·   Lacking gross motor skills (not running or climbing as well as she should be)
·   Does not know her colors
·   Completed puzzles, shape sorting, Legos, tower building, animals, and threading a bead with little to no problem
·   She had difficulty finding the missing parts of an object (ex. missing bear arm, missing wheel from a car, etc.)
·   Followed all of his instructions and complied to everything he asked her to do
·  She knows the parts of the body, pieces of clothing, furniture, and animal/animal sounds
·   Has a good vocabulary
·   She enjoys learning new things and being challenged
In short, “Bo Peep” is about a year or so delayed and it is attributed to her malformation as well as being in an orphanage since she was 15 days old.  He is confident she will be able to talk and will be able to live a “normal” life.  He feels it would be best for her to start kindergarten at the age of 6 instead of 5 years old so she can catch up.  This will be easy with her birthday...fun fact, Sasha and "Bo Peep" we born on the same day:)
Here are some things we learned about "Bo Peep's" physical health:
·  All blood tests came back negative for infectious diseases
·  Up to date on Ukrainian vaccinations
·  Endocrinologist found she has mild “hypothyrosis” (sp?). The doctor did not see any signs of this in his observation.  He explained that this means hormones/metabolism is too low.
·   She is potty trained and tells her caregivers when she has to go to the bathroom.
·   She eats soup, porridge, and hard foods on her own and is able to manipulate a spoon, fork, and a cup.
·   She is able to dress and undress on her own.
·   She sleeps well and has never had any seizures or hysterical attacks. 
·   He believes she will need another surgery on her lip (we agree because it looks “tight”)
·   Because she is still growing, he thinks it might be another year before she gets her palate repaired so she can grow more.  This will be up to her surgeon of course.  This makes us sad because it may mean she will not talk until after her surgery.  Currently, my Daddyo is taking some pictures and medical information to my surgeon in Columbia for his opinions.  Of course, this is before meeting her, examining her, etc.
·   She is able to pronounce around 6 words.  He knows of two…one is her name, the other is Mama.  I would LOVE to hear her talk to me!  She communicates verbally with caregivers and friends but not quite yet to us.  She looks at us like we're crazy!!:)
Overall it was an excellent visit and our observations and playtime have confirmed everything he told us.  We did learn more specifically about how significant her delay is, but I am encouraged by what we've seen already.  We will have to work very, very hard to get her up to speed both physically and cognitively.  This means giving her a lot of individual stimulation, which of course is what Mommys and Daddys do!:)  We are already seeing breakthroughs since we’ve been with her over the past four days.  We saw her go down the slide for the first time on her own, climb up and down a jungle gym, and we also heard her giggle over and over and over again!:)  She loves belly raspberries, flying in the air, bouncing up and down on your knee, and horse-back rides!  (Todd is the horse:)  She is also moving her lips when I sing and talk to her, especially in one or two word phrases.  (YES, I am talking much, much less than normal when I visit her...I'm sure all my English scares the poor little thing!:) 
Signing off until tomorrow...we are visiting with another doctor and she will get her blood drawn.  I'm going to pray tonight that I won't cry...oh dear...they are going to prick her little arm:( 
Love you all and thank you for your emails and facebook postings.  I have read them all and will respond later...I'm melting from the heat and we must grocery shop before it gets dark. 
Tune your ears to wisdom and concentrate on understanding.  Proverbs 2:2

Sunday, April 24, 2011

HAPPY EASTER!!!



I love this song!  I was singing it over and over again in my head this morning as we walked to the orphanage.  It has been hard to not be home over Easter.  Todd mentioned this morning how hard this would have been if we would have traveled over Thanksgiving or Christmas...oh man, very difficult.  We started watching, Jesus of Nazareth, last night but fell asleep just as Jesus was born.  It's a 6 1/2 hour movie but we really want to watch it as we celebrate Christ's birth, life, and resurrection.  Tomorrow we are going to watch LBC via podcast but I really, really wish the worship music was aired too!!  Oh well…youtube and my MP3 player will have to doJ



This is a lamb cake my mom baked for us before we left for Ukraine.  This is a tradition in our house...to have a lamb cake every Easter after church, lunch, and an Easter Egg Hunt.  I ate the ears off of him before we left and Todd ate the head.  We froze the rest of it for when we return:)

This is the Ukrainian cake tradition.  We aren't sure what it is called, but as you can see, it's HUGE!  We nibbled on it a bit last night and it's basically a dry raisin bread with icing on top:)


This morning with "Bo Peep"...

We decided to walk to and from the orphanage today because the taxi is running us $40-60 per day.  We are running out of money!!  It's about a 30 minute walk one way and it is beautiful!  Since we are moving tomorrow to a different apartment, we are going to gauge the time to see if we can do this each day as long as it's not raining.  If anything, we will get a ride to the orphanage in the morning, then walk to the mall with Internet for the afternoon "down time" and have the taxi pick us up after the evening session. 

This morning we were greeted with a little woman who was not happy to see us!  She burst into tears when she saw us then ran the other way...  We quickly put on her "outside clothes" and carried her to a play area out back.  She cried and cried as Todd held her for about 10 minutes, then I started blowing bubbles with my gum.  "Bo Peep" really liked this and became interested in this instead of missing her friends. 
We mostly played in the sand box and she mimicked the different ways we filled buckets and emptied buckets.  She was not at all interested in the hard-boiled egg we brought her.  We took 2 dozen eggs to the children today in honor of Easter and "Bo Peep" didn't seem to like them.  She did love the Banana Puffs again:)  As we said our good-byes, she gladly ran our passports to us, waved, then blew us kisses good-bye!


This afternoon with "Bo Peep"...
We had a MUCH different reaction today with little woman!  She came to us in her pink, Winnie the Pooh shirt and two poofy white pigtails!  We dressed her for playing outside and played with ALL the toys I brought.  We listened to Disney songs on my MP3 player...she didn't seem to care about them at all but Todd had his first dance with her:)  We played more in the sandbox then we read books together.  She is so smart!  "Bo Peep" maneuvered a monkey on a zipper, opened and closed a velcro toy box, and laced a shoelace through a hole.  She also matched every picture with the correct button and was able to pick them out in a mixed page of all the pictures.  She enjoyed an entire, mushy banana, some Veggie Puffs, AND some Banana Puffs.  She completely mastered the stacking cups and liked building another tower.  We had a fun day together! 

Thank you for your continued prayers, encouraging notes, and support!  We are going to the doctor on Tuesday to learn more about her health and I hope to learn more about the extent of her cleft palate. 




Saturday, April 23, 2011

The mall has Internet!!

We are renting an apartment from an orphanage worker but it does not have Internet.  We are moving Monday afternoon to a different location.  Until then...the mall it is!  Currently we are sipping on a Pepsi Light, eating lunch, and watching Ukrainians ice skate in an indoor rink:)
From the beginning…
Bus trip=never again!  8 hours on a bumpy bus and only ONE bathroom stop!  Yes, anyone who has been with me for an hour knows that this did not go well.  This was the first time I almost broke into tears from being so angry, in pain, and not in control.  When I was about to burst (literally) they stopped the bus.  I RAN to the toilets and I had to pay!!!!  My honey has all the money so I ran back, waited in line, discovered it was a hole in the floor, no TP, and the stench was horrendous!  Sigh…I am thankful that it wasn’t hot, the bus didn’t smell, and I was able to follow the Ukrainian movie somewhat to pass the timeJ  And, I didn’t get car sick!
Todd...my hero!  I just had to add this today...no reason:) 


Now, the more exciting news…meeting one…
We FINALLY met a little girl in Dnipopetrovtsk, a city of about 1.5 million people.  We’ll call her “Bo Peep” since “Little Bo” sounds a little boyishJ  “Bo Peep” walked in the room in a blue, flowery dress, white striped tights, red sandals, and two pigtails with giant, white “poofs” on her head.  Her eyes are blue and her hair is blonde… Can you picture her yet?  She cautiously came to us and studied everyone in the room.  We gave her some Banana Puffs, which she picked up one by one, very daintily.  We were encouraged by this because of her cleft palate and she chewed them up without a problem.  Todd picked her up and she stood on his knees for a while, then he sat her on his lap.  “Bo Peep” then grabbed hold of his finger and leaned into his chest…Todd melted.  I decided not to hold her the first day…I’m taking things slow too.

Meeting 2 with “Bo Peep”…
We met her in the morning while she was playing with her “groupa”.  “Bo Peep” recognized us and smiled.  She had on the comical hat!  It’s white with three “horns” popping out from the top.  I love it!  She recognized us and gave me a hug when I opened up my arms to herJ  Today we brought her a banana and spotted it right away.  I peeled it for her and she took a bite right away…not daintily like the puffs!  I was worried because of her palate and choking but she chewed it up and came back for more!  I then tore off pieces for her.  She did not like being messy!  She cleaned her face off and then stuck her hand out to me in disgust.  Fortunately, I packed many baby wipes!
“Bo Peep” has a gentle and timid demeanor.  While the other kids are playing and screaming, she observes.  We began playing in the sand and showed her how to dig sand with a shovel, put it in a cup, then poured it into a bucket.  She liked that and picked up on it quickly.

Meeting 3 with “Bo Peep”…
We met little woman in her “grupa” area inside today.  They put on a long, red stocking cap with an orange jump suit.  We took her outside and we got to spend some time alone with her.  She walked down the steps holding Todd’s hand and I just laughed and laughed!  She’s so little and the steps seemed giant in comparison to her…she would look up at me like I was crazy!  Once outside, we ate more banana then we read some books.  I brought a book with pictures and then a button that says the word.  I would say the word, push the button so she could hear it, then use her hand to push it.  After two or three times of this, she started to mimic me.  “Apple”, I would say, then she would search for the right button and push it!  We were so proud of her!!!:) 
Then “Bo Peep’s” grupa came outside and started yelling her name!  Many of them came up and gave her a hug and wanted her to come play.  She just stared at them, not knowing if she should go or not.  We wandered around for a while, lost ourselves, not knowing what to do or how to communicate.  All the kids call me “Mama” and point.  It’s so sad.  It’s a beautiful play area, but it’s not something you would see in America.  Nobody is complaining or crying or arguing.  When kids try to come up to us, the caregiver says “no”, and they immediately stop and listen.  Everyone puts away their toys and line up together when they tell them to.  They are three!!  One little boy fell HARD against the wall while putting away his toy.  He face was red and he had a cut under his eye.  He rubbed his little face and just stood in line…no one caressed him or gave him kisses on his “boo-boo”.  It took much strength to hold back the tears…if he could do it, so could I.  These poor babies need a mama and papa…
While we were playing, “Bo Peep” found some stacking blocks.  She is very particular and intentional about her actions.  She grabbed a block, stacked it, then straightened them out so they stood straight.  She stacked all eight of the blocks and they stood almost as tall as she was!  Todd tried to get her to knock them over but she would have no part in that.  A nearby boy saw him and knocked them down…”Bo Peep” did not care for that!  She moved the block to another spot and started building againJ  It was so cute!
Before we parted, we gave “Bo Peep” a small monkey.  He plays music when you push his belly and his cheeks light up.  The caregivers told us they would put it with her things so we wouldn’t have to take it from her.  I was happy about that…

AND...we found out little Sasha got adopted by an Italian couple:)  Praise God...he has a family now!!  YEAH!!!!

Meeting 4 with “Bo Peep" today…Saturday morning…
Our translator is leaving today for Easter weekend and we don’t have anyone who speaks English on our behalf.  This makes us a little nervous when communicating with our driver and others at the orphanage.  But, here we go!
When we got there, they told us to purchase some diapers for the orphanage.  We brought them bananas and candy and are taking them cookies this afternoon.  We’ll get some diapers too!  Since tomorrow is Easter, we plan on bringing a few dozen hard-boiled eggs for the kids.  I hope they like them…I do feel a little bad about how the gas might smell after some eggs thoughJ ha
A sign in the mall...haha...it doesn't get much simpler than that!

Little “Bo Peep” was dressed in her orange jump suit again today and she was sitting in a small chair, holding her little monkeyJ  She loves her monkey…I love it when she hold him by the tail.  She ran to us and gave us a giant smile! 
I led her outside today but took a wrong turn…imagine that!  “Bo Peep” pulled me in the right direction so I’ll never get lost when I’m with herJ 
Once outside we played on the swings and in the play house.  Then we ate another banana and some Banana Puffs.  After a few days of showing her the sign for “more”, she repeated it each time she wanted another puffJ  We then read our book again and “Bo Peep” was able to match the pictures to the buttons.  She sometimes got the cat and dog mixed up, but they are the same color.  The dog has his tongue sticking out, so Todd and I stuck out our tongue, and she peeked hers out too!  We colored and blew bubbles and then we walked around for a bit.  Her “grupa” came out and waved and yelled her name again.  We kinda just sat around together and she played with my sunglasses.  I took some pictures and then squeezed the button on her monkey.  She just burst into tears!  She held her little head in her hands and cried and cried.  We had no idea…then we found out why.  Her caregiver was going inside and she wanted to go with.  Oh my…I cried a little too and sent her on her way with her group.  We were able to walk her back upstairs, all the while she was seeing if we’d follow.  She happily undressed and waved good-bye and blew us a kiss.  Sigh…she is happy and attached…this is a very, very good thing.  We have been praying for “Little Bo Not a Peep” to talk or make some sort of sound.  It was an answered prayer to hear her little cry.  We can't wait to see her again this afternoon! 
We are spending the weekend with her and a doctor is coming to exam her next Tuesday.  Another famiy from New Jersey is here and they are deaf.  They are seeking to adopt a deaf child and we got to meet them the first day in town.  We get to split the travel cost for the doctor, so that is good:)   

****Sorry, no pictures of "Bo Peep" at this time:) 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Brief Update

Thank you so much for your prayers and encouraging notes.  We are so thankful and appreciative of everyone's support and love!  There has been yet another unexpected turn on this journey. 

Tomorrow (in about 4 hours) we will take a 6 hour train ride to visit a little girl who turned 3 in February.  She was born with a cleft lip and palate.  The lip has been repaired but the palate has not.  As many of you know, I was born with a cleft lip and have a heart for children such as these.  I was blessed with one of the best surgeons around and have made contact with him---he is STILL practicing and he says he even remembers me:)  I must have left quite the impression with my sassy self!  ha

Please pray for this little one and for our hearts.  We pray specifically for God's lead and Holy Spirit to speak to us as we meet this special little girl. 

Also, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DADDYO!!!:)  Love and miss you!!!


Errrrrrr!  Screech!  Hold the bus...or should I say train!  Just got an email that says they are out of train tickets...we will leave an hour later instead...unless they get the tickets at 5am...so, they'll let us know around 5ish. 
Hmmmm, if you have known me for more than 5 seconds, you probably know I DO NOT operate in this fashion.  I am all about planning, getting specific times, and not deviating from that plan.  The mission trip to Romania prepared me for this experience for sure...but at least I knew that at every meal I'd have tomatoes and cucumbers!  Ha, God is definitely teaching me about flexibility:)  Ahhhh!  Is the word flexible synonymous with parenthood??? 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Prayer Warriors

"For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose."  Philippians 2:13
Please pray for us in this hour.  That God would use us for HIS purpose.  Not our will, but HIS will be done.  Regardless of our circumstances, God is here, on His mighty throne, and unshakeable.  "I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always, Christ will be exalted in my body, whether in life or by death".  Phil 1:20

Monday, April 18, 2011

Kyiv Part Two

We arrived in Kyiv this morning after the train ride, and fortunately we slept some!  We are in the same apartment we were in the first time, which is nice.  We are familiar with our surroundings and our coordinator got an even better price for us!  Praise God!

We basically sat around all day in our apartment waiting for Natalia to call us with news.  Todd worked a little and I slept a little more:)  We also decided to do some laundry in the washing machine and are hoping our jeans dry before we have to leave again.

Around 5pm Natalia called to meet for dinner.  We went to a nice place across from the SDA building and had a wonderful greek salad and crepes.  It's so nice to be with someone who speaks Ukrainian.

During our meeting we discussed our expectations and then realistic expectations.  I am beginning to understand much better now what to expect in terms of institutionalized children.  I also needed to hear her say that it was "OK" that we did not adopt Sasha and it doesn't make us "bad people".  I've been feeling very guilty about "leaving him there".  I am so thankful God gave me the strength, guidance, and understanding while we were in Kherson to make that decision.  Now I'm battling Satan's attacks of guilt.  Todd has been so awesome through all of this.  He is constantly and gently reminding me of why we did not adopt Sasha and that he was not the child God created for our family.  Between my naps and laundry, I've flooded my mind with God's Word today...I'm reading and rereading His promises so that I can get past these guilty feelings. 

As of now, we do not have an official appointment.  Natalia is going tomorrow morning to set up an appointment and she is very hopeful we will have one tomorrow afternoon.  There is a child she thinks will fit for our family.  He is a 3 year old little boy.  Please pray for this appointment and for this child.  We really need God's guidance and leading as we are here.  Thank you to everyone for your emails, facebook messages, and blog postings.  Please know that they are very special and uplifting to us!

I've attached some pictures from the past couple of days for your viewing pleasure:) 
This is the broom in our Kherson apartment.  We brought in lots of dirt from our walk and wanted to clean it up before leaving.


I'm sporting the cute "booties" we were asked to wear when entering the orphanage or hospital.  They are to prevent dirt and germs from entering into the facilities. 

We were a little bored on the train before going to sleep so we decided to play some cards.  Notice, they are Indiana Jones cards:)  hehe


For breakfast/lunch we had McDonald's.  I ordered a salad and these "veggie nuggets".  First of all the salad came with straight EVOO for dressing...yuck!  I just ate it plain.  The food in the picture is basically deep fried veggies.  Interesting to say the least:) ha 


Pretty shot of the city.  Today was much less crowded and the weather was perfect. 
    
Another shot of a city sight.  They are setting up scaffolding so we're hoping there will be a concert or event while we are here.
This is a giant, three-story mall behind Todd.  It's very nice.


I smiled...and this guy put a bird on my arm.  Well, I didn't want to be mean and ignore him.  Todd was not happy.  It's a nice shot...except, I hope it's the camera and not all this sitting, eating, sleeping, sitting, eating, sleeping that is adding to my waistline! 



I'm so mad I didn't give a play-by-play of this video.  This is an example of some Ukrainian dancing I guess.  Mom and Aaron, if you were here, you would have given them a run for their money! haha  I just laugh every time I think of this;)



Saturday, April 16, 2011

Kherson

Here is a very "rough" home video of our apartment in Kherson.  Oh my, I forgot that when I turn the camera, you can't see the picture straight:)  Sorry!  There are more pictures of the city below!





Todd on his side of the train wagon.

Our very, very, very strong coffee with giant sugar cubes.  We thought they were complimentary...we will not purchase coffee on the the ride back to Kyiv.  Our coordinator's husband, Constantine, says American coffee is a joke:)

The first meal we've made other than sandwiches, eggs, and baked potatoes was spaghetti.  Here is the package of sauce. 

Todd added some sausage to the pasta.  It tasted like Spaghetti-O's!


This is at a park across the street from our apartment.  There are many parks and benches around Kherson. 

This looks like an artificial pond that they let go dry but we don't know.  So, we took a picture... 

This was a large park near the city center.  There were spinning teeter-totters, swings, jungle gyms, and this "hamster wheel".  The boys loved it!  Todd said we can't have them in America because someone would sue the city...that's the risk manager in him for ya!
We walked to a HUGE city market.  Streets and streets were lined with fresh produce, breads, toys, clothing, tools, shoes, nuts...pretty much anything you could think of.  Toilets, colorful toilet seats, bras, yep, everything!
Here is a giant display of plastic flowers.  I thought it was so strange to sell fake flowers...then I thought about it and this is like their Wal-Mart...and Wal-Mart has a huge aisle of fake flowers.
Here is a booth of toys.  The large, blue horse is like the one Sasha enjoyed riding.  There was a man blowing bubbles at this stand.
They even were selling dogs and cats at this market!  The street was lined with many play-pens with dogs, cats, and even gerbils.  I wonder if they all have their shots...
Here is a picture of the outside of our apartment in Kherson.  To the left is a courtyard area with a small park. 

Here is the door to our apartment.  Our first apartment was #21 and this one is #31.  I really, really, really don't like odd numbers....  At least this apartment number adds up to 4...unlike our first one...


Vladimir Lenin in front of a government building--the Ukrainian flag is waving above him but I didn't capture it in this photo.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AUSTIN!  My nephew is 14 today so we decided to buy a slice of cake in his honor (anything for something sweet!:)  Let me know if your birthday falls on a day we are in Ukraine.  I will gladly celebrate with a slice of Ukrainian cake:)  This is some kind of chocolate buttercream with nuts, cherries, and chocolate slivers.  Yum!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Bitter Sweet (it's a long one!)

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-9


We were reminded of this verse as we read through our devotion on Proverbs 31 Ministries today.  Thank you Leah for introducing this site to me!  For the whole devo, click on this link:    http://devotions.proverbs31.org/2010/12/dont-overthink-it.html  It’s about worry.  When Todd read it he laughed because he thought I wrote it!  Haha


So, where do I start?  Sigh…it’s been a LONG and emotional two days.  I’m trying to think of where I left off…

Wednesday Night: 
12 hour train ride to Kherson.  We slept 2 hours and were exhausted when we arrived.  It was a hot ride but thank goodness we brought movies with us.  We both read quite a bit as well and prepared ourselves as much as we could for the orphanage visits.  One of the biggest problems on the train ride was my small bladder!!  GRRRR!  I’ve been so thirsty but that means lots of trips to the bathroom.  Thank goodness I packed lots of baby wipes and hand sanitizer!  I turn every handle with a baby wipe and I’m not kidding, I used ½ a package on the train line alone.  I only brought two packages so I’m getting worriedL  For anyone traveling overseas...prepare your bladders!  I haven’t been able to use one public restroom because of the stench and toilet in the floor!  OMG…sorry if that was too much information but I just had to get it out in the open…and for comic relief! J  Our poor interpreter. Oksana, has already noticed the pattern and can tell from my face what I’m searching for…

Thursday Morning: 
We went straight to an office building to pick up a psychologist then to the orphanage.  Our luggage did not fit all the way in the taxi so the trunk was left open.  We only brought two suitcases, two backpacks, and a computer bag.  Once at the orphanage, we waited nearly three hours to meet 3 year old Sasha.  Once he arrived we spent about 20 minutes with him and his caregiver.  It was the strangest situation…there were about 6 workers in this room, all working on paperwork or talking.  No one in this area was with the children.  There were many people walking around the orphanage with masks and we were all required to wear “booties” over our shoes.  To add to the strangeness, there were bookcases full of books and toys but none of them were out for play.  It was very strange…and sad.  We then met with the director and a Baptist pastor (he just happened to be there and she invited him since we go to a Baptist church) and had coffee for over an hour.  At this point, we were just fighting to stay awake.

After playing with Sasha we dropped off our luggage headed to the grocery store.  By the time we got home it was around 4 or 5pm.  We were exhausted, dirty, and had not eaten anything all day.  We then discovered our stove did not work to cook dinner.  We ate a sandwich and I finally slept for 13 hours…Praise God I was able to sleep! 

I can’t remember who told me this, I think another woman who adopted from Ukraine, but I was told, “Adoption is not for the weak of heart”.  I’ve thought about that so much lately.  I have always been the “weak” one…I mean, I cry at Hallmark commercials.  I try to make a joke out of everything so everyone thinks I’m this “carefree” person, but those who really know me, know I’m a ball of stress and wear my heart on my sleeve.  How on earth am I going to handle this adoption process?????  Well, the strength of Christ Himself, that’s how.  I’ve prayed over and over for the story I’m about to share, because the last words our coordinator, Natalia, told us was “Do not cry at the orphanage”.

I found this song when I was searching for worship songs:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPYaRJOWznk&feature=related
It’s about adoption called, “Everything to Me” by Mark Schultz

Friday: 
We left our apartment around 9:45am for a 10am visit with 3 year old Sasha, our second visit.  We spent nearly an hour with him and spent some time doing cognitive assessments on him.  Thank you Becca for the list you gave us!  See, Sasha can’t walk without assistance.  He has tetraparisis but I thought it looked more like Cerebral Palsy.  He recently had surgery and with some physical therapy and additional surgeries, we thought we could help him overcome these disabilities.  However, we had some cognitive concerns after we met him the first time.  After making a list of different skills to test, here is how our second meeting went:

First of all, they introduce us as “Mama and Papa”.  Thankfully we had been warned by another adoptive parent.  Second, they blow us kisses…so cute!  Third, they are precious, innocent, sweet children. 

We brought Sasha a cookie on the first visit and he devoured it!  On the second visit we brought him a banana.  We wanted to see if he could open and eat it.  Well, he grabbed for it and tried to eat it with the peel.  I tore open one side and our interpreter asked him to peel the rest…again he took a giant bite and started eating the peel ‘n all!  Well, needless to say, his face was priceless after tasting that bitter peel!  I tore the rest of the banana and he shoved it all the way in his mouth and began choking!  I grabbed it from him and we showed him how to take little bites.  This poor baby was starving!!  He couldn’t eat it fast enough…and he didn’t really know how to chew!  It seems all they eat is mushy foods and soups, therefore, he doesn’t really know how to chew food.  Later in the visit the ladies who work there are eating cookies and tea and he RUNS to their table and cries for a cookie.  He again, shoves the whole thing in his mouth and swallows it whole.  It was so sad.
We asked if we could use toys at the orphanage and they agreed.  We brought out some stacking cups and colorful blocks.  He tried to eat the blocks and he was unable to consistently stack the cups in the correct order.  Sasha was easily distracted and would dart from one activity to another.  He loved a “duck on a stick”.  He would push the duck and “quack, quack” with it…he really liked this toy and could walk with assistance.  Sasha’s favorite toy was the rocking horse.  Oh man, he loved it!  He would get on the horse and rock and rock and rock.  He would do the “clicking” noise made to tell a horse to giddy-up as he rode him.  Then, he would quickly stick his tongue in and out of his mouth and babble in the cutest way and made us all laugh!  Sasha also loved books.  He used his baby talk to ask for a book and would sit on Todd’s lap and open it.  However, he didn’t notice that it wasn’t right side up and would get distracted easily.  He also loved Todd’s beard.  They don’t usually see men in an orphanage so he loved to touch Todd’s stubbles.  Then, Anna, Sasha’s main caretaker came in and Sasha did not want to go to her.  She asked him why, and he told her he did not want to go to “groupa”.  He thought she was taking him away and we could tell he wanted to stay in the room with us and the toys.  Some other tasks we tried included hiding a ball under a cup…he was unable to find the ball.  Sasha also had difficulty sorting objects and his language was very delayed.  I heard him say words, but I didn’t hear him use phrases at all.  We expect that there will be delays with any child we adopt from an orphanage.  However, the delays we found seemed to be greater than a year behind.  Our estimates were nearly two years behind.  Some things that surprised us were his fine motor skills.  He was able to repair the handle on his duck and he then problem-solved the stacking cups.  Overall, we noticed he crawled a lot more than he did the day before and has difficulty walking on his own.  He is stiff all over his body and will occasionally shake when attending to tasks.  He was unable to pay attention to one task more for more than 15-30 seconds at a time and was most content on the rocking horse.  The scariest part was the "stares" he made and he didn't respond when spoken to during those short spurts of time.  Sasha gave us a hug and blew us a kiss good-bye and then we went to the hospital to get an evaluation from the doctor.  It was difficult to part.

My suspicions were correct, he does have Cerebral Palsy and microcephaly was confirmed.  After taking notes and getting into the “task oriented” mode, we were able to hold back the tears and ask questions.  After visiting with the doctor, she confirmed our initial decision to not adopt Sasha.  Although everyone at the orphanage and hospital have much hope for Sasha, it will require a lot of time, money, and surgeries, as well as mental, physical, and psychological rehabilitation that might not ultimately work.

After visiting Sasha and the hospital, we travel to buy cookies and candy to visit Sam.  We are warned…Sam is worse off than we anticipate and our translator is very, very worried about us.  We are told he is unable to walk, unable to talk, and unable to show emotion other than a permanent grin on his face. 

Once we arrive at the preschool orphanage, we wait about an hour before visiting Sam.  We are already weepy and I know this is going to be difficult.  We walk into his play room and are greeted with 5 children.  They of course love us…we have cookies and candy!  We see Sam, and he walks (yes, he walks without assistance!) to us for a cookie.  He is smiling the whole way up to us!!!  He is small, very small, about the size of a 1-2 year old child.  He eats his cookie and looks back and forth to both Todd and myself.  I then get a large truck in the corner and “beep beep” it to Sam.  He grabs the truck and pushes it away from him and me.  We chase it down and play with it for a while.  He never really pushed it back and forth to me though.  Another little boy, age 7, loved Sam and played with us.  We would push the truck between our legs and all the kids loved this!  We played, “Ring Around the Rosy” and Sam caught on when we “All fell down”!  We would say “boom!” and hit the floor and he thought that was fun-ny!  We also played “London Bridges” and “Duck, Duck, Goose” and he smiled the whole time.  Not once did Sam speak…and his expression never changed.  One arm was longer than the other and he walked kinda like FrankensteinJ  In my opinion, it looks like he has a form of dwarfism.  We are told he suffers from severe osteomyelitis and the infection has affected his mental development.  He was extremely difficult to potty train and the doctors have “no hope” for him developmentally.  The sweetest moment I had with Sam was when he looked up at me with his big eyes, dimples, and curly blonde hair…chocolate cookie all over his face, and smiled a huge grin while taking my hands in his.  He is a happy little boy and we feel very lucky to have had the chance to meet him. 

It’s so weird how this is unfolding.  When we met Sam, it was like seeing someone we hadn’t seen in a long time.  Until we met him, both of us have felt “trapped” and like “no one else will do”.  We haven’t really been “excited” about adopting because we always have had Sam in our minds.  Now, we have a huge sense of peace and freedom because God allowed us to meet him.  Wow, God orchestrated this meeting and has healed the heartache we’ve been feeling for so many months.

We were able to follow Natalia’s directions and we did not cry while at the orphanage.  In fact, we really haven’t cried until writing this post because we weren’t allowed.  However, God has answered our prayers in so many ways…now we know.  We are at peace in knowing that these two boys were not created for our family.  We know that they need prayer and love and to know God and we are so satisfied in finally having peace about these two little ones. 

Now, we wait some more.  We are going to be in Kherson until Sunday night.  We’ll take the overnight train to Kyiv to apply for our 2nd appointment.  Then we wait in Kyiv.  Once we get our 2nd appointment we will travel to wherever it is we will meet another little person.  Please pray that this is a quick appointment.  Also, please pray that we meet our child on this appointment.  For Ukraine adoptions, you are only allowed 3 visits to the SDA, then you go home.


PS--We chose not to take pictures or videos of our time for many reasons and wanted to protect the privacy of families that adopt these children because they are theirs.