Tuesday, December 8, 2009

There is Another...or Three

Today was a little different during our visit time with Ana. Usually we go to her orphanage, pick her up (Tom does this, as she is a bit heavy for me), and go into a room that is normally for four kids to sleep in. We play in there for an hour and a half the first visit, and then two hours the second visit. While we love spending time with our daughter, it is difficult when you do the same thing everyday...in the same room...with the same toys.

Yesterday it was a bit nicer outside, so we got to play outside with the kids. That was a good change of scenery and made the visit go by faster. It was more fun for Ana, which makes me feel better. I don't want her to dislike her time with us because it is boring for her. (We can only buy so many toys here =). We played outside and then inside for a bit too. It was too cold to play outside the whole time.

This morning was too cold to play outside, but much to our surprise they came and got us after a very short time in our room. The doctor (who is very beautiful btw and LOVES the kids very much) came and told us, "I'm sorry, but it is time for their music lesson..." and she motioned that we could come out and join all the kids. We were very glad to do so and went right out. Ana loved the music and doing all the motions. Most of the kids seemed to enjoy themselves, though all of them wanted to climb all over both of us of course. It is a bit hard to see all of the other kids because they want so much to have a mommy and daddy there for them too. They climb all over us and will actually fight for "face time" with us (only so many children can fit in our laps at a time).

During the music lesson it was much different than yesterday when we were outside though. These were just the children from Ana's floor, so there weren't as many kids, they were the kids we are used to seeing, and also most of them were special needs. I'm not sure why, but the special needs kids seem to be less pushy and bossy...their attitudes are much nicer and I more enjoy giving them my attention. While I totally understand that the less kind children are only doing so because of the lives they have lived, it is still more endearing to have a child that sweetly tries to get your attention, rather than pushing kids out of the way and then hitting you and being slightly mean to get you to notice them. (This saddens me too of course. Just in a different way.)

Inside, with the kids on Anastasia's floor, we just love the children. They are so sweet. This morning with the music lesson, we had the opportunity to enjoy them rather than be bombarded with too much attention. There is a little boy with DS who we hope will be on Reece's Rainbow soon. He is a bundle of energy and is always trying to escape- he he he. It makes me laugh. He is a good boy, and they always laugh at him when he tries to get out. It seems that he is not trying to get away, but more that he has an exploratory nature. He wants to figure out what is over there or behind that door. It reminds me of Ben, our little boy at home. He isn't naughty or mischievous, he just wants to figure things out and isn't timid or mindful of rules. He naturally gets himself into trouble, but not in an intentional way. He is very cute...but unfortunately I don't know his name yet.

Christina is another. She does not have DS, but has some other needs. She is so very happy ALL the time and walks around with a smile on her face...a HUGE smile...all the time. I would say she is the most interested in my attention and loves to come and get hugs. Whenever we come to get Ana, she is always at the door calling to us as Mama and Papa...so hard knowing that we will be leaving and we aren't going to take her with us. Will her heart be broken? Will a family come for her? Will she have the same fate that Ana or Tonya would if they weren't adopted...the fate of an institution? I am not even sure if Christina is available for adoption, but I am going to ask our facilitator if she can find out. Christina walks and runs, but her legs don't function the way they should. She falls sometimes and it seems that it is hard for her to get up off the ground by herself. She will most times just walk around on her knees when she falls until an adult comes to help her back up. I would guess from our time with her, which is limited (not one on one), that she is delayed a bit too. She is very capable of doing everything that the other kids are doing, but she isn't at the same level that most kids her age would be. Pray for a family for Christina. She is such a precious little girl. Anastasia and Tonya are very different from Christina. They both seem to have some spunk...they are a little bossy and have a harder time sharing (nothing that is not teachable). Christina is much different. She is all joy and smiles all the time and gets along well with all the other kids. She just wants to be loved, that's it. She wants the other kids to love her, the caretakers, and us. Love. Christina will be such a sweet addition to whoever brings her home. She is one of my two favorites outside of Ana =).

My other favorite is a little girl that seems to be about the same size and age as Ben. She weighs quite a bit less, but she is walking all over the place, falling here and there. I am not sure if she has any special needs of any sort. She seems to have a vision problem, but that would be all that I can observe at this point. Sorry...no doctor here =). She is always watching us and waving at us. She has big eyes that stay fixed on us with curiosity whenever we are within range of view. She doesn't get to go outside with the other kids and she is often in a different area than the other kids. I am not sure if this is because she is so much younger, or what. There is a play pen like area in the center of their floor of the building that some of the kids that can't walk are placed in most times. There are never more than two in there, but she is often one of them. From time to time she is in with the other kids, but it isn't all the time. Yesterday when we were coming in, they tried to take her in the room with all the toys and the ball pit that the other kids are in during that time and she just cried. The caretaker walked out with her right away and looked at me with a smile and a shrug. They took her back to the place she preferred to be.

I will take a second to mention while I am thinking about it...the ratio here of kids to caretakers is wonderful. There seem to be about 8 kids on this particular floor and 3 to 4 caretakers. This is not including the doctor, who is often on this floor. Her desk seems to be there, though I am not certain that they don't have a desk on each floor with information about each of the children in files.

Back to my rambling about our day...

So, this morning we got to spend time with some of the other kids as well as Ana. The little girl that I told you about, the one that is younger than the rest, she sat on my lap for a little while and they allowed it. She wasn't as able to do the music as the rest of the kids, so it was okay. Our little one is more fond of her Daddy still right now, so I let her be and don't try to force anything on her. She likes me, but is always more into climbing up in Daddy's lap and being with him. Because of this, she is not jealous of other kids climbing on me. If they climb on him it's sometimes a different story. She is more apt to get territorial about him.

Tom says looking at things that I have said here (mainly that the visit went by faster), that it seems like I don't enjoy Anastasia. Please don't get the wrong impression. I am very exicited to take her home and bond with her more there. We have bonded here too, but it's different when you are in such an unnatural situation and you feel like people are watching your every move. Imagine the situation of being in the same room, twice a day, for two hours...every single day. Same thing. Same toys. Same everything. You understand a little? Can I get an amen from someone who knows =).

Okay. So, now that we have that under control, it's time for me to get to some other things. I need to get ready to go visit again. To walk our daily walk to the orphanage that's about 20 minutes, perhaps 15, and to hopefully have some time outside before we get our room time with Ana. If you feel like this post was all over the place, well you are not alone. I feel the same way. That's how my brain works right now...all over the place.

Thank you to all of you who have helped with fund raising to build up Tonya's adoption fund. Hopefully soon I will have news for you that she has a family on the way!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

We're Weirdos and Photos

It is early morning here. Yesterday, you could say my rose colored glasses changed colors a little bit. I noticed some things that I haven't noticed before and perhaps it was due to the different people that were around...or maybe it was just because I was reflecting on missing home the other day. Whatever it was, things were different. Not bad, just different.

It's interesting, you would think that we would encounter more difficulty with older folks if anything. Or more dislike of our country of citizenship. They are the ones that would be more apt to remember the days of...unfortunate relations with the US. That would be my thinking and I would understand if the older folks had a little bit of hard feelings toward us from the "S" days that we don't talk about.

Strangely, the older folks are kind and helpful. We enjoy going through the outdoor market and buying things from the vendors that range more in the age of our parents to grandparents. They are easy to work with and helpful even though we don't speak the language. We can make things work with a pen and paper because numbers look the same. We can say "kilogram" the same way they do, so when buying by weight we can do okay. (But make a note, you don't want to buy a kilogram of bacon. That's a lot. Remember that a kilogram is a little over 2lbs.)

It's when we go into the normal stores...the ones inside buildings, that things are different. I wouldn't say we look that different from the people here, but we definitely stand out. It could be, and probably is, quite a number of things that make us stand out. What happens? When we walk into a store it's like we are wearing clown suits. It's kind of funny actually. The people will call other people over to show them the Americans, they find us amusing. Last night we went into a store and the young woman at the register was weird with us. She kept making glances toward the other girl in the store and either smiling (as in laughing), or a glance similar to eye rolling. It's quite strange and I don't understand. But what can you do =D. This is Ukraine.

I wonder what it will be like when we have Ana out of the orphanage. I wonder what they will look at us like then. What will they think when we are toting around one of the children from their country, one that is not typical to have out and about here on their streets. What will things be like then? Please do not judge the people, for really, they are not unlike our own. 50 years ago, we put our kids with DS in the institutions. 50 years ago, we didn't treat our people with special needs with care. And today, well, today we still don't treat all of them the way that God intends. Today, in our country, we abort them if we know they are coming. Today, we "spare them" of a life that is "not worth living". Today we believe that lie.

I have only known Ana for a short time, but I can tell you that she loves living her life. She is just like our other two children. Seriously, I have never been around a child with DS before. I have zero experience with her diagnosis whatsoever, so I am not "used to it", and there is nothing different about Ana from her siblings. I keep saying, she is very much like your average two year old, and she is. So...I would ask- if your four year old were two, would that make her life not worth living? I just don't get it. I don't understand what makes people think that this little wouldn't be worth having around. I don't understand how not giving her the option of life would make sense.

Sure, she has a heart issue...which is mild in her case, but either way- if someone were pregnant with a child with a heart defect, would the doctor push abortion at them? By no means! They would give all the options available and treat the condition. It's just confusing to me...what makes people so afraid of DS?

Okay, I will climb off that horse now.

Let me end this interesting post about random not beautiful things with something more pretty. I will share some new photos of Ana girl with you =D. Will that make up for the rest of the post? Please excuse, but the room is dark, I have my iso set high and my lens open all the way...still not enough. SO... you have to view them with harsh on camera flash. Yuck! But, she still makes it look cute ;-).

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Growing Pains

There are, as with most things, up days and down days. Today is living more on the other side.

I enjoy Anastasia, and our visit with her was as good as can be. My health is getting better and Tom is nearly completely well. Our walk toward the orphanage was good, and we got picked up by our friend and driver less than halfway there because he saw us and insisted that we let him give us a ride. Nothing is particularly less than great today in most respects. It's just that today...well, today I want to be with my babies. Today I want to hold my Benjamin and kiss his chubby little cheeks while he struggles to get out of my arms for more fun things that are on his agenda. Today I want to snuggle with my Lexi and give her Mommy kisses all over her face while she holds her pink blanket and tells me she loves me too. Today I want to read them stories and make them lunch. I want to smell their smells and feel their chubby little fingers.

Today I want to be with my kids.

Chernovsty is good. As far as travel goes, this place is nice. The people kind, the culture thick, the charm not lacking. But I am not a traveler, and this is not my home.

I want to eat my normal food. I want to feel my bed, in my house. I want my routine, in my town. I want the company of my friends who speak my language in the comfort of my living room. I want my rain (or possibly snow I hear) in my "dreary" Pacific Northwest.

Today I want to be home.

Even with the road paved perfectly before us, the Lord clearly going ahead of us to ready our path, it is not always easy. We have had things very easy so far, completely uneventful. Yet, I still want to be home.

My baby is clingy and sad, he wants his mommy and daddy and I can't give that to him. My big girl has been a little sick and wants her normal routine back...I also can't give that to her. I want to. I want the same things they want, but this is not in my power. God has called us to this mission at this time. God has given us the gift of Ana, and we are excited to bring her home. It just so happens that this little blessing that we are adding to our family this time is half way across the world. This is just part of the work that it takes to get her.

Alexis and Benjamin came with discomfort of their own. There was geography change involved there too...it's just that it was the north and south of my body. There was traveling involved, and even pain. But God blessed us with them and nothing worth so much is easy to get. This discomfort is temporary and it is worth the end result. But that doesn't change that I would rather be home today.

I say this not to complain, so don't get the wrong idea. I want you to know that, while adoption is worth the things you must go through (and I know I will still feel that way in a year), it's not all cheery and rosy. The travel is nice and you get to see a new place, but it's still not always peachy. God doesn't call us to peachy. God calls us to things that make us grow.

It's time to go see our girl for our second visit of the day, so I will have to go now. Thanks for listening to my growing pains for today.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Driving...

There is much to be said about drivers in Ukraine. Much that would terrify and bewilder you. But, I feel that I should give you the reality of the situation so that you know the truth.

While it appears that people here are out of their minds and desire to come within an inch of their lives, in truth they are brilliant and skilled. Now, don't get me wrong, I am not saying that I wish us to change the way things are done at home. By no means! Most of us lack the skill to be capable of such things. But here, where all drivers learn this way from the start there is something to be said. I do not care for the lack of seatbelts and the wearing of them. I will give you that. But when I am in the car and it takes until reaching nearly 140 KPM (nearly 87 MPH), that says something. I am a fearful passenger at home, pushing that invisible passenger brake every five minutes...but here, I am content to sit and look out the window while the driver pushes and shoves his was around with his vehicle like nobody's business. Here, I don't reach nervous very often. Here I reamin calm while they drive in a way that I would be screaming at home.

On second thought, I'm not sure it's the driver at all. I might be all on someone else. My fear being released and a calm state taking over... like an peace that makes no sense. Like a peace that surpasses all understanding ;-).

Yep, I will give credit where credit is due. Lord, thank you. Thank you for taking over and bringing peace to this normally uptight body. I couldn't make it through this trip without you. Couldn't do it on so many levels.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Meeting Anastasia

Okay folks, I have so much to say and not a lot of time to write it tonight. So...I am going to post some photos to appease you for the time being and then try to write tomorrow. The first two days in region are very busy because the facilitator is trying to get so much paperwork done. It's crazy! No sleep for a long time and lots of car travel and waiting.
I will tell you the important details right now though. We met Anastasia yesterday. It was the best first meeting we could pray for. We met with the orphanage director and then they took us upstairs to meet Anastasia. The moment they opened the door to the room she was playing in and called her name, she came running out the door. They didn't have to tell her what to do or who to go to, she ran straight for Daddy and jumped up into his arms. Almost before he could even register what was going on =). It was very sweet and she is quite attached to her Daddy. (Sounds like her siblings at home...) We have enjoyed playing with her and loving on her. She is actually quite mellow and doesn't seem to like playing extremely actively (though she can be active when she wants to!). She likes to sit and cuddle, and she likes quiet activities. We took a photo album today and she flipped through the pages for our whole hour. That's all she wanted to do. Tom tried to take the album and play other games with her and she would have none of that. She just wanted to sit in Papa's lap and flip pages. Yesterday was bubbles. She loved those as well and wanted to figure it out all by herself. That seems to be something she likes to- to do everything by herself like a little adult. She copies all of the things that Tom does and tries to be like him. He lays down, she is right down next to him. He stands, she is standing too. When we were outside today we sat at a picnic table that she led us to. She sat down first and folded her hands and looked. I am not sure if this is something they do before eating, or if she has seen adults fold their hands, but it was very cute. The director told us that she loved this baby doll that they had. She would carry it around like a little mother almost like it was a real baby (also sounds familiar...like Alexis). Unfortunately the other kids broke the doll, so she doesn't have it anymore. I guess she used to even sleep with it. First on the list of things to get- a babydoll =).

So, that was our meeting. On the adoption side of things, we have court next Thursday, the 10th of December. Yulia says the likelyhood of our 10 days being waved is low, and I'm not sure she is even going to ask for it. We will see... But still be praying for that for us. If it was waved we could be home for Christmas with all of our children under one roof. That is something that we hope, pray, and dream for, but we also trust God's timing and know that if we don't get to be home for Christmas it isn't because He can't do it, but because His purpose is for us to be here right now. We trust Him fully and know that wherever we are it will be His will. We are excited at how quickly court will happen and how wonderful things have been here.

Something super exciting- we got our apartment for the month...the WHOLE month (which we probably won't need the entire thing...) for $300!!! That's $10 per night, which is AMAZING! All praise goes to God for that one. Definatley something that He made happen for us. The woman who owns the apartment just finished remodeling it (very nice inside). She has two apartments and works at Children's Services (the place that first approved us to adopt in region). She doesn't rent it all the time and it isn't for business. She just thought she would make some extra money. It very much blessed us! We had in our budget for $60 per night. That means we saved a lot of money by her generous offer.

Our driver in region is also very affordable. He charges $5 an hour...well, 40 Hryvnya which is pretty much $5. We tried to tip him 20 Hryvnya after yesterday's LONG day where he was with us all day and he wouldn't let us. $2.50 is seriously no big deal dude! But he wouldn't allow it. This morning he brought us apples from his garden and tomorrow he said he was going to bring us honey from his friend who makes it. He also invited Tom to have some Vodka with him LOL. He said you can't be in Ukraine and not have Vodka, it's a tradition. It's a man's drink. Then he told him that it is the medicine that he needs for his cough.

He has taken such good care to make sure that we are comfortable and get the things we need. He picks up on little things we say and makes it happen. Yesterday he took us to the resaurant that his wife works at and had them make us traditional Western Ukrainian food. Yulia, our facilitator, told us that it was her first time trying it too. It was like a corn meal porridge that was firm and on a platter. She cut it with something that resembled dental floss. You take that piece of porridge and put some very salty white cheese on top followed by their version of bacon. They don't fry it in strips here, they just cook up chunks of bacon. It was delicious. Tom already wants to have it again =). They also gave us dumplings with potato in them and some sourkraut soup (I'm not sure what you call it). All of it was very good, but I was so full after just the soup that I couldn't eat much of the dumplings or the cheese/bacon dish. Today I mentioned that I wanted to try Borshch. I asked if they make it at his wife's resaurant. He told me that it was gross with his face and shook his head no (HA), so I didn't think we were going to try it. For lunch, he took us to another place that he knew the lady and had already prepared for her to serve us borshch. It was very good =). I think he took us to a person who makes it the way he likes it.

So, now Yulia is headed home and we are here alone to visit Ana everyday. It's about a twenty minute walk to her orphanage, so we will walk in the morning and then have our driver take us for our eveing appointment. We would like the ride when it is dark outside because it gets a little cold in the night air. He can also take us to dinner if we want him to. He said any time we want him to take us to eat, just call Yulia and have her tell him. (He doesn't speak English) We actually spent a lot of time in the car today, waiting for documents to be done by Yulia (man that woman is busy on days like the first ones in country). So...we figured out ways to talk with him. For a long time we were using gestures and a little bit of our Ukrainian language book, and we did okay with that. Then later we got our modem for the computer so that we can have internet wherever we are. It's a wireless one. We tried it out in the car while waiting for Yulia to get our court date and I had the idea to use Google translate to speak with him. He was SO excited. It was funny...he thought it was the coolest thing that we could type what we wanted to say on the computer and he could read in his language. He told us he has internet on his phone, so he could e-mail with us that way =).

Okay, time for me to get back to bed. Hope to share more with you tomorrow, though I wrote more than I ever intended to do tonight already.
Also, please check out the family blog Pure Mommy Extract so that you can see Ana's friend Tonya. There is a family that wants to bring Tonya home, but isn't able to pay for the adoption. Please consider donating to Tonya's fund this week so that this family can commit to Tonya right away. If 1090 people donated just $20 to Tonya's fund that would cover the cost of her adoption. So, please spread the word and raise these funds. I know we can do it!

Monday, November 30, 2009

SDA Appointment

My turn...this is Tom. Amber is sleeping since our schedule is still a little wacky and she has no energy after running around all day.

We went to our SDA appointment today and it was much less intimidating than we thought it would be (Thank you Ellen, Andy, and Frank for the information ahead of time so we weren't worrying so much!). We didn't get much new information about Ana because there wasn't much in her file unfortunately, but was also expected. She has Down Syndrome (knew that), a heart condition (non-specific, also knew), and is near-sighted (that's new information, but sight problems are typical so we thought this would be the case). Ana was born in the city the orphanage is in so that will help reduce the time it takes to get her birth certificate and hopefully get us home faster. Her mother and father's parental rights were terminated when she was a baby for unknown reasons. Father is unknown. Mother lives nearby in a small village and "work's and is not an alcoholic".

We are very lucky to have the team we have here, they are doing an amazing job, and the lady at the SDA was great too. Their hard work allowed us to get our referral today too, only a few hours after our original SDA appointment. We can legally go see Ana in her region now! We will be heading to her region by mini-van tonight, it is about a 6-8 hour drive, depending on who tells us and who is driving! ;)

We also were given a baby photo of Ana wearing a onesie that says "Mommy's Little Alarm Clock". It was quite a surprise! (I'm pretty sure they weren't supposed to give away the photo because they told us to hide it.) We will post it soon.

We are not sure what the Internet situation will be like in region so it might be a little bit before we update again. Please continue to pray for our health (both of us still have runny noses and coughs, Amber is not feeling well at all and has low energy).

We finally get to meet our girl tomorrow!!!


Sunday, November 29, 2009


When we left home, we had planned to visit with another family or two while here in the capital that are adopting through Reece’s Rainbow. It was in the plans, but truthfully it wasn’t that big a deal to me. It would be nice to meet other people that were going through and doing the same things we were doing, but I just thought of it the same as if I were meeting new people at home.

We left our apartment at 3 in the afternoon to go and get some food and to look around a little bit. It is so very easy to get lost around here! The signs are all in another language and the buildings aren’t different enough to me that I felt confident in finding our home again. So…since there are a lot of places to buy food on our street, we were just going to stay on it. We decided to head for the big building with the TGI Friday’s that we had been told about. Our driver/translator Nicholay had told us that there was a Ukrainian place near it that had good food and very good prices, so we thought we would try for that.

Down the street we walked, not sure of how things work around here and noticing the differences from home. Here, as I would imagine big cities at home are like too, the people are more aggressive with their crossing the street and with their driving around pedestrians. You kind of start to cross the street and have to watch for cars to make sure they are not coming at you. It’s a bit scary at first. Then, there is that they park on the sidewalk, so you have to be watching the whole time you are walking to make sure that people aren’t trying to leave a spot, or park in a spot on the sidewalk. I should mention they are very wide though. It’s not a narrow sidewalk like at home, so there is still room to walk.

Once we got to the street we needed to cross in order to get to the building we were going for…well, we had a problem. We couldn’t cross the street. They had some fence type barriers that are permanently up and no crosswalk. We figured we would just walk up to the next block and cross there. Nope. Couldn’t cross there either. And now we were getting off of our street and I was getting nervous about getting lost. I wanted to turn back and go the way we knew, but Tom thought it would be a good idea to walk around the block and then back to our street that way. So, we decided to go his way. Only problem is that it DIDN’T go back to our street and we were getting lost. We were lost.

Just as we were turning around to go back the way we had come from and retrace our steps, we got a phone call. It was Ellen who is here with her husband Andy adopting a little girl in a nearby location. They have been in Kiev for a few weeks and we had planned on meeting them. I had left her an e-mail earlier with our Ukrainian cell phone number and so she called to see if we wanted to meet up with them. “Where are you right now?” was her question. “Ummm…well, we don’t know. Kind of lost at the moment.” was my reply. “Sounds pretty normal.” she laughed.

Okay, well I guess that getting lost is part of finding where you are. You can learn the area better if you get lost I suppose. So, she was at a coffee shop and described a store that we had walked by. I told her we could look for it- and then I saw that it was at the end of the street we were on. Yeay! We were going to be unlost! I noticed a big coffee cup on a sign in front of me, but the store was on the other side of the street and I thought that it was on the same side as the store. So, as I walked by the big coffee cup I told her that we should find them in a minute. We wandered over and didn’t see a coffee shop. Tom said, “There was a coffee shop back there…” and I told him that I saw it too and had thought about asking her if she was in that one, but then didn’t. Funny enough, when we were back to it and about to walk in- Ellen calls us. “Are you just walking in?” (Thank goodness for blogs =D. It sure helps when you know what someone looks like when you are trying to find them.) They had been right next to us while we were talking on the phone.

We sat in the coffee shop for a few minutes with them and talked plenty. When you have been only around people that don’t speak words you can understand, with signs that you can’t read (remember we were in the airport in Germany for a long time too…though they do know English enough that you can get around just fine), well when you have been in that for awhile there is instant connection with people who speak your language and are from where you are from. There were no awkward silences, there was no uncomfortable meeting time, it was just like meeting friends. It was wonderful! It was such a blessing to have people here to show us around and tell us the little things we needed to know. Things that people who live here might not think to tell us since it’s just normal to them. Frank, who is adopting a little girl at the same orphanage as Ellen, came in a short time later. He has been here for nearly a month and his wife got to go home awhile ago. He is already through his 10 day waiting period and is in the stages of getting his daughter’s paperwork in line to bring her home. Frank introduced himself as our tour guide =D. When Andy and Ellen got here he showed them around and told them the little details and they seem to have built a nice friendship. We left the coffee shop in order to get a meal. We were no longer in fear of getting lost because we had friends who knew where we were. AND, it turns out that Frank’s apartment is just next door. His apartment is in the next building.

So…do you remember how we couldn’t cross the street? Well, it turns out that the big stairs that lead to underground are NOT for the metro…well, at least not JUST for the metro. They are stairs that lead you under the street to the other side. And guess what? These people have a whole mall under there with shops all over the place. You can walk around under a big section of the city where it is warm and safe from cars, then just surface when you get to where you want to go. Now, it would take awhile to learn when to come up and when to go down, but it’s very neat. So, we learned to cross the street. Thanks Frank, Andy, and Ellen =).

Our dinner was at an Italian place. Interestingly, if you ask for “English menu” when you walk in, lots of places have a menu in English that you can read. I was just looking at pictures until I looked down and realized that the word “soup” is totally an English word. I can read the menu? Ellen then explained asking for “English menu” when you come in. I doubt that it will be so easy in region, that they will have a menu we can read, but for now it’s helpful. I had spaghetti and Tom had another type of pasta that had a spicy red sauce. We sat for a long time with our new friends and talked in the smoke filled, but otherwise beautiful restaurant. Here you can sit for a long time and chat at the table and we are told they don’t bring you a bill until you ask for it. You can sit for hours just chatting and talking and they don’t care. Very different from home.

It was interesting. I wasn’t expecting it to be so easy meeting people that I had barely spoken with online. I wasn’t expecting it to be something that changed my whole outlook on our situation. I wasn’t expecting to feel like “friends” that fast. But that’s what it was like. That was the reality of the situation. I think it’s interesting how different reality is from the way we imagine things will be, and I expect that a lot of my pre-arrival thoughts will be different from reality during this trip.

Today I learned just how much God created us for community. I knew this before, that it is important for us to have other people in our lives and to have community, but I didn’t know it like this. Today I felt for the first time, this way, a bond over simple commonality. It didn’t matter what things they liked to do for fun, it didn’t matter what their employment was, whether they home school or public school, what style clothing they wore, how they vote, or what type of church they go to. It just mattered that we were connected by the simple things. We speak English, and we are American.

This got me thinking about our commonality in Christ and how it should be like this. It was meant to be like this. We can have different likes and dislikes, we can have different political views, and we can come from different backgrounds, but we should have a common bond that instantly makes us feel at home. We are ALL in a world that is not our own, longing for a home that we don’t even remember but we know is there. We are ALL in the same boat, we are ALL in a foreign land that has customs and ways that are not like our own. It is my prayer that I can grow this kind of love and attitude toward all those that are in my family in Christ through all times. It is my prayer that we will recognize that we don’t have permanent resident cards in this world, but that we are here on business. Our father’s business. Let us keep our minds on His work and remember the bond that we have with our brothers and sisters through Him and by Him.

Today I learned that such things are truly important.

The Travel

Emotion. Exhaustion. Concentration. These have filled the last day or two for us.

Our little children, the people that my life centers around each day are not here. It’s strange to not have them with me, it’s weird to be alone with my husband. Alone, traveling through airports and foreign countries. It’s different, but we have clearly had our Lord with us the whole way.

Our flight from Seattle to Frankfurt was wonderful. Perfect, at least nearly perfect. Tom seems to think that the landing deserved a mid-class rating, he has had better and he has had worse. I however don’t travel much at all and I don’t like flying at all, so when I can come down and not get too worked up…well, that’s a good landing to me.

Usually when I think of God having plans for a flight, my mind hovers around the idea of us blessing or ministering to others. Even if it’s being in a joyful mood, reflecting God’s peace and His love can stand out. I didn’t even have to try to do that (which is the way it should be). I was joyful and surprisingly at peace for most of our flight. Tom and I were seated together, so there weren’t any long conversations with strangers that were seated next to us. I do love those conversations though and I had a couple of short ones with people that weren’t seated directly next to us. Through this WE were blessed.

As we got situated on our flight I just sat and listened to all that was going on around us. I don’t like to talk much while preparing for a flight, I like to focus on calming myself. I noticed that the lady seated behind us was speaking with the flight attendant (we were nearly the last row at the back of the plane). She was very talkative and joyful, excited to go and visit her grandchildren in Rome. I even mentioned to Tom “someone is joyful today…”.

In the mid part of our flight I stood up for a little bit in my seat area to stretch out for a little while. We ended up talking for some time about her grandkids, where we all lived, her parents who had lived with her for a couple years before passing in the last two years. Just chatting. She told us her destination of Rome, we told her about our final landing place of Ukraine. We shared about our kids- all of them. We told her about Ana, and how we were excited to meet her and bring her home, but that it was also hard to leave such little kids at home, but that it was all part of the process and we knew it would be good because the Lord had planned each step of the way.

We finished talking and got back to our viewing. How blessed we were to have the individual screens on the back of each seat as well. That sure made the 10 hour flight seem much shorter. We were only a couple of minutes back into our shows, when our new friend peeked between the seats and started talking to us. She had some cash in her hand and asked if it was okay if…and she saw the look on my face and said, “Use it for your little girl when you get her, or have a celebration dinner when you get to her.” And she was insistent, so we allowed her to bless us (well, Ana…because we will use it for things she needs). She said that we had made her flight (right…WE made HER flight…I think it was the other way around). SEE- I am growing in my ability to receive. I didn’t fight her too much =). I have learned through our giving that it really is a blessing to give and that it’s important to allow others to bless us in all different ways as well.

Later, as I was fixing things in my purse so that we could prepare to exchange for Euros in the airport, I saw how much she gave us. Twenty would have been an amazing gift from someone on an airplane that we had never met. Heck, $10 would have been! But she slipped us $100! It nearly made me cry when I realized that. What a generous woman to even think of giving that much to a family that she had never met, that she would never see again.

That was our airplane experience, then came the long wait at the Frankfurt airport. We had planned on leaving the airport for a little while, but when we got there we had a hard enough time getting food for ourselves that we decided to stay in the airport. It wouldn’t have been fun to get lost and I think that to forgo getting lost would require brain function. Brain function was not something that was being experienced anywhere near full capacity. It was best to stay.

You see, I was tired at 4pm our time. That’s two hours after we left home folks. I am used to getting a small nap in lately, and I had been doing a lot in preparation for our departure, so I was tired. Unfortunately, I am not gifted with sleeping on an airplane while pregnant in the same way I have been in the past. It just didn’t work. SO…we got to Frankfurt a bit tired and in need of sleep. We walked around the airport for a bit and ate something, then we searched out a spot to sleep for a little while.

We ended up stepping out of security to these lounging chairs (and don’t get the idea that they were cozy by the word lounging because that wasn’t the case) and tried to sleep for awhile. Tom didn’t even try. It was too loud and there was too much going on. I rested my eyes and tried to sleep, I was just not able to fully fall asleep. You know, you need to be laying down. That’s the whole issue with the airplane- not laying down enough.

We went back through security and had some lunch, played a game, and spent time wandering the airport. Then we found it. We found a special spot that was empty of passengers waiting to board with long rows of chairs. It was void of most noise, and contained only sleeping and silent people. It was great! Tom hesitated to lay down, but after I talked him into it he quickly fell asleep. I slept for a bit, but one of us should really be awake to make sure nothing happens to our luggage that is with us, so I started typing this for you =).

Toward the end of our stay at the lovely (expensive I might add) Frankfurt Airport, I started to get sick. It was pretty terrible and not fun at all being sick in an airport in a foreign country. We were lucky to only have a few people at our gate waiting, perhaps because we were there 4 or 5 hours early. I layed across some chairs and tried not to focus on feeling sick. Tom prayed for me and I took some medicine and started to feel a little better right before out flight. I was not up to par, but was at least not loosing my stomach every 10 minutes, which is what the airport was like.

And a note about German airports, or at least Frankfurt, I have to say that their soap smells very good. And...they keep the bathrooms cleaned ALL the time. I'm pretty sure there was almost always someone cleaning the bathroom when one of us would go to use one. Sanitation gets an A from me, but expense...well, I won't even go there.

When we stepped off of our plane, we were outside. It was like that in Germany too. Now, I don't travel much, so I am not sure if they do that in the US in some places or not, but it was different to me. It was good, we just got on a bus that took us to the building, where it was time for customs. The moment we walked into the airport, haze. It was filled. with. smoke. Uggh, not something I really want to be in, especially while pregnant!

We had filled out our forms and were the last in line, when we went up to make it through security. It had a blank for where we were staying that asked for address, and since we didn't have one that we knew of, we just didn't fill it in. Well, we got sent back (and put the name of the capital city in hopes that would be enough even though we weren't going to stay there). Then as we were writing it in, a HUGE line of new people came in and got in line. We had to wait a whole lot longer to get through. I'm pretty sure out poor driver thought that we would never get there!

As we were walking out of customs, we met with our driver Nicholay (I hope I spelled it right). He was wonderful. He was very kind and showed us everything we would need- that night. At 2am. When he had to get up and be at the airport to pick up another family at noon! And today is his birthday (or tomorrow....I'm not sure because when he said it I wasn't sure if he meant later that day, since it was 2am...or Monday). He helped us with exchange of money, took us to grocery stores (2 of them and showed us another) within walking distance of our apartment. He told us all that we would need to know and answered any questions we had. I very much like him.

Our apartment is much larger than I expected. I guess I was picturing a hotel type size, like a bedroom, bathroom and kitchenette. I will try to post pictures later for you to see what it looks like.

So, that extremely long post is all I have for now for you. We are getting ready to go out for a bit now. We are going to check out the city and some restaurants, and perhaps try to meet with two other couples that are here right now.

Prayer that we need:

Our health, especially protection for the baby. I was cramping a bit this morning, and though I don't think it was a big deal it still makes me a bit cautious. We are around second hand smoke and different foods...it's all a lot for the system to adjust to. And then the lack of sleep and time change isn't totally easy on the body, making things less strong for fighting off illness.

Alexis and Ben. They were both sick after we left and Alexis came down with a pretty high fever of 102. My mom said she was miserable and watched television and drank juice all day. She seems to be feeling better now. Ben wasn't feeling great when we left either, but seems to be okay now too. Please pray for their health.

Our appointment with the SDA tomorrow. This is where we should get our referral for Ana! Pray that all goes well and that we get our appointment that day so we can go and see her. Depending on what time we get our referral (a piece of paper), we could travel out Monday! That means we could meet our little girl as early as Tuesday. Of course, it's possible that we won't get our referral until Tuesday as well, so when we meet her is kind of unpredictable right now.

That's all I have for you right now. I will update perhaps later today after we explore and also try to put some pictures up for you. It sure is a place filled with beautiful culture. The supermarket we went to last night was just beautiful!

Until later-

Friday, November 27, 2009

On our way!

We are finally at the airport on our way to Ukraine! First we will stop in Germany for a 14 hour layover, then we will go on to Ukraine after that.

I will try to update, even if I can only get on for a short time, when we get to Frankfurt so that you know we arrived safely. After that I am not sure when I will get computer time again with internet, but I will update when I can.

So excited to be leaving...yet it's also very hard when we have to leave our little ones at home. We both miss them already.

Off we go....

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Long Overdue

I haven't updated in a long time, so we have had quite a bit happen that I need to share.

We got our fingerprinting done with the US government, followed by getting approval to adopt from this side (US). We finished up our paperwork by getting some official seals put on all of the documents in the state capitol. Then...we mailed our dossier off to Ana's country!

We mailed out a little over a week ago. Hopefully it will be received soon and things can move on there.

What happens next? Well, our documents will be translated and then submitted to the government in Ana's country. Submitting is done on Mondays, so we hope for this coming Monday, or perhaps the next Monday. We will have to wait and see. Then we will get a travel date not too long after that. We are hoping to travel by the end of this month! It seems so strange to finally say that. As quick as our adoption has been, it still feels like a long time to wait.

All that is left for us to do is pack...and pray. We have been so blessed by the Lord with much of our financial needs provided. We started out needing $24,000. We now need a little over $7,000. How wonderful is that!?

Now we just wait and see how God provides the rest of that $7,000 for us in the next week to week and a half =).

Thanks for all the support and prayers. I am excited to be writing you soon from Ana's country!

...when we fly out I will probably use this blog, but will need to make it private until we return. If you would like to be invited so that you have access to the blog, please leave a comment with your e-mail, or send it in an e-mail to anadoption@gmail.com.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Update on Totals Raised

I said I would update after the last garage sale and then life got away from me. Our total for both garage sales so far is $1,353.05 . That leaves our earnings at $8,033.30 so far in all. We are trucking along toward our goal of $24,000 for the total cost of Ana's adoption.

Thank you to all who have participated so far in the raising of those funds. There have been many people that have contributed in many different ways and we are thankful for all of them.

As far as where we are in process, we have sent in our USCIS application and are just waiting for them to give us an appointment for the federal fingerprinting and then for approval through them. Then cannot give us that until our homestudy is complete. Hopefully that will be done soon as well. I will try to keep you posted!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Donated Hanging Flower Baskets!

Today we had an amazing surprise: Steve at Kent Nursery in Orting donated 100 hanging flower baskets! Truly amazing!

We will be selling them for $15 each hanging basket Saturday the 20th from 10a-4p or until we run out! They are a beautiful mix of flowers and normally retail for $30-$45 each!

You can find them at the same address the garage sales were located. If you need the address or directions simply comment or send an email to anadoption@gmail.com and I will respond as soon as possible with that information.

Below is the Kent Nursery information. Give this amazing company your business!

Kent Nursery Inc
15310 176th St E
Orting, WA 98360

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Needles and the Paper Trail

Well, my needle quota for this child (Ana) is nearly finished. I will have to get some shots later, but I finished my medical testing where they draw blood and gave a TB test and all that jazz. I personally have a huge fear of needles, so it's good to have out of the way. Tom on the other hand handles it well.

How is it that he is the one that doesn't have an issue with needles, yet I am the one that has to be poked so often during pregnancy? At least with Ana we both have to get the same things done. This time it's even pain =).

So, as far as updates go, we have pretty much all of our paperwork done! We have a couple little blanks to fill in that we don't have info on for Ana, and we need copies of our passports and birth certificates. Those will come together in the mail in the next week or two we are hoping. When they come we will be sending in our I-600a and hopefully getting our completed homestudy soon after. Once we get approved on our I-600a we will send our dossier, which is nearly completed as stated above. Then it's wait again. I'd rather be waiting than rushing though. At least then I know it's in God timing and not waiting for me to get things done. I can procrastinate, but once it's out of my hands I know that things are going perfectly according to His plan and His will. And truly that's all that we desire, for her to come home in His perfect time.

That's all I have for now. Our next garage sale is scheduled for the 12th and 13th of this month, so if you would be in prayer for that to go well and be productive for us that would be great!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Garage Sale: Part One

Today was our first garage sale of the season, and I think it went well. Vicky, Taylor, Zack, Tom, and I spent the day selling quite a bit of our donated stuff. We started at 9 am, though really we ended up starting around 8:15 because that's when we were setting up and we had a steady stream of people starting at that point.

The morning was very busy. We didn't even get half the stuff out until 10 or so because we were so busy selling away....and there was so much stuff to get out thanks to our lovely generous people that donated so much.

And the grand total for the day? $632.90! That was pretty good for our first sale. We also figured out a few things that we will change for next time that I think will make it even better. It was a very successful day for us.

Thank you to all who donated to the sale and to all who showed up to purchase things. We are very blessed people.

Our oldest "helping".

The baby was cheering us on!

My sister, Taylor, put a lot of effort into the entire process of the garage sale. She even made little rainbow pins for people to wear if they donated. They were very cute!

Tom refused to have his picture taken. I'm pretty sure he was just being silly.

More of that cheerful baby boy. I love his happy attitude. He is much nicer than his sister when he wakes up =).

Vicky also worked her buns off today. She was also kind enough to bring coffee for the crew this morning. That was greeted with joyful chorus.

Zack likes to pretend that he is a teenage boy that doesn't care, but he sat outside watching everyone all day. He was interested. He also helped with a lot of the preparations for today's sale.

Of course I don't have a picture of myself as usual, but I do have proof in the form of a sunburn that I was there. That's just a normal part of the photographer's life- no pictures of me.

If anyone is interested in helping with the next garage sale, we found that we really could use more hands. We would like to do our next sale on Friday and Saturday, but we will have to especially find people willing to help on the Friday. Just e-mail me at anadoption@gmail.com if you are interested in helping in that way.

Thanks again to all who were a part of making this first sale such a success. We still have more than half of what we started with this morning too!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Sanity. I want to keep it during this process and it seems this is achievable. You want to know how? Delegation.

I am so lucky to have such great support from family and friends that are willing to do what needs to be done. I have many things to do, and they could take over my life, but because of helpful people in my life I am not overwhelmed.

Special thanks to my Mom, Lisa. She is heading up the fund raising team. Does this mean that I am not extremely involved in that part of things? No sir. But she is the main go-to lady when it comes to all things fund raising. She is the head of that. That helps with stress big time.

Also thanks to Vicky. She is heading up the research department. There are so many things that I need to find out from day to day right now, it can be a lot at first. Can I do this paperwork yet? What do I need for that? Does such and such need to be a certified copy, or can that one be notarized? Lots of stuff. Usually I can figure it on my own, but if it's something that I am just getting hung up on I ask her to figure it out. She majored in European studies and has traveled way more than I ever hoped to (I do not like travel at all), so it's a good area to have her in.

So, my advice is to delegate anything that you can if you decide to go through the adoption process. Hopefully you are lucky like us and have a great support system that is filled with people that want something to do to help you. This ensures that I have time with my kids and still get to live a semi normal life until Ana gets home.

You guys are a blessing =).

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Ana Button

When we were praying and waiting for God to lead us to Ana, I was routed to Reece's Rainbow through a post on My Charming Kids about Lucille who is passionate about this ministry. She was kind enough to make a button for Ana so that you can add it to your sidebar and have it lead here so that we can spread the word about our beautiful Ana.

If you would like to add the button you can feel free to pick up the html code below and post it to your blog's sidebar.

The code will produce this on your website:
Grab This Button

For Smaller Sidebars Use This Code

The code will produce this on your website:
Grab This Button

Friday, May 22, 2009

I love when the Lord sends verses of encouragement.

And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. Matthew 18:5

Just thinking of you and praying for you today, my little Ana.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Home Study

Last night was our first visit for our home study. It went really well and we are very pleased with the social worker that we have. He seemed to be very supportive and it looks like we will be able to get approval for two children, both will be approved for special needs. We don't know what God's plan is for a second child and whether we will bring home two at this point or not, but we want to be prepared to carry out His will either way.

Also, big praise about the finances so far! In the first week of our adoption process God provided us with over $4,000. Isn't that amazing!? We have all the funding we need for our next step, we are just waiting on our passports to come in. If you want to be in prayer for quick return of those that would be wonderful. We are at peace with however long that takes because we know that it will happen perfectly according to God's will.

Thank you all for continued prayers for our family and for Ana. We appreciate it all.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Why us?

Our decision to adopt Ana is very recent. The question we get often is, "Why?" Why do we need to do this right now? Why do it at all? You can always do this later when you don't have such young children and when you have more money. There are so many answers to this question...

My first answer is, would you rather us leave her there to be transferred to an institution and likely die within the next year? In other countries it is common at the fourth birthday for a child with Down Syndrome to be sent to an institution where 85% of them die within a year of that transfer. Even if they do live, it is not a healthy or happy life at all.

Second, God called us to her. We felt like God was going to grow our family a short time before we found Ana. At first we thought it would be the good old fashioned way, but then we realized that we were being asked to adopt. I landed upon a site called Reece's Rainbow during my normal online activities one day. It was right after I had been praying for our unknown children. Right away, I knew that this was the place we would be adopting from. I was nervous about my husband's agreement, after all, we had not been talking about a child with special needs. Adoption was a big enough jump in itself. He was supportive and in agreement very quickly.

We were led to Ana after a middle of the night burden to pray. I had seen her face before and been drawn to her, but we didn't think that she fit our search. (I felt, and still feel that there are two little girls for our family. We don't know if we will bring two home right now, or if it will be another child that is in our future.) She was the first face that I saw on the site at that time and immediately I knew that she was our daughter.

The day after that we had our first appointment with a social worker scheduled for just one week later and a lot of work to do. It's all been going very quickly and we hope this continues to be the case for Ana's sake. We cannot be guaranteed that she will not be transferred to an institution while waiting for us, we have to work quickly. We have to pray that God will prevent this imminent transfer.

Why us? Why now? Because we have seen the need and cannot close our eyes to it. We have felt God's call and cannot deny Him. Christ tells us to take care of the fatherless, to open our doors to the needy. We cannot leave this little girl and think someone else will take her, someone else will save her. She is ours to save and she has blessed our lives already.

We do not see our decision as a burden, but as a blessing. We have already been blessed greatly by Ana and we have not even met her. Our lives will change when she joins our family and we believe that it will be a wonderful blessing from God. Thank you Lord for the opportunity to add Ana to our lives. Your blessings are abundant and beyond what we deserve!