Sunday, December 29, 2013


Waiting isn't easy. It is actually harder than I ever imagined, sometimes, at night, there is such a weight in my chest that I feel physical pain across my shoulders, back, and chest. The stress of the last 4 weeks has been more than I believe I have ever experienced. 

Tomorrow we will try one last time to get our papers in to be filed before the holiday starts here. If we miss tomorrow, or there is another problem with a paper, we will have to re-evaluate our plan.... And I don't even want to think about what options will have to be on the table as far as our timeline. 

So far everyone that needs to help us tomorrow has said they would be willing to help, and that is apparently a big deal. Sometimes around the holidays, some people just kinda start to shut down and not want to deal with it until after... So, we hope. We pray. We try to relax and enjoy moments of peace and fun with our family complete. It's really pretty crazy.... Josiah and Lydia even sleep better when Lena is with us! 

Tonight, after church, we ate some quick dinner, and then got on the metro to head home. We were on the metro with another adoptive mom who is staying in the house with us, her daughter, and the couple that we live with... Who are the pastors of the church. 

I was walking out of the metro towards their car and Josiah was holding the hands of the pastor and his wife, walking between them...  I was holding Lydia, and Lena was laughing with the other adopted girl.... It was a moment that i could just sit back and watch. 

The only word that came to my mind was "blessed." 

In the middle of a country straining under the pressure of finding middle ground... In the middle of a nightmare of paperwork in an adoption process... With language and being complicated at best... We are staying in a home with people that feel like family... Who love on my kids... And my kids love them... 

We are blessed. 

Our relationship with Lena is progressing very well. We love her so much.... She responds to us very well, both in the fun moments, and in the moments of correction. She already takes care of Josiah and Lydia..... And also drives them crazy like a big sister should do. They do their share of frustrating her too when they wake her up in the mornings..... I sit back and smile :) 

We are blessed. 

We had a Christmas party here his weekend with other adoptive families... We had chocolate chip cookies, salads, chips and drinks, just like we would have had in the US.... The kids played (some on their electronics) we took photos in front of the Christmas tree... Just like you guys have been doing over the last month. 

We are blessed. 

We chose Lena's court dress today, and we went to buy her shoes to go with it tonight. She didn't pick anything like I would have chosen..... But isn't that typical for a teenager? :) (shoes have some awesome prices here! We got some fun ankle boots for her for about $8!!) 

I am blessed. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Worth it.

Looking at this blank page. 

Thoughts running over about the events going on in our process right now and what happened today.

Not sure how to even start. 

We are here. Indefinitely delayed. Beyond our control. Motives being questioned.

The country is in turmoil. As is my heart.

My daughter is waiting. So am I. 

Our family at home is celebrating. 

It just turned midnight. It is officially Christmas Eve. Doesn't feel like it.

We gave some gifts to kids tonight. 

To hear a 16 year old exclaim that her world was spinning because of a golden locket necklace.... Overwhelming.

To see two boys looking at their new watches like it was the only thing they ever wanted.

To hug the sweet girl that got a necklace, and smell the perfume being enjoyed by the 15 year old. 

To watch my own kids love on and be loved on by those who need love.

To observe my future daughter open a small doll and exclaim "klahs" ..... Meaning "cool!" Like it was one of the best gifts she has ever received.

It is more than I have words for. 

The tears flowed tonight. For many reasons. Awe. Fear. Amazement. Frustration. Beauty. Agony. 

Love. Tears flowed because of love. 

Do you have extra? 




I know some kids who need you. A precious boy, dear to my heart.... Who took Josiah in his arms to help him with a video game, and then later brought out his own remote controlled car.... Undoubtedly a prized possession.... None of them have many things of their own.... He Carefully Put the controller into the clumsy hands of a 3 year old, And patiently taught Josiah how to drive it.

A sweet girl that put extra bows and clips in Lydia's hair and carried her around calling her "Julia" all night. I didn't have the heart to tell her that was my name..... Lydia responded to her every time. Did she know? 

The kids that are at the orphanage that don't live in the flat with Lena.... We couldn't give them all gifts. there are just so many. 

They have names. Faces. Stories. Hearts. Lives. Hopes. Dreams. Passion. Excitements. Fears. 

What they don't have is one.thing.


Oh, some have parents living. But either unable or unwilling or unfit to keep them. 

I have intentionally tried to dance around the sob stories that would be an emotional effort to guilt people into adoption. No one should ever adopt for guilt. Or for rescue. Or for a cute story. For none of those things will help you even get through the process, much less then complication of the other side of the legal work. 

What will get you through is love. And ironically. That is what they need. 

It is not easy. As several have told us from the beginning. This is going to be complicated. And it is. But it is worth it. The hugs. The smiles. The love. It is worth it. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A weekend..... The waiting....

What a weekend. 

We are in the midst of some crazy delays that don't belong on a blog, but suffice it to say that the world around us is spinning and likely will cause us to have to wait until January for court, and that in itself has felt like a 400lb weight on my shoulders for about 72 hours now. 


We got to spend the weekend with Lena...... We picked her up Friday night after filling out appropriate paperwork, and got to cook dinner together, go to the mall Saturday, eat meals, carry kids, ride metros and buses, go to church, play wii, listen to music, watch movies...etc. Etc. What an awesome weekend as a family of five... Well. Six with Samantha. 

Speaking of Samantha, she has seriously been awesome. My kids love her. She loves my kids. Without her we would have been dragging them around town for all these meetings and trying to have sensible conversations through translators these days..... It would be 100times more stressful! Thank you Samantha! Now, if I could only convince her to stay longer :) hehehe...... 

Tonight at church, as we sat together... Knowing Lena didn't understand it all, but listening to the children's group do their Christmas program, singing songs, and listening to the sermon, I was absolutely overwhelmed with gratitude for the things God has done for us. I'm definitely not saying I haven't questioned him in our delays. My whole mile walk to the grocery store today was a carefully worded argument with God..... But tonight, my heart was filled with worship.... (Hearing the little girl playing Mary tell her co-actors to "come worship, now!" Helped also) my heart was grateful.... 

for the time with my family all together for the longest time since we started this adventure.... For you, the supporters and prayer warriors of this trust walk... For Ronnie, the one I lean on when this gets tough.... For Lena, who trusts us more than I can imagine.... For Josiah and Lydia, who love their new sister and really don't understand why she isn't with us all the time yet.... For Samantha.... For the home we are able to stay in with people who love God and minister to families fighting to love a child.... For the orphanage that Lena has been in, that this wasn't her first time in church, as they go every week!.... For the unbelievable amount of peace that we have, even while it feels like this Ukrainian world is spinning uncontrollably at times..... For Skype and FaceTime that allow us to connect with home at the moments it seems most necessary, and for Lena's first conversations with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins..... 

This journey has forced us to be in positions, both positive and negative, where we have absolutely no control. I can't take any credit for everything God has done here..... Nor can I do anything about the things that are causing us delays.... We are here for a reason.... We walk through the streets of revolution.... Sometimes wishing we could be a part of what we pray will be a good turning point for a beautiful country, praying that the country see Christ through this somehow..... Also, maybe selfishly, praying that the adoption process is never used as a tool for a power struggle. 

We go to appointments, praying as we walk in that the hearts are softened and papers are in order. We know that the peace we feel, especially in the evening, is because you are praying for us. I sometimes just pray that God will put us on someone's mind, because we don't know what else to pray for ourselves..... 

We listen to Josiah sing about Joshua and Jericho, we discuss Gideon, shadrach, meshach, abednego, and Daniel. We hold to promises of never leaving and never forsaking. We remember that God is  the one who places orphans in families. 

We sleep again, to wake up again, to go to another meeting, pray another desperate prayer, and try to make to next Friday having accomplished something more so that we are closer to bringing our girl home! 

Thank you..... Your prayers are holding us up. Every. Day. 

Please don't stop! 

Monday, December 9, 2013

SDA emotions.

I want to try to capture my emotions from today as compared to last Wednesday.

As I stood in the hallway Wednesday, December 4,  waiting, I felt like I was going to throw up. I was already a nervous wreck walking in. The truth is, the information they gave us didn't really shock me. You see, in my two pregnancy losses, I knew before I saw the doctor each time, that there was a problem. Now, in this adoption, I knew there was a problem. It's a mom thing, I guess. The knowing something is wrong with your kid before you officially know that something is wrong. That whole meeting is still a blur of emotions to me and I realized today that I have no memory of walking back down those stairs on Wednesday. The only memory I have of leaving that office was after we got further down the street and Our facilitator asked what we wanted to do next. My thought was that i wanted to cry..... I didn't want to be seen. But we had some stuff to give to some friends who are also here adopting, so, I realized I had to pull myself together so I could be presentable to people. There is a picture of us after lunch that day.... While I was trying to hide my anger, fear, frustration, etc., it is still quite evident in that photo that I was ready to beat someone. 

I realized today, while standing in that same hallway, waiting, that I didn't have that sick feeling. There was peace. I know it was because so many of you were praying. It was even evident to our facilitator who looked at me intently as we walked in and said "Julia, you look in better spirits today than when we waited last week." It was true. I felt better. I stood there, looking at the same map of Ukraine that I had stared at for about 30 minutes last week, but this week, I actually noted where Moldova, Belarus, Poland and Russia are in relation to Ukraine. I saw cities on the map that had just blurred 5 days earlier. I noticed the river running through the country and noted the Cyrillic spellings of landmarks. We talked about politics, about the current events in the city, we talked about a taxi to get home and the pizza we had eaten. We stood quietly waiting for a while (the couple in front of us had been late arriving and took a long time, so our 2:45 appointment turned into a 3:30 meeting) 

We still don't know why we needed to wait 5 days for this meeting. We may never know. The political situation here is definitely not improved over last Wednesday. I'm not sure how that will end. That is not the point. The point is that we know Christ is still on the throne. We know that he raises up kings. We know that he defends the fatherless and sets them in homes. We know that He has us here now for a reason. 

Your prayers are still much needed as we begin yet another paper chase tomorrow..... 

Our orphanage director told Lena tonight that he meeting went well and she was excited. It is still amazing to me that our countdown now can more accurately be measured in weeks instead of months..... 

Just as other info, we walked out of the meeting into a massive amount of snow falling! It was so beautiful! I had noted earlier that the city was pretty, but after the weight was gone, it was even more striking! With snow falling everywhere! And people walking quickly! Like a storybook. 

We walked about four blocks to a "tram" that rides down the mountain to the city. I couldn't get a picture due to there being rules around here about not taking people's pictures without permission..... And people being EVERYWHERE! With the chaos going on around here, I didn't want to risk getting yelled at, or worse....  It was kinda built like the big trams that ride down the mountains in gatlinburg, but it didn't go up in the air, it stayed on a track on the ground.... But went straight down the steep hill... Connected to both the train track and to a wire above the tram. As we started moving, I noticed that in the distance the snow was falling so hard that I could not see past about 100 yards away....the snow storm was where we were headed and It was a giant gray wall..... Like the end of the world:) about that time our facilitator noted to Ronnie that this tram was built over 100 years ago. So, we were going down a steep hill in a snow storm towards the end of the earth on a 100 year old tram.... But with the next necessary approval in our process fresh in my mind.,,, it was awesome! 

We got in a taxi and headed out of town to our home. I couldn't tell you if there were many protestors today mainly because I wasn't looking for them.... But also because I couldn't have seen that far away if I had wanted to. :) 

Keep praying for us, for her and for this country! There are definitely things that we miss from home, but we all have a list of things we love here too! (The food is awesome! Both traditional foods they cook, and the produce at the store.... It's real food!) 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Times missed

I am reading a book while I'm here in country for parenting adopted adolescents. It has had a wealth of information and things for me to think about... One of the recent chapters was dealing with letting go at 18ish. Something every parent deals with whether adoptive or biological. 

Today a rush of tears has overwhelmed me. The memories I have missed with her have seriously stabbed my heart. My mind is full of the moment of celebration the week after Josiah's first birthday when he released his grip of the couch and toddled across our living room in virginia to a specific toy. It's like it was yesterday. His first word being momma, and having to wait what seemed forever for him to finally say dada! 

Lydia's first steps are just as vivid. After pushing her pink baby stroller across the room, she wanted to get her baby, so she let to and took the steps. Falling on the padded bottom as she leaned to pick up the doll. Her unstoppable determination to learn to climb up on the couch and the wonder that I still have when she figures out a plan by herself. 

It makes me wonder, who celebrated Lena's first steps? Who was there? What was her first word? Were there photos of her first haircut? Did someone celebrate when she lost her first tooth? 

It then hit me like a ton of bricks, not only did I miss so many milestones, but I only have 5 years until she will be legally able to make her own decisions. Josiah will only be 8 and Lydia will be 6 when Lena begins to spread her wings and take flight. Will those delicate, damaged wings be repaired by then? Will they be strong? What can We do to take this precious arrow that God is placing in our quiver to help her to be prepared to fly straight? To be unafraid to take risks, to be ready to fail and then be Ready to stand on the shaky legs and try again. 5 years of unconditional love. 5 years of showing her Jesus. 5 years of permanence. 5 years of being fully accepted. Can that possibly be enough? 

I go back to so many promises... He will never leave nor forsake. He puts the orphans In families. He is not leaving her fatherless. His love never fails. He was sent to heal the broken hearted, to release captives. He gives a hope and a future. He has a plan. 

There are memories I will never have. There are Stories I have missed and moments that cannot be replaced and that hurts my heart. But I will hold to the promises and thank God for the gift of 5 years of close (sometimes bumpy) parenting... And a lifetime together... 

So, I wipe my tears, lift my head, and thank God for the future. I pray that the years of emotional famine in her life will be redeemed. Not referring to a lack of food, but a lack of love. He is God, and He answers.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

While you were sleeping. Part 2.

As you guys snoozed in America this morning, I hiked with 5 orphan children and one teacher about a mile and a half to a domed structure with what seems to be a place where people gather and have outdoor fires pretty regularly. The boys had run ahead of the rest of us and when we got there, they pulled out their bb pistol and began to shoot at some glass bottles they had set up on a wall. They were pretty impressed by my skillz:) 

It wasn't long until we ran out of BBs. So, the boys went around where we had been shooting and rounded up as many of them as they could find. Loaded up, and shot again. Before we finished up, they found some of them again, and put them back in the small ziplock Baggie. 

They asked if we wanted to play contra-strike, I've never heard of it, the best I could understand after four rounds is that it's kinda like capture the flag.... Or paintball... But no flag. No gun. Just one team hiding in a large blown out brick building-like structure.... And another team trying to get into the building. You "shoot" the other team by seeing them when they don't see you, and saying "boom, Julia!" Or, whoever you were shooting." If you say it before they do, they they are dead.

When we finished the game, we went back to the orphanage and Lena and I watched a little Scrooge McDuck, you could hear the English voices, then the Russian overlay, and all text was German,,, fun times. 

I then suggested we go play with the iPad. I have a few apps that will help her learn some English. We worked on that until lunch, we ate, and then we just played other interactive games on my iPad. I am specifically using a lot of English with her while we play to try to encourage language comprehension. Otherwise, the google translate app saves us! 

Around 3:30 I was getting exhausted. I fully believe it is due partly to the emotions of the whole scenario.... Partly to the remaining jet lag.... Partly to hearing nothing but a language that I don't understand for hours..... But also, to paraphrase David platt, an orphan is only an orphan as long as they can remain nameless and faceless. Being here. Learning the kids. Knowing names. Knowing personalities. Watching their faces light up with a gift of a glow bracelet or hot wheel car. Seeing the pants too short, the boys wearing girls sweatshirts, the shoes too small. What most of these kids would give to have a family..... These kids aren't here because they are less than other kids, or because they are worse than other kids. They aren't here for any fault of their own.... Yet they are here.

And let me be clear. From what I have heard and experienced, this is one of the best orphanages around! My interaction with the teachers has clearly shown that they are very interested in the well-being of each child. These kids are not neglected, they are fed, they even have things that they call their own. Some places can't say this. Yet, these kids still are without families. The 4-5 year old girls taking naps and running downstairs in their pjs. The one precious girl, that wore her nicest Christmas dress today. Another with a dance leotard on. They are amazing. 

My walk back to the bus stop (approximately a mile) was filled with tears running down my face. I tried to hide them when I passed someone on the street, as I'm sure that makes me look more American than anything else! 

If there is anything i am learning right now. It is that a family is a priceless treasure that not everyone has access to.... 

I really think I will end the blog here. I'm really not sure how to verbalize my thoughts much further without getting preachy, or offending some. I may do that later.... But not yet. 

Pray for these children. Pray for Lena as she prepares to leave. While it isn't perfect, to her, it is still home. 

Pray for her friends that will soon see her ride off with a family. They will turn back and see that one more family came, and left them there.

Pray especially for the small ones that lena loves so dearly. They will have a very hard time comprehending what is about to happen. 

I am praying for you. Some of you that read this blog have been interested in adoption. These kids need people to be more than interested. They need people to step out and get active. 

I will stop my sermonette here.

Friday, November 22, 2013


As a family, we are about to embark on one of the most exciting, overwhelming, intense, journeys that we have faced.

I decided to take a few days to put together a list of specific details that God has worked out in this process. This post, while posting on Thanksgiving day, has been a compilation of my thoughts over a few days, so the timeline is not in any particular order, other than the order in which it came to me.

I am sure more will be added to the list as we go through the final stage of the adoption legal process.... Maybe there will be a part two to post as we return home. God will have many more miracles to perform while we are in country. 

1. Our doctor being an adoptive parent, with close ties to other Ukrainian adoptive parents.
2. Dear friends met along the way in Alabama, on Facebook, and in the Ukraine.
3. The minor glitch in our paperwork, which we believe was God's way of making sure we know two things... We didn't get it perfect, so we can't brag.... And He is in control of it all.
4. The way our sweet girl is still being protected in the orphanage while we wait for her and while she waits for us. She has clothes, heat, food and education. Not all of that is guaranteed in some places.
5. The gift of the "short" trip to be with her on her birthday.
6. The missionary home that we are living in during this process that will save money along the way! They are already providing so much emotional and logistical support here. Awesome people! 
7. My Christmas gifts being wrapped by friends while I travel.
8. Of course, all the donors and volunteers from June-present.... I can't name names, there are many of you. Over 220 separate donors.... Some donations over $750, but the largest majority are $500 and under.... It's amazing how quickly your $5, $10, and $20 donations add up to over $20,000! 
9. Ronnie's vacation days.
10. Our friend Samantha, coming to help with our two children while we have certain appointments. 
11. Missionaries that love coffee! 
12. Good chocolate.
13. Lots of hugs, eye contact, and hand holding... A good set of signals of acceptance of us.
14. An orphanage director that truly cares about the well being of her kids. Not just physically, but emotionally as well. God has protected our princess while she had to wait for us.
15. A husband that was willing to work so hard to manage my two bios so I could come have this time with Lena.
16. My mom, who was willing to watch Josiah and Lydia for 7 days! 
17. Kk, who is watched them the day I came home.
18. An English speaking church to attend.

So much to be thankful for!!! Our God answers!!! 

Thursday, November 21, 2013


The bus system is fun. Today I was planning to meet some American friends at a particular metro stop in the city. To get to the metro I have to take a marshrutka, aka bus. 

This is my story. 

To catch the bus, close to where I am you get somewhere in an open area where the bus can stop, when you see the correct bus coming, you wave at it like you would a taxi. You get on the bus, tell the driver where you are going, give him money, he makes change as he starts driving and you try to find a seat, or just hold on standing up. 

I need the 301 to get to town. I went to the open are where I was shown I could catch the 301 yesterday, stood, waited and saw the 301 coming. I waved. He stopped. I got on. I said the name of the metro stop I needed, he verified, gave me change, shook the ash off his cigaret and drove on. As I sat down. The card inside the bus said "306." With a list of "stops" that not only can I not read, but I am quite sure that my stop is not on the list. I panic. I have a card in my pocket with the metro map on it and I start scanning furiously for the name that matches the only metro station on the list in the front. I figure out my plan but realize that this metro station may be hard to see. I am trying to be sneaky with looking at the metro card as I am trying to look as little like a stupid tourist as possible.... A large man sits next to me. 

I, thankfully, see the metro station as we come close, stand up, the old man seems frustrated that I made him stand up. About 20 other people got off the bus, so I get off the bus. Looking around, I see nothing familiar, so I go into the tunnel leading to the metro. Get to the place where I should buy a metro ticket and suddenly realize I am in the place where I should be! I have no idea how I got there.... But apparently I was on the right bus after all. 

Turns out, sometimes the drivers drive different routes. This guy must drive both the 301 and the 306 route. He just has one sign that he turns around backwards sometimes... Not confusing at.all.

I met with friends, we found some pretty cool shopping areas for groceries and such, got a few things, ate lunch. It was time to go home. 

It costs 2 grivna to ride a bus in the city (app. .25) it costs 4 grivna to ride out of the city (.50). 

I got on a 301 bus to go home. Tell the driver I am going to Вишневе, which, if you said it like it is spelled would sound like "vizshnehveh" but is actually pronounced "vizshnOhveh" I said it 
Like it is spelled. He looked at me confused. So I tried the second pronunciation. He started yelling some Ukrainian at me. Wouldn't take my money and pointed across the street.... Still yelling as I said spaciba (thanks) and walked away. 

I crossed the street, through a tunnel, to the other side, got on the bus and tried the pronunciation that was my second choice on the other bus (vizshnOveh) He looked at me like I was crazy, so I corrected again to vizhnEhveh... He said oh, yes, vizshnOveh! I have no idea what my American accent is doing to the name of my town. But these bus drivers obviously don't understand Alabama tainted Ukrainian! 

Finally I start seeing familiar places, but the driver stopped a bit earlier than I expected to let someone off, and then skipped the stop where I thought he would stop. You cant count stops here.... Because drivers just stop when they want to, for who they want to, apparently. If no one is waving, they don't stop, but it isn't necessarily an official "stop," When they do. 

So I stood up, he starts asking me a question. I knew that if i missed my stop, I would need to get off at the grocery store that I was at yesterday. So I said "fora."  He starts asking Odin? Or dva? (One or two?) I just said Odin.... I just wanted off! So he stopped.... Finally, I walked about 1/2 mile home.

It gets dark here around 4:30. I needed to go to see Lena around 5. So, I grabbed yet another bus. To get to her orphanage I walk about a quarter mile, ride a bus for about 5 miles and just around the curve in the road (yeah real specific) I take the exit, and then walk about 1/2 mile down the road. 

When I got on the bus, two guys got on at the same time. We loaded up in the back of the bus with about 35 people and then they just passed their money to the front. I was a bit unsure of handing my cash to these complete strangers, but I handed the guy that was in front of me some grivna as well and a few minutes later my change was passed back to me. Strange. 

Then the two guys asked where I was needing to get off the bus, at least I think that's what they asked. I apparently pronounced this one wrong as well.... They corrected me. They made sure I got my change back correctly, and then checked that I got off the bus at the right time. Pretty nice guys. If I had seen them in a parking lot in the us I would have been terrified of them! 

The walk to the orphanage is dark and jagged.... But I made it safely there and got to spend good time with Lena without a translator.... It's nice to have someone to help sometimes. But sometimes it is nice to just be us... We looked at photos of the family, the house, the church. We looked at her birthday gifts from Tuesday. It was fun time together. 

The ride home was pretty uneventful. I may get the hang of is bus thing one day. Adding Josiah and Lydia to this mix will definitely be interesting in a couple of weeks... But it will be fine. 

Even with the chaos and adventure. There is such a peace about being here. I am so grateful. I miss my family at home, but these moments are precious treasures that I will always hold very dear. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

While you were sleeping. Part 1 11.20

This portion of the blog will be devoted to the fun things We do while you guys sleep in the US.

Many things remind me of my year in Germany in 2004. I don't know that the countries are that much alike, but more that this is the second time since then that I have spent time in a European country... I have been in Asia and South America in the last 10 years.... But Europe just seems to feel similar, yet oh so different.

I've been here about 24 hours now. Today's adventure was a trip to the grocery store. I had short flashbacks to my first days in Germany, when I didn't know the language, the customs of the grocery store, and was trying as hard as possible to look as little like an American as I could. (Failing miserably, I am sure)

I walked approximately 1km to the store. Trying to note markers along to way so I would remember how to get back. I also, though, was trying not to look like a tourist trying to figure out what was going on. I have my black coat and black boots, but forgot my scarf at the missionary home where I am staying. I think that gave me away. Everyone else had on either a scarf or a hat of some sort.  I had to cross over two streets..... This was much different than Germany, as here, it's pretty chaotic on the street... I had a green light to cross, yet cars were still coming very close. I kept walking, as I had seen others do. I am surprised there aren't more pedestrian injuries. 

Finding the grocery store was easy. When I got inside, though, there is a section of small lockers. I can't read the instructions. Some ladies were putting their kids bags and backpacks in the lockers. I wasn't sure if I should put my purse there or not. I didn't. I went through the turnstile. The fruits and veggies were first. Pretty easy. Grabbed some bananas. Moved on. 

Juices all have a picture on the front of what they are. I got apple/strawberry juice. Moved on. I chose my bread by the simple fact that it was already sliced. Didn't want to have to ask for it to be cut for me. Found some salami and some cheese already sliced as well. Feeling confident now, I got eggs and frozen pizza and headed to the counter. One more item, chocolate. KINDER chocolate! I haven't had it since 2004! 

At is point I am feeling like I am ok. I avoided having to talk to anyone. I have recognizable food in hand.

I knew I would need to buy a bag for my groceries. When she asked me, I just said "I don't speak Ukrainian." She showed me a bag, I nodded. This is when it gets obvious that I'm new here.

She lays the bag, open on the counter, begins to scan my items, but lays them all around the bag. I am unsure if I should bag them myself, so, I don't do anything. She quotes my price, I pay, I get change, and she starts scanning the stuff for the next guy. So now, I have to put up my change and try to bag my groceries while this guy is all up behind me. Apparently, I should have started bagging while she checked me out. She finishes with him (cigarets and beer....) and starts with guy #2 while I am still trying to get my frozen pizza in my bag. 

I still have to figure out what to do with my little shopping basket. I grab it from the floor and have to find a place for it... I see a small stack in the corner, it wasn't conveniently located. I didn't see anyone else stack theirs there.... But I did it anyway. 

I dropped my head and took my bag of groceries out. 

Other than the small issue at checkout. I feel like I was quite successful at blending on my first trip out. I didn't get yelled at, at least out loud. I may have been talked about, but if so. I didn't know it. 

Gotta learn some more basic language. Fast. 

The only other mistake I made was apparently people don't smile at each other here. I remember this in Germany.... But needed to be reminded. I passed a grandmother with a sweet 3-4 year old all bundled up (it's only about 45 degrees, cool, but not unbearable.... But she was bundled for a snowstorm! Full out ski bibs and everything!!!) I smiled at the little girl. Grandmother pulled at her hand quickly, gave me a dirty look. The child looked confused by the whole thing. Note: smiling at children you don't know makes you look like an outsider, apparently. 

So, I'm back at the house now. I have eaten my lunch and have plans to visit Lena again this afternoon. I can't wait! 

Wonder if I can get to keep me up to date on Chicago fire? 

Some of my snacks. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Life Song for Orphans

In an independent adoption such as ours, there are very few ways to allow for people to give tax deductible gifts. We are not a 501(c)3 organization and therefore as we shared way back in this post... we are committed to being responsible with the funds entrusted to us, but we could not give you any tax deductible receipts. Yet, as you now can see in the awesome thermometer to the right of the screen - you have given anyway!!

There are also not many opportunities in an independent adoption to apply for grants from organizations.  There are many wonderful organizations to help offset adoption costs, but we found only a couple that we could apply to.

LifeSong for Orphans is one of those organizations. We applied in August, just after receiving USCIS approval, and found out TODAY that we can be set up with a tax-deductible account through them. The instructions are posted below.

I have changed our donate button on the side from, that has served us well so far in this process, to instead, lead you to LifeSong's donation website.

We are praying that we will soon qualify for a matching grant with LifeSong for Orphans as well. We may not know that for a couple of days or even a week or so... but here is the AWESOME part! IF we get a matching grant (it could potentially be up to $4000 - but that depends on the funds they have available and we just don't know that yet) and if you have already donated through the LifeSong for Orphans account... your amount will still be matched, dollar for dollar.

For example: if you give $10 tonight, and next week sometime we find out that we get a matching grant - your $10 will then retroactively turn into a $20 credit in our account!

Unfortunately, this cannot apply to any gifts given prior to today that were given outside of the Life Song account.

So, worst case scenario, we will have immediate access to whatever funds you donate to apply towards these final costs.... AND you get a tax receipt (according to the rules stated below) and BEST case scenario, your amount MAY be doubled!!!!!!

So, here are the instructions:

You can click the link to the right of the screen and simply submit (our family name and account number should be noted: "Mayhew / #4091" ....


Checks should be payable to “Lifesong for Orphans". In the memo line put "Mayhew / #4091" to assure it goes to the correct account. Please mail to Lifesong for Orphans, PO Box 40, Gridley, IL 61744. Lifesong has been blessed with a partner that underwrites all U.S. administrative and fund-raising costs (TMG Foundation and other partners). That means 100% of your donation will go directly to the adoption.

Also, Lifesong requires I tell you this:

NOTE: In following IRS guidelines, your donation is to the named non-profit organization. This organization retains full discretion over its use, but intends to honor the donor’s suggested use. Individual donations $250 or more and yearly donations totaling $250 or more will receive a tax-deductible receipt. Receipts for donations under $250, will gladly be sent upon request. Lifesong is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization.

In country process

We have been asked several times about what will happen, and why it takes so long in country. I just found this on another adoptive family's blog.... This is what we have coming when we land in Ukraine.

1. You were assigned an appointment date with the Department for Adoption and Protection of the Rights of the Child (DAPRC) (formerly SDA). Your first step is to attend this appointment. They will ask you a few questions and then show you information about children available for international adoption. *Note: if you have filed for a specific child, they will show you that childs information if she is available for adoption. (This is that magic date of December 4, for us.

2. The next day, you will return to the DAPRC to pick up your referral for the child which will allow you to visit her at the orphanage. You can now travel to the region of the orphanage. Depending on the location, you can take a car, bus, train, or plane.

3. There will probably be a visit to a Notary before you depart for the orphanage, to notorize some of your official documents. Your facilitator will arrange this.

4. You will arrive at the orphanage and be formally introduced to the regions Social Services person, the orphanage director and then to your child. You will have time to visit with the child (a day to several days) before you ask her if she wants to be adopted.

5. Once you commit to the child, you will meet with the regional Social Services persons (one, two, or more meetings). These officials will review your requests for adoption and issue their stamp of approval in order for you to apply for a court appointment. Your child may (depending on age) be required to write a statement saying that she wants to be adopted by you. Then your child may be taken to a local group of physicians for some medical exams.

*Note: steps 4-5 can take from 1-5 days, or more if you need more time to visit with the child before committing to her.

6. Once you receive the approval from Social Services, your facilitator will file paperwork with the DAPRC requesting a court date. There may be additional Notary fees at this point.

7. The waiting time for your court date can depend on several factors; the region, the judges schedule, holidays, etc. It is possible to only have a couple of days between the time you request the date and the time you receive the court date. But it is more likely to take several days to a week or two, or more. Be patient.

8. On the appointed date, you will attend court. Also in court will be, your facilitator, the child, the orphanage director, the Social Services person, a DAPRC representative, and other officials if necessary. There will be a judge and a jury of two or more members. You will be asked to stand and address the court. Your facilitator will assist you with the process. The judge will hear the appeal, recess for a deliberation period, and return with his decision. Upon completion of the court process, the child will officially be your son/ daughter, although she may or may not be allowed to stay with you during you 10 day waiting period.
**note: one parent is allowed to return to the US after completing the court appointment. That parent should make an appointment (by email) at the US Embassy in Kiev to sign necessary documents before departure.

9. After court, you will enter into a 10 day waiting period. During the waiting period the decision can be appealed (although this rarely happens). There is nothing else to be done during this time. Use this time to enjoy Ukraine with your new family.

10. After the 10 days, you will receive an official copy of the adoption decree and then you will begin the final processes, usually in the region of your child's birth. You will need to return to the Notary one more time.

11. Your facilitator will now file for your childs new Birth Certificate and ID number. You will apply for these based on where the child was born and where he is registered. It will probably take 3-7 days to get the returned ID number.

12. Now you will make application for a new Passport at the official passport office in the region of your childs birth (fees required). You will be required to submit a passport sized photo with your application.  It may take 2-5 days to receive your new passport. You will return to the office to pick up the passport.

13. After receiving your passport, you can go to Kiev to the Medical office to complete the travel exams (fee required). They will give you a sealed envelope after the exams.
DO NOT OPEN! You will deliver this envelope to the Embassy official.

14. You can now make your appointment for the Embassy(make appointment at the US Embassy website). You should ask them to send you a list of the required documents that you should bring with you to the appointment. This will be a two day process. On the first day you will register, deliver the appropriate documentation (sealed medical envelope, adoption decree, passport, etc), and pay the Embassy fee (fee required). On the second day you will be interviewed by an Embassy official and then receive your stamped passport and your Visa. You will also receive another sealed envelope that you should keep with you during the flight home. You will present this sealed envelope to the immigration officer at your point of entry into the USA!
**note: if one parent has returned home prior to the Embassy appointment, he/she should have signed all necessary documents at the Embassy before departure.

15. You can now go home!

This whole process, on average, takes approximately 5-8 weeks. But there are factors that could extend this time.
Ukraninan or American holidays
Judges or officials on vacation
Correcting inaccurate documentation
An appeal during waiting period (unlikly)
Adopting multiple siblings
Adopting unrelated children
Adopting children from two (or more) different regions

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Packing.... It's almost time!!

I've never been good at packing. 

9 short term international trips, 17 countries, one year long international trip, 7 months touring with a music group, another 5 weeks as a high school student in a music group. 

You would think I could pack for international trips by now.

I'm last minute-throw it in-hope we got it all-packer. 

But here I am.

A suitcase and carryon for me for 9 days, a 60ish hour turn around at home then 3-4 suitcases and carryons, and a stroller, and some baby carriers, for 5 people to go over for 6-8 weeks (we have a friend going to help with kids for the first few weeks) and 5 to come back.... (Yea!!) 

I'm so lost.

My table is full of winter gear,clothes, food, OTC meds, vitamins, and band aids. Lena's clothes have been replaced 4 times. Josiah and Lydia haven't had one thing put in the suitcase yet. My bags for the first trip are primarily full of gifts. Laundry finished today, so I'm praying I can get some clothes into the suitcase for me. 

I don't know what exactly I will do while there on the short trip other than celebrate some birthdays. (Who knew that I would ever consider 9 days in Ukraine as a "short trip.")

I'm thrilled. Extatic. Honored. Blessed. Amazed. Excited. Joyful. At peace. And..... Nervous?! 


Nervous. There are so many promises that tell me to be anxious for nothing..... To let the peace of God rule.... To give thanks in everything. But I'm just nervous. 

I have felt the need to constantly reset my own heart towards the positive as much as I have these last 7 days since we got our date. 

We are still underfunded.

We still have about a million things that 'could' go wrong in the process. 

I am not 100% sure where I will be sleeping next week. 

Yet. I'm trusting. Praying. Hoping. 

Then I also think, when I start to get overwhelmed at how complicated these next few weeks will be: 

For us, it's jet lag, chaos, airplanes, children, and a couple months in a foreign land with letters that don't make sense and people who speak in ways I don't understand. Cultural differences. 

For her, In a matter of weeks, the whole world will change.permanently. She will not, for a really long time, feel comfortable in a room full of people. She will be overwhelmed with the amount of stuff in Walmart. Our traffic patterns will be strange to her. The road signs won't make sense. It will be months before she has a comfortable conversation with anyone other than possibly Lydia, who will likely learn Ukrainian as fast as Lena learns English. Last year, her orphanage got Samaritans purse boxes for Christmas. This year. She will arrive home to a house FULL of presents waiting to be opened..... Possibly it will look like more than likely the whole orphanage got last year. She will leave confidants, best friends, girls who are as close as sisters to her. She has already lost more than I will ever imagine and she is about to lose her culture. Permanently. 

When I think of it like this, I get brave. Of course I can handle a few weeks.... And so can Josiah and Lydia. Delaying Christmas won't damage their little American spirits one bit. Of course. I can travel alone where I don't know anyone. Of course we can spend a few holidays away from family. Our short price to pay is so much less than she is about to leave.

I realize she is getting a family.... And that is good for her. She will be loved. Accepted. Challenged. Chosen. Appreciated. And included. But there will also be loss. Great loss. For her, it has already likely been a harder life than any of us can imagine. And it's about to get complicated for a while. But she loves us. We love her. She trusts us and we trust her. God has chosen her for us, has protected her in so many ways.... All while we have prayed for our children to be protected. God knew she was ours before we did. He will give us all the strength and courage to take every step necessary. 

He has provided so much for us. He has used YOU to provide financially. You guys have donated to and worked in yard sales both in the scalding heat of August and the freezing cold of October. You have made scarves, baked cakes, run 5ks, and bought bracelets, t-shirts, coffee, laundry detergent, scarves, Tupperware, marykay, pampered chef, thirty one, scentsy, noonday, young living oils, and hats. Many have given just because you felt the call. Some of you did ungodly numbers of Burpees!!!  You sent school supplies to her orphanage. One made a quilt and one made a basket, to sell and raffle. You guys gave towards both. You have taken gifts to Ukraine for us. You have watched my kids and listened to our stories. You have set through praise band rehearsal and Sunday school while I panicked about craziness with Lena's phone. Some have ridden with us to prepare paperwork in Montgomery, you have stayed up late to finish notaries, sat in the car with kids so we can run into the post office. You have smiled when We were stressed, you have asked about the process at the exact right moments and have been so amazingly supportive. Few of these things brought any notoriety or spotlight from man, but all have been noticed by God. God placed each of you here in our lives. Now. For this reason. 

In this. You have been the hands of Jesus, the feet of Christ. You have shown mercy to the orphan. One precious orphan. One whose days as an orphan are now numbered. She will soon be an orphan no more. For this, God is to be praised and you are to be thanked. 

You prayers are still coveted. There is much left to do. These next weeks are the climax of this whole event. I hope to blog most of our Ukrainian adventure..... I am sure it will be a great story. You will all be made aware, also, of our return to the states, where you are more than welcome to greet us at the airport, and welcome home our newest family member. The dreams of that day are so close to being reality. 

Thank you. Praise be to God. 

Hosea 14:3
In YOU, the orphan finds mercy.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Go get her!

The ding of my cell phone reporting a received email was heard only by Josiah. He told me that my phone made a noise.... There was no way to know how important that ding was! I continued to unload the dishwasher. 

The night before our facilitator had told us that he thought our date would be in the first week of December, but since he didn't have a specific date yet, I didn't allow myself to get over excited..... 

When I finally opened my email and saw the email was from our facilitator. I first thought that it must be In Relation to a question I had sent the night before. I completely overlooked the subject of the email. 

When I opened it I saw these words

"Dec 4 is our appointment date!


My heart jumped! I screamed! Finally! We will go get our girl!

I called Ronnie, he had not yet seen the email. So I got to tell him. 

By this time, Josiah and Lydia had come running, wondering why I was squealing and jumping around! I told them that we are going to get Lena soon! Josiah, wearing only his diaper at the time, turns around, gathered his milk cup and snack in his arms, and said, while walking towards the door "should we take Lena some milk and snack too?" He was ready to go get his sister!! We spent a good bit of time yesterday jumping in circles in the living room! 

I am now panicking about getting everything ready in time, but I also work best in a time crunch. So, I guess I got that. We will be having a Ukrainian Christmas this year and I could not be more excited! 

Our next steps are like this:: 

- travel to Ukraine!! Then there will be generically a 3-step process. 
Disclaimer::: This is the simplified, and error free  version of what should happen. We first meet with the SDA. This is kind of like our DHR, or child services. They will give us a referral and file on Lena. We will then go to Lena's orphanage and manage some paperwork while we wait for step 2 - our court date. That is where the judge will declare (prayerfully) that she is legally ours! (This will be 2-3 weeks after the SDA appointment). 
Once we have the court decree, there will be a 10-day wait and then It will be finalized! We can then bust her out and start step 3.... the process of getting her US documents in order. Once we have those (passport, birth certificate, medical records, etc.) we will fly home! 
We expect this, if smooth, to take approximately 6-8 weeks! 
Our prayer requests are mainly that holidays don't make too much of a mess, that Josiah and Lydia manage the travel as well as we think they will, and that our remaining funds will come in:) 
Our God has brought us so far in such a short time. We could not ask for more! 
Lena, hold on, we are coming soon! 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Orphan Sunday

Today is orphan Sunday - recognized around the world in churches and among adoption organizations. My Facebook newsfeed was full of photos with quotes about orphans, videos of cartoons about orphans and pastors talking about orphans. I have friends that had adoption fundraisers today after their church recognized orphan Sunday. All day, the Christians of the world focused on orphans. Our Sunday school lesson was about adoption!  (Kinda easy for us to teach right now) 

I felt myself wondering.

Do the orphans know it? If so, I wonder how it makes them feel? Are they thankful that the Christians in the world are thinking of them today? Are they hopeful that there are families out there who will come get them after they celebrate orphan Sunday? I just wonder what it is like to be an orphan on orphan Sunday. 

I am not against orphan Sunday. Please don't take this that way. Quite the opposite. I am a big fan of orphan Sunday. I am very much a fan of anything right now that draws attention to the beautiful children that need families around the world (Ukraine in particular, right now, for obvious reasons) but also for the orphans that I have spent time with in past years in Jamaica, and in Belize. And those where I have friends that have adopted from, in Ethiopia and China. And those kids in America, who are currently in group homes or foster care. I am thrilled that we have orphan Sunday for these kids! 

But I just wonder sometimes if recognizing orphan Sunday is enough. In our comfortable churches, with our appropriate heat and air, with discussions of football, hunting and shopping and a sound system that rarely flickers (and it is tragic if it does.) is sitting and watching a video about orphans really what it means to "care for orphans and widows in their distress?" Not that the videos are bad either, but that sometimes we stop here. A tear forms and trickles down our cheeks, we smile and the cute little boys and the girl missing two front teeth. We want to hug them although the miles between us are many. But we can't do that now, so, we wipe the tear, walk out the door, and wonder about lunch. With a slight glance back, we move on. 

The orphans don't. They don't move on. They are still there. The boy on a broken rusty swing, the girl running through the field. Their birthdays come and go, many without mark or remembrance. Some not remembered because no one that now cares for them even knows when they were born. There is no day to celebrate. No birthday candles, no cake smash, songs to be sung or family to argue about who will take the photos, or who has to be in Which photos. 

We discuss the price, the fears, the questions and concerns. We consider all options and weigh the costs. They stand and simply say, it really doesn't matter who you are, or what you have, I want a loving family. 

I believe orphan Sunday is a good thing. I really do. If it does what it is intended to do. If it makes us uncomfortable long enough to force us to do more than smile at a video. If it makes us do more than throw money at an orphanage. If it makes us do more. Christ calls us to do more than recognize a problem. Christ calls us to solve the problems, with His help. Christ calls us to love..... 

Do we really want Him to break our heart for what breaks His? We might do well to look to the people He instructed us to take care of. What is stopping you? 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Well. Sometimes awesome stuff happens. 

We have been praying for a couple of weeks that we would be able to go to be with Lena on her birthday in November. Remember how I said it would be a miracle? I was praying for our date to be on, or before her birthday.... Which doesn't seem to be happening. 

Ok, well, when God works, it doesn't usually look like we expect it to, but it is always so clear it is still him. 

Someone has very generously given me a ticket to Ukraine from the day before Lena's birthday, until about 8 days after to go over to see Lena. This will not be our official appointment date, but an extra bonus visit. I will be flying by myself (Julia) and get to spend some time specifically with Lena for a little while. 

You can only imagine how excited I am!! Not only for the chance to see her and be able to finally tell her in person how much we love her.... But also to celebrate her birthday.... It will also just be so awesome to be able to kinda get a preview of the big trip to help me know how to better prepare to take our whole family over there! It's just amazing all the way around! 

She doesn't know about this yet.... So for those of you with vk accounts, I haven't decided yet it if will be a full surprise for her, or if we want her to have something to look forward to. The one thing I want to be clear about when she does find out, is that this is just an extra visit. I would never want her to end up disappointed because She misunderstands and thinks this is the big official trip. So, I am going to make sure that I have a good translator when we tell her..... Whenever that is! 

For the official update: We are still awaiting notification on our dossier approval. (Maybe this week?) And then our travel date assignment for the official trip.... My prayer now is that we will know our official travel date by the time I get to go over there so that by the time I leave, we might be able to tell her when we will be returning! How awesome will it be to be able to hug her when I have to back to the airport and be able to promise a a specific return timeline! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

... "Peace, Be still!"

.... and the winds were calm.

We just talked with our facilitator. He went back to the SDA today to check on our status, and while we are still not fully approved, the SDA worker basically told him that in this case, this would not be a problem, but that documents with this error would likely not be accepted again.

I have heard awful stories of minor details being the reason for rejection. I was afraid of that..... but in this case, our prayers have been answered. Jesus calmed this storm. He worked in the heart of an SDA officer. This will not hold us up for now.

As I said, we are still not officially - fully - approved.... but our potential problem that we learned about yesterday, is no longer a potential problem. AND we didn't have to wait two weeks to find out!!!!

Praise The Lord! Thanks be to God. Keep praying!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Urgent prayer needed:::possible delay

Urgent prayer.

There is a possible delay in our paperwork. It isn't definite yet, but a small detail (almost unbelievable, really) has been found in our dossier. We were made aware of it, our facilitator was questioned, but we were told that it didn't mean a rejection, yet. 

We may know something later this week, or a couple weeks from now. 

It could be a big deal. Delaying us as much as a month. 

It could be no big deal at all.

The waiting and not knowing is complicated.




When we got the email today, we panicked. I cried. I was angry and didn't know who to be angry at. 

After a series of emails and a phone call, Ronnie suggested we pray. 

His prayer included the disciples in the boat with Jesus. How they panicked, ran around, and woke Jesus up when the storm raged.... Jesus looked at them (possibly a bit exasperated?) asked if they still didn't know who He was, and then calmed the storm. 

We were the disciples today..... But for now, we go to bed knowing Who it is that is in charge of this small (possible) storm. 

We covet your prayers as much today, if not more, than since this began. We are praying for peace to rule in our home, for guidance through this crazy navigation system, for those whose hands touch our paperwork.... We want Christ to shine in us, through us, and through our paperwork to those who see it. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Fall basket raffle!

A beautiful basket with coffee! Chocolate! Popcorn! Mugs and more! Also a $25 gift card to TJMaxx, Home Goods, or Marshall's. The basket is valued at app. $95. 

You can purchase opportunities to win this basket from now until Saturday Oct. 26 at 12:00, midnight (central time.) we will announce the winner on Sunday October 27. 

Each entry will be assigned a number when the donation is given and The winner will be chosen using

You can send us checks, we can take credit/debit cards, we take cash, or you can give to our site.


With any of these, make sure you let us know that you are purchasing chances to win. 

Each chance to win is $10, or you can buy 3 chances for $25. 

Only two weeks! 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

While we wait....

There is so much about this process that is fast.... getting documents together, running to the post office, running to the notary (three times after 9pm for us over the course of this so far!) and hurrying to raise a ton of money.

But the largest percentage of time is waiting.

We waited for our home study

We waited for our fingerprints

We waited for our USCIS approval

We waited for our dossier to make it to Ukraine

We are now waiting for our approval, so that we can turn around and wait for our travel date.

So, while we wait. We pray. We prepare a pink room for a beautiful girl. We raise money (only about $8,500 to go!). We try to build a relationship via text message, facebook chat, and rough phone conversations.

The other thing we are doing is trying to prepare ourselves (and anyone else who cares and will listen) for the reality. For, you see, adoption is a beautiful picture of redemption. It is how we are moved from sin into the family of God. It is the picture of salvation. But do you know who needs to be saved? Lost people. People who cannot help themselves. People who are without hope and in need of saving.... those are the people who are adopted into God's family.

Adoption, similarly, while beautiful, represents some of the most painful portions of life. Adoption never happens without first having severe pain.

I am reading a book now that will hopefully help us be able to help Lena process the unfathomable pain that happened at some point in her history. I am constantly on blogs, articles, FB pages. I have said before that we may never know her full story, and the story may come out in parts but whatever it is, I want to be sure that we are as prepared as possible to assist her in processing it. The grief of losing a mother - whether through adoption or death - must be addressed. The love of our family cannot fully be understood or even accepted until she is able to process her past - and that may take a lifetime. I read that to say to an adoptee  something like "You are so lucky" is similar to saying to an amputee "You are so lucky to have that prosthetic leg" They my want to respond with "yes, that is a good thing... ya know what would have been awesome? Keeping my leg to begin with!" And, while I realize that many people mean this in a very good way, it can be interpreted to the adoptee very complex.

There are multiple locations and information sites that I can help you find if you are interested in helping your family be prepared for our family's adoption, or another adoptive family. Just comment.

There are days that my tears just seem on the edge of overflow. Today is one of those. I am a simple basket of emotions and just really want to hold her, hug her, tell her that I love her and promise that we will be there for her forever. Knowing that she has homework and someone else is helping her, that she may cry and someone else is comforting, she may be cold and someone else has to give her clothes or blankets to keep warm. We understand that she is in an excellent orphanage.... but you know what an orphanage is not? It is not home. I am ready to bring her home. I am 15 weeks into this process and I am ready to go get my daughter and her princess smile, her awesome sense of humor, her conviction about what is right and her strong opinions. I am ready to learn her language and have Josiah and Lydia teaching her English. I am ready for complicated conversations, charades for primary communication and the whole world being a giant game of Taboo. I am ready for emotions, questions, laughter, dinners, and games. I am ready to be outnumbered children/adults in my home and have them all using language skills that confuse me and Ronnie. I am ready for her to have friends here that love her, along with cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. Not that I am ready to replace her heritage, but I am ready for her to add to that heritage. We do not want to remove any part of her history that she wants to keep.... we just want to give her some new promises of hope!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Join us

When we started this process, we began with open eyes, open hearts. We knew it would not be an easy process and I do not want anything that I am about to say to imply otherwise. I also don't want to sound ungrateful for everything that has occurred in the last 13.5 weeks.

We are thrilled to be almost 60% funded with some great options for funding coming in the next weeks.

We are also thrilled and very grateful to have already submitted our dossier to the Ukrainian government.

Now we are waiting.

It is hard to wait.

No one in our generation likes to wait.

The process at this point looks approximately like this:
Submission Sept 24,
3-5 weeks until we hear about our approval
3-4 weeks until we get a travel date which is approximately 3-5 weeks before we actually travel.
THEN 6-8 weeks in country.

That looks like travel time will be around December 3-17 and given the delays in the government around the holidays it will likely have to be two trips (I CANNOT imagine getting on the plane for a trip home and having to leave Lena there for a few more weeks!!!) All this culminates that our process would likely not be complete until early-mid February.

This is all according to the way other people's process is going right now. It is all unofficial and every process is different. Every region, judge and orphanage works a bit different. All kinds of things can speed up or delay the process.

Friday, I was walking with my kids in their stroller and I started praying. I was asking God to have His hands on each person that comes in contact with our paperwork. I know that this doesn't always mean that he will speed things up.... but just that they would hear our story, see our hearts, overlook the possible "t" not crossed or whatever. That they would see Jesus in our paperwork. While I was praying, I just started feeling the urge to ask for more than just a smooth process (for those in this process, you know better than I, that asking for the smooth process can be a miracle in itself!)

I felt in my spirit to ask for more. Verses began to flood my mind along the lines of "Ask and you will receive" Did you know there are many different forms of this, but it is all only contingent on asking within the Will of God. So, seeing as how we fully believe that we are in the Will of God by bringing Lena home. I feel like we can - and even should ask. The thing that I felt led to request was that we get to go to Ukraine in November.

Again, this doesn't make sense according to the timeline that others are experiencing right now.

It also doesn't completely make sense as far as Ronnie's work schedule.... but that is another story.

I started praying for November - and then remembered that Lena birthday is in November.

That evening, among some other miraculous answers that I will not talk about now, I was telling Ronnie about my prayer time that morning. He responded, "oh, I have been praying for that too!"

Basically, we are asking for something that can ONLY happen by God's hand. There is no way we could take credit for this. But November travel would not only be good since Lena regularly asks us to come for her birthday, but also because we could possibly get the process managed in one trip and get most - if not all - of it done before the holiday shut-down.

Many times in Scripture you read of really bad odds - stories where the deck is stacked against God's people and then you read "But God...." and that is basically what this amounts to. God has shown Himself already in this process. We have learned so much about Him in these last months that we otherwise might not have learned.... and now we are asking for a "But God" moment. We are asking for something that doesn't make sense.

So, we want you to join us. The Bible tells us over and over to ask. And also instructs us to ask in one accord (believing together) for BIG things. God enjoys giving to His children. He specializes in giving things that cannot be explained by any other means. He doesn't always answer with Yes - but we will ask regardless.

If He says "no" we will go when we are allowed to go - we will work until the day we bring her home - and we know that the work has just begun. We will work to show her love. We will work to be a family and make sure that she knows she is just as much a part of us as anyone else is. We will make as many trips as we need to make, we will stay as long as we need to stay.

We know that God can move schedules. We know that He specializes in overcoming the odds. We say - with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego  "We know our God is able to save us but if he chooses not to - we will praise him anyway."  We know our God can move these schedules - but if he chooses not to - we will praise Him anyway!

Monday, September 23, 2013


We have some new scarves for sale! Comment, or email me if you are interested (bringinglenahome at gmail dot com)

$8 per scarf - plus $2 for shipping if we don't see you very often.

You can request colors as well!! Let me know what team you want to support - or what colors you need....

EXCELLENT Christmas gifts!

Thursday, September 19, 2013


I think it is harder for me to blog when my emotions are crazy. There are so many things I want to write and yet, I don't want it to come across as complicated as I am afraid it will. I back up regularly and ask myself if I am writing because I actually feel something? Or am I responding to an actual situation? Or am I just so full of questions that it seems as if writing something.... anything... might help out.

Lena misses us. She loves us. However, there are so many things that are complicated in translation right now. I think this is a bit of a double-edged sword. I think it is good, in part. She is trying to communicate some more complicated issues with us. The answers to every question aren't "normal," "good," "yes," and "thank you." There are sentences with bad "google translate" explanations. There are questions that we ask and the answer doesn't make sense. We aren't sure then if the question was written badly, or if the answer is crazy. Ronnie at least has an understanding of the language - mainly - the alphabet. He can find words and derivatives in the Russian/English dictionary. I tried that the other day and the first word took 9 minutes. 9 minutes to figure out one word means that by the time I could respond, she was gone. Conversations with her online often end with her just simply disappearing. I am not sure if she is on a time limit, or if her internet just cuts out, or if this is cultural. I write "I love you" often, just in case she disappears before I can write my next sentence.

She doesn't understand why we can't come in September. We try to explain. I don't think it works. Saying "we are waiting for the Ukrainian government to invite us." seems to never translate well... because her next question is always, "when will you come?"
Yesterday she asked when we would come - I said "hopefully December or January." She responded by reminding me that her birthday is in November.... If she could only know how badly I want to be there for her birthday. For this weekend.... for today.

It is worth it. It is hard already, but it is worth it.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Run for Lena 5k

The Run for Lena 5k was a raving success! Thank you to everyone that volunteered, worked, ran, prayed, donated, etc. Over $2,200 was raised and I simply cannot believe it! Thank you!

Thanks also to the Calera Police Department for keeping us safe during the race and the Calera Fire and Rescue, for being on hand in case of emergency (which we thankfully did NOT have one!) We have some of the finest in the country!!

In other news.....

Lena has now started her English lessons and in the last week we have also been able to talk with her twice with an actual person to translate the conversation. This is SOOOO much better than just using google translate - or other translation apps that are on our phones. We actually know that communication is happening. I also got to shop with her, via telephone photos this week. She asked for some dresses - so we shopped together.... It is seriously just as exciting to shop for her right now as it was to go to the baby stores when I was pregnant.... I LOVE it!

We have now sent all of our dossier docs to the Ukraine and they should be arriving this week. We are [[prayerfully]] going to be able to submit our docs on September 24... which "should" lead to December travel time. This may cause some complications due to the holidays.... but we know that God is in control of the timing - he knows our vacation restraints and well, we just aren't concerned. He has obviously provided so far - He will continue! We know it! I also know that it would be unbelievable for us to be able to be together as a family at Christmas time! I think Christmas in Ukraine would be awesome. Complicated? yes.... but absolutely wonderful!

We got to see a new photo of Lena tonight from some events that her orphanage participated in recently and it was so wonderful to see her smiling face.

Our next event will be another yard sale.... Please be saving whatever extra goods you have that might sale and bring them to us at anytime between now and October 4. Last yard sale made over $1,400..... we would LOVE to match that again!

Thank you for your prayers and support. We love you guys!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Who is Lena?

Tonight we had a fundraiser where I talked almost completely to people I don't know. Most of whom I will never meet again. (Some of you may be reading... Hi!) 

I gave our little speech probably 30 times. We are adopting, this girl, from Ukraine (hand photo) she is 12, we love her, she loves us, she loves my kids, they love her. We met her in May and fell in love. We are selling these awesome things to raise money to bring her home! 

One of my presentations caught in my throat. I was asked "who is Lena?" I began my answer:  "We are adopting her to be our daughter.... Ukraine.... 12 years.... Love.... Kids..... I went on autopilot in my speaking. Who is Lena? I wasn't answering that question. Of course, I was truly answering what their question had implied.. But I was not answering "who Is Lena?" 

I guess part of the reason I wasn't answering that question is due to the fact that I feel that there is still so much to learn about her! I know her hair color, eye color, that she burns easily in the sun. I know small bits of her history, and where she lives now. I know that she likes pink, wants shoes, and can hear her smile when she answers her phone and we are on the line. I know she likes English and sports at school and is a great swimmer. 

But who is she? She is a child. Loved by God. A princess. Other than that, there is a lot I need to learn. Who is Lena? I cannot wait to find out! 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Josiah and Lydia (our two bios.... as they are called in adoption circles) have painting in their room. My mom, during my pregnancy with each, painted them.

Josiah's has a verse on it from the book of Job -

The Spirit of God has made me, the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

His verse came as I found out I was pregnant. We had just experienced my first miscarriage. After that I really was hoping that I would not be pregnant again unless God would allow me to be able to hold my baby. When I got that little positive stick, I knew that the Spirit of God was crafting and creating that small baby inside of me, I just knew that God would give him life.

When we were first pregnant with Lydia, it was immediately after my second miscarriage. To be honest, I was pretty nervous to even take the test. We weren't intentionally getting pregnant at the time, as a matter of fact, we thought we would wait a while to even consider having another baby... and then... God had another plan. A bundle of joy, wrapped in this tiny little princess. Her verse is from Psalms:

You show me the path of life, in Your presence is fullness of Joy!

My prayer for both of these two, every night as they go to bed is from the old Testament:

The Lord Bless you and Keep you. The Lord make His face to shine on You and give you Peace.

So, when we started this process, I started praying about Lena's verse. What promise had we been given for her? What verse would speak to her in a way that only Scripture can do? We haven't done the painting yet, partly because I am down to about 2 verses that I haven't fully decided on yet, but I know one thing, her promise is peace.

We don't know her whole story. It may be a lifetime before we do. We may never know. But I know that every adoption begins with tragedy. Tragedy deeper than most of us can imagine. Even in deep dark tragedy, we fully believe that Hope can be restored. Her heart can love again. and Peace can rule in her heart. We want our home to be a place of peace for her. Not the kind of peace from cheesy music and candlelight, but Peace that passes understanding. Because I know that for her, peace will HAVE to pass understanding. It will likely not make much sense that she have peace. My prayer is that she will know the Prince of Peace and that He will put peace in her heart.

So, while I am still praying about her actual verse for her wall.... this is my prayer for her every night - from 2 Thessalonians:

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way.

Seems all encompassing right now :) peace, at all times, in every way....

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Burpees, ABI, Dossier, Biometrics

First of all I want to publically thank the people at Crossfit Innovations in Northport, AL for the burpee-a-thon this weekend. You guys are amazing.... my arms, legs, chest, ribs, etc. STILL feel the pain from the 163 burpees I did... I cannot IMAGINE what you who did 300+ must be feeling! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. I could never have guessed how encouraging that trip to Tuscaloosa would be!!

Second - the process.... I updated our timeline. But here are more details (probably more than you want to read... but here we go)

Ronnie has been the one to deal with official documents in this process to date. He is the details person. But yesterday, I was the one to take our applications for a "no criminal history" check to ABI (Alabama Bureau of Investigations) in Montgomery. Ronnie reviewed all of our documents with me after we had them notarized last week so I at least knew which packet to give the lady. The process was a bit different than I had expected, but in about an hour, I had my papers. The last papers that I needed in order to go to the Secretary of State's office for Apostilles. I had a good friend (Samantha Hyde) with me for emotional support and organization.

I had parked a good bit away from both offices intentionally. I knew where a good parking place was. I get nervous driving in cities with one-way streets, parking issues, and buildings that aren't familiar. I also enjoy walking on nice days. So, I parked where I knew what I was doing, and we walked the 10ish blocks to ABI, and then another 5 or so blocks to the Secretary of State's office. This would stop me from being flustered from driving down a one-way street the wrong way, or missing parking places along the route, and would also let me burn some of the nervous energy in the process.

I had heard MANY stories of THIS part of the process being where mistakes get made.... I did all I could to get it right the first time.

We then walked to the Secretary of State's office, found the right door (thankfully) and finally, (app $300 later) had the packet all together!!!!

Another friend picked us up there and took us back to our car. My heart felt lighter immediately. Samantha and I sat together in the car and ordered the documents - two copies of this, one copy of that, three copies of this.... etc. We reviewed the packet three times to be sure EVERYTHING was exact. Every apostille matches the notary, every date is correct, every name is spelled EXACTLY right.

We enjoyed some Dreamland and a short visit to the river just to breathe for a minute and then headed to Bridgestone to leave that precious packet with the people that are [currently] taking it to Ukraine! WOW!!!! Our dossier (minus one form) is headed to the translator!!!!

So, this morning we got up early (again) and headed to USCIS in Birmingham. This time Ronnie had to be present as well. Our Biometrics appointment date is not for a couple of weeks, but we wanted to see if we could get in early. AND WE DID! The USCIS man got us on the list and 30 minutes later our biometrics were complete!!! WOW! That is the last appointment we have until we are in Ukraine! Everything else is "wait - and mail - and wait - and mail" The results of this today will be the final form for our dossier. The paperchase is almost complete (of course, barring any mistakes.... )

I never expected us to be here, now. We are 62 days into the process, our documentation is one form and translation away from being complete. We are 43% funded with some big fundraisers on the horizon. We have had amazing opportunities to talk with Lena lately and although we miss her horribly, we can see the process moving and that helps./

Every day is one day closer to being reunited with our daughter. Every step makes that feel less like an abstract idea, and more real.

Finally, please stay up to date on our fundraisers! We are amazed at how far we have come.... but we still have a ways to go! Pray about how you can help, and then DO IT :)

Praise be to God who has orchestrated EVERYTHING so far. And although we know there are still some big steps between here and there.... He has never lost control. Praise Him!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Mom of three.

I have felt a bit behind some adoptive families at times with our bonding with Lena. Or, rather, her bond with us. Some others that we know have been blessed to have been called momma and daddy from early in the relationship. I am not sure what slowed us in this process. Our personalities? Her personality? The time it took for me to be convinced of how much I was in love with her? Just a set of crazy circumstances? Lack of communication time? Translation issues? I am not sure.

But regardless. This morning Ronnie woke at 4:09 and happened to think to check his phone. Amazingly, she sent us a message at 4:10 saying "Hi."

We talked.

I sent photos of backpacks, purses, shoes, notebooks - she told me what she needed, liked, wanted.

Ronnie asked her a lot of questions. Some more personal than we have felt the freedom to ask prior to today.

We showed her photos of Josiah and Lydia from the last few weeks - she said "our family!"

We showed her - for the first time - a couple of photos of extended family. Grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. (my family is pretty loud and we know we can be a bit overwhelming for first timers... I figured we should go ahead and start with introductions before she gets in country :)) HA!

She said - again - "our family."

Not long after that, maybe it was the first time she felt freedom. Or the first time our communication had gone deep enough. Maybe it was that I have only recently realized that I had not called her "daughter" in my messages.... and started that this week. I have referred to her as daughter to others.... but in my emails and texts to her, I have called her princess, sweet girl, and Lena.

Regardless, about one and a half hours into our conversation it happened. "мама я також тебе люблю"

Momma, I also love you.

Enough. My day was perfect. I am, emotionally, really mom of three.... legally, we still have a ways to go - but we have crossed yet another small - yet great - step to bonding.

We talked for three hours. Sometimes clearly, and some things I still don't understand.

I had yet to get really emotional about this whole process. Not that I haven't felt strong emotions, obviously..... but I haven't cried. Until today. About 5 hours after she got offline, I was driving, I had bought her some shoes. I have bought so many other things for her - shirts, dresses, school supplies, hair bands, make-up. But the shoes apparently got me. Today. I cried.

I cried joy tears - because she called me momma.

I cried fear tears - because I have to admit every day that nothing is for sure. (but that is true in all of life)

I cried pain tears - my daughter is halfway around the world asking for school shoes.

I cried hope tears - we are taking steps this weekend and next week towards bringing her home.

I just pulled in the parking lot - with Josiah in the back seat asking what was wrong - and I cried.

мама я також тебе люблю.