Sunday, June 30, 2013

Falling in love... Part 2

We left off with the girls getting ready for Friday. A church group came to play games with the kids at the camp, but pretty soon into the game time, we found the Ukrainians migrating inside. Alabama summers are a bit warmer than Ukrainian! :) once during this time, I couldn't  find Lydia.....  Within a couple of minutes I realized that Lena had been concerned about how hot it was, she had taken Lydia inside! 

We then got everyone ready to swim. These kids LOVE to swim! They are great at it too! I got Lydia's swimsuit on first, and put her in the pool in her little float, Lena came swimming up and took complete charge of Lydia while I got Josiah ready to swim as well. Lena took care of Lydia the whole time we swam! The other kids were jumping, diving, splashing, she was protecting Lydia.... And fussing when the boys splashed her in the float! 

That afternoon the kids had rest time and had to pack their bags for an overnight trip they were going to take the next day. The boys threw a few things in a bag and were ready to ride bikes again..... The girls were taking a long time to pack everything they needed. It amazed me how little they all packed! They were going for two nights and each child got their own clothes to fit in their running style backpack. 

Dinner worked similar to what had happened at breakfast, the kids all got their food first, then I went through the line to fill plates for Josiah and Lydia, by the time I had finished getting their plates, Lena had finished her food, gotten a high chair for Lydia and was ready to feed her while I ate. Lydia just LOVED this attention! 

We swam again at night after dinner and just had a blast with the kids, Ronnie and I both swam this time too. By this time, Ronnie was beginning to fall in love with Lena as well. After swimming, while we were standing around and waiting for the van, the kids were all attracted to a Mini Cooper car sitting in the parking lot! After we waited for a while, we learned that The van had been taken to get an oil change - and we had to walk back to the house we stayed in. It was quite a adventurous walk back! I was keeping three of the boys "on track" ha! They were typical boys - picking up rocks and throwing them into the woods! I had a foot race with one for a minute, one boy found a frog, etc. etc. they were just fun! 

On Saturday morning we got up early and left to go to Huntsville. We had a blast at the Space and Rocket center. Each American was paired with a child. As soon as they told the kids to find a partner, Lena ran to me! And Max (that we shopped with the week before) made eye contact and walked to Ronnie:). We had to leave right after lunch. I told Ronnie as we walked out of the space center, with tears in my eyes, that I was leaving part of my heart at the Space and Rocket center. I wasn't even fully convinced that we needed to adopt yet.... I just knew that I loved those kids so much! 

To be continued.... 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Falling in Love - Part 1

Back to "the story"...

You have already read about how Ronnie and I were open to the idea of adoption.... But I want to tell you about Lena.

Our first time to meet Lena was at CiCi's pizza. The kids had been in country for three days and we were meeting to go shopping with the kids to buy some clothes for their time here in Alabama. Anytime we have worked with the kids at Bridgestone, we have an automatic attraction for the kids to interact with our family.... a baby :) She and another girl, Nastia, walked up to our table and knelt by the highchair where the little princess was sitting. They started talking to Lydia (in Ukrainian of course - so we have no idea what was said) but little princess was just LOVING the attention!

When we got to Kohl's to shop, Ronnie, Kaitlyn (from our church) and I were paired up with one of the boys, Max. An awesome kid. We loved helping him figure out what shoes he liked, what size socks he wore, etc. etc. When we were finished shopping we all gathered outside of Kohl's waiting for the others to complete their shopping. Several of us were having to work to keep little princess from running off of the sidewalk into the parking lot... and then Lena finished her shopping! She came out and picked up Lydia- was holding her, kissing her, and kept her entertained for the rest of the time we were waiting.

We put Max's clothes into the van, and loaded up to head home. Not realizing that the initial groundwork had been laid for Lena to capture our hearts forever!

Our next time to spend time with Lena was during our time as houseparents. We had actually seen her one other time at the park, but really didn't have much time to spend with her or any of the other kids while trying to stop Josiah and Lydia from diving down the slides.

When we were houseparents, we arrived late on Thursday evening and were waiting for the kids to come home from a fun day at the lake. They arrived about an hour after we got to the camp. Each kid was exhausted. I stayed outside with Josiah and a couple of the boys who were wanting to ride bikes. When I came inside, Lena and Nastia had gone into their rooms and gotten some stuffed animals that our sunday school class had sent when the kids had first landed in Atlanta. They had given them to little princess to play for a while. Lena was sunburned from her day at the lake and I remember trying to make sure she was not hurting too badly. Some of the time as houseparents is blurry..... partly because when you take a 1 year old, a 2 year old and 8 kids ranging from 10-15 who don't speak English.... it gets a bit chaotic at times.

I was the one to wake up the girls on Friday morning. I went in to their rooms to be sure they were getting out of bed. Like most teenage girls - they were not in a big hurry to get out of bed. How sweet they all looked resting peacefully... but then the morning started! We were going to spend most of that day at the camp, but had an appointment with a church group that was coming to play games with the kids. We all ate breakfast - Lena ate hers and then came over to help me feed Lydia. This became a routine at each meal. She wanted to help feed Lydia each time.

There is much more to the story - as we all fell in love with this amazing girl.... but it will have to wait for another day.

Until then... Thanks for the prayers and support.... we are already so amazed at how God is working through YOU to help us and our newest daughter!

Friday, June 28, 2013


We will skip the emotional portion of this blog for a moment while we discuss something a bit more technical. It is important to us that everyone knows a few things about helping us bring Lena home.

Many people have raised money before and have a full understanding of how to - what to - when to etc. with money. However, some people have not and some of this information is for YOU!

Secondly, for EVERYONE, we want to be as transparent through this process as possible - emotionally and financially. We want you to be able to trust us with your money. We want you to know that when you give, you are giving to bring a precious girl home.

For the emotions, I am not good at covering mine up, so, if you think I might be emotional, I probably am :) be careful what you ask... HA! But seriously, at the end of the day we are doing this for our family, and for Lena and because we know that God has called us to be her new family.

If, in the process we can show you, your family, and friends, that adoption is a good thing (and possibly even a "thing" that you could do) then that is a side bonus. So, we want to be as open as we can be (on a public website) with the process, the fun, the love, the joy.... and the frustration, the delays, the fears and the pain. We want you to take this journey with us! We want YOU to be involved. We love Lena, and we know, that if you going on this journey with us, you will be in love with her before she ever arrives home!!!

Back to the technical stuff.... Here are a few things we want you to know when you donate to our adoption fund:

  • Money donated through our PayPal or account (please see the buttons/links on  the right side of our blog) is subject to a PayPal fee of 2.9% + $0.30 for each transaction if paid by credit card.  This means that if you donate $10 to our adoption fund, we only see $9.41 of it (or if you donate $100, we only see $96.80).  We feel these fees are totally worth the ease, security and accessibility that PayPal offers, but we want you to know that a portion of your donation will go toward these fees. If you have a PayPal balance or a bank account set up on your PayPal account, these fees can be avoided.  
  • Your donation will not be tax deductible.  We would LOVE to say that is can be, but the time and cost associated with becoming an eligible non-profit is simply not within our means.   If you have other questions, contact your accountant - he or she will have more information!
  • We have set up a separate bank account specifically for our adoption donations.  We want to be sure there is no confusion between our monthly budget and the money you have given us specifically to fund our adoption.  Our PayPal account is linked to this bank account and any other donations will also be deposited directly into this account.
  • Should we find ourselves unable to proceed with our adoption at any point (an unforeseen hitch in the process that is out of our control, etc), we will donate any money remaining in our adoption fund to help another family's adoption.  We want you to know that the money in our adoption fund will be put toward the cause of "making a way" for an orphan to have a family - no matter what.
  • Adoption funds that are raised are not dispensed in one gigantic $25,000 check (thankfully) but are applied to costs along the way. (Filing fees in both the US and the Ukraine, home study, medical physicals, air tickets, lawyer fees in the Ukraine, Passport fees, housing for the 5-6 weeks we will need to go get her, Judges fees, court fees, possible English classes, etc.) Should you ever want to know details of the costs associated with adoption, please do not hesitate to ask.  We promise to keep excellent track of every penny spent in this process so that we can be responsible for your generosity.

We are already doing everything we can to find the best people to help us for the most reasonable prices. We have started filling out paper work, contacting multiple people who have done this before or are currently in process, and trying to get as many appointments set up as possible.
In other fun news....
I got to chat with her today for the first time! I miss this girl TERRIBLY!
Thanks for all your support! 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Decision

Lena's coming home story goes back to sometime in early 2007. What? How is that possible? You guys weren't married then!


In a list of questions that we had when we were preparing to get married, the question of children was discussed.... and adoption came up. We discussed the fact that one day we would both like to adopt, preferably international - but would be open to whatever options were there for us.

It was important to me that Ronnie be open to the idea. We didn't go much further in those conversations about adoption - just that it was an option.

In 2009, due to several things, including a pregnancy loss, we began to pray about adoption together. As we were praying, and getting information together, we found out that we were pregnant again! We were so excited - and of course, the conversations about adoption faded into the background again. Not gone forever, just in the background as we prepared for our firstborn.... our son who arrived healthy in 2010.

Fast forward to 2011, I lost a second pregnancy. After this loss, the fear of getting pregnant again was overwhelming. Emotionally I couldn't imagine the possibility of a third loss - so, naturally, we looked a second time into adoption. I emailed some friends and family who had adopted, got some more information, looked at websites of children waiting on families, and checked on the options available to a family like ours.... The emails were coming in.... and then, in September, I learned that I was pregnant again! This pregnancy would cover a time frame that included two moves and two job changes for Ronnie - but in 2012 our beautiful daughter was born. She has brought a spark to our lives and as with our son, we love her dearly!

A few months after the little princess was born we learned of a ministry near by that hosts Ukrainian orphans periodically in a type of cultural exchange program. With our background of being interested and open to adoption, Ronnie and I knew that if we got involved, this would like lead to more than just some volunteer hours.... but we marched on. Praying constantly.

In August 2012 we met the first group of Ukrainian orphans by cooking dinner for them. They immediately amazed us. And we only saw them for a couple of hours.... and they couldn't even talk to us!

In December 2012, we took the leap to being house parents for the kids. This is an opportunity to move into their house for a couple of days to "parent" the kids. Our two plus the 8-10 Ukrainian kids! What an unbelievable experience!

All that leads to this past month - June 2013. We had several opportunities to work with the kids over the last month - and through shopping, playing at the park, house parenting, making scrapbooks, swimming, eating and laughing together, we fell in love with all 8 of the precious kids that were here....

However, one little girl, Lena, just captured our hearts in a way that has only happened by my own two kids! The first to fall in love with her was Ronnie, I will have him blog his experience soon.... Second was the little princess - She and Lena were almost attached at the hip! She preferred to have Lena hold her over me most of the time! I was next.... watching this little girl love my little girl just melted my heart. Little man was last... for those that know him - he is not a cuddly kid, but he has not stopped asking about Lena since we left her at the camp last Saturday. He got pretty upset with me when he found out that Lena will not be able to make it to his upcoming birthday party! He wants her to eat some of his Madagascar cake! :)

I will continue our decision process in the next few blogs....

Is 1:17 - learn to do good;
seek justice,
    correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

We are going to have a new daughter!

I want to start by saying that the response we have already gotten to the news that we are going to be bringing a new daughter home has been absolutely overwhelming. If I had not cried tears of joy when Ronnie called me today to tell me that Lena had said YES! Then I would definitely be crying now!

I will soon tell the whole story of how we met Lena, why we want to adopt, all the reasons we LOVE her dearly, and of course, you will walk through this process with us.... but for today, I just want to say to you, welcome. Welcome to our new adventure. We know this process is never simple - but we also know it is what we are called to do.... and even more than that, it is what we are thrilled to be allowed to take part in.

We could not be more excited to be adding such a precious princess to our family! We will be honored to be her parents!