Sunday, July 28, 2013

S.L.O.W. M.O.T.I.O.N

Well, I haven't updated in a few days for a couple of reasons.

First, I was out of town on a retreat that was planned before we started this process - but was VERY well timed by God.

Second, there really hasn't been anything to report. Unfortunately.

We did have our home study the day before I left for the retreat. I was all stressed out that day and really probably drove my kids and everyone else crazy. It seemed to go well though. She came, we talked, she toured the house, and she left. We will wait now for her to write up her report when all of our clearances come in.

There have been some delays in clearance. But it should all be worked out by this next week - and then she should have her report done the week after that. It all feels painfully slow. Knowing that each day is one more day that Lena is in the orphanage is just hard.

We can always see when Lena has been online on the program we use to talk with her and I have missed her about 4 times this last week. It simply makes my heart sick when I get online and it says "last seen 9 minutes ago" which seems to be the time that I get often!

I did get to try to Skype with her once last week, it was not smooth, not much was communicated due to technical malfunctions, but it was absolutely amazing to see her smiling little face, and hear her voice. She couldn't hear me, so I just typed into Skype and she could respond. That didn't work long either, but it was worth it.

We are working hard still on fundraising. We are over 23% now, in only 1 month! Actually.... one month and one day to be exact. She agreed to be adopted by us on June 27, so, here, on July 28 we are over 23% funded. Wow. God is providing!

Saturday we will have our yard sale. Please come buy our stuff! We have TONS of stuff! Electronics, books, baby gear, toys, furniture, clothes, shoes.... it goes on and on. Our cars cant park in our garage right now due to yard sale stuff!

You can order t-shirts now also - $20 for adults and $15 for kids.

And we are taking registrations for the 5k coming up on Sept 14. Please sign up to run!! We want to have a great showing of runners to support bringing Lena Home! I can't wait!

More coming soon.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

We have been quiet, but we haven't stopped

Just because there haven't been any posts, doesn't mean we haven't been working.

For the home study:

Today is home visit day.
Criminal history is being processed. Ronnie's is in, Julia's has to be run manually and should be about 2 more weeks.
The medical info should be ready this week.

For the fund raising:

Here is a rundown of everything going on right now to help bring Lena home:
Coffee -
Donate -
Bracelets - email me
T-shirts - email me
Yard Sale - August 3 - email to donate - come buy stuff on august 3 from 7:00am -.....
Burpee-a-thon - August 24. email me to find out how to help raise money here!
5k - contact me to get information on how to sponsor, run, or volunteer.

For prayer:
Pray for Lena. We haven't talked with her now for 9 days and we are really missing her.
Pray for us. We are trying to enjoy this process, but sometimes it gets kinda crazy to have to wait, knowing that she is simply waiting on us.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

cakes, junk, and needles

Well, we have done our best to make everyone around us a few pounds heavier by selling some of Alabama's tastiest baked goods over the last two days. Yesterday, at the farmers market we sold over $300 worth of cookies, brownies, cakes, and breads.... tonight, at Calera Baptist, we sold another $90 worth of goodies. So, our total for the bake sale was just over $400! Thank you to everyone!!! Our overall total now is just over 17% - - - in just 3 weeks!!!!!

The next big project is a yard sale - two weeks away. If you are getting rid of stuff.... clothes, furniture, DVDs. etc. etc. (you know, treasures that you need to get rid of) send them our way! We have several families' donations already stacked in our garage, and are ready for more! You can price it or we can price it... whatever is best for you.

I will also need people to help me sell that day - so, come on. I will make coffee, we will have water and such here that day at my house - come shop - and stay to help us sell! We are doing everything we can come up with to bring sweet Lena home! She wants to come home soon.

We have our home study almost completed - we are only waiting now on the in-house visit that is scheduled for next week.

It is amazing what one can do for their child, isn't it? Here is a strange quirk about me. I pass out with needles (and blood in general). I mean, I passed out once when they pricked my finger before attempting to give blood... obviously they never let me make it to the real needles! However, when I have been pregnant - all 4 times (two losses, two bouncy children) - I haven't passed out once! It is almost like when I know it is for the good of my baby, I can somehow deal with the needles. Even once, after a pregnancy loss, when they were drawing blood to be sure my numbers went back to 0 - I knew the first time they drew the blood after it had all gone back to 0.... I got all woozy and hot - they laid me back in the chair fast enough to not fully pass out, but I was close!

So, this week, at the doctor I was nervous. Josiah and Lydia were in the room with us and I was going to have to have blood drawn. It was almost scary... she put that needle in - and I didn't feel a thing! I mean, no tingle, no heat rush, no room turning black.... just like when  I have been pregnant.... but I am NOT! it's like my body/emotions knew that this has to be done to bring my baby home.

Pretty crazy.

It has now been since Saturday that we got to message with our girl. I miss her more every day. Pray that she gets online soon please...

Monday, July 15, 2013



we had our family physicals today - and as it turns out, our family doctor has two internationally adopted kids... and has a good friend with a Ukrainian adopted child.... and has a folder in his office on how to fill out Ukrainian adoption paperwork. How about that? Our God does details! :) This doctor that we chose a year and a half ago, has multiple experiences in adoption... two being his own kids. He is helping us with some of the craziness of that part of the process!


the college students at our church were at my house tonight. Baking, painting, playing with kids, washing dishes, and even putting up folded kids clothes and toys. They are awesome. I stood back a few times, listening to two sweet girls giggle in excitement to spend time with my daughter. I saw them smile when they talk about helping Lena plan her wedding one day. I saw them already loving a girl that one has met once and the other hasn't.

In addition,

there are about 12 families that have baked a table full of goodies for this bake sale tomorrow! I am completely humbled by the way people give. I am brought to tears in thanks for the friendships of these dear people - and to my knees in praise to my God.

Earlier today,

I was nervous about whether or not people were going to buy my baked goods. But after the faithfulness that I have seen today, I'm more concerned with my heart that fills with doubt so easily.

Oh, how He loves us.... So.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Upcoming Calendar of events

I will try to keep this edited and up to date as best as possible -

Upcoming events and big dates:

July 16: Bake Sale at Calera Farmer's Market
August 3: Yard sale
August 24: Burpee-a-thon in Northport, AL
September 7: Family night with Grace Klein ministries. Liberty church. Hoover.
September 14: 5k Race in Calera, AL
Oct. 4-5: yard sale 2
Oct. 12-26: fall basket raffle! (
Oct. 25-26: Yard sale 3!!!
Nov. 2: Mary Kay, Tupperware, 31, Scentsy, Young Living Open house
Nov 16: Calera Christmas Market - Calera UMC
Nov 18: Julia goes to Kiev!!!

Ongoing fundraisers:
Cheeky Maiden Soaps - Hope Suds!
Just Love Coffee -
Bracelets - email us your order - search for Mayhew Adoption
t-shirt orders - $20 for adults and $15 for kids. email to order.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

She hasn't called me momma

As Lena left for the Ukraine three weeks ago, there were actually two things that I didn't have. One, was that I didn't have the peace of knowing that she knew she was loved and wanted.(as previously mentioned) The second one was that she had never referred to me as Momma.

Now, that seems simple, however, the other thing was that she also never called me Julia. She never called Ronnie by his name either. She would talk directly to us, she talked to Josiah and Lydia - but she never called us by our names. The only reference to Ronnie that she made was when handing Lydia back to him - she would be talking to Lydia and say something along the lines of "back to Papa." Now, I don't know even now if it was because she didn't know our names? The kids are introduced to so many people while they are here, I can imagine that at a certain point, everyone begins to look the same - especially at the point of introducing names and such - and that once a bond is beginning to be established, it may be a bit awkward to the kids to be saying things like "I love you, what's your name?"

Fast forward.

We have gotten to message with Lena about 4 times now via chat and even in this, I really didn't know what to call myself. I am not yet, legally, her mom. I am also, (hopefully) moving past the point that she would need to simply call me Julia. So, on chat, she still hasn't called me by any name. She just talks directly to us, there isn't really a need to use personal names most of the time.

Today was an emotional day on chat, she had cried to her instructor to get time online, we didn't know how long it would be and it was the first time she started asking when we will come to get her, and when will she be in America. She pressed us to try to give specifics - and the truth is, we WANT to go NOW! But we honestly have no idea when we will get to go get her.

Our conversation was complicated. It is always challenging due to the language barrier. We sit with both google and bing translators open and Ronnie with his Russian-English dictionary for the words that don't translate well. We work for every sentence. We wait on each phrase.

Today, it was more emotional than usual. But the point that just broke me was this. We were trying to be encouraging that we will be able to send her some packages when she gets finished with camp.  So, we asked if she wanted us to send her anything specific. I was hoping she would list a few things that she maybe saw when she was here and wanted us to send to her. I was even kind of hoping that she would ask for some things that we would not be able to provide until she is ours! (or even some things that we will say "no" to?!"

Her response was not easily translated. The first words were "I want normal..." But there were more words in the sentence it that both google and bing wouldn't translate.

After we looked in the dictionary, but still didn't find it,  I sent her back a message that said that I didn't know what those words were - I put that text in quotes. She simply wrote back "НУ МАМУ ПАПУ" - I am not sure if you know much about Ukrainian.... but even not knowing the letters.... momma and daddy. In all capital letters.

When asked what she wanted.... her answer was "a normal mom and dad."

She still hasn't called me momma. But I felt today like we took a great step forward. It is hard sometimes to not get mechanical in this process. It is hard to keep working sometimes. But then, on a day like today when the emotions were flying, and it was so obvious that she wants us, it pushes me to go prepare for another fundraiser - to fill out some more papers - and to go find the furniture and decorations we need for her room. She still hasn't asked for things. She didn't provide me with the list I was hoping for. She provided me with a giant step forward....

She will call me momma one day. It will be worth every second I am waiting while we build this relationship over the internet.....

Day 17 done - 17 days closer to bringing my baby home!


Friday, July 12, 2013

It is the little things.

I know, I just posted today. But this has been an awesome evening. 

It was date night. 

We had 3 hours with Josiah and Lydia taken care of by some dear friends. First, at dinner, Ronnie and I were at a small, privately owned place. We discussed whether or not to ask for a sponsorship for the 5k race from the manager. We discussed how much cooler it is when you have someone that has a personal connection, that it seems like it would be hard to trust someone that just walked in, not a 501c3 or anything, asking for money. But then he said he would ask if he could figure out who the manager was. 

He goes to check out.

The Girl that was working there leaves to get my to-go box and yells to the back, "can you check this guy out?" The Guy walks to the front..... Yep. The Owner. 

Card reader has technical difficulties. Wouldn't connect to Internet..... Buying time for a conversation! Ronnie explained what we are doing, that we need sponsors.,.. The owner agrees to consider it! We should know soon! 

We have already been blessed this week by how quickly and enthusiastically many corporate and private business owners have donated to sponsor the 5k race. (If you know of anyone who would be interested in sponsoring, please let us know! T-shirt space is available:))

So, we were shopping a few minutes later. And we ran into someone that we really have been needing to talk to in order to get some helpers at the race.... Imagine what he said?! Yep, they can help..... And they won't charge the usual fee! (Don't ask who this was.... We are sworn to secrecy:)) just praise God for not only the gifts of running into these people we needed to talk with, but also that they were interested and helpful! 

To top it off..... We were looking for some paint. Three colors. And just "happened" to find one of those gallons of paint - premixed - on sale for $10! (Normally 30ish)! Exact match to what we needed! Exact!
 Yeah, that alone isn't a big deal..... but its just one more small piece.... 

We really do need to get a journal. This journey has already been so amazing. The stories are constantly Driving us to our knees in praise. We decided that its like watching God put together a giant, beautiful puzzle. One that is sharpening our faith, pushing our trust and in the end, it is growing our family! 

I heard it would be a roller coaster

I know that we have just begun this adventure - day 16 of "Bringing Lena Home" but this has been such an adventure already! We haven't even gotten past the homestudy yet and I am already having good and bad days.

We have planned what seems like an unending set of fundraisers. I have a coordinating set of unending spreadsheets.  Gel bracelets, bake sale, 5k run/walk race, coffee..... we have others in the pipe ready to come when some things calm down.... t-shirts, m&ms, krispy kreme (figured that should wait until after everyone runs the 5k... haha!!) maybe we will do that one sept 21! :) So far, we have just passed 11% of our fundraising goal.... not bad for 16 days!!!!

Sometimes, I am having the time of my life. Sometimes, I am overwhelmed. Sometimes, (as often as possible) I just have to stop and put together a puzzle with Josiah - both for him to have mom time.... and for me to use my head for something other than raising money. Usually, I need more chocolate for each task presented!

Every delay is time that my girl is an orphan. Every day is a day she goes without a hug from her little brother and a slobbery kiss from her little sister. So, every day we do something.... anything.... to take a step to bring her home.

Emotions are a funny thing aren't they? How quickly we fell in love with this precious gift from God. How quickly we are ready to give time, money, effort, sleep... whatever it takes... to bring her home...

And what is even better? how many of you have already given as well.... time, effort, money... we love you all and appreciate all the help Bringing Lena Home! I cannot wait to be able to tell her one day how so many people loved her before they even met her!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Run for Lena!

We are going to have a 5k in Calera to raise money to bring her home!

Sept 14, 2013
8:00am (so you can be home in plenty of time to watch your favorite team play football!)

Do you run? SIGN UP!
Do you like t-shirts? It's $5 cheaper to just get a t-shirt!
Do you want to help but don't like to run? Let me know - I need volunteers! (organization, packet stuffing, registration table, race marshalls, water tables, finish line workers, etc. etc. etc. )

Click the link above for more info!

Monday, July 8, 2013

She will be here

All the papers become mechanical, the searching for a sign of her being online becomes a source of constant disappointment, the hoping for a speedy adoption seems so far away... The fundraising, while fun and awesome to watch God put together, becomes a matter for experienced event planners. (Not me! I am So far out of my league!)

But today I bought two belts and 4 pair of socks... For her. 

And this evening, I met with a precious lady who is helping me design and decorate her room, and for a few minutes, the paper work is distant, the money is not my first thought, and the timeline seems bearable. 

Pink, sparkles, plaid, pompoms, glitter, chalkboards, canvass, lamps, rugs, jewelry boxes, closets.... These were all discussed this afternoon and for an hour and 15 minutes I was planning a physical location for her to live, to sleep, to grow up, to laugh in, to cry in, to fall in love, to be heartbroken (that guy will be in trouble!) to LIVE her life in. We were planning for her to be here.... And for that 75 minute timespan I was in heaven. The technicalities of adoption faded. The emotions soared. 

And for THAT, I thank God. 

John 14:18
I will NOT leave you as orphans, I will come to you. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

It's been... one week

The words to the "bare-naked ladies" song are echoing in my head.

One week since you looked at me, cocked your head to the side and said "I'm angry." 

Yeah, she wasn't looking at me a week ago, and we definitely weren't angry... But it's been a week since I talked to my precious princess, two weeks since I last saw her smiling face. 

It may be August before we speak/text with her again. That feels like eternity. 

Tonight we finished our stack of documents for homestudy. They are ready with only the exception of medical papers - that appointment is next week. 

This week we got fingerprints done, requested references to write up info, wrote autobiographies, and got passports for the kids ordered. 

For every paper completed, I feel like there are three more, but we are headed the right way. 

I miss her short Ukrainian accented phrases, the way she said "Lydika," and her silliness. 

I missed her at Josiah's birthday party, he did too. 

I asked him tonight how many sisters he had, he first said "three," (which made me nervous) then amended his answer to "two." I asked who they area he said "Wena and baby yidyia." Such a cutie! 

It feels so far away, yet, we are two documents closer as of tonight. 

All to bring her home. Is God calling you to help? Just ask us how you can help! Remember to pre-order your bracelets. You don't have to pay now, but you MUST be on the pre-order list to get the discounted rate!!! :) it will be about 2 weeks before they arrive! 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fundraisers going on NOW! or very soon!!

Alright, I decided to get busy bringing her home! Still pretty emotional over here, but thanks to the prayers of you guys - here are the fundraisers that are coming.

GEL BRACELETS - They will be blue and say "Bringing Lena Home - John 14:...18" They should be delivered within the next two weeks. I will post a picture when they are in. If you want to go ahead and reserve yours, Let me know and you get a $1 discount! ($3 for pre-orders, $4 once they arrive....) we will deliver or mail them to those not local.... so, send me a message - or an email

T-SHIRTS - As mentioned yesterday, these are in the works. No price yet, but these will be pretty much exclusively pre-orders.

BAKE SALE - We are hoping to do a bake sale at the Calera Farmers Market on Tuesday, July 16. The market is open from 3:00-6:00. Let me know what you bake :) and get ready to bake it!! THEN - get come buy what people bake! Some eat, and some bake - all can participate!

Of course, you can still buy coffee.... (justlovecoffee.come/mayhewadoption) or just donate! ( - search for Bringing Lena Home) 

We also take checks and cash :) for those who just LOOK at the internet but like to pay in person!!


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Wait.... The answer... The beginning

My "daughter" was in Ukraine, I was in the US. I loved her and wanted her but she didn't know the depth of my feelings... our feelings.

We had already contacted our attorney in the Ukraine and had been informed that sometime in the next two weeks he would go and talk with Lena.


At first, I thought, great! Not much time... and then Monday morning came. I realized that the end two weeks was still 13 days away. Then Monday afternoon came. The end of two weeks was still 12.5 days away. Then Monday evening... etc. etc. This was taking forever, and we were still on Monday! Every moment I thought more and more about her.

When you are trying to get pregnant, (or afraid you might be pregnant) there is a two week wait. Every woman that has tried to get pregnant knows about that time - the amount of time you have to wait to take a pregnancy test. Not everyone is like me I am sure, but I become completely obsessed. I examine every small symptom. I check out crazy websites like :) and others. Every time, its like I am starting over, learning about the beginning of pregnancy again. Like if I check the websites early and often, I might not have to wait as long...

The difference is this, while I was waiting to get the answer from Lena as to whether or not she wanted to join our family, there was NOTHING I could do. No early symptoms to examine ad nauseum, no dollar tree tests to take and hope to see a line. Nothing but play with Josiah and Lydia and wait. and wait. and wait.

We got online and onto the Eastern European "facebook" and found her profile. We created our own profile and requested to be her "friend." She had not been online since she was in the US. Other kids from the group accepted our requests, but she wasn't getting online.

I made it successfully to Tuesday. Another long day. A million questions. No answers.

Ronnie deals with stress by doing stuff. So, he actually went ahead and started finding what all paperwork we were going to have to get together and started filling stuff out.... It can't be filed until later in the process, but I think this was how he was feeling like he was "doing" something to make the time go faster.

Other families that are in the process emailed and asked if we had heard anything yet.

Nope. Nothing.

Then, on Wednesday, (much less than two weeks!!!) the family that is adopting Yura (the little boy that Josiah LOVED!) texted at lunch. I was going through the drive thru to get lunch for my kids and just about LOST it! Yura had said YES!

I texted Ronnie. He was so excited for the Gothards.... and for Yura... and, like me, was wondering where our answer was!! :)

They are using the same attorney we are.... So, Ronnie, not being any more patient than I am, emailed the attorney. "When do you think we will have an answer from Lena?"

About an hour later Ronnie called. He was in the car with a co-worker, but told her that she would know why he was so excited in a minute. But that he couldn't do anything else until he called me.

With all four pregnancies, (we have had two miscarriages) I have been the one to read the test and walk in to tell Ronnie that  "I think I see a line." I think it is awesome that Ronnie got the email and got to be the one to call me.

The response from the attorney "Right now, Ronnie. I talked with Lena and she said YES!" By then I was sitting on my couch at home. Thankfully. I am sure that, had I been driving, it would have caused issues. Tears came immediately. I couldn't stay seated. I am a phone walker. The more intense my conversation is, the faster I pace. I went directly outside and began to walk on the worn path in my backyard.... from the garden to the swingset and back.

Here we go! She said yes! She knows we love her! She knows we want her! She loves us too! She wants us too! I laughed, I cried, I called my mom. I couldn't call anyone else. We had to let grandparents and aunts and uncles know in the right order, and then we could tell the world... and I wanted to do that now! So, I called Ronnie back - he was busy. I got online. She still had not been online.

It was all I could do to contain myself. Ronnie continued getting paper work together to begin even know what other paperwork would be needed. (At times, this list seems unending.) That night we created the facebook page, the blog, and started looking more into fund raising ideas. (please see the right side of the blog for more info on the two fundraising options we have right now). We emailed the social worker that is doing our home study and felt like we were on top of the world. We know this journey is going to be a roller coaster. Any time we work towards something worth having, we have to work for it. There will be ups and downs. But we are headed down the right path. Josiah is excited about his new sister and really doesn't understand why Lena isn't here right now. Lydia still smiles when she sees Lena's picture on my ipad or computer. I know it won't always be easy, but it will always be right.

You guys have already been more support than we can even comprehend! There are so many people already helping with funds, with room decorations and clothes. We are amazed at how God is working through you guys.

We have had a couple of times to talk to Lena on her "facebook" now - but as of right now, it has been since Saturday since she was online. The communication gaps are tough for a mom's heart. But we will wait.... we know she loves us. For now, we do something every day to start to bring her home. We have millions of questions - even more paperwork - and even more money to raise - but as big as the mountain seems at times, it feels so minimal as compared to that moment when we will get her through customs in the US airport - a fuzzy distant future right now - and she will be ours!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Falling in love - and admitting it!

After houseparenting, Ronnie and I discussed different personalities of the kids and such on the way back from Huntsville. We talked about how the boys were complicated but fun, how the girls loved our kids, how Lena attached to Lydia and how Josiah LOVED Yura (one of the boys)! Ronnie asked if there was one that I thought we would adopt, and while I loved them all - to be honest I wasn't sure yet. He then asked specifically about Lena. I loved her.... but wasn't sure yet that she was my daughter.

On Sunday, the next day, we talked about the kids with our Sunday School class - and I even said the words "we are fully in love with these kids, but I don't feel like we both have an attachment with one particular one that we will adopt in this group." I look back now and see what was my own fear talking.... because it is almost as if making that single statement changed my heart. There is one other time in my life that I remember making a statement that I wanted to be true, but knew as soon as the words fell out of my mouth that I had just lied to myself and all those listening. This was that same feeling. When I made the statement my stomach sank... my heart started racing and I wondered if everyone else knew as vividly as I did that I had just lied to avoid my own fear. My head was full for the rest of the class of a "slideshow" of memories of Lena. In the pool, waking up, riding rides at the space center. I knew at that moment that my life was about to change. I was just afraid to admit it!

I avoided the conversation after church. Ronnie didn't bring it up. He made one statement later that day and just said "I can't get her out of my mind, Julia." The truth was that I couldn't either. But I wasn't about to tell him that! :)

On Monday morning I told him that he should contact someone and see about getting more information on her. We knew we wouldn't have a lot, but even just a little bit, I felt, would help me make the decision. He called - and they said that the info would have to be translated from an email. This ended up taking a week! During that week, we went with my family on vacation. We agreed to pray about it through that time, knowing we really wouldn't have time to discuss it. I prayed and prayed. I prayed for Lena's heart, I prayed for Josiah and Lydia, I prayed for clarity.... and I prayed that if this was wrong for our family - that we would have clear answers.... and that if it was right - then that would be clear as well.

Every time I prayed - my heart attached more to this little girl! I tried everything to run away emotionally. I tried reasoning. This was going to be expensive! This would change the birth order in our little family. I wanted to one day take Josiah and Lydia to Disney and this might make it out of our budget in the next year or so. I wasn't sure how we would work out going to the Ukraine to get her - with our kids' age... I want a new dishwasher. (HA!) Every excuse came back resounding with echoes of emptiness. We had been away from her for a week at this point - and over my vain excuses, I could hardly think of anything else, other than what a privilege it would be for her to one day call me "mom." My heart was changing day by day. I was falling in love.

On the way home from the beach, I finally admitted to Ronnie that I couldn't get Lena out of my mind. We still had no further information, and I think that was needed - I think I needed to have to admit that I loved her - even without any background information. The day after we arrived home we went to a Luau with the kids. The only question I still had in my mind was how would she interact with Josiah. I knew she loved Lydia, but I had not really noticed her interact with Josiah much at all. I was praying that I would see a connection. Sure enough, as soon as the kids arrived at the Luau, Josiah walked up to Lena and offered her his "Lei." He tried to talk to her and they interacted so well that I almost started crying! We knew when we left that night, she was our daughter. We just needed to make it official. We finally got more information the next morning and started the process of telling the people that needed to know, that we were in. It was settled - we were ready to begin bringing Lena Home!

Now, Bridgestone is not an adoption agency. They bring kids over from the Ukraine in a type of cultural exchange program. The kids are here for a month - but never during that time should adoption be mentioned to any of the kids. This is for several reasons. One is that it would violate the rules of the exchange program. Two, it can cause problems with the kids - for example, if one or two have families talking to them about adoption - but others do not, the other kids can begin to feel unwanted, or unloved.... and for groups of kids in general, this would be tough.... for those who have already lost so much, this can be devastating!

So, we could not talk with Lena about the possibility of us adopting her! This is possibly the hardest part to date! We knew we loved her, we wanted to be with her, we wanted her to know she was wanted... but out of respect for the program, and out of love for the other 7 kids that were so important to us as well, we refrained.

We were able to do a few more things with her during the week. I helped her put her scrapbook together. She had pictures printed that different people had taken - I was not choosing her pictures for her. (If you know her at all.... you will know that this little girl knows EXACTLY what she wants! She was simply giving me instructions as to how to help her :) ) I almost came unglued when she decorated a page of her scrapbook with hearts... and then chose pictures of one of the other girls that was here.... and pictures of OUR FAMILY to put on the heart pages of her scrapbook!! It was almost all I could do to not just go crazy!

The last time we saw her, we had just attended the adoption meeting that is held without the kids knowing what was happening. We all met after our meeting (and after the kids swam) to eat dinner together. My heart was aching that this would be some of the last moments with her until we go get her from the Ukraine. We would have LOVED to go to the airport with her on Sunday - but with the responsibilities that we have at church, it just was not feasible. So, this dinner would be our goodbye. I knew she still didn't know we wanted her... She had to know that we loved her... but we were being as careful as we could to protect all the kids! I was ecstatic when she went through the food line, and like all of the other meals before - she went and got the high chair for Lydia and saved me a seat - with Lydia between Lena and I - so that one last time, she could feed Lydia her dinner. She spent time with us, talking (the little we can understand of each other) and laughing... When dinner was over, it was time for us to leave. We told all the kids bye - and actually started with Lena. I knew that if I waited too long, I was going to break the rules. My heart was hurting too badly. I just wanted her to know that we loved her - and we wanted her to be our daughter!

After telling the other kids bye - lots of hugs - some kisses... a few welled up tears... we loaded in the van. I was looking everywhere for one last glimpse. She had walked away after we said goodbye.

We backed the van up, turned to leave, and then I saw her... she was not facing our van though - I didn't think she would turn... I wanted one last hug.... I thought she was not going to look. But then the houseparents for the day came and called her to go to the worship center. She looked up, and saw us leaving... she  came running toward the van - smiling... Ronnie was stopping already, but she made sure he did! She ran out a few feet in front of the van... then ran to the door where Lydia was sitting and opened it. She climbed in to give Lydia and Josiah one last kiss. Held my hand through my window and said goodbye one more time. Again, it took every ounce within me not to say "we want you." I did go ahead and say "I love you, sweet Lena." she smiled and then backed away. Ronnie admitted then that it was all he could do to not just take her home then :) hahaha!!

As we left the camp, my eyes finally brimmed over with tears. They ran down my face. The slideshow of moments from CiCi's pizza, Kohl's parking lot, Bridgestone camp, lunches, dinners, swimming, the rocket center, being silly at the Luau and our last moments together was overwhelming. It was possibly the longest ride home I have had since the last time I found out I was going to lose a pregnancy... it was completely gutwrenching. She was leaving, and she didn't know we wanted her - and there was nothing I could do about it.

I was an absolute WRECK on Sunday, knowing that my girl was headed to Atlanta to fly to the Ukraine, and she didn't know I wanted her. I knew that she would know soon - but my heart just broke to think that she was sad - getting on an airplane without hope of a family wanting her. I knew that there were other kids doing the same thing. That did not provide any comfort, however, I wanted them to all have families telling them the same thing that I wanted to tell Lena! I wanted to give her presents and hugs and kisses and watch other families do the same for those awesome boys... Dima, Max, Yura, Misha and Kostya... and for the other two beautiful girls Nastia, and Sasha. I made it through the church services without losing it completely... but barely hanging on. The only thing that held me together was knowing that my God - the one who is Father to the fatherless - would be with her... loving her when I couldn't and comforting her when she was sad... wiping the tears away.

She would know soon...

Next up - the wait for an answer.