Friday, June 20, 2008

Putting Ukraine Behind Us and Moving Forward

Well, we received our money from our Ukraine facilitator this evening - praise God! Thanks to everyone who lifted us up in your prayers because this was a huge relief for us. It is wonderful to know that we can move forward in our adoption journey and leave our Ukraine worries behind us. The first half of our journey taught us a lot about each other, other people, and most of all - to rely on God.

We are so relieved to know that we no longer have to tangle with our facilitator. I'm sure he's just as glad to be done with our family as we are to be done with him. I only wish that Ukraine would do more to unite forever families. Our prayers will forever be with the orphans of Ukraine.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

America World Goes To Bat For Us

On Monday evening, we received an e-mail from America World stating that we were in fact only going to receive the lessened amount due to an error in communication. Well, this didn't sit too well with us - "oops" just wasn't going to cut it. So, late that evening (after tempers had cooled), I sent an e-mail back to America World detailing why were so upset. There was a lot that went on from mid-Dec. of 2007 until we exited the program in mid-April of 2008 that has not been discussed with the general public.

We spent A LOT of money completely redoing our home study and dossier at the instruction of Yuri (our facilitator) and our family coordinator (who has since left AWAA). We didn't find out until the end of March that in early Dec., Yuri had received a letter stating that we were not going to be given a child matching our request and that updated docs weren't going to be accepted. The kicker for us is that while he received the letter in December, we were not told about it and even after we received our copy (in Urkainian) and faxed it to him in March, he still never informed us of the contents. Both our family coordinator and Yuri knew that we were alarmed because of not knowing the contents, however our questions to them were not answered. All we heard from America World is that everything was fine and not to worry but no specifics were given - I'm not even sure that our family coordinator knew of the actual content of the letter. Fortunately, we were able to have the letter translated locally, so we knew the contents at that point in time. If only we would have known back in December what was happening with our case, we would have switched countries back then and not paid to redo the dossier for Ukraine. Frustrations, frustrations...the sad part is, the person the only person in Ukraine that we thought we could truly trust was the one who caused the frustration because he was not straightforward with us.

I just spoke with an America World representative who stated that until she received our rather detailed e-mail that she had no idea of all that our family went through. Unfortunately, when she was given our file before our family coordinator left the agency, she was only given the bare basics. I am thank to report that Yuri is going to agree to pay $400.00 more than he last stated and America World is going to credit to our Ethiopian adoption the remaining $600.00. We sincerely appreciate America World going to bat for us with Yuri as well as picking-up the slack.

I did ask the AWAA rep. as to whether or not they will continue to use Yuri's services and was told that at this time, the Ukraine program is not moving nor is it expected to move anytime soon. Over the last several months, Ukraine has gotten worse, not better, so the agency does not foresee new families entering the program. If Ukraine begins to move in a positive direction and the program is revitalized, then IF they consider using Yuri's services again, there will be a lot tighter restrictions on when he receives money from a family. I was told that a lot will change IF that happens but right now, that is not even on the radar. If it were me, I would not use his services ever again, however when I voiced that opinion, I was told that he has been an agent for AWAA for several years and it is not until now that they have started experiencing problems with his services however the agency has learned a lot through our experience.

For us, we are glad to put this scenario behind us. We should receive our money soon (by the end of the week we are told), so I am looking forward to posting that our business in Ukraine is complete!

Thank you America World for standing by us!

Thank you, family and friends, for all your prayers.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Be Careful With Facilitators

As you may know from reading our Ethiopian blog, we were supposed to receive a refund on June 1, 2008, from our Ukrainian facilitator, Yuri S,, for funds that he was paid to complete our adoption. Whereas we never received a child, our adoption was not completed and the funds were not earned. When we were urged by America World to withdraw from the program, we were told a specific sum that would be returned to us by Yuri. Since early April, we have received a lot of runaround about our money. Our family coordinator ended-up telling me that the money was no longer available, so Yuri was going to have to wait until another family arrived in-country to use the money that they paid him in order to pay us. Now, in America, if that's the way that I handled a client's money, I would be disbarred. Obviously, Ukraine does not adhere to the ethical principles that our country has adopted.

We received an e-mail from America World on Friday afternoon stating that Yuri wanted an extension until the end of August. As a courtesy, if we would grant the extension, he stated that he would "give" us $400.00 as interest. Get this, the e-mail quoted a refund amount $1,000.00 less than that which was promised to us! Fortunately, I still have the e-mails that our family coordinator and I exchanged in which the amount that we were originally promised was clearly stated. I immediately responded to the e-mail and expressed my great concern over this matter. I followed-up with a phone call to America World and after giving my name and why I was calling, I was placed on hold for a significant period of time before being told that the individual I needed to speak with had left for the day. The frustration was mounting very quickly by this point! I faxed copies of the e-mail to America World. Later that evening, I received an e-mail reply from America World stating that they would look into the matter. I feel great compassion for the young lady who replaced our family coordinator because she is now involved in a matter that she had absolutely nothing to do with is having to deal with very upset families and a facilitator who apparently is the person that we all initially thought he was.

When we were in Ukraine last November, we told Yuri that the international adoption world is very small thanks to the internet. He just laughed and said that he didn't think so. We told him that we had connected with families all across the world and that many of us were following each other's journey. Actually, since returning from Ukraine, we have been contacted by 6 families who were either using Yuri's services or were thinking about using him. A reputation is easily damaged and not so easy to restore. I truly don't think he realizes that it's not funny to mess with adoptions because when he does, he is striking at the core of a family - their hearts and children. If anyone out there is thinking about using Yuri, be very, very careful. Times are getting hard in Ukraine and with the lifestyle that he enjoys - your money is a precious commodity that is greatly desired. I urge you - BE CAREFUL!

Well, it's almost 3:30 p.m. on Monday and I haven't heard a peep from anyone. I am hoping that is because America World is earnestly trying to resolve this problem. I was so mad on Friday that I was seeing red. My frustration wasn't so much at AWAA as it was at Yuri because we are so tired of being jerked around. Another family who is in the same boat as we are made a good point - since Yuri had already spent all our money, then how was he going to pay the "fees" that were necessary in order to get us a good referral and complete the adoption? I pity any family that is using them because if he is going to have to use their money in order to refund us, then how is he going to pay the "fees" associated with their adoption?!

Just two weeks ago, Yuri sent us an e-mail stating that he would have no trouble getting us our money by last week because he had 2 families who were coming-in for appointments. What happened there? If we agree to wait until August, our fear is that we will only be put-off again.

I have a simple solution to this - if America World trusts him and thinks that he will indeed provide the money, then credit our account so that we do not have to pay the fee due upon referral or the travel package - that's an even trade for the amount we're owed. It would be nice to be able to put the money back into a CD to gain interest while we wait for our referral, but at least with my solution we will know that we will get our money.

Please pray for a very speedy resolution to this problem. We want to put our Ukraine experience as far behind us as possible. We need closure. We'll never stop praying for the orphans, however it is time for us to move forward.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Our Ethiopian Adoption Blog

We're moving!

Our new blog can be followed by following this link:

We hope you will continue to follow our journey and see what awesome experiences God has planned for us next!

Thank you for all the support and prayers! For those of you who have found your children - CONGRATULATIONS! For those of you who are still searching - hang in there because God has a plan!

Talking with Ashton

Many of you have asked if Ashton knows about the failed Ukrainian adoption, how we told him, and what his response was - well, once again, God paved the way for us.

Because Ashton is only 3 1/2, we tried to be very careful with how we explained where we're at in the adoption process. As we were tucking him into bed on Saturday, April 12, we began reading a new adoption book about a little baby being adopted from Korea, and Ashton began asking questions again about when his sissy would be coming to America. We told him that right now, we are still looking for sissy. We related our quest to a game of hide and seek. We told him that we went to Ukraine because we thought sissy was there but we couldn't find her so know we are going to a new country, Ethiopia, to see if she's there. We went into the playroom and talked about where Ethiopia is located on the map. You should hear him say "Ethiopia" because he tries so hard but the enunciation isn't quite right yet but he is so proud of himself when he says it. One thing about it, by the time we find his sissy, he will know more about geography than a lot of adults!

A few days later, Ashton and I (Erica) were talking about Ethiopia and once again, he pointed directly to the country on the map. I asked him how he knew where his sissy was hiding (remember the hide and seek analogy) before Daddy and I knew, and he stated, "God told me". Now, if only God was that direct with us - or maybe He is and we just don't always recognize His voice.

This is Ashton pointing to Ukraine - the first stop while playing our adoptive game of "hide and seek".

Moving on - to Ethiopia!

Just to update you on where we're heading next in search of our daughter - Ethiopia!

We are very excited about this new journey and are looking forward to what God has in store for us next! We're going to establish a new blog for this new journey, so when it is up and running, I'll post a link for those of you who are interested in following the next portion of our adoption journey.

Right now, we ask for your continued prayer and support. We are at total peace with our decision, however I will say that the devil is working overtime to try to take away our joy. We are facing negativity from some individuals because we are pursuing another international adoption and/or that we are now adopting a child of another skin color. Although for some people, race is not an issue but the mere fact that we "didn't learn from our last experience that we need to adopt one of 'our own'" ranks a close first for the rudest comments. For those who are saying cruel and thoughtless comments, I have a suggestion - read your Bible and examine your hearts because God loves each and every person equally. If you can't love someone just because of the color of their skin or citizenship, then it's time to examine your own heart because the fruit you are bearing makes the rest of us wonder if Christ is truly living within you.

"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, He leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land." Psalm 68:5-6

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Ukrainian Journey is Over

Well, our Ukrainian journey is over. We officially withdrew from the program on Thursday, April 10. We are at peace and have accepted that it is not God’s will for us to find our child in Ukraine. We don’t understand why God opened so many doors and led us to Ukraine; however we are trying not to question Him. As difficult as the last year has been, our lives have been changed for the better. Our relationship with God, our marriage, and our family as a whole have been strengthened. While overseas, we were able to share our faith several times, so hopefully seeds for Christ were planted and those of you coming behind us may be the ones that God is going to use to water those seeds!

When we spoke with our family coordinator on Wednesday, she urged us not to proceed with Ukraine. In fact, she stated that it is the agency’s position that Ukraine is so unstable and unpredictable that they are encouraging all the families to withdraw from the program. We will be reimbursed for a portion of our expenses and then fees paid to our agency can be applied towards other programs – once again, God is good!

The SDA is de-registering all families who have expired documents - regardless of whether or not they have been updated. We were told by the SDA that we could submit again but that we probably wouldn't get another appointment until 2009. Frankly, we never want to step foot back in Ukraine again. It is appalling that a government can be so corrupt and literally hold hundreds, if not thousands, of healthy children hostage by never giving them a chance at a loving family. Our hearts hurt for these children, but there is nothing else that we can do. We will never forget our heart wrenching experience visiting the orphanage or the horrific lies that we were told by the SDA. We pray that God will intervene on behalf of the orphans and open doors so that they can find forever families.

We are very relieved to have closure to this journey. Don’t misunderstand us because we would have loved nothing more than to be united with a child, however we know that God has other plans in store for our family. It’s really amazing how He works.

When we started this journey to Ukraine, our country choices were very limited because I (Erica) had been diagnosed with mild cardiomyopathy – my heart was weakened primarily due to child birth. I began medication and changed my diet and my condition began to improve. Last July (not even a year after my initial diagnosis), my heart was scanned and amazingly enough, my heart was stronger than that of the average person. My cardiologist was floored because he said that there is no medical explanation for the improvement. Today, my heart is still just fine and I no longer carry the diagnosis of mild cardiomyopathy. If we were to have another biological child, then there is a risk that my heart could be affected again – that’s a risk that we are not willing to take.

The country that we would have chosen over Ukraine (our options were Ukraine, Russia, and Ethiopia) was Ethiopia, however the program was brand new and our agency wanted to be able to gain experience before stating that my medical condition would not be a problem. Well, that was Sept. 2006 and it’s now April 2008 and guess what – we’re eligible for Ethiopia because God healed me! Once again, isn’t God good! The program is operating smoothly and it looks like that is where we may be headed next (we are carefully considering our options)!

If I had not been inflicted with the medical condition, we would not have begun the adoption journey at this stage in our lives. This condition led us to follow God’s will in adoption (thereby getting our attention and opening up our heart to adoption) and because Ukraine allowed us to submit our dossier, we entered the arena of international adoption. It may very well be that God allowed the medical condition and the failed Ukraine adoption only to heal me and lead us to Ethiopia. I guess we’ll wait and see what path He leads us down this time.

We have been very careful not to mention any of this to Ashton because he is having such a difficult time with the whole adoption experience. We have not talked about any latest development at all with him present in the house. Well, on Thursday morning when he woke-up, the first thing that he asked was where his sissy was. I told him that God was still getting sissy ready to come to America. He hopped off the bed and said that he would show me where his sissy lives. We went to the playroom and he grabbed his pointer for the map. He knows exactly where America and Ukraine are located, however he pointed directly at Ethiopia and said, “My sissy lives there.” If I had not been leaning against the wall, I think my knees would have buckled. How did he know that we were even considering Ethiopia? This may have just been a random point; however for me it was taken as a sign that God is still working His plan.

You know, God always knows what He's doing because He prepares us in advance for what is to come in our future. His leading us to our church, Northside Baptist Church, is just one way in which He exhibited this. In our previous church, there was not any adopted children and certainly no children of mixed races or other ethnic groups. At Northside, the congregation is a blend of races and color is not an issue. We love each other as a family - isn't that the way God intended for humanity?

We haven’t decided 100% on Ethiopia yet because we are also considering all our options (including domestic adoption), but I will tell you that we are very heavily leaning in that direction. We have contacted a local agency about domestic adoption and are trying to learn as much as possible about the program. One specific prayer request is that if God is leading us in the direction of domestic adoption that He open our hearts and minds to how much interaction we will have with our child's birth parents. We do not intend upon keeping the adoption from our child, however we want to make sure that our child learns all the details of his or her story when he or she is ready (age appropriate). We're struggling with how we would deal with having a relationship with the birth parent and whether or not the child may be confused because of having two sets of parents. By having information and occasional contact with the birth parents, will the child benefit by having pieces of life's puzzles that would not be available if there was not contact with the birth parents? Ultimately, we want to do what is best for a child - even if that is uncomfortable for us. There are a lot of aspects to consider, so we truly covet your prayers.

For those of you who know Ashton, please do not mention the recent events to him. He really, really wants a sister and is having a very difficult time with the tedious process. We will sit him down very soon and explain things to him (as best as we can because he's only 3), but right now we do not want to play with his little mind or his heart. Please be considerate of his emotions and needs.

Your continued prayers are appreciated. The support of each of you – whether we know your name or not – has been overwhelming. We thank you for following our journey to Ukraine and back and hope that you will continue to follow our journey to find our child.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Any Prayer Warriors Out There?

You can silence the blog background music by pressing pause (ll) in the music box on the bottom right of the screen. You will not be able to enjoy the video if it is not silenced.

"In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:6

"Stop telling God how big your storm is...
Instead tell your storm how big your GOD is."
Author unknown

There are many of us who need to be reminded that God is in control and has a plan. For our family, His plan has yet to unfold and Satan is working overtime to encourage us to focus on our circumstances instead of on the strength of our God.

Right now, we are very, very concerned about the likelihood of our being united with a relatively healthy child under the age of 4. The latest news out of Kiev certainly isn't encouraging. It's so hard to understand why so many of us have spent hours upon our knees praying, a significant amount of money, and traveled half-way across the world just to reach a dead-end road.

For us, the decision to adopt was made after a lot of prayer - did I mention A LOT of prayer. We earnestly prayed that God would direct us as to which country we should pursue, and all around us doors closed and we were directed to Ukraine (just to name a few of our "wake-up and listen to Me moments": from Ukrainian clients walking into my office, to our nurse practitioner having worked in Ukraine's orphanages, to episodes of Mr. Roger's that educated us about Ukraine). As horrible as our in-country experiences were last November, we are ready to return for our child.

The constant not knowing and no news is horrible. Friends and family try to be sympathetic but most really don't get it because they are familiar with programs like China and Guatemala and can't seem to grasp that the SDA meeting is a gamble because you never know what to believe and if the referral will be a match. We have good weeks and bad weeks - last week was busy and not a lot of time was available to think about the adoption. This week we haven't received very positive information about the current process and referrals available, and to top things off, Ashton wants his sister - badly.

How do we keep explaining to Ashton (he is almost 3 1/2) that God will bring him his sissy when the time is right? How do you console a sobbing little boy who is earnestly stating that he wants his sissy and that he loves her? It is heart wrenching to hear him poor his little heart out to God asking Him to bring his sissy to America. We have talked to Ashton and explained that God loves Julianna (that's the name we have at least temporarily picked-out) and that He is protecting her. We don't know what else to do, and it is killing us to see how affected he is by the grueling process.

One thing that is amazing about the Internet is that it brings together people from all over the world who are facing the same or very similar situations. I feel as if many of us have become prayer warriors for each other. I would like to say thank you to each and every person who is praying for our family. Please pray specifically that we can have peace about this situation and that God will move in a mighty way in Ukraine. We are dealing with the decision to stay in the program or pull-out all together. Our hearts tell us that God can still perform miracles and that our child is waiting in Ukraine, however our minds tell us that we've taken about all we can stand and that there are other options out there for adoption. Please pray for direction for us.

Sometimes it helps to know who is out there praying, so if you don't mind, please post a comment so that we'll know we aren't alone. Also, your comments will help us to pray specifically for your family if you too are riding this adoption roller coaster.

Thank you.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Add This To Your Reading List

After having traveled to Ukraine in November and experiencing such a disappointing first appointment, when I read about this book, I had to have it. No matter how many seminars you attend on international adoption or how well versed you think you may be on what to expect - NOTHING prepares you for the SDA appointment and then the meeting with the child or children. You will be rapidly told about files and diagnoses will be thrown at you as if you are medical dictionary or textbook. The psychologist will look at you and say, "So which one do you want to visit?" and then stare at you as if she wants an answer immediately (just so you'll know, she does expect an immediate answer). If you've been following many blogs at all, you know that the SDA file provides little information on the children and much of it more than likely is not accurate because the file has not been updated. When you visit a child, you have to know what to look for and it certainly helps to be educated so that when you are a complete wreck and your emotions are running high, you can make a good decision about whether or not to accept a referral.

Risk and Promise: A Handbook for Parents Adopting a Child from Overseas

Authors: Ira J. Chasnoff; Linda D.Schwartz, Ph.D.; Cheryl L.Pratt, Ph.D; and Gwendolyn J. Neuberger, M.D.

Adoption lawyer's observations, August 11, 2007 (as posted on Next June I will have been working in the adoption field for forty years. I am a Fellow of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. I believe this book is a MUST for anyone contemplating a foreign adoption and should be considered by anyone adopting a child, foreign or domestic. It contains critical information to be considered in accepting a placement.

Too often I have seen adoptive parents make emotional decisions which they later regretted. If one has made the caring decision to adopt a special needs child and rationally evaluated the impact on the family and themselves as adoptive parents, then I encourage the adoption. However, when one is in a foreign environment, exhausted, anxious to get back home, then prospective parents can make poor decisions and rush into an unsuitable placement.

This book discusses the health hazards, what to look for in a child and provides basic information to help in evaluating the placement. Dr. Chasnoff is a champion in helping parents and children. I am very grateful for the articles he has written and the experience and wisdom he has shared with me, my colleagues and adoptive parents. I highly recommend this book. I am recommending my clients buy and read it.

This book can be purchased for $14.95 by clicking on:

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Little Boy's Prayer

Just when we thought we were coping, Ashton begins pleading with God for his sissy to come to America SOON. At home, we haven't really been talking about the adoption for the last couple of weeks because we are really discouraged. As you know from my previous post, Jason and I are trying to focus on our life as it is right now and just enjoy each other. Well, that technique doesn't seem to be working for Ashton. For the last several nights, this is how his prayers have been going:

"God, please make Mommy feel better. Please let Mommy and Daddy go get Sissy and bring her to 'Merica and to me. God, please let Mommy and Daddy go to Ukraine and get Sissy now and bring her to 'Merica and bring Mommy and Daddy back to me. Thank you for Superman, Flash, Green Lantern, Batman, Wonderwoman, and Hawkgirl. Amen."

Now, my prayer is that God will answer my little boy's heartfelt prayer for his sissy.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Do you ever find yourself asking "why"?

This past week has been less than enjoyable - I (Erica)have been sick with either a wretched stomach virus or a parasite. After being sick since Thursday of last week, I went to the doctor first thing Monday morning and registered a blood pressure of 84/'s a wonder I didn't pass out in the lobby. After lots of blood work and IV with fluids, I'm back to work today for the first full day since last Thursday. The doctor still has to call me back with the blood work results to determine whether or not it was an actual parasite, but I can tell you that there is a certain restaurant in town that I will not eat another salad at again (this is where the doctor thinks I may have picked-up the parasite)! I still don't feel so great but no work means no money when you're self-employed!

Last night, when I was trying to fall asleep, my thoughts kept traveling across the skies and back to Ukraine. For some of you who are following other adoption blogs, you may have read about the family who was amazingly granted 3 appointments and still returned home without completing their adoption. This is scary for those of us who are sitting at home waiting to travel - whether it be for a 1st appointment or a 2nd. We received a letter from Ukraine last week that stated that as of October of 2007, families would only be allowed 2 appointments and that there were no relatively healthy children available under the age of 6...very distressing, to say the least. I can't help but wonder why that family had received 3 appointments and still returned childless. My heart goes out to them greatly. I know firsthand what it is like to return home without a child, however at least we still have a chance to find our child but they do not. It's so mind-boggling as to why some people seem to have great appointments and then others have such horrible experiences. I know we're not supposed to question God, but sometimes we do - at least I find myself asking "why".

Before Jason and I began dating, we had both reached a point in our lives that we were content with living life as just Jason/Erica and God. It was at that point, that God chose for our paths to cross and love to blossom. Maybe that's what my family needs right now, to just be content with it being God, Jason, Erica, and Ashton. God has blessed our family tremendously, and at times during this rather complicated adoption journey, it has been easy to get so consumed by wanting another child that maybe God is trying to get us (or at least me) to stop and realize what a wonderful child that we have already been blessed with. Don't get me wrong, I love Ashton with all my heart and so does Jason, but sometimes it's easy to take one another for granted. This morning, Ashton woke-up early and crawled into our bed while Jason got ready for work, and as I was holding him and feeling the beat of his heart within his chest, I stopped and thanked God for the wonderful son that He has already given me. I can tell you this, after having been separated from Ashton for 12 days while we were in Ukraine last November, leaving him here will be even harder next time because we already know how horrible it is to be apart.

Another week has come and gone and still no word from Ukraine, but I can honestly say that that's okay. One day, we will receive a call that God is ready for us to return to Ukraine. Until that day comes, I am going to try to focus more on growing as a family and moving-on with daily living. Jason asked me earlier in the week to please not tell him any more about families receiving referrals because it only causes him anguish because we are still at home waiting. For me, I find reading about the journey of other families as a type of support group. I guess we all cope with situations differently. For right now, we are trying to learn to be content where we're at in life and know that God is in control of our lives - especially the adoption.

"In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths."
Proverbs 3:6

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

"The Broken Road"

I found this adoption video and thought it was perfect for all of us who are struggling with international adoption. The journey is definitely not for the weak or weary. Time after time, I have to keep reminding myself that God's timing is always perfect and that He is in complete control of our journey. One day, maybe we'll understand why our adoption road has been so full of consuming "potholes" For the Eimer family, the day came when God revealed to them why their journey had such a rocky beginning.

Monday, March 3, 2008

And...we wait again

This was our e-mail from our family coordinator:

Yuri did not receive an invitation for you yesterday. He has however talked further to the staff at the SDA and they said they are working on invitations for all second appointment families. He expects that you will be invited for April, possibly March, and that we will likely have notification of an appointment date next week.

This is really pretty good timing for us because Jason receives 2 more weeks of vacation on April 1st - that means he will get paid some of the time that we are in Ukraine! He already used vacation time when we were there for 12 days in November, so this is truly a blessing. We'll keep you posted once we hear from America World with travel specifics.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Scripture for Adoptive Parents

I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him." The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Lamentations 3:24-26

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Waiting Still - Maybe Friday?

We received a call from our agency today and was told that when Yuri arrived at the SDA today, he was informed a letter would be issued on Friday for families waiting for second appointments. At this time, it is unclear whether or not the letter will contain a second appointment date, information about specific children, or just general information about how the process will work. I'll guess we'll just have to wait and see what Friday brings.

Please say specific prayers for families waiting for 2nd appointments. According to the SDA, if we are not shown matching referrals at our next appointment, then our adoption journey comes to end and we will return to America without a child.

Monday, February 25, 2008

"Come back tomorrow," says the SDA.

I couldn't wait any longer, so at 4:10 p.m. I called Kate, our contact at America World. She said that Yuri had contacted her earlier today and informed her that when he arrived at the SDA, he was told to come back tomorrow for a meeting. Yuri stated to Kate that he expects to have some answers to our many questions tomorrow. In the meantime, it's back to waiting - notice I didn't say "patiently waiting" because our patience is truly being tried right now. If we can find out a little more information tomorrow, then that should help sustain us a little bit longer.

Hopefully tomorrow will bring some positive news! Thank you for your prayers!

Maybe Some News Today

Well, today Yuri is supposed to be going back to the SDA to inquire about the status of our adoption file. If you have been following our story, you are aware that we were family #91 to be sent home last year without a child. So far, the only other American family that we know of that has been sent home to wait for another appointment is the Hollands, which have turned out to be great friends of ours. They have truly been a blessing because we can relate to each other in a way that no one else can right now. From reading posts on Families for Russian and Ukrainian Adoption (, apparently there are quite a few Germans who are waiting as well, but we haven't connected with any of them (yet anyway).

We haven't heard anything from our agency or facilitator except that the families who have had their second appointment are very happy with their referrals. Needless to say, we are very frustrated because we have tons of questions about what to expect, what number we are in line, will we will be traveling for a specific child, etc. Hopefully we will receive some news today.

For those of you who are in Ukraine right now or returned home and have had great referrals, we are very excited for you. We hope you realize how fortunate that you are because there are a many of us who feel forgotten and buried in an endless stack of paperwork. We are struggling with how assertive to be because we have experienced the dislike and poor opinion of Americans firsthand. The last thing that we want to do is anger the people who stand between us and our daughter, so there are very fine lines that must be adhered to. At the same time, we do not want to be quiet and just keep waiting without hounding our agency and facilitator. We have heard nothing but good from families (both using our agency and those going independent) about our facilitator, so I don't think he really has much to do with it. The problem with being too pushy is that we may get a bad referral and then it's all over with and we don't get a child and we have lost A LOT of money and are still childless. The SDA officials told us that two referrals is the limit, so what do you do and how hard do you push? In the US, we have totally different attitudes about the laws because they are designed (at least theoretically) to protect and serve us, whereas in Ukraine, people are to serve the laws - at least that is what we observed. One word sums up how we feel right now - FRUSTRATED.

Well, in the meantime, I am trying to do something to keep me busy besides reading blogs (this has proven to be an addiction). We enjoy reading the blogs, but for those of us who feel forgotten, they can also be very frustrating because people are receiving referrals for children on first appointments that those 125 families who are waiting would love to be shown. For those of you who are receiving those referrals, we don't begrudge you your children because in our hearts and minds we know that God has those children picked-out just for you and that it's just not our time yet, however it's not truthful to say that we don't wish that we weren't sharing in the excitement of finding a child. We would love to be able to share a meal with you in Kiev and finally meet you face to face!

Anyway, what am I doing in the meantime - decorating cakes. I'm actually pretty excited about the cake that I made over the weekend, so since I can't post pictures of our little girl, I thought I would post pictures of my cake. This is my first basketweave cake. I made the chicken using the 3-D duck pan. The right side of the head is a little flat at the top, but I still had fun creating it. The cake was made at the request of my parents who attended a Sunday School function on Saturday evening in which a games of dominoes known as "chicken scratch" was played. My dad gave my mom a hard time about trying to steal the show by bringing the cake. This was a definite first for me, so I was excited that my mother was excited about the cake. It thrilled her when it was placed on the table like a centerpiece. I'm just glad the dowel rods held-up and it didn't fall apart during transport!

White Japanese Bantam

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Is it Friday yet?

I think this is just going to be a blah week. Will Friday afternoon ever come?

This morning, Jason woke me up to tell me that when he tried to start my car this morning, nothing happened. Of course, he had to get to Nissan and didn't have a lot of time to deal with a dead battery. My dad just retired, so he was able to help me out after a short call this morning. Does a girl ever get too old to dial 1-800-Daddy? Don't get me wrong, Jason is quite capable of taking care of the situation, but he had to get to work and my dad didn't mind jumping me off. It ended-up that a cell was dry, so $98.00 later my Explorer had a new battery and I headed to work.

Yesterday afternoon, I spent some time helping a colleague draft a cry for help to our fellow members of the legal community. Last year, a little baby was born with only a brain stem because her mother chose her drugs over the life of the child growing inside her womb. Even today, the mother is on the street and still choosing drugs over everything else. The rumor is that she may be pregnant again - please, dear Lord, do not allow her to conceive another child while she is still an addict. Anyway, this beautiful little girl's body is lying in an unmarked grave as if her precious little life didn't even matter. Mt. Olivet Funeral home graciously provided the burial services at only a minimal charge which was paid by the Tennessee Department of Children's Services, however the policies of our state do not allow for payment of a grave marker. We are pleading with our colleagues to help with the purchase of a simple marker for this little baby. Please pray that God will pull at the heartstrings of the businessmen and women in our community. This is our plea:

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Bar,

Last year a newborn baby girl was immediately taken into State’s custody upon her birth because she was drug exposed and born with an immature brain with no additional features identified (meaning only a brain stem). To look at her physical appearance, she appeared to be developmentally perfect – that is, if you look past all the tubes connected to her tiny body. She lived only six weeks. Her little body is buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Mt. Olivet Funeral Home graciously forgave the funeral expenses except for the minute amount that had to be paid for the opening and closing of the grave and necessary personnel involved in the burial which was paid by the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services. She never lived a playful life that our children enjoy. She never knew the love of parents. She doesn’t even have a grave marker bearing her name…but together we can change that and help to provide at least a little dignity to her life that so abruptly ended.

Please consider donating at least a small amount towards the purchase of a bronze marker for her burial plot. Pursuant to the policy of Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, a grave marker is not an approved item that is payable by the State of Tennessee. Mt. Olivet Funeral Home is willing to provide a marker for a significantly reduced rate, if we can raise at least $1,000.00. This amount will purchase a very simplistic marker that will provide her name, birth date, and date of death. The anniversary of her death is March 25, 2008, therefore it would be very meaningful if the marker could be placed upon her grave on or before that day. Please consider how much you can donate – even the smallest amount is appreciated. What if this was your child or grandchild? Let’s make sure that this little baby is remembered and that her life, however brief, is honored.

In God’s Hands

“Whoever welcomes one of these little children in My name welcomes Me…” Mark 9:37

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

One of Those Days

Ever have one of those days when you wake-up in a very bad mood and can't seem to shake it? Well, that's the way I (Erica) feel today. I can't explain the cause and don't understand it, but the fact is today is one of those days when I'm just having a hard time.

The morning started with the wearing of a new pair of control top panty hose. Ever buy the same size that you always wear but when you put them on, they either come-up to your neck or are so small that they barely come-up to your hips? Well, the only pair I found in my drawer was an off-brand and ended-up being defective and barely came to my waist. To make matters worse, the top was cut in a slant so that one side came to my waist and then the other side was nowhere close to coming to my waist. I felt like a stuffed sausage, but I had to wear something. Now ladies, can any of you relate to this? I was so irritable and knew that I had to stop at Walgreens on my way to the office this morning. It was 8:30 a.m. when I pulled into Walgreens (after practically making Ashton run into his classroom) and ran into the store only to find that they were out of my normal brand and size....arggggggggg. I bought 3 pairs of a variety of types and prayed all the way to the Square that I would find a parking spot because I still had to change hose, grab my files, and make it to the 3rd floor of the courthouse by 9:00 a.m. One pair looked like I had been applying tan-in-a-can, and the other was a thigh high. Ladies, if you have the least little bit of pudge on your leg - don't try the thigh highs because they tend to roll down as the day progresses (definitely NOT a good thing). The third pair was put-on and of course, it was so large that the waistband was tucked underneath undergarments - I think you get the idea. Anyway, thank goodness for my new attorney badge because I didn't have to wait in the security line, so I made it to the courtroom with 5 minutes to spare!

The next 2.5 hours crawled by as I waited for my cases to be heard. Last night, I dreamed about the adoption and of course, woke-up wondering why we hadn't heard anything, so that is probably one source of my foul disposition today. As I sat there and listened to case after case about parents who were choosing drugs, alcohols, and permiscuous activity over their children, I felt my frustration grow. For those of us who have difficulty conceiving or can't safely carry a child to term, it is very frustrating to witness parents who seem to "pop-out" children and then not care a thing about them. When my cases were heard, I left the courtroom and headed away from the office for a breather and got out of my control top hose and heels. Now, if only I can shake this mood before I pick-up Ashton in the next 1.5 hours!

People are constantly asking, "Have you heard anything yet?" We are constantly saying, "Not yet." This is so frustrating. We read many blogs faithfully and are very excited when families "find" their child or children, however I will be honest in saying that it also hurts to know that we are still waiting and have heard practically nothing about our own case. For those of you who are in Ukraine now or have just returned, please continue to post about your journey because we are living through you right now. Your wonderful stories of how God formed or is forming your family is very encouraging to those of us who are still waiting to find our child. One day, in God's perfect timing, we too will be able to post about finding our child and how wonderful it is for our journey to come to a happy ending.

Well, maybe tomorrow will be a better day. Maybe, just maybe, we will hear something from our agency and/or facilitator soon. In the meantime, I've got to remember this devotion:

Strength for the Wilderness

The Israelites had been traveling through the desert wilderness to the land of promise. The way was hot, sandy and rough; there was little water. But God had promised that He would guide them and provide for them. However, like many of us, they became discouraged. If only they had trusted God's promise that He who had supplied would continue to supply, instead of being discouraged they would have been encouraged. Discouragement turns to encouragement when we look away from our circumstances and focus our eyes on the Lord.

In 1 Samuel 30, we read about David in the midst of trouble. The Amalekites had burned Ziklag, his private property and residence, but David's distress drove him to the Lord. "But David found strength in the Lord his God" (1 Samuel 30:6). Someone has said, "To look around is to be distressed; to look within is to be depressed; to look up is to be blessed."

Today, our way may be through the wilderness. It may be easy to become discouraged. Discouragement is a tool of Satan. The story is told that Satan was "going out of business." All of his tools were offered for sale. They were attractively displayed on a table. What an array - hatred, envy, jealousy, deceit! One harmless-looking one, much worn, was priced higher than any of the others. "What is that tool?" someone asked. "Discouragement," was the reply. "Why is it so expenseive?" Satan answered, "Because it is more useful to me than any of the others."

Will our distress drive us to despair and discouragement or to God? May we, like David, find strength in the Lord our God.

---- Adapted from Women's Devotional Bible; author Millie Stamm

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

This morning, as I dropped Ashton off at daycare, he was so excited because today is "party day." Last night, I made cupcakes for his class, and he couldn't wait to give them to his friends. Call me crazy, but daycare and school parties are some of the things that I most looked forward to when I found-out I was going to be a mother. I just couldn't wait to bake cookies, decorate cupcakes, and just be an active classroom parent. Honestly, I think I was excited as Ashton with the way that the cupcakes turned out. I finished decorating and cleaning the kitchen just a little before midnight last night, so I was pretty tired however when Ashton climbed up so he could see them, his little expressions made all the work completely worth it. Throughout the night, he kept asking me "what you doing, Mommy", "are these for my friends", "they smell good", and of course, "I help". When he saw the finished project, he said, "Wow! I wuv you Mommy!" My heart melted right there, and I just had to reach out and hug him. I love my little man so much!

A few weeks ago, he asked if the Easter Bunny could bring him a Spider Man blanket for Valentine's Day?! I tried to explain that the Easter Bunny doesn't come until Easter, but he just wasn't getting it. Well, thankfully WalMart clearanced the Spidey blankets last week, so that will be his Valentine gift tonight.

I told Ashton this morning that when his daddy gets home tonight, he will receive his Valentine gift. Ashton wanted to know if it is was a "herkycopter" (aka helicopter for all of you who are not addicted to Jay Jay the Jet Plane and his friends). Ashton said that he wanted a real one that would fly him up in the sky. I explained that he wouldn't be getting a "herkycopter" but that he could ride in another one someday soon. He said, "otay" (aka okay) and hurried to dress for his party. Of course, he was supposed to wear pajamas today and bring his favorite bear to daycare. Ashton wouldn't hear of wearing his pj's because he said, "It not night night. Sun's up, morning's here". As for the bear, Ashton doesn't like many stuffed animals because his world revolves around aviation, so naturally he had to bring his stuffed Jay Jay the Jet Plane that talks and sings (sorry Mrs. Cindy but this will probably drive you crazy today). We loaded-up and off to daycare we went for a fun-filled day. I just hope the children enjoy the "Going Buggy Over You" cupcakes!

Here is a picture of the frog prince cupcake cake that I prepared at the end of last week for a pre-Valentine treat for Jason's co-workers at Nissan.

Have a wonderful day with your loved ones!

We're sending special kisses to Ukraine to our little girl - we're trying to find you and love you dearly!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Reflecting Back

The first part of this week, Jason and I began reflecting back over our first trip to Ukraine. There were a lot of tears, but there was a lot of laughter as well. Here are some of our adventures and/or stories:

  • Once we returned to Kiev after visiting the orphanage, we stayed in Kiev from Monday through Thursday before returning back to the USA. We ate our last 3 meals at TGI Friday’s, so the staff was very friendly and became very accustomed to us. They loved to hear us speak, and we enjoyed eating there because it was wonderful to hear people speak English! When we left the restaurant on the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving, the hostess said, “See you tomorrow.” We just laughed and waved goodbye because it took us a moment to realize what she said. We died laughing when we got back to our apartment. We couldn’t wait to get back home to tell Jason’s mother about the comment because she thinks it’s awful that people eat at restaurants so frequently that the servers recognize their faces and know their names. For us, we were just thrilled to be treated kindly!

  • When we arrived in Kiev, we were expedited through Customs like a whirlwind. We could barely understand the people who were motioning for us to follow them. One man was in such a hurry to get us through the airport that he even climbed into the tunnel where the baggage was coming through in order to search for our suitcase. It was like watching an episode of the "3 Stooges" as the man kept playing charades with us in order to determine whether or not he had found the right bag. The two words that he could say were "little tip" and he repeated it constantly. We were prepared to tip him, however Yuri told us not to worry about it because he was being compensated for all his efforts because we had paid for the VIP service. (Next time, we will tip that man because we felt horrible for not doing so because he worked hard trying to find our luggage!) We were met at the exit door by a young man that we only assumed was Yuri. He too hurried us out the door and then into a Honda. As we were getting situated in the car, Jason turned to me and said, "Is this Yuri?" How the heck was I supposed to know? I just laughed (it was that or cry) and said, "I guess we'll find out in a minute." We literally had to run to keep up with the men in the airport, so there really wasn't time to ask for identification.

  • THE DRIVING: We knew we were in trouble when we trying to back out of the parking space at the airport and heard a thump. Calmly, Yuri said, "Accident?" (He meant a person, not necessarily a car!) Jason attempted to look out his snow covered window and said, "I don't see anyone on the ground on my side." YIKES! Yuri told us that he usually tells Americans to just close their eyes as he drives. People drive like maniacs and the horn is constantly being tooted. The craziest thing to see is how people just drive up on the sidewalks and park wherever there is spot (and sometimes where there really isn't a spot). After a while, you get used to having to dodge cars and constantly watching for someone to pull up over the curb and run over you. Insurance premiums must be out the roof over there!

  • Our second night in the region, we stayed in a hotel that was very nice on the outside but the rooms lacked some things that we spoiled Americans take for granted – clean sheets and pillows! We had experienced an awful day at the orphanage and were emotional wrecks. Jason was ready for bed as soon as we got in the room, so he walked over and claimed a bed – the room contained two single beds bolted to separate walls. We were laughing because we said that the room looked like it belonged in a “Leave it to Beaver” episode. As we laughed, Jason pulled back his covers and quite loudly stated, “Oh my gosh!” There were hairs all in his bed and on the pillow. He sniffed the pillow and declared that it smelled like a man. I was laughing so hard that tears were streaming down my face. Jason is a very serious person and is anal about cleanliness, so this discovery was a nightmare for him. He walked over to my bed and looked at my pillow. It seemed to make him feel better that my pillow also had hair on it. When we got ready to actually go to bed, I turned the light off then we just jumped into our respective beds and didn’t dare look under the covers. Even as I’m writing this, I am laughing because I can still see the look of terror on Jason’s face when he discovered the first hair!

  • When we arrived at our first apartment, we were exhausted. We had great intentions to get to bed early and get a good night’s sleep on our last night in America, however that just didn’t happen. We couldn’t sleep on the plane because there were some orphans returning to Ukraine from a hosting program and they didn’t sleep – they talked and ran up and down the plane’s aisles for 10 hours. When we got settled into our apartment, we fell-out on our bed and slept for hours. Suddenly, we heard a bird singing and both of us sat straight up. We didn’t have a clue where we were or what the noise was. Jason ran to the phone and said, “Hello.” When we realized it wasn’t the apartment phone, I called Yuri on the cell phone to see if he was trying to reach us, but it wasn’t him either. We ended-up finding out that it was the doorbell! We don’t have a clue who was ringing the bell, but by the time we thought about the door, he or she had left. There’s nothing like waking-up all wild-eyed and disoriented in Ukraine!

  • We couldn’t get over the dogs that run rampant. I was horrified to enter into the grocery store and say “excuse me” to the dog that was lounging in front of the grocery carts! The dogs in Kiev seemed harmless, however the dogs we saw while traveling in region seemed rather ferocious as they followed at people’s heels and tried to steal groceries from the elderly ladies. Hum, I guess that’s why the CDC website recommended a rabies shot!

  • When we were boarding the train back to Kiev at 4:00 a.m., we each had a suitcase and a carry-on. Jason boarded first so that he could help me with my suitcase. He lifted it up and gave me his carry-on to put in the train car. I was getting shoved and fussed at, so I was trying to move along quickly before a riot broke-out. For those of you who have ever ridden a train in Ukraine, you know how pushy people get when boarding. My Ukrainian is very, very limited, however I know beyond a doubt that there were some 4-letter words spoken to me as I tried to get our luggage into the cabin. In all my haste, I forget about poor Jason and the 2 rather sizeable suitcases. I looked around, and he said, “Well, aren’t you going to help me? I’m getting killed out here!” For Jason, the train rides were the absolute worst parts of our trip. He was literally green both times. Let’s just say that on that morning, once we got settled, I cracked-up laughing but Jason was blowing steam out of his ears. We were just about an hour outside of Kiev when he finally took my hand and said, “It’s almost over.” It was that moment that I realized the absolute toll that the last week and a half had taken on him and it was at that moment, that I realized what an awesome husband God has given me!

  • The most special thing that I remember and treasure from our trip was the time that Jason and I spent together. At home, we are so busy with work and family, that sometimes we don’t spend enough time together as a couple. This trip really helped us to reconnect. When adopting internationally, there are so many emotions that you experience, that unless you have traveled that path, you will never fully understand all that an adoptive family undergoes. Jason is not a person who freely talks about his feelings or shares his thoughts, so to go through the emotional roller coaster ride that we experienced brought out a lot of emotions and fears. I will never forget the taxi ride to the orphanage when we were so anxious to meet the girls or the look in his eyes when he told our facilitator that the little girls were adorable but that they were not our children. When he took my hand as we descended the steps leading from the orphanage, I will never forget the surge of love and of heartache that radiated from his body to mine. The prayers that were spoken, the tears that were shed, and the longing in our hearts for our new child cannot be explained. This adoption journey has brought our marital relationship to another level and certainly assisted in strengthening our relationship with Christ. If our road was bumpy for no other reason than this, then every heartache was worth it. Our family is closer than we ever thought possible and Christ is certainly in the center.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Waiting Game

Well, there's not really any news to report, but we know that people are curious so we thought we would post an update. We have completely redone our dossier because most of our documents were going to expire on May 8, 2008. When I went to the Williamson County Clerk's office for the notary certification, a little lady almost ran me over in order to obtain a parking space. The lady at the desk wasn't too happy about assisting me, so she said that she was going to get the pregnant lady to help me because she did nothing but stay in the restroom all day. She literally went into the bathroom and retrieved the poor, about-to-pop clerk! Needless to say, I don't think the co-workers are bossom buddies. The lady who works at the Secretary of State is very polite and always asks for a status update. I guess it's a little sad that we've been up there so much but that's just the way the paperchase has gone for us. I have to make one more trip tomorrow to apostille 13 more documents and then we will be finished - hopefully. We've had the documents for almost 2 weeks, but my schedule just hasn't allowed me the chance to get them apostilled at the Secretary of State.

I e-mailed Yuri yesterday about a family who is wanting to adopt, so he responded today and gave me an update on our case. He stated that he went to the SDA this morning and inquired about our status. We still have a while to wait, but that's okay. We're actually getting pretty good at this waiting game. In the meantime, I am wrapping-up some cases at work and Jason is working more overtime to help pay for the additional costs of a second trip.

We are getting anxious, but we are definitely willing to wait if it means that we will get a good referall this time around. We are faithful to read the blogs posted on the right side of the screen. It is so uplifting to see God working all over the globe creating families. It's also amazing to know that we are praying for families that we will most likely never meet and that people are out there praying for us as well. Adoption is truly a miracle and has God's signature all over it!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Update on 2nd Appointments

I just received a call from Kate with America World with an update on how things are going over in Ukraine right now. Our facilitator, Yuri, reported to her that he has interacted with or has knowledge of several families who have just completed their 2nd appointment with the SDA. The reports so far are encouraging because families are receiving referrals that match their requests. Any "Amens" out there?!

There is still no news as to when we will travel again, but we are upbeat and positive. The peace that Jason and I have is actually quite overwhelming. We are both involved in new Bible studies at church and are learning to take one day at a time and let God mold us where we're at. We'll let you know when we hear anything else.

"The Lord reigns forever; He has established His throne for judgment. He will judge the world in righteousness; He will govern the peoples with justice. The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know Your name will trust in You, for You, Lord have never forsaken those who seek You." Psalm 9: 7-10

Friday, January 25, 2008

"That boy breaks my heart," said Ashton

Last night, I was on the web reading blogs of other adoptive families. There are a lot of us out there with many, many different stories but the same desire - to find our child. There is one family's blog in particular that we follow with great commitment - Robert and Kelly Daniels. (

Jason and I met Robert and Kelly in Nashville on November 10, 2007, when we all began our adoption journey. While we were sitting in the terminal waiting to board our flight to New York, I overheard Kelly tell an airport worker that they were flying to Ukraine to adopt a child. Of course, I immediately apologized for overhearing their conversation and then introduced myself. Once we landed in Kiev, we didn't know if we would see them again or not. Well, when we went to the region to visit the orphanage, guess who pulled-up on the other side of the parking lot - Robert and Kelly. We were in the car and had thought it was them but wasn't sure because they were bundled-up pretty good and in a hurry to get inside the orphanage. Next thing we know, our phone is ringing and our translator is asking us to come back inside because she had just met another family from Tennessee. At that moment, we knew for sure that the couple we saw was actually the Daniels.

Once we got inside and made our way back up to the orphanage director's office, we were able to spend a few brief moments together before they were taken to meet their son for the first time. I'll never forget the next few moments and their faces. We had already met the girls that we were referred and were trying to complete our referral rejection paperwork. Robert was very quiet and solemn while Kelly's face radiated anxiety. They were only gone moments, however when they climbed back up the stairs to the director's office, their faces were lit-up and they were smiling from ear to ear. Kelly was literally glowing. They had found their child! We were so excited for them. They began preparing for court and we returned to Kiev to prepare for our second appointment. Our paths never crossed again except over the Internet.

We made sure to keep-up with their journey by reading their blog faithfully. It had been awhile since any new posts, so we were pretty excited last night when we saw that there was a new post with pictures. Ashton recognized Nathan immediately because we have used the Daniel blog as a way of better explaining the adoption process to Ashton. Last night, he just kept staring at Nathan's pictures and not saying much (usually he constantly asks questions about Nathan, Ukraine, and his new parents). Ashton finally said, "That boy breaks my heart." When I asked him why, he stated, "Because he in 'Merica and my sissy is in Ukraine." At that point in time, Jason and I just looked at each other with tears in our eyes. We immediately started telling Ashton that he should be happy because Nathan has a mommy and daddy now and that when his sissy is ready to come to America, God will let us know and we will go get her. After a few minutes of talking, he was ready to see more of Nathan's pictures and was glad that he had come to 'Merica.

Some people may think that we have been too open with Ashton about the adoption, however we wouldn't do anything any differently. We want Ashton to understand why we have to go to Ukraine and where we're at when we are gone for weeks at a time. Even more importantly, we want Ashton to recognize that God's hand is at work and that God is taking care of our family - even his sissy across the world. One thing is for sure, when God calls a family to adopt, he places that desire in both the hearts of the parents and the children.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Sweetest Prayer

Well, Ashton has the flu. He had a flu shot this past October, but apparently the strand going around right now isn't the same as the one contained in the vaccination. One good thing is that by Ashton having received the vaccine, his symptoms have not been as severe as they probably would have been. His aunt, Leigh, calls him the "the germ" because we are all hoping and praying that we will not get sick after being around him. He has spent the entire week with his Pa Pa Tudor, so on top of our dealing with a sick child, he is also being spoiled rotten!

Last night, we were trying to get him tucked into bed with his head elevated when he insisted that he wasn't sick and didn't need two pillows under his head. He stated, "God made me better, Momma." After getting him settled, it was time to say our prayers. Ashton insisted that he pray tonight, so he squeezed his eyes shut and put his pudgy hands together. He sang his normal prayer and then asked God to "take care of my sissy and bring her to 'Merica fast." The next phrase is what captured my heart - "I love my sissy, God. Amen".

Just to update you, we haven't heard anything yet. I talked to Kate at America World last night and was told that she is going to speak with Yuri over the phone today. I asked her to please inquire as to how the appointments for families traveling for a second referral are going so far. As you are aware, the second appointments were scheduled to begin on January 14, 2008, so the SDA should be about to wrap-up 2 weeks of second trippers. Please continue to pray for all the families who are waiting to be united with their child.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Starting to Imagine Coming Back Home

Before we left for Ukraine at the end of last year, I would often try to imagine what our homecoming would be like. The odd thing is, in my mind's eye, I never could quite make it out of the terminal walkway and therefore found myself very frustrated. After our heart-wrenching experiences in Ukraine, it's been quite a while since I have even allowed myself to start thinking about our homecoming with our new child. Now, I don't seem to have those frustrations of not being able to imagine, and the excitement of adoption is returning - praise God! I don't really know what has changed - maybe it's my level of faith or maybe it's that our time is almost here and God is allowing me some insight on how wonderful that event will be. Whatever the reason, I know that my hope and excitement is returning and is much stronger than ever before.

In my mind's eye, my thoughts begin with our little girl waving goodbye to her homeland with tears running down all of our cheeks as we prepare to board the plane and head back to the good ole' USA. I have to laugh when my mind's eye takes me to the restroom on the plane - just how am I going to fit in those very tight quarters with a squirming baby or toddler? If I need to change diapers or pull-ups, how in the world am I going to manage that? I keep trying to figure-out that scenario, but so far I've not quite determined just how we are going to both be clean upon our exit - especially if we hit turbulence! When we left Kyiv to return home last November, I went to the restroom immediately upon our boarding, so I was the first person and it was then that I discovered that Delta does NOT make sure that the facilities are remotely cleaned before departing on a 10 hour flight!

When we reach Nashville, I imagine my carrying a little girl who is quite inquisitive yet very sleepy from such a long journey. Tears spring to my eyes as I focus on our family and friends who are anxiously waiting at the end of the long, rather poorly lit terminal. We see the signs and all the people, however our eyes are searching for the little boy who holds our hearts in his chubby little hand. Oh how we have anticipated the moment when Ashton meets his sissy for the very first time! At first, he acts very timid, then his curiosity is aroused as we state, "Ashton, this is your sissy." I can't wait to witness their first embrace as brother and sister and ours as a family of four!

As clearly as can be, I can imagine my niece, Hannah, as she approaches us and bends down to meet her newest cousin. She's only three but is full of compassion and love. By this time, Jason is holding our child and bending down so that the children can all see her. Hannah leans down with her little bottom sticking-out so that she can precariously place a kiss on her new cousin's cheek and place her chubby little arms around her neck. She giggles and says, "Hi. I love you."

Tyler, who will be 8 tomorrow, is very timid, yet has a grin on his face as he very quietly says "Hi" and throws-up his hand. His little brother, Trent, who is four just stands back and watches the scene. Trent is the type who stands back and observes before taking any action.

Oh, and Hailey, who will be almost 2, is trying to wiggle out of Denise's arms in order to explore the airport. When she realizes that there's another small person around, she comes to investigate and then reaches out to touch her new cousin's face.

My parents, grandmother, sister, and in-laws have tears streaming down their faces. Everyone wants a look at our child, however care is taken not to overwhelm her with hugs and passing around. People around us are staring but find their eyes filled with tears as well because love and thanksgiving is permeating the air around us. The next image takes my breath away because as a family, we bow our heads and thank God for a safe journey, and most of all, for answering prayers and bringing us all together as a family.

All this may sound so bizarre to you, but I'm a visual person so it is huge for me to be able to visualize this scene. When we left Ukraine last November, we left with a mixture of emotions from hurt to anger. There have been points when we have actually dreaded returning to Ukraine, however God has helped us move past these feelings and has brought us to the point in which we recognize that He has a plan and that we need to be humbled and to trust Him. By my being able to visualize our return home, in my heart I know that God is helping me to look forward to the future and to release the emotions wrapped-up from our first trip and preparing me for an awesome journey as a family of four.

"In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths." Prov. 3:6

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Good News from Ukraine

Well, we got a call from Kate at America World. Apparently Yuri's meeting with the assistant director went relatively well. Of course, the SDA did not want to be confined to a timeline, but that response was expected. From what Yuri was told, when a child becomes available who matches our request, Yuri will be contacted and given information about the child. Yuri will then contact America World, who in turn will contact us, and then we will decide whether or not to accept the referral. At this time, it is not clear what will happen if we reject the referral, so we don't know whether or not we will be referred another child at a later time.

Basically this is the same method that we were initially told about, however over the last couple of weeks, it became apparent that the SDA was considering bringing all 125 waiting families back to Ukraine over a month and a half period to basically consider the same sick children that we were all shown before, so this is absolutely great news for us! We will feel a lot better about traveling for a child or children that we know at least something about. Once Yuri finds out about the possible child or children, then he can contact the orphanage and other facilitators who may have seen the child or children in an effort to gain more information about the true health conditions. Even if we do not specifically know which child we will be shown, at least we will have an idea of the conditions that we need to consider.

Of course, in Ukraine things can change at a moment's notice, however right now this is the way that the SDA plans on conducting 2nd appointments. Please, do not stop praying for Ukraine, SDA, the orphans, and all the families waiting for their children! God has definitely moved mountains, and we are positive that He won't stop now!

For some of you, it may seem like nothing really came of this meeting because we really don't have a timeline or guarantees, however if you went through the pain of meeting and then rejecting a child, then you would consider this method a huge improvement. Jason and I never want to go through the pain of our first orphanage visit again - the emotions we felt could never be fully explained or understood unless you too walked out a heavy metal door that banged behind you, knowing that for some children they will age-out of the system and never know how wonderful childhood can be. We will NEVER forget those children and the longing in their eyes to be loved and to have a real family. Although they were not the children for us, it broke our hearts to reject the referral.

Yuri did state that after reading our letter, the SDA can better understand our request not to be invited until a child is available. Hopefully, the next trip will be significantly more productive and heart-warming (not heart-wrenching) than the last! Actually, I am beginning to get excited about returning. The translator at the SDA said that Kyiv is beautiful in early spring, so maybe we will find out soon!

Daily Bible Reading

My Bible devotion for today was about adoption and trust - imagine that. God never ceases to amaze me as to His perfect timing. Here are some of the key verses for today:

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Romans 15:13

"My son, do not forget My teaching, but keep My commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sign of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make your paths straight."
Proverbs 3: 1-6

The author's beginning words:
"Trust is such a lovely word in a world thoroughly self-indulged and complicated. It is quiet. Simple. It represents freedom. Rest. Letting go...Most of us are too busy and noisy to hear the 'still, small voice.' To identify it. To trust in its power above our human strivings."

The author's final words:
"Let go completely. Trust. Live with it all in an open hand before God. Jesus promises He WILL work it out. I do believe for you, always....a new sunrise."
(Taken from Women's Devotional Bible; Author: Ann Kiemel Anderson 1990)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Patiently Waiting - Well, trying to be patient

We want to thank each and every person for your prayers - especially yesterday and today. We still haven't heard anything from America World, and believe me, it's all I can do not to call them. I have checked my e-mail constantly all morning, but no messages. There have been a lot of hits on our blog this morning, so I know people are wondering. I promise that as soon as we hear any news about today's meeting at the SDA, I will post. In the meantime, for me it's back to praying.

UPDATE as of 5:00 p.m. on 01/09/08:
We just received an e-mail from Kate at America World that stated that she did not hear from Yuri today. Kate said that she suspects that the meeting was postponed because Yuri is always very good to provide updates. She is going to call him in the morning, so in the meantime, back to praying (as if any of us ever stopped). We'll update you when we know more!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

HUGE NEWS - Need Prayers Immediately

We just received an e-mail from Kate at America World. She said that Yuri had a meeting today with one of the staff psychologists (these are the people who share profiles of children with the families). He was told that the SDA wants to invite families requesting younger children for a second appointment when there are children available who match the families' requests. More than likely, invitations would be for an appointment in February or later. Bear in mind, that in Ukraine, procedures change constantly, so please pray that families are in fact invited only when children are available.

Tomorrow, Yuri has a meeting scheduled with the Deputy Director of the SDA to discuss our family's situation. He will present the Deputy Director with our letter and our family photo album in an effort to personalize the discussion. We are not expecting to receive a specific appointment date tomorrow, but we are expecting to obtain clearer answers about how the second appointment process will work. The meeting is scheduled for 3 pm in Kiev, so 7 am Central time. Please, take a moment to pray specifically for this meeting.

Our Prayer Requests:
  • That God will go ahead of us and prepare the way for an awesome and uplifting meeting with the Deputy Director and other officials involved.
  • That clear and honest answers will be given to Yuri.
  • That we will receive an accurate timeline for the appointment.
  • That God will direct the SDA to present us with the child that He has chosen for our family without hassle and turmoil.
  • That we will be united with our new child very, very soon.
  • That the new officials at the SDA will truly care about the welfare of the children and work vigorously to match families with appropriate children.

Ultimately, the process that we would like to see implemented is that families are told in advance which child the SDA is inviting them to visit (this would work very much like programs in other countries where families receive health and other information prior to traveling), however we are well aware that this adoption is orchestrated by Christ and that His plan is best. Please pray that all things will go according to God's will and that when it's all said and done, He will receive all the glory and honor. We may never know why our adoption journey has been so difficult, but we will always know that no matter how big the roadblock, God demolished it!

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him"

1 Corinthians 2:9

No News

Everyone is asking the same question, "Have you heard anything yet?" The answer is no. Last week, the official offices were closed for New Years and then Orthodox Christmas was celebrated yesterday, so Ukraine is slap-dab in the middle of the holidays. Technically, the government is supposed to reopen today (01/08/08), however we were told that like most of us here in the US, many people take-off the entire week of Christmas. We really aren't expecting to hear anything until next week sometime.

At this point, we don't even know whether or not our letter was submitted yet. I contacted Kate at America World the end of last week, and she stated that she had e-mailed Yuri about this very topic because she couldn't tell from his e-mail whether or not he had been able to submit our letter before holiday shutdown. We'll just keep on praying!

On Saturday, Jason and I went to the doctor in order to re-do our medical testing. We had to be tested for syphilis, Hepatitis, HIV, and TB. Last time, it took a week or so for the results to come-in, however when we went yesterday to have our TB test looked-at, the results were in! We also requested our updated criminal background check yesterday, so we expect those results next week. Fortunately, the people at the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation are usually pretty quick with the checks and are VERY cooperative with getting it notarized and mailed in a timely manner! It looks like things are moving right along with having to re-do documents for our dossier, so once again - GOD ANSWERS PRAYERS!