Wednesday, December 30, 2009

In Frankfurt

We are still in Frankfurt. Sorry I did not update last night. I was physically and emotionally spent, and I gladly followed the sweet voice of a bed calling to me.

In the midst of all this craziness, we at least got to sleep last night.

Our flight leaves at 2:00 pm this afternoon so 7:00 am Central Time. Pray for us, we are finally going home! We will arrive at the MN airport at 8:30 pm Central Time where we will finally get to see our family!

We will spend a couple of days at a hotel so that we can just all be together. Then we will get on a car and drive home...sweet home.

It has been such an emotional journey. Countless tears.

So continue to pray for us as we continue our trip home.

(Here in Frankfurt it is 9:00 am in the morning on December 31st. I know the time difference has been confusing, so we have been at an airport for 3 days straight now, so please pray we can finally come home!)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


We are still waiting for a flight. Airport is still closed and now our flight is scheduled to leave at 6:00 pm (10:00 am central your time)

Keep us in your prayers.

We are headed home again

Please pray as we hope to be able to come home today. We are getting picked up in 2 hours and our flight leaves in 5 hours.

AS you think about us tonight and tomorrow morning, will you keep us in your prayers?

Still In Kyiv

We left our apartment at 2:00 am knwoing with all the snow it would take longer to get to the airport. We arrived at 3:00 am and had some time to wait until they opened at 3:30.

The first thing we heard was that our flight was cancelled due to the weather.
"We can get you in tomorrow at the same time" said the lady at the booth.
Well I was not happy to hear that, and I could not keep the tears from coming, "Please try to get me a flight home, any route is okay with me."
So they did, unfortunately, the airport was still closed. At 9:30, I realized that there was no way we would be leaving at 10:00 since the airport had not opened yet. I talked to the ladies at the booth and they said they would have me as VIP waiting on a plane ride from Kyiv to New York. Sounded great, but that meant the airport had to open (they were not sure when) and the estimated time could have been 5:00 pm. I needed to make a choice then.
I was exhausted, tired, and emotional. They were not even sure we would leave at 5:00, so I told them that yes, we would wait until tomorrow.
And so we wait another day.
I am watching the weather closely, we just want to be home!

The only prayer I have is for safety, safety as we travel as the weather is not so good here.

We did have an angels help us today. A Ukranian lady. I don't know what I would have done without her. She will be with us in our flight.

I am exhausted, I will write more later.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Taking Off

We are ready to start our journey home! It is really early and the snow has not stopped here. Please pray that we have a safe trip home throughout today and tomorrow.

If I get a chance I will update at the airports, we will see.

We are so excited to be going home!

We have a Visa

We have a Visa and we are headed home! Later this evening for you we will be picked up and our journey back home will begins. Our flight departs at 5:30 am our time, which means 9:30 pm your time.

45 days, I have been gone for 45 days! I cannot wait to be home, see my husband and my two beautiful princesses. This has been a hard journey, but it was worth it!

Prayer requests
-Please please please pray for a safe travel home
-Pray that Nina does well on the flight
-Pray for safe travel for Andy as he comes to pick us up at the airport

Hooray, we are almost there!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

There is a Difference

Today Nina and I got to go to church with our missionary friends. I had arranged for the cleaning lady to come at 11:00 so that we could be out of here by the time she showed up. Well, today she came early right as we were getting our coats on. She felt comfortable enough to not only tell me what Nina should be wearing or not wearing, but to even grab clothes for me. Finally I was able to explain that we were riding a car, not walking, this also after she told me I should have a stroller and not carry her in the sling. She is nice though, I should have thought about the fact that we won't see her again and given her a hug. We were, however, 15 minutes late.

At church Nina was very out of sorts, and once the music started she got very scared. She only wanted Kim, not even me. I am okay with that. Kim can talk to her and Kim understands her. I think Nina found great comfort in knowing that Kim could tell her what was going on and could use words she understood to comfort her. I also know that it is part of the adoption process. No, she does not have a close bond with me yet, that will come with time. On the meantime, I am happy that Kim was there for Nina.

We then ate at McDonald's and Nina got some balloons. I have been working on colors and surprised everyone by saying "yellow" while asking for the yellow balloon.

We got home and took a nap. For dinner we had our McDonald's leftovers as well as some soup.

Tomorrow we have a long and busy day. We will be picked up at 7:30 a to go apply for the Visa. We then go and have a medical done for Nina and take the results back to the Embassy. Then we go eat lunch and return to the Embassy and wait until they give us our Visa. We come home, eat some more, hopefully see our friends one more time, pack and sleep a little. Then at 2:30 am we are picked up and we start our journey back home. I hope Nina is tired and sleeps lots!

So all those are our prayer request for now. I hate flying and now with the new incident I am even more weary, so I will appreciate all your prayers for a safe travel.

Our friend Frank who was here adopting, got to meet Nina when we were going to the orphanage to visit our girls. he had just watched the last video I had here and he said that she looked like a completely different little girl than the one he saw. I have had Nina for 13 days, it is amazing what 13 days can do.

So here is a video comparison. The first one is the very first video of when we first met Nina, and the second one I quickly took while she was eating her leftovers and watching Baby Signing Time.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

3 days left to go

It is Saturday evening here in Kyiv. We only have 3 days to go. Early Tuesday morning we finally get to go home!

Yesterday we were not able to get Nina's medical as the place was closed due to Christmas (even though it is a Ukranian clinic) It means that on Monday we have a marathon day getting thigs ready. I think we leave at 7:30 so we can get visa applied for and medical so that we can get that visa later on Monday.

Yesterday was Christmas day, and it did not feel a lot like Christmas, but, our wonderful friends that are here as missionaries invited us over and let me tell you, the food was delicious! They have become dear friends and I think we will always be so thankful to them. They have been wonderful with Nina and Nina adores Kim!

We did spend the morning listening to Christmas songs and dancing around, then we took a short nap and we got to go to our Christmas dinner.

We are counting down the days.

Hope you all had a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Redemption by Derek Leux

Derex Leux was a man that loved God and followed Him. He worked for the International House of Prayer and had a heart for adoption. His journey led him to Reece's Rainbow where him and his wife Renee adopted 3 children from Ukraine last year. One with Spina Bifida, and 2 with Down syndrome. Yesterday, Derek was killed in a car accident, our Reece's Rainbow family grieves his loss. As I have struggled with being here for so long, I found this post by him, written last year, when he was here in Ukraine.

Allow the words from this man to touch your hearts. Have a Merry Christmas!!!

Redemption by Derek Leux (bold added by me)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Renee' and I are sitting in the office of a telephone company in Novograd Valenski, Ukraine, using wireless internet. We are in the middle of adopting three special needs boys from an orphanage here. Two of the boys have Down Syndrome. Roman is high functioning, energetic and happy. Dimitri has serious mental retardation, failure to thrive, and though he is five years old, he is the size of a 1 year old. He has sores on his face, a distinct smell of death on him, and yells out if we try to do anything with him other than hold him. Because he has less ability to respond and learn, he naturally gets less attention and care from the orphanage workers in this world of limited resources. The harsh reality of the "survival of the fittest" principle is a life and death struggle that this little boy is losing fast. Our third boy Sasha, is a brilliant six year old who has Spina Bifida (the condition our son Josiah died from in 1996). He is like a learning sponge that can't get enough! He is happy and alert and thirsty for knowledge and experience. So with two of our boys, we get an immediate return on any investment we make. With Dimitri, there's not much immediate gratification. In fact, it's unknown when and if there will be a return at all. This is the kind of situation that makes the carnal, fallen, human reasoning think, "Why try? What's the point? What will this produce? What good will this do? Why not select a boy who has more potential? This looks like a lost cause.

Two days ago we drove for hours into the Ukrainian countryside to the village where Dimitri was born. We met with officials there and signed papers and answered their questions. We also went and saw Dimitri's house. The day had been long, we were still recovering from jet lag, I was beginning to really miss my six daughters at home and all the familiar things our fragile human hearts entangle themselves with in feeble attempts to feel secure. Sitting in the dark on our very long drive back to Novograd that night, the Holy Spirit began to whisper to my heart, and new understanding about redemption began to take shape.

I was thinking, "Man, adopting this little boy has been so much work. This is exhausting, expensive, uncomfortable… and it doesn't feel very rewarding right now." What am I doing in some little Soviet car in the dark, in the middle of rural Ukraine in frozen December, as the driver dodges cats and potholes? What if Dimitri doesn't improve at all? What if we get "nothing" out of this? Ahhh, there it was; that dark, fallen, unreedemed, selfish human love, rooted in the tree of the knowledge of "good and evil". The love the Greeks called "erao" love. The love where we treat someone as precious and treasured for what we can get out of it. This is unlike "agapeo" love, the God kind of love that treats someone as treasured and precious for their good, not for my good. It's when I love a person in order to meet their needs, having no expectation of them meeting any of my needs. At a whole new level, God is working His kind of love into myweak heart, and He's using little Dimitri to do it.

On the drive home that night, the Lord whispered in my ear, "This is Redemption. Derek, do you know how far I travelled to get you and bring you back? I had to be separated from my Son, in order to get you, just like you are separated from your children in order to get these boys. Do you know how expensive it was for Me to purchase you? It cost me everything. Do you know how broken, sick, damaged, twisted, dirty, smelly, and hopeless you were? And at the end of it all, you had nothing to give me or add to me. I did it for you. I emptied myself and became nothing so that you could have it all. This is redemption.

My friends, adoption is redemption. It's costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous. Buying back lives costs so much. When God set out to redeem us, it killed Him. And when He redeems us, we can't even really appreciate or comprehend it, just like Dimitri will never comprehend or fully appreciate what is about to happen to him… but… he will live in the fruit of it. As his Daddy, I will never expect him to understand all of this or even to thank me. I just want to watch him live in the benefits of my love and experience the joys of being an heir in my family. This is how our heavenly "Papa" feels towards us.

Today, settle your busy heart down and rest in the benefits of redemption. Enjoy the fruits of His goodness, and stop trying to "pay Him back". You'll never get close you goofy little kid.

You can visit their family blog HERE.

We have a passport!

We got our passport today! As I got back on the taxi I couldn't help but cry, we are getting closer, we are going home, finally. This time the end is in sight!

Tomorrow morning we get Nina's medical done so on Monday when we go to the Embassy we will have all our documentation ready and we should get our Visa that same afternoon. Then we can come home Monday night or Tuesday morning!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

More on Language

Today you get two posts. In a way this is my journal, so there is not such thing as too many posts.

This afternoon Nina and I got to go have dinner with some other friends that are adopting through Reece's Rainbow. They also have their little girl with them and she is so cute!

The weather here in Ukraine is kind of crazy right now. It was warm today, enough to start melting all the snow, but there was a lot of snow, so the roads, and sidewalks (remember these are used as roads too) are a slushy mess! As we were walking, we quickly realized that there was no other option but to walk through water. Enough to cover our shoes and soak our pants. So we walked with our girls and made it to the restaurant, only to find out that it was closed for some reason. So we ventured next door to an Italian place. Nina ate some, but she was more interested in playing with a water bottle, and with the salt and pepper. Go figure.

As we left the restaurant, we realized it was raining! So we tried to be quick and avoid the Babushkas :) So there was no yelling this time. I do have to say, that I have friends that have lived here in Kyiv for years and they still get yelled at by the Babushkas, so I am not taking it personal anymore :)

We came home and Nina was ready to take a bath. I took a video right before her bath, and I realized that it had much to do with language. Even though Nina does not say lots of words in English, she is repeating, and she does use some English words with me. Now, you will notice she says something that sounds like "go potty." That is what she really is saying, however, I am positive she has no idea what it means, or she just thinks it means something different. Maybe bathroom door? Or bathroom? Not sure, but she sure is cute! So here she is, English, cuteness, and all!

Language Barrier

Russian or Ukranian; it is all the same to me, but not for Nina.

Today the housekeeper came. She offered for her to stay with Nina so I could go shopping because I don't have warm clothes for her...they are just different from what they wear here, I have realized that it doesn't matter what she wears, they just don't think they are good enough because they wear different clothes. If only they knew it gets a lot colder in our neck of the woods than here! Besides, I don't know her, I cannot really communicate with her, I would not leave Nina and go somehwere.

However, as soon as the housekeeper walked into the room, Nina was excited. Not just a little excited, but very excited. It didn't matter what we were playing with, she wanted to show her, to talk to her. She spends all day with a mama that can't understand her, and that she cannot understand, but here comes lady who she can actually talk to!

It did make me a little jealous, she definitely does not talk to me like she does to the housekeeper, or Kim and Jerry. I understand why, but it is a little hard to see. At least with Kim and Jerry they can tell me what they are talking about. With the housekeeper I am clueless! I realized that I could have very well left and Nina would have been fine. Not that I needed to, or that I would be comfortable with that, but Nina would have been fine.

I know Nina was singing songs and saying rhymes with the housekeeper. That worker at the orphanage really did care about the kids, she did her best to teach them things. Nina is Ukranian after all, this is her culture, and she knows it. She is not just an orphan girl with no idea about the customs and traditions.

It was a reminder that Nina's world is changing, and that it is hard for her. Do I think she likes having a mama, and that she is happy with me? Yes I do. Do I think she is having a hard time transitioning? Yes I do.

It is part of the process, and we take it one day at a time. The more she hears English the more she will pick up words her and there, and eventually, her Ukranian will be gone. It is kind of sad.

On the meantime, I am glad that she can have those connections and that she can talk to other people.

Also, she seems to be getting a cold. Please pray that she gets better and stays healthy!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Answering Some Questions

I thought I would answer some questions that have been asked about our adoption.

1. If your plane ticket is set to return at the beginning of January, why have you been so upset about not going home before Christmas, didn't you know it could take this long?

Yes, we did know it could take this long. The problems is that we have been told, while being here, time and time again that things will move quicker and that "for sure tomorrow" such and such will be ready. Now I don't know about you, but statements like that make me hope that things will move quicker, that maybe I don't have to be here so long. About almost 3 weeks we were told "You will be going home by December 23rd." So did I hope I would, of course! Wouldn't you? Especially when you are promised that tomorrow the tax code will come? Yet, it takes 6 days of tomorrows for it to arrive. It is heartbreaking. Have you ever hoped for something to happen, prayed so hard and then feel empty handed? Yes, that is how we felt. If nobody had promised anything, we would have been able to go with the flow. We are human, we hope for the best, and of course with that hope I wanted to be home for Christmas.

2. Was Nina's last name from her birth parents, or was it given to her at the orphanage?

We don't know. Either it was a name that the birth mother wrote and they think it is a fake name since they were never able to contact anyone with that name (therefore, Nina did not have papers from her birth mother saying she was giving up her rights, however, because she was abandoned, and could not find the mother, the government made the decision that she would be eligible for adoption).
Or, the maternity house wrote the fake names down because Nina needed a name, that plain ans simple.
Not so simple when having to share this with her when she is older.
Oh, and her former last name, now middle name is Shuraeva (isn't it beautiful?)

3. I did not realize you have been gone for so long! I would be a baby if I had to be gone from my kids for so long.

This is by far the hardest thing that our family has ever had to do...emotionally. Being away from my girls is very very hard. They are only 4 and 2 years old, they need their mommy. And if you have been reading my previous post, well, I would say we have hit pretty low lows, so it has not been easy at all. Worth it? Yes! Hard? Extremely!

4. How long is the trip supposed to last?

We were told anywhere from 30-45 days. Lord willing we are leaving next Tuesday and that will put me at 46 days.

5. Maybe God has a reason for you to be there so long.

Maybe He does, and maybe this is just the way things are. Those that have been her before me will attest that this is a very hard things to do. We all pray and pray that we can come home soon, but it is what it is. Can God use it? Absolutely! But right now, it just stinks!

6. Is Nina potty trained?

No!!! I add the exclamation marks because we were told she is...and she is not! She asks me to change her diaper ONLY is she poops (which I am glad to say it is every day now, so she is definitely comfortable with her mama)

7. Is Nina picking up English?

Well, it does not feel like she is. However, she is repeating a lot of the things I say, and really, she has only been with me for a week! She loves to be around Kim and Jerry who can speak to her, and she calls them aunt and uncle, it is very sweet. She does however, understand certain words pretty well.

8. Can Nina walk some?

Only with assistance and she throws her upper body forward to carry her along, since her legs are not very strong. I am excited for her to use the walker we have at home as it will not allow her to do that (it is called a reverse walker) and she will have to move her legs...that and physical therapy.

9. Will Nina ever walk normal?

Even if Nina walks on her own, her walk will never be normal, and that is what makes her special, that is what brought her into our family. If she was normal, even at the orphanage, she would not have come to our family, because God has placed in our hearts to adopt children with special needs.

10. Are Ellie and Nichole excited to meet Nina?

Yes!!! Ellie is. Today she read her a story when we were on skype. Ellie has great big plans. I really don't think Nichole gets it, but she will once Nina is home!

11. If you have any other questions, just ask and I will answer those in other posts :)

Productive Day

Nina and I are exhausted this afternoon. We had a long and productive morning and we are ready to take it easy until we go to our friend's house for dinner. This kind of day makes me feel good as things move forward.

This morning we started the day a little later than I wanted. Nina is used to waking up at 8:30 and we needed to be out the door by 8:15. I could not wake her up! Finally, I asked her if she wanted a banana and she got out of bed!

So we got to the passport place and we waited for a little bit until we were able to take Nina's picture. I signed some papers and that was that. Then we waited some more so the right lady could get there. I think this is the lady that makes things happen quickly. While we waited, my facilitator was telling me that Nina's tax code had come in with a mistake in the name...what!!! He was telling me that hopefully nobody would notice. So, when the translator got there I asked her about it, she checked and said no, there is no mistake. Either our facilitator got his English confused and meant to say sometimes that happens, or he really has no idea what we decided to name Nina (which is my guess, he must think they kept her last name by mistake, but we are making that her middle name). So that was a relief!

Then we headed back to where the orphanage is at. The bank is there and Nina had some money in a bank account (all orphans have an account) we got the money, but we gave it to the orphanage as a gift. The orphanage is about an hour away from Kyiv, so that was a long drive for Nina. But she did wonderful through all the waiting and such.

At the bank I let her crawl around. An older gentleman that works there was telling Nina that she was beautiful...and to get up. Eventually he came to her and picked her up to make her stand...yeah, she can't do that, she cannot stand on her own without holding on to something for support. At this point with her legs, it is impossible for her to do that. So I came to hold on to Nina's hands. I think at this point the man figured out that she had a disability and that was that for him giving Nina any attention. Sad that this culture sees those with disabilities as less.

So we came back and we were starving. So we stopped at TGI Friday's. The booth behind us was an American man with a Ukranian woman. The man dropped the R word left and right and I thought I would say something, but then he was also using the N word and many other words. I was also glad Nina did not understand what they were talking about as it was adult material.

And then it was time to come home, and Nina and I were going to have to walk. So I got my handy wrap sling and I am so glad that I brought it! Nina and I had to stop by and pay for our apartment, then we stopped by the toy store, and then we came home.

I got a workout carrying Nina and my backpack, but I know I will be able to do it at the airports when I have to.

We are now home, and Nina is playing with the new toy (lacing animals, great for Nichole too!)

So where are we at in the process?

The passport is supposed to get here Thursday or Friday. Either way we will not make it to the US Embassy until Monday as it closes for Christmas. Which also means that hopefully we can come home next Tuesday. Unless the Passport came in Thursday morning, we will not be home on Friday.

How do I feel about it? Good. Yes, sad that I will not be home by Christmas but at least I know what is going to happen! There are no more empty promises and days where they tell us we are getting something just to be heart broken and get nothing. There is no emotional roller coaster anymore, it is what it is, and we are coming home on Tuesday. There is something very peaceful about just being done with the uncertainty and just enjoying our days here, because yes, last week was not enjoyable at all.

So in one week Nina and I will get on a plane and come home! Finally! It will be 46 days for me by the time we get home. I cannot wait to see my girls and my husband. I sure miss them.

So this was today, and in a while, we will get picked up to go have dinner with friends. A good day indeed :)

Monday, December 21, 2009

No Passport

We rode a high, we had our coats on, we were so excited that things were moving, that we were getting somewhere. Maybe, just maybe we would be home on Christmas day.

Then the phone rang, I thought it was to tell us our taxi was here, but no, it was to pull us down from the high, pull us down, fast, and hard, so that we could hit the floor. No passport. We won't apply until tomorrow. Unless God does something and we could get the passport in one day, there is no way we can be home on Friday. The eraliest we can be home is next Tuesday.

The fall hurt, it hurt a lot.

And yes, I know, we have the tax code, that is great, still, the fall hurt.

Tas Code is Here

Finally! We are getting picked up in 20 minutes to go apply for the passport!!!

Keep is in your prayers now!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tomorrow is the day

Tomorrow I will be anxiously waiting to hear about the tax code. I won't lie, I feel physically ill because this has had us on the edge for almost a week.

Hopefully by the time most of you wake up I will have good news to share here, so on the meantime, please pray for our family.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

And we have poop!

Yes, what you read has really happened, and I cheered and did a happy dance for Nina. She has been with me now for 6 days, and yesterday, finally, for the first time, she pooped! I knew she had to, and I knew that she was a little miserable, but like most women she just did not feel comfortable at a different place and she couldn't go. She wanted to, but she couldn't. And if you are smiling shaking your head is because it has happened to you too!

It is the reality of adjusting to a new life and that she is still not completely comfortable with me, we are still just getting to know each other. So now that she knows that it is okay to go, hopefully she will be okay with it.

She is still not eating much. Just juice and cheerios and unfortunately we are out of bananas. I do hope to get some soon! That is all she wants to eat, and well, I am okay with that, it will at least keep her fed and she should not get sick on the way home.

It is snowing here in Kyiv and it is cold. The coldest and snowiest it has been for many years. They don't know what to do and they don't have the equipment to keep the roads and streets clear. It is making a lot of things stop and supposedly that is part of why we don't have our tax code yet. But, I do know that it is causing a lot of problems in Ukraine. No, it is no snow like in the Midwest, but still, there is lots of snow and it really is cold!

Nina is no longer screaming when I put her to bed, not crying either, but she just lays awake for a long time, last night it was 2 hours and 20 minutes. She does feel for me at night to make sure I am there and every morning she gets up and checks to make sure I am there. She then asks to play with the cell phone, then the alarm clock, then she lays next to me for some kisses. And she smiles. Then it is time to get up and get some breakfast. Tea and cheerios. This while watching Baby Signing Time and...she can even say it!

She tries to imitate a lot of things that I say and she talks a lot. Funny, Andy and I wondered if she talked at all, but she really does. She has a few words and they sound so cute with her Russian accent. She is doing better at paying attention and playing with me, but she still gets overstimulated and starts throwing things and gets out of control, which is my cue to let her be and give her some space. Her naughty is her way of telling me that she has had enough (I think) Unfortunately she can only give me so much time without getting to that point, so at times I just talk to her while she plays on her own, that seems to work well.

And, here is another video of Nina, she was again turning the lights on, but she was talking more to me and interacting a little bit. I was bummed I turned the camera off right before she said "Baby Signing Time" for the first time! She calls it music too, because she just loves to listen to the music, I have tried other music or one of the other Signing Time DVDs, but no, she only likes the one. She is learning words watching it and listening to it. More than the signs, she is learning the words.

As for prayer request, tomorrow we are hoping to get the tax code, so it will be a hard day as I wait for the phone call or call myself. If it comes in the morning we can apply for the passport, and possibly give us a chance to come home on Christmas day. If it comes in the afternoon, we will not be home until the following week (because the embassy closes for Christmas Holidays)

And why is it a hard day? Because you hope, you hope and pray so much that you will get good news, and when it doesn't come, you hit bottom, and it is very hard to accept. I know that this is precious time with Nina, but please understand that this is hard, and sometimes it is just nice to hear people say, "It sucks." Last week this happened every day, as every day we were told tomorrow. It is a fragile place to be emotionally. But you can pray for strength and encouragement.

I am thankful that you have followed our journey, it does mean so much. We feel like you have wanted to take a part in the journey too, and somehow we don't feel alone. We are so thankful for you, and we thank God for showing us His love through you too.

The Outing Adventure

Today Nina and I left the apartment for the first time since Tuesday. The cleaning lady was coming at 11:00 am and we were supposed to be gone. My plan was to go get money, go to the toy store, get something for Nina and then swing by the grocery store and come home. I figured the venture would take an hour.

So at 10:45 we started getting our coats on. Here in Ukraine they are very particular about how you dress children, so I decided to go with the flow and put some extra clothes on Nina. She wore thermal underwear, a turtle neck, a sweatshirt, and a sweater, and 2 pairs of tights. A scarf, mittens, hat, snow pants, winter coat, and her shoes. I of course, was dressed warm and had my winter coat on.

Then came the sling so I can carry her (I considered bringing a stroller, and I am so glad I didn't, there is no way you can push a stroller on this streets when there is snow, no way!) Well, I hadn't thought much about wearing a sling when you have so many clothes on, and quickly realized there was no way I could get Nina right on a hip carry. I had to do a front carry, and if you think about it, even babies get to be too long and their legs get on the way. But that was the only way I was going to be able to carry her.

This I must say, took us about 30 minutes. As soon as we stepped outside and the snow/ice was falling, I realized my plans would have to change. We would go to the grocery store (about a block away) and come back home.

Did I say Ukranians are particular about how to dress their children? Well, they are also very particular about when you take your children out, and today was a day where children simply do not go anywhere but stay home. half a block away a lady approached me to tell me so. I smiled and told her in my poor Russian "I don't understand" and kept walking.

We walked in the store and the couple of ladies at the door gave me disapproving looks. Fine with me. We got our groceries (thankfully they had cheerios! but no bananas, we need to find bananas) As I was paying 3 ladies were talking about us, I could see them pointing at Nina, her feet (she was wearing warm shoes, but no boots, big mistake) and were definitely talking about what a terrible mother I must be.

(Should I actually admit the next part? Sure, I will) So I started to talk to Nina too, in a very sweet voice, I do promise that. "These ladies are so rude Nina! They need to mind their own business, they don't even know how many clothes you are wearing and if they are saying you should be walking well then, they really do need to mind their own business. Can you say rude Nina? Say Rude?"

I hate to admit this, but it made me feel better, and I promise I was just talking to Nina with a sweet sweet voice. I did say thank you as I left :) And now you know that pastor's wives are normal people too!

We walked back home, we were only gone for 15 minutes and the cleaning lady was here. The first thing she said? Something about Nina not being dressed warm enough or that she needed boots. I tried to explain to her she had three layers on her feet besides her shoes, but how do you say that?

She came later and asked Nina if she was cold, I could tell, thankfully Nina told her she was not and well, the girl was sweating! She asked Nina how old she was and when Nina said 3, she told me she should be walking and not carried in a sling, I tried to tell her she couldn't, not sure she understood.

So she cleaned with us here and eventually we started to talk. She realized that Nina spoke Russian, actually, she told me Nina speaks more Ukranian than Russian and she taught me a few words. Then she saw Nina get down and noticed her legs and asked about it. Once I told her Nina had Cerebral Palsy it was almost like I had grown another head, from all the children I could have adopted, why that one? And then it made sense I had her in a sling. So I showed her pictures of our family, and when she saw Nichole and asked if she had Down syndrome, I think she said I was very unlucky and that it was too bad, she was sorry. Sad that here so many people look at children with special needs that way. I told her that we loved it, and that we don't care. (All of this of course, is interpretation and actions and facial expressions)

Overall, she was great because she helped me with some words around the apartment, and she thought my accent was pretty funny. I am pretty sure she asked Nina if she understood her mama, and Nina said no. Well, she will eventually.

She also asked me how old I was and was very surprised when I said 28, she said I looked like a child. Then she also asked me if was pregnant...I hope it was the layers I have on and not that I am looking a little bit rounder around my mid-section. When I said no it didn't even face her, maybe here people do not get offended by someone saying "you have a belly!"

So Nina told the lady she wanted eggs. I made her some. Well, of course I make things different than what she has ever had. Not sure how she has eggs. Also, I need to be careful because evrything I give her she dumps it in her drink. So, she put half her eggs in her tea, yeah, pretty gross. Sometimes she actually eats things like that (like she put in mashed potatoes in her apple juice and actually ate it the other day)

I am thankful we know she likes cheerios, right now that and juice is all she eats. We are out of bananas, or she would have some too. Well, I suppose she has had some soup and she eats that pretty well with some bread in it.

Okay, this is a long post, but this is life for us so far. I do hope the weather gets nicer so we can go get some new toys, we are running out of ideas of what to do and I can only carry her so far with the sling. Not much to do with children here, we really have never seen very many children around.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Still no tax code

I should let you all know that we have no tax code.

Maybe on Monday, but I say that lightly, since we were told we could have gotten in Tuesday, and by Monday it will be almost a week from the time we were told we could get it.

Best case scenario I come home on Christmas day, if not, maybe the following week, but hopefully I will be back before the New Year.

Tired Mama

I am a tired mama. Nina is still not sleeping well and therefore neither am I. So if I am tired she has to be tired too. I know life is so different for her, sometimes it sounds like she was crying in her sleep, it really is hard because I wish I could talk to her and understand what she says. Maybe help her work through her feelings. All I can do is pray and ask God to meet her and to calm her heart and all her fears.

Thanks to our friends I was able to learn a few words in Russian and last night after a screaming child that did not want to go to bed I finally said, "Go to bed, do you understand!" All in my broken Russian. She said no, I said yes, and that was that. At least she stayed in bed, still screaming, but she stayed in bed.

Today we discovered a food she likes...cheerios! Oh where will I find cheerios here? I need to go hunting for them.

She is a sweet little girl, and again thanks to our missionary friends we have learned some things about her. She likes dogs but not cats. She thinks she has a nice mama. She likes to play. We also know that she says, "Give me!" a lot, and "I can't" Life will surely change once she has sisters to compete with an a mama that will not allow her to use her disability as a crutch.

She is a lot like a baby or toddler. All about maikng noise, and shaking things like rattles. Everything goes in her mouth. In most ways Nichole is ahead of her, the difference is that Nina can talk, and well, Nichole can sign! But, I do think as Nina is home with us she will start to develop and eventually be close to her peers, we will see, we are just happy that we finally get to call her our own.

So even though the days have been trying with her, it is wonderful to have this connection, that we can get to know one another. Then when we get home at least our relationship will be a little more established, especially when we get to the wonderful craziness of extended family.

On a different note, Nina is cross eyed, and she will definitely need glasses or even surgery if it is bad enough, not sure. Glad we know a great Opp-tometrist!

Still no new on the tax code. I guess their phones are not working and our facilitator is on his way to the town where it needs to be picked up. If he does get it, they will call me and get a taxi for me so we can apply for the passport. We are praying it does work out!

And here are some pictures of Nina :)
These are pictures I took for her passport. She was not supposed to smile, I took lots of them until we found one that will work.

With her binky, I do think she finds comfort in it, and I am okay with her having it, when she is 4, and she understands English, we will wok on being done with it, for now, she needs it! And this is a new one I bought, the one we got from the orphanage was in rough shape, it was about to break into pieces.

And here is a little video where you can see a little bit of how CP affects Nina. Her legs are "bent" and she can only stand on her toes since her feet cannot go flat on the ground. It is pretty impressive how she can get up and move with her legs like that (which is why there is no "I can't do it!")

Thursday, December 17, 2009

No Tax Code

They said maybe tomorrow, maybe.

They said if we get it tomorrow then we can apply for the passport. They said 3-4 days to get that done. Then the embassy closes for Holidays and I cannot get the visa.
They said I will not be home for Christmas.

I cannot tell you how sad I am and how much I just want to curl in a corner and cry cry cry.

Please pray for a miracle. I want to go home.

More on Nina

Our friends from Kyiv have been missionaries here for a year, but they were missionaries in Russia before and their Russian is great (even if they say it is not) so the last couple of days they have come to see Nina and I and I think Nina loves having someone she can talk to and understand each other :)

She is picking up some words, and she tries to repeat many of the things that I say, which is great, now she just needs to know what they mean.

There are a few things that she says she cannot do, like getting down from the couch, or picking up a mess she has made. I don't know if she used this at the orphanage for attention, or if she was told that. But she will soon learn that she can do it! And she better do it or she will have to go to the naughty corner. Now things that are really physically impossible of course we will not make her do.

Eating and sleeping are still our struggles. No nap today, but, she did have some rest time/quiet time. That is good for me, now I only have to fight a bed time.

So far, tea and bananas are the food of her choice, and some instant soups that Kim brought for us. Today I got her to have a little of my peanut butter and jelly. This time she did take a couple bites. Who can resist a PBJ sandwich?

She loves music and she sings quite a bit, it is sweet. I have tried to get it on video and she stops as soon as she sees the camera.

On a different note. Having her with me makes me miss my girls and my family so much more. I am homesick and discouraged as I have heard nothing about the tax code. Please pray, I guess it could still be here, but if we don't get it before Christmas, who knows when I will be home because the US Embassy closes for Holidays. So pray pray pray.

We just want to be home.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tax Code

Well, the tax code is not here yet. I just got an e-mail from our facilitator saying maybe tomorrow or Friday. This is not looking so good time wise, but, there is nothing we can do.

Please pray for the tax code to come as soon as possible!

Getting to know each other

Nina and I have been getting to know each other. It has been fun and I am a full time mommy again, it means I take naps when needed, which sometimes could mean every day :)

Last night, after 2 1/2 hours Nina finally went to sleep. It had taken me many minutes to realize that she was asking for a pacifier (many minutes, but not many hours!) And she likes her pacifier, she actually keeps it in her moth all night long which of course is a lovely noise I am not used to hearing at nights. She also does an exercise routine in her sleep (I am sure of it!) So I did not get much sleep. However, this morning she woke up, looked around and then saw me...she smiled. Maybe going home with her mama had not just been a dream.

Well I am not getting the food department right. She is not eating very much but she is at least drinking. She asks me to give her who knows what to eat. My hope is she gets hungry enough that she eats what I am making her. I think at the orphanage they ate one thing only, and I do not make that one thing.

She also is testing it all! And discovering what mamas do. She hurt her finger, and I had responded by kissing it before. Oh my, little dramas going on here (they last all but 1 second) but she has figured that I come to her and kiss her "owies."

We are also finding humor in the little things, as we both understand regardless of language. Things like bodily functions, which my 4 year old finds amusing too. And just to let you know, "acky" is not a good term to say something might taste bad, because it is too close to the slang in Russian for "poopy" which will make a 3 year old laugh so hard she will pee her pants! (Well, at least we are using diapers still!) I bet you all wanted to know all of this :)

Nap time again was hard. I wonder why she does not like to sleep. Maybe it is still too different? But still, I think she likes being here. She feels loved!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

When Love Takes You In

What a wonderful day full of emotion. As Nina and I said goodbye, there were many tears. Tears from her favorite worker, who was struggling not to cry, she gave Nina a kiss and a hug, and as she walked away I saw in her face a broken heart, yet, happiness for this sweet girl. The doctor too was teary eyed, and as all the worker gathered around, I could not help but cry too.

I thanked them for all they have done for Nina for 3 1/2 years. I thanked them for their love, for their care. I told them that they would always have a dear place in our hearts and that we would tell Nina about the wonderful people that were a part of her life while she lived in Ukraine.

Then we walked out of the orphanage. Nina was confused and pointed at the door. "We are not going back Nina" I whispered in her ear, "You are coming home to mama."

I recently found the song "When Love Takes You In" by Steven Curtis Chapman, I cannot embed it, but click HERE to watch the video and listen to the words.

I know you’ve heard the stories
But they all sound too good to be true
You’ve heard about a place called home
But there doesn’t seem to be one for you
So one more night you cry yourself to sleep
And drift off to a distant dream

Where love takes you in and everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart
When love takes you home and says you belong here
The loneliness ends and a new life begins
When love takes you in

And somewhere while you’re sleeping
Someone else is dreaming too
Counting down the days until
They hold you close and say I love you
And like the rain that falls into the sea
In a moment what has been is lost in what will be

When love takes you in everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart

And this love will never let you go
There is nothing that could ever
cause this love to lose its hold

When love takes you in everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart
When love takes you home and says you belong here
The loneliness ends and a new life begins
When love takes you in it takes you in for good
When love takes you in

Yesterday our translator said that Nina looked different, that she looked love. I saw it today, I looked for it. The rest of the children did not look loved, they are wondering if someday love will take them in. I held Marshall today, I helped feed him. I tickled him and took a little video. Oh how I want him to have a family. Most of the kids cried with me there. Did they know I was taking Nina, that love would take her in? Did they want that too? That little boy that is all over the place was hungry for love, I could see it. So I sat by him as he ate lunch and held his hand, he loved it, that is all he

Will love take them in? Will you take one of them in?

Gotcha Day!!!

Where do I start? How do I describe this day, all the emotions that I have, all that has taken place in just a few shirt hours?

It is 7:44 pm here. Nina is sleeping peacefully although an hour ago I thought we were in for a tough night. Either I need to learn Russian or she needs to pick up English fast! I don't know how many times Nina was trying to tell me that she wanted her pacifier, but after a good half hour I figured it out! Oh poor girl, her mama needs to remember what mamas do after my long month break (yes, I have been gone for exactly a month!)

We started the day with an adventure. I was getting picked up at MacDonald's at 8:30. When my translator called and asked where I was and I said right outside MacDonald's and she said she could not see me I realized I went to the wrong place! She came and got me and all was well, we were just a little bit late.

All was well at the birth certificate place, except for one thing, they ran out of the paper to make them. So they sent us away promising that it would be ready by 2:00 pm. It meant, we could not stop by the tax office either. So we went to get Nina and arrived at around 11:00. We were there for about 2 hours! I got to see her eat lunch and then we finally left!

The birth certificate place then had misplaced some documents. We waited. I am not sure what happened but our facilitator ran to the tax place to drop off a document he had promised. He didn't get it, he said maybe tomorrow or Thursday. He said he will do his best to have us home by Christmas. I hope so too!

We have been home and have had a great time, full of discoveries, pushing limits and more!

She is figuring out that if she tells me she has to go to the bathroom, I will stop anything and take her. Well, I am not sure she is really potty trained, but she is getting me pretty well trained!

She was stinky, so I had to give her a bath. Well, let me tell you, she loved it! Yes, she really did! I thought it would be screaming and kicking but oh my she loved it! So she started telling me she had to go potty, we get to the bathroom, and she help take her pants off, and diaper, and then points at the bath! Yes, she loved it!

Throwing things, dropping things...she is figuring out what her limits are. Which of course is expected! It is now 9:00 and she is not sleeping yet. Obviously this post has taken me some time. When she first woke up she pointed to the computer and said daddy. She obviously is getting that she can be sweet and cute and maybe get her way.

But she is with me, she is mine! No more nights at the orphanage, no more nights without a mama! We are getting to know each other and it feels so good to have her with me!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tax Code: Keep the Prayers Coming!

I just got word that our facilitator was able to apply for the tax code! He said tomorrow we will stop by and show them the new birth certificate. At that point they can give us the tax code or make us wait!
Pray that we do get the tax code! Pray with us, then we can really get things moving! With God all things are possible, and He can make this happen!

Tomorrow is a big day for us. Tomorrow is "gotcha day!"

In the morning I will go and get Nina's new birth certificate. Andy and I will be listed as her parents, her birth certificate will actually read "Nina Stumbo!"

After that, we are stopping by the tax office to check on the tax code. If we get it back, we can even apply for the passport later in the day.

From there we go to the orphanage and we get Nina!

Our translator told me she went to the orphanage today to get some pictures. She told me she got to see Nina.

"She looks differnt." She said

"What do you mean different?" I asked

"She looks different than last time I saw her, different form all the other kids"

"And why is that?"

"I can tell the difference, because she looked loved"

Yes, Nina is loved, she is loved! And that has made all the difference!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Prayer Request!!!

Tomorrow morning, which will be tonight for most of you, our facilitator will try to apply for our tax code.
This tax code is what keeps families here the longest. It can take a day, or weeks!
I thought we would apply for this on Tuesday, but they will try this tomorrow!
Pray, please pray!

-Pray that they are able to apply tomorrow
-Pray that the tax code is ready by Tuesday! Yes I am asking for something that is not likely, but it is not impossible! How great to pick up Nina and be able to go get her passport right away! Then we would for sure be home by Christmas!

So tonight will you pray for us? And tomorrow morning will you continue in your prayers?

10 Days: Waiting

A week ago my good friend Catherine sent me an e-mail with the song "While I am Waiting" bu John Waller. That same day my friend Dora has sent me a message saying she had heard the song and had thought about us.

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I’m waiting
I will serve You
While I’m waiting
I will worship
While I’m waiting
I will not faint
I’ll be running the race
Even while I wait

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it’s not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait

I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting on You, Lord

Today, our 10 day waiting period is over. It is over, but we are still waiting. I still have to wait 2 more days to get Nina out of the orphanage, and I have to wait to have all our paperwork done so that we can come home.

No, waiting is not easy, adoption is not easy. The roller coaster of emotions has taken us on the ride of a lifetime. At times it has been exciting, at times it has been scary. At times we have wanted to stop the ride altogether, and at times we enjoy the wind on our face as we flip and turn. But all along, our emotions have been tender and there have been many tears along the way. Sad tears, frustrated tears, and happy tears.

There are many children in Nina's orphanage. Many hearts that have been forgotten. Many souls that long for love, for a family. Their faces will forever follow me, they will visit me in dreams and they will sit on my lap as I pray, so that I remember them and lift them up to the Father. It is so hard to leave them behind.

Jeremiah 49:11 says, "Leave your orphans; I will protect their lives." Today I find great comfort in those verses. No, it does not mean that no hardships will come their way, and it does not mean that in this world they will find love, but it does mean that the Lord is with them, that their lives are precious to God. He created them, He loves them, and His heart breaks for their lives and the brokenness of this world that has landed them in an orphanage, to be left alone. But they are never alone.

But there is one orphan girl. One sweet child that I get to take home. One little girl that will know that she is loved, that her life has great value, that her life is worth living. She will know that she is wanted.

I listened to Chris Tomlin's song this morning, "Amazing Grace" and the choirs made me stop.

My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy rains
Unending love, Amazing grace

On Tuesday, I will walk out of the orphanage with Nina in my arms. We will walk out and we will not look back. Her chains will be gone! She will be set free! We have followed God's calling, and we have come across the world to take a child that seems broken to the world, to take her and make her our own. Much like Christ did for us.

Yes, there have been sacrifices along the way. But they are worth it, her chains will be gone, she will be set free. And she will know about Jesus, she will know about her Savior. We can give her love, we can give her a family, but what really matters, what we really have to Jesus.

And while we wait to come home, we will worship Him! We will worship while we are waiting, because of what He has done.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday's Visit

Today's visit was a challenge. There is a little boy that is new to Nina's groupa and he is able to do a lot more than the other kids. He can climb in and out of the playpen and is all over the place. He is also a little aggressive and pushy. Basically, he just wants someone to love him and give him attention, and this is the only way that he knows how...demand it!

Nina and my favorite worker was there again this morning, but I have noticed that she leaves almost as soon as I get there. Not sure why, maybe she is supposed to go and be with the other kids as she is the only worker that I have seen playing with kids and interacting with them (no wonder she is a favorite!) They did ask me when I was taking Nina, so they should not be surprised that on Tuesday I am taking her and now they have plenty of time to say goodbye.

Unfortunately today, most of my visit with Nina was spent trying to get this little boy away from her. I understand, why is this woman only playing with Nina? Why is Nina getting all the attention? Why does she get all the special toys? So he had to have everything Nina had, it was hard. He was climbing over her, trying to push her, take whatever it was Nina had in her hand, or hit her. Where were the worker you wonder? Yeah did I, because there were two of them right in the room. They were preoccupied with their conversation I suppose.

I had to get up and try to hold this little boy, and eventually he started trying to hit me and almost bit my hand. I discovered today I have pretty good reflexes when it comes to feeling little teeth on me. Yes, eventually the workers came, and it became crying time for the little boy. Which became crying time for all the kids. Yeah, lovely!

They did let Oksana get out of the playpen and come be with us. Most of the time I had my arm wrapped around her and she just melted right into my arms and laid her head on my chest. Probably for about 30 minutes. This little girl wants a mama so badly, and I do really hope that she finds a family soon! (Her name is Olivia on Reece's Rainbow, sorry if I have confused anyone!) I played with her as much as I could and got 2 short videos without the workers noticing. She is so hungry to learn! This little girl has tremendous potential! I am not sure that she really is delayed or if that is just a result of living in an orphanage.

Nina was fine for as long as Oksana just enjoyed being held, but once Oksana wanted to interact, Nina would call, "MAMA!" And we were back to playing.

Well eventually little boy came back, workers were talking conversing again. I just packed all my stuff and held Nina while I sang to her. She loved it! And the few actions that I would do she would imitate. Oh I cannot wait to have her with me so she can really have my undivided attention and I know in just a few days she will learn so much!

Eventually I had to leave. Sometimes it is just easier on the other children. It is sad. I think being in the room with the children and seeing what their lives are like has really impacted me. My heart breaks every time, all these children need families and yet, only the w little ones I have posted about are available for adoption. But at least they can be saved!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

7 days, 3 more to go!

That is right, there are only 3 more days left of our waiting period. Time has gone by pretty quickly and it has been wonderful to see Nina. Oh how she is working herself into my heart. I look forward to seeing her everyday and I am sad to say goodbye, wishing that I could take her with me and never have to come back.

Today I brought diapers for the orphanage. Here, diapers are called "pampers." But I have not seen that brand anywhere! As soon as they saw me walking in with the 2 bags, I was the most popular person in the orphanage! All the workers came to see and the word spread quickly. I knew they were short on diapers but did not realize how much they needed them. But, they are remodeling, so I am afraid that the children are not getting as much right now with the money going to the building.

Nina smiles so big at me and her little arms just reach out for me to pick her up. How I love that, and how I love showering her with kisses!

We had fun today. The less things I bring the better, because she can focus on those few things. Today her favorite were the Signing Time flashcards, and I got her to say "shoes."

We also looked at some pictures, and you will see that video where she is being silly but looking at pictures. The sweetest thing though was that she took a picture of Andy and I, and with her little fingers she started to touch Andy's face on the picture and she was saying "tickle, tickle." Oh, that was so very sweet!

And today when her favorite worker left she shook her head "no" and seemed to be getting very sad, but then the worker said to her that I was staying, and she was the one leaving. So Nina looked at me and smiled and waved "paka" to the worker, kept playing with me. This is HUGE! This lady has been the closest to a mother figure and she was choosing me!

At the end of our time, I said to her goodbye, she said "no." And clung to me, clung to my neck. Fortunately the workers were coming with their bowls and food, getting the room ready for lunch. Nina was hungry and she did let me go just fine. I guess I still cannot compete with food!

Enjoy the pictures and the videos. She is a sweet sweet little girl. I cannot wait to bring her home to her family. Oh, and she also says "Nico" for Nichole. She points at her in the pictures and says, "Nico." Ellie sometimes she calls Nina, sometime Lala. It is sweet :) But lala means girl in Russian, so not sure she gets what we are saying.

Tomorrow another visit with my girl!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wednesday's Visit

I walked into Nina's room today, all the kids were in the large playpen, each playing on their own, except for two kids playing with a worker. A worker! There was a worker in the playpen playing with the kids and interacting with them. It was so good to see that! It was Nina's favorite worker, and she was one of the kids with her, along with Marshall, the little boy with Down syndrome.

I walked in and all the kids and workers turned to see who was walking in. Then I heard "Mama!" Yes! It was Nina, excited to see me. She crawled to the edge of the playpen with arms outstretched for me! I scooped her up and gave her some kisses. Then she gave me a big hug, yes, that is right, SHE actually hugged ME! Oh we are getting there, she is liking me more and more!
This is Nina's favorite worker. She is so wonderful with all the children. She genuinely loves them and like I said, she actually plays with the kids and helps them learn through play. I need to get her name before we leave. She also is nice and asks me questions. We laugh most of the time because we just cannot understand each other.
Nina is just letting me see more and more of her personality. She can be a little stinker! She actually likes to do things that I say no to. Like eating play-doh for example. She does not like the taste, but will start laughing and I know she is about to put it in her mouth. And yes, she smiles the entire time even as she makes a face because of the bad taste.
I visited in the same room, with all the other kids. Oksana again cried for me, so I got up to give her a hug. Oh how she melted in my arms! Sweet girl, I hope she finds a family soon. Her CP is very mild and she wants a family so bad.

I asked to take pictures of her and Marshall as they are available for adoption through Reece's rainbow (Home Blog).

At some point the kids again were getting too worked up with me there. But this worker is good with kids and she got to playing and entertaining some of them and got some of them out of the playpen so we could all be together. It was much better, but the kids were coming at me fast and wanted all of my attention. It breaks my heart, they can tell that I give myself to Nina, and of course they want with every fiber in their body to have the same. If you have considered adoption but money is holding you back, please contact me, I will help you!!!

On another note. I also got 2 hugs from Nina today. She hugged me without prompting or for any other reason other than she wanted to give me a hug :) These are sweet, sweet moments.

I will go see her again tomorrow. Will try to get more pictures of her and the other kids, as well as the room where she lives.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Just a Picture

Nothing happening today really. I have stayed in the apartment all day, so there really isn't much going on. I did manage to take 2 pictures of Nina yesterday when I visited in the small room. She was being goofy and after the flash she would clap her hands as a response and laugh so hard.

I did want to mention that she was very interested in the family photos. One particular photo of Ellie she has pointed at several times and said "Nina." I think she sees the resemblance. When she got to the picture of Andy and I, she wanted it. She has looked at these pictures many times before and never been too interested, but this time, she wanted that picture. I took it out and gave it to her, she smiled and pointed at Andy's picture. It was sweet.

A worker asked who those people were. "Mama" she said and pointed at me. "Dada" she said and pointed at Andy. The worker said no, that is her "papa." (Here dad is papa) But no, when we first met Nina we called him dada and daddy, so that is what she calls him, which I do think it is sweet. She did not want to give me the picture back, but I know if I give it to her I will never get it back, at least not in one piece, and I have no guarantees that they will allow her to have it with her. Just one more week! Just one more week and she is mine! Then she can carry that picture with her everywhere if she wants!

Here is Nina's picture from yesterday.

Monday, December 7, 2009

My Heart Breaks for Orphans

Let me start by saying that Nina's orphanage is a good one. From what we have been told, it is one of the best orphanages here in Ukraine. The doctor at their orphanage is wonderful, she really cares about the children, and the workers are also all very caring. At least in the small ways they can and know.

Nina's house (this orphanage is made up of several houses) is getting remodeled. So as I walked inside, neither the doctor's office nor the room where we visited before were available. As a matter of fact, as I walked in I wondered where in the world I would visit her. So I walked straight to her room, as far as I could tell, it was the only one with children. My guess is that the other kids have been moved temporarily to the other houses.

I walked in, and all the children in Nina's groupa were playing in the big playpen. Some of the kids saw me and tried to get my attention. A little girl with CP saw me and started to cry, reaching out to me and calling me "mama." Talk about heart wrenching.

The workers found themselves in a predicament, so what was their solution? They brought a little table and a chair with a stool for me. I realized then, they were going to have me visit with Nina right there, in that room, and please ignore the other children because any attention I give them makes them very agitated.

When I visit Nina I bring toys for her in a bag, along with candy and snacks. Nina knows this, and of course wants to play. Imagine doing this in front of the other children. Do you see my dilema? I can't give her candy and not the other kids! I can't give her a snack and not them! The little girl, Oskana, kept crying for me, or for a mama, and even though it was Russian I underestood what she was saying, "I want a mama! I want a mama!" And I know the workers were telling her to stop, that I was Nina's mama. So she cried some more, "I want a mama too!"

I wanted to scoop her up, to give her a big hug. And how I wished I could have found her a mama, and tell her, "See! Here is your mama!" I decided maybe it would be a good idea to blow bubbles for all the kids. Oskana stopped crying and loved the bubbles. So did the other kids, and Nina. I realized Nina was confused, why was I not playing with her? And I really did not want this to become a question in her heart, "Is she here for me or for them?" Her little face was really confused. Not jealous, not throwing a fit, but I could tell she did not understand. Bubbles were great, but with the children so spread out it was taking me a while to go around the room and get enough bubbles for all of them.

A little girl rocked and rocked herself. Okay, I just don't know how to describe this, she violently rocked herself against the playpen. She was hitting it hard. The workers kept asking her to stop. Obviously having me there was causing her some distress. Rock, rock, rock. She wouldn't stop.

I had to leave the room, me being there was too much for these children. These children who desperately want a mama. They do not understand "She is Nina's mama." All they know, is that I am someone's mama, and why in the world won't I get them and pick them up.

I called the translator and asked her to tell one of the workers that I wanted to take Nina for a walk. They tried to explain to me it would not work, because she can't walk. I know! I will carry her! So they agreed, they were hesitant, but they agreed.

Oh if you had seen Nina's face as they were getting her ready! She knew, she knew! And she was as excited as can be! They got me a stroller, and so we went outside. There were the other children out there, walking, they came over to say hi to Nina. These were the kids form Kellsey's groupa (Frank and Renees little girl). My first thought was of Kellsey, home with her brothers and sisters. In a loving home, with a future before her. My heart broke for the sweet faces in front of me. Will they ever have that?

I then took Nina out of the stroller, it was impossible to maneuver in the uneven ground. I decided she could point and tell me where she wanted to go. So we did. As we walked around, as she smiled at me, as she tried to be away from the other children it hit me: her world is so limited, not only because she is an orphan, but because of her CP. Her world is limited to the places she can go, and those places are all found in one room, ONE room. Nobody is there to open her world. Nobody ever has stood before a road to be her legs, to walk up and down, to explore trails. Nobody ever has, and in this place, nobody ever will. In that moment I was her legs, so what did I do? I took off running, with Nina on my hip, we ran! We ran as fast as I could and for as long as I could. Joy, there was pure joy in my daughter's face! In that moment, she could run!

I need to get in good shape. I could only do that for so long. I need to do it for her, at times, I will have to be her legs.

She motioned she wanted to get down, she took my hands and looked up at me. I got it. Now she wanted to try, she wanted to run. So we took off! We ran! I basically carried her, but I could feel her little legs trying to move. It was pure bliss! A worker shook her head at us. She wore disapproval on her face from the moment we had stepped outside, Nina just does not get to go out. But not today, today, disapproval would be tossed away, and a child would feel the cold wind on her face and run! Run with her mama!

It was cold, Nina was ready to go inside.

All the kids were crying, all except Marshall, a little boy with Down syndrome who played quietly on his own. He is a sweet little angel. Actually, all kids play on their own. Even though they are together, they do not play with each other.

Oksana was being made to lay down while a boy threw himself on the ground repeatedly, banging his head hard each time. Finally a worker took him out of the playpen and sat him on a chair. The one little girl rocked herself against the bars of her house, her jail.

Nina wanted nothing to do with the workers. She only wanted me, and her favorite worker was not there today. Finally she went to them, I believe they told her she needed to eat, and I could tell she was hungry.

I left, as quickly as I could. I couldn't stand watching those children, wasting away behind the wooden bars of the playpen. They are so little, so young, so innocent! Who will hold them? Who will love them? Who will be their mama and their papa? Who will give up a brand new car, or a vacation so that one of these will have a family of their own, a hope, and a future?

I cannot save them all, I cannot take them all. But I can save one, my daughter, Nina.

I changed my mind, as soon as we apply for her tax code I am getting her out of there, hopefully next Tuesday, I can do the rest of the paperwork with her on my hip even if it means hours of waiting, and an tired and crabby child.

We will walk out, with me as her legs, and we are not going back. She will come to a family, to a papa, a mama, and 2 sisters. To an extended family that will adore her, to a church family that will embrace her, to a hope and a future.

Most of all, she will know about the One who loves her. The One who called us to get her out of that place. She will know about Jesus.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Night Time

So now that it is time for me to go to bed, and I have been in the apartment for the evening, thinking back in what happened today I realize it was not that big of a deal. Everything worked out, I really would not have been in trouble. I know had I called the other family that is here they would have ran over to be with me. Truly, I am not alone.

I thought I would delete my last post, but in a way, this is part of the journey, and in a way, this is my journal. I might be crazy to be blogging all that is on my mind, but in a way you get to journey with me, even as I freak out!

What a journey, from the start. To completely trust in God, to ride the roller coaster of emotions that comes with adoption, but all along, it is a journey of trust. God has been in this since the beginning, He is not ever turning His back. And it has been a journey full of God's blessings, surprises, and blessings. What a wonderful journey it has been.

Tomorrow I get to go see Nina, I am excited.

Scary Day

Today was the first day that I felt scared being here.Nothing big happened really, but being here on my own in a country where I do not speak the language and don't know how things work...well, it was scary!

I was ready to move out of my apartment by 12:00, my bags were packed and so was my suitcase. I knew a driver was coming to get me to take me to the office, then to the new apartment. I had told the rental place that I needed help since I had a few bags, they said the driver would come to my door to help me out.

At 12:00 the doorbell rang, it was the housekeeper. She came in, I thought, no big deal, the driver will be here soon. A few minutes later, the doorbell rang again. I went to the door, and about 4 people are standing there, talking to me fast. I obviously do not understand. "English?" I ask, I guess not, so I got the housekeeper, and they walked right in. They saw all my bags packed, and even though I don't understand Russian, I know what they were saying. They pointed at them, pointed at me, and pointed me towards the door, speaking, basically saying, "Get out of here, this is our apartment!" Because they were then pointing at themselves.
I did not move, no way am I leaving and being left out in the street, also, I could not possibly get all my luggage out on my own. (I had all my groceries in bags)

More people walked in, all talking to me, "get out of here." I did not move. Finally another man walked in. A lady talked to him, then she said to me, "Your driver, you go." Oh, so maybe someone did speak English. So we left, he helped me out, he did not speak English. In the elevator there were 2 people that had been in the apartment. They spoke some English, they were actually kind of friendly, why not talk to me in the apartment?

In the car, a lady came and asked for the key to the apartment. I told her I was told to return it at the office. She said no, give it to her, they were told I would give them the key. Well, I did, hoping that was okay, the driver motioned for me to give it to her.

Back in the office I walk in. First thing I hear. "We have a problem, the man in your apartment was supposed to leave, but he just called and said he is not moving, he likes the apartment and he wants to stay." Okay, what does that mean, right? "Don't worry, we told him he cannot stay, he is finally agreed to move out. We will take you there and you can drop of your luggage and get out of there so he can keep packing." What? "Sorry?" I asked, "I am not comfortable with that."
"Okay," she said, "We will then drop you off at the door and you will wait there until he is done and the housekeeper is done cleaning, it should take about 2 hours."

What? Yes, this is when I wanted to cry. They though the other solution was to leave me out in the street? "No," I said, "I will call my friends." I called the Rundstrums and told them what was happening. Kim told me to come over and they would later take me to the apartment. They live on the same street, just a few blocks down the road.

So I told the lady at the office to take me there. When she told the driver, he responded that if he took me there, I had to pay him, $50! And that is in USD. What! When he saw my face, he must have said, no, maybe he was trying to get money, let's take advantage of the American, at least it felt that way. Now, please know, he had been very nice to me, very polite and extremely helpful, he really is a nice man, but he might have thought a little extra money would be nice? But he said fine, I will take her for free because of the inconvenience of her situation. So he would have left me on the street for free, but a few extra blocks for money?

I paid for the apartment. They were supposed to give us credit because our rfiend Frank has paid until Wednesday and they had said we could have his credit for the days that had been paid. No, not so much. She said I had to pay all. I did.

We walked back to the car. As you can imagine, I was fighting tears, praying all along. I know God was right there with me, but this was one time that I wish I had someone to physically hold my hand and hear the words, "it is okay."

I got to the Rundtroms, fighting tears. It was wonderful to see Kim's face, a friendly face. A safe face.

Came back to the apartment. No internet, it is not clean, just picked up. Smells terrible, cigarette smoke. Took a walk to a coffee shop so I could skype with Andy. I came back and tried Andy's trick we learned from Frank. It worked, I have internet.

Today I miss my husband. Today I wish I had someone with me.

As I am here, will you pray for protection? I know this was not a big deal, but when you are on your own, it can be very scary, and the tears come easily, very easily.

Pictures from Court Day

When we had court, our plan was to go to the embassy that same day so that we could spend Andy's last day with Nina. However, court started late, and we had to pick up Kellsey (Frank's daughter, he was getting her out of the orphanage that day)

AS it turns out, we arrived during nap time, and well, we had to wait. They did finally wake Kellsey up and got her ready. Our facilitator then informed us that we would have to go to the embassy on Friday morning. Meaning, no seeing Nina!

Our facilitator then explained this to the orphanage and they agreed to wake her up so Andy could say good bye. She was very sleepy, and probably surprised to see us there.

Andy said his goodbye and gave her some kisses (and candy!)