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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thursday June 30

We went to see Matthew this morning at 10am. It was a good visit. Maia told Matthew no when Melanie was getting a snack ready. she said no and pushed his arm away. Matthew loves to climb on their version of a jungle gym.
Tonight we will meet with two other familys who are here from the US. to have a nice dinner.We should have some pictures of that in the next few days.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Appointment update and a little reality

We had a lazy morning again. Got ready for our state department appointment after lunch. Vitaly picked us up and we headed to the office. We met up with Olga and the Mickschls there. We haven't seen them since Kyiv so it was nice to visit for a little while before our meeting. I looked back at our blog to see what I wrote about this appointment last time. I had commented about it being a very somber and serious meeting, lasting about 45 minutes. I remember feeling closely scrutinized about our motives for adopting Maia.
While I wasn't nervous about today, I was anticipating a similar experience. The meeting was held in the office of the administrator of the state department. There was another state department employee there as well as Angelina (the orphanage director), Olga, Mark and me (and Maia, of course). At the last meeting, there was also a social worker present. She was not there today - she's on maternity leave after adopting a beautiful little girl from M&M's orphanage - we did see her on our first day here. Anyway... Marina presented the information about Matthew to the administrator. She then spoke on our behalf and told how we had adopted Maia six months ago, speaking about how much progress she has made in the time since she has been home with us. The administrator asked if we were fully informed about Matthew's medical diagnosis. He asked why we specifically wanted to adopt Matthew, if we owned our own home, and if Mark was unemployed. When we explained that this was a intentional choice so that he could be home with Maia and now Matthew until they started school while I work, the administrator seemed satisfied with that. I think Olga is quite persuasive in her discusions about where I work and the importance of that in caring for the kids. Olga was translating for us and she started to say, "It is our regret...." Mark and I both just froze. We didn't look at each other, but were prepared for the worst. I was trying to read Olga's face and it was without expression. She continued saying "that no one in our country will adopt [Matthew] so we will support your adoption." Whew! That was a nervewracking moment. We asked her to give the administrator our thanks and explained that we would have been very happy if a family in Ukraine had adopted him because that was what is most important to us. But, we are grateful for the opportunity to be his family. Whole appointment lasted about 15 minutes.
Visited the orphanage later in the day. Matthew came running to us, I was closest so I got the first hug but then it was all about "papa." Mark is teaching him "daddy" and within just a few times, Matthew was repeating it back. He is so much different than Maia. He's really quite loud and tries so hard to communicate with us, we can see it is frustrating to him when he can't get his point across. We can see that there is a long road ahead teaching him about appropriate social behavior. I suppose some of it is just personality difference given that they were in the same groupa. He was so sad when we left this afternoon. It is hard to see that. He must wonder why Maia gets to go with us and he doesn't.
Olga put our paperwork (along with the Mickschl's paperwork) on the night train to Kyiv. This is our approval from the state department to adopt. It will go the SDA for processing and gives us permission to go to court. At this point, we still don't know when our court date will be.
Tomorrow, we will go the orphanage in the morning. The washing machine repairman is coming in the afternoon which will be good because I need to do some laundry. Tomorrow night, we are planning to have dinner with the Mickschls and the Allans. Olga, Vitaly, and Alex will accompany us. The Allans' court decree comes into effect on Friday so they will be able to pick up their daughter Friday evening if all the paperwork is completed. They will head back to Kyiv for the Embassy appts.
Today, I am reminded that I am sooo imperfect. This is an emotional journey. I have to look to God for strength and direction instead of just shutting down and becoming upset. I am very thankful that my sweet hubby tolerates some of my less than admirable moments.

Prayer requests for today include:
- Maia. I can tell she's feeling a little punky today. Nothing specific, no fever, cough. Perhaps just overly tired, but please pray that she will stay healthy and feel better tomorrow.
- Ongoing prayer request for the earliest possible court date.
- Strength for Mark and me in the journey that lies ahead. There are moments when it does seem a bit overwhelming. We had the same feelings last time and it does not change our desire to bring Matthew home. But, we know that it will not be an easy road.
- Continued bonding/attachment with our newly formed family.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Nothing much new

Somehow, things seem much quieter this trip. Mark mentioned that maybe it is because we are not out seeing sites like we did last time. Having Maia with us makes that more challenging. There are a few places that we would like to see while we are here, but will probably wait until our second trip.
Although I just mentioned that having Maia here makes things more challenging, I do think it is for the best that we brought her with us. Her behaviors aren't much different than when we are at home, but she is thriving on the uninterrupted time with Mark and I right now.
Today was pretty uneventful. We stayed at the apartment this morning because the landlady was stopping by. She brought our laundry back and got a new light bulb for our bathroom. There were 4 total and they have burned out one by one since we have been here. The 12 foot ceilings make it impossible for us to change them ourselves.
After lunch, Maia had a nap. Then, she and I went out for a walk. It was an absolutely perfect day. Started with rain this morning, but the sun came out by noon, slight breeze - probably low 70's. Maia wanted to push the stroller so it was a leisurely walk for me. We walked for about 45 minutes, I'm sure it tired the girl out. Olga and Vitaly were waiting when we arrived back at the apartment and they commented on how tired she looked - lol!
Vitaly took us to the orphanage. Wish we'd had a video camera rolling when we got to the groupa. The kids were watching a video and Matthew ran to us with a big smile on his face. First, a hug for me then one for papa. Then, he got down and went up to Maia. They hugged each other and she gave him a kiss. It was pretty sweet. One of our favorite caregivers was there today - it was the first time we have seen her this trip. She was so happy to see Maia and tried to communicate how pleased she was with her progress. Once again, it brought joy to my heart. Went outside for our visit this afternoon. Matthew gets so excited, especially as he is trying to communicate with us. He can be very loud. Although we are limited in what we can do right now, we are trying to model quiet conversation and calm behavior for him as well as giving him some structure for what is appropriate and not.
Interacting with Matthew is a reminder for us of how far Maia has come in the time that she has been home. We don't always see the changes because we live with her every day and their has been gradual progress. Mark was commenting yesterday that some of Matthew's behaviors are similar to what we saw with Maia when we visited her at the orphanage. So, we know that there will be improvement as we guide him and help him to learn what it's like to be part of a family.
On a humorous note... Matthew is definitely a "boy." He is fascinated by snails, doesn't think much about getting dirty, etc. He will love digging for worms for fishing, I'm sure. Anyway, Mark did the "farmer nose blow" and mentioned that he should teach Matthew how to do that. Well, literally just as Mark was saying that, Matthew began copying Mark and trying to blow his nose that way. Mom may have to step in and teach some manners - lol! But, it was pretty funny to see him imitating daddy. He's never had a father figure in his life and I can already see how much he will thrive as he learns what having a daddy is all about.
After our visit, came back home and had dinner on the balcony. Grilled ham/cheese, ramen noodles (they make the BEST ones here) with some orange-chocolate cookies for dessert.

A couple of prayer requests for tomorrow (Wednesday):
- We meet with the local head of the state department at about 1:30pm (5:30am Minnesota time). I remember from last time that this was one of the most intimidating events that we had. He is the person who will give official approval to the SDA which will allow us to request our court date. Please pray that we will find favor with him.
- It will be a long afternoon for Maia. Pray that she will be patient and tolerant as we spend much time waiting and quiet.
- We may or may not get to visit Matthew tomorrow. It depends on how the day progresses. Pray that his heart will not be too hurt if we don't get to see him.
- For continued smooth progress in our journey to bring Matthew home.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday in Sevastopal

Today we wanted to see Matthew in the morning, it is cooler then. But things didn't work that way. We have a problem with the washing machine. So we had to be here at 10am when they came to tell us that the washing machine is not working and they will come back on Tuesday or in two days (not sure because of language problems). So we went to see him at 4pm. When he saw Melanie he ran right to her. So all is good.


Ps. I'm sure Melanie will have a bigger and better account of things soon.


Our internet went out yesterday afternoon due to storms in the region so I wasn't able to blog last night. It's good to be connected again today!
We didn't go to the orphanage yesterday because we thought we would be nice and give the drivers a day off - found out later that they were working anyway so we could have visited Matthew. :-(  Oh, well. We did enjoy a quiet day. It was rainy all morning so we just hung out at the apartment. Took advantage of a break in the weather to walk to McDonald's, although it rained while we were there. Fortunately, the tent we were sitting under was the perfect spot and we didn't get wet. After lunch, we took a leisurely walk back to our apartment stopping at the little market for milk and water. We had thought about taking a longer hike to the street market which is near the apartment we stayed in last time, but the rain was sporadic so we just didn't feel like getting caught in a downpour. Instead, Maia and I cuddled up and colored for a while. Olga came later in the afternoon so that we could sign some paperwork asking for our court date. She will request this on Wednesday. Our washing machine didn't work so the apartment owner also came by. She ended up taking our laundry home to wash and called a repair man to come today. Had dinner, watched a movie and went to bed.
Lazy morning today, too. The landlady and repair man came at 11am, no luck with the washing machine. New control panel has to be ordered so hopefully, will be fixed on Wednesday.
We will be leaving for the orphanage shortly. It will be interesting to see how Matthew reacts since we weren't there yesterday. The Allens, who are adopting a little girl from the same groupa, missed a couple of days visiting and their daughter was very cold to them one their first visit after that. So... I am expecting the worst, hoping for the best. We'll take along a little snack for him as well as something to drink. After our visit, Alex will take us to the supermarket so we can buy things that we aren't able to purchase at the small shop.
Two other American families are here adopting from the same orphanage - the Mickschls who we met in Kiev and the Allens who we met last Friday at the detsky dom. We are all staying in different locations, but Mark and I are hoping that we can get together for dinner before the Allens leave. They have had court and are in the 10 day waiting period right now. The Mickschls are on a nearly identical timeline as we are - Olga anticipates that we will have court the same day.
Good news is that our Interpol clearance came through very quickly! We can't have court without that so this is an answer to prayer.
Just a couple prayer requests for today
- Strong bonding/attachment with Matthew (and of course his bonding/attachment with us)
- A "quick" court date

Here are a few photos.
 Maia at the orphanage

Yep, that's our little guy - can't wait to get him out of pink sandals and a girl's cap!
When we were here in November, the kids were TOTALLY bundled up anytime they went outside.
Now, they are sent out in tank tops and underwear - Go figure!

Happy girl!

Birds outside our apartment, they are eating berries that look like blackberries, but taste much sweeter.

The view from one of the balconies of our apartment - in the far background is the sea.

Looking the opposite direction from the same balcony.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

We have it good in the USA

The life we have in the USA is good even when we think it is not so good. Over here in Ukraine (we are adopting a little boy) we have hot water only an hour or so a day. When we use the bathroom we are not allowed to flush the toilet paper, we put it in the trash. We need to buy drinking water. We also use that drinking water to cook with. suddenly that mac & cheese is not so cheep anymore. Everyone walks to the market to get food. most over 2 miles. Not such a big deal? Then you need to walk home the 2 miles or more with 30 lbs. or more of water and groceries.

Now when we are at home in Kasson we drive to the local store 6 blocks away and get a loaf of bread. If you are lucky here in Ukraine your family has one car, at home we have 3 plus a motor home, (none of them new or close to new)

We are staying in a 3rd floor apt. with no elevator. Again not such a big deal until you need to to carry your little girl up the steps with a stroller and 3 bags of groceries and 16 lbs of water. It could have been worse, the other apt. we could have had was on the 5th floor. We are lucky, at this apt. we have a small market about 3 blocks away. And a McDonalds about 8 blocks away.

So even over here we know things could be worse, and when we are home I hope I don't forget how well we have it.

Just a note to say we in the USA are very spoiled with what we have access to.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

A few pics and our day

We had our first "official" visit with Matthew today. We checked the groupa first (their roooms - remembered exactly where to go from last time), but the kids were outside playing so we headed towards the play area. The caregivers told him we were coming and he ran our way, happy to see us. We spent about an hour with him. I had brought along a water bottle and the kid drank like he couldn't get enough. Just like yesterday, he was enthralled with Maia's lea*frog computer. They both played on the swing. For a while, I sat on the ground in front of Maia pushing her. Matthew came and sat with me and pushed her too. I can tell we are going to have to work on comprehension of the word "gentle." He's got a lot of energy and definitely a boy... those knees are scraped up!! We looked at his picture book and he was already pointing out Papa, Mama, and Maia. When our visit was coming to an end, Mark went to see if the groupa was still outside or if we needed to take Matthew back in. As he was coming towards us, I asked Matthew to go find Papa. He ran off yelling "Papa" - it was very sweet! Mark took him back to his groupa and you would have thought the world was coming to end. He cried and cried. I hadn't said good-bye, so I went to give him a hug and tell him we would be back. He calmed down, although he was still tearful. I was, too - lol!

After that, Vitaly took us back to the hotel so we could check out, then brought us to our apartment. We couldn't get the internet connected and I had a little meltdown about that, but thanks to Alex (one of the drivers) - we are on-line!! We took a walk late this afternoon and found a little market to get basic items. Had dinner on the balcony of our apartment.
It's been kind of a tough day and it's getting late so I'm going to leave you with a few pictures from Kiev.

Cuddling with my girl

The view from our apartment

Outside the SDA (Govt Office)

Cathedral next to the SDA

Shops on the street outside the SDA

Entrance to the SDA

Playing in one of the fountains at Independence Square

Ditto - can you tell our girl LOVES water??

The building in the background is where our apartment was located.


More tomorrow...

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Moment We’ve Been Waiting For

I wish we could share pictures from today, but this will need to wait until our court date. But… here’s what’s happened since we last posted. We arrived in Simferopol about 10pm last night. It’s been a while since I mentioned how wonderful my hubby is, but last night he earned a medal of honor by taking my seat which was in the middle between two other people and allowed me to have the aisle seat in the row ahead with Maia. Thank you, Mark! Olga and Vitaly were waiting for us at the airport and it was wonderful to see them!

Sevastopol is a ninety minute drive from there and so we got in around 11:30pm. We are staying in a hotel which has a very nice soft bed. By the time we got to sleep it was after midnight. We were up at 6:30am this morning and on our way at 8:30.

First stop was the State Dept Office. Olga had to present our paperwork and then we headed for the detsky dom (orphanage) accompanied by one of the state employees. There were several caregivers watching for us when we arrived and they were so excited to see Maia. One of the women cried. We met with Marina (the orphanage director) and Olga translated the official history and medical information for Matthew. As I’ve shared before, Marina knew we were coming for Matthew. When she found out that we had an appointment with the SDA, Matthew was told that his parents were coming to adopt him. He has been asking every day since then if this is the day that we would come.

There was a knock on the door and a caregiver peeked her head in. The door opened and there he was! He looked a little hesitant, but Mark said that as soon as they told him who we were, his face lit up. And all of a sudden, he was in my arms! He snuggled right in and then Maia came up and sat on my lap, too. They checked each other out. Matthew was asked if he remembered Maia and he said “yes.” They shared some cheerios and hung out on my lap for a while. We have a cool picture of the two of them that Mark calls “The Hansen Family Department Head Meeting” – I can’t wait to show it to you. They mostly seemed kind of curious about each other. Matthew did take Maia’s computer from her, but she tolerated it without fuss. Good thing we have one for him at home and will bring it on our second trip. As our visit wrapped up, Matthew went to Mark also for a hug and kiss. We also have a good pic of Mark hold Matthew and Maia and they all look pretty happy!

There really are no words to do justice to the emotions in my heart today. God is so good and faithful. Six months ago, He knew that we would be here today with our son. He saw my heart and answered my prayers!

Anyway… after our visit, we headed back to the State Dept to officially file our request to adopt Matthew. Then off to the notary to get some paperwork started. After that, Olga took us to see an apartment for us to stay in. It had everything we needed, but was up 5 flights of stairs – no elevator. We decided that it just wouldn’t work, hauling groceries and carrying Maia up and down several times/day. Olga said she would find other options for us and until then, we would stay in the hotel. In about 10 days, we will be able to move back to the complex that we were in last time. But, there is no availability until then. Got a late lunch, headed back to the notary to sign the prepared documents, and then went to look at another apartment. It is in the center of town – 3 flights of stairs which is still not great, but a little better. The reason we are not staying here at the hotel is because we need a place with a stove and washing machine. The apartment is more expensive, but we won’t have to eat out. We decided to take it and will move in tomorrow. We will have to come back to the hotel for a few nights before moving to the other apartment because this one is already reserved beginning July 2. It’s tourist season here so places are harder to come by and cost more.

After looking at the apartment, we stopped at the supermarket to pick up a couple of things and came back to the hotel. Had sandwiches for dinner and now, it’s time for bed. Been a long day.

Oh, before I forget. Maia did well at the orphanage. She seemed to remember things, but we’re not real sure. She did want to play on the swings outside as we waited. She didn’t seem stressed or disturbed while we were there. But, we only went to the director’s office. We’ll see what things are like tomorrow when we go back for our first actual visit.

Given how little sleep she had last night and how long the day was for her (much time spent waiting, often in the car), she was a trooper. By around 4:30pm, she was ready to be done and it showed. But, we survived and things should be better now that we have a break from some of the logistical things.

So… now we wait for court. There are several holidays coming up which is going to delay things. Olga is anticipating that our court date will be around July 5-7. I was hoping it would be done before then, but it is what it is.

Thanks for all of your prayers today. Our current prayer requests are as follows:

- Court date as soon as possible

- Positive bonding and visits with Matthew

- Maia’s ability to understand and adjust in the upcoming days/months

We love all of you and miss everyone at home! But, it was a GOOD day!!!

Ok, here’s Mark’s version of the above post “Everything went well.” 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

On our way

Our bags are packed and Igor called to say he will be here in a few minutes. We're off to the SDA to pick up our referral and then headed to the airport. Our flight leaves at 8:25pm which is 12:25pm back home. I'm sure it will be tomorrow evening before we are settled and hooked up to internet again, but we'll post as soon as we can!
And we do have pics so far - just haven't taken the time to transfer them to the computer yet.

Thursday update

First we would like to thank all the people who have helped us. There are too many to mention. Some gave us money, some gave time to watch Maia as we got all the documents and last minute items before making this trip, and many gave prayer and support. So to all of you we would like to say THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Now for today’s blog posting. We had dinner last night with some other families who are here adopting as well. We all met at T.G.I. Fridays and I think there were about 7 or 8 families there. We talked with about half of them. We all sat at one big table but we were at one end so talking to the other end was not that easy. But we did have a good time hearing the stories of the people around us. Now here is Melanie.

Hi everyone,

It was really fun to have dinner with other RR adoptive families last night. Megan was on her way home with her beautiful daughter Dasha who just turned 4 (Megan, if you are reading this please email me – I need your address!). Sheri and her husband Bill have their SDA appt today and will be traveling to meet their son Bryant this weekend. And we loved meeting the Mikschls and visiting with them. We are hoping that we will be able to stay near each other when we arrive in our region.

Today will be kind of a lazy day. We’ll hang out near the apartment, probably go for a walk, and pack up for our trip.

Thank you for your ongoing prayers. We did give Maia some baby Benadryl last night. We’ve tried it before and haven’t been able to really tell if it did much good (it kind of seemed to make her cranky). But, she slept all night so we are very thankful for that!

And since it is Thursday (therefore Thankful Thursday), I want to take time to mention a couple of things that I am very thankful for.

- Although traveling with a 3 year old is not easy, we are glad that we brought Maia with us. Having this time together as a family is truly a blessing – making even those challenging moments worth it.

- A safe, uneventful journey so far. There have been no surprises and things have gone as we hoped.

- Tomorrow, we should be able to see our boy!

So, just a couple of prayer requests for today.

- Safe travels as we head to our region tonight.

- Rest after we arrive, it will most likely be a short night.

- That we will find favor with the people in authority tomorrow who will give us official approval to go to the orphanage.

- I think Olga will be requesting a court date for us tomorrow. Pray that it will be at the earliest possible date.

- For the other adoptive families here in Ukraine right now, that their processes will be smooth and uneventful as well.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It's different the second time around!

The only way to describe our first trip was overwhelming. Arriving in a country where few people speak English and we didn't know more than a few words of Russian was difficult. I remember getting off the plane exhausted, a little scared, uncertain. After we arrived in "S" town, it was even more of a culture shock. I felt isolated, alone - it took a while before we started to settle in a little bit. People had told me to enjoy the journey and I truly wanted to. But, I won't say that it was an easy trip. When we left this country on our way home, I never thought that I would return.  Adopting Matthew was not in Mark's plans. I didn't have any desire to come back, at that time I knew the only reason I would return was to bring our son home. If there had been a way to get him to the states without having to travel back to U, I would have chosen it in a minute.
I've mentioned this before, but one of the families that we met during Maia's adoption arrived here earlier this month. When Jill began posting pics of the capital city, I started to feel a yearning. I wanted to get back to this country. And when our plane touched down, it was almost like coming home. It felt familiar to me. We left the airport and began the drive into the city. I was eager to see things, recognize streets, buildings.
This afternoon, Maia and I went for a walk while Mark napped. We wandered around Independence Square, Maia splashed in the fountains for a little bit, I was able to enjoy the scenery this time. It was such a good feeling!
So now, I need to go and get ready for dinner. We're meeting up with other adoptive families at THE meeting place here in Kiev - Fr*days, should be fun!!

SDA Appt

While most of you were sleeping early this morning (about 1AM back home), we had our SDA appt. The meeting was short and sweet, maybe lasted 15 minutes - which really is the norm. Surprisingly, it was VERY quiet there today - at least when compared with last time. We were the only couple waiting (probably at least 6-8 others before). A young woman (psychologist if I remember correctly) met with us. We had to sign a form indicating that we understand that yes... effective July 11, 2011 the Ukraine government will no longer allow the international adoption of children under the age of 5 - unless they meet specific criteria. It is doubtful that Matthew's diagnosis would be on their approved list. Anyway, another young woman was called into the room as well. She was the psychologist who had given us the referral for Maia. Both women remembered her case and were happy to see her. They also expressed appreciation that we were there to request Matthew's referral. Apparently, his information has been presented to other families who have refused to accept him. With the upcoming change in law, he would have NO chance of being adopted. It brought tears to my eyes then and there are tears streaming down my face as I type this. On one hand, it is reinforcement to me that God truly called us to be Matthew's forever family, that this was His divine plan. And on the other hand, it breaks my heart to think that other families were offered the opportunity to love this sweet boy and no one chose him. I can't even put into words how I felt hearing that. We were shown 2 photos of him, one from a couple of years ago (it is on the Ukraine waiting child site) and one that is new since we last saw him. We had been told that Matthew would be having eye surgery to correct his strabismus in January. Whether that did not happen or was unsuccessful, we're not sure. But, his left eye does still turn inward. It looks like he has gained some weight (which is a good thing!) and his hair is growing out. I was teasing Mark this morning, saying maybe it will be cut right before Gotcha Day - lol!
So, our official referral paperwork will be ready for us to pick up late tomorrow afternoon. We've decided to fly to our region - a little more expensive but a 90 minute plane ride versus 18 hour train ride. We'll leave Kiev around 8:30pm. Olga will meet us at the airport there (I'm assuming with Vitaly - who we are also looking forward to seeing again) and we'll drive to our city which is about an hour away. Then on Friday morning, we will be able to go to the orphanage and meet Matthew for the first time as his parents - YAY!
Tonight, I think we are planning to have dinner with the Mikschls. (sorry if I spelled your name wrong!) They are the family who adopted from Maia's orphanage a month before us and were great resources for the city. Their SDA appt is tomorrow so they will likely arrive in our city on Friday night or Saturday.
Thanks for your prayers - Mark is feeling a little better today. Only specific prayer request right now is Maia - still working on the time adjustment. Up again from about 2-5AM, makes for a cranky girl and sleepy parents.
I will blog more later about how things are the second time around. Just want to get this posted since I know many of you are waiting to hear about our appt.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A little more...

Well, Mark's post was short and sweet and said what you needed to know - lol! I'll share a little more about our trip so far in case anyone is interested.

We left MSP on Sunday evening. Thanks to my mom for driving us to the airport. First flight left on time. Maia did really quite well. It was an 8 hour flight and I think she had two really cranky episodes. The flight was overbooked so there was no extra room for moving around, but she managed to sleep about three hours. I got about 2 hours total in short bursts. Mark got maybe 15 minutes. Easily found our connecting flight in Amsterdam. While we were waiting in line to go through the security check point, we visited with a father/daughter from California who were traveling for a visit with the wife's parents who live in Ukraine. We also met Teresa who is director of His Kids Too a Chistian non-profit organization serving orphans, street children, poor and disabled in Ukraine. It was interesting to visit with her a little bit and hear about her ministry. She is filled with passion for those she is called to serve!

Our flight from Amsterdam to Kiev was also full. Left a few minutes late, but arrived right on time. Easily made it through customs, our luggage all made it (YAY), and Igor was waiting as soon as we walked exited the baggage area. He brought us to our apartment which is just about a block from where we stayed when we arrived in Kiev last November. It was getting late so Mark went out and exchanged some money, picked up McDonald's so we didnt' have to hassle with a trip to the market. Got Maia settled, took her a while to fall asleep and Mark and I headed for bed. We were probably asleep within a few minutes. The time change is proving a little difficult for Maia, she was awake at about 3AM and would NOT go back to sleep. I was up with her for almost three hours. She finally fell back asleep around 6AM. We had to wake her up at about 9 just so we can try to get her adjusted to local time.

Breakfast at McDonalds... well actually, it was lunch because they stop serving breakfast at 10AM. We took a walk, added some time to our cell phone, and went to the basement market that is pretty close to our apartment. Only picked up a few things since we plan to leave for our region on Thursday afternoon.

So... prayer requests -
- Maia, that she will just feel secure and safe, that her sleep schedule will adapt, and also for her physical health. She's doing fine, but we don't have a potty chair for her (will get one in region) and so her toileting issues are a little bit of a challenge right now.
- Mark, he's not feeling great today ('nuff said).
- SDA appt tomorrow, that there will be no surprises when we get our referral and that perhaps we will be able pick up our referral tomorrow afternoon to leave earlier for our region.

Another family adopted from the same orphanage will be arrving this afternoon so we may meet up with them later.

I'll blog more about my thoughts as we arrived later. But for now, better pay attention to that sweet girl of mine!

Monday, June 20, 2011

we are here

we are in kiev. got our apartment. time for bed.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Almost on our way... please keep us in your prayers!

A couple of last minute items to throw in our carry-ons and we are ready to go. We're headed for my parents' place. My mom will take us to the airport. Our flight leaves at 7:30pm. Please pray for safe travels and that Maia will sleep during our overnight flight. We're going to try to get her good and tired, then go through her bedtime routine before we board the plane. Then hopefully Maia will be able to just fall asleep after take off and sleep the whole time. She generally is a good sleeper once she zonks out. We arrive in Amsterdam around 10:30am Monday morning with a 2 hour lay-over before we leave for Kiev. If all goes as planned, twenty-four hours from now we will be settled in our apartment. Thanks in advance for your prayers - we will update as soon as possible!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Late thankful Thursday

I want to thank Melanie for doing so much to get set for this trip. I am doing almost nothing for this. She tells me what she needs me to do and I do it. So when we come home with Matthew it is because of all her hard work.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

We went through this last time, but still...

There is so much uncertainty with international adoption. And we had a roller coaster ride with Maia's journey. We started the ups and downs shortly after we committed to bringing Matthew home. Some of you may remember that there was discussion that the government would be closing for adoptions in June for at least three months. Our goal was to finalize Matthew's adoption before that happened. The June shutdown was postponed and we have been very thankful for that.
On June 9, legislation was passed in our children's country that will stop all international adoptions of children under the age of 5 unless they have a very specific special need (the list is quite limited). It is our understanding that as part of this legislation and the previously planned transition from one govt  authority handling adoptions to a different authority, adoptions in "far and away" will be stopped for a period of at least three months effective July 11.
What does this mean for us? Well... we really aren't sure at this point. We hope to have had our court date by that time and be in the 10 day waiting period. But, it is still possible that this shut down could prevent us from bringing our son home. And even if it doesn't affect us, it has the potential to affect other families that we know and love as they journey to bring the children of their hearts home.
So, would you please join me in praying that this will be a non-issue, not only for us but for our friends who are adopting? God is in control and as I keep reminding myself, none of this is a surprise to Him!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

4 days to go

We still have a lot to do. I can't find the video camera I wnt to bring. I am in charge of getting ready for the fair for the Dodge co. Republicans, now I will be gone for most of the prep time.

and now here is melanie

Well, Mark is right... four days and a lot to accomplish. I've got Mark's and Maia's clothes packed. Mine are almost ready to go. Toiletries are in process. Figuring out what food items to take. It does help that we know what to anticipate this time around. But, it's still a little complex since we have to take Maia's needs into consideration. My goal is for one checked bag, two carry-ons, a small backpack for Maia, and the stroller. Hope I can make it work!  Need to get copies of our dossier printed off and a photo album put together for Matthew. But, we're making steady progress. Mark is taking our kitty to Tim's tomorrow so we can cross that off our list.

One really neat thing... there was a family that about a month ahead of us last year when we adopted Maia. Their son John-David was at the same orphanage so we were able to contact them and find out a little of what to expect before we traveled. This family has decided to adopt a little girl that they met while they were adopting J-D. And guess what? Their SDA appt is the day after ours!! So, we will meet up with them in the capital city and be able to share this journey with them. That will be such a blessing!!

We're counting down!!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Time, Money, and God

How's that for an interesting title? So what's it all about? Keep reading...

Our flights are booked. We leave next Sunday. It's hard to believe that seven days from now, we should be in our apartment in the capital city of that far and away land. Hopefully, sleeping soundly (since it will be 6AM there) recuperating from our long two days of travel. I'm sure in many ways, time will fly by over the next week. Work is crazy busy and there is no way that I can take any extra time off before our trip. So, I'm stressing a little about getting everything done. But, Mark reminds me that what is important is that we have the basic stuff, our money, documents, etc and get on that plane. Yep, on one hand time seems very short! On the other hand, the next seven days will creep by as I wait to board that plane that will take us to the country of our children's birth, closer to our son!

Someone asked me recently what we would do if we weren't able to raise enough money for our adoption. Friends, that is the situation we are in. We had planned for the cost of this adoption to be about $25,000. Airfare has turned out to be a much bigger expense than we had planned. It will probably cost us about $8,000-10,0000 for our plane tickets. We're anticipating total adoption costs of over $30,000. Seriously, we don't have that kind of money lying around the house. I know many people say "If you don't have the money, you shouldn't adopt." And eight months ago, I probably would have agreed with them.  But, that was before I left a piece of my heart at the orphanage of our children. When Mark and I realized that God was calling us to bring a certain little boy home, we knew that we didn't have the money for a second adoption. Mark had just lost his job. We had maxed out our home equity loan to bring Maia home. We had hoped to apply our tax refund to paying back a substantial amount of that loan. Well, our government has stalled our tax refund as they scrutinize the claims of nearly everyone who completed an international adoption last year. We have no idea when or even if we will ever see that money. So, we really are not in a situation to adopt. God has been good to us. With the reimbursement I will receive from my employer, we will have raised approximately $17,000 of the amount we need. But, there's less than a week to go and we are still short about $12,000.  What will we do? Whatever is necessary to bring our son home. Our savings accounts are empty, we'll access retirement accounts, we'll swallow our pride and accept help from friends and family who need the money themselves. But, we will be faithful as we grow our family again. For those who have donated to our fundraising efforts, thank you. For those of you who are uplifting us in prayer, thank you! For those of you who are considering donating, please know that our hearts will be forever grateful and it will be money well spent!

Just want to end on a very special note. As I was looking back on our journey to bring Maia home, all of a sudden I felt a strong urge to look back at specific dates. Our appointment with the government in our son's country is June 22. Why is that significant? Because June 22, 2010 was the day that we sent in our paperwork officially committing to adopt Maia. How like God is that to choose to honor that day in such a great way!

Friday, June 10, 2011

God's sense of humor

Do you remember my blog from two days ago? I had been whining talking to God asking Him why we hadn't heard anything yet about our appointment date. I was feeling a little sorry for myself and eager to get to our boy.
Well, apparently He was listening to me and decided that He was going to answer my impatience. He had to just be chuckling (or maybe even a good, old belly laugh) when I got the phone call yesterday telling me we had to be in a land far and away in less than two weeks.
Serves me right - lol!!

BTW - Debbie, If I had any way to ask that you would be given our July 4 appt, I absolutely would. I WILL pray for that, though!! Or perhaps an even sooner one - lol!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Surprise phone call

I just received a phone call from Victoria (director of AAC). Our appointment date has been changed. Not sure why. Want to take a guess when it is going to be?

June 22!!!!!

That's less than 2 weeks from now. Oh my goodness... I thought I had a little time to get ready. Now, not so much. On the other hand, I think I will just be thankful that we are on our way that much sooner! Please pray that everything will go smoothly as we slowly quickly prepare for our trip. YIPPEE!!


Last night, a friend responded to our great news by asking if I was crying. I thought, "crying? Why would I be crying?" Well, this morning driving to work... what am I doing? What am I doing now here at work?

Yep... you guessed it. Crying. Why? Not because I am sad, but because I am happy. In just a few short weeks, we will be boarding that plane to take us to a far away country. We will get an official referral for our son. And several days after that, we will see him again. Honestly, I never thought it would happen.

But God KNEW! He knew that in six months, we would be flying around the world again. It is starting to feel real to me. And yes... I am crying!!!! Tears of joy! What an amazing God I have! He is so good. Not only did He bless us with our beautiful daughter, now He is going to bless us with a son.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

We've got a date!!

July 4... Independence Day. How fitting is that! Yes, God KNEW! His timing is perfect! Soon Matthew, soon daddy and mama will be there.

Reminding myself

We were hoping that we would have news by now. That we would know when we would be boarding that plane for our appointment in a far away city. Have a pretty good idea of when we were going to be seeing Matthew again. Anticipating when I might be able to hold my son in my arms for the first time as his mama, instead of just a lady coming to visit another child.
But, we are still waiting. So... I have to remind myself that God knows! He knows the exact moment of when we will receive the news. He knows all the details of our trip, He knows the joy that will be in my heart when I see that precious face again! He knows every minute of every day of our lives. This waiting is not a surprise to Him. And when His timing is perfect, we will know. I keep reminding myself of that. But as I've shared before, I'm very impatient -  lol!!
In the meantime, I will just enjoy these moments with my precious girl. She is truly a gift from God!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

First Hair Cut

For those of you who have followed our blog for a while, you may remember that Maia's hair was cut at the orphanage just a few days before "Gotcha Day." It was very short, probably an inch long all over. It's been slow growing, but finally was starting to look like she might need a trim to clean up the ends. So today, I took her for her first hair cut. She wasn't quite sure what to make of it, but did great!

Here's "during" the cut.

And after - don't you love the little wave at the ends?

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Maia and I took a trip to see Nana and Papa in Canada for a few days. She did very well on her trip. We did this so she would know the place when we left her there on our second trip to get Matthew. She had a great time with Nana and Papa.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Today, our son turns four. I knew that we wouldn't have him home by his birthday, but I had hoped that we would be there in that EE country to celebrate with him. To bring him a special treat, presents. To hold him and tell him that he is loved, SO very much! To reassure him that from this birthday forward, there will always be a family who cares about him and thinks that the day he was born is reason to rejoice.
My heart is aching today because I can't be there with my sweet boy. I wonder if he knows it is his birthday, if there is anything done to recognize the day, to celebrate HIM!
Soon if all goes as we hope/pray, Matthew WILL be home and what a day of rejoicing that will be! I'm thinking that a belated birthday party may be in order for our little guy. A day just for him - with birthday cake, ice cream, toy cars/trucks, family, friends!
But for today, I will wish him Happy Birthday in my heart and send wishes on angels' wings - hoping that somehow he feels them and "knows" that his forever family is coming for him as soon as we possibly can.