Fall 2013

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Seven Months - Then and Now

Seven months ago today, Miss Maia Anastacia Hansen arrived home. I don't always take time to appreciate how far she has come in that seven months. Yesterday, I was looking at pictures of those first few days. Can you believe this is the same girl??



How I love that little girl!!! One of the biggest blessings of our trip to bring Matthew home (besides bringing Matthew home - lol) was the time that I was able to spend with Maia. She has just blossomed over the past six weeks. There are so many changes that I see in her. It's hard to describe, but she seems more relaxed and at ease - as if she is starting to feel secure. Her speech continues to develop, although we are concerned that she may have a speech impairment. We plan on mentioning this at her upcoming doctor's appointment. She is starting to recognize some letters when she sees them and can point them out when asked. She is grasping the concept of quantities/numbers - such as she has 2 cherries and shows this holding up 2 fingers, when she eats one, she will then hold up one finger to indicate that is what she has left. She is doing a great job with helping to set/clear the table at mealtimes. Maia is seeking and giving more affection, as well as showing a little shyness with strangers. And I am amazed at the changes in her intake. We're still struggling with getting her to drink fluids. If she had her way, she would probably drink about 2 ounces of liquid/day. She won't drink anything other than water and milk, under much protest. Before our trip, she was a very fussy eater. Now, she is trying many new things. She is eating cantelope, cherries, grapes, cottage cheese, pizza, stir-fry. We haven't put her on the scale since getting home, but I'm guessing she has gained a few pounds.
While we were in Ukraine, we asked Olga what, if any, feedback the orphanage staff had about how Maia was doing. Olga told us that they did not have one thing they could find fault with and that everyone feels like she is doing very well. It was nice to hear that they were pleased with her progress since being home. Olga also said, "Maia is an American girl now." Yep - seven months home with her forever family!!! Thanks to God for blessing us with her!

Friday, July 29, 2011

When mom's away...

Kids will play! Daddy says, "I only left them for ONE minute."  They got into the ink pad and stampers - lol!! It's a little tough to see, but both sides of their faces were blue and pink. They looked like they had been beating each other up.
 Our daughter - the future tattoo artist. I'm pretty sure that's her calling.

 Can you tell Matthew is daddy's boy? He loves his "da-yee" soooo much!
 After some ice cream at the Amsterdam airport - yummy!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Huge thanks!!

Just a quick post to say thank you to a couple of dear friends who have fed us well the past two nights. Del brought meatloaf, cheese potatoes, corn, cantelope, and a wonderful chocolate dessert over last night. Oh... and Mark's absolute favorite - spinach dip!! She had dinner with us and stayed to visit for a little while which was so sweet - I really missed her while we were gone.
Tonight, Linda called at 5pm and said, "I suppose already have dinner planned this evening." Well, I didn't have anything figured out so she brought a yummy chicken dinner with mashed potatoes, pasta salad, and fresh fruit. Both kids loved everything which is pretty amazing in itself!
What a blessing, allowing me to spend more time with the kiddos - thank you ladies for all of your love and support (and great food)!

Settling In

So, we've been home three days now. Overall, I would say that things are going pretty well. Maia and Matthew are acting like typical siblings - love each other one minute and are beating on each other the next. Well, it's probably not quite that bad. Most of the time, they don't pay much attention to each other. But if one of them is getting attention from me, the other immediately has to get in on it. Matthew will be minding his own business and Maia will push or hit him for no reason. We have not seen him retaliate, although we did find healing bite marks on Maia before coming home. It's possible that it came from one of the other kids at the orphanage, but we just don't know. We're keeping a close eye on both of their behavior. Biggest concern at this point is that Matthew seems to have very little awareness of  her when he's running around, jumping, crawling. He will often crawl right on top of her, step on her -  we are working on building awareness of this. It isn't limited to her, yesterday he ran out the front door not paying any attention to the steps and fell down skinning his arm and forehead pretty good. That type of behavior could be related to his traumatic brain injury, but it could just be that he has never been taught the need for that awareness. I'm not ready to jump to any conclusions at this point. It does put him at increased risk for injuring himself, though.

As I shared before, Matthew is loving his daddy!! When Mark goes outside, Matthew will run to the window to watch him and call to him. Mark has started working on Matthew's bedroom (he is splitting our family room into two smaller rooms - bedroom and office/den) so he is often busy downstairs. Matthew wants to be with his daddy instead of upstairs with Maia and me.

Yes... there are some challenging moments. Learning that mom/dad are the ones in charge and that some behaviors are not acceptable is hard. Matthew's got a good set of lungs and he exercises them several times a day - lol! But, I can see him starting to understand that even after he has "consequences," we talk with him, reassure and love on him. I have no doubt that he will respond positively as this continues.

Sleep is proving to be a little bit of a challenge. The kids are sharing a bedroom right now and Matthew usually wakes up around 4am crying because he has to go to the bathroom. That wakes Maia up and Mark and I are up for the day. Not sure if we should wake him up during the night (around 2am) and take him to the bathroom, then put him back in bed - anyone have any thoughts?

But, all in all - things are as good as we expected. The kids are screaming at each other right now, so I better run and find out what they are up to. ;-)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

We are home!!

Yes, we made it home! No problems with flights. Although we didn't get on the earlier flight in Amsterdam, the five hour layover passed amazingly quickly. It helped that the airport has a children's play area that the kids LOVED! We were so excited to see familiar restaurants - I had spaghetti for breakfast. :-)

Matthew did pretty well on the flights. He had a few difficult moments. We gave him some baby Benadryl at take off from Amsterdam and he slept for about 3 hours. We've tried it before with Maia and it only makes her cranky and doesn't help with sleep. She had several "episodes" and only slept for about 30 minutes. So by the time we landed in Minneapolis, it had been nearly 24 hours since we left our apartment in Kiev. My parents met us at the airport with our car (thanks mom and dad!). Maia didn't sleep on the way home. Matthew fell asleep about 45 minutes before we got there and didn't wake up when we arrived. Mark just carried him in and we put him to bed.

So his first view of "home" was this morning. He checked it all out, I think it was a little overwhelming for him. But there is no question what the BEST thing is - Mark took Matthew outside to show him around. When Matthew saw one of our 4-wheelers, he was in heaven!!! He ran over to it and immediately crawled up on it. Mark took him for a ride and we had one happy boy!! I wish that I'd had the camera for a picture. Mark was happy, too since he was pretty disappointed that Maia was and continues to be afraid of our ATVs.

We had a lazy day, did run a couple of errands. Because we were going to come home during the 10 day wait period, I had planned to buy Matthew some clothes once I knew what size he wore. The few things I did buy before are way too big for him. Poor kid - he only had what we bought in Ukraine (3 shirts, 3 pairs of shorts). So, we ran to the Goodwill to get him something to wear. And the refrigerator was empty so we needed to get some groceries.

Being out and about confirms my earlier feelings that we will have to keep things quieter with Matthew. We just packed Maia up and carried on with our usual routines. She was pretty mellow and tolerated this without much difficulty. Matthew is going to struggle more with the commotion and stimulus of being in busy places. I can tell it is a bit overwhelming and anxiety producing for him. So... if friends and family want to see us, they will probably need to come to our house or we will at least need to plan very low-key activities for a while.

That being said, we think he is doing well. He absolutely LOVES daddy. Mark ran to the hardware store this afternoon and Matthew was pretty upset when he left. Maia has a love-hate relationship with him.Yes, I know - typical sibling behavior! They were both wiped out by the end of the day. Maia was asleep by the time we finished our bedtime prayers and Matthew was asleep in less than five minutes. Hope that continues!!

There's more to share, but I'm ready to join them in dream land. More soon!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ready to be on our way!

It's 7pm here. The kids are both asleep (amazingly!). We had taken them out for lunch at the food court in the underground mall, had gelatto which was wonderful, and then went for a long walk. So, they were tired out. But obviously they knew something was different because there were lots of hysterics - especially from Maia tonight. I've got a little bit of packing yet to finish up, but hope to be in bed soon. Igor will be picking us up to take us to the airport at 3:30am so it will be a short night!!
Please pray for safe and peaceful travels for us (and the kids especially) tomorrow. We have a 5 hour layover in Amsterdam and we are hoping to catch an earlier flight. If you would pray that this would be possible, we would be very grateful!
We'll let you know when we are home.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Oh, I have to leave you with one funny! Check out the sign that is right inside the door of our apartment.

Thankful Thursday - day 2 in Kyiv

It was a good day! Matthew is feeling better - no vomiting which Mark was very thankful for. Yesterday, he had lifted Matthew up and was holding him above him when one of the incidents occurred. Yep - right down his front. There have been a couple times where he (Matthew) looked a little queasy, but short-lived. He's still not eating well at all. But, he continues to drink plenty of fluids so that is what's important.

We had a very lazy morning. Igor picked us up at 1pm for our Embassy appointment. We had our brief interview at 2pm. It was much less intense this time. Lasted just a few minutes, then we waited another 10 minutes and heard the words "Congratulations on a successful adoption!" as Matthew's passport with VISA were returned to us. YAY!!

We met the Mickschls there and afterwards, went out for a celebration lunch at Friday's with Igor, Olga, and Vlad. Again, another bittersweet moment. We said our good-byes to Hansina, Morgan, and Makenzie - they will be leaving early tomorrow morning. Please pray for their safe travels home to California. It was such a blessing to share this journey with them! We may/may not see Olga again on Saturday morning so we also said our good-byes to her. She has been wonderful throughout this process and deserves so much thanks for helping us to adopt the two precious treasures who are sound asleep as I type.

Well... here they aren't so sound asleep. Can you see the foot sticking out from under the covers? 

It's hard to believe that I may not see all of these wonderful friends again here on earth. But, our hearts are connected in a unique and eternal way. This is outside the registry office where we got the kid's birth certificates. Alex is on the left, Hansina, and Vitaly is on Mark's right.

My thankful Thursday list could go on and on today, but it is late and I'm ready to get some sleep. So, I will leave it at that.


I told Melanie I wanted to do a short blog.

Matthew is doing better


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Back in Kyiv and Matthew's having a tough time

We left Sevastopol at 3:45am this morning, it was a SHORT night! Vitaly drove us to Simferopol for our flight back to Kyiv. Alex drove Hansina, Morgan, and Mackenzie - as well as Olga. Leaving Sevastopol was very sad for me. I wasn't expecting that and I don't remember feeling that way on our last trip. But, this time my heart knows that I won't be coming back again. Sevastopol is my children's birthplace and when we arrived last month, I felt like a part of me was home. Don't get me wrong - I am much too spoiled to live here, but the time that we have spent in Sevastopol has been precious! The tears came again at the airport saying good-bye to Vitaly (I think he even shed a few) - he has been a good friend as well as driver for us.

We had a short flight to Kyiv - just over an hour. After arriving, we immediately headed to the Embassy to begin our paperwork to obtain Matthew's VISA. Following that, we went to the immigrant clinic for Matthew's medical exam. Then, Igor brought us to our apartment. The afternoon was spent trying to keep cool and get some water and a few groceries. We're all pretty wiped out from the long day.

Which brings me to Matthew. He is having a difficult time. Vomited twice, once at his medical exam and then, just as we arrived at the apartment. Poor Mark got the worst of that one. Pretty sure it is anxiety and fear. He would not eat any lunch.  Matthew is very sad at times and also is definitely testing boundaries. His transition may be more difficult than Maia's was. I think one thing that makes it harder for him is that he is quite verbal. So, it is very frustrating for him when he talks to us and we have no clue what he is saying... well, except for peeska (pee). But, he is already saying a few English words and I'm sure he will pick things up quickly. Maia wasn't verbal when we brought her home so she may have experienced less frustration.

In any case, would you please pray for our sweet boy? Pray that the vomiting is truly just nerves and nothing else. Pray that God will give Matthew peace and reassurance that he is safe and treasured in his forever family.

Yes... I know I have not shared about Gotcha Day and I will do that either tomorrow or Friday. But, I just wanted to give you a quick update and now I'm headed for bed.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Gotcha Day!!

I'm backdating this post so it actually ends up in the right order of things here on the blog. We started Tuesday off and running again. Back to Balaclava to pick up the birth certificates. It only took a few minutes, but was a sweet moment to hold that certificate listing our names as parents of Matthew Dmitriy Hansen!!

Then, to the notary to sign paperwork for the passport application and to the bank to drop off more paperwork. We had a little bit of a break so were able to go back to the apartment for lunch. Back to the bank in the afternoon to close the bank account. Morgan was such a blessing for us during all of this running. She generously came to our apartment and stayed with Maia! It would have been a long day for our girl spent in the hot car so we can't thank her enough for this gift!

We stopped to pick up the girls and then headed to the orphanage for the BIG moment! Matthew was waiting in his groupa for us. I helped him dress in his new clothes and then began our good-byes. 

Handsome boy - he LOVES his shades!

I could just see how much this caregiver loves our little boy and how bittersweet it was for her to see him leave. We shared tears together and I hope that she knows how treasured he will be in our family.

We said good-bye and thank you to Angelina, the orphanage director and Matthew walked out the door - an orphan no more!!!

Went to pick up his passport and then back to the apartment for our first night as a family of four. Things were kind of hectic, but Maia thought it was pretty neat to have Matthew with us. Mark gave him a bath, we had a quick dinner, put the kids to bed, finished packing for our early morning, and headed for bed ourselves.
God's hand was evident throughout the day as we encountered computer issues and other potential delays. But, He favored us by getting everything accomplished that was necessary for us to finish in Sevastopol on schedule! He is so good!


We picked him up @ 4pm. It is 10pm now & we have a car coming @ 4am. We will blog more in a day or two


Monday, July 18, 2011

It's Official and a few pics!

The court decree came into effect today - the 10 day waiting period is over and Matthew Dmitriy Hansen is officially our son!! Rejoice with us and praise God for this wonderful gift!
We spent the morning in the car. First, we went to the State Department Administration to pick up some paperwork. Then to the court house to obtain 10 copies of the court decree. After that, we went to Balaclava to request the new birth certificates for Matthew and Mackenzie (the Mickschl's daughter). Unfortunately, their computers were down and we will have to go back tomorrow morning. It's not like at home where things are usually back up and running within a short period of time. We headed to the notary to drop off papers to be prepared for signature and then to the bank to drop off papers to close the kids' bank accounts. This money is released to the orphanage when they leave. It is VERY hot today and Maia was miserable. Olga took pity on us and we came back to the apartment while she continued the legwork. We've had a lazy afternoon, took a short nap, and I've done a little more packing in anticipation of leaving for Kyiv early Wednesday morning. The plan is to pick Matthew about 24 hours from now (around 8:30am Minnesota time) and bring him back to the apartment. I'm so excited!!! Here are a couple of photos from yesterday and then I will end with a few prayer requests.

Ok, so it's not a very good picture. I really just wanted to show Matthew pouting. He was doing something he wasn't supposed to and we gave him a time out. Oh, life is tough - lol!!!

We have a few prayer requests for the next couple of days.
  • Pray that we will be able to complete all the necessary paperwork tomorrow to obtain Matthew and Mackenzie's new birth certificates and passports. If we are not able to get the passports, it could delay our return home by a week. 
  • Peace for Matthew as he leaves the orphanage. While I am sure he will be excited, he is leaving his home of two years with people that he doesn't (really) know and who don't have a clue what he is saying. There has to be some fear as well.
  • Pray for Mackenzie as she leaves the orphanage as well. This is the only home she has ever known.
  • For all three kiddos (Matthew, Maia, Mackenzie) to have a quiet evening and good night's sleep. We will be leaving Sevastopol around 4am on Wednesday morning to drive to Simferopol where we will catch our flight to Kyiv.
  • Safe journeys as we travel.
Thanks for your prayers. I'm going to post the Nikitsky Garden pics later, but I've spent enough time on the computer for now.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Today is Sunday. We like to give the driver a day off to use as family time. But we will not see Matthew on Monday so Melanie wanted to see him today. I wanted to give Vitaly the day off. So we went to see Matthew. Monday we have a lot going on, getting paper work done so we can pick up Matthew on Tuesday to take him with us to Kiev.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sobering Reminder

I was all set for a light, fluffy blog post tonight. Had a nice afternoon visiting the Nikitsky Botanical Gardens with Hansina and Morgan and enjoyed the day. I was going to post pictures with the beautiful scenery. But, I got on the computer to upload the photos and started reading the blogs I follow.

One of the entries was titled "How Can This Be?" There was a video link and I began watching. Soon, I was in tears. And I am reminded of the reason we are here. Yes, it is to bring home our son. So far this trip, my heart has not been broken like it was last time. I've been able to not be so emotional about the kiddos. But, after watching this video, I am again brought to my knees. All of a sudden I feel like what we have done is not enough, can never be enough as long as there a children out there who do not know the love of a forever family. The video is from His Kids Too. We were blessed to be able to meet the director of this orphan ministry on our way to Ukraine last month. She is passionate about saving the forgotten souls who are institutionalized because they are considered less than perfect by their society.

Our son was in danger of being transferred to a place like this when he turned four (last month). If you have the opportunity to meet him, you will know what a tragedy this would have been! For ANY child, transfer to this type of institution is a tragedy. I thank God that we were able to complete our paperwork to make him part of our family before that happened. Please take a few minutes to watch this video - ask yourself what YOU can do!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Black, Red, and a little Blue


Sevastopol is located on the Black Sea. Today, Vitaly took us to the beach. These are military ships providing security because the Russian and Ukrainian presidents are in town for a motorcycle show this weekend.

 Here's the beach. You can see that it goes on for quite a distance. It is very rocky!

Mark in Black Sea

Maia and I sitting near the water. At first, I had her sitting facing the water. She was terrified when even small waves came up to us. So, I turned her to face me and she felt more secure. Gradually, she got a little more comfortable but still didn't want to get to close.

Maia did enjoy playing in the rocks. Vitaly is in the background.

Mark did take Maia out into the water. She was not too sure about that, but safe in daddy's arms.

That was about as deep as I was willing to go. The temp was pretty cool at first, but after being in the water for a little while, it felt good.


Yep, that would be my back. And this is after applying SPF 50! The clerk at the store warned me that it was for children, but really??? Maia isn't red at all! Go figure!

Tired out from the sun and playing!

And a little blue...

Didn't get to see my sweet boy today. We went to the orphanage this afternoon with Olga and the Mickschls to make our donations, but left without seeing Matthew. I hope he is ok. I can't wait to see him tomorrow morning.

We'll go the orphanage in the AM. After that, the plan is that Hansina, Morgan, and I will go to Nikitsky Botanic Gardens. Mark and Maia are going back to the apartment for an afternoon of relaxation.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

from Mark

I have not said too much on the blog for a few days. That is because Melanie does such a great job. But I don't think she will write about this. I am amazed at the stuff she cooks up here. We can't read Russian or know exactly what we buy at the store. I think the meat we get is ham and ground beef a few times chicken. She makes tacos, meatballs in some kind of sauce, the best fried ham & cheese sandwich, very good pasta salads and more.  One morning we has french toast. We didn't have any syrup so she made some out of white sugar and other stuff, I think there was some jam in it for flavor.I am amazed at how well she cooks over here. We don't even have a stove, just a gas cook top.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Will there be another trip to Sevastopol?

My blogging time while here in Ukraine has been much less than our last trip here. Something to do with a busy three year old, I’m sure – lol! I really haven’t had the opportunity to share my heart, but I’m just going to take the time and see how far I get…

Many people have asked if I’ve met any other children at the orphanage that I can’t live without. Good question. Most of the children that we met last time we were here are gone. We know that at least one has been adopted (by the Allen family who we were blessed to meet before they headed back to the States with their precious Annie), the others – we don’t know. It is my prayer that they are now with their forever families and not transferred to other institutions. There are two children still in the groupa that we first met in December. One of them is a little girl who I loved even then. IF there was any chance of bringing her home, Mark might have a fight on his hands. But, she and the little boy are both “family children” – meaning that they have family who visit them regularly and are not available for adoption. There is a younger girl with very obvious fetal alcohol syndrome who is just adorable as well, so many sweet faces who are in need of forever families. Precious souls that are aching for the love of parents. It is heartbreaking.

Those of you who have followed our blog for a while may remember when I first mentioned Matthew. It was December 4, 2010 and I commented about a “special needs” little boy. There were other children who would probably catch a person’s eye much more than he would. I actually posted about that very topic on December 18. But, looks don’t matter to a mama’s heart. And each day we visited Maia, I loved that sweet boy a little more. When we picked Maia up on Christmas Day, I left a piece of my heart at the detsky dom with Matthew. He was always in my prayers, never far from my mind - even though I’m sure Mark hoped that I would be able to “let it go.” But, instead God chose us to be Matthew’s parents! And it all began when he gave me a heart for a child that wasn’t what the world would consider perfect.

So… have I met another child that I can’t live without? Is there a longing in my heart for more of the children that we have met during Matthew’s adoption? Well, I would love to pack up ALL of the children, bring them back to the US and find homes for them! But, no one has captured a place like our son did. And that is even more confirmation that my heart knew back in December what Mark and I didn’t know at the time. That we would be returning to Ukraine just a short time after leaving to bring home a son named Matthew Dmitriy Hansen.

For now anyway, my wonderful husband can rest assured that I feel our family is complete with Matthew and Maia. If God chooses to show us something different, we will cross that bridge when we get to it. :-)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ahh... the heat!

It was another hot day here in Sevastopol, it was 91.4 degrees F at about 9am this morning. And everyone knows how I love hot weather - lol! I told Mark that it is probably to his benefit that the weather is so hot. I know my way around town much better now and would probably be out shopping seeing the sites.

We were late getting to the orphanage this morning so we didn't have a very long visit with Matthew. But, it was a good one. He was in a happy mood, full of love for "da-yee" and mama. Tried his new-to-him sandals on and they fit perfectly. He was quite proud of them (beats the lavendar sandals with flowers that he was wearing today), showing them to the caregivers. When we had to leave, he took them off without protest to put the others back on. Yesterday, we helped him try on the clothes that I had bought and I think he is starting to understand that we are doing things in preparation for leaving the orphanage.

Stopped to pick up lunch at McD's on the way back to the apartment. Had a short nap this afternoon and then walked up to the street market to get some water. Also, picked up cucumbers, sweet corn, and bread. Came home and then, Genya picked me up and took me to a salon for a manicure. His wife is a hair dresser and she arranged an appointment for me with one of her friends. $5 total for the manicure including tip! Boy, if manicures were that reasonable at home, I might be able to have them more often.

Leftovers for dinner and now, I've been trying to get our flights back to Kyiv booked. Thought I had a great deal for airfare but couldn't get the transaction to complete so lost out on the terrific price. Hansina couldn't get her purchase to go through either so we are going to meet them at the travel agent on our way to the orphanage tomorrow morning and buy our tickets together.

I've got so many thoughts about our journey that I want to share. I'm going to have to just take some time to sit down and write it all out. Soon, I promise. It's getting late and I need to get to bed.

A couple of prayer requests to end with:
- One of Mark's flying buddies was killed last weekend when his plane crashed. We don't know any specifics, but please keep Mark Ellis's family in your prayers at this difficult time.
- Pray that we will be able to purchase plane tickets at a reasonable price for our return to Kyiv next week. Since it is the height of tourist season, demand is high so cost/availability are a concern.
- I will mention this again as the day approaches, but please be praying for red passports for Matthew as well as Mackenzie (the Mickschls' daughter). If we are unable to get them, it will delay our return home and result in a significant expense due to already scheduled flights.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Happy Monday!

Another hot day here in Sevastopol. One of the food items that we have not found here in Ukraine is maple or pancake syrup. I had old bread to use up so decided to make my own syrup this morning. Surprisingly, it didn't turn out too bad. I improvised a recipe that I had found online to make a peach syrup for our french toast. Maia thought it was a hit. She is amazing me with all of the foods she is trying. I hope it continues when we get home!
Alex was off today and Vitaly was driving the Mickschls so we had a new (to us) driver, Ghenya (sure I spelled that wrong) - he spoke English pretty well and we enjoyed having him with us for the day.
Visited Matthew this morning. Hansina took a couple of pics and was kind enough to email them to me so I will share here.

Playing on the slide. There is a little cement wading pool just to the left side of this picture (does it make sense that the slide doesn't go into the pool?).

Maia signing "more" sliding, please! The hat was a present from Dasha and her mom. I mentioned them last week - the Ukraine family who is adopting a little boy.

After our visit, we went out for lunch with the Mickschls. We went to a seafood restaurant which was quite good. This is my calamari appetizer.

Mark's grilled tiger prawns

Happy girl!!

Outside the restaurant on the waterfront.

Government buildings across the "bay"

Rest of the day was quiet. We're starting to count down... 12 days from now, we will be on our way home with our son!! Please pray that God is preparing Matthew for this huge change in his life. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Lazy Day

Had a pretty quiet day. Went to bed late last night so we were all late getting up this morning. After getting Maia situated and finished with breakfast, I walked up to the street market. I wanted to dig through stuff at the second hand "store" there. Since we were going to come home during the waiting period, I didn't bring any clothes for Matthew. Wanted to know what size he wore before buying things (although I had picked up a few items before we left). I remembered him being small - knew that compared to Maia, holding Matthew was like nothing at all. And I was right. Most of the kids clothing at the orphanage doesn't have tags in it, but he was wearing a t-shirt and shorts the other day which we "92" - which translates to about a 2T in American sizes. The boy has some catching up to do! He is a little taller than Maia, but not much.
Anyway... we need to get a few things for him until we can get home and I can get him some clothes. Not a whole lot of selection, but I did find a few items that we will take to the ophanage tomorrow and try on Matthew. Interestingly, the clothes are sold by weight. So, I got 4 shirts and 2 pairs of shorts for 19.5uah or about $3.25. I also got him a pair of sandals for about $5 - shoes tend to be more expensive here. Figure if things don't fit, will just leave them at the orphanage.
Picked up some more sweet corn, nectarines, bananas, and potatoes at the market. Had the sweet corn for lunch and it was really good! Short nap this afternoon, then Maia and I went for a walk. It's pretty warm so we were only gone about 30 minutes. She doesn't seem to tolerate the heat any better than I do. Came home, fixed dinner, and washed some clothes (by hand - I will be SOOO glad to use my washing machine again). Now, ready for bed.
We'll visit Matthew tomorrow morning and may go out to dinner with the Mickschls tomorrow evening. Today was Mark's (Mickschl) birthday - wishes for a wonderful year! I have to say that it really has been a blessing having them here at the same time as we are. We haven't spent a lot of time together, but usually catch up for a few minutes at the orphanage and talk via phone daily. Just having that contact with others who speak the same language and share this journey, Christian faith as well as a heart for the orphan is wonderful! Thank you for your prayers for their daughter Morgan - she was diagnosed with tonsilitis and is now on an antibiotic. Finally starting to feel better today.
That's about all for tonight. We're starting to count down the days. Flight home is booked (don't even get me started on that mess - may share more later) for July 23. YAY!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

God's Perfect Timing

I've mentioned that Ukraine has passed new legislation which will limit international adoption of Ukrainian children under the age of 5 unless they have specific medical diagnoses. Today, I saw the list of approved diagnoses which is actually quite small. Neither of our children have diagnoses that would have allowed us to adopt them following the implementation of this new legislation. While I understand the rationale for the legislation, it breaks my heart that there are many children who may never know the love of a forever family because of it. And I truly praise God that He allowed us to adopt Maia and Matthew before this change occurred! He knew that we needed to get our kiddos home and He made it happen - both times. We are truly blessed!!

Cranky Days

I think we (Mark, Maia, and I) are all ready to be home again. Each of us has been a little bit cranky over the past couple of days. Mark's not feeling well so if you would include him in your prayers, that would be wonderful. Nothing serious, probably just a virus or something along those lines.
Maia has been exercising her lungs - lol! All things considered, she has done extremely well during our trip thus far.  But, yesterday and today have been a battle of wills. She is determined to show how strong-willed she can be. In some things, that's ok. I know that as a parent I have to choose my battles. However, there are times when she needs a reminder she is not the one who gets to have all the control. So... she's having some unhappy moments. I'm sure that Sergei and Ludmila (the property owners) probably wonder what kind of torture we are putting the poor girl through. Oh, it is tough when you have to drink the WHOLE glass of milk or water at mealtimes. But, she doesn't drink much in the first place. It's very hot here right now and I don't want her to get dehydrated or have kidney difficulty. Try to explain that to a three year old! :-)
Ah, yes... the heat makes me cranky, too. I've never been a fan of hot weather and if you've been following the blog for a while, you may recall that Thankful Thursday during the summer often includes my gratitude for central air conditioning. Which is non-existent here in Ukraine. So, I am grouchy and sweaty.

Yesterday, we visited Matthew in the morning. Came back to the apartment for a quick lunch and then Vitaly took us to Alupka. We had visited the Alupinksy Castle last time, but were only able to tour the grounds as the castle itself is closed on Mondays (when we were there). So, we went back. Note to self - do NOT expect a hot, cranky 3 year old to behave on a guided tour. Yeah, not so pretty. Mark took Maia out shortly after the tour began and I finished the rest of the tour without them. We had hoped to go to Yalta, but it was getting late and as noted above, Maia was cranky so we just came home. Here are a few pics from our trip.

Palace Grounds
 A greenhouse type room in the palace. Beautiful flowers here.

Wine cooling tub in the dining room
 Isn't this a spectacular view of the mountains from the palace grounds? You can't see it but to the right is the Black Sea. It is breathtaking!

  The view to the right of the above pic.

There is a pond on the palace grounds with two swans.

The tree behind us is the only one of it's kind alive in the world. Not sure what it is.

Every day when we arrive at the orphanage, Maia goes running to the play area where Matthew's groupa is. She squeals, "There he is" when she sees him. And Matthew runs to give Mama and Papa ("Da-yee") a hug before giving Maia a kiss. He proudly tells all the caregivers that we are his mama and papa.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Proud to announce....

The newest member of the Hansen Family!

Meet our son

Matthew Dmitriy Hansen
 Matthew means "Gift of God" and this sweet boy is truly a gift to us! We are honored and blessed that God chose us to be his parents.

 Six months ago on Christmas Day, we left the orphanage with our precious daughter. On that day, I held this child in my arms trying to tell him how loved he was, never expecting to see him again this side of heaven.

Today, I get the privilege of being mom to two Ukrainian cuties. I am so thankful that my wonderful husband was faithful to God's call!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

We've had a good day today. Visited Matthew this morning. The Mickschls visit their adorable little girl at the same time and it is always wonderful to see them. Their daughter Morgan (12 yrs old) is here with them. She is not feeling well, sore throat - swollen lymph nodes, etc. Would you please pray for healing for her? It is a scary thing to have your child be ill in a foreign country where medical care is different than we have at home.
There is a Ukrainian family who also visits the orphanage that we enjoy seeing as well. They adopted their daughter Dasha 2 years ago from the orphanage and now are adopting a little boy. Dasha is a cutie. Today, she had a good time playing with Matthew while her Mom got to cuddle with little Maxim.
Matthew found Maia's sunglasses in my bag today and loved wearing them. They are purple and yellow, not really appropriate for a little boy so we did buy him some "cool" shades but are saving them for after "Gotcha Day" since we would likely not see them again if we left them at the orphanage. Anyway... so Matthew was wearing Maia's shades and at the end of our visit time, we took them and put them away. All of a sudden, the world came to an end. That was the first we have really seen of a tantrum in Matthew. He's had moments of unhappiness, but wow - he was wailing loudly for a long time. We took him back to the groupa and the caregivers told us just to go instead of trying to say good-bye and upset him more. Poor kid... we had already tried some shoes on him and had to take those away (again until "Gotcha Day). He has nothing that is truly "his" so I felt bad, but soon he will know what it's like to have some of his own things. On that note, he and Maia are doing pretty good in sharing with each other. I'm sure there will be lots of battles ahead, but so far there have not been any knock-down, drag out fights - lol!
After visiting Matthew, we went to McD's for lunch. Vitaly had his son Vlad with him today so they came along. Vlad got a happy meal which he was pretty excited about. Then, came back to the apartment so Maia could have a short nap before we walked up to the street market to pick up a few things. We saw one of our "friends" from last trip, he was so happy to see us and I attempted to explain that we had adopted Maia last time and now were back for a son. I think he understood because he was smiling, nodding, and kissed my hand.
We got some fresh Bing cherries 28uah/kg which is cheap compared to prices at home - less than $2/pound. Had them with some chicken/veggie pasta salad and left over sweet corn for dinner. Maia has really been doing pretty well eating over here. She had ham, apple, sweet corn, and tried (LOVED) the cherries! I keep telling her how proud I am of her for trying new things - she's been more "adventurous" than she is at home.
Olga should be here any time. We have a three bedroom apartment and she stays in the 3rd bedroom when in town (same as last trip). We'll talk briefly about what to expect tomorrow and then hit the sack. Yes... we are "geezers" - ready to be in bed and it's only a little after 9pm.
Tomorrow morning, we have court at 9:00am (1:00am, CST). We will meet with the judge and jurors who will make the decision whether or not to approve our adoption. While we don't anticipate any surprises, we still ask for your prayers.
Will update you and yes... finally be able to share some pictures of our little guy tomorrow afternoon or evening!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

This and That

Some day, Maia will hate us for this picture - lol!!

 Daddy trying to "stretch" Matthew out

Yes, I had to get a purse while I am here this time. This is my Versace knock-off - 100uah or about $12 
On our way home from the market up the street. Maia loves pushing the stroller.

Yesterday when we went to the orphanage, Matthew wasn't in his groupa. From the caregiver, I was able to determine that he had some type of "reaction." So, we headed to the infirmary. No Matthew. I did start to get a little concerned then. Called Olga who called Angelina (the orphanage director). One of the caregivers had taken him to the clinic to pick up paperwork which we need for his medical exam and Embassy visit in Kyiv. He was quiet when he got back. I won't go into the details here. We had a short visit because it was lunch time. At the end of our time, Mark went to see if the kids were still outside or if we needed to take Matthew inside. I stayed with Maia and Matthew. When I saw Mark coming back, I asked Matthew where daddy was. He went running to Mark, yelling "Da-yee, Da-yee." It was pretty cute!
Today, Matthew was more his excited self. Let me tell you, this boy adores his daddy!! He mimics Mark and loves to have daddy chase him around. Anything to get daddy's attention. Pretty sure he will be his father's son - lol! Our visit was a little short, the caregiver came and got him early - something about bathing, I think.
After we left the orphanage, Vitaly took us to the bazaar (one of the street markets) where we had shopped last trip. Mark was a good sport while I looked for a purse. Then, we went on a hunt for acetaminophen (Tylen*l). Apparently, you can't get it in this country anymore due to a decision to not renew the registration of the product here. Weird, huh?
Came back to the apartment, had lunch, and relaxed for a little while. Then, we walked up to the street market. We are hoping to see the English speaking lady we met last trip and another kind gentleman who sold fruit, but they have not been there so far. Picked up sweet corn which we had for dinner with a chicken hash that I made. No bragging, but it was pretty good.
Tomorrow, we will visit Matthew again in the morning. Since I didn't get out and explore today, I think I will do that in the afternoon if weather permits. The sun is very hot here, but when it is behind the clouds things are usually pretty comfortable.
I want to tell you about our sweet boy, but have been on the computer long enough so I will quit for tonight. Only two days until court - yay!