"Mom, tomorrow-tomorrow, me bye-bye (insert sad face)".
~Dima, age 6, spoken on his 36th day in Texas.
(When he arrived on July 28, Dima didn't know any English.)
Of course "tomorrow-tomorrow" means "the day after tomorrow", and on that day our hearts will be very heavy. Thursday, August 4, is the day that our two Ukrainian host boys must return to their home country, to the orphanage they call "home".
When, at the very last minute, we agreed to host these two Ukrainian boys (after their original host family fell through), we truly had NO idea that God would bless us so greatly by having these two boys in our home. We thought we'd be doing the boys a favor, but it ends up that God planned to do us a favor by sharing these two hidden treasures with us.
In just 36 days, God has given us rare glimpses into the hearts of two boys who have never known the love of a family. One would think that after spending the majority of their lives in an orphanage, these boys would be little savages. And I think that's what most people who considered hosting them were somewhat afraid of.
Dima's passport photo, age 6 years
Vlad's passport photo, age 9 years
The boys' passport photos are not exactly endearing, but we felt, with God's strength, we could surely host these boys for 5 short weeks. After all, we could endure most anything for just 5 weeks, with God as our Rock.
It is with much pleasure and great surprise (to us!) that I announce to you today that our family is pursuing the adoption of both Vlad and Dima! They also have a younger brother, age 4, but we do not yet know his legal status (whether he is available for international adoption or not). If little brother is available for adoption, we will pursue his adoption as well.
On day 2 of the boys' arrival into our family this summer, my sister told me that the moment she saw the boys with us at the airport (when we picked them up), she knew they belonged, that they were Pattersons.
We weren't quite as convinced, especially since on day 2, the boys were both really wild.
But, even through the crazy and unruly boy behaviors, God has given us such rare and beautiful glimpses into the hearts of both Vlad and Dima. They are truly rare treasures, diamonds in the rough, who have tender and compassionate hearts, created by our mighty Father.
This picture, which is obviously not the greatest quality photo, is a treasure because it captures the quality of who these boys really are. I snapped this photo with my iPhone after a full, H-O-T, and tiring day at Fiesta Texas last week, as Dima and Vlad sat on the railing by the park exit to enjoy the firework show. This is the real Dima (left) and Vlad (right), the boys God created in His image. The boys who have never known the love of a family, the boys who have lived most all of their years in a Ukrainian orphanage, yet they have hearts full of tenderness and compassion. Truly rare treasures.
Thursday, August 4, is going to be one of our hardest days of goodbyes ever. No, it won't compare to the day we told Chrissie goodbye when she went to dance eternally with Jesus after 7 months in our family, but it will nonetheless be hard. Very hard.
We are truly in love with Vlad and Dima, and we cannot imagine them NOT being with us. After spending just 36 days with us, these two boys are cherished, valued, and treasured members of our family. (It only took about a week for these boys to captivate our hearts!) We really had no idea what God had in store for us. We thought this was about the boys, but it turns out it's about all of us.
Vlad and Dima must return to Ukraine on Thursday, August 4. They will live in their orphanage while we diligently work on adoption paperwork. We do not know how long this process will take. It could be as short as a few months, but it could also take much longer. We're praying for Godspeed, for Him to move mountains to get these boys home quickly. We don't have anything current right now with the adoption requirements, but we've been working feverishly to get everything done. We've had our home study, done most of the medical stuff, state fingerprints, gathered required documents (marriage certificates, etc.). We'll submit our stuff to USCIS this week for the I-600A, and then we'll wait for them to set up our biometrics appointment. This is most likely the longest part of the process. After we have our I-171H, we'll ship our dossier to Ukraine for translation, then it will be submitted to the SDA (department that processes adoptions) in Ukraine. Then the ball will be in their court. Knowing it's all in God's hands brings comfort to our souls, but doesn't replace the urgency we feel in getting these sons of ours back into our home, where they belong, as cherished members of our family. Forever family. Thank you, Jesus.