Wednesday, February 29, 2012

…In the Arms of an Angel…

Adopting Conner and seeing first-hand the condition he’s in (he’s so much tinier and more fragile than Cooper) has really opened our eyes to a new level.


You know that really sad SPCA pet advocacy commercial with the song “…in the arms of an angel…” playing in the background?   You know, the one that shows all those sad pet faces, many locked in cages?  The one that makes you want to stop everything, sell all your belongings, and donate your savings to save a pet today? 


Well, this is that post for orphans in a particular orphanage in Bulgaria.  I don’t have the sad song playing in the background, but you can just imagine it. 


The pictures tell the same story that those sad pet pictures tell in the SPCA commercial, only those sad pets are treated like royalty compared to these children.


I’m not exaggerating.  Look at the photos yourself.  I’ve seen this first-hand.  We’re springing a child from his orphanage today who is in the same shoes as many of the children in the photos below.


This is reality, folks, like it or not.


But today, you have a chance to do something!!!  Just like we want to respond with immediate help when we see that sad SPCA commercial, instead of changing the channel or flipping to the next blog, DO SOMETHING. 


Here’s your chance.  Please click HERE to see this post on the author’s blog.  My friend, Shelley, gave me permission to copy and paste her post here.  Shelley is the woman who helped us adopt Chrissie, so she holds a very dear place in  my heart.  Shelley is also an amazing orphan advocate and adoptive mom who has put together a way for you to make a difference today in the lives of these poor mistreated, neglected, abused children.


I pray you’ll read this post in its entirety and be moved to action today.  Let the Church arise!  We have the opportunity to donate and help place these children…in the arms of an angel!


Here’s Shelley’s post, copied and pasted with her permission:


Help provide medical care to orphans

Katie_before photoVeronica 01
At the age of 9 years and 7 months, Katie weighed 10.5 pounds.

When she was admitted to the hospital, testing found that she suffered from Severe protein-energy malnutrition with related severe anemia, severe osteoporosis, multiple spinal compression fractures; scurvy; atrophic skin.

What caused these condition?

For 9 years and 7 months, Katie had lived in an orphanage in Pleven, Bulgaria where she was systematically and purposefully starved to keep her small, weak and unable to do anything but lie in her own urine and feces. She was fed only liquid, a mixture that contained very little sustenance. The liquid was fed to her out of a glass beer bottle that had a huge nipple on top so that the liquid could be forcibly shoved down her throat.
When Katie’s mama arrived at the orphanage to adopt her, she was allowed to hold Katie and feed her. However, the reality for the TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY other children that live in this orphanage is that on a daily basis, they are all fed this liquid while lying flat on their backs in a crib. If they choke, the liquid runs down their mouths or into their lungs. They are not picked up and burped. They aren’t even sat up so that they can eat properly. The children are in such weak and poor conditions, that they don’t have the strength to sit up when they are choking.


As a result, children DIE because they drown in this liquid that is aspirated into their lungs or are suffocated by the vomit that refluxes back into their mouth that they are unable to clear from their throats themselves due to their weakened condition.

Just this week, while the steps were being taken for this blog post to be publicized, another child from the orphanage in Pleven died.


These are not assumptions on my part,
these are the cold hard FACTS of life in this orphanage
and they have been recently legally documented and reported to the Bulgarian government.


Katie is now home in the United States with her family and she’s receiving proper medical care.


There are 240 other children in that orphanage that still need help. The Bulgarian government has been made aware of what is happening at this orphanage and an investigation has been launched. Official documents have been filed and action is being taken throughout different branches of the Bulgarian government as I write this.

While the government works on the legal side of holding those in charge responsible, something must be done to help the children.

Pro. Lilova, head of the pediatric team at Tokuda Hospital in Sofia, Bulgaria provided medical care for Katie, so that she could make it safely home to the US and to a hospital here. As a result of seeing Katie’s condition, Pro. Lilova has volunteered her services FREE OF CHARGE to provide medical care for the remaining children in Pleven, starting with the ones in the worst conditions.


Three children are currently in the hospital receiving treatment from Pro. Lilova. (the faces of all orphans have been blurred to protect their identity). Here is what the testing has revealed so far:


On January 12th, 11 year old “V” weighed 12 pounds and is 29 inches long

“P” is 15 and a half years old. She weighs 18 pounds and is 34 inches long

Both girls are suffering from a multitude of health problems as a result of the starvation and dehydration that they’ve experienced their entire lives, including evidence of multiple broken bones that were left untreated over the years. They are already suffering from osteoporosis as children due to nutritional deficits.


There are MANY more children that need medical intervention, like little “K”, who is turning 5 years old in April. He lives in a room ALL ALONE because he’s been in “isolation” for 2 years now because he got sick as a baby. Those toys you see in his crib are because this photo was taken by the family in process to adopt him on their first visit with him
and 5 year old “L”, who has a kidney condition that has been left untreated and her body is beginning to swell from the excess fluid build up. Her little feet are so tiny that 3-6 month baby shoes fall off of them
Lina foot

I can’t show you the appalling photos of the rashes and scars that these children have from lying in their urine and feces. Many of them have their entire backside and groin areas covered in rashes and peeling skin. One visitor to the orphanage said that the children often lay on mattresses without sheets. If there is a sheet, it’s wet with the child’s urine and the child is forced to just lay in it all day. None of the children had blankets in their beds.


Here is an observation from one mother who visited her child there earlier this month. Her daughter is 5 years old, fits into a size 1 diaper and the 6-9 month clothes that were taken for her to wear are too big:
”She cannot sit at all. She can barely hold up her head. She has NO MUSCLE tone AT all. She can not even get her knees under her to try and get to her hands and knees but instead her legs just lay out to the side. I did see her role over one time. She hates the food that is fed in the bottles with the big nipples. She would toss it and then it would be stuffed back in her mouth. This would repeat over and over. I tried to hold her to feed her and the staff made me lay her down flat on her back. The food is a horrid smelling milky substance with this cottage cheese like pieces that come out with the liquid. They do not hold any of the children and do not burp them at all. They pick the children up by the arm and then lay them down the same. One boy was choking on the bottle and finally the worker picked him up and got his mouth and throat cleared. I wonder what would have happened had I not been in the room?”

Make no mistake, the child described above is not in this condition because of some type of special need or medical condition that prevents her from doing anything. She’s in this condition due to NEGLECT and STARVATION. While the majority of the children in this orphanage have some degree of special needs, it is NOT their special needs that have put them in such dire condition.


Pro. Lilova has volunteered to travel from Sofia to Pleven to visit the children in the orphanage and to attempt to come up with some plan to provide the medical care that all of the children living there are in need of. While she can volunteer her services as a doctor, there are other expenses that are incurred in order for these children to receive medical care:
1.) Transportation costs to get the children from Pleven to the hospital in Sofia for medical testing and treatment
2.) Expenses to pay for an orphanage staff member to stay in Sofia while the children are hospitalized (this is required under Bulgarian law if the orphanage insists on sending someone and this orphanage has insisted that a staff member be present)
3.) Special formula and other nutritional feeding supplements so that the children can begin to be fed properly without the risk of re-feeding syndrome.


An account has been established in Bulgaria to hold donations specifically for the medical care for the children of Pleven. All expenses will be properly documented and all medical testing, findings, and treatment will be made a part of the child’s permanent medical file, should the child be adopted. There are currently at least 17 children from this orphanage that have families in various stages of the process to adopt them.

A fund has been established through Eli Project so that tax deductible donations can be made to the Pleven medical fund. ALL money donated will be sent directly to the account that is established in Bulgaria and the funds will be used for the transportation and medical expenses related to the care of the children.


If you’d like to donate toward the medical care of the children, you may do so from a direct bank draft or credit card via Paypal by using the chip in below. All donations are tax deductible in the US.

*None of the photos from this post may be copied or otherwise removed/used in any way without the expressed written consent of the blog owner. All the faces of children who are still legal orphans and residing in this orphanage have been blurred to protect their identity. The Ministry of Justice and the State Agency for Child Protection in Bulgaria are in the process of investigating what is happening to these children, now that they've been made aware. Legal channels have been followed to report the neglect and this fund is strictly to provide the much needed medical care that the children need NOW. The Bulgarian government is aware that medical care is being provided and all the medical reports will be available to them during the course of their investigation. All medical care provided with the use of these funds will be provided under the supervision of Prof. Lilova.*

Katie, who was mentioned in this blog, is now home and thriving with her family. Katie2

You can follow her journey on her mom’s blog, found here.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

He Does All Things Well

Krem, final trip, day 9 019


We received word today that both boys’ passports will be ready Thursday!!!!  Praise Him; He does all things well!!!  Our awesome facilitator has come up with a fabulous plan that will get us back to Texas Saturday!!!


Krem, final trip, day 9 022


Tomorrow (Wednesday) we will spring the boys from their orphanage forever!!!  Yes, February 29, Leap Day, will be our official “Gotcha Day”!   That seems very fitting for this adoption, since there have been so many unusual twists and turns, it seems very appropriate that Leap Day would be our Gotcha Day!!!  This has definitely been a leap of faith!


Krem, final trip, day 9 029


We have our adoption interview with the US Embassy in Kiev (for the boys to receive visas to come to the US) Thursday at 10AM; however, the passports won’t be ready for pick-up until Thursday morning in Kremenchuk and Poltava.  So, our facilitator (did I mention how awesome she is?) arranged with the US Embassy for us to have our interview anyway, and our facilitator’s husband will pick up the passports in Kremenchuk and Poltava for us!  He will fax a copy of the passports to our facilitator so we can at least have that.


Krem, final trip, day 9 013


The boys will have their medical exam (required by the US) Thursday at Noon.  We’ll use the faxed passport copies for that, as well, and then pick up the infamous sealed packet (internationally adopted kiddos must enter the US with a sealed packet from the medical examiner…the packet must not be tampered with in any way, not even peeked at by the adoptive parents!) once we have the real passports in hand.


Krem, final trip, day 9 017

If Cooper had it his way,  he’d have his face about 3-5” from the iPad at all times.  Yes, we plan to have his vision checked. Smile


We’ll go back to the US Embassy Friday afternoon at 2PM for the final interview/approval, where we’ll obtain the boys’ visas, and then we’ll be cleared to head to TEXAS!!!!!!!


We’ll take the first flight out, which will be Saturday morning, and that will put us in Texas Saturday night!!!  It’s about 30 hours of travel, but with the 8 hour time loss going into Texas, we’ll still arrive in the same day that we leave Kiev!


So, we ask for your prayers to continue.  Pray us HOME!!!  To God be all the glory, for He does all things well.



Monday, February 27, 2012

Strength Will Rise…

…as we wait upon the Lord!


When we grow weary in this wait, we fix our eyes upon Him and persevere in His strength through the trials of this adoption.  Many people believe that when obstacles appear in a journey God has called one to, it is a sign that this is NOT God’s will.


We beg to differ.  For us, obstacles are a sign that we’re on the right path, and Satan hates it!!!  Satan throws fiery darts, trying hard to defeat us, trying hard to deter God’s will, but our God is mightier and will triumph over evil.  The path will not be easy, there will be trials, but we are to persevere in His strength, without waiver, without doubt, without fear.  When we are weak, He is strong.  Strength rises as we wait upon the Lord!


This morning we were greeted at breakfast by a group of men from Nepal who are staying at the same hotel as us.  It’s rare to see Apple products here in Ukraine, so when we sat for breakfast and heard all kinds of iPad/iPhone noises we were familiar with, we realized the men weren’t Ukrainian.  The men are attending a Ukrainian helicopter flight school that is just down the street.  They asked why we were here, and we explained about our adoption.  They asked why we chose Ukraine, so we were able to share with them God’s hand in this adoption.  They laughed when we told them God chose Ukraine for us, signifying they’re not accustomed to hearing such things.  We pray God planted a seed in their hearts that will hopefully be watered and grow into an understanding of the Gospel.


We walked with a few of the men outside to show them the location of the yummy pizza restaurant down the street, and when we opened the door, HUGE snowflakes slowly drifted across the sky.  BEAUTIFUL!!!  One of the men jumped up and down with excitement and exclaimed, “This my first time snow!!!”  They got out their iPads to take photos.  So fun to see grown men so giddy about snow. 


As we drove to the orphanage, I had a little revelation sparked by the snowflakes.  The flakes were so large (at least 1” each) that we could visibly see the unique patterns of each flake.  Thousands of flakes fell, each and every one of them different than the one before.  Seeing before my very eyes the variety of snowflakes, not one of them the same as the other, reminded me of God’s goodness, His creativity, His ability, His miracles. 


It seems impossible for millions of countless snowflakes to fall from the sky without one single replica, but then I thought about people.  From the beginning of time, God has created billions of people, not one of them the same as another.  Only our God could be so creative.  Only our God could have such ability to never, ever replicate His creations.  Each and every one of us is unique, created in His image, yet distinctively different than any other person He’s ever created.  Truly a miracle.


And so, as the snowflakes fell, I marveled at the beauty of God’s plan, His design, His ability, His creativity; captivated by the beauty of His creations.



Krem, final trip day 8 002

I wished so much that I had taken my “real” camera with me on this trip, but thankful for my iPhone camera regardless.  I tried to capture the huge flakes (in the photo above) that piled up on the orphanage pathway.  Incredible.


Krem, final trip day 8 003

Krem, final trip day 8 004

The flakes were so large and fluffy that they looked like cotton on the bushes!


Krem, final trip day 8 005

Krem, final trip day 8 006


As we entered the orphanage doors, I felt extra grateful for His marvelous creation of Cooper and Conner.  Distinctly different than any other of His creations, masterpieces of our Creator.  Captivating.


Krem, final trip day 8 008

Krem, final trip day 8 015


Conner seemed to have more energy and better spirits today, praise God.  Yesterday afternoon, we were seriously worried about him living long enough to get to Texas to get medical care, but today he perked up and restored our hope!


We prayed fervently today that the Kremenchuk/Poltava officials would have mercy upon Conner and Cooper by granting their passports TODAY.  We eagerly awaited a phone call from our facilitator to let us know what decisions were made today.


Well, one passport was granted, but one was not. Sad smile


The situation is so complicated, but I feel great peace knowing that the One who called us to this task holds all of this in His hands.  He is sovereign over every single detail.  He will work all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  (Romans 8:28) 


All of the complications are due to the way we submitted our dossier, with a request for Matt to adopt as a married individual (without me) so that I wouldn’t be required to travel to Ukraine in case Selah (our baby) was hospitalized.  It ends up that I’m here in Ukraine and have been present for every step of the process with the boys, but because our dossier was submitted with this request, all of the paperwork is different.


The Poltava region and city of Kremenchuk are very strict with the law, but their understanding of the Ukrainian law (which seems to be constantly changing!) is inaccurate.  However, getting them to educate themselves properly is a problem!  Our facilitator is working hard to get the issue resolved, but her hands are tied to a degree since she has no authority over the passport officials.  Our facilitator has handled numerous married individual adoptions without a single problem, but this region is not educated on this type of adoption since it’s the first one of this type…ever.


Needless to say, Cooper’s passport should be issued tomorrow, BUT not Conner’s.  1 down, 1 to go!!!  Please keep praying that the officials would issue Conner’s passport as well.  If we can just get both passports, we’ll be able to go to Kiev for the US Embassy interview and medical exams, get the boys’ visas, and then head HOME!!!!!!!!!!  If we are able to get both passports tomorrow (Tuesday), we could get home this weekend, as originally anticipated. 


Our kids at home made a paper chain to count down the days until we would be home.  This really helps the little kids have a visual of when we’ll return.  Based upon the timeline of the last 2 American adoptions from this exact same region, we should be home this Saturday, but that is all dependent upon the passport issue.  We *have* to get both passports in order to go home!!!


Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord.  Come on, prayer army, keep lifting this situation up to the One who is able!  I can’t wait to watch His Strength rise up!!!  Claiming Victory, in Jesus’ mighty name, the Name above all names!!!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

First Church Outing!

We had the privilege of taking Conner and Cooper to their first Ukrainian church service this morning!!!  We went to the church that our American/Kremenchuk missionary friends are affiliated with.  What a blessing it was to share the testimony of our sweet boys with the Ukrainian congregation.  Several people were in tears, and I pray God opens the eyes of His people, breaking all of our hearts for the things that break His.



Krem, final trip day 7-8 002

Sitting in church. Smile


The boys looked so cute in their little vests.  I can’t wait till we can put clothes on them every morning when they wake instead of leaving them in sleeper PJ’s all day.

Krem, final trip day 7-8 017

Krem, final trip day 7-8 018


Watch to see Conner stand up on his own. :-)


We got the boys back to the orphanage in time for lunch, then went back for our afternoon visit.  Conner was SOOOOO lethargic this afternoon.  We’re really concerned about him.  He’s just completely bone thin, and we’re realizing he doesn’t like ANYTHING in his mouth.  Not food, drink, sugar, spoons, cups, straws, toothbrush…NOTHING.  I really don’t think he’s eating anything.  I’ve seen him at meal times in his groupa, and he never wants to eat.  They try to force him to eat by shoving a gigantic serving spoon of food down his throat, but he lets it all just dribble back out, not swallowing anything.


We have been squirting tiny amounts of yummy, sugary liquids in his mouth to see what he does with it (trying to get ready for when we are on our own with taking care of these guys), but he just lets the liquid dribble out of his mouth.  He’s started crying when we put anything in his mouth…doesn’t matter what it is.  He cries real crocodile tears.  I just don’t know how in the world this teeny tiny boy is alive.  Well, of course I know…it’s God, all God, but seeing how this boy won’t swallow anything makes me realize how much more of a miracle it is that he’s alive.  Just praying the boys’ passports will be ready SOON so we can get these boys home before it’s too late for Conner!!!


On another note, one of my favorite friends shared how she signs a special song to her son daily.  (Hi Bonnie!)  I LOVED this idea, so we created two songs for Conner and Cooper.  I won’t video these because I can’t sing AT ALL, but I wanted to record the words here, as a record for the boys.  We chose to create “piggyback” songs (where you sing words to a familiar tune), and we chose to stick with simple words/simple message since the boys are just now being exposed to English.


Conner’s Song (sung to Frere Jacque)


Conner Christian

Conner Christian

We love you

We love you

You’re His chosen treasure

You’re His chosen treasure

Yes you are

Yes you are



Cooper’s Song (sung to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star)


Cooper, Cooper

You’re our guy

We love you and

Jesus does, too.

You are smart,

You are strong.

You are chosen and

You belong.

Cooper, Cooper

You’re our guy

We love you and

Jesus does, too.



See, these aren’t masterpieces, just simple truths sung to familiar tunes.  Cooper crawls into my lap over and over and places his head on my shoulder for me to sing his song to him.  So precious.


On the Texas home front, the report is that several of our kiddos are sick.  Selah stayed up all night, too.  Not good.  We started Selah on some sleep medication when we were in town last, after we learned that she most likely has a sleep disorder due to her brain malformations.  She used to take Keppra (an anticonvulsant she was put on as an infant because she had seizures), but we removed her from Keppra when she turned a year old because she had been seizure-free for 10 months (praise God).  Well, that’s when she really started having trouble sleeping, so we finally realized the Keppra was acting as a sleep medication for her (common side-effect).  We decided to try Clonidine to help Selah sleep, but, so far, it’s not working.  We haven’t built up to her maximum dosage yet (taking it slowly), but so far, we’re still fighting major sleep issues.  It’s really hard when I’m not home because I can’t help.  Being up in the night for hours on end is hard, but it’s even harder when tired teenage girls have to stay up all night with the baby.  Meribeth is sick, so Mattie stayed up all night with Selah, then woke Parker and Sawyer at 8AM to take over.  Please keep our Texas kiddos in your prayers!


Oh how I pray for a miracle to happen with the boys’ passports.  With Conner being so lethargic and so many sick kids at home, we really want to get back to Texas.  We pray God will be glorified through this, trusting in His sovereignty, believing that if He chooses to keep us in Kremenchuk longer than expected, He has a purpose in it.  Claiming His promises, encouraged by His Word, held in His hands, grateful for His faithfulness.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

We Will Praise You in This Storm

I woke up this morning not feeling well.  I don’t know if it was due to allergies or a cold, but after a night of not sleeping well, I started the day groggy and wishing I could crawl back into bed.  I had taken a Zyrtec in the night to help me sleep (and hopefully battle the allergies/cold symptoms I was having), so my brain felt like mush for much of the day.  (Allergy meds knock me out!)  When we walked out the door of the hotel, the rain and cold hit our faces.  What a dreary day, yet, we will praise Him in this storm.


We got to the orphanage this morning only to discover that we had forgotten the key to the playroom.  I thought it was in my bag, but apparently I had moved it to a different bag that we’d used the day before.  So we sat in the dark hallway, just outside the playroom, holding the boys.  Cooper watched a little Barney on the iPad while Conner engaged in several games of chase, crawling away, wanting to be chased and snatched up by Mommy or Daddy.  We will praise Him in this storm.


Krem, day 6 final trip 004

Krem, day 6 final trip 010


I left both boys with Matt in the hallway so I could look for someone who might have a key to the playroom. After knocking on many doors and showing them my iPhone Google translated version of my plea for a key, I finally found someone who unlocked a different playroom that I didn’t know existed. It’s right next to the boys’ groupa, too!!! So, I went back and got Matt and the boys, and we headed over to the new-to-us playroom, where we had been instructed to take our shoes off and not touch any of the electronics. Smile  We will praise Him in this storm.


Krem, day 6 final trip 013

Krem, day 6 final trip 028

Krem, day 6 final trip 030


I noticed this light fixture in the playroom.

Krem, day 6 final trip 032

Just yesterday, I was telling our friends here about all of the interesting light fixtures in Ukraine.  I need to start taking photos to document the variety of eclectic light fixtures they have here!  A reminder of light in darkness.  We will praise Him in this storm.


We returned the boys to their groupa for lunch, only to discover that the caregiver who was present on the black eye day from trip 1 was back.  My heart sank as I handed Conner to her.  I prayed for God’s protection over both boys in our absence.  She was actually very kind today.  She asked what time we would be back, then told us goodbye.  We will praise Him in this storm.


We went back to the brick oven pizza place for lunch.  That’s when I received a phone call from our adoption facilitator, Nina, and it wasn’t good news.  She explained that there’s a problem with both boys’ passports.  It’s complicated to explain, but basically the local passport offices are not willing to issue either boys’ passport because their birth mothers are still listed on their birth certificates, so the local offices believe it’s illegal for them to issue the passports since I’m not listed.  The reason I’m not listed is because we filed our dossier with our home study requesting that Matt adopt as a married individual (as opposed to us adopting together as a married couple) because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to travel with Matt.  Our baby, Selah, was scheduled to have the second phase of her skull reconstruction in November/December 2011, which was the exact same time that we thought we’d be traveling to Ukraine.  So, to play it safe, we decided to have Matt adopt as a married individual, which meant that I wouldn’t be required to travel to adopt if it turned out that I needed to be at the hospital with Selah at the same time as the adoption in Ukraine.  (Clear as mud?!)  We will praise Him in this storm.


Anyway, it turned out that Selah’s surgery was postponed and that it’s a possibility that she might not even have to have phase 2 of her skull reconstruction (praise God!!!).  This meant I would be able to travel with Matt to Ukraine.  While at our SDA appointment, we requested they allow us to adopt as a married couple (the usual method of adopting in Ukraine) since I would be traveling with Matt.  The SDA refused to accept this request since our dossier had been originally submitted with Matt adopting as a married individual, not with us adopting together as a married couple.  We even submitted notarized approval from our social worker requesting this change, but the SDA said we would have to start over with a new dossier and new SDA appointment (which would mean months of delay) in order to change to adopting as a married couple.  So, we decided to keep the approval for Matt to adopt as a married individual and proceed with the adoption in this manner.  We will praise Him in this storm.


Well, apparently the region of Poltava and city of Kremenchuk have never had anyone adopt in this manner (with one parent adopting as a married individual).  When a couple adopts in this manner, the birth certificate of the adopted child must list the one adoptive parent’s name (in our case, Matt would be listed as the father), but it mustn’t change the other parent’s name (in our case, the birth mother’s name stayed the same because I’m not legally adopting the boys in Ukraine, only Matt is).  This has caused EXTREME confusion and problems in this region since they’ve never processed an adoption like this here.   We will praise Him in this storm.


The Poltava region is REFUSING to issue both boys’ passports because I’m not listed as the birth mother on the birth certificates, even though this is legal in Ukraine and the Supreme Court has already written a letter stating this is within the law.  (That was the error on the adoption decree originally…I was listed as the birth mother.)  Anyway, this problem hasn’t been able to be resolved, so we are asking for your prayers that the Poltava region and city of Kremenchuk would issue both boys’ passports this Monday, Feb. 27.  We will praise Him in this storm.


Nina, our facilitator, asked us to keep her in our prayers, too, as she is going crazy trying to get this issue resolved.  It’s extremely difficult to get anything done in Ukraine, much less when there’s not a clear understanding of the law in cases that are not considered normal/ordinary/usual.  Of course that would be our case!!!  Ugh!!!  We will praise Him in this storm.


Would you please storm heaven’s gates on behalf of our boys?  We know God has mighty plans for these boys, and we know Satan wants nothing more than to keep these boys in captivity.  We will praise Him in this storm.


My sister reminded me of the verse God showed her months ago to pray for our family with regards to our Ukrainian adoption.

2 Chronicles 14:11: 

"O Lord, there is none like You to help, between the mighty and the weak.  Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on You, and in Your name we have come against this multitude.  O Lord, You are our God; let not man prevail against you."


This is a great comfort, and there are so many more verses God has shown us to comfort us.  We know He will prevail, we know this battle is His, we know He loves the boys more than we do.  We know these things, yet we are impatient.  We so badly want to get these boys home.  We so badly want our family to be reunited, to be whole, to be in the same house together.  We will praise Him in this storm.


God’s timing is always perfect, His plans are always better than our own.  We cannot fathom the why’s, but we trust wholeheartedly in the One who holds us in the palm of His hand.  We will praise Him in this storm, just as Paul praised God when he was thrown into prison.  Our Father is victorious, may He be glorified through every second of this adoption, even when we are impatient.


We saw something today we have not seen here before:

Krem, day 6 final trip 036

Krem, day 6 final trip 038

Wheelchair ramps at the pharmacy near our hotel!!!  In a society where handicapped/special needs people are kept out of sight, in institutions, it brought a big smile to my heart to see a wheelchair ramp in this city!!!  We will praise Him in this storm.


Our evening visit with the boys involved a surprise visit from another groupa!  They came to the playroom to actually play!!!  That’s the first groupa we’ve seen visit the playroom.  What a blessing!!!  Even though both Conner and Cooper had snotty noses and seemed to not be feeling well this evening (making me wonder if I might possibly have caught a cold from the boys, instead of allergies), we felt so privileged to hold them, rock them, sing to them, brush their teeth, expose them to learning videos, rejoice in watching Cooper start to communicate as he watches learning videos, and be present as another groupa came into the playroom to PLAY!!!  Yes, oh yes, we will praise Him in this storm!

Krem, day 6 final trip 044

Friday, February 24, 2012

Hair Cuts & Dental Visits

When we arrived at the boys’ groupa this morning, there was a lady in the room giving another boy a hair cut.  We realized that today was hair cutting day for the boys’ groupa, so Matt and I discussed whether or not we should have them cut Cooper and Conner’s hair.  I’ve heard many stories of children who have been adopted from orphanages who are completely terrified of having their hair cut due to traumatic experiences with hair cuts in orphanages.  Most orphanages keep the children’s hair (both boys and girls) buzzed to prevent lice infestations, so hair cuts are done quickly with so many children to line up and buzz.

Krem, Day 5 004

Krem, Day 5 006

Krem, Day 5 008

Krem, Day 5 009

Krem, Day 5 010


We prefer buzz cuts on boys anyway, so we decided to ask the hair stylist if she would go ahead and cut our boys’ hair.  We felt watching this experience here in Ukraine in their groupa where they’re accustomed to hair cuts would give us an idea of how our boys will react to future hair cuts.

Krem, Day 5 015

Krem, Day 5 019


We were so pleasantly surprised by how well our boys did!  Neither boy squawked much, they both sat still and waited patiently while the stylist buzzed their hair.  The stylist wanted to leave a mullet for both boys, but we showed her Daddy’s buzz cut, as well as photos of our boys back home who have buzz cuts, and she reluctantly obliged.  That kind of made me giggle because it was perfectly fine for the rest of the orphanage kids (boys and girls) to have buzz cuts, but since our boys are now part of our family, they naturally assumed we wouldn’t prefer buzz cuts.  Oh well, we love the buzzes the boys got, and hopefully the boys will continue to tolerate hair cuts as well as they did today!

We played with the boys in the playroom until lunch time.  They have a new inflatable bounce “castle”, which wasn’t very bouncy, but we tried it anyway.  Neither boy knew what to do, even with our assistance, but one day, we’re sure they’ll love bounce castles!

Krem, Day 5 021

Krem, Day 5 022

Krem, Day 5 026


We enjoyed lunch at the brick oven pizza place (Italiano Vero) with our new American missionary friends, Jennifer and Jon.  They helped coordinate dental visits for our boys for teeth cleanings, so after lunch, we headed back to the orphanage with our translator friend, Sergei, to pick the boys up and take them to the dentist.

Krem, Day 5 032

This picture has nothing to do with my post, but this bare bush caught my eye outside the orphanage today.  It has berries on it, and somehow it stood as a metaphor for life in this cold, barren place.  Life.  So grateful God has kept our boys alive, even in this cold, barren place.  Our berries on the bush.


I’ve heard from many people that dental care in Eastern Europe is phenomenal and inexpensive, so we wanted to take advantage of this opportunity for Cooper and Conner, especially since they’d be able to understand the language here and not be thoroughly confused with English-speaking dentists in the US. 

Krem, Day 5 038

Waiting patiently at the dentist’s office.

Krem, Day 5 040

The aquarium in the wall at the dentist’s office.  Cooper much preferred the TV!  That boy sits silently, mesmerized by the TV (no matter what is showing), but as soon as the TV goes off, he squawks. Smile


Both boys did great at their dental visits, although Cooper has a lot of cavities and gingivitis, according to the dentist.  Conner’s teeth looked healthy.  The dentist gave us a prescription for a liquid to rub on Cooper’s gums to help the inflammation and gum disease.

Krem, Day 5 046

Conner waiting patiently for brother to finish with the dentist.

Krem, Day 5 044

Krem, Day 5 047

We’ve been really amazed by how well the boys are doing on outings.  They haven’t gotten car sick or vomited at all (knock on wood!), and they’re handling lots of new stimuli really well.  We’ve also been surprised to see several Ukrainian people reach out to our boys to talk to them, smile at them, etc.  Since most, if not all, children with Down syndrome and other special needs are kept in institutions in Ukraine, most Ukrainians don’t ever see special needs children in public.  I was concerned that our boys might get ugly stares, but, so far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the kindness people have shown us.

We just feel so very blessed that God chose to bless us with these precious treasures, and we pray others will see our boys as the amazing masterpieces of God that they truly are.
blog comments powered by Disqus