Friday, December 19, 2014


I know the subject matter of this blog has shifted since our adoption. I try to put together cohesive blogposts about other things, but when I start typing, I just can't get anything out other than bringing it back to orphans. I can't help it. I have been so focused on the pro life movement for years, and this continues it for me. I saw the faces of children who will probably never be adopted. It hurts. It haunts me.

When I first saw Nico, he was a baby.

He was listed on Reece's Rainbow for a year by the time I had seen him. A YEAR. Many babies were listed after him and adopted. When we committed, our agency told us they had lost hope that he was ever going to be adopted, because no one ever followed through.

He should've been home with us in 2013, but the Russian adoption ban in December of 2012 stopped him from coming home and still stands today. Instead, all we have is pictures.

Another little boy was listed and overlooked for years, too.

Our sweetie, Maks. He was listed on Reece's Rainbow for TWO years. Families committed and then walked away. Families pulled his file but never took him home. God chose him for our family, and finally, at the age of 3.5, he came home.

Other babies were listed, chosen, adopted before he was. Why?

And now... I am hoping to be proven wrong... that the same thing is not happening to this little boy. Who has been listed, and others have been listed after him, but he still waits, while the others have been chosen and adopted.


Is adoption hard? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

I can't adopt them all, you guys. If God calls us to, I'd love to add Truman to our family. But he could be chosen by YOU. NOW.

Don't let him wait. Don't let him suffer anymore. Don't let him be overlooked.

Please pray for him, for whoever his family is. Donate if you can. Share his sweet face.

If you feel called, jump. Jump off that cliff for this angel. God will catch you. Be not afraid.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

One Year Ago Today - Finale - Home!

Our trip home started early in the morning. I had only slept for 2 hours. Niko drove us to the airport while listening to YMCA and The Cure's "Lovesong." I cried through Lovesong. The Cure has been my favorite for years, and it was such a perfect song for the end of a long trip where I had met, bonded, and was now bringing home my newest son.

I knew that the trip home was not going to be pretty. Traveling alone with a newborn and a 3.5 year old who couldn't walk was never something that was going to be easy.

Niko got us checked in at the airport, I hugged him, thanked him, and tipped him, and we said our goodbyes as we entered the gates. Oh, how I didn't expect to miss them so much.

We waited a while in the children's lounge and then the Lufthansa staff let us board the plane first. Maks was very tired, since it was 4 am, and we hadn't slept much, but he was doing great. We boarded the plane and he was happy as can be. I gave him some juice, and then he threw it up all over himself. It was then that I realized that I didn't have a shirt to change him into.

Our first flight was only about an hour and a half to Frankfurt. When we got there, Maks was asleep, and we exited the plane to find our next gate. We were told it had been moved, so we walked and walked and walked and walked and walked (I DESPISE that airport!), until we found the new gate. That gate wasn't right, either. I had steam coming out of my ears by this time... I stood and studied the sign, to no avail. I gave up. I had a 4 hour layover, and I'd find it later, after I had some coffee. Maks slept. Too much... But I got a chocolate croissant and some coffee, met some adoptive parents from Bulgaria who were obviously about as flustered as I was at that point already, and rested for a bit.
For the love, do NOT let your kids sleep on the layover before a 10 hr flight!!!

Someone helped me find my gate and they told us to wait and they would help us board... They made us wait until everyone else had boarded. Again, I was not happy. But, when they took us back to our seat and I realized we had a bassinet, I was ok. Then I saw that we were seated next to a 40ish year old man, and I apologized, "I am going to apologize in advance," I said, "this is going to be ugly." He said not to worry, and let me tell you, that man was a Godsend. I had been praying that we would not be seated next to someone cranky for that flight. And we weren't. He helped me more than he could ever know, and I am forever grateful for his kindness.

The stewardesses showered both boys with gifts, and we settled in for our 10 hour flight. It was a bit of a struggle from the get go. The arm rests would not fold up in these seats, and Maks wanted to snuggle. He was frustrated that I couldn't hold him, because I was trying to get Sam to go to sleep, so he would smack him whenever he could. He wouldn't watch the movies, or play with toys, or anything. If I tried to put Sam down in the bassinet, he'd cry. The man next to us drank a lot, but helped with Maks and didn't mind one bit if Maks pet his arm hair, or otherwise bothered him.

After about 5 hours of that nonsense, the kind man fell asleep, and Sam decided that was a great time to have his first poopy diaper blowout ever. I took both boys to the back of the plane, where the only changing table is, as Maks pet every man's arm hair on the way. We had to wait a few mins, and when we got in, the bathroom reeked. I put the baby on the changing table, and Maks stuck his hand in the poopy toilet. I screeched, he laughed. I washed him up while holding onto the baby, then opened the door, found the closest stewardess and begged her to take Sam for a minute while I cleaned up Mr. Poopyhands. She didn't even care that Sam was covered in poop too. She showed him all around that plane, all the ladies squealed in delight as I cleaned up my crazy boy. He decided that pooping in his own diaper would be fun right after I changed him, and I realized I was not only out of diapers for him, but I didn't have a change of clothes for Sam. "What am I, a new mother?!" I thought... Thankfully, they had spare diapers on the plane, and I was able to get Sam cleaned up a bit and swaddled him up for the next 5 hours of the flight...

We went back to our seats and the kind man actually apologized for falling asleep! I was finally able to get Sam asleep and into the bassinet, and then I put "Planes" on the tv and held Maks tight so that maybe, just maybe he'd fall asleep too. Just as he'd fall asleep, a woman and her rowdy toddler would run by screeching and wake him up. This happened 2 or 3 times. I was so exhausted, I can't even explain... I had a glass of wine, thank goodness Lufthansa gives it for free. I needed it. He finally fell asleep around hour 8. I nodded off for about 20 minutes. He woke up about hour 9 and we had about an hour left. He cried in his seat the whole time. The kind man did everything he could to help me quiet him down, but it didn't help. Luckily, those planes are so loud, I doubt anyone else could really hear him.

When we landed in Denver, I was so dizzy and delirious. There was some mix up with my strollers, and I had to get to my next gate within an hour and 20 minutes. Luckily, an airport employee and some other kind people helped me. I got my luggage, grabbed clothes and diapers out of it for the boys, got through customs and everything else, made the mistake of stepping onto a moving sidewalk (phew! Almost fell!), changed the boys in the bathroom, and made it to my next gate.

I was charging my phone and was pretty much in a fog, when a man came up and said that Maks reminded him of his son, who is 8, and also has Down syndrome. I told him that we were on our way home from Ukraine and that we were glad to meet him. He was so nice, and had tears in his eyes.

Luckily, the last flight from Denver to Phoenix is a short one. We were seated next to another man, with incredibly irresistible arm hair, and I was the most exhausted I have ever been in my life. I have given birth to 5 babies, but it doesn't even compare. I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore. I would nod off, then snap awake and realize Maks was petting the man next to us. I finally wrapped my arm around him, put the baby on my shoulder, and tightly held them both and passed out for about 45 minutes. Maks fell asleep too. I awoke to the news that we were starting our descent and I started crying. I couldn't stop crying. I'd get it under control, and then think of seeing my girls again, and cry again. The kind man that talked to us in Denver offered to carry Maks out of the plane, that he'd be honored, and I graciously accepted. Angels. God blessed us with so many angels on the way home.

I came down the ramp and saw my grandma, grandpa, and Aunt Tarry. My girls weren't there yet. I was still crying. And then I saw Kyle, Amelia, and Lily, and cried some more. Our friends were there too. Then Tessa and Charlotte came, and they seemed confused. We all hugged, fawned over Maks, the photographer took pictures, we headed over to luggage, and then headed home. On the way home we bought Maks his first Happy Meal and my beloved Dr. Pepper and fries (even though they didn't taste good because I was too exhausted).

Oh, it was good to be home.


Friday, December 5, 2014

One Year Ago Today - Part 4 - Gotcha!!!

This year flew by. Most years of parenting do, but wow, this one really did.

A year ago today I spent all day waiting for that phone call. The one where our facilitator would say he had our boy's passport and we were ready to break him free; to start our new lives together.

That phone call did not come until 5 pm. The sun goes down in the fall/winter in Ukraine at 3:45 pm, so it was quite dark. We headed to the bank, then back to get my stuff and give the keys to the landlord ("What do you call in English?" "Landlord." "OK... like Lord of all Laaaaand!" -me and Niko, haha) Then we went to the orphanage to get my boy! We went to the office, handed them our donations, and I left baby Sam with Niko and the others while I went to get Maks changed into his own clothes. 75 layers of them, of course. He was not in his regular groupa's room, all the kids were gathered around for story time in another room. I got to see some kids I hadn't seen before. They were all so sweet and happy.

We went into that groupa's bedrooms, which was full of cribs with no sheets. I am hoping they were just being washed, because I don't feel like that orphanage would be the type to keep babies on plastic mattresses with no sheets. But I don't know for sure.

One of the nannies helped me get him dressed while I took pictures.

Eventually, Niko came to find us and I picked him up and carried him out. Maks blew kisses to all of his friends and they all said, "Paka paka, mama!" It broke my heart, but I had to focus on the joy.

We got back to the office and they gave me his file (which included his baptismal certificate, two crosses,  and medical info) and some medicine for his eye. Niko carried Maks and I carried Sam, and Maks smiled ear to ear looking over his shoulder at me. I wish I had a picture, but it was too dark to take good ones.

We got into the car, and headed to Kiev. It was a 2 hour drive, but he was happy the entire time.

He watched all the lights, junked out on cookies, "talked" to Nico, and just had a blast.

When we got into our apartment, it was pretty late at night, so I got him ready for bed, but he wouldn't let me leave his sight. This sweet boy wanted me to hold his hand while he fell asleep, but I needed to do embassy paperwork, so I stood in the livingroom with my iPad on the tv so he could see me, and made sure I did not leave his sight until he was asleep. It was so utterly sweet, and I couldn't believe it.

When you prepare for adoption, you have to expect anything. Many of these children have traumatic histories, or do not transition well. I was prepared for that. I was waiting for that. I was waiting for temper tantrums, fear, mourning, anything... but it never happened. Our boy was lucky enough to have been in a decent orphanage, with strong bonds to his caregivers (this is not typical!!) All of the prayers that had been said on behalf of us and our sweet boy had worked. His heart was ready for us. He was ours.

Gotcha, Maksimka. Forever and ever.


Friday, November 7, 2014

let me be blunt...

I want to adopt this baby:

But now is not the time for us.

Adoptions have slowed down in his country because people are scared. Last year at this time, a baby would be snatched up within days of being listed. Truman has been listed now for over a month, and nothing. Girls are adopted more often than boys, so he has less and less of a chance as he gets older. He's so young now, that he would still qualify for Early Intervention therapies. Oh, how he would blossom as a cherished son.

Let me tell you, do not be afraid. The Lord's work is often hard and treacherous. That doesn't mean we give up trying. The team available to help you in country will keep you safe.

This boy is in the Western part of his country. Far away from any tyrants. A more modern area than the one we adopted from.

I imagine most of my readers are parents. You have watched your children fall asleep peacefully in your arms, at your breast, in their swaddles, breathing them in, cherishing their every coo.

This baby doesn't have that. They are carried face out like animals. They are often fed by propped bottles with cut nipples which can lead to aspiration and worse.

Uncherished. Unloved. No mommy to watch them fall asleep. No mommy's milk or skin to skin contact to comfort them.

Instead, an orphanage with too many lonely faces deprived of the thing we all need most. A family.

Truman isn't the only baby listed, either....

This is baby Basil. St. Basil, pray for these children! (He has a family!)
Baby Andrea. (She has a family!)
Sweet Maureen

Adorable Darah. (She has a family!)

These children are just from one country. The ones fortunate enough to be listed on Reece's Rainbow so they can be seen.


Can't adopt? Donate!

Can't donate? Share!!

And most of all, PRAY!

I'm honestly tired of the excuses. These sweethearts do not have time for your excuses. Ask me how you can help!!


Thursday, November 6, 2014

One Year Ago Today - Part 3 - METCHA!!!

Oh my. This year flew by. I will try not to be overly sappy, but I have been teary all day. So much has changed in a year. Our boy has grown in so many ways. He is the sweetest little guy.

Happy metcha day, Maks. We love you soooo much! I'm so glad I'm your momma!

I will post my post from a year ago in our travel group and some pictures.

"I'm so sorry you all. That'll teach me to give a time while we're in Ukraine. Things are unpredictable here.

It's 9:35 pm and we just now got wifi in our new apartment.

Ok, from the beginning, the driver was about 45 mins late, so we didn't get to the orphanage until way after 10.

They took us in and we waited around a bit. I was surprised by how nice the orphanage was. I was already choking back tears, it was surreal to be there.

Waiting to meet his big brother

They took us in to talk to some people, they said they admire us for taking a baby so far and for taking on Maksim too. They were all so sweet.

They took us into the music room and we sat down, someone came in to talk about his history. His birth mom is younger than me, but the father is older. They have one other child, a little girl, and they came to visit him one time, just this year in April.

Then the orphanage doctor came in and told us about all of his medical stuff. He has speech therapy and other therapies and responds very well. He's very smart, and can match flash cards to the correct pictures when asked, they said. He began trying to walk on his own, using a chair. He is affectionate and not aggressive at all. He had heart surgery last year and his heart is completely fine now. He started gaining weight after that.

Then they brought him in. Oh my, he is HUGE! This is a good thing, but his belly is adorable and made us laugh. He absolutely loves Kyle. He was kissing him and laughing. It was so so cute.

"I've been waiting my whole life for you to get here."
"I like daddy better."

He wanted to dig in my purse and would pull something out and show us, like "see?" It was so cute. He found the phone the team gave us so they can contact us and he knew exactly how to use it, you'll see in the pics.

But then he saw our notebook and pen and wanted to look and that and draw! He is amazing. He sat with me and we pretended to talk on the phone and then drew, and then the doctor came and he showed off his walking skills. Precious.

We took him back to his groupa after a while because it was time for lunch. We're smitten, you guys. They asked us if we liked him and if we still wanted to adopt him. Yes! We do!

We spent the rest of the day running around trying to find a notary that was working and tracking down a gov worker to leave our paper work with. It was fun, actually.

Our new apartment has 2 rooms, but it's on the 5th floor, no elevator. I'm gonna be so thin after this trip, haha... (2014 comment - I wish that were the case!!!)

I am going to have to send home as much as possible with Kyle, and buy a stroller, because he is so big, I'm not sure I will be able to carry him on my back very much. I also don't think most of the clothes I brought will fit."


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

One Year Ago Today - Part 2

November 4th, 2013, I barely remember. Traveling for 24 hours straight takes its toll on a person's memory. We had the whole morning and midday before our DAP appointment, so we set out to find food and a baby hat for Sam. Unfortunately, we only found a super expensive boutique and spent about $50 on THIS HAT:

"The most expensive baby hat, ever."

We were picked up and taken to the DAP office for our appointment.

It is right next to this breathtaking church:

St, Andrew's

Our appointment was short and sweet. Here is the post I made that day:

"We're back from our dap appt! We meet Max on Wednesday morning.
Apparently the team calls me "crazy mommy." And we got scolded by Serge because Samuel wasn't covered enough even though we were sweating lol.
Here's a baby pic of our boy!"
Baby Maksim!
We had dinner that night with some Reece's Rainbow families. I wish we had gotten pictures. It was so nice to talk to people who had been in country a while.

We bundled up Sam so we wouldn't be scolded anymore:

Officially Ukrainian

And that was that! We were inching closer to meeting our sweet boy and I was enjoying the city, but I so wish we could've toured it and explored some more.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

One Year Ago Today - Part 1

One year ago today, we set out on an amazing journey. A journey to Ukraine, with a newborn in tow, to meet our son, Maksim.

6:30 AM before our first flight.

Our first flight was 4.5 hours to Dulles airport. Then we boarded our 10 hour flight to Frankfurt, Germany (AKA: The worst airport EVER!)

We took one last flight to Kiev, and like a surreal dream, we were in our son's country, just 3 days away from meeting him.

First stop was the grocery store and I was sure to get myself some of the chocolate every mom raves about.

Yum! You will never want an American candy bar again!!

Samuel trying out our first apartment.
We passed out and slept off and on until we felt human again.... Our adoption ministry appointment was coming just the next day.

To be continued...