Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Just Waiting

There is not any new news to report. We are waiting for our documents to be submitted to the SDA. That could happen in the next few weeks..... it could happen in the next few months. After that, the SDA is supposed to get back to us within twenty working days with our appointment to be officially referred a child. That happens only if they accept our paperwork and don't ask us to redo any of it. When they finally give us our travel date it might be for two months out or it could be with less than three weeks notice like we were given with our last adoption. We just don't know---- and so we go with the flow....... and pray.

With our last adoption in 2008, we submitted our documents on May 19th and got word of our SDA appointment on June 3rd. Our actual appointment was on June 24th.

Wouldn't it be really cool if we got to travel right around the same time if not the same time?
That would make it a whole year since we have seen Alexsey.

I bet he is taller. Maybe he is walking. Most certainly he is cuter. And the best part is that I won't have to keep my distance with him stealing cute little flirtatious moments with him here and there. This time I will actually get to hold and squeeze that precious little boy!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Consider Hosting

Have you ever thought of hosting a child? It is such a fun and rewarding experience. When we were first looking into adoption, we considered hosting a child for a few weeks in the summer. Instead we dove right into adoption never looking back. But we still ended up getting involved in various host programs over the last few years.

Back in the summer of 2005 our Russian adoption agency did a host program where 20 or 30 kids came over from Russia. I was pumped up after coming home from meeting our girls on our first trip to Russia and wanted to help in an way I could. So I offered to drive part of the group down to Disneyland in our big 15 passenger van. Since I was going to be down there anyway, they asked if I would be a "tour guide" around Disneyland. How fun is that! So I took two of my kids plus twelve Russian orphans down to Disneyland. The drive was really fun. Part of the way down they watched a movie..... the rest of the way there I heard incessant Russian chatter. It was music to my ears. And only one child got car sick from my crazy driving.

Early on as we were loading up the luggage, I was drawn to a red-haired boy with cute freckles who was having a hard time. He seemed hesitant to get in the van........ seemed on the verge of meltdown. We coaxed him into the car when I later found out that his host family had decided not to pursue his adoption. While I know that hosting a child in know way obligates you to adopt the child you host...... heck half the time the child is not even available for adoption, it appeared that the little boy was led to believe that he would be adopted. I can only assume this was the cause for the meltdown. My heart immediately had a soft spot for this child and I asked if he could be in my group. I was able to get to know this amazing boy and even managed to get a few pictures of him.

Secretly, my new mission was to find him a family--- which happened before the summer was over! That was nearly four years ago and then we had the opportunity to be part of a host program this past summer when we were adopting Dennis. Not only did we take in a 15 year old girl for a week or two, but we were invited to one of the host program outings up at the lake. It was so nice getting to meet all of the different host families and exchanging stories. We felt like one big family all brought together through this hosting program. We met amazing families that we never would have otherwise met had it not been for this get together!

What left the biggest impression on me was seeing how well all the orphans fit in among all of these families as if they had always been here. To see the kids splashing in the water, sipping on a can of soda, digging in the sand, made me once again see all of the things that I take for granted. It was an experience that I look forward to doing again. If only more people got involved they would understand what I am talking about. I promise that you would be blessed---- and you might even be surprised how God has changed your heart by the end of it.

This summer my adoption agency is doing another host program here in California. If we are home with Alexsey by the time the children come over, I hope we can be an alternate host family if one of the original host families have something come up where they can't host the child the whole time. Maybe you would like to consider hosting but can't commit to the whole time they are here--- well consider us as your alternate host family!

Think of the impact you can make in one child's life by inviting them to be a part of your family for a few weeks! Your whole family will benefit from the experience!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Savoring Every Moment

I am getting so excited about traveling.

Soon we will see Alexsey's sweet smiling face.

I look forward to the call when it is time to shop for plane tickets. Yes it is a headache, but I love it! I don't travel to far away places for vacation, but I have been blessed to travel to far away places to grow our family. John and I used these adoption trips as second and third honeymoons and this time will be no exception.

Packing is always fun because I like the challenge of packing all of our things so that they fit in one carry-on and one piece of luggage for each of us. I personally pack very light----- because if Ukrainians can get what they need in Ukraine, so can I. If I need something while I am there, I trust that it will be available to us.

I don't know about you, but John and I try to savor every single second of our trip--- even our airport excursions were memorable. Even though we have been to LAX numerous times, we always tend to get lost--- and now we usually make a bet who will find the right parking lot first. Last trip when we traveled to get Dennis, we were entertained with a little boy peeing in an airport lobby trashcan. Did I mention how fun the people watching at the airport is? Can you tell I am a wee-bit excited.

The plane trip is always great. I don't normally watch movies at home, so getting to watch a movie on the plane is always nice. We always make friends on the plane too----- and have I mentioned the food? I am one of those crazy women who love airline food. But then again, a cup of soggy bread with chopped pickles and syrup would probably taste good to me as long as I didn't have to make it. Something about being served---- I love it!

For the sake of my child, I have always wanted to soak in every little detail of our trip so that I can one day share with him all about where he came from. I want my child to feel proud of where they came from. I want my child to know that I have fond memories of his birth country.

Needless to say, my blogging has not even really started yet--- just wait till our trip. This time it will be quite the adventure with Julia and Dennis coming with us! You better believe that we will be packing our swimsuits so that if weather permits we will be wading in the Dnieper River!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pig pig Pig


Our dossier made it safely to Ukraine and is now being translated.

One more step closer.

Thank you for all of your prayers. I know that they have helped to carry us this far.

Quick Story

My husband started first telling our kids this story when their was just three of them. He said that his mother told him that if when you were driving and you were approaching a red light all you had to do was keep saying, "Pig pig pig pig pig pig pig pig pig....." until the light turned green. She said that it had magical ways of making the red light turn green. Now all of our kids have heard the story and some actually believe that the word "pig" has the ability to speed up a red traffic light.

If this is true, maybe it has the same magical power to hurry up our travel date.

Can all of you start saying, "Pig pig pig pig pig pig..." with me?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New Life

I saw a very beautiful and pregnant woman yesterday at my children's "open house" at school.

Though I do not have a big beautiful belly like her....... inside, I feel every bit as "expecting" as she does. Except for a few differences.

This woman is probably 7 or 8 months along and will undoubtedly have her baby in her arms on a specific day give or take a few. Her baby will most likely be around 7 pounds. She not only will get to see her baby the moment he or she is born, but she will most likely get to cradle her child in her arms immediately. This is so beautiful. I know. I have been there. I have been "expecting" for three months. I am praying that I will have my child in my arms within two months. For a traditional pregnancy this would never be hoped for as the child would be very premature, but when you bring a child into your family though adoption you hope for sooner rather than later. My "baby" will not be a "little" one--- he is already four years old and probably around 18 pounds....... but he will be my "little" baby. He will very much be my newborn because he will be new to us and the world will be new to him.

Children living in an orphanage I have found, have very little experience in the real world much like a newborn. They are not familiar with being adored, smiled at, hugged, played with, bathed, caressed, kissed, encouraged, stimulated, or educated. That is because, this is what a family is supposed to do--- this is what we will do with Alexsey. Sure he has been blessed to be in a wonderful orphanage with some very caring people who do take care of him, but it is not the constant attention that he needs to thrive.

He is surviving day to day--- not thriving. And boy do I want him to thrive. I want him to thrive just like my other children are thriving. I want him to laugh when I nuzzle his neck. I want him to say more when I push him on the swing. I want him to smile as he feels water being poured over his shoulders in a nice warm bath. I want him to press forward when we encourage him to take a step. I want to see him delight in his first bowl of ice cream. I want to get him used to falling asleep in my arms because he feels safe and loved. I want Alexsey to never have to soothe himself to sleep without being tucked in and prayed over.

I want to give Alexsey everything that I have given to my children that were born from my tummy instead of just from my heart.

That pregnant woman and I are both expecting little bundles of joy. And for the most part nothing is really that different between the both of us except that she is able to care for her child now. So am I jealous of that pregnant woman?

Heck yes I am. Why??? Because she knows exactly where her child is, what that child is eating, how that child is being taken care of, and that her child is in good hands. For us adoptive parents---- we have to put our trust in God that He is taking care of our little one until we can get to them.

I can't wait till both of us (me and that pregnant woman) get to hold our little babies in our arms! No matter how a child joins your family there is so much to celebrate! Afterall, it is new life!

Monday, April 20, 2009

She Inspired Me

Leslie is such an amazing woman. I followed her blog back when she was adopting her daughter Kristina. I have corresponded with her many times over the last few months mainly because she and her husband have been thinking of adopting again. It nearly brings me to tears to read about the emotional turmoil she is going through because they do not have thousands of dollars laying around to put towards the adoption of a little girl with special needs that has been placed on their heart. Her blog is so candid and so real that I could not help but be moved. Leslie, I am rooting for you! If you want to be blessed today, please go read the last couple of posts on her blog.

At this time, I am putting my trust in the Lord that all of Alexsey's adoption costs will be taken care of one way or another. I don't know exact figures yet, but I just have to trust. With that said, I really want to focus on helping Leslie and her family to raise enough money to start the process of adopting a deserving, precious aging out of the orphanage little girl.

That means that I am no longer fundraising for Alexsey's adoption. All of my efforts on this blog from this point on will go towards helping the Landrums raise money for their adoption. I am sure many of you are wondering why them and not someone else? And all I can say to that is that God has laid this family on my heart, plain and simple.

With that said, I still have 13 adoption window decals available. I would like to donate all of the money to the Landrums that is raised from donations of people who buy a decal. The decals are not only beautiful but they are an awesome way to spread the word about adoption. Please consider buying one for $20 to show your support of this amazing family! You can check them out here.

Wouldn't it be awesome to know that you helped bring another child home? We need to partner together to bring this child home!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Overwhelmed By the Show of Support

Our church did the most amazing thing. A few of its members who also happen to be a part of our small group put together an amazing event to bring awareness to adoption and raise money to help families offset the expensive costs associated with adoption. Though there were a few people that come to mind specifically that I think organized the event and deserve a big round of applause, I was amazed to see how the whole church rallied around them and us to help out to make this event one heck of a sha-bang!

My good friend Tina had hoped for 40 silent auction items and felt overwhelmed when people kept bringing in more and more making the total way over 100 silent auction items! There was also a live auction where a loaf of my Mom's banana nut bread went for $100 and someone else's bread basket went for $200 and where all kinds of cows were sold! Who even knew that cows had so many names---springers, jerseys, and bulls--- certainly not I!

There were table leaders for each table who was responsible for decorating and providing the dinnerware for their guests. It was fun to see all of the beautifully decorated tables. Some of them were so creative and gorgeous that I would love for them to come and give me some decorating tips!

A few of us made borscht, chicken rice, and taco soup with rolls. Volunteers brought all kinds of yummy desserts. The food could not have been better in my opinion----- I think because it was made and served in church.

It was fun watching the auctioneer. He did a great job!
Cow after cow was auctioned off! My friend didn't know a cow could cost so much and has a new appreciation for them when she drives by a dairy!
I am so appreciative to have a church family that is so supportive of adoption. It is so close to my heart that I was blessed to find out that there are many other adoptive parents that go to the church besides us. My prayer is that others will be moved by Alexsey's story and adoption will continue to spread through the church. Now wouldn't that be amazing?
Alexsey---- so many people are praying you home!!!!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

And Now We Wait

Our dossier has been mailed. It is no longer in my hands. So Lord, I ask that You carry it in Your hands....... may it make it to Kiev safely.

And now we wait.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Being Mailed Tomorrow

Well, good news! Our dossier is being mailed to Ukraine tomorrow! I would have done it tonight, but since it wouldn't have gone out till tomorrow anyway, I thought I would just wait.

Thanks to whoever donated $50 today! We appreciate you partnering with us to bring Alexsey home! You are truly a blessing.

Julia is finally winding down on her orders. She is making her last scarf. Did you know that she made nearly $1100? We appreciate all of your orders.......... and all of your "extra" donations on her behalf. Rachel made well over $100 too...... she said she feels good knowing that she was able to contribute something to help bring her brother home.
The end of April will make three months since starting this journey. Please pray with me that we don't have to wait another three months before traveling. We are ready to travel anytime, and I am pretty sure Alexsey's schedule is free. ;)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Dossier is Complete!

Our dossier is back in my hands! Tomorrow, I go over it with my agency. Please pray that everything was done right. If it was...... guess what??? It will be on its way to Ukraine!

It's On His Time, Not Theirs

On April 7, I overnighted our whole dossier to be apostilled. From what I had been told by others, I was confident that the Secretary of State would process our documents in one day and return them in the overnight envelope I provided. The next day I called up there to see that they got them and they gave me some very disappointing news. They were barely processing mail from nearly two weeks prior and they told me not to expect my documents for at least two weeks. Admittedly I was disappointed by the news, but it was what it was. To add injury to insult, my agency said that I could have overnighted them to a courier they use, and would have had them back in a few days.

Oh well. You live and you learn...... and you pray.

I started calling everyday except for the Monday after Easter, and befriending every clerk in the office to get them familiar with our story. I really don't know if I was just bugging them, or if I actually touched their hearts so that they sped up their productivity so that they could get to our documents. Yesterday I called again in the morning and was informed that they were processing mail for April 7th. They received ours just one day later! Was it possible? They couldn't promise anything, but I continued to pray!

And guess what? I just found out that our documents were processed! PRAISE THE LORD!!!!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Dear Alexsey

Dear Alexsey,

How are you today, sweet little boy? You have been in my dreams more and more lately.......... you and Dennis walking down the stairs holding onto the railing. In my dreams, I am always smiling ear to ear as I watch the two of you. I know it is just a dream right now........ but have faith, it won't be long.

We talk about you quite often now....... Alexsey this..... and Alexsey that. Your brothers want to know what you eat for breakfast everyday. I told them kasha...... am I right? You have plenty of clothes that I am sure will fit you perfectly. One outfit I bought three weeks ago.... I hope it fits! If not, your brothers have plenty to share with you!

I think we may be visiting you early this summer! At least that is what I am praying for! I know that seems like a long ways off, but it will here before you know it! So many people are praying for you and are rallying for you to come home as soon as it is possible.

We love you Alexsey! Good night!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Found Another One

As I was going through pictures for a new video I am putting together, I found this picture. Seeing this picture, helps me to remember his personality--- happy, sweet-natured, and I like to think that he took a liking to us too. What do you think? :)

Will he remember us?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

His Feet

These are Alexsey's feet. White, smooth, and callous free....... pretty much just like a newborn's feet. I can't wait to tickle those cute little toes!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Dossier

All of our paperwork for the adoption is complete and notarized. As we speak it is on its way to be apostilled! You'd think that I would feel like a load has been lifted, but in truth, there is always something else to worry about. And I hate that I worry because I know that God has His hand in all of this... but still. So now of course, my latest worry is that it could get lost in the mail, or sit on the secretary's desk for two weeks. Ugh!

And so I cling to my favorite verse:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will keep your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

Meanwhile, a fellow blogger asked what a dossier is.

dos·sier - a file containing detailed records on a particular person or subject

In order to adopt from a foreign country a prospective adoptive family has to compile a list of documents referred to as a dossier, that proves that they are fit and able to adopt a child. For international adoption, a dossier might include:

* Immigration approval
* Homestudy
* Marriage Certificates
* Medicals
* Employment Verification
* Proof of Home Ownership
* Application to Adopt
* Copies of Passports
* Police Clearance Letters
* Social Worker's License
* Power of Attorney

These documents then need to be notarized and apostilled with a shiny sticker-like seal.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It's in Our Hands!

Prayers were answered! Our I-171H (immigration approval) came in today's mail!

Alexsey, we are one step closer to going to get you! And this one was a huge step----- not one of those baby steps.

We will try our best to be there as soon as we can!

Sweet dreams, precious one.

Monday, April 6, 2009


Today I finished up our paperwork for our dossier. I am only waiting for our I-600 approval to come in the mail and then I could notarize it, and send it off with the rest of the documents to be apostilled. I can hardly believe it!

I guess that because we are nearly done with our dossier, I have allowed myself to think more about the trip and going back to see Alexsey. It is very exciting to say the least.

I remember what our past trips to Russia and Ukraine were like and I wonder if they will be similar. On our very first trip to Russia back in May, 2005, we met a newlywed couple who was headed off to their honeymoon. At one time in my life, I would have been jealous of them because I was not going on an exciting trip with my new husband. I would have been jealous that I didn't have butterflies in my stomach, head over my heels, excitement of being a brand new bride--- probably the only bride on the plane.

But, I wasn't jealous of them.

Not at all. Because, what I was feeling at that moment was an even more powerful and intimate love for my husband than when I first married him. Afterall, we were about to board a plane never to look back, as we traveled around the world to meet two beautiful children God had chosen for us. Honestly, everytime we have traveled around the world to adopt, it has been the best honeymoon I could ever imagine.

And soon....... very soon, I am going to be traveling with him again.

For most people reading this, they just can't imagine how adopting can be such a memorable experience. Yet hopefully, other fellow adoptive parents can relate and testify that I am not crazy. Adoption is an amazing...... beautiful..... unforgettable...... close as you get to God experience this side of heaven.

It is just as amazing as giving birth to your child........ it is exactly like giving birth to your child.

Alexsey may not have been born of my flesh and blood, but he is very much a part of me, already. I know that I am not capable on my own of preparing my heart to feel the way it feels...... this is a miraculous thing that God does. Knowing this draws me all the closer to Him.

It makes me think how I have been adopted by HIM..... how all of us that want to look to HIM as our Father have been adopted by HIM, and it gives me goosebumps to think that HE feels similar to how I feel about Alexsey. That is incredible to me!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Made by Rachel

As our adoption is moving ahead at record speeds we are kicking up our fundraising efforts!

If you were interested in buying one of Rachel's or Julia's handmade scarves or dishcloths but haven't had the chance yet---- Here are a few things that are ready to be mailed off now if you would like to buy them!

Three light mauve and white, cloth, knitted washcloths. They look very delicate and feel very soft. $18

Stay warm in this matching turquoise scarf and headband. $20

Talented Girls!

The girls are taking advantage of Spring break to catch up on all of their orders!

Rachel did a phenomenal job on Amy's order! Amy-- email us with your address please so we could send you your scarves and headband!

I think my girls are so beautiful they could be models!

Christy, a fellow blogger kept adding and adding to her order! Finally it is done!


Friday, April 3, 2009

We Have Been Approved!!!!!!

After the last email from immigration, I sent a nice follow up. In my thoughts I was hopeful that God would work miracles. Yet, I knew that whenever the approval letter came, it would be in His timing and it would be miraculous none the less-- even if that meant a month from now. Afterall, our first adoption took four and a half months to get approval, and Dennis' took six weeks from the time we got our invite to be fingerprinted. Imagine my excitement when I got this email in less than three weeks from the time we fingerprinted!

Thank you God for this confirmation! You are moving mountains!


Your application was approved today. You will receive notice by mail very soon.


Stephen D. Hull
Adjudication Officer

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Hopes Up

I didn't want to forget what he looked like. (smiling)

Email from Immigration:


Thanks again for your email. I will/hope to process your case very soon. When I do, I can email you as a heads-up if you like.


Stephen D. Hull
Adjudication Officer

I will try to not get my hopes up--- but it is going to be hard. Confession time--- they are already up!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Adoption Fundraiser

Coming up with $25,000 - $30,000 for an adoption can be financially challenging for any adoptive family. Yet..... if you choose to adopt, this is what the costs are going to be--- for one child. No it is not cheaper if you adopt a child with special needs-- although I have found people with hearts much like ours for these precious children that have stepped up and offered to help through prayer, donation, and limitless support. It has very much felt like a partnership and John and I are incredibly thankful for all of the help we have gotten. With that said------ John and I would have tapped into every resource we had to bring Alexsey home if necessary and to care for him throughout his life. Thankfully, God knew that and showed us that we don't have to do this alone. Thank you God and thank you to all that have been touched by sweet precious Alexsey.

What is really exciting is that our small group from church expressed an interest in doing an adoption fundraiser. Not only would the money raised help with Alexsey's adoption expenses, but a portion of it would also remain in a fund where other families who decided to adopt can also get financial help to offset the cost of their own adoption. What an idea---- and what an event it will be!

So---- you are officially invited to:

Adoption Fundraiser
Friday, April 17, 2009
6:00 PM
Come and enjoy delicious soups including homemade borscht, breads, and desserts. Bid on live and silent auction items including real life cows, theme baskets, homemade apple pies, babysitters, and an aviary! Door prizes given throughout the night! No tickets are needed but a free will offering will be taken. This is a family event so bring the kids! It is going to be fun, fun, fun!
Help us celebrate adoption, a great way to grow a family!

I would love to meet some of you in person there, so please think about coming, especially if you live in the Central Valley of California. If you are unable to come, but would still like to help, we can always use items for the silent auction. Anything handmade is always a hit!