Wednesday, August 24, 2011

So Much To Share

I am officially the world's worst adoption blogger.  I did not even blog after our court date- how awful is that?!  What it boils down to is that we have crummy Internet connection and we have been busy visiting with Dima and friends, that we are rarely home.  Well, today Carol and I slept in until after 10:00 a.m. and decided we needed a quiet day.  It is now after 12:00 noon here and we are still in our pajamas, lounging on the sofas reading and enjoying the cooler breeze.  Per some friend's requests I decided to suck it up and write this entry.

Where to begin?  Court day!

Our court date went very smoothly and much easier than I anticipated.  The only questions we were asked were if we could take care of Dima and what we wanted to name him.  The judge was a stern looking man but we could see the kindness and compassion in his eyes.  He, too, seemed nervous for some reason and he seemed pleased by our petition to adopt Dima.  He shared that Dima was quite literally an orphan since his mother had no legal right to him and he basically had no father.  Even the grandmother and great grandmother were neglectful of Dima and his older brother and it broke my heart to hear that.  All the more reason why we needed to rescue that precious little boy!  In all our hearing took 45 minutes and by the end of it Dima was officially Dimitry Daniel Monier!  We could not use his surname or the paternal name that he was given by law so we opted to use Daniel as his middle name (pronounced "Danil").  Dima will always be Ukrainian so we chose to keep his given name and wanted his middle name to be pronounced in the Ukrainian form, too.  Until Dima turns 18 he will have dual citizenship.

After court we went to visit with Dima and we told him he was officially our boy.  Not sure if he fully understood, but he could see that Mama and Papa were dressed up and super happy so he was happy, too.  What a wonderful feeling it was when Dima came running to us at the beginning of that visit and to pick him up KNOWING that he was truly our son.  Again, I want to grab him and run out the gate but the judge did not waive our 10 waiting period.  Our wait ends on August 30th so as of today and not including today, only 6 more days to go!  Poor Dima has asked almost every day to leave and he even tried to get into a taxi with the Director of the Orphanage to leave.  He is so ready to go home to be with his brothers.  After the 10 day wait, however, we have to travel to the town where he was born to have the birth certificate changed to reflect that Eric and I are legally his parents and that is an 8 hour round trip!  Our facilitator, Alex, will be traveling with Carol and I to get that done sometime next week.  Then, once that is done we will get Dima out of the orphanage and head back to Kiev for our embassy appointment.  There he will have a full physical and be cleared to head home for the States.  More than likely Carol, Dima, and I will not be returning to the States until the second week of September.

This past weekend we spent quite a bit of time with a missionary family that is here through Kontact Missions.  They are a part of our denomination and it has been fabulous to spend time with them and learn more about their work here in Kremenchuk.  They are in the process of rebuilding a building to be their permanent church home so Eric went with Jon on Saturday to help hand drywall.  Jon's wife, Jenny, and her 3 boys took Carol and I shopping to various thrift stores.  The weather here is strange; one day it is hot and humid and the next it is rainy, chilly, and damp.  We were not well prepared for that as we had been told about how hot it has been and nothing else.  So Carol and I were able to get a few pairs of jeans and a couple of sweatshirts for the remainder of our time here.  After our shopping trip we took the 3 Gainer boys to visit Dima.

Dima was a little overwhelmed by the sight of 3 American/Ukrainian boys and he was not quite sure who they were or why they were there.  For awhile he called them by his brothers' names, but then just didn't call them anything.  Once Papa showed up things got a little messy as Dima began to decide that he was not going to share his Papa.  Long story short, we saw Dima's "naughty" side and quickly determined that he will need firm and loving discipline and ASAP so he knows who is boss.  Sure enough, the next afternoon Dima decided to have a little tantrum and Mama was not going to have it so we had a battle of the wills.  Mama won and Dima quickly realized that he was not in control.  As part of his punishment he was taken back to his groupa early and he had to say goodbye to Papa on a sour note.

Eric had to leave very early Monday morning to visit the Embassy in Kiev and then catch a flight from Kiev to Frankfurt.  It was sad to say goodbye knowing full well that Carol and I would be on our own here on the other side of the world.  It was also obvious that Eric found it difficult to leave us.  But we really did not have a choice in the matter.  So off he went.  I just got word this morning that he arrived back home in FL late yesterday evening.  That was a relief.

In the meantime Carol and I have been enjoying navigating Kremenchuk on our own.  Our visits with Dima have been fantastic and we are eager to spring that boy out of the orphanage!  Dima was sad that Papa had to leave but he understood that Eric got on a plane to go home to be with Jeremiah, Elijah, and Natahan.  Every time he would see a plane fly overhead he would point and say, "PAPA!!!".  What an amazing little boy!

Carol and I are truly amazed by how much Dima is picking up in terms of English and ASL and to think back just 2 weeks ago to when we first met Dima, he is a different little boy.  He is more calm, more obedient, communicates well and doesn't get upset at the drop of a hat when we do not understand each other, and he is just SO happy to know that he has a Mama and Papa.  He tells everyone he sees that he has a Mama and a Papa AND a "Totie" (what he calls Carol).  I cannot even bare to imagine what his life would have been like if we had not obedient to God's call to rescue Dima.  That little boy's fate would have been a very sad one, one that no child should ever have to endure.  It is obvious that the nannies love Dima and are good to him as he seems to truly love his nannies.  They kiss each other on the cheek, they correct him with love, and he does not have any fear of them.  I am grateful for the love and kindness they have shown to Dima over the past 3 years.

The other children in his groupa, however, are breaking my heart.  There are a few in particular that so desperately need families that I would do just about anything to help make that happen.  If you watch the videos I posted yesterday you will see the children and hear my commentary on some of them.  Dima loves his friends and we have observed him "fathering" a few of them.  From what we can tell Dima is the oldest boy in the group and seems to be the leader.  The others look up to him and it makes me sad to think of how sad they will be when Dima leaves for good.  Please pray for these precious children!

In the meantime I am enjoying every moment of my time here in the Ukraine.  God has been so faithful to us, to Dima, and to so many others that have crossed our paths during our time here.  I hope that someday we can return on some sort of mission trip as it is obvious that the Ukraine needs the Lord.  The country itself is so beautiful and amazing!  Overall I am grateful for the opportunity that I have had to come here to rescue Dima and I would not have done it any other way.  God indeed blesses those who are faithful to Him and His call, even when it may seem impossible.

Oh and before I forget!  So yesterday was my birthday.  It was a great day as I got to play with Dima and all of his friends which made for an extra special day.  I did, however, really miss my family as my boys always make my birthday so special.  Anyway, so Carol took me out to a nice outdoor eatery for supper and we had WiFi access.  It was while we were there that we learned of the earthquake just seconds after it happened.  How amazing is that?  There we were on the other side of the world, 7 hours ahead, yet we were able to find out what was going on!  WOW!  It just kind of blew our minds.  More than anything, however, we were grateful to hear that everyone seemed to be safe and sound.  We are praying that there are no more quakes or aftershocks.

O.K., NOW I need to officially sign off.  The laundry is done and I need to hang it so it dries (no dryers here in the Ukraine).  Again, thank you all for your love, support, and prayers.  We are most grateful.  Have a blessed day and please check out all of our new videos!!  Click HERE to see them!  Paka!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Beautiful Words

This morning I was greeted by an email from a dear friend who has played a huge part in our adoption.  She and her husband are veteran "adpot-ers" who have also adopted from the Ukraine.  Their family has been a shinning example to Eric and I on parenting and sharing Christ's love with children from all nations.  The wife, Kristen, is currently in seminary and had a writing assignment for one of her classes.  Of all of the topics she could have chosen, she chose to write about Dima.  She herself has so many little ones, but she thought of our Dima and our family.  Her words were written from the heart and so beautiful, so honest, and so piercing.  Per her permission, I am going to share it with you here:


It began as an inkling, an interest, a possibility, but developed and grew until their hearts beat boldly with conviction; their souls brimmed with love. He was their son and yet he lived not in their home. While he played unknowingly in Kremenchuk, Ukraine, they prayed intentionally in Ocala, Florida. Jenny and Eric enjoyed, even embraced, what they considered a complete happy existence until they discovered God's calling for their truly fulfilled, purposeful life. Though already parents of three healthy, happy boys, their family was incomplete, missing one unhealthy, languishing boy.

He is labeled special needs; yet he is called Dima. Dima means warrior and at just seven years of age he wars with narrow-mindedness. Dima means follower of Demeter, the Goddess of life and death, and at his young age he follows a prescribed life which leads to certain death. In a world ravenous for excess and abundance, where more is always better, Dima's extra chromosome convicts him as worthless and unwanted. His future as a child with Down's Syndrome in Ukraine ends confined to a bed in a mental institution; his future as a child of Jenny and Eric in Florida begins released to a life filled with family and love. Dima's past brands him as defective, a monster to be hidden away; Dima's future offers hope, a child of God to be nurtured.

“You make all things new” sing the congregants Sunday morning but “Dima won't amount to much” scoff the naysayers Monday morning. Does God make mistakes or does God only create perfection? If such a child as Dima is not worthy of being called their “son”, however might we consider ourselves worthy of being called His “sons and daughters”? Their eyes opened to reality, their souls burdened with calling, their hearts consumed with passion. Despite snarls and stares, Jenny and Eric proclaim, “We cannot close our eyes, cannot disregard God's desire, cannot quench the love.” None are mistakes and unwanted; all are masterpieces and welcome. Dima may once have been discarded only to be destroyed but now he is enveloped always to be enjoyed.

Kristen, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and words with us.  This is something that I will personally always hold close to my heart as I watch my son grow up in our home.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New Videos Posted!

Hello again!  Just a quick entry to let you know that we just uploaded 2 days worth of videos from our visits.  They are super cute (OF COURSE!) and some of them very funny.  Click here to watch!!

Enjoy!

God Is Amazing

Time and time again we have been amazed by God and His plan for our lives and that of Dima's.  There is no doubt in our minds that Dima was meant to be a part of our family and that God has wonderful things in store for that little man's life.  Where to even begin?

Our visits with Dima over the last few days have been sheer perfection.  He is picking up English and ASL with tremendous ease, he is more calm and obedient, and his truly loves his Mama and Papa.  The past 2 visits have been all about Papa which is good since Papa heads back to the States on Tuesday.  Dima will be sad to see Papa go but will be excited once again when we are finally home in the States as a complete family.  I digress....

Each visit at the orphanage we hear Dima telling his groupa (little ones with whom he lives) about his Mama and Papa and then his friends all greet us with, "Privet Mama!  Privet Papa!" and Dima just grins his toothy grin.  We are learning about Dima's likes and dislikes, too.  He loves the color green, he loves eye balls, but dislikes "sloans" or elephants.  Dima also has a great love for "say-baccas" or dogs (by the way, I am phonetically typing the Russian words as I do not know how to properly spell them).  And can that boy kick and throw!  WOWZA!  He is super coordinated and will have so much fun playing ball with his brothers.

Dima's sickness seems to be going away, too, which is a HUGE relief to this Mama.  I was beginning to worry that maybe if he was chronically ill that we would somehow be delayed in our return to the States in a few weeks.  Speaking of which, we received some most excellent news today. We have our court date THIS Friday (August 19th) at 1:00 p.m. our time, or 6:00 a.m. EST in the States.  Would you please be in prayer for us during that time?  We do not expect any problems especially since Dima's birthmother has no legal right to him and the father that was listed on the birth certificate is not really Dima's father.  Apparently there was an affair and Dima was the product if that.  We were also told that the chances of our 10 day waiting period being waived was pretty much zero but we are enjoying ourselves here enough to where we are O.K. with that.  Just as long as our stay here is not permanent (ha ha!).

I have also been so aware of the intricacies of God's plan for not only Dima's life, but even other people and their families.  If I had more time I would love to write about all the different people we have been meeting during our time here in Kremenchuk, but our Internet is spotty and Eric needs to use the computer.  Suffice to say, however, that God's hand has been in this since even before we found Dima.  While it is amazing, it should not be surprising.

Finally, we have Internet, but it is really a bad connection so we have been unable to upload videos or pictures.  As soon as we are able to do so we will.  There are so many wonderful videos of our boy waiting to been seen by the world.  We have also been able to get videos of his groupa and there are so many little ones that so desperately need a family.  And thank you, as always, for your prayers.

P.S.  Please excuse the typos here.  We are in Ukrainian Google and it is difficult to use the spellcheck as a result.  That and I am beyond exhausted!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

FINALLY a Post!

I have been meaning to write, especially since we have met Dima, but our time has been consumed with Dima, our apartment situation, and navigating our new surroundings.

First, I know you all want to know about our first meeting with Dima.  Suffice to say it was AWESOME!  That boy has got quite a personality!  As many of you saw in our Youtube videos, he gave hid new Mama and Papa the thumb's up and a big, "O.K.!" when we were introduced.  He then proceeded to do cartwheels in the Director's office and play with a giant stuffed dog.  Once I broke out a little snack cake, however, he was ready to be my friend up close and personal.  Eric and I also showed him the photo album we made for him of our family and home.  He LOVES that thing!  Dima poured over each and every picture, repeating the names of his new brothers (he loves that "Bubba" or Elijah, has glasses!), his dog, and his grandparents.  He studied every little picture and every details of every picture.  Amazingly, he recalled everything less than an hour later when we got the book out once more.  Some of you told me that Dima was not going to amount to much (yes, people actually said that to my face!) but I am going to tell you right now that Dima is extremely smart!  He blew Eric, Carol, and I away with all that he was able to say and do.  And his physical coordination?  Outstanding!  Once we took him outside to the play ground he was all over the place and very confident in his abilities.  Dima was also extremely hyper and just wanted us to chase him for 2 hours straight.  And that boy is STRONG!

During the first visit Dima was a little unsure of who Eric was, but by the end of the 2 hours he knew Eric was his Papa and Dima was calling for him every 5 minutes.  But yes, he is a Mama's boy through and through!  He wanted to kiss my hand, hug me, and then he would try to over power me and push me down the slide.  Not in a mean way, just very excited and very strong.

The whole time Eric and I felt as though we were having an out of body experience, like we were really not here but observing things as we did all of those months on Youtube.  But no, this is all very real and Dima loves his new Mama and Papa!

After our first visit Eric, Carol, and I were exhausted and needed to go home to take a snooze.  Unfortunately, however, the apartment that we are in is really icky and we are very uncomfortable.  We are grateful for a place to sleep, but the smell of smoke and cheap perfume makes us sick at night and when we wake up we feel awful.  We also have a horrible gnat issue and even though we have not been keeping trash in the apartment it will not stop and it is getting worse.  Finally, we have no bed sheets and the one bed is really icky.  We are seriously not difficult to please but this is really not O.K. and we are trying to secure a different apartment.  With it being the weekend that has been difficult.

Anyway, so after a nap it was time to head back to our Dima.  Our second visit of the day was much like the first only we realized that Dima seems to be sick.  He has a horribly juicy cough, green slime coming out of his nose, and his throat/tonsils are inflamed pretty bad.  No fever, though, so that is a little bit of a relief.  But he quickly slowed down and was worn out.  We ended that visit with coloring.

Dima is also absolutely toilet trained as he has been able to clearly communicate whenever he needs to use the bathroom.  I am so pleased that more than likely we will not even need to use pull-ups.  I just hope that Dima knows that he cannot drop his drawers in the middle of the airplane on the way home!  He is also able to communicate very well with Eric, Carol, and I with his Russian, some English that he has picked up in 24 hours, and now some ASL that I have taught him (Signing Time will be our new best friend!).

And you want to know how I KNOW that he is super smart?  As we were taking him back to his groupa after our second visit yesterday he tried to get us to take him to the Director's office.  Want to know why?  Because he wants to go HOME with his Mama and Papa!  He KNOWS that the Director needs to sign off on this.  He also tried to make us take him out of the orphanage gates yesterday but we had to stop him from making a break.  Trust me, though, when I say that I I really wanted to run with him.  So many of you have commented how nice the orphanage seems.  Sure, it LOOKS nice, but you are not seeing the children up close and personal nor do you see how some of the nannies interact with the children.  Bottom line no child should be there- period.

So today's visits were also fantastic but Eric, Carol, and I noticed that Dima seems worse with his cough and congestion.  I am hoping that tomorrow afternoon we can figure if a doctor has seen him.  If not, we are going to ask if we can have a doctor see Dima at our expense.  I do not want him to get much worse which could cause a delay in his homecoming to the States.  Please pray for Dima's health to improve quickly!

Today Dima was really into playing with his Papa but he wanted Mama to carry him.  That means lots of kisses on the cheek and hugging time.  Oh how amazing that felt!  I waited so long for those hugs and kisses and no, I don't care that he is sick!  He needs some loving from his Mama!  He also is responding to our gentle correction as he tests the limits like it is his full-time job.  He is not bad, just super curious and learning his boundaries with us.  Sometimes he really pushes us, but we have managed to handle that to where you can almost see Dima's relief of being corrected.  It makes him feel secure.

There is so much more I want to write about as we learned more about his background, but it is after midnight here and I need to get some sleep!  We have church in the morning with a fantastic missionary couple and their little boys and I am BEAT!  Again, thank you all for your prayers and encouragement.  We are so grateful.

Oh and excuse the typos.  I am too tired to go back and edit this entry....an adorable little boy wore me out today:)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Less Than 12 Hours Until We Meet!

Today Eric and I received our referral from the SDA to meet Dima!  We are over the moon excited and can hardly believe that in less than 12 hours we will embrace the son born from our hearts.  From what Alex told us today Dima is READY to meet us so I am excited to see his reaction when he walks into the Director's office.  We were also told today that Dima's father has been trying to get his name removed from the birth certificate and wants nothing to do with him.  Heartbreaking to hear, but a relief for us as we will not have to worry about him contesting the adoption.  We will learn more details about everything tomorrow morning, however, and I am eager to hear how long Dima has been at the orphanage.

In the meantime Eric, Carol, and I have been exploring Kiev one last time and ventured onto the Metro today.  I've lived in D.C., Eric has lived in D.C. and NYC, and this Metro has got both places beat hands down!  The trains are so fast and the whole place is set so deep into the ground.  We took lots of videos of our adventure and posted them to our Youtube Channel.  By the way, you will also see videos of us getting our SDA referral (woo hoo!).  We took the train to an area of Kiev that is not touristy and we had supper at a Ukrainian fast food place.  Half the fun was ordering in a place where nobody spoke any English at all!  I had Chicken Kiev with Borscht and I LOVED IT!  Unfortunately, however, Ukrainian food is very fattening and full of calories.  Overall I think Eric, Carol, and I have grown comfortable being in a place where nobody speaks the language and I am now accustomed to hearing only Russian or Ukrainian.  When I DO hear someone speak English (which usually only happens in certain areas of the city) I am almost startled.

I would love to write more, but it is now 9:30 p.m. here and we need to at least try to sleep for a little bit before we are picked up for our 5 hour ride to Kremenchuk.  We leave here at 4:30 a.m. our time, 9:00 p.m. "home" time (EST).  Please pray for us as we travel by car and pray that our very first meeting with Dima goes well.  As I have said many times it will take all my willpower not to grab him and run out the door!  Please also pray for Dima as he learns about his new family and begins to bond to Eric and I.

So the next time I write, you will get to hear all about THE MOMENT we have been waiting for!

P.S.  We have developed a love for the people here and this beautiful country!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

SDA Success

This morning we were greeted by a sweet man named Niko who took us to our SDA appointment.  There we met Julia and her sweet little boy, Stanislov.  As soon as we walked into the building we were whisked up some stairs into a little room where it was just the SDA worker, Julia, Eric, and I.  Carol had to wait downstairs.  We were immediately asked for our passports and to start everything off I handed the SDA worker CAROL'S passport!  That made for some confusion and some laughs, but I quickly realized my error and produced the proper passport.

We were asked about ourselves, what we do, what our family is like, and I was able to show our photo book.  When the nice woman opened the book and saw the silly pictures of Eric playing with the boys she gasped and spoke quickly to Julia.  Apparently "priests" or in Eric's case, Minister, are not supposed to have fun, but be very proper!  Again, more laughs.

Then, the moment that took my breath away- Dima's file.  I saw it!  The SDA woman began to read from it and Julia translated.  Dima was born May 15, 2004 to a single woman.  Dima has a brother born in 1998 that currently lives with their father.  Sadly, Dima's mother and father were not together and the mother was extremely neglectful to the point that the State removed Dima and his brother and the mother can no longer have any contact with them.  Dima's father was unable to care for Dima so that is why Dima is in the orphanage.  There is a grandmother but we do not know if she visits or not.  We also do not know if the father or brother visits.  We will find this out on Friday.  Eric and I are open to being in limited contact with Dima's family since there is an older brother, but we really do not have enough information on that situation to make a final decision at this time.  Please also note that we are not interested in outside opinions.  If your advice is needed, you will be asked.  I just needed to make that clear for our sanity's sake.  Dima was described as an active, energetic, high functioning little boy.  I just laughed out loud and told the SDA worker that he will be a perfect fit with his new brothers and she, too laughed.  She could tell from our photo book that Jeremiah, Elijah, and Nathan were active, happy, well-adjusted little boys that would make excellent brothers for Dima.  Finally, we learned that Dima is healthy, no other health problems, just has the diagnosis of Down Syndrome which we were of course aware of.  Eric and I were relieved thankful when we received this news.  No sooner had the meeting begun it ended and we were dismissed.

Eric and I return to the SDA office tomorrow afternoon to pick up our referral and we leave very early Friday morning to travel to Kremenchuk.  No train ride for us as our facilitator Alex will be driving us.  We must be at the orphanage by 9:00 a.m. and will meet Dima at that time.  It is amazing to think that I will soon have my precious new son in my arms and I will be able to tell him that I love him so very much.  I can kiss his sweet head and promise him that he will never be neglected ever again and that he will always be taken care of and love just for who God made him to be.

Eric and I are overwhelmed with love for this precious little boy and our hearts rejoice that we are able to be his parents.  At the same time, however, our hearts are sad as we think about the years of neglect and the brother that is out there somewhere.  As a mother I of course have the thoughts of how neglectful was his mother- did she abuse him physically or emotionally?  And how on earth could a mother neglect such a precious little boy?  I have found my mind wandering to her so much today...where is she now?  What is she doing and what would she think of her son being adopted by an American family?  And I pray for her.  I pray that she would know the Lord and do right by Dima's brother.  If she is on drugs or an alcoholic I pray that she gets clean or sober.  I also pray for Dima's brother that he is healthy, happy, and living a good life with his Papa.  And I pray for Dima's Papa that he would have a good life with the son that he has and that he, too, would know the Lord.

It is wild how a 20 minute meeting can cause one's mind to reel with so many thoughts.  In the meantime I am eagerly anticipating the moment that I get to lay eyes on my Dima- my Cheburashka!  Yes, each of my boys have a nickname and I've chosen one for Dima.  Cheburshka is a famous bear here in Eastern Europe and I have fallen in love with him.  Think Mickey Mouse but only a bear with a crocodile named Gena as a best friend.

On that note I am going to take a much needed nap.  It may only be 8:00 a.m. back home, but it is 3:00 p.m. here and we were up early.  And come Friday a whole new paper chase begins!  Thank you all for your prayers, encouragement and continued donations to our adoption.  We are most grateful and I do not think I could ever fully express my gratitude.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Less Than 24 Hours

In less than 24 hours we have our SDA appointment.  While I've been here since Friday afternoon, the reality of it all is only hitting me now.  I've grown comfortable here and all of that is about to change as we learn about our precious boy and head to Kremenchuk at the end of the week.  It is amazing, just amazing how God has brought this all together.  Yet I am not surprised.  God does not desire for these amazing children to sit and waste away, His will is for them to be in loving families and contribute to society.  No doubt.

Eric, Carol, and I have noticed how we have not seen many children.  Seriously, we could count on two hands the number of children that we have seen here in Kiev.  But today we saw something pretty amazing.  While we were in the Mega Mart purchasing band-aids and razors we saw a little girl with her Mama who had CP.  She was so full of joy and happiness as she looked at all of the toys and stuffed animals.  She even wandered towards us as we sat at a table to rest and smiled.  We smiled back at her and then looked at her Mama and smiled.  She was a little confused by why were smiling but in my mind I was telling her, "Kudos to you!".

Over the past several days the three of us have developed a love for the people here as well as Ukraine in general.  I am grateful for the extra time we have had here and will always look back on this time with great fondness and love.

But the highlight will be meeting my Dima.  My precious, precious Dima.  It will take every ounce of self-control not to grab him and RUN out of the orphanage gates.  I just cannot wait to hold him and tell him how much we love him.  Oh dear Dima we would have been here much sooner if we could have.  This little love has no idea just how much love so many already have for him.

As my friend, Jen, said, "Dima is a rock star and he doesn't even know it".  So true!  You know, we ran into a couple in the Billa Market this past Sunday from Tallahassee, FL!  The mother knew who I was from this blog and she knew all about Dima.  She and her husband are also here to adopt but not through Reece's Rainbow.  They found their children through a host program.

In the meantime we hope to get a good night's sleep so we feel refreshed in the morning.  If you happen to be awake at 3:00 a.m. EST would you please lift us up in prayer?  Thanks!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Another Day in Our Paradise

It was another BEAUTIFUL day here in Kiev, Ukraine.  The weather has been in the low 80's and super enjoyable.  I think Eric, Carol, and I have adjusted to the 7 hour time difference and we have finally been getting decent sleep.  That makes for happy explorers.  We spent the day figuring out the Metro, doing laundry, and hanging out in a cafe that has WiFi.  Nothing terribly exciting.

We also made contact with a family that lives in Kremenchuk.  They are missionaries that are from TN, but have been in Kremenchuk since '09.  Eric, Carol, and I will be meeting up with them when we arrive in Kremenchuk and look forward to learning more about Dima's town.

This evening we had another round of food at the Ukrainian Buffett and added another family to our crew: The Hazelton Family!  We had so much fun and the food, of course, was awesome!

Other than that we really have nothing new to report.  Again, our SDA appointment is set for Wednesday morning at 10:00 a.m. our time.  For those of you on the east coast of the United States that is 3:00 a.m.  Please pray for us that it would go smoothly.  I have no doubt that it will but to be bathed in prayer is always a good thing.

In the meantime please take a moment to visit our Youtube Channel.  We have posted more videos for your viewing pleasure.  Nothing exciting, just sharing our sights with you.  Soon it will be non-stop videos of a super cute little man!

Thank you all for your prayers and words of encouragement.  They mean so much!

Paka!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Grand Adventure!

I've been HORRIBLE at posting in this blog since we arrived in Kiev, but that is because I have been too busy enjoying myself and time with Eric, Carol, and the Maddox Family.

But allow me to rewind.

We left Ocala, FL at 4:00 a.m. on Thursday, August 4th in order to get to the Atlanta airport in plenty of time which we did.  I will never forget that feeling of seeing the airport knowing that I was leaving to go to the other side of the world to meet a child that I have grown to love, yet never met.  It was very emotional.  Getting our boarding passes at the gate was also super emotional since we we flying on buddy passes and not even certain we would make the flight to Frankfurt as a result.  Not only did we indeed make the flight, but we flew first class (or business class) and that alone was quite an experience.  I felt so overwhelmed with gratitude to Mr. and Mrs. Morris who so graciously donated their passes to us and as we took off from Atlanta I had tears streaming down my face.

The next morning we landed in Frankfurt and it was exciting to be in Germany (well, the airport anyway!).  I could hear so many different languages, see so many different cultures represented, and it was not something I had ever experienced- I loved it!

Our flight from Frankfurt to Kiev, however, was vastly different than our previous flight and I could not get off of that plane fast enough!  The smells, the food that was served, and the social differences were a little much in that tight space.  While Carol played Scrabble on her Kindle two Ukrainian men literally watched over the backs of our seats to see.  I do not think they had every seen a Kindle before, seriously!  Thankfully the flight was only about 2 hours and we landed safely (but not fast enough!) and I could finally say, "I am in the same country as our son!".  It was a fantastic feeling.

Eric and I had been told to expect a certain driver, Niko, but instead a younger, taller man, Eugene, was awaiting our arrival.  Eric was so shocked that I walked right up to him, stuck out my hand, and was so willing to go with him, but I knew of Eugene and knew that he would get us to our apartment.  Our ride to the apartment was a wild one and I can honestly say that I had never experienced anything like it. The traffic on a Friday afternoon was INSANE and we darted in and out of traffic for almost an hour and a half!  Eventually we made it to our little apartment in one piece.

We were so exhausted by the time the day was done that we went to bed at 6:30 p.m. and slept until almost 9:00 the next morning.  But once we got up and moving we excitedly ventured out to explore our new "home away from home".   Two words: LOVE IT!  Eric, Carol, and I love it here and felt comfortable walking around and even speaking to the locals.  Out of the three of us I am more comfortable speaking what little Russian I know, but we have been able to communicate well with only a few minor embarrassing snafus.

At this moment it is just after midnight so it is now Monday, August 7th, but Sunday was an exciting day for Eric.  He and the Maddox Family worshipped at Hillsong Church with our driver, Eugene, and it was a sweet time of fellowship.  Unfortunately I was not feeling so hot when I woke up and Carol agreed that I needed to go back to bed so she stayed behind with me.  But I got to hear all about it when Eric got home and something pretty amazing happened after the service.  Since Eric, Eugene, Brian, and Laurie were all first time visitors they got to go to some sort of special reception and they shared why we were all here in Ukraine- to adopt children with special needs.  It brought tears to the eyes of those that heard and it seemed like a relatively new concept to them (from what I gathered from Eric- not entirely sure).  They also shared about the ministry of Reece's Rainbow and we pray that it moves the hearts of others to adopt children within their country that so desperately need homes.

We have also tried new foods and overall everything we have tried we have liked.  Last evening we went to the Ukrainian buffet with Brian and Laurie and LOVED it!  I hope to eat there again before we head to Dima's city,  Kremenchuk.

And shopping?  Well, we are learning so much about our new culture by immersing ourselves.  We also ventured way into the city last evening and saw so many new things.  Kiev is really a very pretty city, especially at night.  Overall, if I had to compare it to a place in the States, I would say Kiev is very much like Washington, D.C.  Kiev is also the capital of the Ukraine so it makes sense.

So the big question many of you have had for us is when do we get to meet Dima?  Well, we will not be in Kremenchuk until Friday so that is most likely the day that we will meet him for the first time.  I am absolutely excited to do so but am also enjoying learning about his culture.  I want to soak in as much as I can so I can share it with Dima as he gets older.

In the meantime I miss my boys on the other side of the world but know that they are in good hands with Eric's Mom and Dad.  I heard that Jeremiah and Elijah survived camp and I'm sure they have lots of stories to share.

As I'm sure you have noticed I have not posted pictures here.  We have mainly been taking videos and have set up a Youtube channel to share our adventure with you all.  Click HERE to see the videos.  There will be pictures for sure, but my camera is cumbersome and I've been lazy.

On that note it is time for bed here.  We have a full week ahead of us and I am beyond excited.  It is so amazing to think that it has only been 7 months and 3 weeks since we committed to Dima.  It has been worth every stressful minute!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

And The Winner IS........!!!!!!!!!!!!!! / Leaving In 15 Hours

Sarah Goodman!  Unfortunately for our winner we did not raise enough to purchase an iPad for her, but she, too, is adopting a Reece's Rainbow cutie and I'm sure that the $211.55 will help her family out with their adoption funds, too!  To see Sarah's precious little one, Caroline, click here.

We are still short on our funds, but at this point there is nothing more I can do other than just flat-out ask for donations.  We leave in 15 hours and we do not have the funds for return flights and rent towards the end of our stay.  For as excited as I am to go to Dima's country, I would like to be able to come home to my boys and my husband.  I think my traveling companion, Carol, would like to return home, too!

So yes, we leave Ocala, FL at 4:00 in the morning to drive to Atlanta to catch our flight to Frankfurt.  It is going to be a solid 24 hours of traveling for Eric, Carol, and I, but it will be worth every moment.  At this point in time I cannot even begin to describe the emotions I am feeling.  One moment I am super excited, the next I feel as though I will become physically ill, and then I am absolutely fine and perfectly calm.  At this exact moment I am calm and would give anything to take a nap, but I need to tie up a bunch of loose ends here at home.

It is so surreal to think that I am actually about to leave the country to adopt a little boy whom I've never even met, but in some ways it feels as though I've already met him.  If this time last year someone came up to me and said, "Hey, a year from now you will be preparing to travel to an Eastern European country to adopt a 7 year old boy with Down Syndrome" I probably would have laughed and walked away without giving it another thought.  But here I am.  God asked, and I answered.  Eric answered, too.  It is amazing.

From everything I have heard from others that have met Dima our family is in for a real treat.  I cannot wait to watch Dima interact with his new brothers, the dog, friends and family...everything is going to be so new and different for him!  That sweet little love is in for a treat, too, having a family that will love him unconditionally forever and ever.

Finally, I wanted to share with you all a sermon that Eric preached this past Sunday.  He does not know that I am sharing this, and if he did he would be so super embarrassed, but it is something special.  This past Sunday was Family Sunday in our church where we invite the children into the service to be a part of everything.  Children are so very important and Eric's desire is to help train families to be better equipped to train up their children in the Lord.  This was also the very first time that Eric ever preached on a Sunday morning, so yes, he was maybe a little nervous.  But it was special to Eric and I because God has worked on us throughout our 10 years of marriage on what is important in life.  It is children, family, and spiritual growth within families.  Eric was also able to share some personal experiences that led us to our decision to adopt and he talks about a very special family that has had a HUGE impact on our lives.  So if you would like to hear his sermon, click here.

Monday, August 1, 2011

One Final Giveaway - iPad2 or 50/50!

O.K. everyone, we are about $2400 short on our funds and we are in need of raising that.  We were not going to do any more fundraising, but we need to be able to cover our rent and our flights home.  So here is what we are going to do.  In the next 48 hours we are going to do one final fundraising blitz where you can get an opportunity to win an iPad 2 or 50% of what we raise.  Since we do not have the money to outright purchase an iPad for a giveaway, we have to raise AT LEAST $500 to cover the cost of the iPad.  So if you have entered our giveaway and win, and we have not raised $500, you will get half of whatever we raise.  If we raise MORE than $500 you will be the owner of an iPad 2 with 16GB and wifi built in (no 3G network).  The iPad will be ordered online and shipped directly to the winner.

Starting at noon TODAY, August 1st, you can enter.  At noon on Wednesday, August 3rd we will close it down and randomly choose a winner.  To enter, you may make a donation to our personal Paypal account which is not tax-deductible.  the link to our Paypal is on the left-hand side of our blog.

How do you enter?

$10 = 1 entry
$20 = 2 entries
$30 = 3 entries
$40 = 4 entries
$50 = 100 entries!
$100 = 200 entries!
$500 = You flat-out win!

You may earn extra entries by posting our giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Forums, etc...  I just need to have the link to where you posted so I can confirm.

If you cannot participate and have already donated, we totally understand and are grateful for all of the donations that we have received.  More than anything, please keep our family in prayer as we depart for the last leg of our journey to Dima.  Prayer is what truly moves mountains and sends them crashing into the sea!

school fundraisers
Progress Tracker for iPad 2 Giveaway