Tuesday, November 30, 2010
So what was Gotcha Day like? We were SO excited to be leaving Cherkassy and yet Isaac and I both know that we will miss it on many ways. So as we BARELY fit everything into the cargo area of the car we loaded up and went to the orphanage. Would the children be excited? Ivanna is always excited to get the attention...loving most her bottle feedings that momma got her hooked on and the lotion that I would rub on her hands that get so dry from her habitually putting them in her mouth - institution behavior. She often on our visits would sit in my lap and when I would take out the lotion, she would pull up her sleeves and hold her hands out. Sweet Girl!
When we arrived to the orphanage, after signing a lot of paperwork, it was off to Max's Groupa. How did Max react to our arrival...
As I had posted previously, the real tears came in Max's groupa the night before as we spent a wonderful evening with the groupa workers that we became very close too. I cannot over emphasize what a blessing it was to have this relationship in place. Not only was it a blessing to have the communication (well as much as you can communicate over an Iphone application), but out of a heart that loved Max so much. They gave me information about Max's specific care that was, and has been a huge help. We have the address of one of the groupa workers and will be corresponding with her continually! The care givers that were working on Gotcha Day morning, were also very kind, we just did not have the opportunity to communicate much with them for whatever reason. My heart goes out to ALL of these ladies. They work very hard caring for these children, in this groupa and in this orphanage, quite well, only to see the children that are not adopted being transferred to a mental institution where they know that the care is much different. Because of people who gave to help in this adoption we where able to give them some helps before we left. They all appreciated, so much the Microwave that we bought for them and now have in the groupa so that can heat up foods for the children. They also appreciated the money we gave to the care givers so that they would be able to by Christmas decorations and toys for the children.
I know that for them to see the children adopted rather than transferred was a joy! Both groupas asked if we would take more children...heart breaking.
So we scooped up the children and out the door I took them...FOREVER!!
We then went on a long drive to the capital city where we would have an appointment with the US Embassy the next day. The drive was WONDERFUL. The highlight for me was having Max on my lap asleep while Ivanna laid up next to her papa sleeping as well. That was pretty close to WONDERFUL for me. Of course they cuddled and played much with their fantastic older brother Isaac as well.
Catching Up: The US Embassy and Doctors Appointment the next day, well honestly, was a tough day. Max and Ivanna are very much used to a strict schedule and add to that the fact they were being carted all over the city without a nap or regular eating schedule, in addition to everything changing in their new world, there was much wailing and nashing of teeth. They were NOT HAPPY!
I, however, got all of the paperwork filled out at the Embassy while holding a very tired and unhappy Ivanna, who was not afraid to let everyone know that she was NOT happy. Let's just say my penmanship was less than stellar. Isaac tried to keep a frustrated Max from making to big of a scene. Isaac did a great job, and at times, so did Max.
We then went to the doctor's appointment, at which time it began to snow heavily. Max loved it. Ivanna, not so much! We went into a VERY CROWDED hallway where Niko, our driver and translator, took over. Isaac and I tried to keep the children calm, as they had not had lunch or a nap and it was an hour passed their normal nap time. Here it is very different than in the US. In the United States, when you have a child with disabilities, often you are greated with a smile or a she/he is precious. In this country, people look at you like you have something exposed or have some strange appendage. We were on the front stage in this very crowded hallway, but we did the best we could in trying to keep the children as content as possible and greated the onlookers with a smile!
When we met with the doctor she looked at me deeply and sternly and said, "Why are you adopting children with Down syndrome?" It was said in a way that spoke of a, they are too much trouble attitude. She went on to talk about all of these PROBLEMS that the children have and in the same stern voice kept asking, "and you know about this?" "Yes. I have a child with Down syndrome. They are a blessing. I believe that all children are made perfectly by the Father." She changed gears a bit, and said, "As a women, it would be a burden too great to bare to continually worry about such sick children." This is where I smiled, thanked the Lord for my wife, and said, "my wife is very excited about having the children come home and is able to stay home with the children to care for them." When the doctor left the room, Isaac and I looked at each other and were grieved for the doctor that she was so off the mark in her assessment based on some physical malady.
When we ended the exam, the doctor, really enjoying her time with Isaac while she was examining Ivanna, I was getting chest xrays for Max, had changed her tune a whole lot and said, "Bless you for taking these children, I wish the best for you." Bless us? We are doing nothing great. We are the ones receiving the benefit of having an opportunity to have these wonderful children be a part of our family! We have the opportunity to see the Lord work in an amazing way. We ARE BLESSED!
The doctor did confirm that Ivanna has a severe heart murmur. We will have that checked upon getting home and poor Max is the king finger sucker. So much that the skin on two of his little fingers have sores on them. We will work on this habit more as he gets established.
We went grocery shopping returned to the apartment. Shortly after we got to the apartment, the power went out. Not fun when it is 16 degrees out with a projected high the next day of 10 degrees. What did we do? All four of us got in bed under a couple of covers and snuggled to sleep. A couple of hours later, the power came back on, praise the Lord (and thank you to those who prayed).
Today it is an interview at the US Embassy and then we should get the necessary Visas. Tomorrow morning at 5:30am, we fly home to enjoy a family thanksgiving dinner on Friday, I hope! Pray that nothing gets delayed. I met another Reeces Rainbow family at the embassy and he stated that someone told him that Visas are being delayed for some reason. I am hopeful ours will not be. Our tickets are purchased and I know that our Lord will come through as He continually does. I appreciate those that pray on our behalf.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
I also wanted to share a post that a friend of mine published on her blog. I have linked to her blog before. She and her husband adopted a little boy named Aaron - from within the walls of an institution. They were the first to do so with regards to this particular institution. While difficult to read, I believe it is needful to illustrate exactly why it is so imperative to step in and adopt these children prior to being transferred. However, even after they are transferred, let's not forget about them. They are still needing to be rescued. Two children who are adoptable are within this institution: Brady and Heath. Both boys have Down syndrome. I will continue to not just pray for them, but to post and remind ou of them. They need a family. Will things be a little more difficult given their age and the fact that they are coming from an institution? Sure. However, I'm so glad that my Saviour didn't look down at me and declare me "too much work" to be hassled with.
Here is the link to the blog post I speak of: A Sad Reality Part Two:
This is Brady. He is six and was transferred to the institution this summer.
This is Heath. He tugs at my heart. I see Justus in his face.
Psalm 23:5 - Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
There is so much going on as far as complexity, yet on this birthday my Lord and my God has truly prepared a table before me. He has given me every provision and blessing that I could imagine. There is nothing on this earth that I would rather have happening on this birthday, aside from having my whole family present, then what will happen this day.
In a way that only God can orchestrate, our dossier was submitted to the SDA in Ukraine on Charrissa's birthday and the children will be leaving the orphanage FOREVER on my birthday. Why? Because He is God and He continually reminds me that He is over it all. There is not one detail that my Lord does not know about. There is nothing too small or big for Him. I love it when He shows His hand in this way. It is no different than on our wedding day, when my wifes grandmother came to my wife and said, "do you know what today is?" My wife said something along the lines of "my wedding day." To which, her grandmother said, "it is my and your grandfather's 50th wedding anniversary." Amazing! These are just little things and there are dozens more where God is, well, just God, showing Himself in wonderful ways and it is awesome!
Tonight it just so happened that our favorite people were working in Max's groupa. I asked if they would be willing to say something on a video to Max before we left so that I could show it to him later on (this was done via a translator program on my phone - not always perfect but better than cherades by a long shot). They actually invited Isaac and I into the groupa and they showed us the area and all of their toys that they have for the children. I was able to play with all of the other children in Max's groupa - well after we were done the little ones that were in bed when we started, were up and playing with all of us. What a joy! They showed us Max's bed, his toilet area, and his many favorite toys. They really love him here and do a great job of caring for him. This group of care givers in Max's groupa are fantastic. In communicating to them, I thanked them for doing such a great job and asked them how long the children are allowed to stay in the orphanage. The answer was not older than 6 years old - which confirmed what I was told when we were heading to this region. Max will be turning 6 on February 5, just over 2 months away. Thank you Lord for allowing us to save this wonderful boy. Thank you for opening our eyes. Isaac and I had a WONDERFUL time with these workers and bid one another a tearful good bye, as they will not be working tomorrow morning when we take Max and Ivanna on their next step toward home and one big step out of the orphanage.
What will I be doing on my birthday? I have been given the honor of escorting two amazing children, hand made by God, out of an orphanage system. I have been given the honor of preventing them from going to a mental institution, where they would have lived out their days, and I have been given the honor of loving them for the rest of their or my life. This will be an amazing birthday for sure.
My cup runneth over!
Thursday, November 25, 2010
1) I am thankful for a love that endures forever from my Lord and Saviour...For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:38-39
-Thank you Lord for showing me an example of how to love. I am forever learning and desirous to love like You.
2) I am thankful for my wife. She is my completer, my best friend, and an amazing partner. I thank the Lord for His providence in providing her to me...Who can find a virtous woman? for her price is far above rubies. -Proverbs 31:10
-May I be a better leader and companion. May I love her better...Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it - Ephesians 5:25 (and again thank you Lord for your example).
-May I love them more like you love...The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. -Psalm 145:8...and have the wisdom necessary to lead them and teach them. Thank you for your example.
3) I am thankful for my children (biological and adopted), who continually bring me joy and blessing...Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them - Psalm 127:5a. Each one brings a special beauty and blessing to our home. Yes, I love the adopted children as much as I do the biological ones, and am just as thankful for them. It was said by someone that I could not love the adopted children as much as the biological ones. All I can say to that thus far is that it is no different than when I met my new born children for the first time and am always amazed at how I immediately love them like I do all of the other children. Thank you Lord for putting that in me.
4) Thankful for being brought to Eastern Europe to adopt Max (Matthew) and Ivanna.
-Max (Matthew): So full of laughter and very intelligent. He will be six years old in February. They send children to the Mental Institution at six. Just a couple of months away. To think that your laughter, wit and love would have been locked away and snuffed out by a society that does not understand that you are perfectly made by a loving Father and Creator who has a perfect plan. For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. - Psalm 139:13-14
-Ivanna: Oh girl, I thought that you were going to be a quiet one. You were just lulled to sleep by the room you have been in for five years of your life. The expectations and interactions were little and so you did little. Just a couple of short weeks and you have gone from one that would not eat, were tiny, and would not interact to WALKING, LAUGHING, BOSSING, and ARE ALIVE and LOVE to BE LOVED! You give me so much hope and trust in the power of our Lord and of His kind of love. I will never forget the Ivanna that was so limp and lifeless that I met and just yesterday I came to visit you and you where hanging to the edge of the crib like a monkey...playing and joyful. I love you and am thankful for you and know that you are still a skinny minny, but am thankful you are in my life. You are growing me!
5) I am thankful for friends who pray and walk with us! Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. - John 15:13
-May I be a better friend and more giving. Thank you for giving it all...for loving me enough to purchase my redemption through your shed blood on Calvary's Cross.
6) I am thankful that My Lord continually shows His hand. It is wonderful to watch Him work and know that it could only have come from Him! They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit's end. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them unto their desired haven. Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! - Psalm 107:23-30
-May I have more faith to trust in You that You would continue to show Yourself amazing! I never want to stop being amazed at your marvelous works.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Phillip and my oldest son, Isaac - are still both in country finishing up the last details before coming home with both Max and Ivanna. On Tuesday they spent the day running around to both children's birth regions (a bit of a drive to both cities) and got new birth certificates then they even had time to go back to the orphanage and grab both kiddos and take them to the appropriate agency for passport applications. This was a HUGE move in the right direction and also a BIG answer to prayer that so much was accomplished in one day. We were unsure if he was even able to get both birth certs in the same day due to the hours of operation vs. travel. So the fact that everything was done in one day is awesome! Now ... we wait. We are waiting for the passports, which usually take four days. So, with the weekend being smack dab in the middle of our wait game, that puts us at Monday. Monday is a BIG day. That is the day the kiddos will forever say goodbye to the orphanage. Of course, anything could happen to delay this, but this is the plan. Monday will also be the day that Phillip, Isaac, Max and Ivanna travel back to the capital. Once there they will take the children to the embassy for their medical checks which is required for visa. The embassy thing is a two day procedure. The visas should be given right away, after the required paperwork is filled out and checked and kids pass medicals. Then ... they fly out!!!! So ... again I ask for prayer. That this will all go smoothly. That the children would transition well, that there will be no delay with embassy, that the travelling from region to capital will be safe, and that they can indeed fly out safely next week. THANK YOU!!!
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Phillip took two videos on his i-phone. I can only seem to upload one, but will try the other one later. It is simply amazing to see my daughter (so HAPPY to be able to say that) already progressing. It speaks LOUDLY to the importance of even a LITTLE investment. She is blowing my socks off and she isn't even out of the orphanage yet. Phillip and Isaac continue to visit her and Max everyday, twice a day. Soon Max and Ivanna will say their goodbyes to the orphanage. I ask that you pray that both children stay healthy during the time they are still in country applying for visas and while on the plane home. Please pray that this next step of acquiring new birth certificates, passport application, and visa medical checks will go smoothly and expeditiously. I am ANXIOUS to have my family ALL together again.
Just look at my precious girl. Do you remember how she was when we met her on November 1st? The progression since then is astonishing - and I praise the LORD for it all.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
"Psssst ... I get to go home with you!"
Full of giggles.
I simply love this picture. Just love it. I love her expression and how it is set against the sky - as if that truly is her limit. She is doing so well. Many of you have commented or emailed and stated that you have noticed a big difference in her since we first met her on Nov. 1st. That is true. She is blooming, and she isn't even home yet. Better yet, the groupa told Phillip that they have noticed how she is changing since we have been there. That is a huge blessing, as it testifies to the importance of even just a little investment in these babies. Can't wait to send them updates - so that they can see the importance of loving and caring for these children. So that they can see that we truly love them, and the unlocked potential develop.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
This is a picture that I snapped that is out of a window just prior to opening those doors into her groupa. It is at the top of stairs. Looking down you see rubble. That is quite common here. Buildings are very ... run down looking. Just about every building looks as if it needs repair ... except the cathedrals. They all have pretty brass rooves.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
The following pictures of Ivanna in the leaves is from yesterday, but with court being in the evening I did not post them. She was so cute. She sat in the leaves, and then tried to eat them. She put her little hands on the dirt, and then very quickly removed them - as if she was startled at the feeling of it. I have a feeling this is the first time she has felt dirt, or sat on the ground for that matter. Well, she is a Browning now - and I am sure that Chloe and Ellie will give her great mud pie making lessons.