Wednesday, August 20, 2008


We had orientation Monday and last night to get prepared for today, the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL! Yeah, Me!! The house is QUIET today. Everybody was very excited to go to school. No one had to be asked twice to get up---we'll see how getting up for school is two months from now! We said goodbye to Elyse after our annual "First Day of School Photos", as she got on the bus, then shortly loaded the rest up and off we went. I dropped everyone off with big smiles today. I can't wait to hear about their first day tonight.

The kids have been doing well--learning a little more English every day. They have been doing the Rosetta Stone online computer program for English as well as a local place where I take them once a week for tutoring, and then we are doing English lessons at home almost every day.

All six children get along and like each other. The boys have liked playing some video games with Alex--I believe they think they've moved from Ukraine to Video Game Heaven! Alina enjoys dressing up, coloring, listening to kids music in her room, singing, clunking around in dress-up shoes, and playing with Addie and Elyse.

Last week we went to a county fair, looked at a lot of animals, rode rides, and had ice cream.

Last weekend we enjoyed the day with some friends in Michigan at their home with a lovely cook-out. We spent the afternoon at Lake Michigan and the kids loved the BIG waves that were there. They also were all buried in the sand!

This weekend we went camping in Michigan. We have a camper that we took. We took our bicycles (8 bikes plus 2 pull-behind bikes--Yuri and Alina can't go very far for very long yet). Ruslan LOVES to ride his bike! He's crashed several times, gets a band aid, and takes off again on his bike. We enjoyed the beach at the camp ground, playground, and biking for ice cream.

I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

One Week Update

We have survived our first week of being home as a new family. We arrived home last Sunday in Chicago to friends and family at the airport. It was wonderful to have all of our children meet each other. We all loaded up into our Suburban and drove home to Valparaiso to a house full of friends and family who greeted us. We enjoyed visiting and introducing our children to everyone.

Our neice Lydia made this "Welcome Home" sign in Ukrainian for us that she brought to the airport.

On Monday we all woke up EARLY! We stayed home, unpacked, began laundry (which took me until Thursday to get through!) and began assimilating together. On Tuesday off we went to get five haircuts. Then, on to Claires where Alina got her ears pierced. She was exicted about her new earrings, and has enjoyed showing them off. We have also been working on the Kumon reading system, which we began in Ukraine before we brought the children home. They have been doing well with it. Ruslan has had English in school, and his reading skills are good. He doesn't always understand the content, but can sound out the words very well. Yuri and Alina are learning the alphablet, and are getting some basic phrases and words down. I took them into the Kumon learning center this week, and they all did very well, and were very excited to find out that we will be going back this week. Alina even asked Zenon if she could go back the same day! This week they will be beginning the Rosetta Stone English on-line program through school. This will be good because they will be able to work on the language at home.

We've enjoyed the beach with friends, picnics, a friend's pool, water-park, new bicycles, and video games! All in all, we've had a good week and haven't had any major problems. Here are some photos that we thought you might enjoy:

Waiting for us to arrive at the airport!
Our friend Florian (who is Ukrainian) welcomed our children with Ukrainian bread and salt atop a beautiful table runner which his mother had stitched.

Addie and Alina in their room!

Ruslan in his new room.

Yuri excited about his new bed!

Alina's haircut

Finished product~~happy smiles!

Ruslan wanted his hair cut like Alex's!

Yuri after his haircut

Alina getting her ears pierced.

Friday, August 1, 2008


Ruslan, Yuri, and Alina in front of SDA today. We took them to meet the women in the office where we reviewed the files. The women were happy to meet them and enjoyed talking with them.

Zenon just called me as he walked out of the American Consulate here in Kiev and said he has the visas in hand!!!! This is a miracle---literally! The Consulate here was waiting for an email from the USCIS office in Chicago in order to process the papers. We were called at 9am this morning and told that the email had not come. We went for our interview this morning anyway in order to get the rest of the process completed. The frustration level was high today--after an elated phone call of joy accompanied by many tears last night.

Let me recap--I did not update yesterday due to phone calls and emails back and forth to America.

On Wednesday, we heard that the "approved age" was not in compliance with what was on our original application. We then began a series of phone calls, emails, skype calls, more emails, and lots and lots of tears. We began to work on finding out what needed to be done to change this. We were told by the USCIS office in Chicago that an addendum needed to be submitted to their office to change this and then they would let Kiev know so we could get our visas. This was prepared, and was taken to Chicago and hand delivered by my mother (who I believe broke all speed limits in order to do this) to the "officer" (at this point I use this term loosely) who requested the document. At that point my mother was only told that this document was not sufficient. Okay, let's begin by bumping up the stress level here to about a 9 on a scale of 1-10. So, now know that this isn't enough begins more emails and phone calls to figure out what to do.

A friend of mine initiated a phone call to her father who is a friend of our Congressman Pete Visclosky. He was willing to help us, but we needed to get him a form filled out with one of our signatures on it. I said, ok, let's get it done. But, of course, being a blond it didn't occur to me that I don't have a printer or fax machine here in this apartment--just our laptop. So, at 10pm here in Kiev (and 2pm in Indiana) my husband made a phone call to someone here to find a 24 hour internet cafe. Off he went, returning about 1:30am, successfully printing and faxing the document to Greg at the Congressman's office.

On Thursday, we received an email from the USCIS office stating that we needed to have a brand new home study done!!! You've got to be kidding me!?! That is virtually impossible, since we are in Kiev and home studies need to be done AT HOME by both parents. So, the stress level now rose to 25 on a scale of 1-10. At this point, we were completely mystified at the response we received from the USCIS.

The Congressman's office began a string of phone calls and investigation into the situation on our behalf. Thursday evening we received a phone call from him stating that the supervisor reviewed the file, and would sign off on it immediately, allowing the visas to be processed. This required her to send an email to Kiev with this information. So, we were so excited, crying tears of joy, and ready to come home with our children.

This morning began with THE phone call from the U.S. Consulate's office: no email! We felt like we were kicked in the stomach again. No email???? So, off to the appointment--and praying like crazy that the email would arrive by days end. We needed to wait until 4pm Kiev time (8am back in Chicago). At 4pm Zenon decided to go to the U.S. Consulate office and wait for the approval to be transmitted. On the way to the Consulate, Zenon phoned Greg and updated him about the situation. The Consulate office closes at 4:30 and they waited to close at 5 while he was there. At 5 minutes to 5pm, Zenon in TEARS, asked for them to call Greg at Congressman Visclosky's office. The consulate graciously complied and called Greg for a last minute bailout. Greg didn't understand why the email had not yet been processed by the USCIS Manager. Within moments of the conversation, the Consulate received a phone call followed by - you guessed it - THE E-MAIL!!!!!!!!

Zenon called me at 5:25 and said he just left the American Consulate's office with the VISA's in hand!!!!!!!

Our God is still on the throne when everything looks hopeless!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Today has been a long and emotionally frustrating day. We thought that our request from the home study agency that was done yesterday would work, but we woke up to an email stating that we needed more documentation. Our friends in the United States all knew this before we did!! So, when our days started at 7am, it was only 3am at home. This meant that we stressed until 8am, until any offices were open. So, five hours later, we were able to begin "working" on this situation from here.

After numerous emails, phone calls, skype calls--I think we are getting closer to getting our visas for the kids. Please pray that the USCIS office in Chicago will find favor with our situation and be willing to push the documentation through. Originally we were told that our home study agency wouldn't be able to do anything until at least next Tuesday because the lady we originally met with was on vacation. AGH! So, prayer, phone calls, pleadings, a letter of request--may our God find favor on our children.

At the moment it is 12:20am, and Zenon left about an hour and a half ago looking for a 24 hour Internet cafe with a printer and fax machine. Our local Congressman's office will help us, but the need a signed faxed request on a specific form. We learned of this at 10:10 pm here. So, off he went. Please pray that our congressman's office will also be able to help us bring our children home.

Zenon made a comment today about them being orphans, during a conversation we were having, and then I looked at him, with tears in my eyes (okay, I'm crying again) and said, "They are not orphans--they are OUR CHILDREN!" It hit us both at that moment. Just because I can't bring them to the United States today, doesn't mean they are any less our children.

We have plane tickets for Saturday, and hope that this will be resolved by then. If not, we will have to figure out what to do next.

Please continue to pray for us!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Kiev-Visa Problems

We did not take the train last night, it was full! So we left Ternopil at 5:30am this morning to take a mini bus to Kiev. The drive was about 5 1/2 hours. We slept for awhile this morning while driving. The sun was out and it was pleasant.

We arrived in Kiev and went to the American Consulate to make an appointment to submit our documents for visas for the children. We were informed that the children we have adopted do not meet the ages that were approved for by the USCIS office (office of immigration). She said that the visas would be approved only after an addendum was submitted by our home study agency to the USCIS office stating that we are approved by them to adopt children older than 8 years old. We had no way of knowing about this. It was hard, but I didn't burst into tears at the counter (even though I wanted to!). Then told Zenon and Valery. This began a series of phone calls to the US and within the US to see what can be done.

Once the addendum is faxed to the USCIS office, then it is a matter of time (days???weeks???) for them to notifiy the American Consulate in Kiev that this change is approved. Once that happens we can get their visas and go home.

Please pray for us while this is happening. There been lots of tears (by me) and prayer that this won't take very long. We would really like to use our plane tickets for Saturday!!

PS If you know of anyone who can help us, please let us know!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Last Day in Ternopil

We have had a busy day here in Ternopil! We began by being woken up by the kids-- we definitely weren't ready to wake up yet. But, we began our day by visiting a family who is working on their apartment close to here. When you purchase an apartment in Ukraine, you get walls. Just walls. No heating, electrical, flooring, walls, doors, windows, NOTHING-- for an incredible amount of money! We visited for a while and then walked back to where we are staying to get ready to go out to the orphanage.

We arrived at the orphanage after picking up Tatiana and a couple of women from her office as well as several journalists. The final documents were filled out and then we signed the final paper!
Signing the Final Documents at the orphanage with Natalia

Talking with reports about the adoption process.

After the final signings, the reports wanted these photos taken.

Photo for the journalist

Picture with fairy tale figures carved out of trees at the park.

Zenon's Ukrainian fashion statement!

We enjoyed lunch at a Chinese restaurant. Everything was fine, until we heard a splash, and then Zenon pulled Alina out of the goldfish pond by her foot. I thought it was hilarious! We laughed, she was wet, but dried on the walk home.

We were unable to get train tickets to Kiev, all trains were sold out. So, we will be getting up at 4:15, getting in a van at 5am and going to Kiev. We need to get their medical exams done so that we can submit the documents for their visas to America. So, tomorrow will be long and tonight is short!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

We're in Ternopil!

We arrived in Ternopil this morning (Sunday) at 7:15am. We left Chicago on Friday after sitting in the airplane for over 2 1/2 hours waiting for the catering company to bring the food for the flight. Needless to say, our 8 1/2 in the plane ended up being over 11!! By the time we reached Frankfurt, Germany we had to go directly from our terminal to the next terminal and began boarding in the next 20 minutes. Unfortunatley, we missed having breakfast with my Aunt Brooks and Uncle Ed, who live in Germany. They were going to meet us at the airport and we didn't have enough time between flights.

We arrived in Kiev Sat. afternoon and were TIRED! We got to Valery's apartment and took an hour nap, then a long walk to keep awake. Valery treated us to a wonderful dinner he prepared. Then we took a second two hour nap and then were off to the train station. After we arrived in Ternopil, we slept for another three hours and now feel pretty "caught up".

We arrived at the orphange at around 1:30pm and met Natalya and the children. We were all so excited to see each other!!
All of us together!

We took the children, Valery, and Natalya and enjoyed lunch together.

The Last Walk Away
After lunch we decided to walk back to YWAM after purchasing three DVD movies for the kids. We got Tarzan2 in Russian, Meet the Robinsons in Ukranian, and the Water Horse in Ukrainian. We got movies that we don't have at home because they are originally in English and we can change the DVD to English for the rest of the family at home. During this walk they all asked at one time or another if they would ever have to go back to the orphange. We were glad to be able to tell them no. They will stay with us tonight--and get to wear their new pajamas! We will go back to the orphange tomorrow to sign some documents and pick up the things they want to bring home with them.


After - After taking showers and getting on their new clothes.
Showing off their new backpacks!

Ukranian Orphans