Sunday, December 18, 2011


Okay, so it's almost midnight. I've tried a couple of times to write a post but it never quite works out. I'm either too much of a perfectionist or I have too many interruptions to actual complete a post or the toilet overflows or someone is hungry or needing to be held...or I just can't come up with a good title. Since that approach is NOT working for me, I'm trying a different one.

I was told that I should write every day (yeah, right) and not worry about how things read or whether it's well written (you poor readers!). I guess this is the way of the bloggers, so I'll give it a shot.

There is so much to write about, but many of those miracles and stories will have to wait. I have to stay focused...I'm here tonight to record where we are right now in the process. Ultimately, my desire is to have this blog be a journal for Ruslan and Nastia to have so they know all the ins and outs and work and miracles that went in to bringing them here...all the things they couldn't possibly know while they are in an orphanage in Ukraine; all the efforts of people who love them already, people they don't even know.

So back to it being almost midnight...

The typical way of things is that if you don't get your paperwork in to the offices in Ukraine by November 30th, you're kind of up a creek. On November 30th, they close the offices until sometime in January. If your papers aren't in before then, you get stacked in the pile of other papers coming be reviewed at some point in the future after the offices open back up. Because we had been focused primarily on fund raising and the demands of our family and responsibilities, we didn't get our request in for the homestudy until later than some of the other families. We didn't have the funds to do it anyway.

However, it started to get very late in the year and we began to feel concerned about our timing.

On November 21st, we had our homestudy done. A homestudy is when a caseworker comes into your home and interviews you and your children specifically to find out if your environment and parenting style is safe and nurturing. (It's tempting to suggest that everyone have a homestudy done before they are allowed to procreate, but I really don't want the government to have that much say in what we people do...but it's still tempting considering some of the headlines nowadays.)

Honestly, prior to our caseworker's arrival I felt a bit like I was going before the judgment bar. I had no frame of reference for what this would be like. Was she going to care that we have weeds in the front yard? Was she going to look in my basement? Check if my medicines and cleaners were put away? Make sure our animals were well fed?? None of that happened, but it was interesting to go through the mental wringer anyway...really gives you a fresh new look at yourself!

Suzanne came to our door and was delightful to be with. For three hours, she talked with us and our children and asked all the questions she needed to. A few days later, we had a 12 page document in our possession...her write-up of our family and life. A bit like a really long eulogy! What a fabulous thing to have.

Along with copies of this official homestudy, we had other documents that had to go to the lt. governor's office to be apostilled. Apostilling is an international notarizing and can only be done at the capitol building. Of course, I took all the kids and we had a ball going through the capitol and having experiences we've never had before! We raced back down from the capitol and FedEx-ed the paperwork to Ukraine...another thing I'd never done before.

Our agency has been so wonderful getting us every bit of detailed information we need to have the process go so smoothly. When I went to FedEx, I had a paper I had printed from my email that told me exactly what to write and how to fill out the form...everything someone TOTALLY inexperienced would need to have. It was like having my hand held through all the steps. What a relief.

So, the next concern was whether or not we would be able to get our papers in before the office closed...the next day. Actually, that's impossible. You can't overnight to Ukraine. However, while we were busy trying to juggle everything earlier in the fall, they had closed the offices in Ukraine to change the ministry over the adoptions. They had been closed for three weeks. We were told that sometimes they keep the offices open longer when that happens, giving more time to make up for the weeks of the closure. I prayed and prayed they would remain open. We waited anxiously to hear if our paperwork arrived before they closed. It had! Our review date there in Ukraine is February 22nd...which makes our travel time approximately mid-April.

Now our job is to get our immigration paperwork taken care of. Thus, I'm seeing midnight. Immigration is a big, important hurdle. Our caseworker said the paperwork is "coveted". I don't know what they mean by that, but I'm sure I'm going to find out. This whole process has been one learning experience after another, one miracle after another. I've done things I didn't even know people did!

So, on to more paperwork...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cool Kids in Castlerock

I found out a few weeks back that my younger sister and her clan in Colorado were raising money for our adoption.

She shared the following:

"So, after seeing your adoption jar story, we set our own one up on the piano.  As we earned money or got allowance, we would put money into it.  It was slow going, because no real paying jobs. :)  I was praying for ideas to get the boys involved in earning money but nothing was coming to me.  One day, Nick was leaving for work and said, "Boys, I want all those leaves raked up in the yard before I get home."  Then it hit me.  We could rake leaves for the neighbors for a donation of $5-$10.   So I made up a flyer explaining "Raking Leaves for Adoption" and when the boys got home from school, we got warm clothes on and started knocking doors.  We only got done with one house when the rain started to fall, but that didn't stop the boys.  We did 3 more homes before it was way too wet.  That night, the rain turned into snow.  We thought our little business was over, but a few days later, it all dried up and we were back knocking doors.  Most people gave very generously.  One of our friends gave $50.00 because he was adopted and this meant something to him!  One lady saw what we were doing and didn't have leaves, but asked if we would walk her dog for a donation.  The boys loved that!  :) 

Next I asked around our ward for donations for the Garage Sale.  We were given so much stuff.  For two (very cold) mornings in Nov. we sold these items while the boys sold Hot Chocolate and Caramels.  One older (gruff) gentleman came and brought his married son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter to the sale.  The adults were very tattooed and had funky hair, but they were very nice and friendly.  As the others were looking around the yard sale, the older man started asking about the adoption.  We talked for a bit about the ridiculous cost of the adoption, the sad things that can happen to the children when they can no longer stay at the orphanage, and other things.  Our conversation ended, his son purchased some items, then they walked to their truck...the older gentleman walked back up to me and shook my hand.  As he let go of my hand, he left something in it, it was a $50.00 bill!  He said, "Give this to your brother".  Then he turned around and walked away.  The tears started to flow! 

Next, I made Nick's grandma's caramels and sold them to people.  After buying 4 bags of caramels, a good friend of mine, Stephanie, mailed me a letter which said, "I just wanted to make another little contribution to the adoption fund...I am genuinely in awe of people who adopt older children, so I have great admiration for your brother & sister-in-law and want to support their great cause.  Plus all things Ukrainian are almost as good as things Russian (she served a mission in Russia), so that tugs and my heart too! Give them our best wishes! ~Stephanie"    In the letter was $100.00! 

Well, thanks for letting me share our experience.  And thanks for the opportunity to serve!  We love you."

What more can we say than just, "WOW!"  We love you too, Sara and the Boys.