Sunday, April 12, 2015

Almost three years later...a long overdue update

Life has continued to progress for us since our adoption in Ukraine almost three years ago.  With all that has been going on, writing another blog post has been far from the top of the priority list.

However, I just found out that our blog has continued to be accessed almost a thousand times a month.  This reality makes it quite apparent that there are many families considering international adoption and needing support and perspective.

It is with a true feeling of responsibility that I return to this blog and give you an idea of what can become of your lives and the lives of the children you adopt.

My last blog post indicated that we had an exciting announcement.  Two and a half years later, here is the announcement possibly long awaited by many who have been interested in our story:

Here is Lizzy, soon to be two years old.  About a month after we came home from Ukraine, I was pregnant with our 7th biological child, sweet Lizzy, bringing our count to 9 children.

Morning sickness while homeschooling 8 children, including a toddler and two new children who couldn't speak English, then a hospitalization and bed rest during the last trimester, wasn't a bed of roses, to be honest.  There were days that were some of the most challenging in my life, physically and emotionally.  Day after day, month after month, I had to cling to the true knowledge, the unquestionable reality, that God had asked us to bring these children into our family.  I clung to the memory of the moment before the adoption was final when I had stopped in my tracks, looked my six other children square in the eyes and told them in no uncertain terms that the miracles we had seen and experienced were not to be forgotten, that in the hard times we would have to remind ourselves that God had made it our knowledge, not just our faith, that this was what we were supposed to do.  That moment has replayed in my mind countless times, giving me the strength to press on and rely on the Lord's strength when mine was gone.

No one can do this without the utmost assurance that it is right, that it is God's will.  Like any other challenge in our lives, like any other commitment that requires all we have, all we are, and all we will ever receive, we must know that it is God's will for us so we can press forward when all hell seems to combine against us.  It just must be known.

Two and a half years later, here we are:

In short, it has been as amazing as it has been difficult.  Here are some highlights:

Our oldest son earned his Eagle Scout award by completing a full size basketball court for our town's park.  The ribbon cutting for the court was while we were in Ukraine on one of the unexpected, need-to-be-gone-in-three-days-or-less type trips.  It was a moment I had never wanted to miss, but there was no choice.

Now, a couple of years later, Ruslan is also completing his Eagle project and has chosen to install a fence around that same basketball court.

If you are at all aware of the requirements for the Eagle Award in the Boy Scout program, you'll be able to understand that for Ruslan to earn all the merit badges required for the Eagle, as well as complete the project, in 2 1/2 years is nothing short of remarkable, especially considering that it took him a good year to be fairly fluent in English.

Not only that, but through a homeschooling program, classes online and classes at the local high school, Ruslan will graduate next May with his high school diploma.

He was 15 1/2 when we brought him here.  He had no high school credit, no ability to speak or write in English.  And yet, in these short couple of years he has accomplished more than could have ever been expected.

He is also receiving his drivers license in a couple of weeks, having passed the permit test, the drivers class and driving test.  He intends to join The National Guard this year to help with his college expenses and receive more specific training.  He wants to be a mechanical engineer.

He is just about the most driven, focused person I have ever met.  I have no doubt he will be successful in anything he endeavors to do, because of who he is.

I'll never forget the day my husband came home and told me that, after driving practice, Ruslan said he couldn't believe he would be driving.  He never thought he would have the opportunity to have a drivers license.

He has received a position at a Boy Scout camp this summer as a camp worker, his first real job.  He couldn't be more joyful at the endless opportunities he is realizing.

Nastia is younger.  She is 12 so there isn't as much to report about leaps and bounds like we have witnessed with Ruslan and that are more common for young adulthood.

However, she is completely fluent in English to the point that her accent is almost non-existent.  Something that can't be said for Ruslan.

She is a sweet, hard working peacemaker who tries all she can to be helpful.  She isn't strong academically like Ruslan is, but her strengths lie in her nurturing, patient nature and her organizational skills.  She will have no trouble finding a future.

Both children are active in church and community activities, serving in leadership callings and enjoying all the opportunities that come from a loving, Christ-centered congregation.  They are evidence that internationally adopted older children can and do thrive, learn, and become great people with much to contribute to the world.