Friday, February 27, 2009

Update/Two Anniversaries

Beautiful Teresa in my wedding gown accompanied by handsome Caleb

Even the boys got excited about dressing up after watching our wedding video. Billy is above and James is below.

Here is Caleb "stylin'" all by himself. He loves to wear a tie, by the way.

And here is beautiful Miss Scheri in wedding gown and veil. In the second picture she is holding the vase filled with a dozen red roses which my husband bought for me for our anniversary.

Yesterday (26th) we received this message from Nastya:

"Hello Joy,
Everything is OK here. We have talked to inspector and some other people and at the moment waiting to get in touch with a lawyer that has connections with the head judge to plead our case and have petition signed to a "good" judge. "Our" people are asking around to make sure we get a good judge this time and it's not a blind deal as the first time. . . . "

Today (27th) Nastya requested some additional paperwork "just in case" the new judge may want it including a letter about why we would want to adopt a child with Down syndrome and another explaining why we could not be at the preliminary hearings but promising to be at the final adoption hearing. We will need to get both of these notarized and apostilled. I printed off a bunch of pictures of Caleb and Steven as well. Who could resist those two cuties?

It may sound strange but I welcomed having something concrete to do to forward our adoption. I am missing Steven so much. My heart is just heavy.

Please don't think that doesn't mean we aren't having fun times here though. Yesterday, Feb. 26, marked the one-year anniversary of Caleb and I returning home from Ukraine. It's unbelievable both to realize he's been with us for 12 months already and also to remember he hasn't been with us his entire life--if that makes any sense.

AND yesterday was our 15th wedding anniversary. Marrying Kevin was the 2nd smartest thing I've ever done in my whole life--2nd to giving my life to Jesus. So of course the kids and I had to get out our wedding video and oooh and ahhh over the romance and giggle over scenes such as the tiny flower girl dumping her basket of confetti on the platform and playing in her mess with her little hindy up in the air; Kevin putting frosting on my nose; Kevin's Bronco wrapped in several rounds of cassette tape so we could barely get in the doors to drive away from the church. Along the way the kids got all excited and decided to dress up for the occasion followed by the girls each taking a turn trying on my wedding dress followed by some of them deciding to cook a fancy dinner for mommy and daddy and use the china. The evening didn't go exactly as planned-Kevin didn't get home from work until about 10 pm--which made for some pretty disappointed kids who had to make do with Mommy's stir fry and go to bed. I do think they had fun anyway.

My sweetie gave me a dozen red roses and a very imaginative "Hawaii" kit: lei, tropical body wash, perfume and a DVD of tropical sites and sounds. I sure love this guy.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Spiritual Warfare.

I just want to thank you all for the prayers and encouragement. The words of IICorinthians 10:4-5 just keep echoing in my mind: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but they are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God . . .

I really am not one to imagine a devil behind every problem but in this adoption I really believe that we are waging a spiritual war. (I have to believe this because the above verses have played over and over and over in my mind from December when we were originally trying to get a court date until now--when we are still trying to get a court date.) Please do not think that I imagine myself to be a mighty dragon slayer nor that I am trying to demonize any person involved in our adoption. Absolutely not. Our facilitators are wonderful. The inspector was very perfuse in her well-wishing; the director of the orphanage was gracious to us and warm to the children under his care; the lady personally caring for Steven welcomed us and seemed very excited for him to have a family. Though I've never met the judge we were originally assigned, I can only hope that she was doing her best in a situation that she had no former experience with.

No I believe the warfare is against a whole system of thought that ruled in this area of the globe for many years--the atheistic idea that there is no God. I personally believe that it is this system of thought that devalues people with special needs. If we do not believe in God then we certainly do not believe in creation. If people are not created then they are at best just accidents of nature. And if that 'accident' happens to have an extra chromosome . . . well, the whole world is better off without them--let's just keep them hidden away where the population at large can pretend they don't exist.

I am no dragon slayer in myself but I know someone who is-- and His name is Jesus. In fact, Jesus already defeated the 'dragon' Satan on the cross. So LORD, I claim your victory in Steven's situation. Bring our son home, LORD. You know all about his birthday on March 6. You know I thought he'd be with us long before that.

"Making war in the heavenlies, tearing down principalities, standing firm in Jesus' victory.
Making war in the heavenlies, casting down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God." (sorry, I can't remember who sang this song)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Now That We're Set to Private

Now that this blog is set to private I'd like to give a little more info about the difficulty we are having with our adoption process for Steven. I'll just copy the messages from our wonderful facilitator Nastya. She and her husband Alexey work with Oleg.

On Tues Jan 27 19:36 , 'Ovsyanik - A' sent:
Hello Joy,
We have been getting your e-mails and answered all of them. Please, confirm you receive this one. I will also copy Oleg on this one and he can send it to you again. We haven't had the hearing yet. Today in mail we received written request from court asking for extra copies of your dossier. Alexey will take care of these tomorrow. Inspector tells we got a very slow and overcautious judge. It has been frustrating to deal with this court but we are fighting your case.

On Thu Jan 29 11:34 , 'Ovsyanik - A' sent:
Hello Joy,
I wanted to warn you that court has been extremely difficult (and I don't say that usually), every day with them is a huge struggle for everybody. Finally after lots of fighting and fixing unneccesary things for them, we have the first hearing (only for Alexey as a POA) for February 12th. I do see it as good news, at least we are moving forward, maybe not as fast as we would want. Please, hang on in there some more. Things should get easier after court.

February 12
Hello Joy,
The judge we got is very difficult and the court did not go too well. She asked for few more papers that we need to get ready by next Monday - a letter from US Embassy stating that the child will have same civil rights as the child born in the USA and a letter stating that secretary of state has authority to issue apostille. Needless to say neither the Embassy, nor us have never heard about the second letter, but will try to come up with something. Court also needs a letter from me that I have not worked anywhere before I became a private entrepreneur. Another stupid thing, but what can we do? I also have to redo all translations for your dossier, because I put a sign "#" and should have put the word "number" in apostilles.
I will be doing that tomorrow. We would also ask you to write two letters, get them notarized and apostilled and sent back to us. The next hearing Alexey will go to is Monday, and then February 26. Until then I will need to get these two letters from you. The first one should say that you cannot be present at the preliminary hearing and ask to hear the case in your absence and promise to be there for the final hearing. The second one should explain why you have decided to adopt a child with DS, the judge finds it very suspicious.
The whole thing was so ridiculous, that both inspector and prosecutor openly laughed. I know Roman is the person we all should fight for, he simply doesn't deserve to be left in a place he is in right now just because we won't fight too hard, so we promise to fight until the end. But we have to warn it will not be easy. I have consulted with lawyers and my mom (she is a judge as well) and know what to do and what to say during next hearings, next Monday and February 26. So, please, be patient, pray, and think about the letter why you want a child with DS. I will give you sample for the first letter tomorrow or on week-end.
Best wishes, Nastya

On Wed Feb 18 3:01 , 'Ovsyanik - A' sent:
Hello Joy,
Now our Internet is not doing well. It is on and off and I need to make sure I catch the right time to send any letters. Alexey got all papers from court. The judge returned the papers to fix the apostilles (I told you). The plan for now is trying to get a different judge. We have talked to some people that might be able to help and are working on it right now. Please, hold on to those letters for a few days, maybe they won't be needed if we get a better judge.
Please, hold on, we are doing the best we can,

I have so appreciated all your prayers and encouragement.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Ready to get on the bus to go to school for occupational therapy 2-19-09

Caleb on Valentine's Day with candy and a new outfit 2/14/09

Caleb enjoying his bath with his new bath toys on 2/18/09

Here are several recent pictures of Mr. Caleb. Today I was printing off photos to include with the 4-page "Annual report on adopted children from Ukraine." I'm finally ready to mail it off except for photocopies of therapy reports. A report is due yearly on the anniversary of our adoption until our son is 18.
Also, I added some pictures to both posts about the Special Olympics.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Adoption Stuff

I'm not sure how much I should say here since for now this remains a public blog. Just please continue to pray for our adoption process and for our wonderful facilitators who are working so hard on our behalf to bring our son home.

Also a heads-up to those scrambling for possible financial help with an adoption: here in Idaho there is the possibility of receiving up to $2000 subsidy from the state for non-recurring adoption expenses incurred in adoption of a child with special needs. The money is given after the adoption is finalized. In this state this is also available for international adoptions in certain situations. I handed in the paperwork yesterday for Steven. (I had not thought it was possible when we adopted Caleb. Bummer.) Not all states make this money available for international adoptions but it is worth checking out. The state has 6-8 weeks to make a decision.

I am very seriously considering making this blog private--perhaps until the adoption is finalized. I don't want anything posted on here to jeopardize our son's coming home in any way.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Standing on the Promises

I want to thank all of you for your prayers. I have just been reminding myself of the tremendous power of prayer.

James 5:16b The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (NIV)

II Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive very thought to make it obedient to Christ. (NIV)

I would love to hear your favorite verses about prayer as well.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Court Today Was Pretty Rough

I know . . . 2 posts in one day!!

Thanks to everyone who has been praying for our preliminary court today. I didn't go so smoothly but that doesn't mean God hasn't been hearing our prayers. In fact, I hope you will all PRAY even harder for Steven.

I really don't think I should give all the details here but our facilitator was asked to prepare a few more papers to give to the judge at a hearing on Monday, 16th. We have also been asked to prepare two letters, get them notarized and apostilled and back to Ukraine before another hearing on Feb 26. One of these letters is to be an explanation to the judge of why we would want to adopt a child with DS.

It looks like we could be in for quite a lengthy procedure unless God sees fit to intervene more quickly. Otherwise may He give us the strength and courage to persevere. Please pray for Steven's physical and emotional health and safety during all of this. I'm so glad to know that God is the defender of the fatherless, that He is a Mighty Warrior, that He is a Mighty Conqueror, that He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, that Jesus is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. The devil may just as well give up.

Fun Day at the Olympics

Winners receiving their medals in one of the alpine skiing events at Bogus Basin

Caleb at Qwest Arena where the figure skating competitions were in progress
Caleb, T, J and B at the ice skating rink

Caleb playing ice hockey at Boise Center on the Grove

Yesterday I was a criminal and kept 4 of our kids out of school. I just could not have the Olympics so close and not attend--especially since I am the mom of some special kids myself.

(Our older daughter didn't want to miss school because somehow good attendance keeps her from having to take semester tests--so she got to go to Grandma and Grandpa's house after school. I think the one-on-one time with them was good for her, too.)

The rest of us went to Boise via the tire repair shop in Twin Falls. Thankfully before we left Kevin had noticed we had a low tire and upon further investigation found a screw or something sticking out of it. I was bummed at getting such a late start but glad I didn't break down out in the desert somewhere. It was nearly 12:30 when we got into Boise and the kids voted to go straight up to Bogus Basin to watch skiing. Though I have lived in Southern Idaho nearly all of my life, I have never been to that mountain. My husband warned me it was a winding mountain road and he definitely knew what he was talking about. The sign said 16 miles and I'm glad I set the trip odometer so we'd all have a clue about 'how much longer?' The scenery was gorgeous with snow-flocked pines and wonderful views of the valley below. One sign I passed marked the altitude at 6000 feet.

We finally reached the lodge and found a place to park. For some reason (!) they wouldn't let us go through the 'athletes only' entrance though the nice volunteer manning the entrance indicated it was only because we didn't have official badges, not because of any obvious lack of the 'athletic look' :) She gave Caleb a pin from Croatia. So we had to return to the entrance my middle son had found in the first place. We got inside to find a big group of people gathered around the medals podium and group after group of athletes being given awards in various divisions of competition. I know there was a giant slalom event but I'm not sure what else. We were standing right where the athletes would exit after being given their medals so I know my oldest son B got to give some high-fives. I honestly was disappointed that there was no flag-raising ceremony or playing of the national anthems for the winner of the gold but I know that would be a huge undertaking. It was fun to see so many countries represented and see the excitement, pride and sheer joy on so many faces. We watched these medal ceremonies for quite awhile, then decided to see if there was anyone still coming down the mountain--no, not really except a really short run. We visited a shop where J bought one of those throw-away type cameras on a 50% off sale--no one else bought anything. Of course, he had to take a few photos. Then back to the van and back down, down, down, down the mountain road to Boise.

I did amazingly well re-finding the Qwest arena where they were holding the figure skating competition (MANY of the streets in down-town Boise are one-ways so I couldn't exactly re-trace my path)--I'm bragging because this is quite an accomplishment for me :) We had a great time watching the freestyle figure skaters and I was pleased to see that this competition was also divided into several skill levels and age levels as well. It was cool to be in the midst of such a supportive crowd clapping and cheering and shaking those clacker-things when an athlete succeeded at performing a particular move and clapping encouragingly when someone fell and got back up to try again. It felt like an emotionally safe place to be. My daughter T is 12 and often embarrassed at her older brother B's behavior (14 with an autistic spectrum disorder) I did try to maintain the noise level of his screaming cheers and discussed again the inappropriateness of hugging strangers (he did well on that one) but otherwise felt like he was probably mainly among friends. The older kids all had money in their pockets and a concession stand close by--I guess I could count all that walking back and forth as PE if we were still home-schooling :)

And what can I say about Mr. Caleb. . . . One funny thing was that the seats are like theater seats and his kept wanting to fold up with him in it. As usual if anyone else had food, he felt like he needed some, too. Finally he was getting so antsy with sitting that I got up with him to let him walk around. He was just in his socks and I didn't want to bother putting on his boots. So he decided he was an ice skater, too, I guess, because he was sliding his feet on the smooth cement, twirling in circles, trying to do the splits and trying to do somersaults--yes on the cement and yes with people walking all around him. Almost everyone thought he was adorable--and most of the time I did, too. He was having a GREAT time. A couple times, though, he nearly made someone trip because he'd be walking along normally and he'd just out-of-the-blue drop to the floor and start performing his antics. While he was 'on tour' we even got to see Louise from A New Beginning Adoption agency there in Boise. That is the agency we used for our home study. I was pleased when she said she follows our blog and knows we are still waiting for court.

We left that building about 7 pm and went over to another building, I think called the Boise Center on the Grove, and there was a place where the public could sometimes interact with the athletes. While we were there I didn't see any athletes but our kids had so much fun anyway. Caleb got involved in floor hockey and did not want to quit. Whether with other little kids or even bigger kids he was like a little tank in there with a mixture of the energizer bunny thrown in for good measure. He did have to be reminded repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly (you get the picture) to 'keep your stick down' so it didn't become a baseball bat. B and J faced off for a wii baseball game, followed by T and J first with baseball and then bowling. B went on to the Foosball table. No one wanted to leave but I had to remind everyone of a school day on Thursday. Before I leave this place in the story I do want to say how kind and helpful all of the volunteers working there were.

Then back to the parking garage, past Burger King for a milkshake and down the trail for home. We got home around 11:15 pm, I think. It was definitely a fun day at the Olympics.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Special Olympics World Games

Welcome to the Special Olympics World Games in Idaho, USA

My champions in front of the winners' podium
The Sun Valley Lodge with ice-carved sunshine in front

Swans and ducks in pond in front of the Lodge

Sorry I can't get the wonderful aroma on the page!

Waiting for our pizza

Caleb seems to have a bit of overfill on the pasta!

We here in Idaho have the unique privilege of hosting the Special Olympics World Games. I don't really know how we got this blessing but I am very excited about it. Yesterday (Saturday) we drove our motor home up to Sun Valley which is where the cross country skiing and snow boarding events are being held. (Sports events started today.) The sites were vacant yesterday because the 2500 athletes were at the very moving opening ceremony being held in Boise (much of which I've seen on TV.) Though I was bummed to miss the participants, I was still excited to get pictures of the places they will be competing. It was a beautifully clear and cold day and the scenery was great.

Then we went over by the Sun Valley Lodge, saw the swans and ducks, viewed some ice sculptures, passed numerous lighted trees around the resort which B. especially loved, visited the chocolate factory (my goodness, even the aroma of that place is high in calories) and then dined at Bald Mountain Pizza. Our waitress was from Austria, our waiter from Peru. The pizza was oh-my-goodness-delicious. On the way home we munched on candies (I had white chocolate w/ cashews and white chocolate with macadamia nuts--drool, drool.) The kids eventually fell asleep and we couldn't bear to awaken all of them so we all just slept in our driveway in the motor home! It was unexpected fun.

I really hope we can take the kids up to Boise sometime this week. That's where the Alpine events and figure skating competitions will be held. All the sporting events are free to the public. Tickets are required for opening and closing ceremonies (on Friday)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Just Have to Mention

Celebration of Caleb's Adoption Day

One year ago today Kevin and I went before a judge in Irpin, Ukraine and became the legal parents of Caleb. Isn't that just too cool!! I am so thankful that "God loved Caleb soooooo much that he sent Mommy and Daddy on an airplane all the way to Ukraine, and they picked up Caleb and brought him home." (that's how I tell it to Caleb)

Now that I can type a little easier (said son is no longer sitting on my lap trying to drive his car back and forth in front of the keyboard) I was hoping to fill you guys in on how Caleb is doing. Behaviorly, he is generally a very pleasant, cheery little guy but does push his limits a bit--like if I call him to come to me he might very leisurely get up and then see how many other detours he can take on the way to reaching me (picking things up off the floor, hugging the dog, grabbing a toy, etc.) He still eats well but is not as crazy about yogurt as he used to be--his current crave is bread. If he makes a little mess and you hand him a washcloth he might make more messes on purpose just to get to use the washcloth! If he doesn't want to drink something he might make a lot of it run down the front of his shirt. Sometimes he stuffs so much into his mouth at once that he can't get his lips all the way closed. I haven't yet figured out his rule about when he stuffs and when he doesn't.

Dressing: He likes to pick which shirt or pants to wear and knows which drawer they are kept in. A lot of time with choices he will just pick the last one you said: "Do you want to wear this one or that one?" and he'll pick whatever 'that' one is. One time though I gave him the choice between 2 shirts and he picked one still in the drawer. He is getting much better at putting on his own socks (not just larger socks) though fairly often the heel is on top or to the side of his foot. On his pants he's somewhat aware that he's supposed to put the side with the tag on the floor when he's sitting on the floor to dress. He absolutely loves to wear gloves, though a matching pair is definitely not necessary :) He is getting really good at putting them on himself--even getting all his fingers in the separate fingers. He loves to wear his sweaters and his sweat jackets. His favorite shoes are the crocs--just has to step into them. He also likes to wear a panty-hose-type knee high either on his foot or his hand.

Potty: Still wearing pull-ups. Still uses the potty very well if you tell him to go potty but otherwise is equally glad to use the diaper. One time in January he had just got done going pee and was still standing by his potty. He said, "Momma, poo-poo" and I told him to sit down and he went poop. Also recently he was in the living room and I happened to look up and notice the poo-poo face and asked him if he needed to go potty. He said 'yes' and hurried down the hall, got his pants down and was fussing cuz the poop landed on the potty rather than in it. These instances give me reason to hope we are heading in the right direction.

Talking: Loves to socialize. Waves at most everyone in the grocery store. At the restaurant after celebrating my birthday, he went to the men at the next table and gave them each a hug. One guy said that was probably the only hug he'd get all day. When he's supposed to be getting off the bus , he likes to take time to tell his friends and the driver bye-bye SEVERAL times. He says a LOT of words--many he just says the beginning consonant and vowel (like 'bah' for bye)--but you can usually figure out what he is saying. We are working on the ending consonant too--he gets the 2nd consonant on words like mama, papa, daddy, bus, sockie, go'se for horse, bus. He tries to say his own name and points at himself. Says nanu (nannoo--like Mork from Ork) very emphatically over and over if you give him something, especially food (thank you) Knows several parts of his body. No colors yet.

Playing: Can do our 9-piece puzzles (where you put the right piece in the right hole) Did the shapes, animals and vehicles yesterday. I got out one puzzle at a time, dumped out the pieces and Caleb put them all in without any coaching from me except to tell him he could do it himself when he was trying to hand the horse to me for help. Is playing better with toys. For instance, gets a car or truck, puts something or someone in it and pushes it around on the floor making car noises. Loves to push his vacuum (particularly in the same exact spot where I'm pushing mine) and ride his bus; also sometimes gets on James' standing reindeer. Can do front somersaults very well. Can jump on the tramp but not on a hard surface. Still needs either handrail or person to climb up or down stairs.

Funnies from this week: about Monday, my Dad was carrying out a basket of laundry (my marvelous mother helps keep us from being buried under dirty clothes) and Caleb kept holding on to the other end and saying 'shoes' Finally it occurred to us that he was letting Papa know that he had his shoes on so could 'help' carry it to Papa's car (other times we've used the excuse that he didn't have shoes on as an excuse to let Papa carry the basket without so much assistance :) :) :) Caleb and Papa adore each other by the way and Caleb really does his best to keep Papa from leaving. Caleb will climb in his lap and try to unzip his jacket, climb up his legs or stand in the doorway itself trying to block the exit. Yesterday I had to crack up though cuz Dad had set the laundry back down on the floor by the door and Caleb just crawled in it and laid down on top of the dirty clothes.

I hope you can tell we LOVE this little guy. Won't it be fun when Steven gets here, too!!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Prayers Appreciated

Thanks to everyone who takes time to leave a comment (and to everyone who takes time to read as well) It just blesses my heart to receive all this well-wishing. And I do so hope we can meet SOMEONE from RR when we return to Kiev--it didn't work out in December but I totally understand. Mary, I would love to meet you.

I just wanted to answer a question that Mandy had. Yes, this preliminary hearing is one that Kevin and I don't actually attend--just A. who has power of attorney. I don't remember anything like this when we adopted Caleb. Our facilitator is hoping the process smooths out after this first hearing. And I'm hoping that one part of the procedure on the 12th will be setting a date for the adoption hearing. I'm not that good at living in limbo.

I really, really (did I mention 'REALLY') covet your prayers. Steven needs to come home.