The Family

The Family

Friday, April 27, 2012

Papa Has Left The Building....

Well, the time has now come that Tim had to leave to go back home to our kids, and to work.  Yucky that work thing  :)  But, it pays the bills!!

So now Schuyler and I are here on our own, finishing up the 10 day wait, and possibly some additional days because of holidays here, and then getting the kids' passports done.  Then we are off, again, to Kiev for the medicals, visas and embassy paperwork.

It has been really beautiful here the past couple of days.  We visited Charlotte yesterday and hoped to take her outside, but ended up not being able to play at all because she had a temperature.  Minor cold they said, but they still are very careful with the children when they are sick.  So we blew kisses through the window and sadly hopped back in the car for the long drive home.  Really wish we had known she was sick before we went    ALL the way out there.  Oh well.

We only had a short visit with Atticus yesterday too because although he was quite happy, halfway through the visit he decided to upchuck (as my great aunt Helen used to say) all over himself....... and us.  Guess he had too much lunch.  :)  So he went back to the nanny for a clothing change, so I thought, but nope I was wrong.  End of the visit-- see you tomorrow.  Ah well, just one of those days.

Don't know when we will get to visit Charlotte again, Marina said she would call each day to see when she is feeling better so we can go.  But we did get to visit with Atticus this morning and he is back to his usual self.  Smiley and cheerful and no upchucking in sight!  Glad for that one.

We had fun walking him in the pram, singing him church songs, swinging him on the swings and playing with toys.  Good visit.

So that is about it for now.  Schuyler and I are trying to blend in as Ukrainian girls as much as possible but it still isn't working too well.  She forgot her high heels and I left my see through crochet blouse at home.  Darn!  ;)  Now that it is warm out those are all the rage you know!  (you left too soon honey!  heehee-- just kidding!)

Anyway, we are both missing Papa and all the laughter he brought to our trip for the past month, but we are glad he is home safely and glad our kids have one parent back home at least.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

We Passed Court!!!!!

This morning in a court in Simferopol, Ukraine, a judge pronounced Tim and I to be the new parents of Charlotte Rose and Atticus Grant Rowe!!!  They are orphans no longer!!  They are now beloved children, loved by a family.  They are a son, a daughter, a sister and a brother, a grandson, a granddaughter.  They are LOVED!!!!!

We have been blessed beyond measure all throughout this journey where we have watched God's blessings pour down, miracles unfold, and many wonderful things happen.  We are so thankful that God allowed our hearts to be pricked for these two children whom no one else wanted, whom no one ever came and visited, whom no one loved.  Thank you Lord for your goodness and blessings.  Thank you for allowing us to be their parents!!

And thank you to all the many people who have helped us with this adoption!!  All the people at Reece's Rainbow, the team here in country, the friends at home who prayed for us, have been watching and caring for our children while we are gone, the friends from Sacred Selections who helped fund our way.... a big THANK YOU to all of you!!  We appreciate all your kindnesses on behalf of these children so very much!!!!

God is GOOD!  All the time!  He allowed these children to be rescued from a place of despair where they were unwanted and brought into a FAMILY.  Today there are TWO LESS!!!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Our Visit To The Older Children's Orphanage

I hardly know where to begin.  I don't know that I have had enough time to completely make sense of all I want to say here, so if it all comes out in a tumble of words you have to decipher to make any sense of it I apologize in advance, I just really wanted to blog about this while it is fresh in my mind.

We were fortunate enough yesterday to make a visit with our friend Natalya to the older children's orphanage for non special needs kids nearby.  This is the orphanage which allowed many children to come to Raleigh, NC last summer for an orphan hosting program which we volunteered a little time with, and this is the same Natalya we met there who came over with them as a translator.

The day was beautiful and sunny and one we had really anticipated.  Especially Schuyler.  She had been longing to see some of the kids she'd made friends with those many months ago and reconnect with them.  Especially her sweet friend Dima--- a fun-loving, fiery redhead of a boy we had made friends with on a trip to the zoo.  Such a great kid.  I have to admit I have thought of him and the others often over these past months, praying for them to find families.  One of the other boys there, Vanya, was also the one I had tried to raise some money for on my blog to help cover the costs of his hosting fees.  Another great kid.

Soooo, we met Natalya at the McDonalds down the street and she helped us buy bus tickets-- it is a different bus than we usually take, and required a bit more Russian  ;)  so her help was appreciated.  Then, off we went down the bumpy roads on the slower and much older electric bus which has probably been in use on these roads for over the past 30 years or so.  Yes, it was very, very old.

When we arrived, we walked a ways down a gravel/dirt road, down a hill, past some houses, and over a stream to get to the orphanage.  I am glad it was a beautiful day out, no rain and not too hot or too cold.  Just perfect.

These are some typical blocks used for building.  You see them everywhere!  Tim was curious as to how heavy they were.  Typical construction man  ;)

We came upon the orphanage grounds-- no gate here, just some buildings and open fields, trees and lots of dirt.  We noticed that there were many kids outside all busy with something to do.  Some were pulling weeds, others digging up roots with shovels, some sweeping with their adorable old fashioned brooms or even with bundles of twigs, and still others whitewashing the planting urns.  Yes whitewashing.... like from Little House on the Prairie.  I loved it!

Some of them took notice of us walking down the path, others kept working away busily and responsibly.  No one was hovering over them telling them what to do, no one was scolding them or "keeping them in line".  They were all just performing their assigned tasks, seemingly very willingly.  We later learned that it was a sort of orphanage "spring cleaning" that day and everyone was doing their part to tidy up.  I marveled.  I told Natalya, "Wow!  All these kids working so hard with no one over their shoulder and sometimes I feel like a drill sargent just with my six!"

We walked a little further up the pathway but now were far from unnoticed by the children.  Natalya has made quite a name for herself there with the children and they look forward to her weekly Saturday visits, or oftentimes Bible studies that she holds with them as well.  Kids were running up from out of everywhere to greet her, hug her and kiss her.  Boys and girls alike from 6 to 16 hugged her waist and smiled up at her or draped an arm around her shoulder (the older ones) to catch her eye and have a moment of her attention.  You could tell how much they loved her, and that their affection meant a lot to her as well.

Still however, we had not seen any of the children that we had met from the previous summer.  And we had not seen Dima.  But then, as we were walking up a hill towards the main building and social worker's office Natalya said, "Oh there he is."  He looked down at the four of us walking towards him and immediately broke into his wide, impish grin.  He remembered us!  I really hadn't known if he would, or if he did I wasn't sure that he would really care.  I smiled and yelled out "Dima!" and went walking up towards him, and he started to walk quickly to me.  His smile got bigger and he just threw his arms around me for a huge hug.  Words can't describe how that made me feel.  He remembered us and he was happy that we were there, in his country now, to see him.  After our hellos, and of course a little bit of shyness too with the language barrier and all, we continued up to the main building to tell the director that we were there.  She wasn't in, but Natalya was able to talk with her on the phone, and the social worker who we knew was there and came out to greet us and chat for a few minutes.  She later came back for some pictures.

Schuyler, Dima and I

The orphanage social worker with one young lady coming over  for hosting this summer.

While in the office we also saw Vanya!  Sweet Vanya who I had advocated for on my blog.  Such a wonderful boy, who like Dima

Vanya and Tim

We had brought all kinds of snacks for the kids to have during our visit-- fruits, cookies and candy which they don't get very often if at all, except from visitors.  We had to wait until they finished their cleanup time though to sit down with the kids, so we walked to a beautiful grassy hillside to sit in the shade and wait.

Little did we know, as we sat there talking with Natalya, a certain someone was spying on us.  :)  Thanks to my husband's keen eyes, experience with hunting and tracking things through the brush, he saw a certain redhaired someone crouched behind some bushes watching us.  He knew Tim saw him and made the sign for Tim to shush about it, but of course he told us.  Dima wanted so badly to hang out with us that he had followed us to the hill.  After awhile, as we descended to make our way back to the other kids, he followed us and we turned a corner surprising him!  :)  He walked the rest of the way back with us, talking a bit, and seeming a little more comfortable.

We gathered a group of kids together for some snacks, and a little question and answer session about their favorite subjects, things to do in their free time, and what aspirations they might have for themselves when they are older.  We got some terrific responses.  Some like Biology and Chemistry, some Math and Reading.  One wants to be a cyclist, one a chef and another a hairdresser.  They enjoy everything from swimming to soccer to running and reading.  Just your normal, average children.  In every way but one.  They don't have families to do any of these things with.

A couple of the teachers with the children

No families to commend them on a job well done when they get a good grade on a test or to cheer them on when they score a soccer goal.  No one to help them achieve those dreams and and aspirations of a career in their future.  No one.  NO ONE.

These children live for those Saturdays when Natalya and her other Christian friends come for visits and Bible studies.  They hope and pray that she will bring letters with her for them when she comes, letters from people who they have met while here in the US being hosted, or friends from other missionaries.  Anything to show them that someone loves them, is thinking about them.  They crave those hugs she gives them like we hunger for daily food.

Can you imagine having no one in this world who loves you?  Really?  Can you imagine?  Because I can't.  The pain that must cause to those small, vulnerable souls.  The heartbreak they must feel when they come back home from those hosting trips still no closer to finding a family.  How they don't just shut down from all the hurt in unfathomable to me.  Though some of them are beginning to.  One boy in particular, a wonderful sweet boy according to Natalya and to his teachers, is so afraid of being hurt again that he doesn't want to even try.  He holds out no hope for a family now.  I think it would break his heart too much to be disappointed again, so he doesn't want to chance it.

These children are slowly slipping away folks!  Their time is quickly running out.  With every passing day, they are one step closer to living a life on the streets.  So much for their dreams and aspirations for their future.

And these are AMAZING children!  I mean amazing!  They are sweet, kind, well mannered and loving.  You should have heard all the pleases and thank yous we received for the treats we brought.  And they even shared-- passing the things I handed them to the kids in the back who couldn't reach.

You know in my heart the love I have for children with special needs.  Well there is no less of a need for homes for these children too, and their only need is their age.  From 6-16 they sit there and wait.  Hope.  Long for a family.  Someone to call Mama and Papa.  Someone to call their own.

Please don't allow their hearts to continue to break.  Please don't let these sweet souls just go unnoticed.
Fund an adoption of one of these children.
Adopt a child yourself.

We can all do SOMETHING.

As that quote that I love by David Platt says  "It is a lot easier to pretend that orphans are not real before you hold them in your arms.  But once you do, everything changes."

Well I am here to tell you that we have held them in our arms.  We have looked them in the eye.  We have seen them smile, we have seen their looks of anguish too.  It cannot be ignored, and it shouldn't be.  We need to stand up and be the hands and feet of Christ here on this earth for these children.  If not us, then who?  WHO??  Someone else? Someone more comfortable?  More "chosen" or "gifted"?  Someone more equipped?

Do what you can for these children, and please do it now.

If you would like more information on any of the children pictured in this post, I would be happy to put you in touch with the people you need to speak with.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

We Have A Court Date!!!

God is so good!  We are so excited to find out today that we have a court date of April 24th at 9am-- two days sooner than we thought we would!!  This judge seems to be pretty friendly and pretty kind towards our facilitator, so hopefully it won't take too much to reassure her that we will be good parents for Charlotte and Atticus.  We pray it all goes smoothly and ask that you do too.

On another note, we discovered today that our fingerprints with USCIS have expired.  This won't hold anything up, thank goodness, but they do need to get re-done before our embassy appointment which will be right before we leave.  Sooooo, that means another train ride back to Kiev to get our prints done.  Originally we were going to leave tomorrow night as the embassy said they could see us this Thursday morning.  But we couldn't buy train tickets tonight because they were supposedly booked for tomorrow, so we are waiting to go until the day after court.  Tim would have to go back to Kiev then anyway to catch a flight home, so we will just go with him then Schuyler and I will come back on the train ourselves.... something I must say I am not terribly keen on.  But, I don't have much choice in the matter.  I tell ya, adoption certainly stretches you and makes you do things you never thought you would be brave enough to do!  Like spend weeks in a foreign country without your husband, and not knowing the language.  Hey, well I did that before.... just last year as a matter of fact.  Twice.  ;)

On the bright side, we saw our little princess today!  Oh my what fun and craziness is about to enter the Rowe household when little Charlotte arrives!  :)  That girl is a little spitfire if I ever did see one-- and I mean that in a good way.  She is funny, loves to laugh and giggle, determined but doesn't throw a tantrum when she doesn't get her way.  Not yet anyhow!  She is loud, has a crazy strong throwing arm on her and knows how to use it, and loves to play.  Watch out world, here comes Charlotte!!  Let's just say she is quite a change from mellow little Atticus.  She's gonna give him a run for his money once they are home together!  I might have to lock up the china and put locks on the cabinet doors when we get home, but I am looking forward to every crazy minute of it.  Just hope I have the energy!!!!!

Well, here are some pictures from today.  She had a blast digging through my backpack to see what treasures she could find, and loved playing with the punch ball we brought that Papa blew up just for her. She is soooo smart too, I really wish I knew half of what she was saying.  The nannies do though, they talk with her as if she were an adult.  She speaks SO well!  That teeny tiny little voice of hers cracks me up.

And to hear her call me Mama.... oh it melts my heart.  It truly does.  Unbelievable that this tiny little person-- and I do mean tiny-- with all this personality can already call me Mama.  So trusting, so loving, already.  She knows what it means too, you can see it in her eyes.  She knows what it means for her that she has a mama and a papa now.  She knows it means love, you can tell.  She has someone of her own-- two someones, and a whole lot more at home.  It means the world to her.

It was truly a sweet visit.  Can't wait for Thursday!!

Such joy in a teeny tiny little package!

She remembered this toy from last time!

Getting tickled by Papa!

She loved this book with all the different textures to feel

This is my FAVORITE picture from today!  She loves to throw things, (notice the book being hurled through the air!)  so we need to work on that a little  ;)  But notice Papa's face behind her???  It is his "Oh Snap!" look of uh-oh, look out world ... Charlotte's coming!

Big Sister putting the punch ball string on her wrist

Smiley little lovey muffin!!!!!

Helping me stuff all the toys back in my backpack at the end of our visit.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Random Observations About Life in Ukraine

Having been experiencing the culture here for the past few weeks, I have definitely picked up on some differences between the people and surroundings here and back home.  It is so amazing to be able to immerse yourself in a society like this and live the day to day life like the rest of the folks-- riding the bus, walking the streets, shopping at the local market, renting a local apartment.  You truly get a feel for what life is like here, much more so than if you were just staying a week or so in a hotel and eating out all the time.  Tim, Schuyler and I have truly enjoyed our experience here so far.  The people have been kind, the food has been delish, and everything has thankfully gone as well as can be expected as far as the adoption is concerned.  This has enabled us to relax, take our daily trips to the orphanage, and just experience the life here.

So below are some of my random observations about this Ukrainian life around us........

~ One of the first things you will notice upon arriving, especially in Kiev, is that EVERYONE dresses up here.  Well, the ladies anyway.  Heels, furs, rhinestones worn in the middle of the week are perfectly acceptable attire on a day-to-day basis.  Makes me feel like a schlump and that I should start dressing infinitely better once home :)  As our facilitator told us, girls and women are afraid to go out without wearing heels around here because  "What if that is the day my prince charming sees me?!"  What?.... in flats?

~Wearing short shorts, black pantyhose and stilettos is a very popular fashion statement.

~Ukrainians love to celebrate, therefore there are many holidays. And the workdays are short.  They know how to live life over here!!  More playtime!

~People here seem to be very honest.  On the bus, you can get right on and take your time (after finding a seat) to pass your money up to the driver.  He doesn't wait for you to pay when you get on, it's just whenever you get it out of your purse.  And you can send your money up front with someone else and they will bring you back the change!

~On the bus as well there are certain rules of etiquette-- primarily, men give up their seat to women.  Try that in NYC!

~There are almost no squirrels here, we have only seen two this whole time--  and they are weird looking with pointy fuzzy ears!  Not like our squirrels at home.

~And on the animal note, you might not see squirrels but you see plenty of cats and dogs roaming about.  No ASPCA or Humane Society here.  Animals are everywhere, asleep on the sidewalks, going thru the trash.  It is very sad.

~Everyone in Ukraine should have lung cancer by now.. I am surprised if they don't.  Almost everyone smokes and if you don't smoke you certainly inhale it enough anyway from passers-by.

~Our "balmy" weather is still their "freezing".  People are still bundled in winter coats and scarves in April and babies are still tucked securely in snowsuits, hats and boots.  It is quite amusing.  But I guess they feel cold!

~ If you are going shopping, for whatever, bring your own bag. You can get one at the store but you have to buy it.  Everywhere is like Aldi around here!

~ Having a drink mid-day is no big deal.  And drinking as you walk in public is no biggie either.  It is just commonplace.

~Every bus or taxi driver here could come to the US tomorrow and be given a job with NASCAR.  Seriously.  They are fast, but they are good!  Taking hairpin curves with ease, accelerating at just the right moment to pass a car before the oncoming traffic squashes you like a bug..... it takes skill and they do it everyday!

~The worst road in the US is like the best road here.  There are no DOT crews, potholes are everywhere and some of them are deep enough to make your car bottom out.  The shocks on the bus we ride get a constant workout!!

~If you live here, you better like sausage!  There is chicken too, but haven't seen any turkey or ground beef yet.  But lots and lots of sausage!

~Coffee lovers unite!  There may not be a Starbucks, but there are coffee houses everywhere which serve amazing cappuccinos and lattes, and even McDonalds does an awesome job with their coffee.  I am in love!

That is about it for now.  We are just so grateful to be here in this country, the country of our newest babies' birth, experiencing life and getting to know our new little ones!  We are grateful for every moment, though of course we miss our other not-so-littles back home, and some of the comforts we have grown to enjoy like English TV, hopping in your own car when you want to go somewhere, and TARGET!  Oh Target, how I miss thee!  ;)

Please keep praying that our court will be fast and that soon this exciting journey will come to an end and we can get back home with our babies in tow!!!  Much love from Ukraine!!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Some Pictures

Things are still going very well here.  Today is a lovely Saturday, beautiful weather-- warm and breezy.  We took a stroll through a few stores on our way to the grocery market.  Picked up some food for the next few days and headed back with our goodies.  I was so thrilled to find a coffee press up in one of the other cabinets the other day!!  Because of that I was able to buy some REAL coffee today!!  Not that instant yuck we have been drinking, but real Italian Espresso!  Ah the simple things in life, a cup of decent coffee and a cookie after lunch.  :)  Really does put things in perspective!

We got a phone call from Marina this afternoon too telling us to turn on the tv.  Since tomorrow is Orthodox Easter there is much preparation and planning going on.  I couldn't make out exactly what she was trying to tell  me, but it was something about a fire being lit at a church, which happens only once a year and sometime before Easter.  She told us to go watch, so we did.  Can't make out what they are saying though of course!

We have a little while before our afternoon visit with Little Man, so I thought I would try to post a few pics of both he and Masha.  We have so many more photos of him because we get to see him so often.  We have only had one real visit with her so far, other than our initial first meeting, and we only get to see her twice a week.  Our next visit with her isn't until Tuesday.  No visits there on the weekends.  :(  It makes me sad that we don't get to see her as much as we do him.  I fear she will be more frightened when we take her out of there to begin our journey home because she won't know us like Atticus does.  I pray for the best, for an easy transition for her and for her to be comfortable with us.

So, pictures...... here they are!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Meeting Masha!!

Yesterday morning, we hopped off the train in Simferopol, Ukraine, for the second time.  This time we were back with referral in hand-- the paper from the DAP allowing us to see our sweet little girl Masha.  Our Charlotte Rose.  Tired, but soooo excited, we followed Marina hurriedly to the car because our train was already an hour late.  "Why today of all days??" she asked.  We had so many places to run to-- the social worker, the notary, the lawyer, so many pieces of paper to gather.  But then..... to the institution.

This is where our baby girl-- not so much a baby at age 5 but more so in appearance at only a slight 20 lbs-- has been living since this past November 2011.....

Luckily the caregivers and director here seem to love her and dote on her, as much as they can in an institution anyway.  They speak highly of her-- how smart she is, how she loves to be held, how she demands attention.  They even spoke lovingly about the tantrums she likes to throw when she doesn't get her way  ;)  But still, it is an institution.  It is a place where children go when nobody wants them.  It is where they are doomed to live out their lives if no one comes to claim them.  It is not a family.

Marina, our facilitator, told us in the car on the way over to be prepared for people there not to like us.  They have not done many adoptions from here and the director and staff are still wary, especially after the news stories about that boy being sent back to Russia alone, and other stories of adopted children dying at the hands of her parents.  I told her no matter.  They don't need to "like" us, other than enough to give us their permission to take our child.

Turns out things went better than expected.  Marina was very relieved.  The director told us, through Marina, that she liked us very much and we seemed like a wonderful family.  She was overjoyed at our pictures in the album I brought, and very glad Masha would have sisters to grow up with and look up to.  She told us she was so happy that Masha was finally getting a family.  She deserved that.  She was a good little girl.  We agree.

I am glad that we found favor with the director after all.  It makes our process much easier.  

After our meeting with her, it was on to our much anticipated meeting with another person whose opinion DID matter to me-- a lot!  Sweet Masha!  We waited in a classroom because the usual meeting room was taken with other people visiting children there-- not adopting, just visiting.  We waited on pins and needles for a few minutes.  So much was racing through my mind.  Would she look like her pictures?  Had her health deteriorated since being transferred?  Would she be happy to see us?  Would she understand what this means for her?  Would she smile or cry?

Soon enough she was brought in by the director herself.  She explained to Masha that we were Mama and Papa.  I couldn't get my arms around her fast enough!!  ;)  And when I finally did, oh she was so tiny!  Her little bird-like legs are so skinny and seemed so fragile.  Her hair had grown from being shaven very short, which was good, and of course she seemed a bit wary at first.

But then of course, she started to settle in a bit.  Like Tim said, "She was nervous and rightfully so, she's 5.  I'm 40 and I was nervous!!"  Amen to that!!

So after our brief meeting, it was off to chase more paperwork.  That seems to never end when you are adopting does it??!!  But, we got to go back and see her again today.  She is a spitfire, loves to play and laugh it up.  She seemed to remember us from yesterday which was good!  My only complaint is that half the time I don't know what the poor thing is saying.  She chats it up so much and I only know limited words in Russian.  Gotta get working on that one some more!  What a multi-lingual house we are becoming hmm??  ;)

We also had a visit with Atticus today.  Took him a few minutes to warm up to us again too, probably felt like he had been deserted again since we didn't get to visit with him for a week with us having to be in Kiev for Masha's referral.  But after a bit, he was back to his silly giggling self, which was good to see.

We have more pictures of both visits from today, just haven't uploaded them yet.  But I will post them as soon as we do!

For now, we are just abundantly grateful for these two children God is entrusting to us.  We pray we will be the parents that they need and that they will always know that they are LOVED.  God brought us to these children and we pray He will bring us safely home with them and enable us to provide for them.  This is just the beginning!

We were told by our facilitator Marina this afternoon that she has met with our judge and she has given us a tentative court date!  Praises!!  We will learn tomorrow if that date sticks, and if so exactly what time it will be as well.  Pray pray pray that it will stick.  Even Marina told us to pray!  We will be very thankful if it does because it is not far off, and it is before the courts and offices will close for a whole WEEK of holidays.  If we have to wait through that just for court it will delay us considerably!!!

That is about all for now-- will post more pictures later!