Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ruslan aka Randall

What a great older DS boy!!
It took us a few days to really get to know R. He was not seeking out all the attention that some of the others were. He was content to swing and sing to himself while waiting patiently for someone to kick a soccerball with him. Oh how he loves to kick a soccer ball.

He is such a kind gentle boy. He would patiently wait to ask to look through our photobooks. Unlike some of the others he was happy to just look - he didn't need extra attention while looking through it. He was the most careful with the books always being sure to return them safely.

He has some speech issues. He talks and sings but is hard to understand. I think just before we left he was taken for surgery on his palate which may be why he has speech issues.

In addition to swinging and kicking the soccerball he loves crafts (stringing tiny beads and coloring) He loved the electronic toys we brought - remote control helicopter and translator. But unlike many of the others he always waited his turn, was careful with the items and always gave it to the next boy when his time was up!

Unfortunately R is older - his time is running out!! It's a pretty easy region - the 10 day wait has been waived in the past - and the boys are taken care of. Please feel free to ask questions and I have more pictures if anyone wants to see them!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Advocacy - Max

One of the hardest parts of international adoption is leaving the other kids behind.  When we adopted Laura it was a little easier because we knew most of the kids were just social orphans - they had family that would come and visit and had the hope of reunification.

That is not the case for the boys of Logan's institution.  Although he and his friends were the 9 lucky ones their future is bleak.  We saw first had what their life will be like.  They are fortunate - they are higher functioning and will be given jobs on the institution grounds and have a minimal purpose in life.  It won't be anything like the life Logan will have with opportunities abounding.  They will wake up and do there job, they will be fed and then do there job, fed again and then put to bed.  They will never leave the institution. 

One of the boys I worry most about is Maxiim.  He appears to have cerebral palsy. He is stiff and a bit distorted.  He does not have the luxury of PT and OT to help him function better.  He sits hour after hour in a wheel chair. 

He will not be one that is given a job onthe grounds like the others.  As he gets older and bigger he will be moved to a bed and left there.  He will be put in a diaper and left in bed - fed there and left - the diaper changed once or twice a day.  He will no longer be taken outside he will just be left to lay there.

For the first two days I did not notice Max.  When I did see him he had been wheeled outside, the wheelchair parked and left alone for three hours. 

The rest of the boys interacted with us.  As I pushed Logan's wheelchair back to the house I waved at Max.  His eyes came to life - he was noticed.  Later when I returned he waved and smiled. 

After that I made it a point to include Max as much as possible.  I would push his wheelchair to where the group was. If we were playing with balloons I would make sure he had one.  He soon learned to pop the balloon.  He thought it was hysterical.  It also got him attention - everyone would look. 

Of all the kids there I think he has the most room for improvement.  With a family that will stretch him and help him I think he has a ton of potential!  He is speech delayed also but again has so much potential.  If you want to know more about Max contact me.  He is listed on Reece's Rainbow with the screen name of Evan.  Here is the link http://reecesrainbow.org/1407/evan5004

Sunday, October 21, 2012


The girls were in the Ohio Christian Schools state volleyball championship this weekend.  So we had to make a road trip 3.5 hours north.  One little boy was very nervous about this.  He closely watched our travel as we drove.  When we got to the hotel he was not happy to hear we were sleeping there - he wanted to go home.  Through dinner he repeated a milllion times - tomorrow we go home.  After dinner we took him to the pool swimming.  He is an absolute fish.  He loves to fall into the water - he does not anyone close to him.  He falls to the bottom of the pool  eventually rises to the top and waits for you to pull him out.  He can hold his breath for a super long time! 


After an hour of swimming he fell asleep quickly.  He awoke expecting to go home right away.  Less then happy with the plan of eat, volleyball, eat volleyball, eat go home.  A million times of reviewing the plan and we finally headed home.  He was one thrilled boy when we pulled into the driveway!!
And one last vidoe of another thing we have figured out how to do.... Open and close our bedroom door.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Bus

Things continue to go well.  Logan is going to school full time.  He seems to enjoy it.  Yesterday was his first day to ride the bus.  We have a teen friend who gets him off the bus and gives him a snack and nap until I get home an hour later. The bus driver told her there was a little mishap... She forgot to strap the wheelchair in (because "she is new at this") and it toppled over. So we asked Logan about this. He was hysterical talking furiously in whatever language he speaks showing us what happened. Shaking his body back and forth spinning in a circle and falling over yelling "oopa". Fortunately he wasn't hurt. It had us in tears laughing as each time he showed a sibling he got more animated. By the time I got it on video you would have thought a tornado had come thru the bus. 

So here is the exaggerated story...

 For those that are more overprotective then me Robert is on the safety committee for the district and is calling the head guy to enlighten him. It is not being taken too lightly. But the reenactment did provide us with some good laughs.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

We are home

We arrived home Thursday night.  Our family has a tradition of going to skyline chili for a meal on the way back home after being out of town.  We had some friends who knew our tradition show up and welcome us home!  Several classmates of Mason's made HUGE signs welcoming us back.  It was a very pleasant time and great food.

Logan did great on the travel home.  In all we travelled for 22 hours.  He only slept for about 30 minutes.  The great news is he was so well behaved for the majority of the trip.

Logan has done fantastic being at home.  He loves the washing machine.  He loves to sit and watch it.  He is not too excited about the dog (can't blame him) But at least the dog is trained to stay in the kitchen and laundry room so Logan has the rest of the house.  This is only a problem when Logan is watching the washing machine.  :)

Here is a video of what he has been up to (this is his favorite thing to do with Papa).....

Monday, September 24, 2012

Batter Up

Changing out the Batteries

Hey I know you should not let you kid put batteries in his mouth.  But when you have limited resources you gotta do what you can....

And yes he did put the batteries in the right way - and does everytime.

Now he is going to take the batteries out of that toy and put them in another toy and play with it.  He turns to get a small screw driver out of a bin.

Playing in the Sandbox


I Can Feed Myself

Playing with the Car

What I Learned

The great part about staying at the institution was it really gave me a chance to get to know Logan.

We've had some big debates as to what to call him...We initially found him on Reece's Rainbow and his screen name was Alix. So for about a year I have referred to him as Alix. His Ukranian name was Lyosha - thats what he responds to. I was asked to give his name official name at the time I was isolated with no contact to the outside world and chose Alix Robert. That has been vetoed. Some of the family do not like the name Alix. Some of the family want to name him Leyousha meaning for Jesus. I like it but find it too hard to say. So the decision is Logan - close to what he is used to being called. Although for now his passport and birth certificate will say Alix Robert.

Anyways...what I learned...

1. His old baby house triggers horrible behaviors. I learned the hard way that if we go near that old building he becomes a monster. I can only assume it is because he misses being there. Unfortunately he can't tell me why. He only gets angry. After the second time I wised up and did not go near the building. He would ask and I would tell him no becasue he gets sad and would imitate what he would do. After 9 days we did try again, he said he would not get sad or grumpy he was much better but still mad.

2. Electronic toys that have sound an music are addictive too him and he will not interact with people when they are around. He almost becomes autistic stimming with the lights and noises. He also does not understand why the batteries die and that sometimes they cannot be fixed. Oh the melt downs we had over batteries. At our official gottcha we left almost all the electronic toys with the other kids. We kept one helicopter and two light up spinny toys. Those have been in hiding for five days. He has been so pleasant. He has learned to play with us. Last night he found them and we have seen some of the bad behaviors return. We will keep them hidden at home for a while.

3. He loves to drink. It has taken a week for him to learn that he does not have to chug it all at once. We would give him a water bottle and he would have to drink the whole thing without removing it from his lips. He is getting better.

4. Height is about the only thing that holds him back physically. If he can reach it he can do it.

5. He adores his sister. He has named her Dasha. He mimics her all day long. If she does it he does it. If she sniffles he sniffles, if she coughs he coughs, if she talks he talks. They are so cute together.

6. He is an amazing little boy. Yes he is more like a 3 year old not a 10 year old but what he can accomplish is amazing. Oh what some time and education will accomplish.

Settling into a Routine

As time went on I settled into a routine:

6:15-6:30am The rooster would crow and wake me up

7:30am Get out of bed pack bag for morning visit and walk to breakfast The walk to breakfast (was between a quarter and a half mile)
8:00am Breakfast
8:30-9:00am Household chores (empty buckets, get fresh water from the well, start boiling water for nightly shower)

9:00-12:00 Visit Our first half hour was usually alone on the bench under the shelter. We would look at photo albums or pictures on the camera.
Then we would walk for about an hour. He would direct where he wanted to go. "Tooda" "Tooda"

 After walking we would usually find an empty field with a bench and fly the helicopter. This was by far one of the biggest excitements - until the battery would die. Then we would return to his house and play with friends. This tended to be overwhelming for both of us. 7 Kids screaming Mama Mama all wanting attention and help with something different. Having to share our toys was not something we were used to or liked to do (to start with)

Around noon was lunch for him and a nap til 4pm. I would head back to the apartment. Eat three cheese peanut butter crackers, read, nap and play on the internet.

At 4 I would go back and pick up sleepy boy. We would walk again, play with the helicopter and go back to play with friends.

Dinner for both of us was at 6 - When it was time for them to eat I would walk to dinner eat and then go back to play until bath time.

Bath time varied on who the nightly staff person was and ranged between 7:15 and 8pm.
(Yes he gets a bath in a real bath tub and I pour water on myself in a bucket :) ) After they went to take a bath and get ready for bed I went to do the same. Boiled more water and poured it over me while standing in a bucket.

Makes you appreciate the easy life of turn on the shower and adjust the dial and sit to go to the bathroom and push down the lever when you are done Although it was hard to adjust to the different lifestyle it was good to spend that much time with him.

Day 2 at the Institution

So I was left at the institution on Wednesday with the statement I would try for two days and if it was too much I could move to a bigger city. On Thursday I spoke with our facilitator and told him it was too much I needed to move. He said I don't think so. Friday he picked me up to take me to the city an hour away to do paperwork and for me to be able to have Internet access. He said if I left now the director would be insulted - I had to stay. It took all I had not to cry the whole car ride to the big city. I explained if I was going to stay I had to have a phone with Internet. We bought one. He was not sure it would work at the institution but said we would try.
The car ride back I continued to check that I had service. As we reached the driveway the Internet worked. As we journeyed back to where i was staying it did not work. The facilitator left and I had a nice new phone but still no Internet. I spent Saturday walking back the main road a mile each way trying to recapture the service. Nothing... Thankfully Robert had made it home by then and could at least call into me. The facilitator wanted me to take the SIM card out of my working phone and cut it to fit my Internet phone. I told him "NO WAY" I had one way of communication - Robert calling in - I was not going to risk losing it.
Sunday the facilitator called the director and asked him to buy me a new SIM card. Monday the director delivered it and his staff spent two hours trying to get the Internet and phone to work. They gave up. Another three hours of working on it and the facilitator and I got it to work!!
My Apartment Building (on the left)
My Bedroom (there was a second bedroom also)
The Family Room (with all the toys to take spread out)
My Bathrooms....
Although living there was a challenge it is how most of the caretakers there live. The other residents in the apartment building there were the workers. This is their daily reality. It is hard! I was treated great! They provided for me to the best of their abilities. I was fed well. I was fed what the residents there are fed. As far as institutions go this one is probably one of the best. They are fed three full meals a day plus two snacks. Yes I struggled to eat it because in America we eat differently. I did find that after almost two weeks there I was adjusting. Yeah I still miss American food but I could now eat what was served. Not sure I will ever choose fish and coleslaw for breakfast but from a nutrition standpoint the residents are being served protein and vegetables - which is awesome!!
A meal
How much I ate of that meal (don't worry any weight I might have lost has been recovered since moving to Kiev and Dawsyn and I finding the chocolate store)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Where to start..

I had good intentions of blogging daily through this process. Obviously that has not worked out. For those that have followed on facebook you have a better idea as to what has gone on. (sorry for what ever reason it is not putting lines between paragraphs....) We arrived in Ukraine on Sunday night and were taken to the grocery store and dropped at our apartment. We had an appointment Monday at the SDA where you formally ask to visit the child. If you chose to meet this child you are given a formal referral. We had been told there was a small chance we would receive that Monday since Robert was leaving on early Thursday morning. That did not happen. We received the paper we needed late Tuesday afternoon. Did some running around to sign papers and were put on the overnight train to the biggest city close to the orphanage. The train was ok. Too many stops along the way to sleep well but we had a sleep room to ourselves.
We arrived and were met by our facilitator Alix. We drove 2.5 hours to the regional SDA office and did more paperwork and picked up the social worker to take with us. Then we drove another half hour to the institiution. We did some more paperwork with the director and the regional social worker and finally went to meet the boy.
He enjoyed the attention but was less then impressed with us. He wanted gifts and did not like what we had brought. A year ago he was moved into the new section of this institution. He has had a lot of visitors - teams coming to visit and work that bring them gifts. He was a bit spoiled. After about an hour with him we had to decide if we wanted to adopt him. We then signed more paperwork and discussed where I would stay.

My options were the big city 3 hours away. I would pay $200/day for a taxi to visit him and would not visit daily. Option 2 was stay an hour away - pay $100/day and still not visit daily. Or I could stay onsite. The director was open to my staying there but did not think I would be capable. There was not running water. No microwave, no stove, nothing. I agreed to try it for 2 days. Or facilitator was coming back Friday to pick me up to take me to the city an hour away to do paperwork.

We took the social worker back to her office a half hour away and picked up some bottled water for me and some raman noodles and candy for the kids then they dropped me off. Robert and the facilitator drove 12 hours back to Kiev to the airport.

I got to visit that night from 4-6 and then after dinner. That 4-6 visit was horrible. He wanted to return to the place he lived before going to the "Happy House" He has several friends there. He obviously ran the place when he was there and would have nothing to do with me. When I said it was time to go he took off and refused to come with me. As I pushed the issue that we were leaving he became more defiant. Finally a caregiver stepped in and told him he needed to go with me. I carried him out and put him in his wheelchair and started to push him back to his place. He saw the "dinner train." He went ballistic! It was awful. He started screaming, hitting, kicking, he turned and started to bite me as I was pushing the wheelchair, then started putting his leg in between the wheel and the chair to stop it and spit at me. He dove out of the chair and took off. I caught him and tried to carry him and push the chair. He kept trying to headbutt me, spit and bite. I left the chair and carried him back to his place for his dinner, returned the chair and went to my dinner.

I cannot begin to describe how hard that night was! I was alone, no way to communicate with anyone, no Internet, no way to talk to anyone. I had no running water, the outhouse was over a block away and it was just a whole in the ground. I cried more than I ever have. I also did a lot of praying. I knew the obvious physical handicaps he had. I was not prepared for everything else. Physically he is a mess. Missing the limbs he is is nothing compared to everything else. Both hips are dislocated, neither shoulder works, he has severe scoliosis, his rib cage/ back are severely deformed, his jaws do not line up, he does not seem to chew his food, he has speech issues, his eyes cross, the one "knee" he has goes back and forth both ways and to top it off he is severely delayed mentally and was quite mean.

Monday, September 3, 2012


Autocephalous Orthodox Church: Cathedral of the Holy Apostle Andrew (Above)
Our apartment is up the street to the right of the building with red sign on top
Underground mall area
Saint Sophia Cathedral (Above)
Saint Michael's Cathedral (Above)
A movie being filmed between St. Sophia and St Michael's Cathedrals


Today was a bit of a slow day for us today- not in a bad way just different then what we are used to. We had an appointment at noon and were told we would be picked up at 11:30. So after sleeping in and showering we walked many blocks to an underground mall. At five till 11 we get a call that a taxi will pick us up in 5 minutes. So we got to hustle back up hill to meet him. At our appointment the government official looked thru our boy's paperwork and asked us a few questions. Serge translated for us. There were some issues with the paperwork so it took about twenty minutes. The other couple that was there with us was in and out in 5 minutes. When we finally finished we met up at a pizza place with three other families. (Dawsyn it was Haleigh, Ryder and Susan's families). We paid off Serge and then went back to the apartment. With nothing to do until 4 tomorrow we took a nap and then did some serious walking before dinner. For dinner we had a shasleek and some meet filled fried pastry followed by ice-cream and an hour in a coffee house. It's about 9:30pm and we are in for the evening. No English tv here so we both are on our iPads. We've been able to FaceTime and Skype the kids!! Love technology! Jennie is spoiling them rotten! I will try and post pictures of the city later.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Starting the in country process

We are in the Eastern Europe country we hope to bring home another child from. This country prefers we not name our location on the blog. Today we are awaiting going to our first paperwork appointment. At this appointment we will learn more about our boy. If all goes well we will be given and accept a formal referral for him. Typically that piece of paper is ready the next day. Once we have that paper we will head to his region. His region is an 8 hour train ride away.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

God's taking us on a new adventure

We have had a busy year. Kids in school, sports sports and more sports. Overall not enough exciting stuff to bother to share on the blog. God is taking us down an exciting path! We have been praying for quite a while about the direction he is leading us on. It is going to be quite an adventure. Definitely more than I would have picked on my own but without a doubt the one he wants us on. Please pray for us!!! We will need all the prayers we can get!!