Sunday, June 29, 2008

Lewis & Clark & Scouts & Tornadoes

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you may have noticed that I haven't posted for awhile. I just got back from spending a week with Boy Scout Troop 75 at their annual summer camp at Lewis and Clark Scout Camp, near Yankton, South Dakota. The camp is located along the shores of Lewis and Clark Lake, which is really the Missouri River with a dam on it.

I took 342 pictures at camp this year. Yikes! The one at the top of the post with the sailboat is at the camp's waterfront. Here's a couple of Mark making a stool.

When we started all of our adoption paperwork, we were thinking that we would have the kids by now. I would like to see Sergei be a Boy Scout. I hope the adoptions will happen soon so that Mark will be around and also have time to help him out.

I would make a terrible reporter. Before I left I wanted to blog about the tornado down in Iowa at Little Sioux Scout Camp that killed 4 Boy Scouts and injured many others. It was just downriver from this camp between Sioux City and Omaha.

The tornadoes that were in Iowa could have easily been in South Dakota. Last year, in May, two tornadoes crossed the river from Nebraska into South Dakota only 5 miles east of our camp. We didn't have any boys there at the time, but one of our troop's adult leaders was at the camp then and saw the tornadoes first-hand. Here are some pictures of those. How would you like to be in a sailboat and see that coming at you?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"Grew Into My Heart"

One of the websites I've linked to over there in the Other Links section is Karen Springs. She is involved with a project called The Gift of Adoption. Take a look at her website for more information and lots of pictures.

Karen is involved with CBN WorldReach, a ministry of The Christian Broadcast Network (CBN). In this video you will see Terry Meeuwsen, an on-air personality at CBN.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

They Really Do Roam Here

If you've ever seen the movie Dances With Wolves, you may remember the buffalo hunt scene. There was a time when there were herds of thousands of buffalo that roamed freely on the plains of America.

The vast herds are gone now, but there is still a place where buffalo roam, and that is in Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

We visited there last Friday before my mom's wedding. We hosted their California guests on a sightseeing tour. If you're ever in the area, Custer State Park is a must-see. Here's a picture I took of some buffalo.

Buffalo meat is available for eating in the area. It is leaner than beef. Here's Nancy at a buffalo buffet!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Got Me a New Dad

Well, well, well... Just got back from a big weekend. Mom got MARRIED last Saturday. Wow it's hard to believe. Andrea has been single for oh, I don't know, almost 40 years now. Then Mac comes along and sweeps her off her feet! Congratulations to the new Mr. and Mrs. MacMillan.

This also means I have a new step-dad and new step-brothers. Never had bro's before so that's kind of neat. One of Mac's sons, Mike, was there, so it was good getting to know him.

I'd have to say that was a good way to spend Father's Day weekend.

The wedding took place in the gazebo at the Black Forest Inn in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The wedding was informal, with a few of Mac and mom's friends and classmates from California and South Dakota in attendance. The Black Forest Inn is on US 385 between Lake Pactola and Sheridan Lake.

I'll post a few more snippets from the trip later this week. I'll leave off with a picture of us. I wanted to wear a tuxedo but the groom would have none of it!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Tough Choice

I hope you understand that I can't go into details, but recently we wrote a letter to Valya introducing ourselves and telling her that we would like to adopt her. She received the letter last Friday. We described our family, included pictures of ourselves and our home, and letters and pictures from her friends Lena and Tanya that were adopted by the Tolly's last year.

We had been praying for her for a long time and this opportunity. We have found out that Valya has 5 siblings, with occasional contact with a brother, and infrequent contact with her mother. Please pray for her and us as she decides if she would like to be adopted. According to the orphanage director, she is adoptable.

The other thing that concerns us is the SDA. Will they let us adopt her? We will do all that we can, but really it is out of our control. It is a helpless feeling. So much uncertainty.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dimples and Roses

Our friends in Ukraine sent us some new pictures of Valya. Here's one of them.

Monday, June 9, 2008

It's Official: Birth Rate Too Low

There's a lot that could be discussed in this little news article.

Current birth rate too low to overcome demographic crisis
May 29, 2008

Yuriy Pavlenko, the Family, Youth, and Sports minister, says that Ukrainian families need to have a minimum of two children to overcome the demographic crisis in Ukraine (see my earlier blog post).

He mentions the current Fertility Rate, which is 1.33, up from 1.20. He would like to see it at 2.0 (which was the U.S. rate in 1999). Interestingly, even at 2.0, there would continue to be a demographic crisis. See discussion of Replacement Rate here:

"The TFR required for a closed population to eventually reach equilibrium in size ranges from 2.5 to 3.3 in developing countries and is near 2.1 in many developed countries (2.075 in the UK for example). However, it may take several generations for a change in the total fertility rate to be reflected in birth rate, because the age distribution must reach equilibrium."
I also posted earlier about the cash benefits that families receive for babies. The news report lists the amounts as: $2,400 for the first baby, $5,000 for the second, $10,000 for the third and each following baby.

Interestingly, he also reports that, contrary to what I noted in my blog post, the birth rate in "problem families" did not increase because of the monetary payments.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Flower Girl

I was glad to come across Josh Via's blog post that describes the funeral for Steven Curtis Chapman's daughter Maria. Maria was a five year old girl from China that the Chapman's adopted and, tragically, was run over in their driveway and died. I avoided mentioning it before, but the description of the service is incredible. One thing that stood out to me was that she was buried in the dress she would have worn as a flower girl in her sister's wedding.

Steven has a tremendous heart for orphans and adoption. Besides being an award-winning recording artist, he is the founder of Shaohannah's Hope, which is a foundation and resource for people that need help with adoption. If you need financial assistance for an adoption, you can apply for a grant.

UPDATE: There is more coverage and pictures of the memorial service here.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Flying's a Wizz

For those of you going to Ukraine to adopt: There is a new airline coming to Ukraine that will offer flights between a few select cities that they claim will have cheaper tickets than the train. The Kyiv Post is reporting that WizzAir will fly between Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv, Simferopol, and Odessa. They are based out of Hungary, so presumably they will have flights from Hungary as well. 'Course, if you have luggage, or want something to eat, it'll cost ya.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Slippery Slope

Oh how fun, our dossier is beginning to expire.

Ukraine considers the documents in our dossier good for one year. When it gets submitted to the SDA by our facilitator, they must have at least 6 months of lifetime on them. Therefore, allowing for mailing to Ukraine, EVERY document will be required to be refreshed about every 5 to 5½ months.

We are just reaching our first deadline. Our homestudy will expire on June 14. I emailed our social worker today to get an updated one.

Since we started this blog after the original dossier was sent over, I never had a chance to blog about our original dossier. I'll do that now as we go on so you can see what documents there are in it.

PS: If you're also in our situation, I have a spreadsheet to help you track your dossier dates here. There have been 30 downloads to date.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

"Blah blah blah"

South Dakota and Mitchell are in the news again this weekend. Mitchell, the home of George McGovern and his McGovern Library, hosted Bill Clinton and Barack Obama over the weekend.

Bill Clinton spoke at Dakota Wesleyan University on behalf of Hillary, and Obama spoke on Main Street in front of the Corn Palace on behalf of... himself.

The Clinton family and Obama have been criss-crossing the area trying to drum up support. Neither of these candidates will be getting my vote, though. Even if I had no other reasons (I do), their pro-abortion stance is enough to turn me off.

South Dakota and Montana have the last elections of the presidential primary season. It is interesting, that, for years, South Dakota has tried to have the earliest primary election to try to attract interest in our state. But now that it is last, it is getting all of the attention.

UPDATE: It's ironic that the battle for the Democratic presidential candidate comes down to George McGovern's home state. The whole Democratic superdelegate mechanism was put in place, according to Susan Estrich, to ensure that no more unelectable candidates like George McGovern end up on the Democratic ticket!