Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sergei Is Coming

A few days ago I blogged about the surprise we had regarding Sergei. Sergei is being hosted in the United States this summer by a very special family. I mentioned how the situation is so confusing, and I was able to get it figured out. I think.

I called the person at Frontier Horizon and introduced myself, explaining our relationship with Sergei, and how we were very surprised to learn that he was being hosted in the US this summer, since he wasn't on the list to be hosted.

Apparently, FH had made arrangements for some other kids from Sergei's orphanage to be hosted for the summer. But suddenly the orphanage director said that they would require Sergei to be hosted as well. So FH had to scramble to find someplace for him to go, and they didn't know how to reach us. So they turned to the family that hosted him last December.

Fast forward then to early July, when out of the blue, the family tracked us down. They are so kind and are a wonderful Christian family. Together, with FH, we worked out a plan to have Sergei come see us. So this Sunday, I will be flying out to their city to pick him up and bring him back. He will be here for a little over two weeks.

We were able to talk to him on the phone for the first time. Just to hear his voice was so precious. He knows some English, and is learning more every day. We will have a very full schedule for him. I don't think he will get bored. I will be taking several days off from work.

Sparkle is anxious to meet him. So are we!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"Walking" With Sparkle

Well, we've had Sparkle for almost a month now. We are new to this dog ownership thing. Of course, she needs to go on "walks" several times a day. You could say Sparkle "walks" in the same sense that a housefly "flies" - seemingly random and not straight for very long. Nancy and Mark are out of town for a couple of days, so I get walking duty. This is how it goes:

Me:Sparkle, do you want to go out?
Sparkle:Is it time to go out?!! Is it?!! I'm ready! Let's go now! Hurry up! Open the door! Let's go in the car! I want to go in the car! No?!! OK! Let's walk in the street now! Stop! I hear something! Someone's pulling out of their driveway! Let's watch! I smell something! Over here! Hurry up! Now let's go over there! I'm going #1... no, yes right here! Hey look at that! Hurry up! Let's go over there! Did you hear that?!! It's a dog! He's on the other side of that field! Let's go through that field! No?!! Wait!! There's some tall grass! I want to eat some! Now let's go! Wow smell that?!! Let's go see! It's a dry turd! Let's sniff it! Ow! Don't yank so hard! OK hurry up! Stop! What was that noise?!! Oh well let's go! I'm going #2 right here! What's the matter?!! All finished! Hurry up! Hey there's a grasshopper! Let's catch him! Wait I smell something! Let's go see! Here it is! It's a dead toad! And so on.
Me:I want to go home.

Next week, Sergei can take her on walks. Oh, did I mention that Sergei's coming to visit us? More later.

Monday, July 28, 2008

No Longer a Children Donor

Found some hard numbers on 2008 Ukrainian adoptions. According to Yuri Pavlenko, the Ukrainians are having success at encouraging domestic adoptions over foreign adoptions. So far in 2008, for the first time, there have been more domestic than foreign adoptions.

1st half of 20078218931,714
1st half of 20081,0106421,652

The government also reports that 834 children have been placed into foster care so far in 2008.

2.5 thousand children adopted by new families
All about Ukraine Blog

Friday, July 25, 2008

Lazy Boy

Man, I'm lazy updating our dossier. It just keeps getting more and more whacked. Ideally, we wouldn't see any red or yellow in the spreadsheet, but as you can see there is plenty of it. We actually do have some updated documents in hand, but I haven't sent them in for the apostilles or sent them over to Ukraine. From reading other blogs, it looks like there is time for that when we get a submit date, so we should get some warning. For now, I'm just gonna save the money. To date, since July of last year, we've spent $4,700 on these adoptions, and we have absolutely nothing to show for it yet. :-(

If you want the spreadsheet for yourself, you can get more info here and a link to download it. There have been 37 downloads so far.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Flip Side

We American PAP's moan and groan about how long it takes to adopt Ukrainian orphans. Anybody that has followed Ukrainian adoptions since the NAC days, then the SDA, knows that the adoption process has several times been halted as the Ukrainians review the process, make adjustments, and start up again.

From my perspective, the SDA is kind of this black hole, doing things that are difficult to understand. Today, I was glad to find this surprisingly candid forUm post from 2006 that featured Yuri Pavlenko, the Minister of Sport, Youth and Family, which is the parent organization over the SDA.

He gives interesting tidbits of information, such as (paraphrasing):
  • They are not sure what happened to all of the missing reports by American families that Americans claimed were filed, but Ukrainians didn't have them. (One of the reasons that foreign adoptions were halted was because the SDA was complaining that foreign families weren't sending their reports they committed to).

  • In 2000, there were 2,200 domestic adoptions. In 2005, there were 1,500.

  • 18% of Ukrainian families want to adopt.

  • 3,000,000 Ukrainians want to become adoptive parents for 93,000 orphans.

  • The problem is not the Ukrainian people, it is the government that is not letting them adopt, taking up to 6 years.

  • Pavlenko would like Ukraine to ratify the Hague Convention. The banning of middlemen in the adoption process is their workaround for now.

  • They have a 10-year plan to move kids from larger orphanages (300 kids) to smaller orphanges (50 kids) in their area of birth.

  • 3,000 Ukrainian families have applied to form family homes, but the government has only approved 600.

  • Orphanage directors support orphanage reform.

  • The government is turning to the private sector (business) to help with orphanage reform.

  • The government regularly performs inspections of the orphanages. Pavlenko says that the number of violations is decreasing.

  • 10 to 15 kids living in a room looks horrible to foreigners. And "it is horrible."
I'm sure many would argue with him over his views, but I thought it was interesting anyway.

Ukraine's Minister for Sport, Youth and Family Yuri Pavlenko on Current Situation in the Orphanage System and the Adoption
October 5, 2006

Monday, July 21, 2008

Finding Family

Came across a newspaper article that includes Heidi and Felix Rogé. The Rogé's are currently hosting, and, like us, are waiting to get their dossier submitted to the SDA. (That is NOT them in the picture)

Finding Family
By Amber Baker
The Reporter-Herald, Loveland Colorado
May 10, 2008

Sunday, July 20, 2008

"God Made It Easy"

If you are interested in Ukrainian adoption stories, you MUST read this one. If you are working on an adoption, and the hassles are getting you down, go back to it.

Here is a snippet:

"Would you like to meet her?" our translator asked. Chris nodded. One of the women in the room left to find the girl.

I realized at that moment there was no turning back. How could a couple introduce themselves to a child and then reject her? That would be heartless.

The door eased open. Tanya was, as they described, gorgeous. Someone in the room instructed her to sit down. She hung her head, her cheeks flushed with embarrassment.

One look at Chris and I knew she would be our daughter. If it's possible to see the moment someone falls in love, I had watched it happen.

Through an interpreter, we inquired about her interests. One of the handful of people in the room asked her about her dreams for the future.

"I want a family," she answered, barely above a whisper.

A Chosen Family: Where Love, Longing and Need Meet
By Kim Hone-McMahan
Beacon Journal, Akron Ohio
May 11, 2008

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ditto on that Scanner Thing

In Michelle's blog post "Thank God for scanners", she mentions that she scans all of their dossier documents.

We did the same thing. It is the way to go. The first time you work on a dossier, you really have no idea what you are doing. Our facilitator, Oleg, has templates of the documents on his website. Those are indispensible, but after you get them filled out like you think they should be, you will invariably find that something is not filled out just right. What we did was scan the documents as we got them ready, BEFORE the apostilles, then emailed them over to Ukraine for review. Oleg and Dima looked them over and emailed us feedback for things to change. Most changes were little, but apparently very important. The medical forms were especially troublesome. They took several rounds of revisions until we got them right. I can't imagine actually mailing the documents back and forth to get them right. Ick. Once they gave us the thumbs-up, we sent them to the SD Secretary of State's office for apostilles, then UPS'd the originals over to Kiev.

As I blogged before, our documents in the dossier are expiring. We are slowly replacing them with updated versions. I'm kind of dragging my feet on getting them sent over, though, since there is cost involved and it seems needless at this time. There is very little hope of getting our dossier submitted this year, even though we are wanting to adopt older kids.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Just got done changing the links in our blogs to blogrolls. I was finding that it was just too time-consuming to check the various blogs for any updates. Now I can tell at a glance if there are any new posts. It took a bit of effort, though, to get that done, that's why I didn't do it sooner. There are some blogs that don't have what they call "feeds", so they don't update and they show up at the end of the lists.

If you're a blog author on Blogger you might consider making the change as well.

I also rearranged the order of the links so that those in Ukraine or about to go are near the top, since from looking at the blog traffic it looks like those are the blogs that most people jump to.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

"A God Thing"

"After 3½ years of paperwork, squabbling and travel, the family has adopted Simon and Sarah, Ukrainian orphans."

Adoption experience of a family in Bend, Oregon.

New Language, New Culture, New Family
By Sheila G. Miller
The Bulletin
June 15, 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sparkly Clean

Sparkle got her first bath last night! Now she is sparkly clean! She also got a sparkly new flea collar! Do you like exclamation marks?!! Sparkle likes exclamation marks! Life is one big exclamation mark when you're a little doggy!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Hosting Confusion

A few days ago we had a nice conversation with... THE FAMILY HOSTING SERGEI FOR THE SUMMER!

What a mess of confusion.

Frontier Horizon thought we weren't interested anymore because... we didn't adopt him. Sergei thought we weren't going to adopt him because... we haven't come over to get him. The family thought... I'm not sure what. They were as confused as anyone. They just suddenly found out that Sergei needed a host home because "that family from South Dakota isn't adopting him." We found out he was being hosted for the summer by the same family that hosted him last December and we didn't know their intentions. Ugh.

Then they made the effort to track us down and called us. Thank you thank you!

Those of you that know Sergei will understand, I'm sure, that anyone who spends time with him will want to adopt him. By all accounts he is such a great kid. It came as no surprise to us that the host family is interested in adopting him, or maybe I should say was, after talking with us.

Now if you were in our shoes, what what you have said to them?

This is what we said: We want to adopt him, but Ukraine is so unpredictable that we cannot guarantee Sergei that WE will be able to adopt him. If you wish to proceed with adopting him, please do so. I've blogged about this before. What if we don't get that referral? It's possible. Who knows. You know us, if it were up to us, we would have been there last May to get the kids. But it isn't. In telling them to pursue him if they wish, it is not because we don't care about him. It is just the opposite. He will have more of a chance at being adopted if the other weren't able.

I must say that the family was very gracious and kind. And if you're reading this, which I expect, please know that we very much appreciate the concern that you have for Sergei. We both have a desire to see Sergei in a family of his own, no matter which one it is.

One other thing we are excited about is that there may be a possibility to meet him this summer. The host family would like that. Please pray for that option for us.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wanted: Home for a Doggy Orphan

Once again I have been shirking my blogging responsibilities ;-) Mark has been bugging me to blog about the new addition to our family. But first...

We spent the long 4th of July weekend at the Skoglund family reunion in Lake Norden, SD. We stayed at John and Shirley Larson's Bed & Breakfast on the shores of Lake Norden. The picture in the corner was looking out our room's window. We highly recommend staying with them when you're in the area. We took the WaveRunner and tube along and gave rides to the relatives that wanted to.

Here's a picture of Mark at the Lake Norden spillway.

Here's me, on the left, in a quartet singing the hymn, To God Be the Glory, with David, Doug, and Dean. Thankfully, we don't have audio, because the tenor stunk!

Nancy and her 3 sisters grew up on a farm near Lake Norden. Their parents have passed away, and the farm has been sold, but her sister Valerie and her family still live on a farm there. Seems like there is always cats and kittens at the farm.

As part of the reunion we went on a wagon ride.

Now about that doggy...

Mark's cousin Sabrina took in this little dog from a family that didn't want her anymore. Her name is Sparkle and she's three years old. So she brought her to the reunion hoping to find someone to adopt her. Well it just happened that Mark has been bugging us for a dog, and we were wanting to get one anyway so that the kids we adopt from Ukraine would have one... So, now, Sparkle has moved to Mitchell. She joins our two cats, Patches and Bootsie. Here's a picture of Sabrina giving Sparkle to Mark to take home!

Sabrina and her husband, Boyd, have started the adoption process for adopting 3 kids from Chile.