Saturday, November 29, 2008

Our SDA Appointment

We had our SDA appointment last Wednesday at 3:00 PM. The SDA building is about a 15 min. walk from our apartment. Dima, part of Oleg’s facilitator team, took the subway and met us at our apartment. From there, we walked together to the SDA.

Kiev is split by the Dnieper river. In this area, the land rises up from the river to a hill. On the top of this hill on the edge of it, you will find the SDA building. Right next door to the SDA building is St. Andrew’s church, built in the 1700’s.

If you go up the stairs of the church, seen in the picture, there is a portico that completely surrounds it. From here, there is a panoramic view of the lower parts of Kiev.

In this picture of Mark, the SDA building is the first building behind him.

This is the view that Mark is looking at. It is a very old street that in the olden days used to connect the poor areas in the lower city to the rich areas on the hill. Every year on the birthday of Kiev this street has a fair with many people coming to celebrate their heritage.

Here we are in front of the SDA building. There is a famous sculpture here from a Ukrainian tale.

The main entrance is in the center of the building when looking from the front. You never use that entrance when going there for adoption stuff.

The entrance we PAP’s and facilitators use is on the left side of the building, nearest the church next door. This is where the famous iron gate is. Thursday morning I visited to see the lines, but there weren’t any. I wasn’t expecting one anyway as Dima had told me the day before that there are no lines on Thursday, which is the day for older kids. That is a sad commentary on adoption. This morning I only saw a small group of facilitators talking. One of the ladies was holding a dossier.

When you go in that side door, immediately to your left is an L-shaped staircase that goes upstairs. This is the famous staircase where you will wait to be called for your appointment. In this picture, Dima is looking at The Bulletin Board, where all notices are posted for the facilitators to see. Your SDA appointment was or will be on this board.

On this day, Dima was reading about new rules that will take effect on Dec. 1 regarding 2nd appointments. Under the new rule, the Power of Attorney that facilitators have will not be sufficient in asking for the 2nd appointment. The family must petition in person, and the SDA will take up to 10 days to respond with their answer. Constantly the SDA is making it more and more difficult for foreigners to adopt from Ukraine.

Here are Mark and Nancy at the bottom of the stairs. We didn't have our appointment upstairs. The doorway directly behind them goes through a small office where a security guard is stationed. A couple of feet past that is a couch in the hallway and a door to a room on the right where we had our appointment. There was an American couple sitting on the couch waiting for something. We could read their faces that things were not good for them but we never did talk to them. The room I mentioned is where we were led and had a table and an L-shaped leather couch where we sat. The lady and Dima sat at the table.

The lady official met with Nancy, Mark, and I plus Dima as our interpreter. Because we had petitioned for specific children, she had only a single red binder with papers about the children. She started out by asking us to tell her about ourselves. Then she asked why we wanted to adopt. She singled out Mark and asked him specifically why he wanted to. Then she asked us how we knew about Sergey and Valya. Satisfed with our answers, she pulled out two datasheets with the childrens' information on it, including small scanned images of them that were about 5 years old. She asked us if these were the children. The pictures were old and the kids looked much different then, but we assured her that they were the ones. Regarding Valya, she told us that she had 3 brothers and one sister, which we already knew. She mentioned that the information about them was upstairs and she did not have it with her there. Finally, she just said that she would be giving us referrals for all of the children and we would have to sort out the situation in-region. It's not the way we expected it to go but we accepted it. As we were leaving, she asked Mark directly if he was happy, and he said he was. She was very pleasant and smiled the whole time. It lasted no more than 10 min. and that was that.

When we exited the building I met a men who asked if we were Americans. He was from Seattle. He and his wife were there for their 2nd appointment. At their first appointment, they were only shown files of disabled children. They are trying to adopt a young child. You've seen my earlier post about the number of young healthy children available for adoption by foreigners and this graph so it is no surprise. They had declined all of the files at their first appointment and were hoping to see healthier children this time. The stories are real, it is very difficult to adopt a very young child with no disabilities in Ukraine.

Here’s a picture of Dima and Oleg. There are many good facilitators in Ukraine. Oleg is one of the best. If you are looking for a facilitator you can visit his website here.

A Quick Update

It is Sat. morning at 9:00 AM. I want to give you a quick update about what is going on now.

First off, for those of you that know our private midco email addresses, please know that problem #24 prevents us from getting that email. Please use the yahoo addresses that are listed at the top left of our blog. I never name them directly in the blog so that web crawlers can't learn them.

Our internet connection through the cell phone works great for little things, but stinks for uploading big pictures, problem #18. I have three larger posts saved that I will post when we get a better internet connection. I'd rather wait than post postage-stamp sized pictures.

Today, we fly to Odessa, which is where all the adoption drama will be for us. Our flight leaves at 3:50 and takes an hour. We will be staying with friends in Odessa. Our plane tickets were $190 for the three of us.

Our luggage was delivered at 9:15 last night. It is good to have everything again.

Dima will be giving us our referral paperwork to take with us to Odessa. I will look it over and see if I can make anything out of the Ukrainian. We are anxious to know the details of Valya's family. Maybe our friends can translate it for us later today.

We have a small scanner along. We're going to scan some of our Ukrainian paperwork for souvenirs. At our SDA appt., Oleg gave us our old dossier from March that had expired and was never submitted. Now we have that for a souvenir. It has all of the Ukrainian translations and notaries. It is very elaborate how they sew the documents together.

I was looking over one of the Ukrainian documents yesterday and was able to make out that Valya's full name is Valentina. We think that is a pretty name. It is so feminine. The Tolly's were telling us about how they saw her at the orphanage playing soccer with the boys barefoot in a field. The Tolly girls say she is "wild".

We should be able to see Sergey soon. They say he is bouncing off the walls.

Will post more later when we get a better connection.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I know you are anxious to hear from us. What a last two days we have had. We are in Kiev but that in itself is a miracle. If I were to recount everything that went wrong, it would take the rest of the night to describe it. But things are also good. We did have our SDA appt. today.

First the trip. Our morning started at 4:00 AM in London. The subways don't start up until 5:30 so we timed it so that we would be at the station then. Things were going great until our first transfer. Then we learned that there was some "emergency repair" being performed there and the train we needed wasn't stopping at that station until 6:00 or later. Oh great we needed to be at Heathrow for an 8:05 flight. With every rumbling of our desired train passing us by I was getting more and more nervous as it was still a 45 min. ride from that point. So we had to wait 1/2 hr., then they let us on. Then there are 3 exits on the subway for Heathrow. You have to know your terminal. Oops. We got to Heathrow about 7:15 and didn't know what to do. There are posters on the wall in the stations but the train doesn't stop long enough for you to get off, look at the poster, then get back on. We opted to get off at one of the earlier stops so that we could get back on again if needed. Yep we picked the wrong one. Well the next train was 12 min. later. As I watched our train pull away, I'm starting to think, this is not good.

Sure enough by the time we got to checkin, they had already finalized the flight and they wouldn't let us on it. The lady at the counter was nice about it but firm that we were too late. She said we could fly tomorrow. Very bad as we had our SDA appt. Miracle #1 was she found us flights on a Hungarian airline the same day, in fact, leaving in 1/2 hr. The original tickets were non-refundable, so we will have to figure out if there is any way we can use them on the way home (we'll have more people!). At least she gave us emergency rates.

By the time we got through security, we just barely even made that flight. We had a layover in Budapest Hungary. Now that is an interesting airport. Apparently no one ever does layovers there. When we got off, the path led straight to the baggage claim area. We noticed another pair of men wandering around with a security guard, walking from place to place. Even he did not know how to get to the departure area. Turns out it was in the corner of the building separate from where the planes unload. We had to go through security again. All the signs and people talking were in Hungarian. From there we had our flight to Kiev. We arrived in Kiev at 3:30, 2 hours later than our original flight. No big deal, you say?

Well, we had arrangements for two parties to meet us at the airport. The first was for the VIP Service from Lonnie that I've posted about before. The second was our facilitator. I was very stressed out because I had no way to reach either of them during the trip. We didn't have a phone, and there was no internet for email, and there was no time to find it. So I was VERY concerned that we would be going through Ukrainian customs without any help.

Miracles 2 and 3 were that both parties were there for our later arrival. Turns out they always call ahead to verify that we would be coming before they actually go out to the airport. The VIP guy was unbelievably helpful. If you are planning to go to Ukraine then my advice is to hire them. He gave us, um, advice on how to fill out the forms. Even the officials were cooperative, giving me new forms after I "over declared" how much money we were bringing in. There were several booths with long lines of people, and one booth with no one there. That is the one they took us to. It was incredible.

Next bummer though was we discovered that only one of our three suitcases arrived. We have learned that they will be in tomorrow (Friday). That makes 3 days in the same clothes for Mark and me. Nancy's was the one that we did get.

But my suitcase has all of the electronic stuff in it like chargers, power converters, cords, etc. and we are missing all of that. The batteries in our laptops are dead, so now we are in an internet cafe long enough to give you this update.

Yes we had our SDA appt. today and it took all of 10 min. They showed us the files of Sergei and Valya. All was as expected. Also as expected, she told us that Valya has three brothers and a sister. They did not have specifics for us at the appt. She gave us referrals for all of the children. We will have to work out in-region about who is adoptable, etc. We will work with the Inspector and the orphanage director. We don't know yet what we will decide. We don't have enough information to go by. I told Nancy, you do realize don't you, that now that we have a referral, we will be required to meet her? It will be difficult to say no. I hope it doesn't come to that.

We have been told that our luggage will be here tomorrow night. We have decided to have them leave it at the airport and we will just pick them up when we fly down to Odessa on Sat.

I have lots of pictures, wish that I could post them. But we can't use the two computers we brought with us yet.

I will update you later as soon as I can. Right now I need to go online and book our flight for Sat. Thanks to all of you that are praying for us.

Today is Thanksgiving, we are indeed thankful to the Lord for his many blessings. Peace to you, friends.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Last Post From London

Well time sure does go fast as a blur sometimes. I am making a quick post before bed. Our wakeup call is at 4:00 AM. We need to be on the subway by 5:30 so that we can make our 8:00 flight out of Heathrow. We arrive in Kiev at about 1:30 PM. Kiev is about a 3.5 hr. flight from London and two timezones away.

I'll give you a quick recap of our last day here.

Our hotel serves what they call a "Full English Breakfast", which is an egg, toast, ham, bakes beans, sausage, and fruit. Definitely not low-cal fare.

The world's smallest elevator is located in London, England, in our hotel. The 3 of us barely fit into it together. When we had our luggage we had to make several trips. It is also the world's slowest elevator.

This morning we went to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. In the winter, it takes place every other day. If it rains it gets canceled altogether. They say it is because of their big fuzzy hats.

The palace is a 15-min. walk from our hotel.

The queen's flag is flying over the Palace. That means that she is there, and there are no tours of the palace allowed. Ironically, it seemed like we were the only English-speaking people in the crowd.

Afterward, we came back so that Mark could do some schoolwork and I could recharge the camera.

Later we took the bus to Westminster Abbey. We had intended to take a tour, but they were actually getting ready for a worship service called Evensong. So we went to that! It was cool. I think it is my highlight of our time in Londom. It is hard to describe, I will only say that the choir was wonderful. It was an intimiate service, which is remarkable considering the setting. It was very fascinating seeing the sepulchres located right in the walls of the church on all sides. We saw some that went back to the 1500's. There were no pictures allowed or I would show you.

The service laster an hour. Afterword, we went down to Parliament and saw Big Ben.

Then we crossed over the Thames and went to over by the London Eye. It is an emourmous Ferris wheel like think. But do not call it that they do not like it. The "cars" are enclosed gondolas. The wheel takes an hour for one revolution and it never stops, even while getting on and off.

Well need to go we have an early flight.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Getting some rest!

For the first time - I - Nancy- will add a post! I have loved reading Alan's thoughts and all the information he has put on our blog. Many of you know that I am a person with many, many words and Alan is usually a man with few words - so I have enjoyed hearing all of Alan's words in form of his thoughts about this while process that we started 1 and 1/2 years ago. For those who know me - you have heard my thoughts over and over again so - hearing from Alan has been a real gift to me. As you have read - we are in London - Mark and I just got up - for the 2nd time in about 24 hours. When we finally arrived at our hotel - we went to bed - just couldn't stay awake - it was 3 pm London time (9 AM South Dakota time). We slept until 10 PM London time and then went out to find something to eat. Back to bed at 1 AM and just got up at noon today). Alan has been up earlier - doing some Innovative work and blogging and etc. We only get internet in the hotel lobby so he sits down here and works. Mark will be doing some homework tonite - sitting down here as well since any reading assignments were scanned in by Alan before we left - Mark will have the hard copies of the worksheets to do and then Alan will scan them and e-mail them back to the school. School work will be done every chance we get until we get our kids - then it will be harder to keep Mark doing school work. Although, we did buy another laptop so that Mark could use one and kids or Alan could use one at the same time - me ---- I'll just read or whatever!!!!

I'm back - we went and played and now we are back at the hotel -

Ok -we went and took a two hour tour of part of the city (saw Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Tower of London and more) and will continue tomorrow as well. Was fun to see and hear about places you had only read about or heard about on the news. Actually, in Oct of 1986 I was on my way to Nigera to visit my sister Karen and husband Rich and I had a 24 hour layover in London and I took a bus tour while here as well - but this will give us more time to see more. After a couple hours of the tour we got off the tour bus and walked and before we knew it we were in Chinatown! We will continue the tour tomorrow.

Just met a family from Maryland in the lobby here - fun to connect with someone from US. I also spent some time writing in my journal - I have been pondering my thoughts of the wonderful, frightening, awesome and God led adventure we have been on and now it is time to put in down on paper. Kinda like when Mary was told she was pg with Jesus - she pondered all that the angel had told her - I too have been pondering all that this new family unit will be and all that God has planned for it to be.

All for now,

Love to you all,


Way Jet Lagged

Wow I way underestimated the effect that jetlag would have on us. London is 6 hours later than Mitchell. It wouldn't seem like that would make that big of a difference, but that and our flight schedule worked in perfect symbiosis to make our first day here memorable. It'll give us something to laugh about later.

We left Sioux Falls on Sat. 1:30 PM and arrived in London Sun. morning at 7:00 AM. We did not sleep much on the redeye flight as I expected that we would. And I don't think Mark slept at all. There was a little girl a few rows ahead of us who cried for hours during the latest part.

We took the Tube (subway) from Heathrow to Victoria Station, then wandered for quite awhile until we found our hotel. They wouldn't let us check in until 2:00, so we went to a nearby mall to eat (and sleep, as I mentioned yesterday).

After we checked in, we went to sleep and woke up again about 10:00 PM. If you don't know, London at 10:00 PM on a Sunday night is totally dead. There may be some areas that have a rousing night life at that time but it is definitely not where we are.

We were starving so we asked the gal at the desk where we could go to get something to eat. She says to go down to the next traffic light and take a left. She says something like "something something Warwick something something 5 min. something". Apparently we weren't paying nearly good enough attention to her directions. We went outside and there is a traffic light but we thought that she meant the next one. So we walked about 5 min. to the next traffic light and took a left and walked and walked and walked looking for a place to eat. We finally decided that we weren't going to find anything. So should we just retrace our steps or go down this next street? You know where this story is going. We ended up getting lost on foot in London at 10:30 and there is no one around. Every street looks the same. They do not put street names up on posts like they do in America. The names are on signs attached to buildings.

These signs, if they are there, are difficult to see in the dark. The streets are not layed out in grids like they are in South Dakota. We are used to NSEW directions and these streets run off at every different angle. Another problem you have here is the street can change its name every few blocks. One thing I would do differently in the future is have a GPS along.

Eventually we were standing on this one corner and asked a passerby, can you tell us where Buckingham Palace Road or Victoria Station is. He pointed down the street from the corner we were on so we headed that way. Turned out we were on our street where the hotel is and we did not even know it.

We eventually made our way down to the first traffic light I mentioned earlier and what do you know it is Warwick Way. We headed down that street for about 10 min. looking for something that was open, finally found Cypress something, I can't remember the full name. They had middle eastern food. They are open all night but not the restaurant, carryout only. So we all ordered some lamb meat something or other. It looked like a burrito but that's not what they call it. We headed back to the hotel with our booty. We definitely knew how to get back to our hotel from there as it was just one turn. But we did get lost again. Turns out we walked one block past our corner. Thankfully we figured that one out pretty quick. We were tired and crabby and stressed out. All was well after eating. We went to bed again about midnight and now I'm up after eating breakfast here, and blogging. Don't know what we'll be doing yet today.

I'm very glad we did not go from the US to Kiev in one trip, with our SDA appt. the next day. If you're planning your trip, I would suggest allowing a little extra time so you won't be a zombie like us.

Till later.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

It's Cold, But At Least We're Wet

London is an interesting place. We've learned that the difference between Eccleston Street. Eccleston Place, Eccleston Square, and Eccleston Bridge is about 1 1/2 hours of walking in the rain. Yes, our hotel is on one of them, and we've learned that it is not on three of them.

This part of London, about 2 blocks from Buckingham Palace (they say Bucking-um here), looks a lot like you see in the movies. I tell you almost every building looks like every other. They all are multistory rectangular buildings that all run together. The picture on the hotel's website does absolutely no good because every one looks just like it. We went in to a Starbucks so that I could ask the gal behind the counter where the address was. She took the paper in to the back room, and when she came out, she said, "It's straight down that way. Good luck." I commented to Nancy, she said Good Luck, that's a bad sign. And it was it ultimately turned out to be exactly in the opposite direction. Meanwhile, we traipsed in the rain (Is traipsed part of the Queen's English) for quite awhile trying to find the place, until I had the brilliant idea, why don't I call them, I have the phone number for crying out loud. Our cell phones are useless so we went in to one of those famous red phone booths they have all over. But apparantly Americans are so dumb they would actually press all of the 50 or so digits in the number they list, because it does not work. I thought that it must be a subset of them, but no matter how many of them I entered I could not get the phone to dial out. And yes I did put 40 pence into it. Then I had another brilliant idea: why don't I get our London guide book out and look it up. Of course it was in there and we were able to go right to it. All of this while it was raining, we were dragging all of our luggage behind us, and we were going on 24 hrs. awake.

It was too early to check in, but they did allow us to drop off our luggage. Now we are in a mall nearby, and Nancy and Mark are sound asleep here in the food court. Well someone needs to stay awake and they apparently conspired and voted that it would be me.

We were able to buy an adapter for our American plugs here, so we will be able to keep our computers running while we're here. The package literally lists 150 countries it works for, but Ukraine is NOT one of them. What's up with the Ukrainians?!! No matter, we already have a Ukrainian adapter anyway that the Tolly's have loaned us.

It's been fun striking up random conversations with the locals around here. The people we've talked to have been friendly. We all get a good laugh about the coins. We just hold them out and let the cashiers pick them. They have 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50-pence, and 1-pound coins. It gets confusing because they are different sizes than we are used to. For example, their 10-pence looks like our quarters, and their 5-pence looks like our dimes. Or is it the other way around. Not many of them have heard of South Dakota, but they've heard of Mt. Rushmore.

One other thing I noticed, when you come to a crosswalk, they paint on the street, "<-- Look Left" or "Look Right -->" It's a good thing because they drive in the opposite lanes here. Those double-decker busses do not slow down at intersections, I am glad that they have the messages painted on the streets. More than once I looked in the wrong direction.

It's 1:19 PM now, we'll be able to check in at 2:00. Maybe I'll just close my eyes and rest a little...oops not a good idea...


We were able to get checked in to the hotel. The girl working at the desk is funny. she speaks with some kind of accent. I mean other than British of course. We were hoping earlier that they would just let us do an early checkin. It is actually an apartment, "flat" as they say. Nope checkin is at 2:00 come back later. When we came back later it was about 1:50 PM. We were hoping we could get in, but she said no, it is not the "procedure". I told her we had jet lag and really needed to rest. Nope. So we sat on the couch next to the desk to wait. Later while we were sitting there, someone else came in and she spoke... Russian.

We're in London!

We made it to London a little bit ago. It is very cold here, there are snow flurries. We brought our South Dakota weather gear so we should be OK with that. It is 7:50 AM here, 6 hours later than South Dakota. We have some time to kill hauling around our luggage until checkin at our hotel at 1:00 PM. I'll post more later. We are tired and the day is just beginning here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The New Normal

A couple of weeks ago Phil Joel was in Mitchell for a concert which we went to see. He is awesome. I LOVE going to see him.

His most recent album is The New Normal. I'm reminded of that today. I've been going through "this is the last time that...", like the last time we were in our church and it would be the last time we would be there as just the three of us, the last time with our relatives as just the three of us, the last time in Sioux Falls, the last day with our pets, the last day of the only normalcy that we have known for the last 14 years. On the way home from Sioux Falls last night I was even thinking, the next time I drive this road from Sioux Falls to Mitchell we will have new kids with us. I am alone before work right now, Nancy and Mark have left for school. It is an eerie quiet, like the calm before the storm.

We are completing our preps for the trip. We leave tomorrow. Our SDA appt. is next Thu. Thanksgiving Day. And yes I did cut my hair. Such sacrifices for the kiddos! Had fun showing $25K to some of my coworkers yesterday. It's not as big a pile of bills as I expected it to be.

Last night, we went to see Phillips, Craig, and Dean in concert in Sioux Falls. A couple of weeks ago we debated about whether we really wanted to take the time to go when we have other things that need to get done. I'm glad we went. It was an awesome time of worship, exactly what I needed.

A few days ago I posted about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. I'm feeling that for us now. We will definitely be out of our comfort zone. I have alternating feelings of confidence and feeling like we are out of our minds. The uncertainty with Valya weighs down on me. My solution to the problem is to adopt her whole family. A more reasonable mind (Nancy) says that we can't do that. This should be a happy time, but right now, I am not feeling happy. You have the ability to post comments to our blog posts. I hope you will do that for us along the way. I know we will appreciate the support from our families, friends, and bloggy friends while we're over there.

Tomorrow I will have a special post.

Monday, November 17, 2008

5 Days

The time of our departure for Ukraine is fast approaching. Basically, our remaining preps consist mostly of packing issues. We haven't started packing yet, but will shortly. I will be printing off a list that Eric and Michelle posted that they are taking, and will adjust it for us.

I want to thank those of you who are praying for us regarding the Valya situation. All we can do is wait for our SDA appointment. It promises to be an interesting day. It's completely out of our control, so there is no point worrying about it. Deb pointed out in one of her comments that she thought that they would consider splitting sibling groups of 5 or more. Not sure about that, but Oleg says that to split up siblings requires the approval of the siblings plus the local Inspector. Oleg also reassured us that if the siblings or the Inspector wouldn't agree to the split, that we would be able to get a 2nd appointment.

The day of our SDA appointment, Thu. Nov. 27, will be interesting for another reason. It is also the last day for dossier submissions for 2008. If we can get there early, I will take a picture for you and post it on the blog. I will be interested to see one of these legendary facilitator lines myself. I would expect tensions to be high since all of them will be anxious to get their clients submitted.

Our new furniture for the living room arrives tomorrow. It will be good to get that in order. The only furniture we have for Valya's room is mattresses. We've decided to order the rest online when we know when we, or Nancy, will be returning.

That's it for now.

Cast your cares on the LORD
and he will sustain you;
he will never let the righteous fall.

Ps. 55:12

Friday, November 14, 2008

Concerns About Valya

I have had serious concerns for Valya today. It kept me up last night. We know that Valya has 4 siblings. There is a new law in Ukraine that took effect in Nov., or maybe hasn't quite yet, that prevents the separation of siblings. We don't know anything about the siblings, whether Valya is the oldest or the youngest or anything. We have been working with people over there to contact her about us adopting her and now it looks like that was unwise. I don't think it would be possible to adopt 5 of them + Sergey. It is not a good situation.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Getting More (Sur)Real

Well our facilitator team emailed us today to get some information from us. They want to know our arrival at the Kiev airport. And now they have presented us with our first choices we need to make. When we get to Kiev, do we want an apartment or hotel? When we go to Odessa, do we want to go by plane, bus, car, or train? If by train, 2nd or 1st class? It is surreal. I tell you, the deeper we get into this thing the more respect I have for the families that have already done this.

Made the last of the remaining arrangements for our trip this evening. We now have lodging in London for three nights. It took hours on the internet to get that figured out. I would have liked to be on the outskirts in a B&B with a private family, but with our schedule, and the fact that there are three of us, it just wasn't working out. So now we have an apartment in central London, close to the tourist action and the Tube.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Travel Preps Under Way

We continue to make preparations for our trip. We have our plane tickets now. We also arranged for the rental of a cell phone and cell modem for our computer. Now, no matter where we are in Ukraine, we will have internet access. It will not be necessary to use internet cafes or rely on internet in our lodgings. Of course, if we have access to broadband, we'd use it. The rental covers two months. I hope we do not require that much time. We will also have VIP service at our arrival in Kiev to help us through Ukrainian customs. I bought a new laptop computer on eBay. It should be here in a couple of days. We needed XP on it for that cell modem we'll be using, since we were told it does not support Vista. Our other laptop we'll be taking has Vista on it. So we will have two laptops along to help reduce competition for computer time. I will need to spend some time doing work-related things early on while we're there. I also got a sheetfeed scanner on eBay. Mark will not be getting a four week vacation from school. He will be taking worksheets along to complete, then we will scan them in and email them to his teachers. We had a big conference at Mark's school last Monday with the principal and several teachers. We ironed out the homework situation for Mark while we're gone, and the plan for the Ukies. They say they are up to the challenge with the kids and will do an assessment when we get them here to figure out how to help them be successful in their academics. The bank called this morning, they have our money in. I asked if we could increase to 25K, they said no problem. We will be putting that in our safe deposit box. I also asked if we could take a camera in when we go to get it, they said that's fine. Our friend's, the Tolly's, will be loaning us their money belts. Carpet is being layed today in Valya's room and our living room. Furniture for the living room is coming next Tues. We had a complication with the furniture for Valya's room. It looks like we will have mattresses for her to sleep on when she arrives, but that's about it. Her furniture will take three weeks to arrive so we can't order it now. Oh well, gotta be flexible I guess. I told you about our friend that will provide Rosetta Stone to us for free. Actually the way it will work is she has TWO copies that she can loan us for a year, or however long we will need it. Now we will also have a copy that we can provide to the school, too. That is awesome because it can cost $500 per copy if we were to buy it. We've made arrangements to "bless" various friends with our pets, 2 cats and a dog. About the only travel-related arrangements we need to do yet are lodgings in London. I would wish for a bed-and-breakfast. Don't know yet if that is doable. If anyone reading this has any tips I'd like that.

Found out recently that Sergey was super excited to hear that we are coming. Jumping up and down and all that. Still haven't been able to reach Valya yet. Hope we can do that before we leave, a week from Sat. Blessings to you.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Church Send Off

Although we don't leave for Ukraine until Nov. 22, yesterday was the last day we will attend our church, since we have an extended family gathering next weekend. They have been supporting us for a long time, and it has seemed like this day would never come. So now it seems like a dream that it is really happening. After church several of our friends layed hands on us and prayed for our trip. Thanks all and we love you. One of us three was weeping and it wasn't Nancy or Mark. I also printed out little strips of paper with our blog address and left them at the entrance so that everyone can follow our blog.

Still haven't settled on plane tickets yet. The secret's out: Yes we are planning to go to London for 2 or 3 days before we arrive in Kiev.

God is moving for us! Nancy found a great deal at Shopko on Sat. A 5-piece rolling luggage set for $25. It was marked way down on clearance. Also, a friend of ours works for the school system in Mitchell in some capacity, not sure exactly what, but told us last night that she has a grant and she can give us Rosetta Stone for free! Incredible.

We saw Fireproof last night with a bunch of friends. Everyone was crying, even the guys, except for one. But he's a freak! Just kidding M.! Really, you must go see it if you haven't yet.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Two Weeks

We continue to get ready to go on our trip. We leave two weeks from today. We haven't decided on plane tickets yet. There are so many options to choose. We are planning to leave a couple of days early so that we can spend some time in a European city for a long layover. For security reasons I'm going to be vague about our plans. But we will blog along the way. We are working with Lonnie Rowland for our arrangements. One of the things we want is VIP service at our arrival in Kiev.

A couple of major things we have going on at home right now is some remodeling. Our living room is without carpet and furniture right now. We had to special order the carpet three times. The first two times, the carpet was defective and couldn't be used. The third time, we had to pick out something different. We are going to order the furniture about ½ hr. from now.

And we are also remodeling what will be Valya's room. We finished the painting on Thursday. The carpet goes in on Tuesday. I need to finish putting up the shelves in the closet today, the ceiling fixture, and the blinds. We also need to get girl furniture. We haven't had a girl before. :-) I'll post pictures when we're done. The boys' room is done, we did that one last winter. The picture is me painting the closet.

Last night we wanted to go see the movie Fireproof. But most of South Dakota is having bad weather right now, and the film did not arrive in time for the 7:00 showing, so we went to Madagascar 2 instead.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thanksgiving Plans!

Wow! We are going to Ukraine. We got our SDA appt. for Thurs. Nov. 27, which is Thanksgiving! Finally, out of limbo!

Hi Alan,

I received appointment date. You are invited on November 27th. Pls, come on November 26th.

See you soon.


Thanks Oleg! Sergey and Valya, we are coming for you.

I am so excited and I can barely type! I mean that literally. This will be an unforgettable Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

"From Caring Comes Courage"

I was going into Burger King earlier today and I noticed this little poster on the window in the entrance advertising something for the Disabled American Veterans organization. There was a quote on it that I found to be profound and very meaningful to me. It is,

"From Caring Comes Courage"

-- Lao Tzu
Four little words. But consider carefully the truth in them.

Where do ordinary people get the courage to do extraordinary things? From something they're passionate about. What are you passionate about? Are you passionate about orphans? How about the orphans of Ukraine?

Where do you get the courage to open up your life to strangers?

Or the courage to spend a small fortune on an adoption when you can't afford it?

...The courage to ask your boss for a month off from work?

...The courage to be away from your kids at home for a month?

...The courage to use all of your vacation time, and if there's not enough, to take unpaid leave?

...The courage to travel to a place where they don't speak your language, don't understand you, and don't even want to?

...The courage to lose all of your status that you have back home and to be treated like a dolt by Ukrainians?

...The courage to be at the mercy of the SDA regarding the referrals they present you with?

...The courage to put all your faith into a Ukrainian businessperson to help you over there?

...The courage to deal with the capriciousness of all of the government officials that you absolutely cannot avoid?

...The courage to take in a small child that may have health problems?

...The courage to take in an older child who might have emotional baggage?

...The courage to shatter the status quo back at home and alter the dynamics in your home?

...The courage to teach foreign-born children the English language and the ways of Americans?

...The courage to deal with the adaptation issues that will arise when you bring an orphan into your home?

...The courage to deal with small-minded individuals who treat your struggling Ukie poorly?

...The courage to press on, even on the trying days when you feel like you've made the biggest mistake of your life?


I try to follow a lot of Ukrainian adoption blogs, and, every day, I see ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Take for example, the Wolff family, who, as I write this post, are in Ukraine adopting two teenage girls. Recently, the Wolff's posted an entry to their blog called "Goodbye", which seems to have touched many of their readers. It is about the day that they went to pick up their girls from the orphanage for the last time, and the difficulty of leaving behind so many others.

Sometimes it all seems so futile, but it isn't of course. The Wolff's write often about rescuing their girls, from an almost certain terrible future. So, it isn't futile for them.

The truth is, if everyone reading this blog, and all the others, caught the vision for adoption, especially of older children, think of the impact that could be made! All it takes is for caring people to get over whatever fear they have that is holding them back, and get the courage that flows from passion.

Last summer, I posted about an adoption story that appeared in an Ohio newspaper. It is probably my favorite post of all that I've done, so far. Take a look at it, if you haven't before.


Some say that the following words were written on the wall in Mother Teresa's own room. Wouldn't you say that they fit her life? How about yours?

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.