Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I Know What Joy Sounds Like

Happy Birthday, S (clearly first thing in the morning)!
Two days ago, S, our oldest son, celebrated his 12th birthday. He celebrated in Ukraine, a world away from his awaiting family. Today, K, our oldest daughter celebrates her 14th birthday. It is really tough to be so far away, but that ache seems amplified on the big days. 

Happy Birthday, K (M had to leave early for work)!
Lucky for us, God hears our cries. Do you remember the lady I told you about who is adopting her son from the same orphanage? Her name is Carla. Well, not only did she deliver the necklaces and letter for us, but she did a few other lovely things for our kids (and us). First of all, she offered to shop for a phone for our kids while she was in Ukraine. Apparently, phones are quite a bit cheaper outside of the US. Carla was able to get a great deal on the phone, so she had a bit of money left over. When she found out it was S's birthday, she went shopping again and bought some legos for our boy. Shortly after delivering S's gift, she discovered K's birthday was today. Carla went out again and shopped for K for us. When she finished, K even had cake! I can't even begin to express my gratitude. A woman who was a stranger to me a few weeks ago, has such love for orphans-- especially my three orphans--that she is happily making trips to and from stores in multiple towns to help me deliver my love across the world. Wow!

So, back to that really big gift (as if the others were small potatoes). This morning, when my caller id showed a few extra numbers, I got chills. Yep, I got a call from Ukraine. I could actually hear the joy in these kids' voices. Artem was sick today (in the infirmary), but I was able to speak with S and K. I loved hearing their sweet voices mixing with mine. We were able to talk for a few minutes before the phone needed to be charged, and made plans to talk again. So, so good!

My high school counselor was amazing. Every time he called (even into my adulthood), he would comment at least once in the conversation that he could hear my smile coming through the phone lines. Today, I understand that even more. He was absolutely right, you CAN hear smiles! What a gift.

As I go through my day reflecting on this, I am so inspired to look harder for little ways that I can spread joy in this world. Ways that I can love others selflessly, just as I have received. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

It takes a village

So many of you have been asking, "How can we help?" We have been overwhelmed by the willingness to support us on this journey. Adoption is not for everyone. Maybe you, like my previous self, feel the call of the orphans tugging on your hearts but know it isn't right for your current situation. Maybe you, like my previous self, cry over every picture and video depicting kids who need a home. Maybe you, like my previous self, want to be a part of changing the lives of others through supporting those who adopt. If that is you, we have come up with many ways we could use your help. 

First of all, the biggest way and the way so many of you are already helping, is by praying for us and for all 6 of our kids. We are going to need all of your prayers to get them here and then for the unseeable future as we assimilate them into our home and ourselves into their lives. We will fall short; we won't be enough; we will need His help and guidance and strength. Please keep lifting us up! 

Secondly, we would love your gently used clothing, sports equipment or toys that you are done with. We have nothing for boys. We will need everyday clothing as well as winter clothing. Our current family has very little use for balls, bats, cleats, rackets - you get the idea. The A team kids (Mike came up with this term as a non-derogatory way of differentiating between our kids: A team--kids given to us through adoption and B team--kids given to us biologically) are ALL about sports. We have already been given bunk beds and bedding, perfect for the boys! If you have things you are ready to part with, we will happily take them now so you don't have to store them. As of this last summer, K (age 14, female) wears size 10-12 and some size 14, size 7 women's shoes. S (age 12, male) wore size 10, size 7 men's shoes. A (age 9, male) wore size 5-6, size 11 or 12 shoes. Anything that doesn't work for us, we will pass on to others who are in need.

Another way: meals. It is going to be challenging when they arrive here. I will just go ahead and predict it as total chaos. On top of that, I would guess we will be going through the groceries like crazy. When they stayed with their host family this summer, they were smaller than they had been the summer before. There just isn't enough food to support their bodies in the orphanage, so they were eating everything in sight. The amount of fruit, bread and milk the host family was flying through was mind boggling. Healthy meals and/or staples will be awesome when we get them here. 

Fourth, your time and attention. The A team has not experienced a lifetime of love and attention. They are coming to us with a huge deficit. They will need more than normal amounts of our time, attention and affection. The B team is used to our time, attention and affection. They are going to experience a reduction in what we have to give. At first, the A team will need to bond to us well before they bond to others. During that time, we would love to have people committed to giving the B team some extra time and attention. Take them for a walk, have them over to play with your kids, take them for ice-cream, listen to their stories. Also, once bonded with us, B team will need more than Mike and I alone can give. I know from experience that having adults outside of your primary family pour into you can make a huge difference. Also, they will have communication difficulties due to learning English and feel out of sorts in America until they assimilate. Again, take one or more for a walk, to a movie, go to their athletic events, chat with them, encourage your children to look out for and include them. This is one of those areas where it will take a village. I am so thankful for ours!

Finally, we have set up a fundraising site, which offers a tax deductible way for you to donate. The site dictates that we cannot raise more than the cost of the adoption and must submit receipts for our adoption expenses in order to receive our grant.  Every donation will go directly and only to our adoption. Let me be really clear here: we are prepared to do whatever it takes to pay for this on our own. If you are finding it difficult to meet your own needs, this is not where we want you to partner with us! If you, like my former self, want to help financially, here is the link: expansion. There will be so many additional expenses once we get them here (larger vehicle, food, clothing, therapy, tutoring, college, etc), that we appreciate financial help as well, so that we can focus our resources on creating a happy, nurturing home for them once they arrive.

Oh, and one more thing--feel free to use social media for good by sharing our link and this blog. Thanks so much, everyone!