Our Ukraine Timeline

For those of you who have been following along all along, are just joining us now, or who have no idea who we are but are trying to navigate your own adoption process, we thought it might be nice to share the timeline of our adoption process through Thailand in a simple(ish) list. I’ve definitely consoled myself in the past (okay, yesterday) by looking at timelines on other families’ blogs, so I hope that this is helpful to some of you!

December 1, 2013 – Learned about a Ukrainian child in need of a host family through our church’s orphan care group

December 2, 2013 – Were approved to be his host family

December 19, 2013-January 16,2014 – Hosted Vitalii. Sent petition to inquire about his adoption status to Ukraine with him on the 16th

February 19, 2014 – Receive official letter stating that Vitalii is registered for adoption in Ukraine

February 23, 2014 – Learn that we are able to simultaneously pull off both adoptions and commit to pursue adoption of Vitalii

March 26, 2014 – Completed home study revision

June 24, 2014 – Summer hosting of Vitalii fell through the night before hosting was to begin. It was a very difficult, uncertain time

September 23, 2014 – Received registration letter from Ukraine

October 1, 2014 – Received invitation letter from Ukraine to travel

October 13, 2014 – Jason traveled to Ukraine for SDA appointment/ first visit

October 21, 2014 – SDA appointment, matched with Vitalii

October 23, 2014 – Traveled to Vinnitsya to see Vitalii

October 28, 2014 – Vitalii signed his petition to be adopted

November 14 – December 3, 2014 – Jason returned to the US to wait for the delayed court date

December 8, 2014 – Court date. Beginning of 10 day waiting period

December 19, 2014 – Unification day! Jude Vitalii is a Camorlinga!

December 22, 2014??? – Obtain passport and travel to Kiev for completion of medical and immigration documents.

December 30, 2014 – The day that Ukrainian winter break begins. If paperwork is not complete by this date…. they will be there an extra week twiddling their thumbs.

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10 More Days

Today, we finished  James’ required post-placement meetings with the social worker. This is a relief. The meetings are largely perfunctory.  Now, we will begin finalizing the adoption, which means soon James will “officially” be a Camorlinga and we can begin sharing photos freely.

In 10 days, Jason will be flying out to Ukraine for the first of two trips to bring home our son(s?). God has this all worked out, we just need to remember to remember that. Praying for Jason’s safe travels, and our boy’s prepared heart. Praying for James during his papa’s absence.

Since the TB debacle (yes, that’s a thing. If you missed out, just imagine prolonged drama and bureaucracy and Danielle on the verge of leaping from a building [mostly exaggerating]), we have been struggling with some persistent behavioral issues at home. Your prayers concerning this would be greatly appreciated: that Jason and I would handle our son with grace and compassion, that our disciplinary choices would result in a child that becomes a well-adjusted adult, and that James would trust us.

This book (when tempered by the wisdom of Dr. Karyn Purvis) has been a reassuring fount of ideas: Try and Make Me!

Time to Pray

We have been praying the whole time. From the moment we said yes to hosting our boy, to the moment we got the call that Jason has an SDA appointment (AKA travel date and hopeful matching-us-to-our-son date), we have been praying.

For wisdom, for discernment, for patience, for strength, for forgiveness, for the ability to forgive, for resources, for community, for work, for speedy paperwork, for barriers to be removed, for our actions to reflect Christ… and we have failed. SO. MANY. TIMES. No matter how hard I try, I’m still a foot-in-mouth, overreacting, hair-trigger, untrusting, stressing, ever-forgetting mess. At work today, my coworkers briefly reflected on the strange pre-occupation we have with extending our life – though the extra days or years we may accrue are the ones that will undoubtedly be filled with disease and pain – when we know that our future home is SO much greater than any pissant thing we are presently capable of scraping together.

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” – C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (Thanks, cousin Aaren!)

This is how I find myself behaving. I behave as if the paperwork is the end goal, or the clean house, or the adoptions, when they are just the means to a greater end: the outworking of my salvation to the glory of God. I’m so thankful for the mirror that our journey has held up to my sinfulness (in that grumbly sort of way, of course). It has encouraged me to try to reach out to others more intentionally, to pry my eyes off of my own crap and lift others up instead. It has also helped open our eyes to the ways that our life fits in to the overarching story. We have seen pieces fall into place. We have felt spiritual darkness. We have felt relief by resting in Christ. We are learning to embrace pain that brings forth growth (in that grumbly sort of way, of course).

As we begin preparations for Jason’s first trip to Ukraine (he goes for a week and change, returns home, then flies out again for an indeterminate amount of time), it is imperative that we continue to pray. Otherwise, we will be doing these things in our own strength, and that is missing the point. Praying for safe travels, for ethical interactions, for protection, for a joyful reunion between father and son, for the hopeful possibility of an as yet unknown but available to us sibling, for James’ heart, for Jason’s health, for heavy reliance on God, and for God to be glorified at the end of it all. Small potatoes, right?


The Last Jew in Vinnitsa
The Last Jew in Vinnitsa

The Last Jew in Vinnitsa: A bit of trivia from the region that Jason will be traveling to. 

Psalm 43 – I shall again praise Him

I’m thankful that we were able to spend time with many loved ones during this past week. There were great moments of peace, connection and celebration, and many firsts – first Independence Day, first birthday together as a family, first piñata, first movie theater outing, first successful bike pedaling – took place. There were also many moments that demonstrated how well our family seems to have been matched, how faithful God was to prepare James’ heart for this change, and how much progress has been made in a short period of time.

“Vindicate me, O God, and plead my case against an ungodly nation;
O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man!
For You are the God of my strength; why have You rejected me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

Time has been moving slowly since the missed reunion date. Not only that, but as we wait and pray and aim for normalcy, difficulty seems to be mounting. We are clinging to hope, and as we do so, potshots to our health and thoughts and household increase. God doesn’t forget or reject His children, but in the frustrated and sorrowful moments it is easy to project my own weakness onto Him.

O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me;
Let them bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your dwelling places.
Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God.

The funny thing about the potshots is that they aren’t innovative efforts from the enemy. They are the same old tactics that we and every other believer have experienced at some point between salvation and glorification. I can practically HEAR Screwtape’s voice. So, we remain confident and can say, albeit weakly at times, “I shall praise You, O God, my God.” (And for this, AS I typed this, one of the very things that I am referring to occurred.) “I shall praise You, O God, my God.”

Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why are you disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.”

Psalm 43

Our own journey as a family is fueling this post, yes, but so are the stories we are hearing from other families: people being terrible to people, bodies decaying in the aftermath of sin, apathy breeding suffering, relief remaining distant. It is normal for people who are clinging to God to find a target painted on their back, so I’ll just remind my soul – and perhaps your soul, too – like the psalmist:

Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him.

Lord Willing: The Time We Didn’t Get What We Wanted

I should have been using that expression more frequently.

“Lord willing.”

But here we are, 5 days after our (host) son should have arrived and 2 days after we learned that he will not be coming this summer, barring the miraculous. It seems our plans and prayers were not in line with His will. However, (thank goodness there is a “however”) it seems we are catching glimpses of what His will may be, and we are grateful. Saddened, and frustrated, and hopeful, and PISSED. And grateful.

So, here is the story with as much detail as I can really give in such a public way, so that you can be praying alongside us for our boy:

Rather than being placed on the plane to come stay with us for the summer, he was shuttled to a camp. There is one person that caused this horribly disappointing thing (for our boy, and for us) to happen. He can potentially interfere with the adoption and we have reason to fear that outcome. Please pray that our sons’ hearts would be protected (especially our (host) son), that this person would be dealt with swiftly, that Jason and I would be ready to step up in whatever way we can, that we can protect future children and families from this person, and that the adoption would be successful. Ultimately, we are praying for good to beat evil in this battle.

This has opened our eyes (wide, WIDE) to the urgent need for advocates and families willing to defend the fatherless. We knew it existed, but now we are on fire. So, please, please, please consider how you might begin to or continue to care for orphans-

otherwise Jason and I will have to adopt roughly 200 kids and live in a shack.

Lifesong Matching Grant and LEGOS!

Are you on Facebook? Stop by the grid fundraiser to show your support, pick a number and wait to see if your family won an awesome trip to Legoland (or at least 4 annual passes, which is still REALLY cool). If the grid is filled, our matching grant will be completely met, and that will be $8,000 (minus the prize cost- still REALLY cool) for bringing home our boy. All donations will need to be sent to Lifesong with our family name and number (4544), and the details can be found in the group description.

Thank you for your continued prayers and participation in the crazy journey God has planned for

 

The Shoe & Clothing Fundraiser is Complete!

Thank you to everyone who collected and hauled and spread the word and sorted and generally supported us through the fundraiser! Thank you, Jennifer, for making it happen, and thank you, Wrights, for allowing us to fill up your garage! Thanks to this shoe/clothing/toy drive, Thirty-One party, and several generous donations, we are nearing the half way mark of what is needed for the adoption. That. Is. Wonderful. We are feeling called to do this crazy thing, and you’re all crazy right alongside us. That is beyond wonderful.

Here are some photos from the final sorting and pickup day:

20140607_091736 DSCN0442 DSCN0443 DSCN0445 DSCN0444

Summer Surprise – Hosting Part 2

We had a big, last minute decision to make.

When we discussed possibly hosting JV again, Jason and I thought we were told that he would not be available during the summer. This was good for us, as we looked ahead at the prospect of another international adoption, and as we braced ourselves for the adjustment period with James. But then, we received an email from the hosting agency confirming whether we did or did not want to host JV. That’s when we realized it was actually an option and that we had a hard choice to make (in one day).

The cons, as I saw them:

  • James is still adjusting and we are all still getting to know each other.
  • Saving for the adoption(s) is already a task.
  • This could be disorienting to have James experience being an only child, brother, only child, brother in just a few short months.

But the pros:

  • Ukraine is a hot mess right now. There is the (Lord forbid it) possibility that this might be THE chance to see JV again.
  • The boys will get to meet and we will get to love them both together for at least a short while.
  • JV will get to see his friends and family over here again and not be sent to a camp for the summer.

So we prayed, and we asked you to pray, and we asked for clear discernment and leading. We are so grateful to those of you who offered your encouragement, advice and support. Your responses were answers to our prayer, and ultimately money should not stop us from doing what feels and seems to be what we are being called to. My faith is so much smaller than I would like, or would like to think. The entire story with JV has been propelled forward by choices and people beyond our control…

And so it continues. He will be joining us all again for July(ish). Now we will pray that we can see and rejoice in God’s hand in our lives, that we are as grateful as we ought to be to Him and to you for your love and kindness, that JV is as thrilled about this new development as we are, and that James would be prepared to meet him. We are also waiting to hear back from Lifesong about a possible matching grant that would be an amazing way to double the worth of folks’ donations! Thank you for joining us during this crazy, but beautiful time.

My prayer tonight:

Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” 

JV Returns to Ukraine on Monday

It has been a LONG (not-even-quite-an-entire) month. Tonight, I’m just going to post happy things, but later we will definitely be sharing the ups and downs of hosting in more detail, so that you will have a better understanding of what it’s like and what it’s all about (and whether it’s for your family).

JV has become comfortable enough to behave like a child. He is goofy, more talkative, playing imaginatively, playing WITH other children, trying new food, expressing emotions, accepting affection, and picking up language skills. These accomplishments have been a blessing for us to witness, and we have been pleased to see that he is thriving in spite of the totally crazy circumstances of his situation. Reading books about the development and special needs of children from hard places definitely helped us to be ready for certain issues as they arose, but it also made us prepare for the absolute worst case scenario and helped us appreciate how wonderful JV is. He has gifted us (and hopefully you, if you’ve spent any time with him) with eye contact, checking in, affection, sharing, “please”s, “thank you”s, “bless you”s, and “you’re welcome”s. Through him, God has shined a light on our sin, and shown us (me and Jason, that is) how easily we become discouraged, how quickly our tempers flare and how much more growing we need to do in order to be more like Christ.

One particularly cool thing happened on the day we went to Disneyland.

As you may have already read, JV was sponsored to come to the U.S. by another family, and over the course of his visit we have been trying to arrange a time to meet that family with him. It wasn’t working out for various reasons and it didn’t look like it was going to happen before he left. However,  while we were riding in a horse drawn car down Main Street, that VERY FAMILY happened to recognize JV riding past and chased us down the street. Seriously, what are the odds that that family who lives an hour away would have come to Disneyland on the same day at that same time, would have recognized the little boy they’d met once, and would have even bumped into us in the first place at a busy joint like Disneyland? COME ON. So, long story short, JV’s sponsors got to meet him, and we got to meet them, and I hope that they understand they have changed our lives. So very grateful for them.

Tonight as we put JV to bed, he cried. He knows there is only one more full day left. So, Jason and I showed him the drawn out schedule for tomorrow, and let him point at the things we would be doing together, each time repeating that it would be “Papa, mama and JV,” until he laid back in bed smiling. He fell asleep holding Jason’s hands. *heavy happy/sad sighs all around*

Image

Would you please pray that Jason and I would be calm and comforting on Monday and that from our demeanor and words, JV would be able to have a sense of peace and comfort, also? I want so badly for him to know that we are advocating for him, not sending him back by any real choice of our own, and that we are confident he will be awesomely provided for in his life. If he could just come away from this month knowing that he is so loved and not alone, and that Jesus had something to do with that, our job would be done well. More soon. Thank you all.

Day 15 – In the middle of hosting

 

Jason and I want to thank you all from the bottom of our hearts and the deepest, most worn out parts of our souls. Thank you for your support and encouragement. We are so appreciative and JV may not know it, but you have helped us to be better at loving him. There have been days on which without your advice and kindness (and the evident, abounding grace of Christ) we might have locked ourselves in the bathroom and cried until January 13… Well, Jason might not have cried, but I have confidence he would have been huddled in the bathroom with me.

We have to go to the immigration office to finish our fingerprinting for the updated forms on Monday. It will be strange to step into the building with JV as we complete this step for James.