Thursday, December 31, 2009

Greetings from Chi-town!

After a long over-night drive, we made it safely to the Chicago area for a late Christmas & New Year's celebration with Heidi's side of the family. The kids haven't met most of their aunts, uncles, and cousins from Mom's family. Seeing that we would be leaving soon for Ukraine and the fact that we didn't travel anywhere for Christmas, we planned this trip a few weeks ago.

We loaded up the brown "Fred" van and headed out at 2 pm on Wednesday. Heidi drove during the daylight hours due to her night vision issues and I pulled the overnight shift. I had purposely slept late that day, too. I must have downed a six-pack of Mountain Dew to ensure that I was fully awake for the task. I'm used to pulling the occasional 12 hour midnight shift at work, so staying up all night is an art I have perfected. We arrived this morning at 5am. We all snoozed until 9 am and I took a 30 minute nap this afternoon to get back into the swing. We will be here until Sunday morning when we will repeat the process, in reverse.

Some observations from the trip:

  1. The 12 pass van makes for some comfy sleeping, the kids didn't really miss a beat.
  2. Those Nebraska folks sure love their "Big Red" football team! The game was on seven radio stations.
  3. The Nebraska state slogan is "The good life" Not so much so in the dark of night at 75 MPH. (That one's for you Jim!)
  4. From 1 to 4 am the AM radio conspiracy theorists are in full swing.
  5. Eastern Colorado should be Western Nebraska.
  6. Through the magic of AM radio signal reflection off the curvature of the Earth's atmosphere, it IS possible to listen to a Cajun radio station in Louisiana! Wayne Toups and Clifton Cheniere were in rare form.

We leave for Ukraine in TWO WEEKS! Whoo-hoo!

~ Felix ~

Monday, December 21, 2009

Seeing Christmas through their eyes

I had the extreme privilege to do God’s work this weekend. Kari Volf and Heidi had been talking to each other about a group of 10 orphans and two chaperons that were traveling to Texas for a Christmas Holiday Hosting trip. It seems that Kari had received a call from Stephanee Potts who had put the trip together. She said that the orphans and their chaperons had been weather delayed out of Frankfurt and would miss their connecting flight to Texas. Enter me. My daughter, Jordan, was flying in from Louisiana that evening and I would be at the airport anyway. I quickly loaded up “Fred”, our big brown 12 pass van, and took off to the airport. The mission was to get the 12 Ukrainians rebooked on a later flight out to Texas or get them to a hotel for the night and a flight out in the morning. I thoroughly enjoy using God's 12 seat vehicle for His purposes!

While enroute to the airport, I learned from Stephanee that the group was split into two smaller groups by the airline. One group got routed through Chicago while the other was coming through Denver. In addition, the “certain German airline who will remain anonymous”, had routed one of the chaperons on a flight the next day on a different airline. This airline had also placed one of the teenage girls on a separate and later flight. Not good!

I went to work at the ticket counter with an agent, explaining the fiasco and the need to keep all of the children and chaperons together. The agent explained that all further flights that night were booked and that there was no way that they would be flying to Texas tonight (she had to tell the guy in front of us that his rebooking was for two days later). With a little work, she found seats on the first flight out in the morning to Austin for 10 of the 12. She booked the one chaperon and the teen girl for the next flight out to Austin but told me to show up early and get those two on standby if at all possible. You got it sister!

Having the rebooking complete, I ran down to the customs & immigration gate and waited for our guests. In no time at all they arrived. They are all very cute, but were very tired. I had brought along Nadia to translate and help with the kids. The orphans warmed up to her and asked a few questions about her, “was she adopted”, “was she Ukrainian”, “was I her father”, etc. Meanwhile, Jordan had landed so I sent Nadia to go get her at our usual rendezvous. The kids took turns going to the bathroom, drinking from the fountain, and asking many questions. Soon enough Nadia & Jordan were back and off we went. Stephanee had arranged for a hotel and pizza delivery and I loaded 15 people “Ukrainian style” in a 12 pass van (don’t ask). Thank goodness the hotel was a short drive off the airport grounds.

The fine folks at the Holiday Inn looked the other way as we roomed 12 people in two rooms. They even threw in extra blankets and towels. (I’ve been known to shamelessly use the poor orphan story from time to time). I left the two chaperons, Denis & Zhenya, with instructions to be ready to roll by 6:15 am and I gave them my extra cell phone. “See ya in the morning”, I told them.

The next morning I rolled in around 6 am and found the girls already dressed and ready to go. The boys on the other hand were iron-drying their underwear. It seems they felt the need to wash their underwear in the sink that night and had laid them out to dry. I didn’t ask what they had slept in. A boy was finishing up ironing a pair of cotton tights and in quick order, we were ready to go. Heidi had put together a care package of string cheese, apples, oranges and chocolate chip cookies for each of them. I had stopped and picked up a sausage McMuffin for everyone, too. As they loaded into the van, I handed these out to all the kids. Denis asked to lead a moment in prayer when we arrived at the parking garage. It proved to be the big difference as you will soon see.

I was horrified at the 10 mile long line at the United counter when we arrived and I knew that they wouldn’t make it if we stayed there. It was as if I felt God say, “Felix move” all of a sudden. Denis sensed this too and he and I pushed our way to the front of the “special needs” line, or whatever they call it. We got to the counter eventually and pleaded our case. In what seemed like eternity, we waited and we waited and we waited as the agent meticulously worked each ticket that had been booked the night before. The one chaperon and teen were another full fifteen minutes of keyboard typing and I watched the minutes fly-by! The flight still showed full but the agent placed the two later-flight people on standby, just in case. “Felix, Move!” I gently and subtly reminded her that the flight was about to board. That got me a quick look, but I pulled out the shameless orphan story again. Whew, gotta watch how you handle those ticket agents!
Glancing at my watch, I now had less than 40 minutes to get said guests to the gate…and we still had to go through security. As we snaked around and around the security wait area, I felt it again, “Felix, move!” I spied an under-worked security guy standing around, told him my story, and we got through security in 10 minutes!

Of course the aircraft would have to be at the last gate in the entire B terminal! We didn’t run, but I bulldogged our way to the gate, walking as fast as the little legs behind me could run. I glanced at the departure boards every chance I got, nothing new, aircraft still at the gate, boarding to start immediately. We finally arrived at gate 80, Terminal B East (Kansas I think).
I actually ran up to the vacant counter before anyone could get ahead of me. Out of breath, I told the agent, “We are the 12 you have been waiting for!” The lady looked at me with a frown on her face and said, “I’m sorry, we have closed the flight and the aircraft is about to back out”. I said a few “pleases” and few “C’mon, pleases” a few “but we ran as fast as we could” all the while she was shaking her head NO! Defeated, I bowed my head, about to say a quick prayer when the agent said, and I’m not kidding, “Gotcha! I just love doing that to folks who run up to the counter! The flight is still here, we are slightly delayed and all these people are waiting with you!” I wanted to lunge across the counter, needless to say.

Instead, I went along with her joke and played nice. Did I mention that everyone waiting saw me and cracked up laughing? I thought it was Christmas, not April Fool’s Day! I told the agent that it was indeed funny (lie) but that she owed me a favor for that one; I needed my two standbys placed on the flight! She said, “Oh honey, we got plenty of seats, but they are scattered and middle rows”. I’ll take ‘em! What better way for fellow Americans to meet an orphan than to have one in a middle row seat!

A few minutes later, my guests got in the boarding line and high-fived “Uncle Felix” as I was nicknamed. A couple of the girls got teary-eyed when I told them that I would not be going. I assured them that they were in for the time of their lives and to have fun in Texas. Zhenya thanked me profusely and Denis exchanged information with me.

So I got to see Christmas through their eyes and to see the face of Jesus in these children as I do every day in my children. Thank you Stephanee! Thank you God for another chance to see your grace in action.

~ Felix ~

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ukraine in a Month!

One month from today is our SDA appointment. Yep, we will be sitting in front of the friendly folks there asking for R's referral and begging for Z's. All they can do is say yes or no, right?

My goodness, I think I would pass-out and fall on the floor if they agreed to waive the one year wait for Z. The poor child has waited long enough. It's all in God's hands now. I have prayed and pleaded my case to Him for two years, and will continue to do so until she is safe at home.

So, to celebrate, I promptly purchased our airline tickets. The fine folks at Golden Rule travel have been holding our reservation for a month and it was time to pull the trigger on that deal. We e-mailed our facilitator this week to make sure the SDA date was good to go. He assured us it was, but I was nervous. "Never go against a Ukrainian when adoption is on the line"! There's my obligatory Princess Bride quote for Richard & Cindy...hope it made you smile!

This month looks like it will pass quickly for us. I say that we have a month, truth is, we probably have less than a few days when you consider the following. Next week is Christmas week and Heidi and I will only work M-Wed. The following week is pretty much the same, Heidi and I will again only work M-Wed and then we will drive the big-brown-van to Chicagoland to see family on Th-Sun (most of Heidi's family have not met the kids yet). That Sunday we head back because I'm on orders with the Air Force the whole first week in January. The second week of January has me catching up at my civilian job. Then, Friday the 15th, we are flying out to Ukraine!

'Cause I'm leavin' on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again. Isn't that the truth!

~ Felix ~

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The calm before the storm

Is everyone still out there? (Cue the crickets chirping).

I know it has been almost two weeks since we posted anything. We have delved into work, family life, holiday preparation and getting ready for the eventual four to six week adoption process next month. Besides, there's not much to report on and I have been working 12-hour midnight shifts at work. Six pm to six am doesn't leave much personal time and I have to sleep sometime. Thank goodness that this schedule will come to an end soon, and just in time for Christmas and New Year's Day!

Before you know it, the next month will pass and we will be getting on that plane headed to Ukraine. The calm before the storm will soon be over. It became real to me this week. R will be home within three months! This process has taken what seems like forever to us. When parents are separated from their kids, it feels like forever! I can't imagine what it has been like for R & Z!

I had a dream a couple of nights ago that the government of Ukraine allowed Z to come home too! What a miracle that would be. I've never heard of them letting an orphan be adopted before their one year time limit is up, but stranger things have happened. I pray that prayer every night.

~ Felix ~

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Family Photos

It was a great week! Thanksgiving dinner was a huge spread and we haven't cooked all week since! Thanks, Bob! At the beginning of the week I asked the kids to think of something that they are thankful for and to share it after prayer, while we were eating. It's kind of a new tradition with us, one to be repeated through the years.

The kids answers brought us to tears. In this order they said...

Julia - I am thankful that I have a family.

Nadia - I am thankful for my Mom and Dad and for what they have done for us.

Kole - I am thankful to have a Daddy who took me fishing...(and some other stuff about his sisters not going...) He mentioned Mom, too.

The rest of us take "family" for granted sometimes, although we don't mean to. These guys never will!

~ Felix ~

Monday, November 30, 2009

While We Wait...

So life goes on while we wait. Right now, there are four Colorado families that are in Ukraine. The Houghton's, the Haan's, the Jensens and Victoria & Martin. We will go soon as well as the Stoke's family. NICE!

In the meantime, we have been out and about, having fun as a family. The weekend of the 21st had us trekking to Winter Park Colorado to tube the infamous Frazier Hill! It's a daunting hill at first glance, but our kids were up to the task. On our first run we linked up all the tubes and went down the hill as this giant, speedy amoeba. Subsequent runs were done solo followed by a few more family-blob runs. Those bumps in the pictures make for some exciting "air time"!

Nadia on her first solo run
The kids were off from school all week and I joined them on Wednesday. We did the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday. Our friend, Bob Sisco, insisted on buying and cooking the entire dinner for our family. Who am I to argue with him! He gets up at 4am every Turkey day and Christmas to do this. The Sisco's are very generous people that we have known for years. They have no grandchildren as of yet and our kids consider them their third grandparents. Bob insists on picking up our kids every morning for school and bringing them home every afternoon. He is a sweet person with a heart of gold and tells us that he has nothing to do and wants to help. I believe God sent us the Sisco's to assist us in bringing home all six of our children. The Sisco's had a full course Christmas dinner, hot and steaming, on the table when we arrived home last Christmas Eve with our three kids! I don't know why I haven't mentioned the generosity bestowed upon us by the Sisco's. It could be the humble nature by which they conduct themselves. I like to think that some of that rubbed off on me, and that is the reason for not speaking of them before. Our kids love and adore Bob and Marileen and their grown-up kids, Aimee and Nick.
Fearless Julia about to tackle "The Hill"
The next day, Friday, I took the kids up to the mountains to cut a "kids Christmas tree". Being the tree-Nazi (hmm, is it blasphemy to mention Christmas & Nazis in the same blog?) of the family, I felt the need to have a separate tree just for them. I like my gold family tree just the way it is and I don't have the heart to refuse the wonderful handmade construction paper and Popsicle-stick ornaments that kids so often bring home from school, church and other various events. So this is my compromise. Perhaps I will be able to let go one day! But dang it, my sweet Granny had a gold tree and looking at it reminds me of them and my childhood. BTW...the kids tree looks pretty darn good, too!
We went with our friends, the Stoesz family and had a picnic lunch on a rock outcropping afterwards. Love that Stoesz family!
Kolya gettn' ready!
While I took the kids to the mountains, Heidi participated in Black Friday! She claims that she is all done Christmas shopping. Yeah, right, we will see! Heidi did find a lot of bargains and sure knows how to make our holiday dollars stretch. I'm the compulsive buyer in the family!
That evening we went to see the Nutcracker ballet at CU in Boulder. The Boulder symphony was my favorite part and the dancers are amazing. Yep guys, you won't get your "man-card" pulled for taking your family to see a Christmas-time ballet. Besides, do you realize how hard it is to stand on those tippy-toes for so long and make it look good, all the while seeming to enjoy that kind of pain??!! I don't know how that guy that plays the boy robot-toy holds his arms up for what seems like eternity. Ladies, you know the part I'm talking about!
On Saturday I spent time putting up the lights, ornaments and trees with the kids. Heidi had a scrap booking lunch date. That evening, we switched places. I needed a break after being with the kids for 4 straight days. I had a "Man-date" with my bro, Ken K. We went to the see the apocalyptic movie, 2012. It was a good movie with great CG scenes.
During the movie, I couldn't help but to think of God and the promise of being with Him when our time comes. It's natural to fear death I think. As a Christian, the glorious afterlife eases my fears a little. What I fear most nowadays is the bleak reality that orphans face upon entering a 16 year old adult life in Ukraine. I can't save them all and I am grateful for my three and eventual six. It was once stated to me that if just 6% of Christian families took in just one orphan, there would be empty orphan beds the world orphans! If you can give, if you can adopt, if you are soul-searching, if you are counting on this empty-promises world...won't you consider this, for the rest of their lives.
Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays
~ Felix ~

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock...

For some reason, I don't remember the wait we experienced with the first adoption. I guess we were busy or something. This go around is excruciating and has me just itching to go! I try and remind myself that I was soooo ready to leave after the 7th week of that adoption, so I shouldn't be in a hurry to return. Not that I don't like Ukraine, I love it. But it was very hard to feed and clothe three kids in a foreign land where the government doesn't care that you are almost broke and not at home or working.

But alas, we wait and we wait and we wait. I wonder what is going through R's mind as she waits, too? She is away at the sanatorium with no way to communicate to us nor us to her. Does she wonder why we aren't there yet?

I toyed with the idea of putting up one of those countdown tickers or moving slide counters. I'm sure it would drive me crazy looking at that thing every time I open our blog. Besides, I don't need a counter to tell me that our appointment is 8 weeks from today.

Cue the Jeopardy music...for 55 more days!

~ Felix ~

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Happy Birthday, Sweetie!

Birthday Girls, September '09

Z's birthday is this weekend. Another year has passed without her being home. Thankfully, this may be the last time she spends the occasion without her forever family. We hope to bring her home in a year.

Why a another whole year when we are adopting in January? Remember, Ukraine has a law forbidding international adoption until the orphan has been available for Ukrainian adoption for at least one year. A silly rule really when you consider that the child must consent to adoption and R & Z would never go with anyone but us even though we told them to take a family if it was in their hearts. So we wait, they wait, because of course, children are better off in an orphanage without love, support, nurturing and parental guidance. A piece of hear say excited me over a year ago when I heard that there was some consideration on dropping the one-year wait for orphans over the age of 12. But that never materialized and like I said, it turned out to be just here say.

We have been traveling to Ukraine since we met and fell in love with R & Z. The first year we were there for Z's, this time Heidi was there for R's birthday. Of course, we have two celebrations during one party. Combining the trip with some mission work for UOO and fostering the relationships with growing Christian organizations and friends made good economic sense. I keep telling my self that it is God's money, not mine, and that a little money spent on airline tickets now is a lot better than lots of money spent on teenage therapy later.

In January we go get Rima and if all goes according to His plan, an unknown brother to add to the family. A return trip for Zina, hopefully this time next year, will make our family complete. Though we are separated by distance, we have been Mom & Dad the past two years. They were born in our hearts, December 2007 and we have been family ever since.

I can't wait to see them again in January.

~ Felix ~

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Metcha" Anniversary

Today, November 12th, is our "Met-cha" anniversary. It's hard to believe that a year has passed since we first saw our kidos. I can still see the place and time we first laid eyes on them.
The first one I met was Nadia. She was leaning against the wall outside of the director's office after we had met with Galina. She had just been summoned from school and had a look of fear and bewilderment. I can only imagine her concern as she was told that a couple was here to meet her and her siblings for possible adoption. Nadia has told me since that she saw us first and that we passed her as she was sitting on a couch during our tour of the orphanage. Nadia immediately grew 7 inches in 7 months and has became a sweet young lady. There are days when she tries to get bossy with her sibs, but she gets back into routine when warned. She had to be the "Mom" all those years and it was hard to let go and trust us. But eventually it happened, and Nadia is getting to enjoy her late childhood. Nadia is terrific with her English and played both team soccer & volleyball this year. Nadia is a daddy's girl.
The second one we met was Kolya. He showed up about 2 minutes after we first met Nadia. Galina was positioned at the staircase and he was hiding behind her as the introductions were made. He was shy at first and we would come to realize that his few misbehavior incidents the first few weeks were a result of his struggle to let go of the only caretakers which he gave his loyalty. While there, he would come to see us as the authority and care providers he so longed for. In the past year, Kole has mastered English and gained a few pounds. He has a great attitude and sense of humor. Always the pleaser, Kole hardly complains and always does what is asked of him. Mom always says, "we need 10 just like him". Kole is definitely the "Mamas boy". He played competitive soccer this year on one of the best teams in Longmont. They went undefeated and Kole definitely contributed. He is a treasure to have around!
The third one we met was Julia. She was at the sanatorium when we came, so our driver and a caretaker had to go get her. We first met Julia in Galina's office. Heidi and I were ushered back into her office to talk with the kids and she arrived in due time. She had to sit closest to me on the other couch and in my peripheral vision I could see her checking me out. She held onto the Teddy bear we gave her and was silent for most of the discussion. I can still see her in that blue sweater she wore. The poor child hadn't worn clean clothes in a long time and her hair was severely matty and cut incorrectly. I just knew she was a diamond in the rough and that we had to rescue her from that lonely, dingy place they had her. Julia has since learned English and is doing well at school. Lots of therapy and TLC has helped Julia learn about family life and she is a sweet little girl. It's still a struggle most days with "Yule" as I call her ( we still call her Yulia at home), but I couldn't image our lives without her and her gentle, caring spirit. Equally affectionate with both of us, but sways towards Mom on most things, Julia marches to the beat of her own drum. You can't and shouldn't put her in a mold. Simply put, Julia is Julia. She has gained 15 or so pounds and grown a few inches in the past year. Mom swore she grew an inch the 10 days she was gone in September! Julia's favorite activity is the horse riding therapy class she attends on Saturday mornings.
In 27 days, we celebrate "Got-cha" Day!
~ Felix ~

Monday, November 9, 2009

We have a date!

We had an e-mail waiting for us from our facilitator this morning. We have our official SDA appointment on January 18th, 2010!

I have some work commitments during the first and second week of January as well as mid-March so this date works well for me. I was concerned about having to make up work when we returned. It seems the Lord had it all planned out all along, he knew my needs without me having to ask! Also, the US and Ukrainian Christmas & New Years days will be done so there will not be any government or embassy closures. Perhaps we can get everything done in quick order this time.

We talked to Zina this weekend again, well actually, Nadia talked to Z for over an hour. They were giggling and laughing and sharing information about school and such. Z originally wanted to share a bedroom with Rimma when they all are finally home. Nadia was happy to announce that she and Zina worked it out and they want to be "bunked" together. It is good to see two long distance sisters getting along and wanting to be together.

~ Felix ~

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hospitals & Broken Phones

Our friend Bruce is in Kherson finishing up the adoption of his two kids. He reports that Rimma has been sent to the sanatorium for a strong reaction to her recent TB test. This will be the second time in as many years that she has had this happen to her. R does not have TB, rather, the inoculations they give in Ukraine cause false readings. Wanting to be safer-than-sorry, they send kids for a 6-8 week stay. This should have no impact on our adoption of her. Julia was in a sanatorium for the same reason when we met her. My only concern is that R doesn't like the food there and the last time we saw her at the sanatorium, she was all skin & bones, having lost a good deal of weight. I can't wait to get her home.

For the past two to three weeks we haven't been able to call Zina. We knew something was wrong and sure enough, Bruce discovered that Z's phone is busted. We will get that remedied by working through Oksana or Sergey.

Thank you, Bruce for helping us with the girls while you go through your adoption process. We all appreciate your efforts!

We are still waiting to hear about our appointment with the SDA. We weren't going to know something until next week anyway. But, with the 3 week closure, we may not know anything for sometime.

~ Felix ~

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

3 Week Shutdown in Ukraine

H1N1 has hit western Ukraine. Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko ordered a massive and unprecedented disease-control program to go into effect immediately in an attempt to prevent the spread of the disease. Schools nationwide will close for three weeks, and "all mass gatherings will be forbidden," Tymoshenko said. Seventy-one people have died of flu and acute respiratory infections in Ukraine since the start of the epidemic, according to the Prime Minister.

So what does this mean for adoptions? We have not been advised by our facilitator but certainly this will delay our appointment by at least three weeks, if not more. Most government offices will follow suit, it is assumed. We are taking the news in stride, we still have some prep work to be done before R comes home and we were a bit concerned about a sudden appointment date. We may be home for Thanksgiving and Christmas after all.

Our real concern is for those families in Ukraine adopting now, including our friends Bruce Deyoung and Jim & Teresa. We also have Richard & Cindy and Martin & Victoria in our prayers. They have appointments this month and have made plans or bought airline tickets to travel.

~ Felix ~

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Rules, Revisited

Since we seem to have a week or two before knowing of our SDA appointment date, I thought that we could revisit an old topic from a past posting.

In a recent e-mail a new friend, Tiffany, spoke of the 10 rules of our house that we instituted once we got home with the kids. She thought that they were a good basis for her own set of rules in her home. That post is almost a year old and her e-mail got me to thinking about them again, although they are ever-present and in plain sight on the fridge door. They have been tweaked a little since that post and sometimes the kids act like they don't exist, but I am quick to remind them to go read rule such-and-such when an infraction occurs. Here they are again, refined by lessons learned this past year.
  1. Be kind...PERIOD!
  2. Keep your room tidy and make your bed every morning.
  3. If you make a mess, clean it up immediately.
  4. Return your things to your room after use.
  5. Turn off lights, water, radio, television when not using them.
  6. Eat only in the Kitchen or dining room.
  7. Wash hands before eating and when returning from outside.
  8. You will do your kitchen day after every meal, your laundry on your day and your daily chores.
  9. Obey Mom and Dad when you are told to do something.
  10. This is your home, take care of it.

~ Felix ~

Friday, October 30, 2009

My Best Christmas Ever

Do you remember this video from 2007? It was at this moment that I realized...they had my heart forever!

~ Felix ~

Some news

Well, we survived the first winter storm of the season. I (Felix) got half a day off on Wednesday and all day off on Thursday. The kids didn't have school on Thursday. Poor Heidi had to go to work, though. Everyone is back at school or back at work today. Eileen Christofferson came over for a couple of hours yesterday with Ann, Sophie and Anna. We popped some corn and watched a movie after the kids came in from playing in the two feet of snow in our yard.

We received word this morning that all is well with our adoption plans and that we haven't been forgotten. Here's what our facilitator had to say.
  • The SDA confirmed that our facilitator's info was correct and R is indeed available this month
  • We will not get an appointment this week or next, but rather the second week of November
  • He expects an appointment for the end of November or the first week of December

That's good news because we were actually dreading news that we would be given an appointment within two weeks. Yikes! We know a couple of families that have been given an appointments that close from their submission dates. Wow!

In closing, we ask that you remember two families in your prayers. We lift these families up to the Lord as they follow His plan for them.

  • Jim & Teressa, who despite heartbreak and considerable setbacks have marched forward for the third time this year to bring home not one, but two to three children from Ukraine.
  • Bruce & Michelle DeYoung. Bruce is returning to finish up the work he and Michelle started last month. They are bringing home two teen-aged children from the same orphanage as R & Z.

~ Felix ~

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Still Waiting

We haven't written a post the past two weeks because there is nothing to report. We are still waiting to hear about our SDA appointment. I had an epiphany that the minute I write something and question God's timing, then something will happen. This has been the case in the past, so, perhaps we will hear something tomorrow :)

Our facilitator told us last week that the SDA was giving appointments to folks submitted before the 13th of October. We were submitted the 15th, so we should expect word this week. Still, as of this post, there has been no news. Perhaps R isn't quite yet available and this is the reason.

We are having our first big snow storm of the season here in Colorado. The weather is nasty outside, but not enough to cancel our school district schools. Statewide, there are about 50 school district closings, but not our's. So, begrudgingly, our kidos marched off to school this morning and I drove to work with the 4-WD engaged.

~ Felix ~

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dossier Submitted, sort of...

It's clear as mud, but I'll try and explain it. Now stay with me here...

We received an e-mail today from our facilitator saying that he submitted our dossier. In his broken English he wrote that there were no problems with the dossier and that the SDA has it. Our next step would be an appointment notification. He said the SDA would look to see if R was available in October but that if she isn't available until November, he would have to come back with the dossier then...but they still took it.

I think that they want him to submit our dossier the month that she is available, but that they took it in case she is available in October, a fact the "dossier taker" wasn't sure about. He subtly reminded us that he has "unofficial" knowledge that she is available in October, something that the "dossier taker" didn't know.

So what are we saying? Yeah, we were confused too until we reread the e-mail several times...still are!
  1. The SDA accepted our dossier
  2. If R is available in October, the SDA will send us a date
  3. If R isn't available until November, they will give the dossier back to our facilitator and he will resubmit in November, or December, or whatever month she's available.
  4. Our facilitator is certain that she is available in October.
  5. This is Ukraine, anything can happen...or not happen!

~ Felix ~

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

4 out of 5

The flu has descended upon the Longmont Internat. Four of us have caught it and are various stages of recuperation. I, Felix, started the fun on Saturday with a fever, chills and feeling like crud! I'm on the upswing now. Next to fall victim was Heidi on Sunday, with much the same symptoms. Kole followed on Monday morning and he has had three days of 103 to 100 fevers with a nasty cough. Nadia called home Monday afternoon from school with a fever and we went to get her. She's also had high fevers a couple of days, but she is doing much better than Kole. All four of us have been home for three days while Julia, the only one not sick, attends school. Today, Julia tried to convince Heidi that she was sick too by taking her own temp four times. No dice, 98.6! After a couple of hours she called home, feinting illness to which Heidi told her to report to the school nurse. If the nurse said she was sick and had a fever that would be proof enough for us. The phone never rang! We had a talk with her tonight about 'crying wolf'! Unfortunately for her, she probably will share in the fun eventually.

We are supposed to get our dossier submitted tomorrow, which will be tonight while we sleep. So, please keep our girls in your prayers. Also, special prayers continue to go out to little Natalie, who has been at the forefront of our thoughts since last Friday night.

~ Felix ~

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Zina news, It's Official!!

God read my last sentence in yesterday's post and he sent us the following message today, as if to say, "Hey Felix, here's your itinerary. Now get off my back!"

Hello Heidi,

Rxxx, the lawyer from the orphanage, happily informed me today that the court decree on the termination of Zina's bilogical mother's custody became effective. The inspector from Kxxxx called him today and she is going to send him a copy of the court decree in order he could prepare the file for Zina for SDA in Kiev. Rxxx will do it as soon as possible. About this time next year you'll be able to adopt Zina.


Needless to say, we are ecstatic all over again! By the end of 2010, all of our kids will be home! Three consecutive winters in Ukraine! Now that's an itinerary!

~ Felix ~

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dossier Submission

Hi everyone, sorry it’s been awhile since our last posting. I wanted to hold off until Heidi got a chance to write about her trip. She’s been terribly busy catching up at work since taking off to go to Ukraine. She simply never has the time to stop, and neither do I. I usually write these posts over my lunch break or when I can’t sleep. Hopefully, we will get you a trip report soon.

We were notified yesterday by Oleg, our facilitator, that we can expect a dossier submission on October 15th! This is good news and I couldn’t wait to update our timeline over on the right side. If Rimma is eligible now…by all indications of other blogs and the SDA friendly stance on older child adoptions…we could get a SDA appointment around the middle or end of November! If Rimma is not yet eligible, we will of course, wait the month or two until she is. Oleg says that the SDA will time the appointment appropriately. Nothing says commitment like a Ukrainian adoption in winter. Here we go again!

We have been prepping our old house for sale since our renter moved out this past weekend. We spend every evening painting, running kids to practices, painting, cooking dinner, painting, doing homework and parent-teacher conferences and oh yeah, painting. Here and there I manage to hang a light fixture, too. So, sorry again for not getting a trip report out yet. Thanks for the understanding.

My dad has been with us for a week and a half. He arrived the same day as Heidi got back. Grandpa has been a great help to us and immediately bonded with all the kids. He too has a heart for the fatherless children of the world and gets teary when he hears the answers to his questions regarding our kids pasts and the status of R & Z. Now I know where I got it from! Dad has been helping with homework, fixing our old house, and even a little upholstery. We have been in need of getting our dining chairs and stools recovered forever and he just jumped in and knocked it out in a couple of days. Thanks Pop!

Heidi arrived with a case of food poisoning from the Air France flight. She and Carol apparently ate some bad French chicken. It also took Heidi a week or more to get over the time zone difference. She was going to bed way early and waking up at three in the morning. She seems to be sleeping better now. Heidi does all the painting at the old house after work and crashes once the kids are in bed. She’s a trooper!

Nadia, Julia & Kolya are all doing well in school. They each have surprised us in their learning ability. Mid-term reports came in last week and both girls had 2 A’s, 2 B’s and 2 C’s. Nice job! That’s not to say that we don’t have our bad days and each kid tests our patience from time to time. Julia continues to struggle with organizational skills, Nadia’s teachers are coaching her on not coming across as arrogant and know-it-all, and Kole gets a little whiny from time to time.

We miss R & Z terribly. There will be a day soon where we have all the kids under one roof. I don’t want to end on a bad note, but the orphanage lawyer is arguing that Zina is not registered yet and that this is the month that they go to court to fix it all. Our facilitators’ people (can’t explain here) tell us that she is registered. Who knows who is right? All we know is that we are forever committed to Zina and we will bring her home one day. We’re not upset by this information and after all, it is not up to us, but God’s timing. I do wish he would fill me in on it, though (lol)!

~ Felix ~

Friday, September 25, 2009

Good news in 3's

It's beautiful day here in Colorado, unlike the past few days we have experienced. Since Monday it has been overcast and rainy, with snow falling in the mountains. The front range is but 15 miles or so away and we have a good dusting on the peaks and especially Longs Peak, for which our town is named.

What makes the day even better is that I have good news...three pieces of good news, in fact!
  1. Heidi comes home tonight! Right now she is somewhere over the Atlantic.

  2. My Dad flies in tonight too and will be with us for two weeks!

  3. The Bahamian marriage certificates with apostiles arrived today!
So this completes our dossier, which is in the hands of our facilitator already. We were missing just this one document. I've forgotten how long ago we sent off for it, I think it was last month. What took it so long, do you think? Perhaps it's the pretty lace and gold embossed seal they put on it. All of our other documents are plain, black & white papers from Colorado, but these really stand out!

~ Felix ~

Thursday, September 24, 2009

No time to blog in Ukraine!

No time to blog - but having a great trip! Had lunch with the DeYoungs and McE's today. Please pray for the McE's second appointment! DeYoungs are headed to K-town tonight!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Felix talks to Galina

So, OK, my sweetie has been on a whirl-wind tour of Kherson & Kiev the past week and hasn't posted as much as she would like. That's alright. I'm sure she will catch us all up when she gets back, which will be Friday night around 10:30-ish MST.

I've skyped with Heidi and got to hear, not see R, Z & Vika this past weekend. They could not get skype to work correctly at the Bible House. They could see me, but could not hear me, so we spoke over the land line while I took them on a video tour of Internat Longmont. Heidi and I have talked three times over the phone and the reception has been crystal clear like she was in the next room, an oddity for Ukrainian telecommunications. Welcomed, but odd.

I called Heidi this morning as they were driving to the Boyarka orphanage where our kids lived. We talked for five minutes before they got close, then I told Heidi that I would call her later to see how the reunion went. About 20 minutes later as I climbed out of the shower, the phone rang. It was Heidi saying that she had someone who wanted to talk to me. I could hear champagne pouring in the background. It was Galina, the orphanage director, saying...

"Prevyet Felix, Kak de la? Felix, blah blah blah Kherson, blah, blah blah dee-yet-ty blah blah Diet-ski Dom Boyarka, blah blah blah!" (Of course, the blahs are something in Ukrainian and the rest is a phonetic sounding of Ukrainian words that I understood.) She was telling me that we don't need to adopt kids from Kherson, we need to adopt kids from her orphanage in Boyarka.

How sweet is she! If you have read my posts from our first adoption trip, you will remember that Galina is super-pro-adoption and will go out of her way to help you with the process, even letting you take the kids home after the first couple of days. In her words, "Children belong in a family, not in an orphanage or Ukrainian foster care."

Although pre-selection is a no-no, this doesn't stop Galina from asking us for families for her children. She does have some cuties there! Perhaps couples not finding the children they are seeking should go see her. Tell her, Felix sent ya. And don't forget the champagne, Galina likes her champagne!

~ Felix ~

Sunday, September 20, 2009

How Great is Our God?

Wow! It's been a whirlwind trip. Today is our second day in Kherson. The girls are great. Ochen happy. Getting to spend more time with them than ever before, so no time to blog!

Carol and I are doing well. Tatiana fussed over us and treated us like queens. Went to church this morning and recognized the music. Girls are spending the afternoon with us at the Bible House.

How great is our God!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Heidi In Ukraine

I've received a couple of phone calls from non-Facebook folks asking if Heidi made it OK to Ukraine. She and Carol did make it safe & sound to Kiev and then to Tatianna's home, Thursday evening in Ukraine. My clock tells me that Ukraine is 9 hours ahead of us, so it is Friday evening there now.

Sorry, I assumed everyone was following her on FB, too. Other than this post, I want to let Heidi tell her story there in Ukraine. But, she will not always be near an Internet provider and she will post as time and resources allow.

~ Felix ~

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Life is Good!

Yep, life is good! And it's been great since I decided a number of years back to put my faith and trust in Him. The power of prayer brought me and Heidi together, brought us children, and will bring Rimma & Zina home.
Life was good this past weekend, too. Since I will be Mr. Mom for 10 days starting tomorrow, I needed a relaxing fun day walking and talking with God...and catching his trout! A friend and I went up to Rocky Mountain National Park and hiked in to a secluded lake to spend a day fly-fishing, one of my favorite things to do. He blessed us with a beautiful day, lots of sunshine, and about 20 trout apiece. My hat says it all (Life is Good)!

I'm a little concerned about Heidi leaving tomorrow and traveling to the other side of the world. She will be gone 10 days, enough time for the house to burn down, for me to age 10 years, or to have each kid ask me a million times, "When is Mom going to be home?"! But, this is important and a commitment we made to R & Z two years ago.
Heidi will also be hand delivering our dossier, meeting the former camp kids, connecting with our Christian based support group and meeting with all of our friends over there in addition to seeing R & Z. Everyone has brought over letters and gifts to deliver to the kids from the camps. Our kids have written to their friends still at the Deitski Dom in Boyarka and there are letters from other adopted children to their friends at various orphanages, too. Carol P will be going with Heidi, she will be met at the airport by friends, she will be on the train with Julia (the same Julia that accompanied the kids this summer and works at CBN in Kiev), the AGAPE team will meet her in Kherson, and she will stay two blocks from the orphanage at the Bible House apartment. So she is in good hands and will be safe. Still, I wish I were going, too. I'd like to see the girls and meet our friends.
Hopefully, the time will pass swiftly for me. I will be busier than a cat in a room full of rocking chairs as I juggle 5 practices, 3 events, 8 homework nights, and two games in 10 days...and that's just the kids! I still have my Boot Camp program and Running Club, which I admit, may have to be put on hold. Pray for me as I take on 'Single-Parent-Dom' and raising three kids on my own. I lucky though, Heidi cooked a week's worth of meals and froze them, so it won't be too bad for me! Thanks, Honey! That being said, I shamelessly won't turn down an offer for dinner or baby-sitting from our friends, hint, hint, wink, wink!
Look for me and the kids at the FRUA picnic in Colorado Springs on Sunday. I'll be the one sleeping in the big brown van whilst my kids run amok with other kids that speak Russian & Ukrainian! Also, don't count on me blogging for the next 10 days, either. Please don't go away on us though. I bought Heidi a Netbook and hopefully she can blog about her trip to Ukraine. So, I'll defer to her and ask her to keep us up to date. Blessings...
~ Felix ~

Friday, September 11, 2009

We be on Island Time, Mon!

Getting married in our favorite place on earth those few years back seemed like a great idea at the time. We were married in the Bahamas! (Why is it ok to say The Bahamas, but not correct to say The Ukraine?) Sorry, I digress!

We really didn't run into problems with our marriage certificate until we started adopting kids. Getting an expedient apostilled copy of your marriage certificate from the Bahamian government takes as long as the in country process of adoption in Ukraine! Even when you pay the "expediting" fee and include a pre-paid Fed-Ex envelope.

Don't get me wrong! I love, Love, LOVE the people and country of The Bahamas! In fact, we are going to retire there someday! In 2006, I tried to buy a house there, but decided against it...not wanting to rent it out 11 months of the year to have it pay for itself. I like the slow, melow lifestyle that is Hopetown, Abacos, Bahamas...when I'm on vacation. Official transactions, however, go at a snail's pace and can completely unnerve you! The officail slogan of the country should be, "No worry mon, evv-ree ting be ahh-rite".

So it is with great fortitude and patience that we wait on THE LAST DOCUMENT for our dossier. Heidi flies out to The Ukraine (hee-hee) next week and possibly without it. No doubt that we will have to mail it to Oleg later.

Last month my sweetie asked me if we could get remarried in Colorado just for 'paperwork' sake. That would be a great idea, if only Colorado didn't take 6 months to officially file your marriage license, we found out. Wish we would have thought of that one earlier. Oh well, "evv-ree ting be ahh-rite, Felix"!

~ Felix ~

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Girls handed over

Whew, WWIII avoided! However, what has this done for future hosting programs? Frontier Horizon, UOO? Let's hope the Ukrainian government doesn't go berserk over this.

I wish that I had written this on the previous post, I did understand what the man was feeling. That's how i felt the day i put R & Z on the plane back to Ukraine. What was their future, who would tuck them in at night, who would love them as we have? Starting an international incident & ignoring the law isn't the answer!

I hope he gets the girls...legally! Perhaps our experience could educate the man...e-mail me, Larry. Lost causes aren't hopeless when God is involved!

~ Felix ~

International Incident

I deleted my last post. I was angry and I shouldn't write when I'm angry. I'm sorry, I want to lead a Christian life and this blog is meant for encouragement, love and compassion among other things. I believe in the power of prayer so it is that which we will do in this matter.

The actions of this man in Florida are putting the future of hosting trips and adoptions at risk. This is all the ammunition the nay-sayers in Ukraine need to push a moratorium through. No more adoption, no more Frontier Horizon and Ukraine Orphan Outreach (UOO), no R & Z with our family. This is what I was upset about. Pray with us!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Golden Ticket

The 171h arrived in the mail yesterday. I opened the letter with the USCIS return address like little Charlie opening the Wonka Bar he purchased with his last dollar. Inside was our Golden Ticket. The big prize!

Most PAPs (prospective adoptive parents) understand the importance of this document. It's a biggie! If you don't remember, I'll fill you in. This document is actually just a letter telling you that you have been approved for the terms you requested in your home study. In our case, up to three kids ages 8-16. The embassy in the country for which you are adopting gets a cable informing them that you are approved for adoption there. This letter is the culmination of all your hard work stateside; the home study, the social worker visits, the fingerprinting, the background checks, the child rearing classes, the peering into your life with a magnifying glass by outsiders. A USCIS officer looks at all your information and letters of recommendation before rendering his or her verdict. For the second time, we received a favorable review and have been granted our 171h.

It is this 171h that allows you to get an immigration visa in your adoptive children's passport and, in turn, allows them to become US citizens the moment they land on US soil. It's your Golden Ticket that gets your children to Wonkaland!

~ Felix ~

Friday, September 4, 2009

The "Glory Week" revisited

Being that we were fully immersed in the feelings of euphoria with this week’s news, we forgot to tell you of a few other pieces of information. Sorry about that! We have been smiling from ear to ear all week and everyone at work keeps asking me ‘what are you so darn happy about?’! So here are a few more tidbits about the “glory week” as it has come to be known.

1.) We received word through our stateside adoption agency that our I-171h has been approved and should be in the mail any day now. A small piece of information was needed by the approving officer and our agency supplied it for them. So, the “Golden Ticket” is completed.

2.) Heidi and Carol P. bought their plane tickets to travel to Ukraine from September 16th to the 25th. I don’t recall mentioning this to you, so I’ll fill you in. We made a commitment to not only adopt Z & R, but to also visit them at least once a year until they are home. We used to go to the Bahamas or to the USVI every year. Heidi and I jokingly stated when we put the girls back on the plane in 2007 that our vacations will now be in Ukraine for the next few years. That has become a reality. The first trip we took was in April 2008 to go see the girls, do some fact finding, hire counsel, participate in some mission work with Agape ministries and to show the girls that we were serious about our promises. Our second trip occurred during our adoption of Nadia, Julia & Kole. We were able to time the trip over Zina’s birthday where we threw her a birthday party, her first one ever. This trip was already in the works when we received the news about Zina’s registration and Heidi planned to go over for Rimma’s birthday this time. She will celebrate both birthdays at the same time just like we did last year. She will bring care packages, photos, letters and gifts from our many UOO pen pals and volunteers. She will also touch base with all of our friends and support network in Kiev, Boyarka, Kherson, & SB. Heidi will also visit the children from the 2009 camp and will “grease the wheels” for our next year’s camp. And, of course, she will spend lots of time with Z & R. I will not be able to go this time because we have children at home now and I need to save up vacation & leave time at work to go adopt Rimma +1. I really wanted to go and I was worried about Heidi going alone, so I insisted that she have a travel companion. Enter Carol. She will be going with Heidi to learn the ins & outs of traveling in Ukraine and what life is like in the orphanage system in Ukraine. Carol and her family are working on their own adoption dossier for Ukraine and she feels that this trip will help her understand the process and belay any fears of the unknown when they travel there. So, it’s a great situation for everyone involved. Thanks, Carol, for accompanying Heidi!

3.) Since Heidi is traveling to Ukraine, we thought it would be a good idea to hand-carry our dossier to our facilitator. This will save us the $150 or so dollars that FedEx charges as well as the Western Union fees. Heidi will be able to meet Oleg firsthand and pay him the initial upfront money he will need to get started with translation and SDA submission. Therefore, we have been busy little bees all week getting the loose ends tied-up on the dossier. Since I don’t like to get stuck more than I have to, we always wait to do the medical stuff last. So this week we completed all that by getting the exams, blood work, and TB tests done. I was still ‘all smiles’ at the laboratory, thinking of the wonderful glorious miracle God bestowed upon us this week.

4.) Thank you to everyone for all the comments on the blog, the prayers, the e-mails of congratulations, and the phone calls. It is truly a blessing to have so much support and God’s help in our lives! I want to clarify something, though. It is a huge miracle of overcoming the insurmountable obstacle of getting Zina registered for adoption. Everyone prayed for years for this to happen and I had to learn and struggle with God’s timing. While I too pray that we could bring Z home on this trip, it most probably will not happen. You know that I will ask and will do anything legal, ethical and morally proper to get her home sooner than later. I no longer doubt the reasoning of God’s plan for Zina; it could be that He still has work for her to do there. In the meantime, please join me in continued prayer that she could come home this trip and we shall see if that is His plan. As it stands now, we will be adopting Rimma + an unknown child and returning in the late summer or early fall of 2010 for Z. She understands this, too.

Thank you Lord for the wonderful week we have had! God is good! Amen!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Miracle has happened!

Zina has been registered!

We awoke this morning to the miraculous news and we have been doing the happy dance ever since. I don't think that we will ever stop! Thank you God for hearing our prayers! Thank you everyone for the same prayers!

We are proceeding at God's speed to bring Rimma home soon and we will return in the Fall of 2010 to bring home Zina. Only then will our little-big family be complete.

A song from our worship team keeps playing over in my head, "Oh, Happy Day..."

~ Felix ~

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ahh-Haa Moments

Not much to write about this week. Some weeks the prose just flows, other weeks I get a case of writer’s block. But if I think really hard about something that we as a family did or said, a good story comes to mind. This week is short and sweet. After all, no one ever said that I had to write a chapter every time.

Nadia’s moment

N: Dad, we need this and that, we need to buy this and that (I don’t remember specifically what this and that was)
Me: Sure Nadia, I’ll just go out in the backyard and pick a few $20’s from our money trees!
N: Dad, money doesn’t grow on trees!
Me: Ahh-Haa, no it DOESN”T!

Kole’s Moment

N: Kolya, what kind of food will you get when we go to the Ukrainian market in Denver?
K: I don’t want any of that stuff! I’m an American now!

Zina’s moment (on the phone today)

Me: Privyet, Zina, Kak dela?
Z: I’m good.
Me: ya tebya ochen lyublyu!
Z: (in perfect English) I love you, too!

A couple of years ago

God: Felix, follow my plan for you!
Me: Aw, I wanna do what I wanna do! I need the beach house and the sports car and the sailboat. After all, I’ve been good and raised two kids already!
God: Do as I say and I will enrich your life 5 fold!
Me: Five-fold, really?
God: Yep, here’s Nadia, Julia, Kolya, Zina & Rimma!
Me: Ahh-Haa, now I get it!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Back in the 90’s, there was a commercial on TV showing a Dad dancing through the aisles of a store and pushing a shopping cart to the music of It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The ad is a play on Christmas shopping. A boy and a girl are shown in tow with the biggest frowns on their faces. Dad is shopping for school supplies and having a ball! I love my kids, but this is my happiest time of the year too!

After the past few months of summer and all the drama that comes with tween girls, a school year is just what the family needs. Our kids need the structure, they thrive on it and everyone’s behavior seems much improved. A consistent schedule from Sunday night to Friday afternoon gives order in contrast to the lazy days of summer. We adhere to a strict policy of no TV from Sunday afternoon until Friday night, tucking in and reading before lights out, and bedtimes of 8 pm. Don’t get me wrong though, I still prefer Summers to any other time of the year and I will sneak downstairs and catch a show between 8-10 pm if I’m not exhausted from the day’s events.

This was the first week of school for the kidos. Nadia is in the 7th grade, Julia is in the 6th grade with an IEP, and Kolya is in the 5th grade. Nadia & Julia will attend the same school, Trail Ridge MS and Kole is still at Rocky Mountain Elementary. Julia & Kole started yesterday, the 19th of August while Nadia starts today, the 20th. There was a little bit of grumbling from Nadia about going back to school, but only because she was nervous and will be without Ashley Volf. (Both girls graduated from their newcomer’s program last year and are attending separate schools. Kari also made the decision to put Ashley in 8th grade.) Everyone else seemed more than eager to get started. Kole was especially excited.

I wonder how our two angels in Ukraine are doing and if they are excited to restart school. I’m sure Rimma realizes that she will most probably end her school year in America. Perhaps Zina will get to be here for the following school year. Keep praying for her, and for us. Thank you.

~ Felix ~

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The one year wait

When international adoption comes to pass for the waiting child(ren), it has been a long road for them. All Ukrainian orphans must wait 12-14 months after they are registered before they are eligible for international adoption. (The extra two months are for regional delays, paperwork delays, vacationing bureaucrats, who knows!) The first 12 months is supposed to give Ukrainian citizens the first opportunity for adoption.

Rimma is registered and is closing in on her one year waiting period. For a child like Rimma who knows who her parents are and who she wants to be with, it is an agonizing wait. A year for a child is eternity in their short life. We will be bringing Rimma +1 home by year's end.

For a child like Zina, who is not yet registered, it is a feeling of hopelessness. She knows her clock is not even started yet. Z continually asked the whole first year why we weren't coming for her. She wondered her whole life why no one wanted to adopt her. No one, not even the orphanage staff, told her that she wasn't eligible due to a parental rights issue, an issue that should have been taken care of when she was a small child. In April of 2008 we went to see Z & R in order to ascertain their situation, find counsel to work for them, and to explain in person why it was that they were "un-adoptable". She deserved to know and she is thankful that someone finally explained it to her, no matter how painful the true answer. Having been there three times now, we have shown the girls that we are committed to bringing them home and that we will never give up. But still, to a child, the wait seems ridiculous. We agree!

Zina's new questions to us now is if there is any progress on her documents and is she registered. She turns 14 at the end of this year and still she is not registered, despite the many promises of supposedly hard-working orphanage staff, orphanage attorney, and regional inspectors. The latest word we have is (in my best Ukrainian accent and attitude), " see, this is the problem. Many officials take summer holiday, so there is nobody to work on documents. Is OK, work will resume after summer, this I am sure." Uuuugghhhh! Go look Z in the eye and tell her that! At 16, Zina risks being let out into the streets and is certainly not eligible for adoption according to US immigration laws. Time is running out!

There was sadness and despair in Z's voice when we talked to her on Sunday. She asked the same question, got the same answer and wondered, I'm sure, "Will I ever get to live with my family". Yes sweetheart. We tell her every time, "Zina, we will never give up trying to bring you home. Я тебя Очень люблю" (Ya tebya ochen lublu, I love you very much)

I see her teary eyes in my dreams.

~ Felix ~

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Good Intentions

"My fellow Americans. I'm pleased to announce that I've signed legislation outlawing the Soviet Union. We begin bombing in five minutes." -Ronald Reagan,
joking during a mike check before his Saturday radio broadcast.

The above statement by Ronald Reagan was, at the time, an innocent phrase spoken when he was asked by the sound people to say something so that they could do a check of the equipment. However, it had the effect of sending the wrong message to the Soviet premier and a rise in the defense posture of that nation.

Many times throughout the week, I am presented with a well intended colleague or friend who asks questions about our adoption. Sometimes the questions are well thought out and express the questioners desire to know more about "why we did what we did". At other times, the questions make me scratch my head in bewilderment. But, however insensitive or unintended the question, I make use of a snippet in time to "educate" my good natured friend. After all, you don't know if ya don't know, my dad would always say.

There's no reason to get your feathers ruffled and posture for war like the Russians did over Reagan's statement. I don't get mad, upset or strike back at such comments. Rather, I give a subtle hint to deflect the negativity or hurtfulness of the situation. Most folks aren't even aware of what they say and I believe that they should be forgiven and the question answered in true Christian fashion. We look at it as a chance to educate people about adoption. We don't feel like someone has personally attacked us. People will say insensitive and stupid things. I am sure that I have said my share of things that may come across insensitive or wrong, when I truly didn't mean to do so. I believe most people mean no ill will with what they say, they just aren't educated in this area because they have not had any personal experience with it.

That being the spirit of education and just to have a good laugh, here are a few that I've gotten over the past couple of years, my comments in italics:

- I hate it when people adopt somewhere else. You should adopt one of your own, from this country. God bless you, I'm still going to Ukraine.

- Why do those women in 3rd world countries keep having babies if they can't take care of them? They should all be sterilized. God bless you again!

- Adoption is so wrong. I don't believe there should be any adoptions (from the same person that said the first two comments) Dude, weren't you adopted? Oh, and God bless you! He adopted us!

- Who is their real mom? Variation: Who is their natural mother?

- Are they brothers and sisters? (We get this one a lot about Rimma & Zina, too)

- Variation: Are they REAL brother and sisters

- I didn't realize they weren't yours!

- Now that you've adopted, you'll get pregnant and have one of your own. Gee, I hope not!

- How much did they cost? They are still costing, have you seen my grocery bill?

- You really got lucky, they could have had problems! Have you been reading this blog?

- I could never adopt, I want my own children.

- I could never adopt. I could never raise someone else's child.

- I want to adopt, once I have my own real kids.

- Does it bother you that they won't be your own?

- Your children are adopted? They look so normal!

- The dreaded phrase, "Come on, you know what I mean..."

- Aren't they communists? How does the Air Force feel about that?

- That they look just like me, enough to be my "real kids"

- You guys are Saints! Thank you, but we aren't. You, yourself could experience the joy of adoption.

- No matter how many times you say "Ukraine", everyone else says "the Ukraine". Enjoy your trip to the Mexico, the France, the Italy!

Comments anyone?

~ Felix ~

Monday, August 10, 2009

Outward sign of an Internal Faith

All you who have been baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
Galatians 3:27 (NIV)

In my lifetime, I have been baptized and I have seen many baptisms. Yet every baptism leaves me with a sense of renewal—not just renewal of the person being baptized, but renewal of our own lives, and of the life of the Church. Since coming home from Ukraine our children have attended service with us at our church home, Grace Place. Growing and learning in their own faith, our kids made the internal decision to accept Christ forevermore into their lives this summer. They asked us about baptism and we all attended the class recently to understand the importance and reasons behind the act.

This Sunday past, the whole family gave our outward sign of our internal faith by being baptized during our annual church in the park service. Kolya, Julia, Nadia, Jordan, Heidi and yes, Dad, all were baptized as a family. Our friends the Pittels & the Volfs were in attendance to witness our faith & trust in Christ.

We know all too well that most of us will fall, again and again, throughout our lives, despite this wondrous gift of faith. Yet at every baptism, there is a sense of hope, of expectation, that flows from the knowledge that this child is a new holy one of God. Amen.

~ Felix ~

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Adoption Information Meeting

A public service message from our ministry, Ukraine Orphan Outreach (UOO).

Ukraine Orphan Outreach 18519 WCR 5 Berthoud CO 80513

Monday, August 3, 2009

I Like Numbers!

We have received notice that two families have started the process to adopt kids from the 2009 UOO summer camp. Not just 'maybes' or 'perhaps', real work has started and dossiers are being put together! Wow! In addition, there are five families, including us, from our area that are possibly going to Ukraine by year's end to adopt. God's plan and the work of UOO is in action!

That got me to thinking! Just how many "known" Ukies do we have in with close ties to the UOO organization? (If you have supported us, have attended an event or two or know us, I counted ya!) Let's see...there are:

The Barrett's = 2
The Garrett's = 1
The Christopherson's = 3
The Stoesz's = 3
The Volf's = 2
The Hoffmann's = 2
The Houghton's = 1
The Rogés = 3

Wow, that's 17 kids! Did I forget anybody? Please fill me in & please forgive my memory lapse if I did.

So if you add the potential adoption numbers for the rest of the year, we come up with these numbers. (Prospective Adoptive Parents for confidentiality of those unannounced, families listed by permission):

PAP1 = 1 or more
PAP2 = 1 or more
PAP3 = 1
DeYoung's = 1
Pittel's = 1
Houghton's = 1
Rogés = 2 plus Z one day

That's at least another 8 for a total of 25. We could start our own little Ukrainian villiage!

Another cool note of interest: The UOO camps started in 2007 and there was a summer camp in 2008 and of course, this one in 2009. When the two families bring back a child or two from the 2009 camp and when we get home with Rimma, there will have been a child adopted from each of our three camps! Nice!

~ Felix ~

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Meet Cha Nebraska!

Heidi and I spend a weekend or week every summer with her sister Sally and family. Before we had kids, it was our way of having kids in our life and watching them grow. Some of my fondest memories are with Sally and Gary's kids; Shannon, Drew & Jessica. Some years they come to Colorado, other years we go to them in the Chicago area. Also, they own a nice cozy cabin near the Dells in Wisconsin...a great time to swim, boat, fish and catch up on summer reading. The kids are a blast to hang out with!

This year, neither family could make the entire trip to one another's state of residence. Due to other things going on, we had only a four day weekend available to us this year. So, the wives put their heads together and came up with a plan to meet each other half-way. One family would go west while the other would travel east. The half-way point for us all happened to be Omaha, Nebraska! The ladies reserved tee-pee camp sites for us at a very nice state park just outside of Omaha on the Platte River.

All-in-all, it was a great time. Anytime our two families get together is a great time. This was the first time that the new cousins met each other, too! They loved each other!

Our numbers are bigger now and when you factor in Jordan & Holli, we swelled to 12 this year. Our friend, Mayme, came down from Iowa, so we were 13 total. Imagine packing food, clothes and sleeping bags for 12 for four days! The girl's did a great job and we only ate out the one planned time, Saturday night. Amazing! The 12 passenger van we bought a couple of months back is turning out to be a wise move. It was a lot of fun to transport everyone together, everywhere we went. Gary joked that all we needed now was to mount pop-out stop signs and flashers to be a school bus.

When Sunday came and it was time to go, everyone was sad. The kids really bonded well with their new cousins and of course, we never want to leave the Gary & Sally +3 bunch. But, all good things must come to an end and we pointed Fred (the 12 pax van) towards the west.

On the adoption front, most everything is done for our adoption of Rimma +1. Yesterday we were interviewed and we submitted out I-600's to the USCIS. They sent us to get fingerprinted so all is completed now. All we are waiting on is the 171 as a result of yesterday's work, sending the whole dossier to Ukraine, and Rimma's one year wait period to be over. Our first adoption took a year and a half from start to finish. We got the paperwork done this time in two months. It's amazing what a little experience and a cooperative adoption process can do. We are definitely on the fast track this time. We may even have to slow everything down to wait on Rimma. Our facilitator has instructions to have our SDA date on the day she becomes available. Pray for this to happen for us all. And, continue to have Zina in your prayers and thoughts.

All photos courtesy & by permission of Mayme B.

~ Felix ~

Friday, July 17, 2009

Our Kids

June 25 was our 6th month home as a family. We have grown as a family and love and trust has been firmly established as the kids have realized that we will never abandon them and that we can fulfill every promise that comes as being their parents. Each child has made remarkable progress, too! So what have we learned, and what have they learned?

- Loves his dad and the times we go fishing, but he's definitely a Momma's boy!
- He goes to her for comfort or questions before going to Dad
- Can read, write and speak the English language
- Encouraged to use his Russian, Ukrainian and Spanish languages, too
- Has the best English of the kids and routinely speaks "big words"
- Adds 10-20 words to his vocabulary, weekly
- Is very funny, a born-comic
- Very, very smart! Went from no English and caught up to his 4th grade's reading level
- Very smart in all other school subjects and life matters
- A pleaser by nature. Does everything you ask him with no hesitation or arguing
- Has a heart of God and a possible Pastor one day. Reads the Bible every night at bedtime
- Neat & tidy with everything
- Has gained a few pounds and grown 2 inches since being home
- Heidi always says, "I'd take 10 of him"

- Loves Dad, especially for "roughhousing", prefers "girly" things when with Mom
- Has made remarkable, REMARKABLE progress with her Sensory Integration issues
- Reads, writes, and speaks the English language
- Speaks Russian, Ukrainian, and Spanish
- Watches way too much TV when not supervised!
- Very, very funny at times, another comic
- Very artistic, has the best artwork and sits quietly for hours doing it
- Left-handed, flourished when allowed to write left-handed after arriving home
- Sweet, sweet girl who wants to give gifts to everyone she likes
- Pure-hearted, honest and compliant, another pleaser
- Stunningly beautiful, I'm gonna have to fight off the boys one day!
- Has gained 10 pounds or so, grown a couple of inches
- Fits into some of Nadia's clothes from back in Jan/Feb
- Promoted to sixth grade

- Loves Mom, but she will tell ya, "I'm a Daddy's girl!"
- Reads, writes and speaks the English language
- Reads, writes and speaks Russian, Ukrainian & Spanish
- Has finally put her love and trust into us as her parents
- Still can be bossy and want to take charge from time to time
- Hears the phrase "WHO'S THE BOSS!" 30 times a day
- Hears the phrase "Can I be in charge now!" 30 times a day
- Hears the phrase "Those on charge, raise your hand!" 40 times a day
- Rolls her eyes after those phrases 100 times a day
- Very loving and caring, learning to be a kid for the first time in her life
- Actively wants to change her attitude and compassion for others for the better
- Gained 20 pounds and 6 inches in 6 months!
- Was 2" shorter than Heidi, now 4" taller
- Grows before your eyes, catching up to Dad
- Graduated "New Comers" ESL program 6 month ahead of schedule
- Promoted to 7th grade

So you see, we have had a lot of changes in the past six months. It's a lot of fun seeing them grow and experience new things. The UOO camp helped them gain compassion for others and realize the immense opportunity that they have now living in a family. They can't wait to have more brothers and sisters and have been actively talking about it for weeks now. On our first adoption, Heidi and I didn't have very many people to talk to about it. Now, these three are seeing the huge amount of work and effort that goes into adoption and they are part of the process. They know Rimma and Zina will be their sisters and have already staked out their claim as to who will be partnered up with them in who's bedrooms. Kolya knows that we will try and bring a bother home for him to share a room with, too. Fun and excite will surely follow as we grow to eight. And who knows, we may not be done when we get there!

~ Felix ~

Thursday, July 16, 2009

UOO 2009 Camp - Arrived Home Safely

I received the following e-mail from Clarke last night:

I got word early this morning that all the kiddos arrived safe at home, and couldn't stop talking about their experiences. Tatiana is convinced that Colorado is the Best State of America!Thanks everyone for such a great camp!

- Clarke Stoesz

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

UOO 2009 Camp - Homeward Bound

We left the Stoesz house in the van and headed to Denver International Airport this morning. It was a sad day to see them go. The Roge's and Volf's watched from the glass as Amanda Stoesz and Arie Pals escorted the kids and chaperons to their gate.

I will post again soon, but as of now I need some time to recompose, get over the missing space in my heart, and get back into the "groove". We signed the I-600 paperwork for Rimma +1 today, so that lifted my spirits a bit. We are all done with our dossier, the hiring of the facilitator, and our home study has been submitted. The only thing left is our USCIS process. So, this work will be a good distraction from missing the children.

Also, we have that time scheduled with a family that is thinking about Ukrainian adoption next week. So things are looking up.

~ Felix ~

Monday, July 13, 2009

UOO 2009 Camp - Day 20

The kids’ last full day with us would be spent completing arts and crafts, some more scrap booking, and just riding bikes and being a kid. We did this at my house and opened the house to all who wanted to visit with the kids one last time. They enjoy being in a family environment the most and we wanted to send them off with this last memory fresh in their minds.

Around five o’clock or so, we prepped dinner, which was left-overs from the Ukrainian Dinner the day before. The kids really liked the American-made Ukrainian food and commented on our ability to make it just like they have it back home. Cabbage rolls and Varenyk were served up and I’m happy to report that I won’t be eating this food for the next three weeks like I thought I would! We finished the whole thing! There were plenty of tears as everyone knew this would be the last that they would see of the kids. Heidi is going to Ukraine in September for Rimma’s birthday and I know that she will probably have some calls from people wanting to accompany her on that trip now. I hope to see the kids again at the end of the year when Heidi and I return for Rimma’s adoption.

It was hard, as it always is, to see the tears and hugs from children that want to stay and from Prospective Adoptive Parents, or PAPs, letting go of the children that they have come to love as their own. This is the major goal of UOO, to raise awareness of the plight of older orphans and perhaps to start a family or two’s adoption process to Ukraine. It’s all in God’s hands now for these families and these 8 little representatives of the thousands of children-in-waiting in Ukraine and around the world. We will meet next week with one such family and answer any questions that will help them make a decision to pursue Ukrainian adoption.

~ Felix ~

Sunday, July 12, 2009

UOO 2009 Camp - Day 19

We started Sunday with a church service at Rocky Mountain Christian Church. This is where the Volf’s attend service. I could not go because I was prepping for the big day ahead.

Ah yes, the big day for me was finally here! A lot of planning and volunteers went into making our 3rd annual Ukrainian dinner a success. At long last, the facility was decorated by my wonderful volunteer staff, the food prepared by a hard working kitchen crew, the bands reminded of their show times, and Heidi’s annual Silent Auction items placed. Everything went off without a hitch and despite the fact that I was concerned about the attendance and food count, there were plenty of people and way too much food. I think we counted around 150 people and we had enough food for the next day’s going away party. Not too shabby, crabby! We brought in a nice sized donation from the ticket sales and silent auction, too! Everything sold and nothing had to be carted back home for next year.

Many thanks to our musical entertainment, Peregrin Road and The Luke Ham Sandwich Family Band. PR provided nice background dinner music while LHSFB was the main attraction. If you’ve never heard these guys, you’re missing a real treat. A few kids with their Dad & Mom put on a great fiddle, mandolin and singing concert. See their website for concerts this summer. Since they have three international adoptees in their family, their entertainment style and our mission is closely intertwined. I hope we can get them back next year for another great night.

Thanks, everyone!

~ Felix ~

About Us

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Longmont, Colorado, United States
Heidi loves to play sand volleyball, sail and garden. Felix loves to fly at the local aeroclub, sail and fish.