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 ~

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.