Monday, December 27, 2010

Who's Counting?

Us in 26 days!

We interrupt the Christmas letter to remind everyone that we will soon be heading to Ukraine to start Lizzie's adoption process. We leave in 26 days...but who's counting? "We" includes Heidi, Jordan and me, Felix.

We are starting to dust off luggage, make lists, reserve the Bible House in Kherson, plan where the kids will stay at friend's homes and buying tickets. I expect that we will purchase the flights this week or next, they are already reserved through Golden Rule.

Only a moratorium vote in Ukraine would put a halt to the process now. We learned that it wasn't voted on in the Rada session that adjourned last week for the Ukrainian holiday season. I pray it never makes it's way back on the agenda. Keep those prayers coming for Lizzie. She wants to home so badly. It is evident in every conversation.

~ Felix ~

Friday, December 24, 2010

Roge Christmas Letter - Part 3


Today we are celebrating Rimma's first Christmas home with our family! We owe our thanks to God for bringing her home.

In case you don't have a free week or two to read our blog from start to finish, here's the Cliff Notes version of our story of how Rimma joined our family. We met Rimma during the first UOO camp in December 2007. She, four other children and one 100% non-English speaking caretaker stayed in our house for one life changing week. Felix and I were enchanted with Rimma by the time we arrived home from the airport that first night.

When we inquired about Rimma, her chaperons told us that she was not registered and was not available for adoption. They told us, "Choose another child - there are so many." Really? It it was too late - we were goners. I called our stateside adoption helper for advice. She told me, "Don't do it. It will take a very long time, cost a lot of money, and it will break your heart." Well, we didn't listen to her, either.

Fast forward 2.5 years. Rimma Richelle Roge came home forever on March 3rd this year. She turned 14 in September and attends 8th grade with Nadia.

Rimma's personality is exactly what we observed during that short time together in 2007. She is spunky and incredibly full of life. She either likes it or she doesn't, and there is absolutely no hiding her emotion. You always know what she's thinking. And her smile and laugh are contagious. Rimma is persuasive and openly affectionate, and this combination makes it very difficult to tell her no.

At home Rimma is affectionately known as "Hollywood." It took several months for her to accept her nickname, but it stuck. Rimma brought fashion, style, makeup, jewelry, hair drying and straightening to a new level in the Roge household. This has it's pros and cons. On one hand we have had to have more than a few discussions about beauty on the inside. The good news is that Rimma shares a room with Julia and she's done a great job helping Julia with self-awareness, grooming and cleanliness.

At school Rimma has proven herself as a great student with a tendency toward over-achieving. Being immersed in English for the first few months of school exhausted her. Each day I came home from work to find her napping in bed! Then, during the fall semester, she asked to be excused from the dinner table to get back to her homework...almost every day. Rimma's progress with English and her other core classes is incredibly strong. Her determination is so strong that we've encouraged her to back off and not take it all too seriously.

One thing that Rimma has taught me is to slow down and be present (and to sometimes be flexible on quiet time rules). Despite being fourteen years old, she missed out on being in a family for half of her young life. She needs nurturing and a lot of time with mom and dad because she's only been home for nine months. I feel overwhelming love and very privileged when I spend this time with Rimma.

We have been incredibly blessed to have Rimma as our daughter. She is a true joy in our lives.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Roge Christmas Letter - Part 2


Julia came home forever on December 24th, 2008. Christmas Eve is a very sentimental holiday for us! In Ukraine she was called "Yulia", but it's spelled with Cyrillic characters that we don't have in our alphabet. So we compromised on her American's spelled with a "J" but we call her Yulia at home. She introduces herself as Julia because it's just easier. Confusing? Maybe. But she's Yulia to me.

Julia has undergone the biggest transformation of all of our children. After we arrived home, we quickly learned that she had some sensory issues and needed extra help. Sadly she didn't get the help she needed in Ukraine. Our theory is that she was sent to the sanitarium often because the orphanage staff didn't know how to deal with her behavior. This is incredibly sad because sensory challenges are 100% treatable with the proper therapy. And have you seen the photos of that sanitarium? Scary place.

The Children's Hospital occupational therapists were amazing with Julia. They new just what she needed and how to help her. As a result, Julia's physical strength and motor skills have improved dramatically. This summer she took a "princess class" and made huge strides in learning age appropriate social skills.

Julia's language skills have also improved dramatically. Through testing last year we learned that Julia's ability to express herself in English was only with in the first percentile, based on the amount of time she's spent speaking primarily English. With the help of an individual education plan, Julia is getting the help she needs at school. Now her vocabulary is improving every week and she can write complete sentences, paragraphs and even short stories! Next week Julia will be evaluated by a speech/language specialist so we can figure out how to further help her communication skills.

Watching Julia's personality unfold has been incredibly heartwarming and satisfying. For many months her answer to everything was, "I don't know." It took a long time for us to understand that she just didn't know how to express herself. Well now she definitely has an opinion...on everything! Julia is kind, compassionate and very giving. She has a great sense of humor, just like Kolya, and she keeps us in stitches at the dinner table. Speaking of the dinner table, we haven't found a food that Julia doesn't like! She's in the middle of a huge growth spurt and will probably pass me up in height by the time I wake up tomorrow morning.

One of Julia's favorite pastimes is horseback riding. Or should we call it horseback standing? Yes, she can ride a horse standing up on it's saddle! At home it's all about artwork! Julia is very creative and loves to draw, paint, mold just about anything.

I'm so thankful that Julia is our daughter and I cannot imagine life without her!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

2010 Christmas Letter - Part 1


This coming Friday (Christmas Eve) will mark the two year anniversary of the day that Kole first arrived home! For those of you who are new to our family story, Kole's given name is Nikolai Daniel Roge. Kolya is the Ukrainian nickname for Nikolai, and now we use "Kole" as a shorter nickname for Kolya.

Kole turned 11 years old in June. Despite the fact that he's gained a full 20 pounds since coming home, he is still the smallest kid in middle school. We tell his sisters to watch out, though. Once he grows bigger then the girls, they are in BIG trouble. He has a lot of making up to do!

Everyone who knows Kole knows that he is a true gem. Kole is smart, kind, funny, entertaining, compassionate, helpful, compliant and thoughtful. The combination of being in middle school and having 6 sisters helps him slide into the role of the annoying little brother. But one-on-one or in smaller groups, he is always a joy to be around.

Kole played soccer in the spring and basketball in the fall. He enjoyed those team sports, but he especially loves skateboarding and riding his ripstick at the local skateboard park. At home Kole loves to throw the football in the back yard with mom or dad.

Kole is definitely exceding our expectations in school. Because he started learning English at age 9, his reading level is double that of all three of his sisters. He also had the advantage of starting school here in 4th grade, so he is definitely caught up to his peers and is earning his good grades without special accomodations.

I enjoy Kole's company...ALL the time. We have been enormously blessed to become his parents.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Letter Blues

Well I just couldn't get a Christmas letter together this year. The cards are headed out in the mail without the news and tidbits about our family. But I must not be the only one...because so far we've only received Christmas cards from our accountant and newspaper deliverer. I can't wait until the annual pictures of all our friends' kids come pouring into the mailbox! It's one of my favorite parts of Christmas each year.

So instead of writing a Christmas letter this year, I'll try to post a little update on each of our kids, one at a time.

Stay tuned! And remember the Reason for the Season!

~ Heidi ~

Sunday, December 5, 2010

3 years ago today...

December 2007

Three years ago today, we first met Rimma and Lizzie! It was a special day for me and Heidi. I still like to go back and read our blog on that day. At the time, the girls didn't know that they had stolen our hearts! They do now! Rimma beamed all day. She was so happy and wanted to share it with everyone, so she went on Facebook and posted about it. We all agree, it changed our lives forever...and for the better!

If I did my math correctly, it's only 7 more weeks until we go to adopt Lizzie!

~ Felix ~

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Date for Lizzie

We just opened an e-mail from our facilitator. Our SDA appointment is January 25, 2011! Here we go, time to start planning! Stay with us as we continue the journey to bring Lizzie home!

Prayers are still needed about the adoption vote. A mid-December vote is still scheduled even though the Legal Department rejected it. Join us as the power of prayer defeats this!

~ Santa Felix ~

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Crowded Mantle

We put out the Christmas decorations today. Here's what our mantle looks like. I think we went a bit crazy at the SDA appointments over the last two years! I'd bring them all home if I could!
~ Santa Felix ~

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I am thankful for...

As I have stated before, we are fortunate enough to have family in town from Chicago to share the week long Thanksgiving vacation with us. I issued a challenge to everyone.

Earlier in the week I asked my niece, Shannon, make this statement for me on strips of paper times fourteen: "I am thankful for..." I then handed them out to everyone and asked them to write a simple sentence or two. At Thanksgiving dinner everyone would read to the other what they had written one by one and then pass them to me to post on this blog. Some responses moved more than a few people to tears. Here's what everyone, in order, had to say.

Little Jessica E: "I am thankful for having a warm home to sleep in. I am also thankful for being here in Colorado with my cousins, my aunt and uncle. Plus Laura."

Kole Rogé: "I am thankful for Aunt Sally, Uncle Gary, Drew, Shannon, and Jessica being here in Colorado with us for the Thanksgiving break."

Rimma Rogé: "I am thankful for this big family being together and for having a lot of fun. Also, the most important thing, that God has been in my heart and loved me so much."

Julia Rogé: "I am thankful for home and wonderful family."

Drew E: "I am thankful for a supportive and loving family that aids me with every decision I make. Also, I have an extended family that is welcoming and optimistic, even when things are daunting."

Jessica Rogé: "I am thankful for family, friends, God, snugly kitties, my fabulous church, snow, apple pie and Sal's mashed potatoes!"

Nadia Rogé: "I am thankful for this wonderful family and everything they do for us. Thank you so much."

Laura T: "I am thankful for my family I have in Germany and America and I am thankful that they're all happy and healthy. I am thankful for the chance to have new experiences and to meet new people and that I can enjoy every day."

Shannon E: "I am thankful for FAMILY."

Jordan Rogé: "I really don't know what I am thankful for since I have so much to be thankful about and I merely have this little slip to write it on. Well, I am thankful to have such a huge, loving family. I am thankful to Heidi and Dad for taking me in, even with all the baggage that comes with me. I am thankful to all my little sisters and brother for accepting me. I am thankful for Jessica and Laura for listening to all my troubles. I am thankful for my mother for loving me no matter how far the distance. And I am thankful for God for always being there."

Heidi Rogé: "I am thankful for; Jess and Jordan being with us for Thanksgiving; The Eggers traveling 900+ miles to be here this week; Laura being brave enough to trust us and travel across half the Earth to spend a year with our family; God bringing Dad and my kids into my life and making it richer than I ever imagined."

Sally E: "I am thankful for a God that is forgiving and doesn't expect me to be perfect. I am thankful for such a wonderful family."

Gary E: "I am thankful for being blessed with a wife who has given me three wonderful children and extended family but also has an unparalleled inner strength and capacity to deal with adversity. Her ability to care for the well being of others is amazing."

Felix Rogé: "I am thankful for the decision of Ukraine's legal system to question the legality of the moratorium on international adoption. While not certain, it should halt this ugly process and keep safe the opportunity for orphaned children to realize their dream of family, including our Lizzie. I am thankful for that child waiting for us in Ukraine. I am thankful for the 14 people sitting at this table today and the gift of having them all happy, safe and sound, here with me. I am thankful for God who cares about me and loves me."

~ Felix ~

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Friend of a friend's friend

News coming out of Ukraine today is that the second reading of the new adoption law that would have stopped international adoption from Ukraine was being scheduled, but then their legal department rejected it! So it has failed this time!

While not officially confirmed, this news comes from one of our friend's facilitators whose husband was at Ukraine parliament yesterday. The RADA website confirms this news, showing that there was a text comparison on the second reading. This would certainly be great news for us and Lizzie as well as all those waiting orphans in Ukraine whose futures were certainly hanging in the balance.

During Sunday's service our Pastor and future adoptive parent, Clay Peck, said something that still rings in my head. He said, "Worry is the opposite of faith!" Certainly, that has been the case with me as of late. I felt guilty for it and I believe God was speaking to me through Clay. I pondered on it all day Sunday and prayed about it several times that day. Later that evening a sweet inner peace came over me as I let happen what should have happened all along. I quit worrying about the vote and if we would get Lizzie home. I gave it all over to God and I slept soundly the next two nights. I have been really relaxed at home and at work, too. A noticeable change. Heidi even commented that I seemed different and happier than I have been in recent weeks.

Today, the awesome power of God was presented to me. I prayed all day Sunday and I awaited His quiet, casual reply. The answer came to us in an e-mail from a reliable, confidential source. Thank you for caring about me, Lord. Thank you for caring about all of us and Lizzie most of all!

~ Felix ~

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cousin Time!

This week has been like a vacation for the kids…what am I talking about? It IS a vacation for them. Heidi took off from work and is home with them. Me, I’m working until Wednesday and then taking the rest of the week off. Added to our family’s fun and excitement is visiting relatives in from the Chicagoland area. That’s right, the Egger family is visiting for a week over the holidays. We are having a blast with them and the kids are enjoying non-stop good times together. Remember when you were a kid and cousins came to visit! Man, we talked, played and laughed all day and then fell into bed exhausted every night. That’s what’s been happening here, too! Living vicariously through your kids’ enjoyment is part of being a parent and is no exception for us. I’m having as good a time watching them as they are having doing the fun stuff! Oh, and I get into the action every now and then as well.

Saturday evening, the cousins arrived and we watched a movie that night on the HDTV.

Sunday was church followed by games of Who-Nu and Apples to Apples. We even got a football game going in the back yard. Rimma and little Jess each caught a pass from me for touchdowns. Kole and the boys still beat us though. That Kole is a fine receiver, hmmmnnnn!! That night we watched another movie. (I just love 14 people curled up on the floor and couch in front of the fireplace, watching a movie and having a good time…should be a Rockwell painting!)

Monday, I went to work and everyone else played more games, video games, and went to the Rec center to the indoor pool. When I arrived I found everyone in the sauna! Afterwards, a few kids and parents went to play basketball and volleyball. At 4pm, we headed out to Fat Cats bowling center, Heidi had bought two Groupon’s for half-price bowling a month earlier in preparation for this. For $70, we had 14 people bowling on two lanes for two hours with three large pizzas and a few pitchers of soda! Wow, you go frugal Heidi! Again, I witnessed much laughter and dancing as everyone cheered on the spares and strikes. We were the loudest group in the place…well, we might have been the only group in the place for the first hour. A couple more groups showed up later.

Today, Tuesday, is always $5 movie day at our local cinema. For five bucks per person you can watch any movie at any showing on Tuesdays. We never go to the movies anymore with our large family. Add five more and the total is 14 folks. So this is a great bargain if you have a group that just HAS to see the new Harry Potter movie. I think mom is going to take the younger three to see Mega Mind instead, just a few minutes apart. Oh, I forgot to mention that little Jess and Kole are enrolled in swim lessons at the Rec center this morning. Not sure what everyone else is doing while I’m at work.

Wednesday, some of the Egger family is going skiing. The adults are having a night-out date!

Thursday is Thanksgiving! Maybe more games, backyard football and movies. I think somebody is playing in the NFL.

Friday is of course, Black Friday. I think Gary and I will find something else to do, not sure yet.

Saturday, the Eggers head back home and the kids get ready for the new week.

~ Felix ~

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Horses by Julia Rogé

When I was in Ukraine I loved animals but caretakers did not let us have pets in Ukraine. But if we had animals we get in big trouble in Ukraine with the principal in my orphanage. When I came to America I asked to ride horses for my sport so they said yes. I started in 2009 Fall horseback riding I really liked so I started try new things like standing up on horse and walking. I'm on standing up on horse with no strings. I want to get jumping. When I started riding horses I got better and better on a horse. So I really like riding horses.

Julia (age 13), resident horse expert & Colorado cowgirl!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Lizzie!

Lizzie, today at the orphanage, celebrating her Birthday

Happy Birthday to our Lizzie! She turns 15 today and we/she missed another one without her family. Lizzie had just turned 12 when we first met her back in 2007. We celebrated one birthday with her, her 13th back in 2008 when we traveled there to adopt our first three. It was her first birthday party ever with a family. We all had a party for her while she was here this summer and she got a few gifts, one being her new skateboard that she left behind. But the real gift, everyone including her will tell you, is the family she has here and the time she has spent with us. Moratorium vote aside, she will get to live that gift forever come January! Please continue to pray for her and other orphans like her whose new life could be threatened by those who wish to impede international adoption.

Friday, November 5, 2010

State Department Notice

The official press release from the U.S. Department of State can be seen here and below...

Ukraine Adoption Notice

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

November 3, 2010

The Ukrainian legislature is in the process of voting on a bill that would suspend all intercountry adoptions from countries without bilateral agreements with Ukraine, including adoptions from the United States. The bill passed a first reading and vote, but must still pass a second reading and be signed into law by the president. The second reading could take place in the next few weeks. If the bill passes the second reading, it may be signed into law as early as the end of 2010. The draft bill appears to include suspension of all adoptions in progress.

The Department is will post updates as information becomes available.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dossier Submitted!

Our facilitator notified us today that our dossier was submitted, yesterday. It will only be a little time now before we know if 1.) the SDA accepts it as complete, and 2.) they notify us of our referral date. We expect that date to be in mid-January, which is what we have been told is Lizzie's availability date. We would eagerly travel before then to get her should some time be waived, but alas, this is never the case with the SDA.

Our hearts are happy and troubled all at the same time due to the recent vote on international adoption in Ukraine. It seems that the moratorium would actually be a halt to adoptions for countries do not have a signed bilateral agreement on adoption with Ukraine. I know of only two countries, Israel and Spain, that have signed such an agreement and even those agreements are in question now as new language is being requested. Didn't the Hague convention on international adoption hammer all this out years ago?

Right now there are two schools of thought.

On one hand, facilitators of friends are writing and saying that the second vote (they will need three) is only a political move and is a rumor at this point as to it's time and occurrence. They speak of the process of adoptions currently ongoing as routine and nothing out of the ordinary happening and this process could take months. Everyone agrees that we as a collective should call and write our representatives and urge them to write and pass a bilateral agreement (who's language is not known and could change at the whim of Ukrainian law and not required at this time). Good luck getting a US politician/government entity to do something that isn't required yet. I pray that these people are right. If Ukraine follows Russia's example, adoptions will continue as this "magical" bilateral agreement is worked could take years.

On the other hand, I sense a bit of concern in our facilitator's e-mail today. While he/she wishes us good tidings in our process and encourages us to keep pushing along, I also get the sense that he/she is certainly preparing us should the adoption stall. Our facilitator has always been terrific in telling us the news, both good and bad, promptly and accurately. It is why we hired them a second time. It may not be the news you want to hear, but you will hear it from them and you will be the second person they e-mail or call. Also, they just "get things done" and that's true value with your adoption dollar...that's worth something.

Your prayers for the children of Ukraine and ALL prospective adoptive parents are appreciated! Pray for those who sponsor this law and for those who will vote for it. At the least, pray for continued adoptions while agreements are made should this law pass. Amen.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

November Moratorium Vote!

I heard through the grapevine today that Ukraine's parliament finally voted on putting a moratorium on international adoptions, and the vote passed.

From a friend in Ukraine:

Yesterday Ukrainian Parliament voted for the bill which, once it comes in force, will stop adoptions in Ukraine. That was the first reading of the bill that our deputies voted for yesterday. According to the Ukrainian legislation there will need to be the second and then the third reading, after that the bill needs to be signed by the president and only then it will come in force. All this might take half a year, but might take less time, depends on the schedule of the Parliament.

If this bill goes through all four stages it will still not close the adoptions completely, but only families from countries with which Ukraine has signed a declaration on mutual cooperation concerning adoptions will be able to adopt in our country.

So, we all need to pray that the corresponding authorities of USA and Ukraine sign such declaration before this bill, which registration number is 4313, comes in force, and children who are waiting for their parents to come and take them home don't loose their maybe last chance to have a loving family and happy future.God bless everybody!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My "American" Family by Laura T.

I came to America as an exchange student to learn about the American culture. I wanted to look behind the prejudices Germans have. I wanted to tell everybody that there are more than French Fries and Burgers and whole days in front of the computer and TV.

One day before my flight I got my host family. Family Roge. But I didn`t expect six brothers and sisters, four adopted from Ukraine. Now I have American and Russian culture. I see how American people live, how Ukrainian kids live and how Americans and Ukrainian live together. It is more than I could ever think and dream about.

Like that, my exchange year and my whole experience is becoming something really special and I enjoy it! I enjoy the family movie nights, every evening sitting together to have dinner- as a family, go up in the mountains, have picnics. And with every day, they becoming more my family, it’s becoming a home, strangers become loved ones!

I live every day, enjoy it, be happy and thankful- because I have the chance to live with a great family like this! It couldn’t be better!

Laura (age 15)
Exchange student from Munich, Germany

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More on the "Big D"

The DOSSIER has been delivered! On what seemed like a tour of the world (Denver-Indianapolis-Paris-Kiev-Ukraine customs-maybe the Zoo) it was signed for and received by our facilitator "O" today. Wow, so much for three day international shipping!

Our facilitator team will be busy translating it into Ukrainian/Russian, if they haven't done so already. (Quick tip: scan all your documents and e-mail them to your facilitator in advance so that they may start the translation process early. Some facilitators will do this, others will not...all part of the hiring process and research we accomplished. "O's" team does!)

Next stop: SDA submission! We should know something in a week or two. Meanwhile, enjoy the guest bloggers!

~ Felix ~

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

School by Julia Rogé

In Ukraine school is really bad and the teachers are really mean. Also you need to wear 70's uniforms. You can't talk to any kids when is a free time. Also you cannot go outside after lunch. But in America the school is really nice and the teachers are sweet & cool. You don't have to wear uniforms. You can talk to your friends on free time. Also you can go outside you want. Also the principal are different. In Ukraine principals are mean and always in their offices all the time. American principals are nice and they not in their offices all the time.

Julia (age 13)
Arrived home December 24, 2008

Friday, October 15, 2010

Adoption Changed my Life by Kole Rogé

I got home on December 24, 2008. Adpption changed my life in many ways first: the food in Ukraine was terrible. The American food is awesome [in my opinion]. Second: the schools where trashed also I got easily distracted in school the good thing is American schools are not trashed or small. I have wary good grades because now I’m focused and also educated good. The schools in here are nice clean and BIG now my parents care about my grades and education. My parents care about me. Every Friday we watch a family movie those are the best. My teeth used to be rotten now their better than ever. I’m safe and secure. The best thing is they love me.

Kole (age 12)
Arrived home December 24, 2008

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"The Big D" - Nope, not Dallas

We temporarily interrupt this guest blogger programming to bring you late-breaking adoption news. Can you guess what "The Big D" is?


That's right, take a gander under the 3rd adoption column over there! We sent our completed, apostilled dossier to Ukraine today!

OK, excitement over. We send you back to the guest bloggers now. I spied Kole working on a post on the downstairs computer. Hmn, he might be next!

~ Felix ~

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Starting Over by Nadia Rogé

When I came home on Christmas Eve 2008 I was very happy but at the same time I was scared because not knowing any English and this family well. About 2 weeks later I went to Heritage Middle School to learn English. Heritage had this New Comer program that I went to learn English. About a month or two latter I started to speak English and understand it well that I could communicate with people and family but it was very different that I thought it would be. Now I am going to a different school by our house and not in a New Comers program any more. Not being in New Comers program seems to be very hard and different but I know that I have to go there to have a new experience and a good education to have a good life.

Now I love this family for everything that they give me and everything they do for our family I really mean it. I hope to be a better person in my life and mom and dad help me with it every time I do something wrong or say something wrong. I know that they will try to do everything they can to make me a better person. I love my family for things they do for me and for everyone else.

Nadia (age 14)
Arrived home December 24, 2008

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Wonderful Present by Rimma Rogé

Family it's a wonderful present that God gave me! Two years ago I couldn't even imagine about this special present! I always wanted someone who would love and taking a good care of me, who supported me in difficult moments. For me love, hope and trust are the most important things you need for family. I am so happy that I could have all of those!

Rimma (age 14)
Arrived home March 3, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Acceptance by Jessica Rogé

When I first heard that my parents were adopting, I was kinda shell-shocked. At the time, my life was at rock-bottom. I was in the middle of an abusive marriage. I had no friends and a new “family” (my in-laws) that hated me. Most importantly, I had no hope.

My first reaction to the adoption news was purely selfish. I felt a sense of abandonment. My husband used these feelings to further alienate me from my dad. It took me a few months to get off of my high horse. I was in a communications class at the time. So I decided to do a speech on orphans, Ukraine, adoption, and all that good stuff. It was supposed to be a 3 minute speech. Once I got started, I couldn’t stop! I talked with a fiery passion for about 15 minutes. I got an A!!

It took me about another year to get my head on straight. I left my husband on January 3rd of this year. I bounced around from home to home for about 6 months after that, including a battered women's shelter.

I first met my new brother and sisters, when I came to Colorado on a one week visit this summer. The acceptance I felt when I walked through the front door was overwhelming. I was first approached by Julia. She eyed me over and asked, “Jessica, are you my sister too?” I told her I was. She thought about this for a moment, grinned big, and asked “Ok, can I paint your nails?” I wanted to cry.

I realize now that this was God’s plan. These kids were delivered from awful conditions and so was I. I accepted God into my heart, and he gave me a new family and new friends.

~ Jessica, age 22 ~

Serenity Prayer (my favorite)
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;

That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next.

--Reinhold Niebuhr

Monday, October 4, 2010

Golden Ticket!

Had to post one more time before the guest bloggers arrive. We received our 171h today! The Golden ticket has arrived! Yeah! The Dossier only needs to be apostilled now and then it's off to Ukraine!

~ Felix ~

Guest Bloggers

I’m busy at work and Heidi and I are working on finishing up the Dossier that will eventually bring Lizzie home. Therefore, stay tuned for some guest bloggers over the next few weeks...our kids! If anything exciting happens, I will be sure to post, too!

I asked our kids to write about something, anything that they would like to put here on our family blog. I told them it could be about whatever they would like to share with you, our readers and followers. Most, if not all, of their writing will be unedited and cut and pasted just as they wrote it.

I got some enthusiastic responses, some eye rolling (to which I said, “don’t look at me with that tone of voice!”) and some excuses for not attempting the effort. It will be interesting to see what topics they choose, who will be first, and who will ditch the assignment.

To the whiners, I told them that one day when we make this blog a book, they will be in it. That kinda got them motivated. Hey, it isn’t everyday that you get published :-)


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Wishing for "Old Man Winter"

We are in the final stages of our dossier and we will send it to our facilitator next week! We are only waiting on the 171h. The USCIS e-mailed us that our case was approved and that the "golden ticket" is on it's way! I'll run down to Denver at the beginning of the week to get everything apostilled and then, we will overnight it to Ukraine...Whoo-hoo!

Lizzie knows it's getting close too. I got the following Facebook message from our sweetie today...

hi Tet'ka!!!
how are you????
I'm fine!!!soon I 'll have holidays!!!
i miss you!!!
i'm waiting for winter!!!!cause in winter you'll come!!!
i love you!!!!
Lizzie could speak a little English before she came here for 10 weeks this past summer. However, in past years she would inevitably ask for a translator after we spoke on the phone for only a minute or two. Nowadays, she carries on for long lengths of time when we call. Sometimes we have to tell her that we have to go and that we will speak again soon. Boy did that 10 weeks with us do wonders for her English skills! (Note the I'm, I'll and 'cause word use).
Yep, we both can't wait 'till Old Man Winter arrives this year!

~ Tet'ka Felix ~

Friday, September 24, 2010

A's & B's

Rimma & Nadia got their mid-term report cards today. Rimma came home with:

Language Arts = A-
Math = A
Science= A-
US History = B
Technology elective = A+

Nadia Came home with:

Math = A
Science = B
US History = C
Art elective = A+

I'm proud of both girls! Rimma has only been using English for 6 months and Nadia is wanting to succeed by feeding off Rimma. Good news all around! Julia & Kole should be bringing their reports home today or early next week. I'm hearing good things from them too!

Here are some pictures from Rimma's birthday outing to Red Robin. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Rimma's first American Birthday!

So, is she 1 or 14? Years from now she may want to use that smaller number! I can see her 40th birthday scene now, "I'm not 40 everyone, I'm 26!" And she may be right!

Rimma 11, at the Internot, Feb 2008

It's hard to believe sometimes that she was this spunky little 11 year old that stole our hearts back in 2007. We had to watch her grow up in pictures on the other side of the earth for two years. Looking back, it was money well spent to go see Rimma and Lizzie once a year, usually around their birthdays, just to see how they were doing and to continue the family bond. Rimma speaks highly of those visits.

14 today, at home in Colorado

I am haunted by the faces of those kids that would look on and attend our birthday celebrations with them, saying "Could you find me a family of my own, too?" Consider adoption, please!

~ Felix ~

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Moratorium postponed

Here's the skinny...

Ukrainian parliament POSTPONED THE VOTING on introduction of moratorium on international adoptions based on request of Parliamentary Committee on Youth and Sports, which sent a letter to Head of Parliament stating they need more time to prepare the proper language as to moratorium and... align accompanying legislation. No new date on voting was discussed. Usually, several months pass before parliament will return to this issue.

We all can breathe a sign of relief for a little while longer.

~ Felix ~

Monday, September 20, 2010

News to pass on...

I received the following comment today from a friend, Eric. Are you looking?

Heidi and Felix, I do not have your email, but my wife posted a picture of two boys from Ukraine on her blog, if you know of anyone who would possibly be interested, have them contact us. They are great kids.

There are a few kids from previous camps we know that want families as well. Visit the UOO website and contact us there for more information.

In other news, I've been made aware of another supposed moratorium on adoption. I quit worrying about this as I stated back in June. This is the first time that I have heard that Ukraine voted twice in the same year, though. I do pray everyday about it, but I put it in God's hands and trust that He will take care of it. A friend informed me...

The information is sketchy, but many reliable contacts are telling us that Ukraine's government is scheduled to vote on Tuesday, September 21st to stop adoptions with countries that do not have a written agreement with them (an agreement to protect the children). As I understand, the only country with this agreement in place right now is Israel. Please pray this vote does not pass!!! While it is important to protect the children, we want these agreements and changes to be made without putting a stop to current adoptions. There are many children whose time is running out. They need homes. They need families. They may need therapy or medical attention. They may need a family before they age out of the system. Whatever the case, a moratorium could mean the end of the possibility of family for them. Before you go to bed on September 20, pray that this vote will either not even come up, or that it will not pass.

Lastly, Lizzie still wants to come home! Pray for her, the moratorium vote and all the orphans world over who sleep alone each night.

~ Tet'ka Felix ~

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

September Babies!

Just a quick post to let you all know that we are alive and well. School is in full swing and Kole and I are the only boys in the "House of women". Like I told my daughter, Jessica, I don't run the place...I just pay the bills!

As the title says, this is a big birthday month around the house. Starting us off on the 12th was Heidi's B-Day! Rimma's will be on the 22nd and mine will be on the 24th. I'm resisting the urge to combine R's and my birthday's into one party, cake, etc. My mom did that when I was growing up with me and my sister. Her birthday is on the 26th.

Seated L to R; Laura our German exchange student, Jessica, Rimma, Julia, Nadia, Felix, Jordan, the Birthday girl - Heidi, and Kole

In other news (wonderful news, I might add), our pastor has decided to join the ranks of Ukie adoptive parents! He and his wife are pursuing a 15 year old girl that has been on the minds and hearts of Karen Springs and Yulia. I had seen a little Facebook traffic between our pastor and Karen these past couple of weeks, but thought nothing of it other than God's people connecting through Him. Surprise, surprise! He announced the decision during last weeks message and it was quite an emotional event for him and for us Grace Place members. I don't think I've ever seen Pastor Clay get emotional. It has made Heidi cry (happy) every time she listens to the sermon and I admit, I get a little choked up, too. Click on "Grace Place - Our Church" and navigate your way through the website to find his sermon on September 12th. Wow, what a wonderful miracle!

We are drawing closer to getting our dossier together to go after Lizzie. We finished the homestudy awhile back and completed our forms for the USCIS. Our fingerprinting appointment is this Friday morning and we are excited to check of this important step. Heidi started her medical work this week and I will begin in the next few days as well. We want to have our dossier there and get submitted sometime in October. Unless a miracle occurs, Lizzie should not be eligible until mid-January. We are just getting our dossier there before the November-December slow-downs and cutoffs. (No, there isn't a hold on adoptions and we don't have any inside information, but past experience has shown us that the SDA starts end-of-year closures and slow-downs around this time frame)

I got the following Facebook message from Lizzie last Saturday:

Can't wait going my home!!!I love you!!!you are my Daddy(Tet'ka) forever!!!

Been grinnin' like an idiot ever since!

~ Tet'ka Felix ~

Thursday, September 2, 2010

"This was my favorite..."

I asked Lizzie shortly before she left to tell me what, other than being in her family and with Mom & Dad, was her favorite activity this summer. "I loved the camping", she said. "This was my favorite thing to do." Seeing how we may go camping again this Labor Day weekend, I thought it fitting to do a post on camping with Lizzie.

Although the summer days can reach the 90's and 100's in Colorado, it's always cooler in the mountains. Nights dip to the 50's. Rimma brought her pink blanket.

The nearby stream at our hidden secluded campsite is always a kid favorite. Quite chilly with too much cfm's in the early Spring runoff, it turns into a kid's delight by summer.

There are miles of "wade-able" water for the kids to enjoy. It's like having a swimming pool at your campsite!

Tent-mates doing a self shot photo

Can't wait to return next Spring and Summer with her. Perhaps she would like to fly-fish with Dad!
~ Tet-chka Felix ~

Monday, August 30, 2010


As the plane pushed backed, I couldn't shake the feelings of emptiness that came over me. As she was sitting there on that plane in this moment, I tried to imagine the sadness she was enduring and tears that were falling. I hope she kept reminding herself that Mom and Dad would come as soon as possible. Even with my five kids at home and our new exchange student having just arrived, I still find myself walking around with that empty feeling like something just isn't right, someone is Lizzie.

Back in the Spring, when we committed to bring Lizzie home for the summer, I knew this moment would come. I knew we would eventually have to pay the price, or face the music as my old man used to say. I pray that is the only price we have to pay. I fear we may have done more harm than good. There are the threats from a cold, harsh chaperon who will remain nameless...and this will be the last time I ever speak of it. Despite repeated attempts to "win the hearts and minds" of this person, we were rebuffed again and again. In the latter stages we just realized that no one can reason with an insane person. Never before in my own home have I been so insulted, judged, watched, uncomfortable! Parting words to me from this person were, to say the least, astonishing and revealing of true character and intent. I now know why I didn't shed a tear when Lizzie walked away, down the jet way. I was bewildered!

I just can't write here all the awful stuff we endured or heard. Heidi and I stood fast and bore it for Lizzie's sake and sanity and we don't regret having her for one minute. The good times far outweigh the bad ones from the chaperon and it was good to build more bonds of trust and love with Lizzie. We would do it all over again, thank goodness we won't have to! She will be home for good early next year.

Lizzie has a good head on her shoulders and is keen to the perils she has to face. She told us many stories while she was here. It's remarkable what she has seen and avoided. Drug use, shooting up, prostitution, drinking have all been in the same room with Lizzie, yet she has managed to escape their attention. She is wise beyond her years and more mature than she should be for her age. Perhaps because she has seen more in her short young life than I will see in my entirety. I know God looks over Lizzie and protects her and that He sent her to us three years ago.

If you think I'm making this stuff up or that things like this don't happen, go read Tom Davis' book, Priceless. Read his other book Scared too! The movie, Taken, might get your attention as well. Then get involved, somewhere, anywhere, even in the US. There are more Lizzies out there!

Lizzie sent a message this morning on Facebook that she had arrived back at the orphanage, two days after she left home. Her message, as follows and not respelled or cleaned up, paints a potential problem. We pray it is something as simple as her phone was stolen or she lost her favorite bed.

hi,Daddy!!!how are you????i miss you so much!!!i have big problems!!I don't
want to say about!!!but we know you love us,and we love you!!!i'm in orphanage
in Kherson!!!and Ukraine is garbigge!!!

The father part of me wants to lecture her about calling that country "garbage". The daddy part of me just says, "I Love and miss you terribly, sweetie" In my present state of mind, guess which reply I sent. From here on out, we will write about the great times we had with her and the happiness with our growing family. Stay with us...

~ Tet-chka Felix ~

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Day with Lizzie

Lizzie flies back to Ukraine tomorrow. After she leaves, I will post a few blogs about our time together. I intentionally didn't write much these past 10 weeks while she was here. We wanted to spend as much time with her and enjoy the moments. It was a great experience for her and for us. Her English skills soared and now we will have more to talk about when we call her. She was in her family and got to preview things to come. Father and daughter bonds were cemented and she is more of a Daddy's girl than ever before. She has a new name for me...Tet-chka. Cute, and I melt every time she uses it. I'm gonna miss that, and her!

We are going to spend the whole day with her, Heidi and I took off from work to do so. We are doing fine with the departure. The only hint of tears came two nights ago when I asked Lizzie if she ever had a Daddy before or did she remember her father. She held me tightly and started crying. She said "No, you are the only daddy I have ever had." I felt bad after having asked the question. It reaffirmed the need that girls need moms and dads.

Last night Rimma came and sat with me on the sofa, putting her arms around me. She said, "Thank goodness I am home and I never have to return". Lizzie and Rimma get it!

~ Felix ~

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

18 days 'till Camp Ukraine

Everywhere I look, the signs are there that school will be starting back up soon. Last year this time, I posted a funny commercial that I remembered about “the most wonderful time of the year” for parents. This year I’m a bit melancholy about the whole thing. That’s because this summer, we had Lizzie at home and she will depart on the 28th of August.

However, I’m not torn up inside about it like I was when we put Rimma & Lizzie on that plane back in 2007, never knowing if we would ever see them again, if we would get to adopt them, if they would be safe and sound until we got there. Those worries prompted the trip in April of ’08. No, rather, I am comforted by the fact that we will be there to get her early next year. In that regard, she has to go back. We regret that the date approaches, but we don’t dwell on it or dread it.

Quite simply, in our conversations with Lizzie, we all have come up with a term for the few months of separation we will endure. Lizzie herself will tell you that she’s not going home, she IS HOME! No, she’s going away to “Camp Ukraine”, sometimes referred to as “boarding school” from which she will be plucked out of in due time. We tell her that she better enjoy the last few months of her life in Ukraine. Enjoy the food, enjoy the music, enjoy the culture, ‘cause Dear Ole Dad won’t be traveling back there post-adoption anytime soon!

Lizzie agrees, too! She sees the longing by adopted Ukie kids (there are quite a few in our community) to go back for a visit, to go back and see friends, to go back and be in the culture. We realize this with Nadia and Rimma. Nadia has gotten over it and hardly ever asks about calling or visiting her old Diestky Dom. Rimma misses one friend and a cousin she hardly ever got to see. We allow contact, but both girls are slowly getting past their loss. Lizzie, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with Ukraine once she leaves.

One could argue that she is sheltering herself and will come to miss her past. She and I will tell ya, there is nothing left for her in Ukraine but hurt, abandonment, a care taker who hates her and a director that threatens her.

Last week, she told me that she wants to be like Kole and forget the Russian language. I cautioned her against that saying that a brilliant career could be had by speaking both languages. I mentioned to her about being a linguist working at an Embassy or a company that does business with Russian-speaking countries, being a flight attendant on trans-Atlantic flights doing the same, or about the need for mission work bringing Christ to those countries. She lit up as I discussed those possibilities. Her smile was evident as she stated, “I want to help the orphans and people who speak Russian when they come to America, but I want to work from here helping people.”

So, for the meantime, Lizzie is done with Ukraine. Hopefully, time will ease her hurt and erase all bad memories. God kept her there to do his work these past three years. Lizzie has aided, comforted and helped convince 4 of 5 orphans when they were struggling between adoption or staying at the orphanage and taking their chances. Lizzie should have been the first one home, but I now see that was the task that He had for her to do. She has done enough for now, I would agree.

In 18 days Lizzie will leave for “camp” and for the last time we will say our Goodbyes. A part of the family will be missing and a piece of our hearts will fly away on that plane. It is our prayer that God will remove all obstacles and will deliver her home forever. May the next five months fly away as fast as these 10 summer weeks have.
~ Felix ~

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Building Memories

"Awesome!" That was the most heard word from the kids this past weekend, especially from Lizzie. It felt good to hear that word and to bask in the warmth of kids having summer fun. We went to our "secret" camping site in Colorado with all the kids this weekend. A few years back before kids, Heidi and I scouted for a hidden secluded spot in the Rockies to do some camping. I wanted a rugged 4-wheel drive path in and out and water in the form of a lake or stream. We found both near the Red Feather Lakes area of Colorado...and I get to fly fish!

Heidi mentioned several times this weekend that these are family memories that we are building and how important these times together were for all of us. My friends, Pam & Kevin, reflected recently about their fond memories of family time while camping, too. As I think back, those were my favorite times as a kid. I agree with them all. We bond, love, laugh, learn and enjoy time away from the hectic call of life at home. It's just different than being at home, time like this gives you opportunity to see the things you miss daily and to spend special quality time with your family. I know, that this experience and the ones to come, will teach our kids to value family even more. They are even learning experiences to pass on to their kids one day.

Lizzie pauses to take in the beauty

Nothing better than kids fishing!

...unless, of course, it's Dad fishing!

Two Butterflies!

Marshmellows & Smores over a campfire, NICE!

The Shish-ka-bob Queen!

Shish-ka-bobs and buttered potatoes on the fire, Mmm GOOD!

Hummingbirds at the Trader Store. The next morning a hummingbird & squirrel got into a fight in the tree above our tent. No sleeping in that morning!

Whipping the Parachute Adams fly!

Wading the stream

Gettin' wet

Nice Catch!

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.