Monday, December 5, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Next, Jordan will be moving into a dorm room in the Fall of 2012 once she selects a university. This is her Senior year and she is ecstatic!
So, two will have left the nest the next year. But, are we done adding to our family...?
~ Felix ~
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Jordan - Now 17, Jordan completed her Junior year here at Skyline in Longmont. She completed another grueling year of honors and AP classes with a 4.0 + GPA again! Honestly, I don't know how they grade Honors and AP classes, but she has over a 4.0. So proud of her! She went with us to Ukraine on our adoption trip to bring home Lizzie and she learned a lot! After our family vacation in July, Jordan will journey with our church's mission trip to Madeira, Mexico for two weeks. She starts her Senior year in August and will be using her newly acquired driver's license to take her brother and sisters to school for us.
Kole - Now 12, Kole just celebrated another birthday, his third since being home. Always a pleaser and willing to do whatever you ask, he has lately been forgetting his tasks. Call it typical kid stuff or "on summer vacation", I've had to remind him on several occasions the past month to get things done. I hope this isn't a trend for things to come. Kole and I attended a father-son purity class this past quarter. This has helped him learn how to treat girls and respect women as he moves into puberty. Kole also did very well in school with mostly A's & B's, making the honor roll, too. He will move into 7th grade next year. Kole's passion is those darn video games, something I ration accordingly. He participated in Rec league volleyball this past Spring and he has tried several sports, including basketball. Not having a top choice, Kole is still trying to figure out which sport he likes and does best. Soccer went away quickly and although he was very good at it, he confessed that he didn't like it very much. Time will tell where he will fit in. I've told him more than once that video games aren't a sport.
Well, that's all for now. I hope that by reading this post you will see that we aren't the "perfect" family and it is hard work to raise a family, especially one this size. Each child presents their unique challenges. Some days I pull my hair out. Most days, I can't wait to get home to them. Hearing "Daddy" being yelled when I enter makes it all worthwhile! So...I'll be sure to post sooner next time than I did this time. Perhaps I'll tell ya about our vacation plans in July to the Bahamas. Talk to ya then...
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Every time a kid comes home, we find the need to eventually go over the house rules with said kid(s). This was true for Nadia, Julia and Kole. Next came Rimma. Then we added Jordan and eventually Jessica. Now it's Lizzie's turn. In addition, I find that it is necessary to go over the "Rules" once a month at dinner time, when we are all together. Chores start getting sloppy, laundry days get missed and quiet time/bedtime starts getting ignored. The monthly dinner time reminder helps bump everyone back to center and everyone remembers, until the next month, and we do it all over again.
A few friends have asked me to repost this, especially those folks close to bringing new children home soon. So here you are. Feel free to use these, adapt them to you own use, or revamp them all together. It's also important to note that these 10 rules have evolved over time as the kids have gained English comprehension and understanding. So, in the beginning, keep it simple. These 10 rules have never been more than 10 rules and from the start, they used to be only a few simple words. You can add deeper explanation to them after you have been home awhile and after the "honeymoon" is over. Otherwise, get ready for a lifetime of a messy or broken house, with arguing kids, and chaos as you try to wait on them hand and foot while being a maid, cook and a parent.
This is not cruel or unusual punishment. Institutionalized children need and appreciate structure and no, I don't rule the house with an iron fist or like a Drill Sergeant. We provide a home, security, safety and lots of Love, understanding, compassion and empowerment. Our kids are thriving and 'kicking it" in school, home life and out in society. Here are our 10 Easy Rules:
1. Be kind to one another…PERIOD!
2. Keep your room tidy, make your bed every morning and return your things to your room after use, don’t leave it lying around.
3. If you make a mess, clean it up immediately! This is YOUR home, take care of it!
4. Turn off lights, water, radio, television when not using them.
5. Eat only in the Kitchen or dining room and wash your hands before eating and when returning from outside.
6. You will do your daily chores and your laundry on your day.
7. No TV, computer (unless homework) or video games during school days effective Sunday night to Friday after school.
8. Quiet time starts at 8pm Sunday through Thursday. Everyone has their own bedtime…Obey quiet time and bedtime.
9. Obey Mom and Dad when you are told to do anything.
10. When in doubt, ALWAYS ask permission from Mom or Dad!
~ Felix ~
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Bear with me…us, as we transition from three years of waiting, adopting, pleading, worrying, praying and dodging moratoriums to a life of raising our children and always being there for them. Well, we never will stop praying, right! Now that we are done adopting for the foreseeable future, the hard work begins! Teaching right from wrong, transitioning from institutionalized children to family life, setting rules of the family and the home, helping their teachers educate them and growing together.
Many have written that they would love to see a book or a made for Lifetime TV movie! Others have joked that they are stalkers and would watch a reality TV show about us. Sorry, a reality show would never happen. I'm not Jon and Heidi's not Kate...and we don't have eight, we are nine! Besides, you see where that led to, right? We are flattered, believe me, but all glory goes to God! Naturally, the posts will be fewer as we enjoy our time as a family. The blog may even draw to a close one day soon. We will just let things simmer and see where God takes this little story. If we have moved and inspired you, then this was all worth it and was His plan all along.
When Lizzie and I got home on Saturday, February 19th, it was nothing short of amazing! Friends and family were waiting for us at the double door exit of international customs. We were finally home, forever, for good! It took a couple of nights to get accustomed to the time difference and a few more days to get Lizzie fully enrolled in high school. We gave her Monday and Tuesday off, enrolled her on Wednesday, sent her to school on Thursday and Friday, then she had the weekend off again. Lizzie was able to attend two days of high school last August when she was home for 10 weeks, but she was still a little apprehensive about going to a new school with a different language and not knowing any friends there. Her sister, Jordan, helped her get acclimated and to find her classes. Lizzie is already bring home high A’s on a dozen papers I’ve seen from her ESL class! Three years ago when we asked Lizzie if she would like to be adopted by us, she got serious about learning English. The ten weeks here last summer paid off tremendously as well and the result is that her language acquisition quite advanced.
It’s still surreal to me to see Lizzie walking around the house, doing homework, getting ready for school, eating dinner with her family and just being present in the everyday life she should have been a part of since birth. I catch myself watching her move from room to room sometimes, sometimes she catches me too. I get that creepy old man feeling when she does. “Dad, why you look at me?” Sorry sweetie, no you’re not doing anything wrong! Dad is just in awe of God’s amazing power to do the impossible.
The words of her former government, her orphanage, her “caretakers” and even an American stateside adoption facilitator (whom we never used her services again) who all told us to quit…give up…you will never get her…we won’t let you have her…we will stand in your way…just choose some other kids…all come rushing back to when I have time for quiet reflection.
We aren’t seeking pats on the back, accolades, or idolization. It’s a bit unsettling and embarrassing to receive honors that should go to the Almighty. I fall short many times in my Christian walk of life, and I struggle a lot with God’s perfect plan. But if He uses Heidi and me to further His cause, to inspire you through us, to sweetly break you out of your comfort zone to do His will, so be it. I am happy to be used as His instrument.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
~ Felix ~
Friday, February 18, 2011
Just like last year, we will be traveling through Frankfurt enroute to Denver. See you at those double doors at the international gate exit!
~ Felix ~
~ Felix ~
Thursday, February 17, 2011
- Arrived exactly on time in Kiev by train
- Had the best train experience of my life, some shake, no Bake, got 8 hrs sleep!
- Immediately wisked away to the Consulate by the amazing Nadia P!
- Got there at 9:45 am, called inside to see if I could go in early.
- Did go in early, done in 30 minutes!
- Went to medical got a doc who waived a bunch of junk required of older teen girls!
- However, Lizzie did require a blood draw, X-ray and a Hep B shot
- Done in an hour!
- Embassy visa appointment scheduled for 2pm, tomorrow.
I see that Heidi has posted and checked our tickets. Really, nothing stands in our way of getting on that plane Saturday morning. Oops, for got I ordered borscht, too. It just arrived!
Bye until tomorrow!
~ Felix ~
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
The US Embassy scheduled an appointment for Felix and Lizzie at 10:30 AM Thursday, which in Ukraine time is only a few short hours from now, as I type this. So things are looking good for Lizzie's visa.
Also, Eldo successfully booked Felix and Lizzie to fly home on Saturday. They are scheduled to arrive at DIA at 3:45PM on Luftansa's flight #446 from Frankfurt. Hope to see you all there!
Please keep Clay and Selene in your prayers. They hit a major road block in their adoption of a 15 year old girl, after they spent a week bonding with and loving this child. Now they are back in Kiev trying to find a resolution. The dichotomy between the joy I'm feeling and and the pain they are enduring is hard to comprehend.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
As I said, we left bright and early to go to Kahovka, Lizzie's birthplace and home for her first seven years as a child. After an hour and a half ride by car, we arrived. At first it was dificult to find the correct office. In due time, it was located and within an hour, we had our new birth certificate complete with Heidi and me as parents and Lizzie's name changed to Elizabeth Rachel Rogé.
On the way into the city, Lizzie described to me her last memories of where she had lived. She told me it was a huge apartment complex right by the Dniper river. On the other side was a big road and the complex had it's own park. On the way out, she recognized the building and said here it is! It was just as she described it and yes, it was right on the bank of the Dniper, between the river and the main road. Nearby was a roundabout she tried to tell me about. We pulled over and snapped a few pictures. I explained to her that I was sad for her when she told me this was her former home. She explained, again wise beyond her years, that sometimes bad things have to happen so that good things will happen later. I paraphrase her broken English, but I understood what she was trying to tell me.
We got back to Kherson after another hour and a half's ride and immediately launched into the paperchase for the passport. Tanya advised me that there was a new law in Ukraine recently passed that said all new passports for children older than 14 required a police check in the old name and one in the new name. By law, this could take up to 10 days, but she would see what she could do. As she walked into the passport office, which by the way is right next to the police station, she saw a group of people having a meeting in the lobby. One of the persons was an old friend from her youth who she went to school with. He is now a higher-up in the police department. He tells her (and the passport people) to process our request for a passport and he will do the check right away. In other words, proceed! They do and he does! The whole thing took a couple of hours, but it got done! We might have a passport by 10am tomorrow. Glad we took those photos on Sunday!
The next bit of news had us running all over town again. The passport office said that there was another law concerning children over 14. Children have to sign an affidavit stating that they consent to leaving the country for adoption. Really? Lizzie rolled her eyes at this one as did Tanya...it was so funny! Lizzie exclaimed, "Yes, I want go to America three years now!" Nope, not good enough, gotta have the statement. So off to the Opulent Notary's office we go! This lady loves us, we've spent a few grivna in her place over the past two years! That took another two hours and we got the form back to the office before they closed.
About that time, my good friends Aleks and Vera Fedechuk from mission AGAPE called and asked us to come for dinner. Yeah! I agreed! Did I mentioned we had only a snack all day! This was a blessing and I didn't have the added hassle of finding a restaraunt. As usual, Vera outdid herself and I got to spend time with the kindest, sweetest couple I've met in Ukraine....aside from Andei's parents, of course! We stayed until 9:30 and Andei's parents brought us home. If you guys don't remember me writing about Andrei or his family, Andrei is the cool young man I hang out with here in Kherson. He speaks great English, having lived in the US for a number of years. His dad is a pastor and his mom, well she's a great cook and a sweet person, too. Andrei serves as my translator every evening, leaving Tanya my facilitator to do other things.
So, where does this leave us and where do we stand? Well, it all hinges on the passport. If we get it as promised tomorrow, Lizzie and I will be on the Wednesday evening train to Kiev. We will arrive in Kiev on Thursday morning and go to our initial Embassy appointment before lunch. Once that is done, the Embassy will send us for the medical exam, required immunizations and possible Xrays. On Friday we would return to do the Visa interview and approval. That would have us flying out on Saturday morning and arriving in Denver, sometime around 3:45pm that same day! Like I said, it all hinges on the passport.
Save your prayers for our Pastor, his wife, and the Ukrainian daughter they are trying to bring home. They have hit a birthday snafu and it could halt the adoption. They have an Embassy appointment at 2pm tomorrow to plead their case. It seems that the SDA has the daughter's birthday wrong and she is already older than 16 and doesn't meet the requirement of US law that allows orphans to be adopted if they are over 16 but younger than 18, provided they have younger siblings. They do have an out and I pray that it wins their argument. Please Lord, let this happen. I appreciate your blessing on Lizzie's adoption but please now turn your attention to them!
Monday, February 14, 2011
Even "Big Nick" the director was all smiles! He said some really sweet things about Lizzie, even before she was in the room. He said that this was a long and difficult process for her and her new family and he was happy for her. He said she suffered for eight years without a family and it was her time!
I glanced at my watch then at the camera. It is 3:45pm as I sign the release form and take custody of Lizzie.
Signing the four copies that are prepared for us. Signing with me is the Amazing Tanya! The orphanage lawyer stands behind us.
Nickolai makes it official and puts his state stamp to all the documents! Were are done! Lizzie is ours!
Moments later, Lizzie stands in front of the same doors she entered over 8 years ago! This time it's a different story, though. She is headed to a bright future and to her family that loves her dearly. How fitting and appropriate that it occurs on Valentines Day, 2011!
~ Felix ~
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Worst case, a few days added to get the normal passport would put us getting home in the middle of next week. The Embassy is closed on Monday the 21st for a holiday, so we would be doing that work on Tuesday and Wednesday. Even with that development, we will be Ok and experiencing a record adoption trip.
So pray for us and the passport situation. We will know for sure on Tuesday afternoon and I will blog about the time you are waking up on Tuesday morning!
~ Felix ~
Friday, February 11, 2011
I'm picking Lizzie up at 10am on Saturday and spending the whole day with her. Sunday, I will get her at 9am. Both nights, she has to be back by 6:30pm. I am pressing Tanya to spring her on Monday and I will know for sure on Sunday afternoon.
Meanwhile. Lizzie and I enjoyed a little father-daughter date. We went out to a new restaurant in Kherson called Lenin's. It was great! Best Greek salad in Kherson!
Thursday, February 10, 2011
The subtleties are around, scattered around much of Ukrainian life. The lingering effects of communism and Soviet-thinking are there if one looks for them. Sometimes they are blindingly evident...such as the need to deregister and reregister addresses when you move. This was a way for the Soviets to keep track of where everyone was and to keep tabs on them. If one moved to a new location back in the cold war, this was done, along with a long approval process to move in the first place. To this day, when we have adopted, we have had to accomplish this task. Another such occurrence is the inability for anyone to make a decision or sign-off on something. Their reasoning is that "it is not allowed" or "my supervisor must do that" when indeed, it is their job to accomplish said task. Heaven forbid if the supervisor is out on a one or two week vacation. That kind of news can stall an adoption quicker than a jackrabbit on a date!
But that's not what I'm writing about today. We haven't experienced any of that on this adoption. All is going smoothly. So what has my dander up you may ask. Nothing really, I'm so thankful to God for helping us and to you for praying for us! I just have an observation to note during this, day 7 of our 10 day wait.
We're talking apples and oranges here! No, not the quip about differences. Really...apples and oranges. Perhaps this discussion will bring forth your observations of how Soviet-thinking still permeates Ukrainian culture. Perhaps we will get some funny comments as well. Sorry, I digress...here's my story.
Two days ago, I was in a well known supermarket here in Kherson. In the produce section of all grocery stores stands a lady next to a scale. You select the fruits or vegetables you want, then you put them in a bag and take them to the lady where she weighs them, puts a bar code with the price on them, and hands them back to you. To us, it seems a ridiculous task to have a person do this when in the US we all have it weighed and priced at the register. But OK, when in Rome! But what if you change your mind, what if you want more or less. What if! Enter my dilemna.
My first selection was Navel oranges. Not knowing why there was two prices on everything, I proceeded to the scale-lady (which she will be known as from this point) to get my selection priced. Once it was done, my young translator friend proceeded to explain to me that the lower price was if I bought 2 or more kilos of fruit. So, I opened the bag, ripped off the bar code and reached for another orange to put me over 2kg. Well, you would have thought I committed treason. Oh, the drama that ensued! Further ranting in Russian occurred when I used an unmanned scale to see if I was over 2kg! Thankfully, I wasn't arrested! But, I did catch the attention of everyone in the produce section. I was the "Stupid Americanski" who wasn't following the fruit rules!
My second selection, which brings me to the main focus of my story, involved some of the most beautiful apples I have ever seen in Ukraine. Now I admit, I'm an apple snob! My apples have to be "just so" for me to eat them. My favorite apples are the small Gala apples that taste like sugar and are so crisp that they snap when you bite into them! I prefer them chilled and fresh off the tree. I'm passionate about Gala apples! I won't eat any other apple! Also, I can't stand a mushy apple, you might as well have shoveled dirt in my mouth, yuck! So, when I saw these apples at the supermarket...in all their perfect "Felix-required" awesomeness, I had to have them! There they were, in the biggest pile right in the center of the produce section in all their splendor! Right next to this pile of beautiful apples was about 3kg of older bruised apples of the same type. I put my best of the best selections in the supermarket approved fruit bag and proceeded to scale-lady. What happened next was bewildering to me!
The produce crowd had dissipated due to the fact that they all wanted to get away from the "Stupid Americanski" without the knowledge of produce protocol. So it was just me and scale-lady. She said something, which of course, I didn't understand and I just stood there. Then she walked away! "Huh, what? Where are you going?" For five minutes I stood there, I think I scratched my head several times, checked out my apples due to the fact they must be full of worms or something, and waited for her to return. When she did, I received another scolding. Let me tell you, people were now avoiding me and the produce section like we were a nuclear reactor at Chernobyl. Just about that time, my translator friend showed back up and he proceeded to tell me the reason for all the angst.
They wouldn't sell the apples to me because they had not been priced by the person who set them out on the previous shift and they wanted the old apples sold first! "Huh, WHAT!!" Here, in the middle of the produce section, was the biggest pile of the most perfect apples ever seen and no one was buying them, because THEY WERE NOT PRICED and you want to SELL the 3kg of old apples first!! YOU'RE KIDDING ME RIGHT? Also, unless the market fluctuates drastically, aren't they the same price as the old apples? I stood there for another five minutes trying to reason with the thinking of scale-lady. I tried another five minutes to buy those apples to no avail. Visions of the soup Nazi from Seinfeld came to mind, "NO APPLES FOR YOU"!
To make matters worse, I went to the same store the next day (yesterday) in hopes of buying those beloved apples. Guess what, all but 5kg of the most ugly, bruised and spotted ones were gone. Seems word got out in the neighborhood that the apples had been priced and the "Stupid Americanski" had left! Last night I dreamt of dancing Gala apples laughing at me, they were singing, "Stupid Amercanski"!
~ Felix ~
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
- Mahatma Gandhi
That quote sums up the entire experience in getting Lizzie home and in our family. I'm reminded daily, everytime I look into her eyes, that this was not suppose to happen. In fact, we were told that it would never happen and that people would stand in the way to make it not happen. Like I said with Rimma's adoption...GLAD WE DIDN"T LISTEN!! Rather, we prayed, pushed forth and followed God's Plan for Lizzie and us. Truth is, a lot of events fell into place one by one to be here now. Events so insurmaountable, that I truely believe that prayer and God's hand in all of this, made it possible.
1.) Her records were a mess and no true record exists before 2008, when we started the work
2.) Her mother's rights were never terminated, she was abandoned at the orphanage over 8 years ago
3.) We later found her mother in prison. In Ukraine, this means that a prisoner's rights to their child can NEVER be terminated while they are in prison. We felt for sure that Lizzie would never be adoptable during her mother's sentence, which could have been years.
4.) Miraculously, Lizzie's mother gets out of prison, but no work was getting done on the termination of rights.
5.) We traveled to Ukraine 4 times (2 adoption trips included) to plea for Lizzie's case.
6.) Team Oleg gets her documents in order and gets the courts to terminate the mother's rights
7.) Lizzie undergoes the 1 year wait for international adoption for the only family in her life and the ones she loves.
8.) 2010 and 2011 seem to be the years for record moratorium votes. She and we survive no less than 5 votes during this timeframe.
Now we are here, our court date is behind us, we are in the 10 day wait with 5 days to go, and we are having a record adoption...hoping to be out in under 4 weeks. I spend every evening with Lizzie and catch her waiting in the window for me as I arrive. It warms my heart! As I was looking at her today, I remarked on how much, but yet how little she has changed over the last three years. Take a look, tell me if you see a big change. She certainly is a happy child now. Everyone at the orphanage says that since we entered her life, she has been very "glowing". I call it "Incandescently Happy", like Jane Austin says at the end of Pride & Prejudice. Just so happens, the happy girl in that book/movie is named Lizzie, too!
This is a photo that our friend Angie took of Lizzie during the 2007 UOO camp. It was our first in-person contact with her and I knew at day one, she would be our daughter.
Unable to rest and worried sick about Lizzie and Rimma, we took a fact-finding and mission trip to Ukraine in April of 2008. We snapped this photo right outside her orphanage that Spring of 2008. This was our second in-person contact with her.
During our adoption in November of 2008, we took a few days of from our duties and traveled to see her for her 13th birthday. Here she holds a cake and candle while we all sing to her. This was our third in-person contact.
We made a pledge to the girls to come see them at least once a year until we got them home. For three years, our only "vacations" were to Ukraine for them. We decided to come on Rimma's September birthday in 2009. Here, Lizzie is approaching 14. This is our fourth in-person contact.
In January 2010, we came for Rimma since she was the first registered. Lizzie and others hinted that we needed to come get Rimma out and soon due to the notice she was creating. We made the hard decision to do so and in March 2010, I had to leave Lizzie behind. She had become registered for adoption, but her 1 year international clock had just started. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do when I pushed her away from me, crying, into the arms of her caretaker the night Rimma and I left the orphanage to go home. This photo was snapped the day before and you can see the sadness in her expression. Our fifth in-person contact.
Seeing Lizzie so distraught and worrying that a year would be too long for her without her family, we pushed really hard to have her come home to Colorado instead of us traveling to Ukraine. We reasoned that it would break the wait up in half and would help lift her spirits. We had been turned down the previous two sumers by the orphanage director, so this was a long shot. Finally, his familiarity with us, the fact that we adopted Rimma, and bringing Vika and a chaperone led to his decision to let her come home for 10 weeks. It was a wonderful time and her English skills exploded! It was hard to send her back again, but we all said "she was going away for 6 months of boarding school, then coming back home for good"! This photo was taken in the summer of 2010, our sixth in-person contact.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
So what do you do with all that free time on a Saturday? Why, have a father-daughter date and go shopping for new boots and a jacket of course! We brought along friends, Sasha and Vika too! Lunch was at Cafe Monia for pizza, followed by shopping at the bizzare, then a couple of hours of ice skating. Dear 'ole Dad sat on the sidelines and read a book. I like to keep my bones unbroken, thank you.
Until next time...enjoy the Lizzie fashion show!
~ Felix ~