Hoping to someday find M's brother adopted in the U.S. -
Myckola Oleksandrovych Markov - 8/26/2003

Monday, April 23, 2018


We hand delivered our dossier to the Secretary of the Commonwealth for apostilles today. Policy is that for more than 20 items, you have to come back the next day. We had 42 and were fully prepared to come back tomorrow to pick them up.
The lady at the desk said, I can have them done today by 3pm and I’ll call you if they’re done earlier. 
So we stayed in Richmond and ate an early lunch, went to Once Upon a Child for a few second hand clothes and hung out outside a bit. I overnighted our documents needing Florida apostilles at a Fedex location. 

At 2pm we got a call that they were done!

$225 later - our dossier is 98% complete.

We are waiting on apostilles from our documents coming from Florida and we are waiting on our immigration clearance from USCIS.

Monday, April 16, 2018


I have been working on prepping our dossier documents. All sorts of personal information has to go into each one. Passport info, DOB, address, phone, etc.

I printed them all off today so we could get them notarized. We had to take our passports to a pack and ship place to get copies of our passports made because our printer is just not acting right. So we paid for those and went right to the bank to sign our names 292003 times.

I'm scanning those documents now to send to our facilitator in Ukraine to make sure they're ok before sending them to be apostiled in Richmond. There are a few I'm concerned about because Ukraine doesn't want a smudge or scratch out or mis-stroke anywhere on anything as they view it as potentially forged. Clearly we don't want to have any issues with our documents so we're being incredibly meticulous and careful. I've done this before so I know what to look for! 

Homestudy oops...

I found a typo on our homestudy yesterday as I was prepping documents for apostiles. I of course immediately sent out urgent emails to everyone involved so we could get this fixed ASAP.

I called USCIS this morning to ask if we could send just the updated page or needed to send another whole homestudy. The lady said, "Oh this was just a typo. We probably wouldn't have seen it." Umm ok. Its a BIG DEAL typo. Anyways, we can send just the page. Its being mailed from our social worker today, and shouldn't delay anything!

I've printed off our dossier documents and we're going to try to have them notarized today at the bank. Our printer has caught the devil and is refusing to make a decent copy of our passports so we're heading to my dad's to use his copier. We need FOUR notarized copies of each of our passports.

The authentications office called me this morning. They received my authentication request for our FBI clearances, but I didn't select a country of use on their form (it was incredibly vague and confusing). That was easily taken care of though, and its being authenticated today then mailed back to us! Another dossier document nearly complete.

Please continue to share our fundraising links. We haven't had a donation in a while and we still have quite a bit to raise.
Time is ticking down.
Thanks for your support.

Please share our fundraising links.

Monday, April 9, 2018


The kids’ driver was late this morning and its dumping snow on April 9th, but we’re on our way to Alexandria to get fingerprinted at USCIS. 4 hr round trip here we go. 

Monday, April 2, 2018


Our homestudy is complete, approved, and off to USCIS!
We already received our fingerprint appointments! April 10! 
We completed our homestudy in under two mo nths. That’s really amazing considering most people take 6-8 months. I was absolutely dreading all of the paperwork because its a crushing amount! But we slammed it out. I’m pretty friggen good at paperwork now.
Practice makes perfect 😂

Y’s best friend is being adopted now (and siblings) so her family is there at the orphanage. I’ve gotten some cute photos of Y lately. She and her friend are apparently planning how to remain in touch once they’re both here in the US. Her friend will be in Kansas which is a long way, but not as far as Ukraine!

We are doing well with our fundraising. We re-raised the matching grant amount amd paid our supervising agency. Fortunately they were understanding of our situation and it did not delay our paperwork. 

We still need to raise between $8-10K for flights, facilitator fees, lodging, travel, food. I know it will come. We started off with nothing and here we are just a few months later with US fees paid, sitting pretty waiting on Immigration approval. 

We are nearly done with our dossier documents. We got the medicals done (allelujah!) the first time. I mailed our FBI prints off last week. We have a few more documemts hanging out there but we are actually quite close to being done. (What!?)

Things just need to be notarized and apostilled before they’re sent to Ukraine!

Please continue to share our fundraising links. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Fundraising Plea

Oh the ups and downs up adoption.

We were approached by someone who wanted to sponsor a matching grant for us a few months ago. We gladly accepted and raised the amount in record time. The money we raised paid our home study fees and the matching $2500 grant was to pay our supervising agency fees. We found out today that the sponsor has been unable to donate the $2500 to our supervising agency due to an emergency issue with one of their children. While we completely understand that this was an unforeseen issue, and do not fault them for their decision, we have been left $2500 short at a time when we need to pay this fee immediately or hold up our process.

So - we are asking for our friends to rally around and share our fundraiser until we are able to make up the $2500. Y turns 16 very soon and we wanted to submit before that date.

Please share our video.

Please share our fundraising links.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Dossier Time

We had our final homestudy visit yesterday, and are down to the Ukrainian dossier documents. We have some. Others are fairly simple to obtain. The home ownership letter, employment verification letter and medical forms are in the process of being completed. We need to schedule another FBI fingerprint appointment. Hoping to wrap this show up in another three weeks or so and take all notarized documents to Richmond to be apostilled. The last document we get should be immigration approval from USCIS (golden ticket) to submit our dossier to the adoption authority in Ukraine.

This also means our next round of fees will be due soon.
$6500 is left to fundraise and airfare for 3 round trip flights as well as transportation and lodging in Ukraine. 
Use friends and family to donate with no fees 💕

She misses us. We miss her.
Going as fast as we can...

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Progress, slow but steady

We received another dossier document today from the Ukrainian Consulate. We are required to register our adopted children and provide reports on their progress and well-being once a year for 3 three years and then once a year after that until they turn 18.
To adopt again, parents must prove they did this. I requested a letter last week stating we registered and provided reports for our kids. I was delighted to receive it today!

We continue to fundraise. 
We still need roughly $9500.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

An Update

We are continuing to plug away at paperwork. We had to reschedule our home study visits from next week to the following week due to a medical issue our social worker is experiencing. Honestly, that's been our first setback and in adoptions there always are some. We are hoping this doesn't delay the completion of our home study. We have done the paperwork for it, we are just waiting on the visits and the updated writeup.

Phillip has his medical forms appointment next week and that will wrap up the medicals. I have already had all seven of the children's medicals completed. Those seven appointments were honestly causing me the most stress out of any of the paperwork, so I am relived to have them done, as well as mine. I took four kids after their half day of school last Friday and spent 90 minutes getting the forms done. It was long and I hate exposing everyone to germs, but we did hand sanitizer and Elderberry syrup and everyone has been fine.

Dogs have been vaccinated. FBI fingerprints have been sent off. Driving records have been requested. Marriage certificates have been obtained...

We have officially started on our dossier documents as well. We are hoping to have the hot mess that is adoption paperwork come to a beautiful conclusion at the same time with our home study being approved and our dossier paperwork being completed at the same time. Having done this twice before I know that this sounds easy but is not actually likely! I'm going to try anyways.

We still have a good portion to fundraise. $6500 in facilitator fees, and then flights, accommodations, and lodging for three trips. We are about halfway there!

You can donate to any of our fundraising sites.

ONE MISSION has a donate option at the bottom of the page and charges us no fees..

ADOPT TOGETHER is an IRS approved 501 (3) c organization, however they do take 5%.

PAYPAL - donate directly to us with no fee using friends and family option. This gives us instant access to the money for fees. We have a separate bank account we're using for adoption funds.

We'll leave it up to our supporters to decide how they would rather donate towards bringing Y home!

Please SHARE this post to help share our story or use the links on our profile to share our AdoptTogether fundraiser on LinkedIn, FB, Pinterest, Twitter, G+, and email.

Sharing our story is a huge help that we cannot do without our friends. The more exposure, the more chances people have to see our story, and you just never know who might donate.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


We received confirmation our I600a was logged. We officially stopped the clock for Y and have extra time to complete her adoption after she turns 16. 

We also met our matching grant!
Thank you so much to those who donated! Our US fees are paid!

We are onto fundraising for facilitator fees, embassy fees and flights/accommodations for three trips.

We get to video chat sometimes so that’s nice. We know she’s doing ok.

Please continue to share our fundraising post a bit farther down. We still have a ways to go.

Donate Via Paypal to our adoption fund.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Its off

We mailed our I600a off with its required fees today. We went back and forth a few times on waiting for our homestudy to be completed to file with it, but since Y turns 16 soon, and our homestudy won't be ready for 2 months, we decided to just file it now and ensure our filing date is well before the deadline. 

Our facilitator in Ukraine asked us if we can be there before summer. Well I don't know, but we are going to assemble this dossier as fast as possible and pray we get there sooner rather than later. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Matching Grant!

We have been given an amazing opportunity by a sweet friend to raise up to $5000 with a $2500 matching grant. This would be amazing because it will pay nearly all of our agency fees for the US side of things.

We have until February 23rd to raise the money. From now until then, every dollar given equals two!

You can donate to either of our fundraising sites.

ONE MISSION has a donate option at the bottom of the page and charges us no fees..

ADOPT TOGETHER is an IRS approved 501 (3) c organization, however they do take 5%.

PAYPAL - donate directly to us with no fee using friends and family option. This gives us instant access to the money for fees. 

We'll leave it up to our supporters to decide how they would rather donate towards bringing Y home!

Please SHARE this post every day to help us reach our goal of raising $2500 by February 23rd!

Use the links on our profile to Share our AdoptTogether fundraiser on LinkedIn, FB, Pinterest, Twitter, G+, and email. Sharing our story is a huge help that we cannot do without our friends. The more exposure, the more chances people have to see our story, and you just never know who might donate.

We appreciate every share, like, and donation. We especially appreciate our friends who have been in the trenches of fundraising, adoption, loss, and therapy with us, and are such an example of unconditional love. THANK YOU FRIENDS

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

How to Help Us Bring Y Home

Last time we adopted, we fundraised the entire amount. We had to. We have enough money to take care of our family expenses, but we don't have extra money laying around at the end of every paycheck.

Money has been particularly tight since we have been homeschooling the kids and paying for all special education curriculum, therapy, equipment, subscriptions, and supplies out of pocket. We are so happy about private placement for D, V, E, and M because this has greatly reduced our financial strain.

AdoptTogether was an amazing resource for us to fundraise with four years ago when we adopted our boys, so we are using them again.

Click Here to Donate via AdoptTogether
All donations are tax deductible.

Our immediate need is to have our homestudy completed as soon as possible because due to Y's age we need to file an I600a before her 16th birthday in a few months, but try to have the adoption completed within 180 days after approval. That's really pushing things! The homestudy requires a $300 application fee, $1300 homestudy fee (2 visits), and 3 post placements visits ($900) to be paid in full before our homestudy will be released to us to file with USCIS (immigration).

I have created a fundraiser for our most urgent fees that ends in 30 days. 

Our supervising agency requires $250 application fee, and a $2500 supervising fee (international requirements and coordination) before we can submit our dossier.

We already raised the $775 for USCIS and $85 x 2 for biometrics (finger prints).

We'll have CPS clearances, state police clearances, and driving records checked all with fairly nominal fees.

I have to get medical forms completed, marriage and birth certificates, and we have to buy a license for each of our dogs. (Yes I know)

We have to do all of this in record time.

We are also planning to rehost Y this summer from June-August because she has been so distraught at having to go back to the orphanage and begging to come home for summer. Those fees are $3k. We won't leave her there just because she'll eventually come home for good. She msgs every day saying she misses us. We'll do whatever we can to have her here while we finish up paperwork.

Please share our post. Ask your friends to share. Share with your church or community group. We need a lot of support in a small amount of time, and we are doing this more alone than ever before. We are really under a significant time crunch!

Click Here to Donate

Friday, January 19, 2018

I told myself not to

I told myself not to fall in love. I set my mind against it. We were just hosting. It was just four weeks. We were not comitting to anything beyond being a host family. Y said she just wanted to visit America, not be adopted

I think she did the same thing. 
"I won't fall in love."
Abandonment has already been part of her life. She had a host family over the summer that she didn't connect well with. She told me "They a little bit no like me." She was scared we wouldn't either. I was scared to like her because I know how much it hurts to love and then have to let go. 

But somewhere in the four weeks she was here it happened, mostly by accident. It was like she had always been here. It wasn't weird or difficult. It was like she belonged. The kids felt it. I felt it. My husband felt it. She must have felt it too because she shocked our socks off when she said she loved us and wanted to stay forever.

We started to try to think about it but were surprised to find our minds already made up. 

Of course she's yours so go get her already.

We raised $1000 in one day so we could file our I600a. Her 16th birthday is soon and we have to file that form before then to assure she will be given a visa after the adoption is complete in Ukraine. 

I don't know when we went from "only hosting" to adopting again. I just know that my girl is sad, lonely and asking for me to come get her "for forever" at least 10 times a day. 

We plan to re-host her for summer since its for 12 weeks from June-August. She can be here while we finish the paperwork process, and hopefully we can get her soon after. 

I never in a million years thought we'd be doing this again 🤣

Thanks for following along (again)!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Red Threads

They call them Red Threads. The idea that some people are inexplicably connected to each other no matter the distance.

There is no other term I've found that describes what I am feeling right now.

We landed in Ukraine for the first time on Nov 14, 2010. We finalized M's adoption in December 2010.

After hosting our boys 3 times in 2012 and 2013, we flew to Ukraine to adopt them. We had court in October 2013 and flew home on November 14, 2013 - three years to the day from when we flew to Ukraine for M.

V2 came to us for backup hosting over the summer. We realized once he was here that he was from the same orphanage my boys were at. What is that called? I'd been where he had, but before he was there. 

Once his grandma took him from the orphanage, Y asked to come instead. We questioned it, but thought again, the ties were so strong. How was this coincidence? We didn't seek this. She found us.
So we hosted her.

While hosting Y she shared some personal details with us. She was placed in the orphanage in October 2015, 2 years almost to the day we had court for our boys.

It felt so familiar with her here. Like I already knew her because I had been where she lives. I sat in her grouppa. I went inside of her school. I walked where she walks now. I went to all of the same places, but before she was even there.

What is that?

I don't know, but this is the closest I can come.

So what does that mean for us? For her?

She shared that she wants to stay forever, yet she had to leave today. 


I decided with my boys that since there was no way we could possibly even begin to afford their adoption, I'd leave it up to God. So I set up a fundraiser with the knowledge we couldn't write the first check for the first fee without donations.

We raised $33K in 6 months.

So our current plan is to fundraise to rehost Y. 
If God has other plans, well we're waiting.

We are planning to file an I600 asap due to her age. 
Fees are $775.
We have raised $336 as of this afternoon.

Friday, January 12, 2018

They said she'd never

When we adopted M the doctors at UVA said she'd never walk independently. And so matter of factly. "She'll never." I think the both of us took that as a challange rather than truth. We left a bit angry, and I told M we were never going back.

M has always said "I wish I was like everyone else." And I've always said "You are. You might have to work harder at some things but that does not mean you are not like everyone else." 

And I have never treated her differently. She wanted a bounce house party for her 7th birthday. I got it. 

She wants to swim, so I snap a life jacket and goggles on her then let her go as deep as she wants at the lake, river, and pool.

She wanted to ride bikes with her brothers. I applied for a grant for an adaptive one.

She wanted to play on the playground equipment so I have always let her despite dirty looks and well intentioned interference from concerned adults and teachers. 

We've done PT, OT, a study group called The Preemie Growth Project, and most recently neuroenergetic therapy. 

I can say I have sat and cried at the judgement many days, but I do not for one second regret letting her have her freedom to choose what to do with her body, and expecting her to rise to the occasion.

The last day

Every host family starts off with some fear.
What if its awful?
What if we can't afford it?
What if our Christmas/summer/holiday is ruined because of a child's inability to acclimate? 

What if....

We have experienced all of those and then some. For the most part, those are legitiment fears that many will see realized at some point. However, even at the end of our most difficult hostings, we've felt it was worth it.

Which is why when its perfect, it hurts that much more when its over.

Y goes back to Ukraine tomorrow. Everyone wants to cry, so we took the kids to a trampoline park and out to dinner to distract from what's coming tomorrow.

Tomorrow will be hard. Everyone is acutely aware of what she's going back to. No one more than her.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Happy Family Day M!

Celebrating the day 7 years ago that 4yr old M became an American citizen and met her brothers.

As always, chips! For the orphanage director who told us not to feed her any fried food 🙄
The 24lb 4 year old decided right off that fried was the way to go so we celebrate the ending of her "special diet" every year. 

This year I found Kinder Surprise Eggs! We used to bring one every day to the orphanage when we visited. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Private Placement

After two years of homeschooling, I requested that D, V, M, and E have neuropsych evals done again.

I knew that homeschooling was going well, and emotionally the kids were at the best they'd ever been. But the academics were still a struggle. Sure we'd seen some great gains, particularly with D and V in math and M in reading, but they are still nowhere near grade level.

I had many people tell me to just accept them for who and what they are and do the best I could at home, but I truly felt the best I could do was to go back at it with the special ed department.

I aquired a new advocate from a few counties over. She is fierce. Unlike my other advocates and lawyers, she never once told me to "play nice" and work with the team. No she realized the "team" screwed my kids for years and she came to end their game.

I enjoyed the hell out of my last IEP meeting. Truly it was validating and can I even saying healing to have someone so solidly defending me and fighting for my kids.

We walked out with private placement for all four. Yes. My kids are all going to private school for kids with learning disabilities at the school district's expense. As my advocate explained to them, this is their obligation for denying them an education for seven years (for Mariah) and four years for my boys. She was ready to file Due Process that same day if they denied us that...and they tried. But ultimately we prevailed and my kids finally will get what has been their right all along - a place that provides specialized education for their disabilities.  

They start Jan 16 and after a trial day at their new school before Christmas, are so excited! 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Long Story Short

To summarize a lot in a relatively "short" post I'll keep the updates to the point.

We are hosting again!
V2 went back to Ukraine in August. An older girl from his orphanage found me on FB and allowed him to use her phone and call us on FB. It was nice to get to see him and know he was doing ok.
We decided to host him again for Christmas. We just couldn't see leaving him in the orphanage and we felt we had the time to fundraise the host fees. So, we started fundraising and did the paperwork.
We got a message from Ukraine one morning that said "V2 is gone. Grandma took him to her house."
And that was apparently what happened. The sweet girl that let him use her phone had managed to take a short video of him saying goodbye. I still have it and it rips my heart out, but I truly hope that was for the best.

We just weren't sure what it all meant. He was dropped in our laps for summer hosting when we weren't even looking. I had a "What's up with this God?" moment.
Then the girl started messaging me just to say hi.
Then she asked if we were still going to host a child.
Then she asked if we could host her.
Apparently V2 talked us up and we were "The cool family" at the orphanage.
I really wasn't sure. She's 15. We have NEVER had a teen girl.

But I asked the host director if she could come and got a "YES! She's awesome!"
We thought about it and hemmed and hawed and got scared and almost said NO, then said YES.

So.... to summarize we ARE hosting her now.

We fundraised and fundraised and didn't make the full amount (by a lot), so we took out a loan to pay for the rest of her host fees.

Meet "Y."
We picked her up on December 16 at Dulles.

She has been the sweetest kid. We have hosted 4 previous times and have never had a child assimilate so easily. We were asked to be a backup host for V2 because it was well known we've had significant challenges with some of our kids, and we had some with him. Summer was exhausting!

Y has been just sweet and kind to my girls and surprisingly dishes it out to my boys, which I find amusing. She has braided Little E's hair, painted M's nails, roughhoused with my boys, and helped me cook. She asked me to buy her a... wait for it... word search book. I just love her.

My heart is full right now. I can't even think about sending her back without starting to cry. No one tells you it gets harder each time. No one tells you that no matter what happens to them, you'll forever feel that you have another child. But I guess that's what they need. Kids need someone to love them so much they can't bear to watch them go.

I hope to update more on our amazing news with school for four of our other kiddos, but I'll save that for another post. We've been enjoying our time with "Y." While summer was difficult and extremely challenging for every member of our family with V2, everyone has declared this the "Best Christmas EVER" with Y because "she just makes everyone happy."

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

(Backup) Hosting...Again!

We were asked to be a backup host family. We weren't even considering it, but we saw his face...

Meet V2 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Ella Grace

My friend Karrie and her husband are adopting a little girl from Eastern Europe with a genetic skin condition. They're currently fundraising to cover the adoption fees and medical supplies necessary to go get Ella Grace. I'm challenging my blog readers and everyone on my friend's list to donate to their fund. 

I'm matching every dollar donated this week (5/20 - 5/27) up to $500.

Karrie helped us spread the word on Facebook and challenged her friends to donate to us so we could bring our boys home over 3 years ago. I appreciated her support so much at the time, and have never forgotten what it felt like to have a friend so solidly in our corner. 

Help me give back just a little and give a little girl a family. Ella desperately needs to come home where her new family can properly care for her skin. She has EB which causes blisters and wounds on her skin from the slightest friction and touch. Karrie and her family have a biological daughter with EB and two boys with EB whom they adopted from Ukraine.

Monday, May 1, 2017


Check out M doing a backflip at gymnastics!

Last weeks was also her third anniversary of SPML surgery with Dr. Nuzzo in NJ! 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


My boys love to build their own LEGO creations. We submitted the best one to the official LEGO site and it was approved! If it gets enough votes, it will be considered for production.  

The boys are so excited with each vote it receives.

The Wash Plant needs 80 more votes in the next 40 days in order to earn more time to reach the 10,000 votes it needs to be considered.


(You will need to make a LEGO profile)


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Adaptive Bike!

I applied for a grant to get M an adaptive bike. She was approved a few weeks ago and her bike arrived last week! 

She has been SO excited to ride. Words cannot express how much she loves this bike or how thankfuk we are to Wheels On The James for providing the grant!


Sunday, February 26, 2017

SMOs for Ballet

M has carbon fiber AFOs with a chipmunk insert.

She does ballet and gymnastics and complains of foot pain and her legs being really tired when she goes barefoot. 

So we had an appointment to discuss options for balerinas and gymnasts.


We are going to try an SMO or custom lift so she can have more freedom of movement without sacrificing good foot support.

M is so determined! As her mama I am determined to help her do whatever it is she is determine to do!





If you want to read more about what a determined kid she is, don't forget to buy her book on Amazon!



Saturday, February 11, 2017

E's finger Update

E had an injury to his finger prior to coming to the orphanage. It was badly scarred and mishapen but the Dr. at the international adoption clinic didn't seem concerned. She gave us fungus cream and said "the nail might fall off."

Well a few months ago E cut that same finger chopping apples and I took him for stitches. The dr at urgent care said his finger obviously had a bigger issue, so we were referred toa hand  surgeon. 

Two days later we had xrays and saw the bones in his finger were in two pieces. We scheduled  reconstructive surgery for December. 

Surgery went great and a pin was placed to hold the bone graft from his wrist. All was healing nicely till V smashed into it goofing around. E's finger was infected the next day and abscessed. After two weeks of antibiotics, the pin had to be removed. 

The infection is gone now but the bones couldn't heal well so he is going to be receiving a bone stimulator to use every day!

Hopefully my littpe guy will be as good as new by summer. He's had to be careful and not allowed to ride bikes or jump on the trampoline until he's healed up.  



We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life; but those who make their journey home across time and miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them,are carried on the wings of destiny; and placed among us by God's very own hands. --Kristi Larson