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

Monday, November 28, 2011


In honor of the Hoos finding a High School team to take their place this weekend, Mariah is sporting a Hokie shirt this morning .  

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The day we found her.

November 22, 2010 was our 2nd SDA appointment. We approached it with a lot of apprehension as it was our 2nd appointment and we had just spent the previous week grieving at how our plans had ended from the 1st appointment. As it turned out, the child that we met the previous week from our 1st appointment and did not adopt, was adopted by another family not long afterwards.

That did a lot to ease the pain and the wondering "Why?" When we met her, it had been made so obvious to us that she was not the child God had intended for us. I'm not even sure how we both knew that; but for so many reasons, we just did and it was an awful, horrible, sinking, feeling if for no other reason than we thought she was meant to be ours and we had never thought it would be any other way. But she was meant for another family. I don't know why we had to walk that road... but I know that if we had not, we would not have Mariah.

We waited an anxious extra week in Kiev to have our 2nd appointment. The day dawned rainy and cold, so unlike our previous appointment. As it would turn out, the bad weather followed us for every significant day of our adoption journey!

When we walked into the SDA building for a second time, I was so nervous. We walked upstairs to a back room with a wrap around sofa (yes in Ukraine!) We had a different psychologist this time. She looked no older than me and while I was pretty sure she spoke English, she did not with us. We showed her our picture book of our family, heard the now infamous line of "such a young couple!" and started to look through the files she had for us.

It became obvious that something was up. Our translator seemed really miffed and mumbled something about having seen all these files many times before. She said something in Russian to the girl several times but got "Nyet."

We started looking at names, "Christina, Elena, Katarina." All of the children in the files had significant medical problems. Our translator kept saying "invalid" "invalid." I was nearly in tears. All of those children deserved homes, but the significance of their medical and mental problems was more than we were approved for in our paperwork. We kept coming back to one file though. It had a picture of a chubby cheeked baby girl with a crossed eye on the front. The more recent photo of her was awful. It showed her standing up on her toes at a tiny ball pit. It was grainy and blurry but we could see that she was in a dress and had very short blonde hair. Her name was Katarina. We didn't actually ask about her. The psychologist saw that we kept looking at and grabbed it from us. She went to the next room and called the orphanage that Katarina was at and asked to talk to the director about her. She spent 20 minutes of our allotted hour on the phone. She got off and came back. She started talking about this girl. She said that the director said she was a very good girl, she liked to dress up in pretty dresses and clothes, she was potty trained, she obeyed well and played with the other children. She did have cerebral palsy but she got around ok. She also said that she had a slight mental delay and a slight speech delay (I laugh at this now).

I begged God silently "PLEASE just give us a sign what to do??!"

I noticed a date on her paperwork that said "5/11/08." It jumped out at me because that is Wyatt's birthday. Now I know that in Ukraine the date wasn't May 11th, it was November 5th but THAT was how I'd write Wyatt's birthday. That date did it for me. I KNEW that I KNEW that God was telling me "Its ok, she's yours."

Then the psychologist told our translator that our time was up. We had to decide. This girl, or no child. So we looked at each other and I think we both knew what the other was thinking, "We didn't pick her, God picked us."  We really had only one choice.

We accepted Katarina's referral.

When we walked out of the SDA building our facilitator was waiting and he asked how it went. Our translator told him something (obviously that this child had cerebral palsy) and he asked us in a concerned voice, "Are you sure about this child?" We weren't really! But I just had this dazed sort of peace about it. I said "yes" we want to go see her.

So we started a blur of paperwork. We had to get MORE things notarized ( this can be quite the waiting process in Ukraine), we went to a post office to do something with our translator (love how we did things that we didn't know what it was, but we handed over cash and signed the line!) we had to buy train tickets to Kharkiv where Katarina was and we had to wait for a whole day before we could pick her her referral and go see her.

The next day at 4pm we met outside the SDA with our facilitator and a bunch of other couples who were picking up referrals. Around 5:30pm I think, we got our file finally and headed to the train station. Our translator came with us and let me just say that she walked FAST! We had about 100lbs of luggage and she had a purse! We finally made it to our train and found our car. She showed us our cabin that had two other people in it (the tickets were almost sold out). We had the top bunks and there was a young man with a laptop and an old man with the most hideous cough I've ever heard in my life.

It was HOT on that train and we stopped every hour it seemed to let people off or let people on. The old man coughed and coughed and coughed. I hid my face in the sheets and hoped he didn't have something that was contagious. I pressed my face against the cold glass for some relief from the heat that no one else seemed to mind!

We rode the train all night long.  No sleep. At.all. We arrived in Kharkiv about 6am and got off. Our translator set out to find a driver to take us to the office where the lady in charge of the orphanage was. It opened at 8am...we thought. So we went to McDonalds (Yes in Kharkiv!) and got some breakfast. I'd had NO sleep, my stomach was churning and I managed to order what I hate. An egg McMuffin. Blech.

I should mention that our translator's sister had JUST had a miscarriage two days earlier. She was a mess. She kept crying... I felt so bad for her.  Adoption is emotionally draining in a way I never thought possible, and this just added to my emotions.  I felt SO bad for her!

We went to the office to wait for the lady we needed to show up. 8am rolled around... no lady. Our translator went into the building to check. They open at 9am. Yay, more waiting. If you adopt from Ukraine, you should practice w.a.i.t.i.n.g. Oh and by the way...it was now raining.

FINALLY the lady showed up. Our translator talked to this lady in her office f.o.r.e.v.e.r while we waiting in the hallway. I could hear them nearly shouting and wondered what in the world they were saying?? It sounded like fighting almost, but I really don't know. Ukrainians are very vocal sometimes.

When they emerged, all seemed well enough except that it was obvious our translator had been crying again, but we piled into the car to go to the orphanage. We drove through Kharkiv city and down a street that had a Billa grocery store at it. Then we turned onto a "street" that had potholes bigger than our car. Seriously, we bottemed out and I was thinking "Great, we're stuck in a pothole. How is this even possible!?" In Ukraine this is normal.  So probably would be getting out in knee deep water to shove a car out of the pothole while traffic zooms around you, but the driver revved the engine and we catipulted out of the hole onto the mixture of pavement and mud. My head hit the roof. No one else batted an eye!

When we walked into the orphanage we went up a flight of stairs into a hallway with a green rug down the length of it. We went into an office and hung our coats on the coat rack along with everyone else. Then they told us to sit at a table. The orphanage Dr. was there and the director, and other people who I really didn't know what they were there for. They had Katarina's file and read us her medical and personal history. My mind was spinning... so much information in such a short amount of time and how do you process it when you are there to meet this child?

The director ended her statement with a final "Well she is a good girl and I really hope you will adopt her."

Then someone brought Katarina in. They were holding both of her hands and had dressed her in a hot pink dress that had frills all over it. She had about 30 little white flower clips in her very short hair, little black dress shoes, and she looked right at us and said, "Izdrahzwheezstya!" "Hello!" She "walked" over to us on her very tippy toes so I picked her up and set her on my lap. Her legs felt stiff to me, but she was smiling and jabbering in Russian. I gave her the toy I had brought her and she took it happily. Then she looked at Phillip and said, "Are you here to take me home?" She said it in Russian and it took our translator a minute to tell us, but oh my goodness she knew why we were there and didn't mince words!

We asked if we could watch her do her excercises like they had told us about. They whisked her off (we didn't know they'd do this!) and dressed her in gym shorts and a t-shirt and removed ALL of her hair clips, then brought her back upstairs to show us what she did with her "therapist." She talked the WHOLE time. Our translator was kind of laughing in spite of herself. "She says she wants to go outside with you and have a walk even though its raining." "She says she will put her own shoes on BY herself when she's done." "She wants to know if you are taking her home with you today?" "She doesn't like this stretch." We watched her and kind of laughed at what a chatterbox she was.

They took her back down to her grouppa and she waved "paka paka!" "Bye Bye!"

Our translator said, "So what do you want to do? Do you want to think about it?"

Don't get me wrong, we knew NOTHING about cerebral palsy. We thought she might have FAS based on her facial features (she doesn't, but at the time we thought she did), and we wondered why we didn't have this "magical" connection with her? Where was the starry eyed feelings of wonderment?? Not there!

But we said "Yes, we are SURE we want to adopt her. Give us the papers to sign and lets start this." So we did!

What a crazy wild ride it was just to get to our daughter and it wasn't over yet, but we knew that was the day we had found her. That was the day that we found the child behind the calling God had placed on our hearts. The road has not been easy; it has been long and hard and at times lonely, but God has blessed us immeasurably by choosing us to be Mariah's parents. One year later and I can hardly believe that she is the same child who tippy toed through the door holding onto a nanny's hands. She has taught me what unconditional love means and "How much more" must God in heaven love us.

Adoption is truly the way to see into God's heart and understand how He loves us.

And that was the day we found her.

Monday, November 21, 2011

More walking progress!

These new Leaf Spring AFOs really rock. She has support, but not so much stiffness that her legs can't adjust to uneven ground.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The shearing pictures

Would you believe that sweet little blue eyed guy could produce that much damage in about one minute?

Yep, and he's lucky he's so cute!

Mariah doesn't seem to care at all.  Wyatt insists "Buriah" told him to cut her hair.  She says no, but she screams if he touches her baby dolls so she COULD have told him "no" and obviously did not. 

I think the only one upset about the hair was me!  So, I will stick a hat or cute bow on her and wait for it to grow.  Meanwhile, Wes lost his scissors since he left them on the floor for Mr. Snippit to do his dirty work with.

Crazy kids.

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Friday, November 18, 2011


Look what happens when you leave kids alone for. 0765 seconds to take out the trash.  Wyatt + scissors = sheared Mariah.  Mama is not happy!  Thank goodness her school pictures were 2 weeks ago.

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I knew Mariah didn't walk as well at school as she was capable of, but I thought she was doing "ok." The thing with Mariah is that people feel sorry for her. They won't make her do what she's capable of. If Mariah senses that someone feels sorry for her, then she will ride that train as far as it takes her. She won't walk. She won't go get things for herself. She will whine about things to see what else she can get. She will pretend not to know how to do things or not to remember things in order to get more attention. She will act super fearful or overly affectionate to get more attention. It goes in a downward spiral if the adult doesn't put a stop to it and just tell her that she needs to do what was asked of her. Bottom line, its not good for her for people to feel sorry for her because it encourages her to act helpless because in her mind, uncapable = more attention.

But still, I thought that Mariah was doing ok walking at school. I thought her teachers KNEW. She was not doing ok. I got the progress report from her teacher and the evals from the OT and PT. The OT stated she took ONE step and appeared very "fearful" and held her arms in a "high guard" position. Um... what!?

Her teacher said her walking had gotten worse and she was "more fearful" of walking independently.
This is the opposite of what we've seen at home. She has gotten better at walking but MORE dramatic about whining and not wanting to do it. I don't take the drama though. In our house, you do what you are capable of or you just don't get to do things. Mariah knows this so if she wants to throw a fit, she goes up to her room and when she's done, she comes back down and does what I asked. We have very few issues these days.

So, I was upset at the evals and the progress report. I was a little angry at Mariah for acting like that but I know its a product of her previous environment and I thought I had explained that to people well enough. I wonder if people think I am just being mean when I say I don't let her get away with not doing things?? I wonder if they think I'm exaggerating when I say she will manipulate people to get out of things. I don't mean it in a mean way! I mean it as a warning to adults that you cannot let her manipulate you by the way she acts because she will and its not good for her to think she can control you!

I decided what to do. I sent two videos of Mariah walking here at home to her teacher asking if Mariah was walking the same way at school as at home because we thought she was progressing nicely, and she was doing awesome at PT.

The next day at school her teacher told me, "I got the videos; that is AMAZING!"
The school PT emailed me and said, "I like how "teacher" put it, "We have been bamboozled!" We will be working on encouraging her to walk independently now!


Game is up little girl. I'm tired of being the "mean" one who makes her walk. Its no wonder she came home from school and had such a bad attitude about doing things on her own! She went to school and thought she didn't have to do anything! I should be able to be the mama once in a while and let the professionals get Mariah to do her best. The frustrating part is that the professionals, Drs. PTs, OTs, teachers, random people at birthday parties, family members, think I am MEAN to let her struggle to do things. They think I am not telling the truth about what she can do. I guess they think I am just making it up?? She will never learn how to do things if people do them for her. She is capable and the more she works on doing things herself, the better she'll get at them. Its not mean to expect her to do what she is capable of because it will only make her better at it.

*sigh* I hope that now we can move on with her walking. Everyone has to be on the same page or its confusing to her. In the TWO days that her teacher had with her post-video clip, Mariah has walked SO much better for me at home and been generally happier. It really is true that a child who thinks she can control the adults in her environment is not a happy, secure child because if she can manipulate them; who is taking care of her?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Mariah going FAST!

I appologize for the random noises (trains) and interuptions (Wyatt bringing me my freshly printed coupons) but hey such is life at my house! Anyways, you can see how awesome she's doing! From not able to sit up unsupported to riding a scooter in less than a year. God has big plans for this one. Adoption is not for everyone, I know that; but seriously folks, you are missing out big time if you don't.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Did I just do ALL of that?

My day was pretty full yesterday...

It started out with none of the kids having preschool because it was election day. So I decided to call the Kluge Center and see if Mariah's new AFOs were in because its been a month since she was casted and she REALLY needs them! Being persistant and slightly annoying pays off. I got a 3pm appointment. So I decided to ask if a PT could see her to evaluate her for forearm crutches since its such a long drive to go up there and requires a vast amount of kid jugging to drop the boys off with someone because if I took the 2 of them up there, I am quite sure I would be admitted.

Score 2 for me. A PT could see her at 3:30pm

I started the morning by cleaning the hosue. I told the kids they couldn't go see Nini till the house was clean. Whala, little monster messes disappered, 5 year olds become experts at operating the vaccuum cleaner and we have a clean house!

We left and I took the kids to the Post Office to pick up a package. We live a mile off the main road and the Post Office torments me by making me drag 2 5 year olds and a 3 year old into the Post Office on a regular basis. They get their kicks by watching me try to carry (or push Mariah in a stroller) while juggling oversize cardboard boxes to my van.

The kids wanted to eat lunch at NiNi's but I wasn't sure NiNi had lunch up her sleeve, so I ran by Hardees and got some chicken strips to take with us.

"It smells yummy! I'm huuuuuungreeeeeeee!!"

Then, because the Post Office trip was so much fun, I took the kids to vote. They all thought we were going to see a boat. They were disappointed. Somehow I think I managed to vote for the right people...

On to NiNi's and lunch!

Mariah and I left a little early so I could go return a coat at the mall at Sears. LandsEnd redid their Parka Styles and I am not a fan. I have about the smallest frame especially up top and the coat wouldn't fit in 2 sizes. I found last years model on sale for half the price anyways. Score.

After the mall, we went to the Kluge Center. The orthotics guy is AWESOME. Everyone should be like Dwayne. Mariah decided however, that she was going to act like she couldn't stand up, and walk? Hah! She has been walking so great at home and I was so frustrated... why does she do this?? She threw herself in the floor and acted like she couldn't move her feet when standing. This for the PT who is supposed to evaluating her for forearm crutches because she is "too mobile" for a walker. He was unimpressed but did the eval which consisted of measuring Mariah while she acted like she was about to fall over. I think once she gets the crutches though, she'll love them. They are going to be hot pink!

We also found out why we got an appointment card with a strange drs name. Her doctor left! Yep he moved to Atlanta right after administering botox and telling us he'd see us to follow up at the AFO appointment. Fortunately (or just God watching out for a frazzled mama) the new Dr. "happened" to be in the orthotics room while Mariah was getting fitted and was looking her over. I didn't know who he was till I saw his name card and then I was like "OH! We have an appointment with in a few months! Nice to meet you!" I like him better than the other Dr. anyways. Again, God watching out for frazzled mama and the little drama princess.

The new Leaf Spring AFOs are really awesome. I noticed a difference in her gait even with her being a drama queen the whole time. They are going to REALLY help her! The downside to the new AFOs is that none of her shoes fit over them now! So, after we were done at the Kluge Center, I had to go BACK to the mall to find her a pair of shoes for the new AFOs. I had to get 9s. She was in a 7. I was really worried that with a shoe that big (which is actually a normal size shoe for her age but she is tiny) that she'd have trouble walking but it did not seem to be an issue. She of course, was thrilled about getting new special shoes AND new shoes!

Meanwhile at the mall, Mariah notices the food court and asks for dinner. It was dinnertime so we shared some deep fried General something.

Then my shoe broke. Fortunately, it was a LandsEnd shoe so I went BACK to Sears and asked them if they could look up my order and replace the shoes. This is why I love LandsEnd. They took my broken shoe, processed the return and I walked out with a new pair of shoes that were on sale AND I got a 10% discount for doing a store return.

Next it was onto the grocery store because I haven't been in about 3 weeks and the natives were demanding food items that I didn't have. Mariah kept asking, "What's taking us sooooo sooooo long!? Are my brudaths asleep in der beds?" Haha the time change means its dark at 5pm and she thought it was like 10pm evidentially.

After an hour at the grocery store where I saved nearly $100 with my coupons and bonus card, we headed home to give the kids baths and put groceries away.

Oh then I had to prep for school the next morning which means laying out everyone's clothes, snacks, and backpacks.

This morning Wyatt showed me the reason he's had a fever for 2 days and has been generally a grouch. He has fifths disease and has blisters on his hands and feet. FUN!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

"I want my family"

Last night we went to the last local football game for our High School. The kids love going as its quite the event here. They shoot off fireworks, a cannon, have a firebreathing lion, and shoot off t-shirts into the crowd. And that's just what happens each time they score!

The band is awesome. There is Dominos Pizza, ice cream, Krispy Kreme donuts, hot drinks, raffles, a REAL Lion and cheerleaders!

So last night while we were standing up watching the marching band, I noticed Mariah was singing something. I leaned down to see what she was singing and heard, "I want my fam-i-whee! I want my fam-i-whee!"

I almost cried.

I don't talk about it much mostly because it makes me feel insecure to say less than wonderful things about our adoption and our family, but we've had a rough adjustment. Bonding didn't come easy for parents or child. Trust has been hard to build and sometimes I think she didn't want her family. She wanted to go back to what she knew.

So for her to be singing that, just as a little 5 year old standing there singing whatever popped into her head; it was a huge deal, and I don't want to forget it. She also kept saying the entire game, "Mama I wike you so much, soooo much!"

I think I know why this breakthrough has happened. I noticed the other night when I put her to bed that she was really sad. She said she was mad at Wesley for waking her up, but I knew it was more than that lol

I finally got it out of her that something pretty scary had happened to her in Ukraine and something that happened at school had made her remember it. She was really upset that she was not safe and someone might do the same thing to her again.

I assured her that she was mine FOREVER and NO ONE was EVER going to take her from me. I told her this is her home and she lives here with her family forever and ever. I told her it was ok to be sad and its ok to be mad but please tell mommy or daddy so we can make it better.

It was like a light bulb had come on the next day. She told me she was SO MAD at me for making her wash her hands again. I was actually happy she voiced it because usally she just gets sullen over something then acts out but by voicing it and me saying "Its ok to be mad, but you know the rules." I think she feels like we understand her.

She has told me several times that something has made her SO MAD or she feels sad, but she is acting very happy.

Here we are, home nearly a year and finally maybe the final emotional meshing is taking place :)

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