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

Monday, December 31, 2012

Family of 7 heading to church

We took these pictures to document getting 5 kids dressed in their Sunday best and heading out the door to service on time! Whoo hoo!

Thank you!!

So, after getting the bad news at the dentist about D only 2 days ago I was really really worried about how we were going to pay for his dental work.  We fundraised some of the costs of hosting both boys this Christmas, but most of it went on our credit card so we were just completely depleted!

A friend put out a challenge on facebook to get people to donate just $10 each to help D out.  I thought it was nice of her, but ya know that kind of thing just doesn't seem to work for us!

Well, here we are.  We've raised $952!!  People have mailed checks, dropped off checks, and donated to our paypal.  Some people have done the suggested $10 and some have done WAY more :)  Wow!!

Thank you so much everyone!!!  D has two appointments next week to try to get everything done.  I will post an update on him as soon as I can.  Hopefully he is soon feeling much better and able to eat whatever he wants!  Right now its hard for him to chew anything hard so he sticks with soft things or pulls food apart.  He had a hard time even eating fried chicken at lunch today because the crispy skin hurt his teeth.  Not much longer!!

We pray that God richly blesses everyone who has donated to help Denis!

Matthew 25

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

Just in case anyone is wondering, any *extra* money (if there is any) will be applied towards paying off the boys' hosting expenses for this Christmas, which were $5400.  With Vitaliy, his dental work turned out to be even more expensive than the estimate once they got to work on his teeth because the cavities were even worse than what they thought. $1000 was the estimate they gave us for D after the dental hygienist offered to pay for the extractions and the dentist agreed to cut the bill in half, but this is just an estimate.  He has an "uncountable" number of cavities.  

Friday, December 28, 2012

Denis' Dental Work

We found out today that D's teeth are far worse than his brother's were and V's were BAD this summer.  D basically needs 4 extractions and fillings in almost every tooth in his mouth.  The dentist said this was caused by gross neglect and poor diet as a young child.  I have never seen anything like his teeth.  Even the front ones need fillings!  The dental hygienist was so moved by D's story that she wrote a check on the spot to pay for all 4 of his extractions.  We don't have insurance on the boys because they aren't "ours" so this is all an out of pocket expense.  The dentist office has agreed to cut the bill in half, but even after the extractions, this still leaves us with about $1K worth of work.  If you want to help us out, here's how!  We have two appointments back to back next week to get his mouth taken care of before he goes back to Ukraine.  We just cannot send him back with teeth too painful to even brush.

D with his Christmas ornament we engraved for him.  He was SO happy with it.  We finally got a tiny glimpse of a smile.

Thank you!

Monday, December 24, 2012

All I Really Want for Christmas

Its Christmas Eve.
I'm sitting here on the couch waiting to make sure ALL of the kids are asleep in their beds before I bring down the Santa Presents.

 I've heard this song before, but listening to it tonight I'm struck by the words.

The first verse reminds me of D.

The second verse could have been written by V.

I read that this song was inspired by a letter written by an orphan to Santa. This song has always made me tear up, but having two boys who could have written this letter in.my.house. just brings it all home.

'Cause all I really want for Christmas is someone to tuck me in
Tell me I'll never be alone, someone whose love will never end
Of all that I could ask for, well, there's just one thing I need
All I really want for Christmas is a family.

5 kids. 2 days till Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

They're here!

We checked the kids' flight on Thursday morning and saw it was expected to land nearly an hour earlier than scheduled. We thought that meant they'd come out sooner, but umm... we waited for a little over 3 hours! Once the kids walked out though, the wait was forgotten. We had a translator who grew up in Ukraine and donated her time to help the chaperone and the children communicate before we all left. She was so appreciated!! We also had a photographer donate her time to take arrival shots of the kids with their families. She also was MUCH appreciated!! I handed off the info packets to each family and made sure they got their kid, got their photo taken and told them they were good to go! I have missed my little V and he just walked right up to us and said, "Hi!" D was more nervous. He didn't know what to say and the poor kids were so tired! As we were walking out of the airport, V looked at me and said, "Mama hocho mahlahshanoh?" He wanted ice cream! On the way to McDonald's to get ice cream, he threw up all over himself. We had to make him strip out of his clothes and change into the one extra set he brought. Gross!! He was fine, but stinky. Once home we made them both take a bath before putting them in the bed. D was asleep before I walked out of the room.
V at the airport!  He was so happy to see us!
V was so happy to see us.  D was looking a bit unsure.
So happy to have him back.
He came home, took a bath and hopped right into his bed -- Where he belongs!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Almost there!!

We pick up our two host kids from Dulles Airport on Thursday!  I'm so excited!!  I've missed my little guy soooo much since we sent him back this summer!  I am coordinating the arrivals group for those who's final destination is Dulles.  We have a small group.  Just seven children including our two are meeting their families.  I've secured a translator and a photographer who are both happy to donate their time :)

I had someone be extremely rude to me over the requests I was making on facebook in hopes of finding someone who might want to donate their time to take pictures of the host kids arriving to meet their families.  After reading this guy's really long, really condescending, incredibly ignorant & extremely hypocritical email, in which he lectured me on why I should not ever ask "artists" to do anything without compensation because no one ever asks anyone in any other profession for pro bono work, I cried my eyes out and made my frustrations known to facebook land.  That's how I found the photographer who is now coming.  A friend of mine felt sorry for me and contacted her photographer friend because she is a foster parent and a photographer.  She was SO EXCITED to "get to" take pictures for ORPHANS meeting their host families who paid thousands of dollars for their travel expenses so they could "get to" give them Christmas.  Totally restored my faith in humanity.

I still want to write a reply back to that guy though.  Ya know other than the, "Thank you for letting me know that you are a jerk."

No, I didn't put the last part, but OH how he needed to hear it.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Now What?

I remember when I was a teenager, a couple my grandmother knew came home to find their girls backpacks in their house, proof they'd arrived home from school, but no girls.  A few days later they were found murdered.  No one ever knew why.  It was a senseless act of evil.  A few years later, I remember hearing how that same couple was adopting 2 teen girls from Romania.  It struck me then even as a teenager how beautiful it was that they could take their heartbreak and offer what they had to those who did not.  Parents who had lost their children took in children who had lost their parents and together they were again able to be a family.  Healing born from tragedy.

Sometimes we ask God, "Why?"  Why did that happen?

If heaven is such a wonderful place, why are we so sad when people go?
Is it the way in which they go?

I have cried many tears over what happened in Newtown.  My children are the ages of those killed.  I canNOT imagine the pain.  I am literally sick over it.  I have not been able to go to sleep at night, thinking about the parents and the children.  The posts on facebook of poems about the children entering heaven are breaking my heart.  I won't even allow my children to know about this tragedy.  Their innocent little minds do not need to wonder if that could happen to them as well.      

I have heard it said that those who have endured the most pain are capable of the most compassion because they can empathize with others who are hurting on a much deeper level.  I heard this statement made during a sermon on the radio when I was at a very low place in my life.  The pastor said that he did not tell this to people when they were in the middle of experiencing their grief, but later, when they started asking "Why?" and "What do I do now?"  It resonated with me.  There was a PURPOSE to what I had walked through.  It wasn't just senseless pain.  I could USE what I had gone through to help others.

I have to believe that though God absolutely did not cause that evil man to do what he did, God can use the people affected by this tragedy.  Their pain does not have to be in vain.  When they start asking "Now what?" there will be healing.  I pray for their hearts to experience that very soon.  God is called Jehovah-Rapha which means "The Lord our Healer."  

I pray that healing comes to those in Newtown.  I pray that those who are hurting are able to turn it to empathy and find what they are to do next because surely they will be capable of more than most.  

"There once was a King who so burdened with grief
Walked into death so that we could find peace
He rose up with scars on his hands and his feet
By them we are healed, by them we are healed.

So praise God we don't have to hide scars
Yeah we know His are covering ours
Praise God we don't have to hide scars
They just strengthen our wounds and they soften our hearts
They remind us of who we have been, but not who we are
So Praise God we don't have to hide scars."     
- Jonny Diaz

Psalm 34:18
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

One week!!!!

One week until our boys arrive from Ukraine!  We were working on the welcome poster today and getting excited!  
Blinking light, glitter, & bows!! 
Heck yes I want them to see me waiting for them a mile away! 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Once upon a December

On December 9, 2010 a judge in Kharkiv City Ukraine declared us the parents of Mariah Katarina.  

Two years ago YOU became ours. 

Your status went from "orphan" to "daughter." 

You were chosen by God to be ours.  We were chosen by God to be yours.

A new name. A new family.  A new life. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I'm a Sponsor

Life2Orphans has given people the opportunity to provide a Christmas party for orphans in the orphanages they provide aid to.  One of those orphanages is the one we adopted Mariah from, so despite being thousands from our hosting fundraising goal, I just HAD to do this.  They only need $100 to provide the kids with some treats and a nice little celebration.

Mariah has had a lot of questions as to why they didn't get presents or have Christmas at her grouppa.  Its not a question I really have the answer to.  I will NEVER forget the faces of the sweet little ones we left behind.

If only 10 people donated $10 we'd be there.  This is so doable!  Please consider giving just a little bit to make the children happy.

Click this link to go to Life2Orphans' donation page.  You can donate via Paypal.  Mariah's orphanage was Kharkiv #2 on Kuzenkay Street.  Put "Children's Christmas Party" in the comments box.  Its that easy!  Please leave me a comment to let me know if you donated :)  Donations can be made through December 25th because this is for Ukrainian Christmas which is on our January 7th.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sixteen Days

Sixteen more days until the little boy I sent back to Ukraine in August arrives back in the U.S. with his big brother!

The first picture I saw of V

Cheesing for me during the summer :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Two Years - The Difference It Makes

They said we were too young.
They said why don't you adopt one from here.
They said its too expensive.
They said its too hard.
They said you have your "own" kids.
They said you know nothing of special needs.

I am so glad we listened to that still small voice when God put adoption on our hearts.  We could have waited.  We could have made any number of socially acceptable excuses at any point in time why NOT to adopt from Ukraine.

But God knew where she was.  He knew where she'd go if we didn't.
He knew.

When we saw her face, we knew too. 

SDA referral photo
SDA referral photo

Taken 8 months before we met her for the first time.

A photo we found while in Ukraine.  Taken before we met her.

On November 24th, we finally met who I referred to on my blog as "K."

First play time with Papa!
The first photo I put on my facebook announcing we had finally found her!
First picture with Mama.
Walking the halls with Papa.  This was the only way she could, fully supported under both arms.
Sitting on the couch this way was so hard for her.  She kept falling over.
How she loved just to be held up to look out the window at a broken down car.

Waiting for her MRI at the hospital.
At the zoo.  1 1/2 years home.
Walking at the VA Beach boardwalk with her brothers this summer.

Playing at the splash park this summer.
Home nearly 2 years.  "My favorite thing to do is smile!"

I think the pictures speak for themselves.  People have been posting about National Adoption Month and all the things they are thankful for each day on facebook.  

Today, I am so thankful that we DID.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dreams That Move the Mountains: Fundraising

We are still a long way from our fundraising goal to host Vitaliy & his brother from Ukraine this Christmas.  I'm putting all three of the fundraisers we have going on right now together on this post.  

Feel free to share this on facebook!

 Stella & Dot!

Stella & Dot offers all kinds of beautiful jewelry and the proceeds go directly to our host fund!  Think of how close Christmas is!  You can go Christmas shopping and help us host all at the same time.

Adoption Bug!


Be a Voice is a website that sells jewelry to help families fund raise for adoption and hosting.

You can purchase jewelry from this website and 75% of the purchase price will be donated to our hosting expenses!  Just make sure to put a comment in the note section detailing that your purchase is for "The Johnson family - hosting Vitaliy."

The jewelry is adoption and orphan care themed.  Its really beautiful!

Here are a few examples of what it looks like.

Snowflake Ornament

Footprints Ring

Think about what a lovely and meaningful Christmas present these items would make!  You can give someone a gift that has a far reaching impact :)

Go shop now!!

What is hosting?  Why do we do it?  Watch this.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

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