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

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How It Started

It seems the most common question people have when they hear we are adopting, is "Why?"

There are a TON of reasons why, but today I will tell you why we went the first time.

Four and a half years ago, my youngest son was born.  He was perfect.  A little love bug of a baby boy.  I loved to sit and rock him, just staring at his face while he slept.  He wanted nothing more than to be cuddled.  While my oldest son was also a beautiful perfect baby boy, he was NOT a snuggler so I was all to happy to finally have a baby that wanted nothing more than to be cuddled and rocked.

I can pinpoint the month that I started hearing the whisper in my heart.  It was after we moved into our new house.  My baby was about a year old.  As I sat and rocked him to sleep in his new room, I heard God whispering to my heart, "You see how much you love him?  You would die for him.  There are children just like him who have no one to love them like this.  My heart hurts for them.  You should go..."

Over and over each night I would rock him.  I would hear this.  I was 24 years old.  I had a 3 year old and a 1 year old.  My husband worked a blue collar job while I stayed home with our kids.  We often ran out of money before we ran out of month.  WHAT was God thinking!? Rich people adopt, right?  Not "normal" people like us.

But God didn't stop.  My heart became broken so much that it physically ached for orphans around the world.  I started researching international adoption and quickly found blogs of people who were adopting from Ukraine.  Ukraine, Ukraine Ukraine.  It kept popping up.  I also found the cost.  That almost stopped me in my tracks.  We didn't have money to splurge on extra groceries, let alone the twenty thousand it would cost to adopt from Ukraine.

As my husband and I talked about it, we decided to pursue Bulgaria.  It was cheaper, had a much shorter stay in country, and seemed a better fit.  We figured we had a better chance to raise a smaller amount of money and it *worked* better to not have to be gone from our kids as long.  I placed the call and got things going with an agency, but a few days later they called back to say that Bulgaria was restructuring and the wait would most likely be upwards of 2 years.  Well, that is what a door slamming shut looks like.
*Enter God* "See I told you, Ukraine."

So, despite knowing we didn't have the money or any idea how we would get it, we decided to go ahead and jump.  We found that we could adopt independently from Ukraine for less than what it costs to use an agency.  That meant coordinating with only a facilitator in Ukraine and compiling the paperwork ourselves.  Well, if it could be done, I figured I'd do it.  Speaking of home study, those are expensive.  We had to wait till a paycheck cleared to pay the first installment.  We skipped grocery shopping that paycheck and got creative with what was in the pantry.

Then something my husband had purchased for nearly nothing suddenly just sold for WAY more.
Ta-da.  Home study paid for.

And that was pretty much how it went during our paper chase.  We sold a vehicle for several thousand dollars.  A family member unexpectedly donated several thousand dollars.  A friend left a thousand dollars cash under our doormat the night before we left...

My husband decided that his managerial job that he had worked so hard to climb the ladder for was not worth the hours he had to spend away from his family.  So in this horrible economy, he looked for a new job.  And beat out over 80 applicants to get a position working much closer to home for far fewer hours.  I joke that its the orange dress shirt I bought him, and convinced him to wear to the interview under the guise of, "You need to stand out.  Orange is memorable." but I know it was all God.

We completed our home study and sent it to Ukraine to be submitted.  We got a dossier submission date of October 14th, 2010.  A few papers had to be redone.  The medical had to be redone THREE times due to mistakes by the Dr. office, but we got it all there in time.

Our facilitator emailed us to let us know that we had an appointment date of November 15.  We had two weeks to prepare for travel, and oh how hard it was.  I had to leave my little boys who I had never spent more than a night or two away from for what I knew would be at least a month.  They stayed with my husband's parents, who they love, but watching them pull away from our house the morning we were flying to Ukraine just broke.my.heart.

When we arrived in Ukraine we experienced TOTAL culture shock.  It does something to a person's brain to land in a country and suddenly not be able to understand anything that anyone is saying and to top it off, the taxi drivers run up at you as you walk out of arrivals giving the impression to first time travelers that they just may be trying to steal your luggage and take you hostage for ransom.  Thank goodness our facilitator showed up and drove us to an apartment.

At our SDA appointment, we were shown a lot of files... but many of the children were very, very sick.  Our homestudy was for minor to moderate correctable special needs so we had keep in mind what we were approved for.  There was one chid that stood out simply because of a date on her paperwork.  It was my youngest son's birthday.  Now, in Ukraine they write dates differently.  They put date/month/year not /month/date/year like we do.  So, the date wasn't really his birthday BUT TO ME it clearly was.  That was our sign.  We decided to go visit her.

When we arrived at her orphanage after taking an overnight train, we got to meet this little girl for the first time.  She had cerebral palsy that affected her walking so much so that she couldn't walk alone, but she tip toed in holding the hands of a worker and asked, "Are you here to take me home?"



Um yeah.  We signed the papers before we left that day despite being given the opportunity to think it over.

We spent 3 more weeks in Ukraine before we finally had court.  We visited her each day for several hours and had the chance to see some of the other kids.  Our time there was very closely monitored and we weren't allowed to interact with anyone other than our daughter, but that place and those little faces that walked the hallways left a deep imprint on our hearts.

We ended up spending Christmas with our family on two separate continents.  My husband in Ukraine completing paperwork and myself and our sons in the U.S.  Finally on December 29th, daddy and Mariah landed and we became a family of five on U.S. soil.

The next year was spent getting Mariah therapy and medical attention for her cerebral palsy that had gone grossly neglected in Ukraine.  We also struggled to work through orphanage behaviors and attachment issues.  I won't lie, it wasn't easy.  It was hard, easily the hardest thing I have EVER done hard.  Becoming her mom has stretched me and forced me to learn new things and new parenting methods that I never even had a clue about before her.  But, I promised to be her mom.  I certainly flubbed things up and failed miserably many times, but I got up each day determined to start over and try to do it better.

And gradually the good days came.  Instead of counting how many bad days we'd had, I would realize that we had been through a run of good ones.  Of course we'd have a good stretch and I'd think "yes!" then we'd have a run of bad ones.  Four years in an orphanage leaves a lot of baggage for a child to unpack and sometimes I didn't know how to help or just became too frustrated to care about *why* she did things.

But we kept going.  I researched things.  I found a great online support group.  We kept on going, celebrating the little victories.  Gradually the little ones became big ones and one day I turned around and realized we had found our new normal.  Yes, it took longer than I thought it would, but we did.

Some might say, "Well you had such a hard time adjusting with her; now that you've gotten it all back together; why would you want to mess that up?"  Because we cannot forget what we know.  We saw children with sad hollow eyes so hoping we had come for them too.  

God clearly says we are to care for orphans and widows.  He never says we are only supposed to do it once.  I pretty much think He meant we are supposed to do it until there aren't anymore.

In the summer of 2012, we decided to host a child from an orphanage in Ukraine.  We tried to host a little girl, but that didn't work out.  Seems everyone wants a little girl... so we chose a boy.  Well, the boy we chose got adopted by a French couple (yay for him!) and couldn't come (obviously) so we chose another boy.  He couldn't come either.  We chose another boy.  A few days later, yep, he couldn't come either.  We were now down to literally one boy left to choose.  He was older than we had wanted to host, he was part of a sibling group that was larger than we would consider adopting, but we decided "OH what the hey!" we could give him a good summer in America anyways.

Oh oops.  God forgot to say that it is indeed possible to fall.in.love. at first sight with 7 year old boys.  Looking into his outrageously blue eyes pooling with tears at JFK airport was most definitely the moment that did me in.  Yes, he was ORNERY!  Yes, he was a handful and then some.  Yes, he needed constant correction and discipline for the first few weeks here, but he stole my heart.  He wanted a mama and my heart said "Pick me."

Sending him back after the summer was over was hard.  I stood in line at departures watching this little guy and his sad face waive, and waive, and waive until he was...gone.

We didn't have the money to host him for summer.  So we most certainly didn't have it for Christmas hosting, but let me tell you that the heart doesn't care.  My husband listened to his and surprised me by saying he had paid V's host fees and oh yeah... his brother's too.  WHAT!?  Two boys for Christmas!?  Its what credit cards are for, right?

God forgot to tell us that you can indeed fall in love with 10 year old boys too.

Sending those boys back to their orphanage after they spent Christmas with us was heart wrenching.  HEART WRENCHING.

But don't you know God uses pain to move you?  We realized that if we had fallen in love with these boys, it was what God meant to happen all along.  Yes, there are FOUR of them total.  So?  When you put names and faces there in place of a number it suddenly isn't about how CAN we possibly do this!? When your heart is breaking and you feel that you've sent your sons back to an orphanage, its about how can we NOT?

They've been failed over and over by the people in their lives who should have cared for them the most.  People who were able to look at them and then walk away.  I don't want to be added to that list.  God brought them into our lives for a reason.  We are going to chase His calling once again to Ukraine.



I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  John 14:18


  




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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

 

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