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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

When we got to the orphanage this morning, we were supposed to be picking the boys up to go get passport photos at 11.  We got to the grouppa room and it was empty.  Instead we were sent to a room full of kids doing a performance.  We got to watch all these beautiful kids reciting poems, doing skits, and singing songs.  It was just like watching a school performance, but one thing was missing.  Parents.

Where are their parents?  I've heard some of the stories and to be honest, you don't want to know.  Some of them are so bad that they belong in a horror movie, yet the kids are so sweet.  I look at their faces and I wonder how things like this can be possible?  Why are they stuck here unwanted and forgotten by everyone?

One sweet girl sang a song and it was wonderful.  Really, she is so talented.  Someone should have been taking pictures of her and telling her what a great job she did.

After about 30 minutes, the performance was over.  Our boys changed and we called a taxi to the photo office.  The photographer took a few quick pictures and told us to come back in 15 minutes.  That was it!  Next week we start paperwork for new birth certificates, new passports, social security numbers, and ... whatever else has to be done!

We went out for dinner tonight and were surprised to see the restaurant decorated for Halloween.  The waiters were even wearing face paint!  We didn't realize they celebrated Halloween here.  We didn't see any trick or treaters though.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

Cheap Sunglasses

When you get up in the morning and the light is hurt your head
The first thing you do when you get up out of bed
Is hit that street a-runnin' and try to beat the masses
And go get yourself some cheap sunglasses.

They all wanted sunglasses.
Easy enough.

Friday, October 25, 2013


Our new little man has some special needs that we didn't know about until we got to Ukraine.
They asked us if we were sure we still wanted him.
Did we need to think about it?

All I could think was that he felt like I had found a piece of my soul that I didn't even know was missing until he walked in the room.  It wasn't like meeting someone for the first time.
It was like meeting a child who was supposed to be mine from the start.

We didn't care what the file said.
He was already ours.
We were sure.

His biggest special need was a family, and well... we could fix that.

We were sure.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


We had a successful court hearing today in which we were declared the parents of 3 beautiful boys!

Right after walking out of the courtroom!

In front of the court building.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

читання меню

читання меню (reading the menu)

In Ukraine, it is necessary to learn to read Cyrillic if you want to eat.
This side of the menu includes pizza, pasta, and salads.

This side includes among other things omelets, milkshakes, coffee,  & beer.

The salad I ordered.

Of course if can't read a menu, you can always buy some fish out of a tub on the street.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Yay for the Z-Pack

I've felt crummy for the past week and a half.  Some sort of weird painful throat/sinus stuff.  I never got a "cold" with a runny nose, just horrible coughing fits at night and swollen glands in my neck.  I missed two days of visiting with the boys because I felt so exhausted.  I tried Emergen-C and cold meds.  Nothing really helped.  A local woman here helped me get some antihistamines from the pharmacy and gave me some honey to put in tea, but I still felt awful!  I finally just broke down and took the Z-pack (antibiotic) that we brought along with a raw garlic clove cut into chunks.  I finally slept all night and woke up not feeling like I couldn't breathe.  Yay!  I almost feel totally normal today!  We had a great visit with the boys.  A lot of the other kids came outside and wanted to play soccer with us.  We also played hide and seek, and then the boys wanted to race me because, "You play football good. You strong, yes?  You, me, race? ok?"

Little V on top of the train

Little V is always taking my camera and yelling "Mama! Mama!  cheez!"

Bacon & Wasabi Chips.  I did not enjoy these!

playing football(soccer)

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Rules

Before we have court, these are the rules we are going to go over with our boys.  They aren't meant to intimidate at all, but rather to provide an easier transition once home.  Orphanages breed an environment of survival of the fittest.  I've watched a child have a turn playing a game on a cell phone then stand there and bawl.his.eyes.out. the entire time another child got a turn because all he understood was that it was taken away.  

There is no sense of fairness or kindness in an orphanage.  My youngest boy will shove other children away yelling, "That's MY mama! Not yours!"  "My mama brought that for ME."  Its every man for himself.  He finally got a mama and he is going to make sure I stay HIS.  

These rules seek to provide security and a sense of fairness with their boundaries.  If *I* am not allowed to hurt others, then it will eventually sink in that *others are not allowed to hurt me.*  If *I* have to share and take turns then I will eventually understand that others will also have to share and take turns with me.  If *I* am not allowed to jerk toys away from someone just because I want them, it stands to reason that no one will be allowed to jerk toys away from me either.  

Once the boundaries are understood, peaceful calm will prevail!!  (haha ok - I can dream!)
I thought you might like to see what we came up with.  They are a revised list of "The 21 Rules of This House."

The Rules of Our House
  1. We obey God
  2. We love, honor, and pray for each other
  3. We tell the truth. Always.
  4. We consider one another’s interest ahead of our own
  5. We wear seat belts in cars.
  6. We speak quietly and respectfully with one another
  7. We stay with our parents when we go places.
  8. We do not hurt each other with mean words or actions.
  9. We wash our hands before eating.
  10. We have screen time after our house is clean & homework is done.
  11. When someone needs correction, we correct them in love.
  12. When someone has a problem, we pray about it with them.
  13. When someone is sorry, we forgive him,
  14. When someone is sad, we comfort him.
  15. When someone is happy, we are happy with him.
  16. When we have something nice to share, we share it.
  17. When we have work to do, we do it without complaining.
  18. We take good care of everything God has given us.
  19. We do not create unnecessary work for others.
  20. When we open something, we close it.
  21. When we take something out, we put it away.
  22. When we turn something on, we turn it off.
  23. When we make a mess, we clean it up.
  24. When we do not know what to do, we ask.
  25. We spend money wisely.
  26. When we go out, we act like we do in our house. 

In our house we are real.  We make mistakes. We say “I’m sorry.”  We give second chances. We have fun.  We laugh.  We forgive.  We give hugs.  We make memories.  We love God and we pray REALLY hard.  We are patient, but above all else; we love. 

Boys' Wish List

I have had several people ask me before we left and while we've been here, "Do you need anything for the boys?"  The truth is that I needed many things, and because there are THREE boys in various stages of developments (one whom I hadn't even met!) I was just overwhelmed with what to say.  So, I started making a wish list on Amazon.

The biggest thing we had issues with during hosting was stuff.  My three children at home have *their* stuff.  They have toys, clothes, pictures on the wall, bedding, bikes, power wheels, pets, school supplies, plates, cups, etc.  They have stuff, much of it given to them by grandparents at Christmas and birthdays! My boys had nothing.  They came with a change of clothes.  Thanks to some very generous people that my husband works with, we were blessed with some clothing items, pajamas, bedding, some shoes, toothbrushes, medicine, and some school supplies.

What I still need now I have listed on this registry.  I know not everything is a "need" but when you bring new children home, you want them to feel like its THEIR HOME too.  Part of that is blessing them with the same toys and privileges the other children have or there are going to be issues with feeling left out.  The problem is, we have had 7 years, 5 years, and even with M nearly 3 years to give them things.  The boys noticed what our children had and realized that they had nothing.  Seriously, I've been to their orphanage; they have nothing.  They don't want stuff just to have it, they want things because they see its part of what it means to belong.  (we are careful with the "gimme gimme attitude. They do not and will not get everything they plead for!)

What we have found is that D is very athletic and artistic.  He likes to practice soccer, karate, or basketball just as much as he likes to sit down with modeling clay and sculpt or take videos with my camera.

V likes to play on the iPad, ride a bike, play Legos, and do craft projects with art supplies.

Little V likes to play with Play-Doh, color by number, pretend to build things with toy tools, play Legos, take pictures with my camera, and play outside.  He's had some sort of injury to his finger for several years and has learned how to NOT use several fingers on that hand because of it.  I actually think that playing on a tablet, using Play-Doh, and coloring are super OT type things for him to do.  I also need a bike for him.

This list has some things we still need for the boys.  We had counted on being able to bring back things we had sent over from hosting, but its looking like that isn't the case.  If you are interested in purchasing an item from the wish list, you can have it shipped to your house or to mine (just let me know so I can have a neighbor pick it up).   We appreciate so many people wanting to bless our new boys!


A few weekend photos

Racing in front of the orphanage.

Standing in front of the gate at their orphanage.
Little V thinks its funny to make faces for photos...

Racing Papa up the stairs to their grouppa room.  They may have crashed into the door, fallen in the floor, and been a loud heaping mess of giggling boys.  Ooops...   

One of my favorite things to eat here!  A Донер Кебаб.  For 15 grivnah ($1.65) you can get this large wrap of deliciousness.  The people at this little street restaurant, do not speak English at.all.  I have to order in Ukrainian, which I'm getting better at!  I ordered 2 kinds of pizza, apple juice, and ice cream on Saturday.

This sign was in the bathroom at a restaurant we went to.
For real.

Friday, October 18, 2013

TEN Years Today!

Ten Years ago, we got married!  We were so young, but I wouldn't change a thing!

Today we took a cab to the downtown area to have lunch for our anniversary.  There is a pedestrian street/mall that has lots of shops and restaurants.  We spent a lot of time just walking around exploring.  We had coffee at a little cafe, and then after walking around for several hours we just randomly chose a little place that looked interesting.  How nice to find they had English menus!!  

We took a cab back to our apartment and hung out for an hour before walking to the orphanage to visit our boys!  

If someone had told us 10 years ago that we'd be spending our tenth anniversary in Ukraine adopting 3 more children... well... I don't know if I would have believed them :)

The boys actually argue over who gets to carry my purse around for me.

Pedestrian Mall

Walking around the city.

A pretty church just stuck in the middle of buildings!

Trees growing through the roof...

Ordering lunch!

They had mushroom "pancakes" (crepes).  SO HAPPY!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Eating in Ukraine

We were brave yesterday.  We've gone to this pizza place near our apartment several times, and its been really good.  They have much more on the menu than pizza though, so yesterday we tried the sushi.  It was great!  After waiting 24 hours and being fairly certain that we were not going to get sick, we went back and tried some more :-D

We've also had Borscht, salad (which is way more than lettuce here!), pasta mafia, kielbasa, and tonight I had chicken kabobs.  The best part of eating here is how cheap it is!  My meal was $3!

Not sure why I look so tired... maybe because I'm still sick BUT the food was great!

Sushi, Salad, Borscht, and lukewarm bottled water.  

I ordered this in Ukrainian.  Pineapple and salami.  I was very proud of myself for getting it right!

Beer is cheaper than water here.  And its pretty much the ONLY drink served COLD.  A bottle of Nestea is twice the price of beer, and is served lukewarm.  Phillip had this with dinner and even though I don't like beer, I was jealous of how cold his drink was!  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

More Visits. Hard Goodbyes

We're in a holding pattern here until court.  We visit the boys for a few hours after school during the week, and get much longer visits on the weekends.  We bring the iPad, a soccer ball, a frisbee, and other little toys to play with.  We also try to bring a snack for the entire grouppa.  I think we won't be bringing the electronics anymore though because the kids want to all fight over who gets to play.  Even when we have them take turns, someone gets upset and upset turns to hitting... and well that's not a fun visit.  We visit with the whole grouppa so its not just our boys that want to play.  We're trying to include all of the kids, but they are all really needy and attention starved so it can be really challenging, especially because our boys have laid claim to us as "theirs."  

V has been getting upset near time for us to go.  He'll just go into a crying fit over something completely ridiculous and we thought he was maybe just being dramatic at first, but after a few days of starting to cry before we leave I realized he is getting upset over that.  Today he just sobbed and sobbed.  I promised we'd be back tomorrow and that soon he'll get to come to America with us forever, but he's 8.  He doesn't understand forever because he's never had it.  He's always had to say goodbye and its hard to keep saying it.  All of the boys keep asking if they can go to America "tomorrow?" and we keep saying SOON!  Please dear Lord let the paperwork line up so we can come home SOON!

Our kids at home keep asking when we are coming home and our kids here keep begging us to take them home.  No one wants to be home more than us!  "Goodbye" at the orphanage steps and "goodbye" on Skype are both HARD!

In other news, we are really enjoying the city.  We have a supermarket near us, a VERY large open air market about a mile or two from our apartment, and a very good (and cheap) pizza place about a half mile walk from our apartment.  There is also a second hand store right across the street.  It seems we'll probably be shopping there some more since my boys don't seem to have any clothes I sent back with them from hosting.     

Monday, October 14, 2013

Just Papa. No Pictures

It seems that I've caught some sort of cold, probably from one of the maaaaaany kids at the orphanage.  I've felt icky the past 2 days with a scratchy throat and then last night just started feeling awful.  Phillip went to visit the kids today by himself because I literally couldn't drag myself out of bed, and I don't want to re-share my germs.  Its some sort of weird cold that's in my throat, but I'm achy like I have the flu (with no fever).  I brought lots of Emergen-C so hopefully it'll be short lived.  Its nasty whatever it is!

Phillip said the boys asked where I was and he told them I was sick.  V stuck his tongue out and made exaggerated gagging noises to ask if I was throwing up?  Hah.  No, thank goodness!  Phillip said D was telling V to quit acting so dumb, mimed throwing up like V had done, and then told V to stop. lol  D really takes on the parental role.  V and little V both listen to him and he keeps on them to behave, especially with us.

Keep praying for our paperwork to come back from Kyiv on time so we can have court as scheduled!  Earlier would be even better!

Since it was just Papa visiting today, I don't have any pictures.  He forgot to take the camera!   

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Color Explosion

The leaves have gotten so pretty since we arrived.  This morning it was a little windy and the result left the city looking like a color explosion :)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Its Hard

It is so hard to leave my kids, and go to another country for several weeks.  Hard. Hard. Hard.

If anyone honestly thinks that adoption is like a "European Vacation" and its fun, well they are wrong.  Its the hardest thing I have EVER done.  It was hard the last time, and its hard now.

It was hard to love a child for a summer and send him back.  It was hard to love him and his brother again for Christmas and send them back again.  It was hard to love a child a 3rd time, have him fit so completely and then have to send him back. Again.

It was hard to choke back tears while my children cried that they would miss me as they said goodbye.  It was hard to waive goodbye and finally sob in my husband's arms as the kids drove out of sight.

Its hard to leave my house, my friends, my church...my life.  Its hard to just drop it and walk away.

Its hard.  All of it.

Yet we chose it.  The good, the bad, the wonderful, and the hard.

Because as much as my heart breaks having to watch sad little faces say they miss me on Skype, I cannot begin to imagine the pain that little hearts have endured from a mother and father who did not love them like they should have.  So what is my pain then?  A gift from God to maybe understand just a little the pain that my children who were born to another mother have endured?

When I think about their pain and what they have been through, that's hard too.  So, I'll stay through the hard and smile even when my heart hurts because I LOVE these boys.
They have waited a long time for a mom who will love them, even when its hard.



Even more photos!

Our favorite brand of juice.  The juice in Ukraine is so good!!!

Part of our daily walk.

D's school is behind me.

Berries he picked and shared.  I did NOT like them at all.
Saying goodbye at the Detsky Dom

They wanted a picture with mama <3 td="">

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