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

Saturday, June 21, 2014


I've wanted something for a long time that represents all of my kids in a very visible way.  I considered having this done in Ukraine while we were there adopting our boys... But ya know the language barrier and unsure sanitary practices made me decide to wait.
I finally got up the nerve to get it today!  I want to add part of the verse from Isaiah 43:1 that I quoted on my FB page the day we got to take the boys out of the orphanage forever. "...I have called you by name, you are mine.". I want to write it in Ukrainian "...Я покликав ім'я твоє, Мій ти!" but working with fonts in Cyrillic on an English based computer program is proving challenging!

These are my kids' actual handprints shrunk down to fit on my wrist.

Oh and for the record, getting a tattoo does really hurt.  I have a fairly high pain tolerance so I just talked to the tattoo artist and my brother (who came along for moral support) most of the time.  I did NOT watch at all because I HATE needles ( I will pass out in the floor), so I never looked at the needle.  This took about 45 minutes of tiny stabbing needle pain, but I've been in far worse pain many times before so I'd rate it on a pain scale of 1-10 at about a 4.  It was painfully annoying, but definitely worth it! 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


This music video was on every TV in Ukraine at every restaurant we went to. The first several times we were just like, WHAT the heck!? By the end of 6 weeks we were singing along with it. So this morning at 5am when Phillip's alarm went off with the music to this song I woke up IN UKRAINE. 
"Baaatman Baaatman Baaaatman Baaaatman Batman. Ya loobloo tebya!" 

Its nuts and totally worth watching.
MMDance makes some crazy videos if you feel like browsing you.tube.

Lets Get One Thing Straight

I'm not sure what it is that's gotten me so.very.many. inappropriate questions asked in front of my kids recently.  Maybe because I'm 29 and have 6 kids?  Maybe its that the 6 kids are in a 6 year spread with 3 of them being the same age for 6 months out of the year?

WHATEVER IT IS, people need to know that

my kids considered themselves siblings from the moment W met V with me at JFK airport.
I didn't plan it that way... we were just hosting him for summer.
To be honest, I thought there was no way it could ever work out with that whole lie from hell disrupting the birth order thing.  

But you can clearly see the pain etched in our faces when he had to leave.
He became ours because love said so.

We moved mountains to rid that face of the pain you see here.  
We said YES to the impossible to make him ours.

So now that we did the crazy best thing ever and adopted ALL of our boys, it kills me to hear questions  asked in front of my kids like, "So... which ones are brothers?"

"Do they have the same father?"

People will look at them standing there and actually point to my kids and say, 

"Which ones are adopted again?  Are they related, like were they brothers in Ukraine?"

"Is THAT ONE adopted?  Or... is he yours?"

"God bless you for adopting a *child like that*"
(this line is born from the worst kind of ignorance)

"You don't look old enough to have 6 kids.  Are they all yours?"
I really can't figure out how to answer this one without disrespecting myself or my kids other than 

Because our days are full of moments like this where no one has a label.

They are brothers.

They are all mine.

Maybe we didn't add to our family in the traditional way, but I can assure you that the airport was just as real as any hospital room.

Maybe our children chose us as much as we chose them.

Maybe we had to feel pain over months and miles and painfully count down the days until we were reunited.

A 10 year old boy is still vulnerable and in need of a mama just as much as any infant.

Can you tell me how I could possibly tell them that they aren't *really* brother and sister?

For my children, more of them were adopted than were born to me, so to them adoption is a very real way to add to our family.  We've adopted twice, I've given birth twice.  Both times we had more kids.

Its not really that weird.

My kids already know what everyone else needs to figure out.
Blood, nationality, parents, language, and culture do not siblings make.

LOVE makes a family, no matter how or where it happens.

But they already knew that, long before it was official.
My new three boys even Skyped their friends back at the orphanage and proudly told them, "We have 2 more brothers and a sister!"

So for the next person who asks me in front of my kids, "Which ones are brothers?" or "Which ones are adopted?" you can be warned that after today, I just won't answer.  Its not who they are.

My children do not deserve to be singled out on a daily basis while we are trying to live our lives and heal damage done to little hearts.  They do not need to be treated over and over again like they are different.  My biological kids don't need to hear that they aren't *really* brothers because, no, actually they don't "know what you mean."  

They are now and will forever be 


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fathers Day

This is the card that M made and gave to her dad. She calls her orphanage her "grouppa" because all she ever knew was the one room for grouppa #4 that she lived in.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Anxiety and the Adopted Child

If you stop to think about why a child is ever available for adoption, you'll start to understand why most adopted children struggle with anxiety in some form.  Early neglect, abuse, abandonment, and emotional trauma lead to survival skills that impede being able to function "normally" once in a safe environment.  In the same way a soldier has to be trained to fight and withstand interrogations should they ever be caught and held behind enemy lines, an adopted child has in many cases grown up with that hardened knowledge because they have in a sense lived with the enemy.  All they know is fight and survive.  They have to be taught and re-trained how to appropriately react, self calm, relax, feel safe, love, and only once they are able to do those things can they learn.

Learning requires high level executive functioning that cannot be accessed when a child is anxious, worried, scared, or upset.  A child that is anxious is not a child that cannot learn, they are a child that cannot learn until they feel safe.  In the same fashion, a child who's anxiety is triggered by being pulled from a classroom is not going to score well on a test administered by a person the child doesn't know well in an unfamiliar environment.  Their brain cannot access what it knows when its busy being hyper vigilant.

The knowledge might be there, but the brain sees the process of accessing it to be secondary to surviving this "threatening" situation so the child cannot even answer questions that they actually know the answers to because they are busy using their survival skills of avoidance and charm.

Adopted children give "mis-ques" of their anxiety.  A typical child might cry or just tell a person that they are really nervous when asked to take a test.  An adopted child has years of survival skills to draw on so they might appear bubbly, overly happy, smile widely, and tell you how easy it is and what a great job they are going to do.  Inside this child is melting down, but outside they are trying their best to convince a person that they can and will do whatever it takes to keep them happy.

Survival vs academics.

Sadly, most school systems are not educated on how early trauma affects adopted or foster children.  Evaluations are given without regard to how that child's past affects their current ability to perform.

We are dealing with this now and let me tell you it is exhausting. EXHAUSTING.

Two adoption agencies and two social workers are working to help us document things properly so that our child is not further misunderstood and further mislabeled.  We are also hoping to work with an attachment clinic to get a more accurate assessment of our child so we have valid independent information from a qualified source to provide the school.

The fight of an adoptive parent is not over when the child comes home.
On the contrary, it has only just begun.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

School pictures - Easy right? No.

I had good photos of three kids from Fall portraits done at school before we left.  I wanted school photos of my new three so I laid out cute shirts and khaki pants for photo day.


We had this issue on photo day morning where I realized that every freaking kid in the house had grown 2 sizes in 6 months and no longer had pants that fit.  So the khakis I'd laid out... well they didn't fit anyone.  D threw all his pants in the floor and declared, "Deez ones all too baby for me.  I big guy.  Dis hwert me."

So I threw shorts on them and figured it was all good.  
Who takes a full body photo in grade school anyways?
E's shorts were a little too short, but it wasn't a big deal unless....he sat down.  

Which I realized to my horror a few weeks later, of course they had him do in the photo.

RENO 911 anyone??  I wanted to die.
Both from laughing and at my epic mom fail at his first ever school photo.

V's photo wasn't bad... except for the creepy bench and haunted mill behind him, and those pulled up too high black socks on white legs.  Who dressed him anyways?  And what kind of background is that for SPRING!?  

D looked like he was squatting on a toilet.  It truly is so awkward.  I Briefly thought of ordering all 3 just so we could laugh at them for years to come, but that screwed up my idea of having the perfect "first school photos in America."

I had my good friend come over to snap a few photos of them and FINALLY, I got the photos I had been picturing.  My sweet boys, home from Ukraine for exactly 6 months on the day the photos were taken.

I got a bonus photo of Wy and his dog :)  

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Happy Birthday E

This was E last year on his 7th birthday.
I paid $80 to have a cake delivered to his orphanage and a photo taken.
I cried.  A child should have more, but this was all I could do.
A promise that he wasn't forgotten and I would be there soon.
Last year I knew that we wouldn't be in Ukraine for another 4 months.
That seemed like eternity...

This was E at his party today.

Its not like I haven't dealt with the emotions of a child that I didn't give birth to having a birthday, but E's birthday just hurts my heart so deeply.  From the first time I met him and he put his little hand in mine, I felt like he had always been a part of me.  It was like walking into a room and meeting the child you didn't know you had.  The first time I met him at the orphanage, he took my hand and asked me to come see his room where he slept.  We walked out into the hallway and a nanny saw us.  She looked at me, and then him and said, "Vladik is this your mama??"  He said, "Yes.  My mama is so pretty."  With this big goofy grin on his face, like he'd won the lottery and didn't even know how to spend the money.  The emotions of what he went through in his life when I wasn't there is heartbreaking.  It kills me to think that this child who is so easy to love and who I love so much had to go so long without love.
I had a cake made to celebrate every birthday we've missed, and the one we finally got to be here for.

E chose Star Wars.  He loves Jedi Knights and Lightsabers.


Happy Birthday E.  
It was a long and difficult road to get to you and make you ours, but we did it. 
You are finally ours.
There will be no more uncelebrated birthdays. 
We will always be here and we couldn't love you more.

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