Category Archives: adoption

Five Years of Forever Family

Five years.

In some ways the time has flown. There are moments when I feel like it has not been that long at all. And yet, there are also moments when it seems like Daniel has always been around.

Five years ago today, very early on a Saturday morning, we drove one last time to Solnetchko detsky dom. We changed our tiny little man’s clothes and said our good-byes. And 25 minutes later, we hopped in the van with our facilitator and her husband for the drive from Mariupol to Kyiv.

That’s a long drive in and of itself. But add in a very anxious and rambunctious child who had likely never been in a car for more than 30 minutes, and you can maybe begin to imagine the “fun” we had.

I add this next photo, knowing it is extremely blurry. But it was also a good image to represent that first day: a complete blur, with some of us forcing smiles and others showing our true feelings. Beauty all around us (the sunflowers were amazing). Success in that we were now holding our newest son in our arms. And yet, what you can’t see lying behind the cameraman was one of the nastiest black clouds I have ever seen in my life. Seriously, a fitting metaphor. For the day we were maneuvering, for the night that awaited us in Kyiv, and for some of the days ahead.

We endured the drive. It was long and exhausting. We got the boys back to the apartment in Kyiv and bathed them. Surely they would sleep well after such a tiring day. Right?

Right?

This was one of the many phases of that 9 hour
car ride: putting playing cards between your
toes & putting your feet on the window.

Nice thought anyway. William did crash quickly. Daniel did not. Everything was new and exciting and he did not want to miss a minute of it. Including running constantly, throwing things, eating anything in sight, and trying to stick his hands in the one oscillating fan we had (it was summer and it was HOT!). Zack slept with William and I took our new little man with me. I finally got him settled and he slept for probably 6 or 7 hours.

First night as a family of four

We made it through that first day and first night. Thanks to love. And through a long flight across the ocean with a little man breaking out in chicken pox. We made it through some rough first days and weeks. We made it through chicken pox, his first broken bone, six schools, moving to Canada, and then moving to Norway. Thanks to love.

Gotcha Day 2011 – one year home

Five years later. That first day still stands out vividly in my mind. Removing his clothes and giving him clothes that were just for him. Calling him by his new name. Attempting to calm him and console him as he physically rebelled against anything and everything that came his way. Watching the joy (and maybe a bit of apprehension!) of a big brother who finally had his little buddy with him.

Gotcha Day 2012 – two years home

God was good to us when he allowed us to bring each of our boys into our family. He was good to us when he walked us through every difficult step of their adoptions. He was good to us when things just seemed to fall into place. He was good to us when things seemed impossible. He was good to us in the good and the tough times. And He continues to be good to us, in all things. *Good does not mean easy. But knowing that He is with us and that we are never alone: that is a very good place to be.*

Gotcha Day 2013 – three years home

If you ever watch an adoption story unfold, you will see that it is really a redemption story. I don’t say this as a way to pat ourselves on the back, but simply as truth. Watching hope come into someone’s life is a beautiful thing. We saw it with our boys. We’ve seen it with the children of many friends who have adopted. Watching what love can do is exciting. And watching what love can endure is encouraging.

Gotcha Day 2014 – four years home

I’m thankful for the way that God built our family. It may not be traditional. And at times it is far from pretty. But it is always beautiful. Because it’s about love. And despite the obstacles and the difficulties, love wins.

Happy Gotcha Day to our loving, joyful, energetic Daniel!

One of my all-time favorite photos of Daniel, from 2011
 
1 Corinthians 13:7-10
(taken from The Message)
 

 

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere.
So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Art with a Story

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, it’s a painting, and it tells a story that is near and dear to our hearts.

We asked our friend Anna to create something for us, and didn’t provide many specifics. We wanted it to have something to do with adoption, and at one point we had talked about the colors of Ukraine’s flag (yellow & blue).

We were already familiar with Anna’s work so we knew whatever she did would be good. But when we picked it up on Sunday afternoon, we were amazed. It is incredible how an artist can take a request and make it into something so personal and, in my opinion, powerful. That is exactly the case with this piece. I also think when it is an artist that knows you well, the depth and power is even greater.

It really does say a lot about us.

It shows the boys’ interests. And their individual background colors reflect their Ukrainian heritage.

Daniel, the artist
William, the athlete

The red at the top reminds me that it all started with a love story 🙂 And the rainbow reminds me of promises: from God to us, from us to God, in our marriage, and within our family.

I think the use of color symbolizes a lot as well. The colors are beautiful on their own. But their real beauty is seen when they come together. Kind of like our family: each of us holds gifts and talents that become more when we come together.

We are so excited about the way this turned out. As Anna pointed out, someone that didn’t know us would simply see it as a piece of art. But those that know us can see that it tells so much more!

Four years a family of four / National Gremlin Appreciation Day

Four years. 48 months. 208 weeks. 1,461 days of adventure.

On July 10, 2010 we arrived very early in the morning at a place we had come to know very well the past few weeks. We made our way into the building and found our little guy, still quite sleepy headed and looking a little uneasy. We dressed him, gave gifts to all the kids in his group, and said our final good-byes. And with that, we walked out of the gates of Graceland and officially became a family of four.

 

When I say it has been 1,461 days of adventure, I mean it. This guy certainly keeps us on our toes. But he has also come such a long way. He has a joyful spirit and contagious laugh. He tests boundaries. Constantly. He can bring encouragement just when you need it. He is clever and witty. He is mischievous. He loves his family and adores his big brother. He is artistic and creative. And he has so.much.energy.
He is a lot of everything in a concise little package, our little stick of dynamite. He has stretched us and challenged us, and taught us so much. We love him big, and look forward to seeing him develop into the man God wants him to be!

Here are a few fun photos of our dynamite guy, in no particular order…

 

 

 

 

 

Pray for Ukraine

My heart is breaking for my sons’ birth country. People trying to achieve freedom. But on the brink of war.

Please join us in praying for a peaceful resolution, and that these people will be able to experience the freedom they desire. Pray for the new/interim leadership to act with wisdom. Pray for Russia to back down and remove their troops. Pray for people there to be able to discern the truth amongst a lot of propaganda and lies.
Pray for peace.
(pictures from 2010 in Kyiv)

 

 

Two Starfish #adoption #ramblingthoughts

I was looking back through our pictures from Malaga. When I found this shot of Daniel, it brought to mind the Starfish story. (Never heard it? Read it at the bottom of this post.) And it got me thinking about our two boys.

We are thankful that our minds were opened to the concept of making a difference for one. Thankful that our hearts were opened to James 1:27.

Our boys didn’t necessarily win the lottery when they joined our family. We didn’t have a clue what we were doing. Okay, most days we still don’t! We are flawed, far from perfect. We mess up. Often.

But we are children of a Father who forgives. And each day we are learning a deeper meaning of the word family, what it means to be forgiven, what it means to forgive, and what it means to help each other through life. We are discovering the power of striving daily to take our focus off ourselves, and place it on the One who gave the perfect example of earthly living, and the ultimate example of love and sacrifice. If we can help them to understand and embrace this, what more could we want?

 

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. James 1:27 (NLT)

The Starfish Story
A man was walking along a deserted beach at sunset. As he walked he could see a young boy in the distance, as he drew nearer he noticed that the boy kept bending down, picking something up and throwing it into the water. Time and again he kept hurling things into the ocean.
As the man approached even closer, he was able to see that the boy was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach and, one at a time he was throwing them back into the water.
The man asked the boy what he was doing, the boy replied,”I am throwing these washed up starfish back into the ocean, or else they will die through lack of oxygen. “But”, said the man, “You can’t possibly save them all, there are thousands on this beach, and this must be happening on hundreds of beaches along the coast. You can’t possibly make a difference.”
The boy smiled, bent down and picked up another starfish, and as he threw it back into the sea, he replied “it made a difference to that one.”

Adoption Connection

It seems that no matter where we go, we find adoption connections! And Norway is no exception.A few months ago, Zack met one of our neighbors for the first time. Not sure how it happened, but somehow he got into a conversation and learned that the man was adopted internationally, as an infant. Pretty cool!

And we had another encounter this week. Daniel has been going through some educational testing (the education system here is INCREDIBLE by the way!!). At the end of the testing, as we were meeting with the doctor who facilitated the majority of it, we were sharing more about our two adoptions. He seemed very interested and asked really good – and appropriate – questions.

(Even better – he waited until Daniel was not with us to ask things. We appreciate this so much, because we never want things said in front of him that make him uncomfortable, questions that maybe he isn’t ready for, or comments that cause him any undue sadness, insecurity or anxiety.)

After we finished sharing, the doctor smiled and then shared that he and his wife have also adopted two children internationally. They were adopted as infant so they’ve been raised here in Norway and are now grown and doing well.

We appreciate the chance to connect with other adoptive families. It brings encouragement and a chance for a special level of understanding and empathy. And we appreciate how this kind man was willing to share part of his family’s story.