Tag Archives: Ukraine

Twenty Years and Counting

Friday was 20 years since Zack and I went on our first date.

20 years since we sat in a restaurant overlooking Atlanta, and talked about our backgrounds and our futures.

20 years since we saw the movie Dangerous Minds.

20 years since we first held hands.

20 years since I got back to my dorm room and told my friends that I knew who I was going to marry.

We’ve lived through a lot together in twenty years! Of course not every day has been easy. But the hard times pale in comparison to the seasons of fun and laughter, adventure and unknowns, excitement and opportunity. It’s been crazy, and it’s been great!

I love getting to spend each and every day with my best friend.

 

As we walked through our city Friday night, I looked around and once again tried to take in the fact that we’re living on the other side of the world, speaking another language (or at least trying to!), the parents of two pretty rockin’ kids, with friends and family from one side of globe to the other…

… and then I looked at Zack and said, “could you have imagined all of this twenty years ago?”

 

They say time flies when you’re having fun. And I believe it’s true.

Here’s to twenty more… and twenty more after that!

 

 

 

 

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.

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)

 

 

Olympics / OL – who are you rooting for?

We’ve had quite a few people ask us lately…

Who are you rooting for in the Olympics?

We are primarily about the red, white and blue… okay, that’s easy to say when our home country and our current home utilize the same colors on their flags. So here’s a rundown of the countries we follow closely, and why:

USA
Zack and I are most loyal to the place we’ve called home most of our lives (it’s hard to change after 38 years!). There’s just something special when the US gets the gold, and you hear the Star Spangled Banner. And Zack really liked their (really loud and really odd) opening ceremony sweaters. I’m still a bit confused by them, but they definitely turned heads!

NORWAY
Then there’s our new home. We’ve lived here for a year, and we spent a couple of years preparing to get here. And you gotta give it the Norwegians: they own the Winter Olympics. They are the all-time leader in overall medals AND gold medals.

Plus, their curling team uniforms totally rock!

And Team Norway has really cool headwear this year, both in the ceremonies and on the medal podium.
 
(Check out this article from People Magazine about the Norwegian Olympic team:
6 Reasons Why You Should Root for Norway at the Olympics)

UKRAINE
Most of you know our history with this country. It definitely holds a big piece of our hearts. And combine that with the unrest in recent weeks… we just can’t help but cheer for the yellow and blue.

GERMANY
Yeah, why not throw one more in the mix. We have so many friends in Germany, both nationals and ex-pats. And we just love visiting Germany/Deutschland/Tyskland. But I do have to say I wasn’t crazy about their opening ceremony outfits.

So in the end, it’s pretty hard to disappoint us when it comes to the Olympics. We are just happy to get to watch and cheer!