Saturday, December 24, 2011

Long overdue

     Wow!! Where has the time gone. Thank you to everyone for all of your prayers and support!! I can't believe how many people have been following our blog. It is so nice to receive emails and facebook messages asking us how are things going! So, I guess it is time that I actually sit down and update everyone with how things are going.
     It has been an adjustment trying to organize our new life...lol. Things are a bit crazier in the Shawley house hold with 4 kids. The girls have done so well with all the "new" in their life. They have been here for three months. We have been so blessed, watching the girls blossom into beautiful young ladies.
     Anna is in the 8th grade. She has joined the band and volleyball. She also attends youth group every Tuesday. Anna loves to dive in and try new things without any hesitation. I have been so proud of her as she attempts all these things without any fear of the unknown. She also is our social butterfly and has been making new friends. Her facebook page is just booming with messages from her new friends. The other day she came home with a necklace from one of her very close friends. It is a necklace that you share. I remember when I was little and my friends would exchange those same necklaces. I am just so overjoyed that her friends are embracing her. Her transition has been very smooth.
     Emmy is in the 6th grade. She just celebrated her first birthday in America on December 17th. She was so excited to finally have a birthday party and was even more excited to see her first birthday cake. When it came time to sing to her, I felt myself get choked up watching her beam with excitement over a song and cake. It is those moments that make me appreciate EVERYTHING in life. Emmy is our motherly one. She seems to keep Anna in check at times and helps me with Hunter and Ethan. Emmy also is a little shy to try new things but when she does finally let go and does explore she always has the most fun. I have noticed that she is really coming out of her shell and wants to do more things. She has told Jim Bob and I that she wants to play the flute next year in the band and also wants to play basketball. She has also expressed interest in dance. But for now, she attends youth group on Tuesday.
     Hunter and Ethan have been such troopers with all the "new" in their life!! I have been so proud of Hunter for excepting two strangers into his home and into his heart. He looks up to his sisters and loves having them around. It is funny though...he acts real cool when you talk to him about his sisters. He acts like a typical little brother. Hunter is in the 2nd grade this year and just finished up his first year of football. He is my active little bugger and keeps me on my toes. Hunter never ceases to amaze me with his kind heart and thoughts.
     Ethan is...well...he is my Ethan!! He is our strong willed one!! He can be challenging at times but I I melt when he looks at me with his big smile and say, " I wuv you mommy." I just love watching him jump on the coach with Emmy and Anna to watch his favorite Disney Shows. I am just shocked at how well he has adjusted to his sisters. God has truly touched his little heart. He loves teasing his sisters and being your typical little brother. He reminds me so much of my mom...lol. She was strong willed and so darn cantankerous at times. He is definitely a little Bonnie :)
    As for Jim Bob and I, well we know that nothing is possible unless we stand together. It is so important to stay focused as a couple. God has blessed us so much in the past year. He has also equipped us with the tools to raise 4 children. It has been so important to us to raise Ethan and Hunter in a christian home and we want to pass those important values to Anna and Emmy.  We have had the blessing of teaching those values to Hunter and Ethan from the very start of their precious lives and for Anna and Emmy, we have so much to teach. I feel so blessed because we have not had any major problems since the girls have arrived. Yes, we have our growing pains but out of that comes a new life lesson and a milestone hurdled. My house might be a little messier, a little more chaotic, but it is filled with laughter, screaming(Ethan) and love!
    I am most thankful for the reminders of why the little things in life our so precious. Emmy celebrated her birthday last weekend and it was so precious watching her beam with excitement. The next day after her party when we had some down time before we heading to yet another Christmas get together, Emmy told Jim Bob and I that she wanted to use her birthday money to buy gifts for her family. Jim Bob and I looked at each other and immediately said, "No...Emmy that is YOUR money...to spend on you!" She looked at us and said, "But I want to do this!" We paused for a minute and told her that is was her choice to do what she wanted with "her" money.
She jumped up and down and gave Jim Bob a hug and ran to her room yelling.."presents...present." Jim Bob and I stood there in the living room with tears in our eyes. What a selfless act. There stands a little girl, who came from nothing, want to give everything she can to others. We talked with her again to make sure she understood what she wanted to do and she was determined to use her money for gifts. We told her how special that was and that God would bless her kind heart. Well, last night we took all the kids to go shopping for each other. Jim Bob and I had a blast spending time as a family. There was so much thought put into each gift that was purchased. But the look on Emmy's face was priceless as she purchased items for her family. It wasn't about the material things that she was purchasing...it was watching the joy in her eyes as she knew she finally had a family to celebrate Christmas. As we entered a store, outside sat a woman ringing a bell that we all hear around the holidays. In the hustle and bustle of everything, I hear that bell but often times just slip something in the bucket without much thought. Emmy looked at me and said, "mama, can I give?" I looked at her and stumbled for a moment to reach for my wallet and before I could say anything, she had placed her change in the bucket. The lady looked at her and said, " Merry Christmas!" Emmy looked back at her and said, "Thank you and Merry Christmas to you" in her very cute Ukrainian accent. As we walked into the store she asked me what the bell was for and I told her that it was called the Salvation Army. I explained to her how they help people in times of need. She smiled real big and said, " I help people too." She was so proud to have given her change. Then she looked at me and well...this is where my heart just melted...."mama, I am glad that I gave because I remember my life in Ukraine...I had nothing and now I here in America..have sooo much! I am good girl to help people.!!"  Isn't God great!! That girl has so much heart it just overwhelms me at times. I don't think I will ever look hear that bell the same way again!! I didn't expect to find the abundance of joy in an evening filled with shopping from store to store and I didn't expect to find the overwhelming gratitude for all the little things that I have in life from a bell ringing. I expected mass chaos, grumpy kids and parents, and most of all..I thought that I was going to fall over because I had been going strong since 5am. But that wasn't the case! God is with us in our every moment! I praise him for all the joy and "Peace" in an evening of shopping.
     We hope this year that your Christmas may be filled with love, joy and peace. Don't let the chaos get in the way of all the gifts God has to offer. ~ Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year! ~


Here are a few pictures of our family :)

   

  Anna's first volley ball practice
 Anna playing the trumpet in her Christmas concert. (She is in the middle)




Emmy's 14th Birthday party!

video Singing happy birthday
                                               Emmy celebrating her first birthday in America!






 The birthday cake was beautiful and was make by my cousin, Michelle







Making Christmas ornaments
 




 I got out some flour and salt and we made salt clay ornaments. We had a blast :)





Anna painting her ornament







Maser family gathering!






The Shawley Crew
                                      
 
Hanging out, waiting for the Tyrone Christmas parade to start.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

We're coming home!

This is our last official night staying in Ukraine! I can’t believe that this part of the journey is coming to an end. We woke up this morning so anxious for our appointment at the US Embassy! At 1:00 we boarded the bus to go for our apt. I felt my heart race as we neared the Embassy. I was worried that maybe I made a mistake on the endless paper work that had to be filled out. So many thoughts were racing in my mind. We stood outside for a while until it was close to our apt. time. Then the guard opened the window and told us to come in. We went through the security check point and then entered the Embassy. We waited in the waiting room until they came back from lunch. Our girls were so anxious that they were pacing the floor! People started to filter into the waiting room for their visa appointments. A lot of the people Jim Bob and I became acquainted with from the health exam and first Embassy apt. It was great to see familiar faces. As we all waited in the room, we exchanged adoption stories and how God has called each and every person to adopt. Then I heard our name being called to window 17!! The girls sprang from their seats and ran to the window. A man had greeted us at the window with a big smile and said, “Congratulations on your adoption!” He asked us to raise our right hands as he recited some things to us. I could barely talk because I was just so excited. Jim Bob and I had to sign our names to a few documents and then that was it. I couldn’t believe it. It was official. God had answered our prayers. The gentleman told us to wait about 30 minutes while they completed the visa. So we ventured into the hallway to share more stories with our fellow Americans. Shortly after we were in the hall way the couple who was called to the window after us, told all of us that the printer was down and that we might not be able to get the visas until late that afternoon for even the next morning. My heart sank and I felt a lump in my throat. We all stood there just panicked because most of us had flights to leave for the states the next morning. As we stood in the hallway, a lady said to us all, we are all Christians let pray together. So, she said a pray that God would work a miracle and that the printer would start working and that everyone would be able to complete this process today so that no one would miss their flights. The hallway was filled with a Big AMEN at the end of the prayer! I felt a peace and knew that God had this and we were all going to get our Visas. We all ushered into a different waiting room to wait for our visas. I can’t even begin to say how thankful I was that God had placed all of us together at the same time for our apts. I really enjoyed the company of the people we had met. We exchanged emails and even more stories of life, adoptions, marriage, and of course our children. It was just so great to be in the company of warm, friendly, Christian people! A woman came to the window and called our name. I ran to the window and could see she was holding our visas!! God had answered our prayers and got that printer working…lol! After some brief information, I took the packet of info and our visas and started to jump up and down. Everyone congratulated us and cheered for us. Then we all sighed a big sigh of relief because everyone was going to get their visas. We said our good-byes to everyone and wished everyone well.  We walked out of the Embassy and I started to jump up and down when I saw our facilitator and daughter standing outside the gate waiting for us. We wanted to go out to dinner and treat the girls to something special. Well, guess what, they wanted McDonalds!! So that is where we had our last meal in Ukraine…lol. 

What a journey this has been. I look back at just a few months ago when we first decided we were going to adopt. I didn’t know how we were going to do it but I knew we had to take that leap of faith and do what God was calling us to do. He never promised that this journey would be smooth. Would I change any of it? Absolutely not!  James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trails of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  All those moments of glory and sadness are great God moments and that is how we learn.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to each and every one of you who has prayed for us and supported us in many ways throughout this adoption process. We could not have done this without the help of friends, family and community support. Thank you God, for giving us the strength to plow through this adoption process. I can’t wait to go home and see my family. There is a whole in my heart because my biggest supporter will not be at home to greet us with her big smile. She is always in my heart. Thanks mom for being my guardian angel. I know you are smiling down on us right now. This all happened because of you. I love you and miss you and hope that I can be half the mother you were to me.

God Bless

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Birthday Celebration!

After a long trip back to Kiev, we all felt a little grumpy to say the least. We made it to our apartment and then went to grab something to eat. Jim Bob and I are really starting to feel the longing to be home. I really miss family, friends, and just my usual surroundings. Most of all, I miss hearing and speaking English to people! It was close to supper time and we thought that it would do us all some good to go for a walk and just take a deep breath. When we were walking down the steps to leave our building, we heard people in the stair well speaking in English!! They heard Jim Bob and I talking and they said, “Hey Americans!” I jumped for joy hearing this. We all walked outside together and began talking with them. There were two couples that were from the United States who was also in the adoption process. As I stood there, I can’t even begin to describe just how thankful I was to be able to carry on a conversation with other people who spoke my native language and who was also going through a process like us. It was a great God moment. Shortly after talking with them, we found out that they were going out to dinner to celebrate birthdays. They immediately invited us to come and join them. I told them that my birthday was the next day! It was a birthday celebration for three!! I was so grateful that complete strangers embraced us as friends. As we walked to the restaurant we all exchange our stories of how we got here and how we were all “called” to adopt children. We were all talking as if we were long lost friends. When we got to the restaurant all the adults sat together and all the kiddos sat at a table. I think this was great for Emmy and Anna. They too have been lonely without their friends to talk with. They immediately became acquainted with the other children who were also being adopted.  We sat and talked for some time and the kids also seem to enjoy each other’s company. They began to take pictures of each other and laughing. After we were done eating, we were invited to come back to the apartment with the families to enjoy cake and ice cream for the birthday celebration.  We all gathered in the kitchen to sing Happy Birthday! It was such a great moment. Then we all gathered into the living room and shared stories about how God has moved in our lives. The evening came to an end and we said good night and came back to our apartment.  As I reflected on the evening events, I thanked God for placing those people in my life. Earlier that day, we all felt tired and wore out. God knew that Jim Bob and I needed recharged, reminded of why we were here. Thank you God for a great evening! Then today we had a busy day with the medical exams and submitting paperwork to the embassy. When I came out of the embassy, my facilitator and her daughter gave me a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a gift for my birthday!  Then we all walked to the market to get some things. We came back to our apartment to unwind after the long day. Jim Bob left with the girls to go to the market to purchase a few things. When they returned the girls came in with big smiles on their faces. They were excited to show what they bought. They bought me birthday gifts! Emmy was so excited that she had to show me what she bought immediately. She purchased a compact mirror, a key chain that says I love you and a beaded Ukrainian Egg. Anna got me a glass heart necklace and a snow globe.  You could tell their excitement to finally be able to purchase something for someone special.  Today was a great day and I felt very special on my birthday. I got the chance to skype with friends and family throughout the day.  My nieces and family sang happy birthday to me and it just made me miss home even more.  In reality this process has been very short for us. We have been blessed that God has provided a way that the process can move quickly. The process has been filled with so many emotions and twists and turns, that I am just ready to leave and start a new chapter for our family.  But for now, I thank God for placing people in our lives at the most perfect time!







Saturday, September 17, 2011

Well it is official! Jim Bob and I are now the proud parents of two beautiful daughters! What a journey this has been! The time was finally here…we were going to have court to make these girls officially a part of our family. We spent the entire day together the day before court. The girls were so excited and yet nervous at the same time because they feared something would go wrong. They just desperately wanted to become a part of our family. When we walked the girls back to the orphanage for their last night there, they just clung to us and hugged us forever. We told them to try and sleep and they just giggled. The next morning when Jim Bob and I woke up, I felt so nervous! I just didn’t know what to expect for the court appointment. While we were getting ready, we received a call from our facilitator that we were going to be moved to a different region as soon as the court hearing was over. We were informed that the girls’ biological mother found out about the adoption. The information gets a little “fuzzy” from this point but we were told not to worry because her parental rights were revoked so she couldn’t do anything to stop the adoption. I guess that is was just in our best interest to move out of the region quickly so that there would not be any contact with her. My heart sank to me feet when I heard all of this because I feared that she would show up to the hearing and try to cause trouble. Jim Bob and I just prayed about it. God had gotten us this far, I knew he would get us through this. We arrived to the courthouse about a half hour before our hearing. The courthouse is nothing like I expected. The halls were run down and the rooms had exposed wires and the wallpaper was pealing from the walls. We sat outside the courtroom with our translator and our lawyer. They went over the procedure with us. It didn’t sound too bad.  Finally, the girls came to meet us. I was so happy to see them. You could tell on their faces that they were nervous. They ran over to Jim Bob and I and hugged us so tight. Then we were told by our lawyer that their grandfather was waiting down stairs. I felt my heart racing! I tried to watch everyone’s body language. The girls smiled and ran down the steps to see him. After seeing this, I knew in my heart that everything was going to be ok. Jim Bob and I remained upstairs to give them time together. He wanted to see the girls to tell them that he supported their decision to be adopted.  He even wrote a handwritten letter stating that he was there in support of our adoption. He wanted them to have all the opportunities and the best out of life. A few minutes later a man came up the steps and came down the hall towards us.  Our lawyer was behind him and then our translator looked at us and said… “This is their grandfather!” Jim Bob and I both sprang to our feet to greet him. He was a gentle old man, aged with a hard life. He introduced himself and I quickly stretched my hand out towards him to shake his hand and I introduced myself. Jim Bob did the same and he looked at us both and said that he could tell in his heart that we were very nice people. He told us that he was there to show his support for the adoption. He was glad that the girls will have a life filled with lots of opportunities. He explained to us why he couldn’t take the girls in his home. He had taken on the care taker role for his sick mother. He said that his marriage even ended over this. The one thing that he requested over and over again was to please have the girls write to him and to please send pictures. You could see the emotions on his face. I was trying to fight back tears myself. We told him that we promise to have the girls write to him. He smiled and said thank you. At the end of our conversation he reached his hand out to shake my hand and I leaned towards him and said “no… hug…were family!” I gave him a big hug and he squeezed me back and laughed. He reached to shake Jim Bob’s hand and Jim Bob leaned over and hugged him. At that point the grandfather was fighting back the tears and so was I. He waved good bye and walked down the steps. I let out a sigh of relief because I wasn’t sure how this meeting with the grandfather was going to unfold. The time had come for our hearing so we all shuffled into a room and waited for the judge to appear. He came into the room and I was quit shocked because he was wearing everyday attire…not what I was expecting.  He opened our file and the hearing started. My heart was heavy as the girl’s information was read. Their mother was an alcoholic and could not provide a stable environment for the girls. In 2009 the girls asked to be separated from their parents. They no longer wanted anything to do with them. The girls were told that as “orphans” they will be viewed differently by people. This didn’t matter to them. They said that they had a better chance of clinging to a dream of finding a family than staying in an environment that was not healthy. I couldn’t even imagine, two young girls pleading to be orphans because of their living situation. Listening to all of this, made life stand still in that moment. My life took a whole new meaning. I realized just how blessed I am with family and friends. Things that I actually took for granted, was actually a dream for two young girls. The hearing continued smoothly. Jim Bob and I were asked just a few questions and then we were asked to all stand up. Emmy, Jim Bob, me and Anna all stood holding hands listening to the closing statements being made about our adoption. Throughout the hearing it was said over and over again that no one has shown any interest in the girls for adoption or for foster care. But to my amazement the judge said that he believed that it was our destiny to find the girls. Everyone could see that there was a connection between us all. Even the head of the orphanage said that a connection was made immediately after our first meeting. The girls were asked what it was like when they first met us. They said that they knew as soon as they met us that they were going home with us. They said that we smile a lot, especially papa! They knew that we were good people when they first met us and got excited that maybe their dream was going to come true…they were finally going to have a family. They ended the hearing and told us to wait while the discussed everything and they would be back with an answer. When the judge left, everyone looked at me and Jim Bob and laughed and said… “You both were scared weren’t you?” We both laughed and said yes! They all began to laugh and say that they could tell because we didn’t smile much. Wow…I didn’t know how much Jim Bob and I smile…lol. Everyone has commented about that. After about 20 minutes or so the judge came back with a statement that said we were officially the parents to Emmy and Anastasia. The girls jumped up and down and gave us the biggest hugs!!!  Their dream to be a part of a family has finally come true! So the Shawley family of 4 is now The Shawley family of 6!!!  What a journey!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Soaking In The Moments

It has been hard to find time to write a blog! We have been blessed with spending a lot of time with the girls. We get to spend the entire day with them. It has been great building bonds with the two of them. We have been bracelets, playing uno, painting nails, and playing on the computer. Today we took the girls to the market to buy clothes for them. This was a whole new experience for me. We actually shopped at an outside market. No Walmarts here! We had to purchase clothes because when the girls  leave the orphanage they have no clothes to take with them. So we had to buy everything from top to bottom! The girls found jeans right away and were very thrilled with their purchase. They are so tiny so they had trouble finding some items. But after searching for some time, they were very happy with the end result.





Not too bad, given the selections they had to choose from!
Tonight will be their last night sleeping in the orphanage! Please pray for all of us because we have court on Tuesday at 11 (4 am your time). The girls are so anxious to just go home…That is, to America! They ask me everyday if we can leave to go home. When I asked them what is the first thing they want to do when they come to America they said they wanted to meet everyone! They love looking at pictures of family and friends. As most of you know, they both have Facebook pages so they can talk with everyone already. The girls just want to be apart of a big family...well they are getting one! We will update everyone after court as soon as we have internet service.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

In A Blink Of An Eye

We haven’t written a blog for some time because our adoption journey has had some twists and turns. We needed to sit in God’s silent moment to listen for his direction.  I don't even know where to begin. Through God's grace Jim Bob and I made it to Ukraine without any problems. This was something we worried about because of Hurricane Irene, but God paved the way and we got here without delay. We couldn't believe after so many months of working so hard to get here, we were actually standing on the ground in Ukraine. Little did we know that God has something else up his sleeve for us. As we prepared for our meeting with the girls, we felt so anxious and excited to finally meet them. We boarded the nine hour train ride to their region with so many emotions at hand. When we arrived the next morning we went to our apartment to freshen up and get things prepared for our meeting. Jim Bob and I packed some things and off we went to the orphanage. When we got there we sat and talked with the director and caseworker. Then more people came into the room so that we could ask them questions about our girls. We didn't say much and then Nastya and Anya were called into the room. My heart skipped a beat, for the moment we have been waiting for all this time was now a reality. Nasya was wearing her best dress and looked just so precious. As Anya walked into the room there was almost an instant chill. She was so cold and distant. You could tell that she did not want us there. They director asked the girls a few questions and then we were told to go ahead outside and meet with the girls. The caseworker and our translator were with us during this meeting to help in any way they could. We showed the girls pictures of their friends back home and also pictures of our family. Nastya was just so engaged with everything we showed her but Anya just sat back with her legs crossed picking at her nails. She never made eye contact and made it clear she was not budging with her decision. After a few attempts to get her to interact with us the caseworker pulled her aside and told her about the opportunities she would have if she would go with us. Anya spoke back to her in a tone that even I knew was harsh. The caseworker looked at Jim Bob and I and told us to go out to lunch. She was going to talk with Anya and maybe then she would have her thinking about her decision. The caseworker put her arms around Nastya because she was upset about her sister’s behavior. We left and went to lunch but we both could barely eat. We then ventured back to the orphanage a second time to see if there was any change. Again, we were shuffled into the director’s office and then the girls were called in. Nastya came in with her head down and was upset. Then Anya came in. She had hair dye in her hair which gave me the answer that she did not want to be there so she made it a point to show that. Obviously with that in her hair she would have to leave to remove it. We asked Anya why she changed her mind about wanting us to adopt her several times and each time she would not answer. She would just say...I am not going. I looked at Nastya with such helplessness because there was nothing I could do. I just smiled at her and would wink and she would give me a big smile back. We then proceeded to ask Anya if she would separate from her sister and without a pause she said no, absolutely not. Nastya's eyes filled with tears and she bit her lip so that she would not cry. Seeing this made Jim Bob and I cry. I was just so heartbroken that Nastya had no say for which path her life could take. The director said I cannot honor the separation since Anya will not agree to it. Then the girls were told to leave because they had dance practice. I kept praying to myself Lord, I don't understand!?!?! You brought us all this way and I don't know what to do next. Jim Bob and I tried to collect ourselves as the director talked with us. She said that we could call back after 3 to see if Anya would change her mind after seeing her sister’s reaction. We did, and still the answer was no. Jim Bob and I had the right to stay in the region and try and return to the orphanage but we knew in our hearts that the answer was not going to change. Our translator got us a train back to Kiev that very night. What I know is this; God has placed those girls on our hearts for a reason. If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have worked so hard to come to Ukraine. All the pieces will come together and then we will understand but until then, it is really hard to know what to do. We have another appointment with the SDA on Monday the 5th.  This is a meeting for us to look at files of children. Once we choose from those files we can go and meet the child/children. We are asking God to reveal to us the path he wants us to take. This process is very overwhelming and even hard to explain. All I know is...we can feel everyone's prayers back home because today I can say... I have a peace about what happened and only that can come from God. A prayer partner reminded me of a verse that I have highlighted in my bible. It is James 1:2-4 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its works so that you may be matured and complete, not lacking anything." That is what we are leaning on right now and we just ask for your continued prayer.

A NEW DAY!!

So many things have unfolded since my last draft. This is a very long blog but I needed to show how God has unfolded this journey. Jim Bob and I had our SDA appointment which was an emotional rollercoaster. When it was our turn to come in the room to look at pictures, I felt my stomach turn. I was praying that God would just show us this next move. We were only shown just a few photos. We picked a girl from the few photos that we were shown and we also inquired about the girl that was posted on our Facebook page from another family. Masha (the girl from our FB page) was not available for international adoption. So that left us with just one girl to inquire about. We were told to go outside and wait because they lost her files and didn’t know where to find her. Jim Bob and I went off by ourselves to pray that God would show us what to do. I felt so overwhelmed and at times I felt like I wasn’t hearing God.  After praying for God’s perfect will, we joined our facilitator and translator. We were at the SDA for 3 ½ hours. This is completely unheard of because you are only given 1 hour and that is it. But for some reason they were letting us make phone calls and letting us take time to figure things out. We got the news that the girl we were inquiring about said that she was too nervous to leave her country. She said that she didn’t think she wanted to be adopted. I felt my heart fall to my feet! Again, I was questioning what the next move was. Just then our facilitator said that we could go and visit two sisters from a region not too far from Kiev. God had brought these two girls back into our lives. A few days prior to our SDA appointment, we were shown pictures of two girls. We looked at the picture and said that they were beautiful girls but we were afraid to go through the rejection from sisters. We were told that they wanted to be adopted so Jim Bob and I thought that we would get more information about them from the SDA appointment. We never did see their pictures while at the appointment and with all the emotions we forgot to ask about them. It was our facilitator who knew in her heart that these girls were meant for us so she reminded us of the possibility of meeting them. Jim Bob and I knew without question that God had brought them back into our lives for a reason. That was the only choice we were given and that is what Jim Bob and I had prayed for; that God would make the choice for us! We got the referral from the SDA and then we packed our belongings and off we went to this new journey that God has paved for us. After a restless night of sleep, we woke up the next morning to venture to the orphanage to meet these two sisters. As Jim Bob and I sat in the director’s office I felt so nervous, I was praying that this was going to all work out. Within a few minutes the director called for the girls to come in. In the very minute of seeing them walk in the room, I knew that God had put me here for those girls. Jim Bob and I didn’t even have to discuss whether or not we wanted to adopt them…we knew we were. The girls sat down at the table across from us and were just smiles. We talked for some time, showed them pictures, and gave them each a gift. Shortly after that we were asked by our facilitator what we thought about the girls and immediately Jim Bob and I said we wanted to adopt them. The director asked the girls the same question and they both nodded their head in excitement. They even asked for paper to write a letter asking to be adopted by us (this is standard for adoptions in Ukraine).  Jim Bob and I couldn’t be more excited about this. Today we spent the entire day with the girls. We got to the orphanage around 12. The girls showed us around the school and then we played volleyball outside for quite some time. There were two boys who were with us for the day helping us translate. They were both 15 and they were students at the orphanage. I have to say they did really well. Today was just so amazing and it has become so clear as to why God has brought us here. Although the plans are different, I wouldn’t change anything. Already, Jim Bob and I have created a bond with the girls. All I have to say is…I am glad I serve an Awesome GOD!!!!
 Our first day with the girls!
 Emmy and Anastasia (Anna)
Jim Bob looking at pitures with all the kids.

Monday, August 29, 2011

By Faith, Through Hope, With Love


This journey for the adoption thus far has been amazing. I don’t even know where to begin to start writing to explain these last few weeks. This whole process has truly been a “God thing.” From the very beginning, when we felt called to proceed with this adoption, we knew that financially this was going to be a hurdle for us.  We needed God to give us miracles for this to happen. Throughout this process he has shown us time and time again that he was there listening to every need that we had. He provided for every invoice and for every small obstacle that we encountered. These past two weeks was a week in my life that I will never forget. Jim Bob and I were getting down to the wire for traveling and we didn’t have the money to even book flights. Yes, this whole process has completely been a faith builder for Jim Bob and I both!! I mean there we were sitting just about a week away from our travel date and we didn’t have the money to book flights. Jim Bob and I just put it all in God’s hands, for he had called us to do this adoption so he will provide. It was on a Wednesday and we received a call that a certain amount of money from the pledge drive and our donation letter had come in. An amount that was only driven by God! So on Friday a week before we were ready to travel we booked our flights!! God had provided yet again. Even the flight itself was an answer from God because we were able to book a flight very close to where we live and at an excellent price.  So then there was the next step. We needed money to travel and money for the last and final fee to pay for the adoption.  With a few last minute arrangements, Jim Bob and I put together another spaghetti dinner.  It was a great evening spending time with family and friends. I was so overcome with emotions at the dinner because throughout the night we were reminded that God is in control. There was one little girl who touched my heart. She came to our spaghetti dinner to help support us and yet she had never even met us. I found out later that she came and donated to our dinner with her very own money that she was saving for a cell phone. I was so touched that she did this selfless act of kindness. That evening was just filled with countless leaps of faith on our behalf. Jim Bob and I were so humbled that so many people believed in us and wanted to support us and get our girls home! There were people who sacrificed so much of their own money to help see this adoption process through. May God rest his hand upon each and every person who gave or prayed  because they too were listing and taking that leap of faith.  The spaghetti dinner was a huge success…only something that God could pull off!! When the money was counted, I was so overwhelmed with emotions that I just started to cry. I couldn’t believe how much God had provided for us. But he didn’t stop there!!! A grant came through that helped pay for the second child fee; our church gave to our fund and an anonymous donor gave graciously to our fund as well. It was once said to me, “plow the fields and He will supply the rain.” Jim Bob and I leaned on that advice and did everything we could to plow through this process. God has provided in abundance!! I just stand in awe knowing that God pulled this all off in just a few days. He is never late!!

As I sit here in Ukraine, I still can’t even believe that I am actually here!! There was such a whirl wind of events leading up to this point that I haven’t even had time to process J Even getting here was a challenge, one that we had to put into God’s hands. We had a flight that was leaving out of State College, Pa and headed towards hurricane Irene. We didn’t know if our flight was going to be canceled or if we would make it or not. So we drove to State College to find that our flight was still on time and we boarded the plane to Dulles. This flight was one that I would not like to experience again!! The turbulence was horrible because of the incoming winds from Irene. We were safe but it was a ride that I don’t want to do again!! We were almost certain that we would find our flight leaving Dulles canceled. The hurricane was fast approaching and we were hoping that we could get out before it was too late. We heard that other airports were shutting down so we were preparing ourselves that we would be staying there. We just sent out texts and updated people through Face Book to keep praying that God would just shuttle us through. Well, when we got to Dulles we saw our flight was still on time!! I couldn’t believe it! We actually beat hurricane Irene!!

Now we are in Kiev ready to start a new chapter to our life. It has been by faith, through hope and with love that has gotten us this far.

God is great!!