Friday, April 22, 2011

So Good to Be Home (Briefly)

22 April 2011 
The day of our court hearing we found out that we could not pick up the court degree on the 10th day of the waiting period (Friday), but we would have to wait until the following Tuesday due to a Ukrainian holiday weekend.  So, I booked a flight home.  I was at a breaking point in Ukraine.  The food was getting to me.  The tiny hotel room with nothing to do was getting to me.  The climate was getting to me.  The Russian language was getting to me. In these conditions one day seems like a week!!  And after being gone an entire month, I had to get home to my girls.  I missed Katie's AWANA Olympics, a few field trips, a parent day at their school and I didn't want to miss Easter on top of Mother's Day and Kylie's special class Mother's Day party. 
Anyway, it is so good to be home!!!...even if it is only for a few days. I will need to go back for another few weeks in May to finish paperwork. I am aiming to be home forever with our son the 20th of May. 
When I got home my sister had put the girls to bed and they were sleeping sweetly.  I hugged and kissed Haley first and she gave me a hug, but she did not seem enthused to see me at all.  Kylie became immediately wide-eyed and hugged and kissed me.  Katie was equally excited and said, "I'm so glad you're home.  You have NO idea."  In the morning Haley came out and saw me fixing pancakes and bacon and her face lit up: "Mommy!!! You're home!!  I thought you were just a dream last night so I kept sleeping." 
I've received several hundred hugs and kisses since I've been home and been told 30 or so times, "I'm so glad you're home.  I've missed you so much.  I wish you didn't have to go back."  Trust me, if there were any other way, I would not be going back, but Brandon is so worth the traveling!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Judge Said.....

19 April 2011
Pizza and CocaCola after the Court Hearing

Getting fitted for his first pair of new shoes

I think he looks great in his new shoes!

Church in downtown Izmail
The judge pronounced Brandon Sergey as our SON TODAY!!!!!!!!! There were many hugs & smileswhen judge said YES. After our court appointment today we asked Brandon if he was wanted to get some pizza & Coca-cola (his favorite). His face lit up! We also went and got him his 1st pair of NEW indoor soccer shoes of his life. The joy on his face was just priceless.  Today makes all the pain and anguish and waiting and waiting SO WORTH IT ALL!!!!!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Off Campus For the 1st Time

17 April 2011
I'm excited because we were finally able to take Brandon "off campus" today from the orphanage.  It was so nice to spend some quality time alone with our boy!  We walked to the supermarket.  We let him pick whatever he wanted.  He picked CocaCola and gum.  We walked to see the Danube (pronounced by locals "Dunay") River.  After our walk to the river the boys ended up back doing what they love most---playing "futbol" while I did what I enjoy most---took pictures!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Brandon's Bragging

15 April 2011 
We heard Brandon bragging to his friends today: "Both my Papa AND my Mama play futbol!" What he does not know is that his Mama aches from head to toe from playing futbol!! I bet he wouldn't brag then! (Thank you, Lord for rain today so no futbol for us!)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

We Have Our Court Date!!!

13 April 2011
 Great news!!!! We have our court date!!!! It’s Tuesday, April 19th.  This was surprisingly FAST.  Thank you, Lord.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Strong Enough

12 April 2011

Last week was probably one of the hardest I've experienced in my life.  To be rejected by not one, but two children we considered our own for 9 months, was very, very hard.  It felt like we were letting a whole lot of people down who stood beside in this adoption either financially or through prayer.   I also was left with a lot of questions: Why did this happen?  What do we do now?  Are we supposed to try again for another boy?  Where is all this extra money going to come from?  What about our girls back home?......Through it all this song really helped encourage me to rely on God for our strength.  If you have a chance, I'd encourage you to listen to this song. 

You must
You must think I'm strong
To give me what I'm going through

Well, forgive me
Forgive me if I'm wrong
But this looks like more than I can do
On my own

I know I'm not strong enough to be
everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up
I'm not stong enough
Hands of mercy won't you cover me
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough
Strong enough
For the both of us

Well, maybe
Maybe that's the point
To reach the point of giving up

Cause when I'm finally
Finally at rock bottom
Well, that's when I start looking up
And reaching out

I know I'm not strong enough to be
Everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up
I'm not stong enough
Hands of mercy won't you cover me
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough
Strong enough

Cause I'm broken
Down to nothing
But I'm still holding on to the one thing
You are God
and you are strong
When I am weak

I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength
And I don't have to be
Strong enough
Strong enough

I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength
And I don't have to be
Strong enough
Strong enough

Oh, yeah

I know I'm not strong enough to be
Everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up
I'm not stong enough
Hands of mercy won't you cover me
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough
Strong enough


12 April 2011

Sergey and "Babuskha"

Today was a bitter sweet day: We "got" to meet Sergey's dear, old grandmother (aka "Babuskha") who does NOT want to let him go. She loves him dearly but is really, old and cannot afford to be a guardian for a young boy. So poor Sergey endured a 3+ hour lecture about how he is her only young grandson and what joy he is taking away and she will probably die if he leaves her behind.....She understands that we can offer him a better life and a family, but still her heart hurts......Who can blame her for loving her grandson?  It's such a sad situation, but Brandon signed a statement that he does want to be adopted and he assured his grandmother that he wants to go to America because he knows that is what is best for his life. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Happy For Paperwork?

11 April 2011 
Today Sergey said "Yes" to being adopted by us and of course we said "Yes!" The paperwork has begun so that we can get our court date.  *If* everything continues to go smoothly, we will be bringing home Brandon Sergey Kerr (the "American" name he picked out) the beginning of May. And yes, I said it.  I am officially HaPpY for PaPeRwOrK!!!!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Meeting Sergey

10 April 2011

Our train ride to Odessa was a lot more pleasant this time since we had the whole cabin to ourselves.  It was also a newer train so everything was really clean.  From the Odessa train station we had to take a 3 hour long taxi ride to Izmail.  We dropped our luggage off at the VIP Hotel.  Then we took a taxi to the orphanage.  When we first arrived at the orphanage the front doors were locked.  We had to walk around to the back.  Outside there were a couple of boys playing soccer.  One was a little guy kicking the soccer ball against the orphanage wall.  The other boy was around “our Sergey’s” age and he was sitting on the picnic table watching the boy kick the soccer ball.  He was laughing because the little boy missed the ball and tripped on it.  He waved at us and we waved back. 
We followed our translator into the orphanage and down the long hallway to find the director.  The orphanage was clean, but it smelled old and like a cafeteria.  The director agreed to allow us to have an “unofficial” meeting with Sergey today on Sunday.  The first official meeting for all legal purposes has to occur tomorrow, the next business day.  While inside the little boys’ sleeping area a teenage boy spoke to the caregiver in Russian then he turned and spoke to us in English, “Sergey is outside playing.”  That’s when it dawned on me since there were only 2 boys outside that the boy on the picnic table that waved to us was our boy!  The teenage boy said in English, “Sergey loves futbol A LOT” and he turned and went down stairs to get Sergey. 
When Sergey came up the stairs he came right up to me and wrapped his arms around me and gave me two big hugs and said “Mama” and then he said “Papa” and gave Tim a hug as well.  We went down stairs in the meeting area and spent probably 2 hours with him.  We gave him some Legos and candy as a gift.  We played Jenga with him and his friends.  He showed us how he can do cart wheels and walk on his hands.  I can tell he's a great boy!!! We're praying everything runs smoothly tomorrow for our official meeting.  I was taken back by how well today’s meeting went.  I must admit, I have been very skeptical this whole last couple of days.  But he called us Mama and Papa the whole time today!!!!  I am anxious to go back tomorrow and see how things go.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Our 2nd SDA Appointment

8 April 2011

"Lead me in clear path" was the verse in Psalms I read first thing this morning before our 2nd SDA appointment.  The walk from our apartment to the SDA appointment seemed to take an eternity.  The whole time I begged God to be clear in His direction.  I do not want to make a mistake.  I do not want to journey any further in this adoption unless it is His plan for our family. 

We had been encouraged by our adoption agent, Larissa, to try to contact Roman one last time to see how he felt after we left.  For me, it was for closure more than anything.  We wanted to make sure that he was sure he did not want us to come back for him.  Had he said "Yes, please come back" we would not have hesitated to take the next train back down to Melitopol to get him.  Konstantine had a hard time locating Roman. He was playing somewhere outside the orphanage.

We stalled for time a little while waiting to hear back from Roman, but at last our name was called and we had to go into our 2nd meeting.  It was so hard to be open-minded when our hearts were so heavy.  Actually, they were broken, torn and confused.  How in the world are we supposed to choose a child with all this going on inside our hearts and minds?

Pictures of boys were being shown.  One pixelated photo was shown of a boy in a black suit with a black bow tie.  The rest of the boys looked pretty rough or were sickly.  One was blind, but we were assured he could see once he received medical care in the US.  One had bowed legs, but they were sure he would walk normally after he had surgery to correct his problem. 

The phone rang.  Russian.  Roman's answer was, "Well, maybe I want to be adopted...if they'll adopt my friend too...I really wish Maxim would come....." That was all I needed to move on.  If he was not 100% sure he wanted to be adopted, we were moving on.  There was no more time to waste.

Upon my lap sat the photo listing of the boy in the black suit.  I looked down at his big smile that filled his whole face.  I saw no sign of rebellion on his face.  A quick phone call was made to the orphanage to ask if he was interested in meeting us.  His answer? "Yes, I want to meet them and I hope they will adopt me too."  There was only one problem:  There was a note in his file stating that he was "very close" to his grandmother.  In spite of the hurt and doubt and lack of definite emotion, we said yes, we would like a referral to meet him.  I had decided if this didn't work out, I was heading home.

Immediately this afternoon when we returned to the hotel I began googling the region of Odessa, and the specific town of Izmail.  A Christian website called Frontier Horizon came up.  On the home page of their website they were advertising for Summer 2011 Hosting.  There was an adorable blond, boy about Sergey's age on that home page.  Tim says he looks like our Sergey.  Surely it's too good to be true to have such a clear photograph of "our" Sergey just 2 hours after our SDA appointment?  Isn't it?  What are the chances of that being him? 

We pick up our referral tomorrow around 4 and hope to take the next train out Saturday April 9th.
Photo from SDA Referral
Photo from Frontier Horizon

Monday, April 4, 2011


4 April 2011

Today we thought we were heading to visit the boys at 3.  Roman had left early in the morning to speak with the Ukrainian case worker.  He unexpectedly called us around 10am and said to be ready in 5 minutes.  Instead of going at 3pm, we were going to the orphanage this morning.  He said that the case worker was required to write a report on the progress of bonding after 3 days of visiting.  We were on our third day.  We were feeling pretty confident that Roman was bonding well with us.  He was smiling a little more each day.

The boys were brought into the room.  The air was thick.  The room was dim.  There was a whole lot of Russian.  The case worker was speaking to the care giver and both the care giver and the boys were conversing.   

The meeting ended with both boys signing a statement that they did NOT wish to be adopted by us.  I leaned to ask our translator what was happening and he said, "Both boys said 'no' to the adoption."  I asked, "Does Roman even understand what he is signing?" and Roman replied "Perfectly."  I felt like that was a cold response, but it's hard to determine the intended emotion with the cultural difference.

Everything happened so fast.  We thought we had 10 days to bond, not 3 and we just weren't sure with the language barrier why we weren't told what was happening so we could speak to the boys. 

The only thing we knew was Maxim was not willing to give up his friendships and Roman was afraid to go to America alone. 

So we are leaving the next train out of Melitipol tonight.  We have to head back to Kiev to try to get our 2nd SDA appointment.  We are so unsure as to how God is going to be glorified through this failed adoption.  We have no where to turn but to Him.  He has a plan.  It is just totally out of our vantage point right now.  And my heart hurts right now.  Ouch.

Friday, April 1, 2011

All Boys Love Futbol

1 April 2011

Our appointment at the orphanage today was at 3pm.  Roman saw us from the playground came running to us.  We both hugged him and his face lit up.  Maxim hid when he knew we were there.  His caregiver made him come out to say Hello and he said he was not coming with us to the park unless Kirill (his friend) could come.  That was fine with us.  We walked to the park.  By the way, Kirill is a really great boy!  We liked him a lot and would highly recommend him for adoption to anyone that would like a sweet, 12-year-old boy.  He is obedient, friendly, cute and loves futbol!!  He really wishes we could adopt him because he so badly wants a family.  Believe me, if it were possible, we'd adopt Kirill!

Tim had brought his soccer ball (futbol) to play with the boys.  Roman and Kirill jumped right in to play.  Maxim refused, arms crossed.  Tim was in his element playing futbol.  He would much rather be bonding by playing futbol than sitting around a table inside making awkward small talk while Roma (our translator) translates.
Eventually Maxim joined in with the futbol and had a great time.  We brought oranges, cookies, fruit snacks and sprite for the boys.  Thankfully we had brought enough for the friends that later joined in the game with Tim, Roman and Kirill.

After they were done playing we had to go back inside for a talk with Svetlana, their caregiver.  Maxim again said he did not want to be adopted unless we took him and Kirill back.  The boys were excused a little while later.

This is when Svetlana, the teachers, etc. all recommended that we only adopt Roman.  All of them described Maxim as being hard, stubborn and lazy.  He does not want a family and he and Roman are not close at all.  Roman would probably love to be close to Maxim, but Maxim pushes him away like an inconvenience.  They strongly believe Maxim would run away if we adopted him or at best, make our lives miserable until he turned 18 and would want to return to Ukraine.

While the idea of our love being rejected by Maxim hurts tremendously, we somehow have a peace about this.  We feel God's leading in this entire process and we trust He knows what is best for our family.  We are so happy to adopt just Roman.  He is a precious boy.  We need your prayer because even though we would love to adopt just Roman and the caregivers support this decision, the final decision is up to the court and the court date is still weeks away.

So, although all boys love futbol, unfortunately, futbol does not soften the heart of a stubborn 12-year-old boy.